“I don’t know where I’d be today if I had not gone to Shelterwood.”

Kate Reedy was a junior when she transferred high schools and fell in with the wrong crowd. “From the first week of the school year, I was going to school drunk,” Kate recalls. “The year was full of parties and I was getting involved with the wrong people.” That April marked one of Kate’s lowest moments. “Several of us got drunk at a rally and we were questioned by not only the school principal, but by the police as well. All four of us were arrested,” she remembers. Within a week, Kate was headed to Shelterwood, a turning point in her story.

“My arrest that April was a huge red flag for my family about everything else that had been going on during the year,” Kate says. “My parents knew I’d been drinking, but it didn’t hit them hard until I was being read my rights. Looking back, it was a huge wakeup call for my parents.”

Kate summarizes her arrival at Shelterwood in one word: relief. “I tried to keep a hard face on, but deep down, I was glad I was getting help. I got out of the car when we arrived at Shelterwood and I didn’t even cry . . . I was just so relieved to be there. I knew this was my chance. I knew I needed this and so I took it seriously.”

Kate’s therapeutic experience was particularly impactful, she shares. “My therapist made me feel like I was family,” she says. “I never felt rushed in our sessions and he gave me the time I needed, the time to talk everything through.” She feels the same about the young adult Mentors and even the kitchen staff. “Someone was always there for me. For someone like me who had been through so much, that’s so important.”

Without the distractions and pressure she’d experienced back at school, Kate felt free to explore her spirituality. “The God factor at Shelterwood is amazing. Everyone there has a purpose to live for God. The chapel services, church, Bible studies . . . all of it became important to me. Being away from the phone, the TV, the Internet and social media, I was not distracted by my phone and so I was able to focus on those things.”

kate reedy 576x1024 “I don’t know where I’d be today if I had not gone to Shelterwood.”

Academically, Kate had the space and time at Shelterwood to excel. No longer under the negative influence of her peers at high school, Kate was determined to complete coursework and graduate high school. “I was able to graduate high school early because of the classes at Shelterwood. I know many therapeutic programs do not allow that, and if I had been somewhere else, I could have fallen behind. All the teachers were awesome and helpful.”

After a nine month stay at Shelterwood, Kate graduated. The transition home was somewhat challenging, Kate admits. “I got home during February of what would have been my senior year in high school. All my old friends were still in school. I struggled a lot being back home and trying to find the right relationships.”

“Everything was not suddenly perfect at home because I’d been to Shelterwood,” Kate shares, reflecting that no relationship is ever perfect. She knew her parents had been working just as hard at home as she had been at Shelterwood. “You will not come home and find that everything is suddenly great. I cannot stress enough how important it was for me to have that patience. Today, my mom is my very best friend and I cherish that relationship. That would not be the case without Shelterwood. I have good relationships with my family again, and that is so special.”

Kate is excelling professionally today too, and is proud of her career. Working in property management for a homeowners’ association, “most of my work is in customer service. I love talking to people!” she smiles.

The decisions Kate makes today lie in stark contrast to those she made before Shelterwood. “The friends I pick today are different, my priorities are different, even the guys I date are totally different. I wouldn’t have had goals or expectations for myself if I had not been to Shelterwood.” Kate attributes the shift to the confidence she gained while at Shelterwood. “I learned not to be scared to tell my story and to own my story.”

Most importantly, Kate says, she cherishes her relationship with God. “God is now a huge part of my life. I don’t know where I’d be today if I had not gone to Shelterwood.”

How we Manage By Strengths at Shelterwood

Mercedes Benz, Delta Airlines, The American Red Cross, Garmin, Hallmark . . . and Shelterwood. What we share with these leading organizations is our commitment to Management by Strengths, a transformational tool in fostering better communication than ever.

Management by Strengths (MBS) is similar to other temperament protocols, like the Myers-Briggs and the DISC assessments. Its focus on strengths, however, sets it apart from others. The extensive list of MBS clients includes national nonprofits and Fortune 500 companies.

“MBS is different from personality tests and assessments because it is based on the simple idea that people are biologically wired with a communication style they prefer,” explains Jeremy Lotz, Director of Training and Leadership at Shelterwood. MBS features four temperament traits — directness, extroversion, pace and structure — but limitless combinations. “Personality can be informed by your faith, education and integrity, but temperament is hard-wired.”

Jim Subers, Shelterwood CEO, was introduced to Management by Strengths creator and owner Mike Postlewait through a friend. “Mike was overcome with conviction about what Shelterwood does and our vision for restoring families through Christian relationships,” Jeremy says. “Mike felt such a conviction that he decided to make MBS services and consultation available to Shelterwood for free, forever.” This act of generosity has paid dividends for Shelterwood staff, teens and parents.

Girls house 2 1024x683 How we Manage By Strengths at Shelterwood

Jeremy points to a clear example of how MBS has changed interactions with Shelterwood students. “It’s common for adults to face power struggles with teenagers. If you know that student’s temperament, however, you can quickly develop a disarming approach with that teenager,” he explains.

“We have found through MBS that many of our students who seem oppositional and volatile are actually results-driven and independent. These are real strengths, and understanding them influences how we communicate,” Jeremy says. “Teens who are very direct in their temperament want choice, freedom and autonomy,” he says. For example, those teens can be empowered by tying responsibility to results and offering choices.

MBS has been equally significant in enhancing how Shelterwood staff work with each other. “This has given us many revelations regarding how people want to be engaged with, and it has allowed us to get the best out of ourselves and others,” Jeremy says. “When we are working well as a team, then we are serving our students better than ever.”

Furthermore, when Shelterwood parents take the MBS assessment, the results can influence how teens and parents interact. “We tend to have quite a few students with the directness and extroversion temperaments, and quite a few parents with pace and structure temperaments,” Jeremy says. “One of the ways I’ve seen MBS help teenagers the most is that they develop an understanding of their parents’ temperaments. This increases the harmony in their relationships.”

Jeremy shares a recent example of how a teen’s understanding of her parents’ temperaments helped her better interact with her parents. “She is high in extroversion and her parents were high in structure. They experienced her as being intense and pressuring. So when she was planning a recent visit home, she presented her parents with a prioritized list of the top three things she wanted to do back home. This showcased so much maturity.”

MBS is one more Shelterwood distinctive, influencing how we help transform teens and restore families. “There are quite a few theoretical foundations, philosophies and behavioral techniques we employ at Shelterwood, but nothing has revolutionized how we work on a daily basis like MBS,” he says.

Richard Beach Shares

%name Richard Beach SharesRichard Beach wrote this article for a Shelterwood Newsletter back in the 80’s but it remains relevant today.

There was a man in scripture by the name of Barnabas.   It is interesting that a name in scripture often reflected something of the character of that person. Barnabas means “son of encouragement” (Acts 4:36). Barnabas was one of the first who came to the great apostle Paul after his conversion and encouraged him or “urged him forward” (Acts 9:27). Wouldn’t it be great to be known as a Barnabas?

I recently asked a group, “What is encouragement?” Answers ranged from a boost, a lift, motivation, strengthening. Have you ever noticed how much encouragement energized you?

The opposite of encouragement is discouragement. The world’s system is not to encourage others, lest they get ahead of you. The world system is to discourage, to be sarcastic, to point out faults or to use false flattery to meet selfish objectives.

The Christian should be living a different lifestyle. After looking into God’s word and being encouraged, we should be encouraging others. Have you ever seen someone who encourages become the encouraged?

How then do we encourage?

  1. Point out good qualities in others
  2. Smile
  3. Pat someone on the back
  4. Share an encouraging scripture
  5. Pray for someone
  6. Listen
  7. Recognize a person’s gift and let him or her know
  8. Tell someone how his or her life has impacted your own life
  9. Maximize a person’s strong points

We miss you Richard and are proud to name our new student lodge after you.

Expect the stupid

No matter the crisis, no matter how many there have been, it’s not too late.

Screen Shot 2015 06 15 at 9.50.02 AM 300x213 Expect the stupidI would imagine that if people had tried to warn me of the difficulties of parenting a teen when I was a newlywed I would have simply laughed.  It is easy to be overconfident because we often look at our own parents and think, “Surely, I will do better than them and I turned out okay.”  Of course, looking back, we don’t believe that the problems we caused as teens were any big deal.  But I am sure if you asked my dad he might disagree, especially after I totaled his new car twice.  He didn’t show it, but he might have spent some sleepless nights waiting for me to return home.

Parenting teens can often be boiled down to simply helping them solve a series of crises.  Actually, that’s just about how all parents I know describe their parenting. The crises change, and some are big and some are small, but they are real to all involved.

Of course, the media would have us believe that adolescence has changed and that somehow parents have become less influential.  But none of the research suggests that parents are less of a factor in teen choices. In fact, our kids are staying in the home until they are older.  So no matter the crisis, no matter how many there have been, it’s not too late.

You see, after talking to thousands of parents, I know that many of them feel that it is too late. They’ve had one too many crises. Or, they were away too much. Or, they’ve made too many mistakes.

But, that’s just not the case.

It is never too late for you to start. Whether your child is still in your home or not, you can make a difference.  As my teens are transitioning into their 20’s here are three things that I have learned.

  1. Don’t buy into the low expectations of teens 

Expectations are good.  Kids will live up to the expectations that you set, whether they are high or low.

  1. Expect the stupid

You see, kids are supposed to do stupid things and that is also why they still need parents.  They really are not capable of living on their own until they get the stupid mistakes out of them.  We all learn through experience and of course it is hard to get dragged through the stupid decisions that our kids make…like the time I tried to ‘get air’ under my car, Dukes of Hazard style, and jumped it right into another car.  My dad had to walk through the insurance process with me.  It was a real hassle for him.  It is important to note that he didn’t rescue me from the consequences of my behavior.  And I really only learned because the consequences hurt.  All my money went to buying him a new car.  So as parents we walk with our kids through the stupid but they need to own their stupid and pay the price.  We don’t want to enable any more stupid by making it easy to make the same mistake.  Wisdom comes from experience.

  1. Everyone hits the rapids

Parenting is a lot like going on a rafting trip. At first, everyone is excited, clapping paddles and the water is calm. The baby is born and everyone is celebrating. Friends and family are giving you gifts and talking about how much they want to be involved. The river guide provides a few directions while everyone is laughing in the boat and bragging about how well they are going to do on the trip. As a parent with older teens, I almost get annoyed when I hear young parents bragging about how they are going to be so different: “Our kids don’t watch television, don’t eat McDonalds, and are walking, talking, reading or writing ahead of schedule.”

“Just wait,” I think. The purpose of this whole ride is to hit some nasty rapids. And you can’t avoid the rapids; every river flows in only one direction. Sadly, once in the rapids it often feels like “every man for himself” and the promise of involvement by family or friends often disappears. You might be looking around in the boat and everyone seems only concerned about themselves or maybe your spouse has even jumped overboard. And there you sit, you and your teen getting knocked around by some very heavy waves.

All I can say is to hang on and do everything you can to keep your teen in the boat. Teens are supposed to hit a few rapids—that’s how they transition to adulthood. The better prepared you are for the rapids, the better off you will be. Don’t think you can avoid them or that avoiding them is even that great. Kids need a bit of rough water to learn and grow. You want them to experience tough stuff when you are around so that you can teach them the best practices that you have learned. So keep them in the boat, believe in their ability to get through, and expect them to lose a paddle in the process. After all, we have all done stupid things.

Memories of Richard Beach

rich picture 228x300 Memories of Richard BeachLooking back over old flyers and newsletters from the formative years of our program in the early 80’s, I ran across many articles written by our founder, Richard Beach. But I think some of the most encouraging notes were those from students, some of which are now nearing fifty years old. Reading the students’ stories of change, I am reminded that while staff and programming may have changed, the Author of change remains the same and faithful.

A female student shares in 1984, “Shelterwood is not a place for ‘problem kids.’ Everyone has problems, but at times we just don’t know how to do deal with them. Before I came here in the fall of 1983, I had difficulties in the areas of family life and other relationships, bad grades, trouble at school, and involvement with drugs. I thought nothing could go right with my life. That’s why I ‘m glad there was a place where I could come and sort out my feelings. It’s comforting to know that someone cares enough to help you through the hard times and also be there to share joys and triumphs with. I’ve learned so much in this past year, and it’s amazing. But the most important thing in my life is my relationship with Jesus Christ. It’s exciting to see how He fits into all of this. He is the reason I’ve come so far.”

A Changed Life

A mom’s story of her time at Shelterwood and how she came to see a changed life

IMG 4278 copy 300x225 A Changed Life First, let me say this talk was not pre-approved by Shelterwood. As I was sharing with my husband this morning what I wanted to share he kept saying: it’s too negative and I kept saying: wait until the end. So as I am talking if you think it is too negative: wait until the end!

I knew who I wanted to address tonight. I wanted to speak to the mama that is sitting here wondering how she ended up here. The mama that doesn’t want to be here or want her son to be here either because that is exactly how I felt sitting here last spring family weekend. I want to speak to the mom who remembers holding that baby boy close to her chest, the one who shared with everyone who would listen all the cute things her preschooler said and did and then the mom who after her son went through puberty wanted to take the same hands that held her baby close and strangle her teenager because of all the horrible decisions he was making. The mom , dad, or grandparent who no matter what they tried they couldn’t stop their son from going down a path that led to destruction. That is exactly where our family was a year ago. Thank God for Shelterwood.

As my husband and I realized things were deteriorating with Connor we began a daily practice of listening prayer. I first encountered Listening Prayer in a book by a nun to India, Mary Geegh. The very first time we prayed this way together we each heard individually in our hearts Connor can’t stay in Dothan. One theme in Mary Geegh’s book is “where God guides, God provides” and that is what we experienced. God led us on a clear path to send Connor to Shelterwood. This is not what I would have chosen. To date bringing Connor here against his will is the hardest thing I have ever done. Yes, it is a Christian boarding school. Yes, each person employed here loves and cares about each one of our sons, but that didn’t alleviate my pain.

IMG 4356 copy 300x225 A Changed LifeIn fact, the pain would get worse before it got better. When we began our calls with Connor after a few weeks it was excruciatingly painful. He would tell us in great detail how horrible Shelterwood was. He didn’t deserve to be here. Everyone laughed at him when he told them why he was here. They had all done MUCH worse. Bless our counselor Leanne’s heart during that time for all the babysitting and comforting she did for me. And I’ll be honest with you when we came for parent’s weekend after Connor had been here a couple of months it didn’t help much. I wanted to grab Connor and run back home. One thing I remember from last year’s parent’s weekend was Rujon saying just think if you couldn’t handle one teenager in your home can you imagine how hard it is for our staff. And she was right! Things were not going well when Connor was home. At least here he was safe. Safe from himself and safe from the influence of his peers. Here he had young men called by God to speak truth into his life. A staff that cared about him. I was also thankful during that time that we had had clear direction from God about sending Connor here because as the doubts surfaced I held on to that. As circumstances around me still looked bad and not better I held on to what God had spoken to us. At parents weekend I heard so many times “trust the process” I wanted to throw up. In my head I was shouting, “What process!!!! You people are so stinkin slow!!! Hurry this up!”

Months into “the process” a wonderful thing began to happen. Connor was working hard & liking the person he was becoming. We saw progress. We saw change. But I didn’t completely trust the process because after 6 months we allowed Connor to come home before graduating the program. He convinced us that he did not want to go back to his old ways. Leanne warned us against it. She said he had made great progress but wasn’t ready. Connor told us graduating the program was no big deal. EVERYONE that did went back to their old ways. Staying a couple of more months wouldn’t make a difference. Which makes me think of something I left out about last year’s parent’s weekend. A young man who had recently graduated the program spoke. He did an excellent job and began to alleviate my fears. I remember thinking maybe Shelterwood can help Connor. Afterwards, Connor told us oh he’s so fake. I heard he still smokes pot. Manipulation, manipulation.

When Connor arrived home to begin his senior year, it didn’t take long for things to deteriorate IMG 4401 copy 300x225 A Changed Lifeagain. During this time I felt like we had made the wrong decision sending him to Shelterwood. He was angry with us and resentful. I felt like we were worse off than better. I heard God speaking to my spirit: there is nothing you can say or do to change Connor King only the Holy Spirit can change him. I held on to this promise for several LONG months. Again things got a lot worse before they got better. Have you ever prayed and prayed for something and didn’t realize it was being answered because it wasn’t happening the way you envisioned? Well, that’s what happened next. Connor has already told you about going on the life changing mission trip to Haiti. When he came home and asked to go back to Shelterwood. The school he was begging to come home from a few short months before. I couldn’t even process it all. He had convinced me last summer Shelterwood was not helping him & was making him worse. So I questioned and questioned Connor, what about this, what about when you said this about the school? His response to all of my questions was: believe me mom I’ve thought about ALL that. I knew the Holy Spirit had moved in Connor’s life when he told us he couldn’t be who he wanted to be and live in Dothan, AL. He needed to, actually wanted to go back to Shelterwood to graduate the program. Connor spoke out loud the words that Leslie and I had heard in our hearts the first time we prayed about what we could do to help Connor.

My part of the story should end there shouldn’t it? Connor speaking the words we had heard God speak into our hearts. But to be honest, I hesitated. In my wildest dreams I never expected Connor to ASK to come back. I had it all planned out. How it would work out with him staying in Dothan. I haven’t mentioned yet how thankful I am for the few close friends I had praying for us during this time. My sweet friends have been faithful to encourage and pray with me. If you don’t have someone like that please come see me during the weekend. I’d be honor to pray for your family during this difficult time. Or should I say during this process.

As I was questioning and doubting God’s answer I had one of those wise friends speak truth into my life. She looked at me and ask, “Lea, what have you been praying for?” I slowly began to realize God had answered my prayer for Connor in a way I never imagined. God had done immeasurably more than I could ask or imagine. We are calling it a miracle in our family.

We are looking forward to Connor graduating the program. Connor is looking forward to graduating the program. Turns out it is a BIG deal when your heart changes. Connor has even asked my parents if they would make the long journey for it. Now, I trust the process. As we are discussing with Connor options for the summer, Leanne’s opinion matters a lot to me. She understands the process.

Connor, words cannot express how proud your dad and I are of you. We are so proud of the hard decisions, the hard choices you have made as the world has been trying to pull you in the opposite direction. It’s hard to give up friends who are bringing you down at any age, but especially when you are young. It’s hard to leave the comforts of home to do what is best for yourself. I am reminded of the Bible verse God gave me concerning you when you were in preschool and I see it being played out now. Ephesians 2:10 “For you are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, to do good works which God planned in advance for you to do.”

I have one more thing to say. As I look around the room and see the Shelterwood staff, I wish I could look into each of your eyes and thank you for all the time, energy, and effort you have put into Connor’s life & every student’s life. I may not have mentioned you by name in our story, but I know you contributed to our story. Whether you have had direct or indirect contact with Connor what you do matters. It matters for the kingdom of God. If we receive crowns in heaven, I know there is a jewel on each of yours with the initials CWK for Connor Winn King and this mama’s heart is eternally grateful to each of you!

Lea shared this talk with fellow parents at our most recent Family Weekend

Abundant Life

Are you living an abundant life ?

Screen Shot 2015 04 19 at 7.59.03 PM 300x214 Abundant LifeWhat do you remember about April 19th, twenty years ago?   For most Americans old enough to remember, that day is a day that “lives in infamy” like September 11th and December 7th. Most Americans remember that day as a day of tremendous grief and sadness, for we watched in horror as scenes of the Oklahoma City bombing unfolded on the television screens before us. And we found ourselves asking the question, “What kind of perverted ideology would justify such indiscriminate evil and violence?” The most enduring image from that day was captured in the Pulitzer Prize winning photo of Firefighter Captain Chris Fields cradling one-year-old Baylee Almon in his arms. That heartbreaking image is unforgettable. Yet, I had an entirely different experience on that day, twenty years ago.

On that day, twenty years ago, over 1200 miles away, I had the privilege to cradle in my arms another infant. You see, the morning of April 19th, 1995, Janice was giving birth to our youngest son, Jonathan Zachary. For our family, it was a day filled with great joy and hope, and gratitude to God for this wonderful new life. As Janice and I held our newborn son that day, we wondered about his life and his future, and our thoughts were filled with hope and optimism. What gifts and talents would he have? What would his personality be like? Who would he marry? What would be his life’s work?

So, on April 19th every year, I am reminded of both great tragedy and great joy. The juxtaposition of these two conflicting realities is sometimes hard to reconcile. Yet, in many ways, I have come to understand that this is actually a picture of life. We would all like life to be simple and to go smoothly all the time. However, life often doesn’t work this way. I have found that typically, at any given moment in my life, there is a mixture of both good and bad at work. All that is happening is not good, and all that is happening is not bad either. We often get both, running alongside one another like parallel tracks, at the same time.

We live in a broken world, but thankfully, we have a savior who has not left us alone to face it. He encouraged us to pray daily, “Let My kingdom come, and My will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven.” He asked us to pray this way, precisely because His will was often not being done “on earth as it is in heaven.” So, pain, trial, difficulty, even tragedy are a part of life on this broken planet. However, one of the keys to enjoying the “abundant life” Jesus spoke of is learning to love God and rejoice in His blessings, often in the midst of trials and pain. That is, great pain and great joy can, and often do, exist together. And I have learned to take the words of Paul to heart (Phil. 4:8), “whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report…dwell on these things..” There is so much negativity in the world that wants to capture our attention, but Paul encourages us here to “dwell on” those things that are lovely, pure, admirable and of “good report.”

So, today, as I remember the Oklahoma City bombing, and as I pray for those still directly impacted by those events, I also celebrate life. I celebrate the life of my son, Jon.    And I thank God for his life, and his future that is still yet to be written.

You are not alone

When parents have teenagers that are struggling, many times we feel alone and very often contend with feelings of failure and shame.

First, let me assure you that you are not alone. We have 5,000 families that call us each year, looking for hope and help for their teenagers. And we have over 80,000 people who visit our website for the same reason.

DSC 9302 300x200 You are not alonePerhaps, never at any time in history, has parenting been more challenging than it is today. It used to be that a teen with serious behavioral and emotional problems came from an obviously troubled family with serious dysfunction and brokenness, or the teen themselves had suffered some significant trauma or abuse. However, this is not always the case any longer.   Many of the teens in our program come from stable, loving, two-parent homes. Teens in our program often come from great families, with parents who have been active in their lives, taken them to church on Sunday, and worked hard at being good parents.

In fact, I think that most of the parents that place their children in our program are exemplary. They don’t have their heads in the sand regarding their teens’ behavioral and emotional condition.   On the contrary, they have been actively trying to address their concerns for their teens’ issues for months.   And by the time they get to the place of considering residential treatment for their teen, they have typically already spent countless hours in prayer, discussion, worry, and counseling.

IMG 4242 300x200 You are not aloneParents consistently tell us that leaving their teen at a residential program is the most difficult thing they have ever done.   They often feel like they have failed as parents and that they have failed their child.   However, this decision is actually one of the most courageous things that parents can do for their child.   It takes deep humility for a mom or dad to acknowledge when they need help in dealing with the behavioral and emotional development of their teen.

I find it interesting that none of us has difficulty going to a medical doctor for help when we need treatment for the physical development of our child. If our teen has something wrong physically, there is no shame in taking them to the doctor. Yet, when there is something wrong in the emotional or behavioral development of our children, many of us find it very difficult to ask for help.

For this reason, those parents who make the decision to place their child at Shelterwood are heroes in my estimation. They have been wise enough to know they need help. They have been humble enough to ask for help. And they have been courageous enough to take the steps necessary to get help.

Jim Subers
Shelterwood CEO

Is my teen ever going to change?

Screen Shot 2015 02 26 at 4.31.29 PM 247x300 Is my teen ever going to change?

A Difficult Winter – Is my teen ever going to change?

For the majority of the country, this has been a particularly difficult winter. Temperatures are plummeting and snow is accumulating at record rates. While our patience may be wearing thin, there are still some cool things we can learn from winter.

We may not see it on the surface, but winter offers a lot of growth. Above the ground the leaves have all fallen off the trees long ago, but below the ground, growth has only intensified.

So often we want growth to look exactly like we planned it. When we can’t see obvious progress, it’s easy to get frustrated. But, let’s look at what growth means to a tree. When the leaves die in autumn, the tree is able to devote its energy to the roots. When the frost comes, the roots must become resilient to the cold and push deeper into the earth.

It can be really difficult to wait for growth when it’s below the surface. It’s easy to become results-driven or to want proof that growth is happening. But, remember that growth often does not look the way we expect or want it to look. I can get so frustrated when I hear about my own son continuing in his anger. My immediate reaction is to jump in and fix things. I want him to grow and to show that he’s learning. It’s in these moments that I must remind myself that growth is continuing in his life as he processes through his difficult circumstances. Even when this growth is not easy for me to see and is happening below the surface, I remind myself that the deeper and stronger the roots, the more resilient and strong my son will become.Screen Shot 2015 02 26 at 4.27.29 PM Is my teen ever going to change?

Waiting for the spring takes patience, trust and hope that growth is happening below the surface. But, in these times, take heart. It is in the most difficult of situations that our roots are strengthened. Growth is still taking place, just below the surface.

Emotional cycle of investing & parenting

Screen Shot 2014 12 10 at 12.41.59 PM Emotional cycle of investing & parentingAs I watched the price of oil plummet on the stock market today, it reminded me of some of the feelings I have had as a parent. For those who watch the stock market like I do, you might also be aware of the ’emotional cycle of investing.’ It is the wave of emotion that we feel as we follow the ebbs and flows of the stock market. When the market is going up we tend to be overly optimistic and can even become greedy, losing sight of the warning signs and the need to sell. At the height of our confidence, the market usually reverses and begins to head down. But we tend to be indifferent, believing that the market will right itself shortly. Of course, as we have seen lately in oil prices or with the banks in 2008, this sentiment can quickly turn from indifference to fear and despair. Many investors decide to sell at this very low point. Tired of losing money and angry with themselves for not selling sooner, they give up and get out of the market. At first, they are often relieved that they have taken action and are back in control. Of course, these feelings are short lived as the market capitulates and begins to head back up.

Life with teens can often feel like this emotional roller coaster. When things are going well, it is easy to become complacent and not notice new risky behaviors or to allow negative attitudes to slide. When things are hardest, it is easy to feel trapped and hopeless. This can be especially true for parents when their teen is away from home and in a therapeutic facility.  At first, there is great optimism. The placement of the teen feels like a major hurdle has been overcome and our hope as parents is sky high. This upward momentum lasts for various lengths of time, but I can guarantee after watching this cycle for the past twenty-four years, difficulty is coming. It’s impossible for stocks to only go up, just like it’s unrealistic to expect that people will grow in only one direction. Problems will occur in any setting, and while parents will often remain committed to the process at first and promise to be long-term investors, the crisis deepens and tests the resolve of even the strongest parents.

It is helpful to remember that your teen is also going through an emotional cycle. They are also working through emotions like denial, telling themselves that this is not going to happen to them. Proclaiming that this situation just can’t be true, and that they are not staying in a program. Maybe they are experiencing a need to bargain, or are confused, asking themselves, “Why did this happen to me? I am not so bad…my friends are worse.” This can lead to feelings of depression, being trapped, hopelessness or anger.

So, Mom and Dad, don’t sell your stock at its lowest price when things look the most desperate. Don’t panic and quit when the therapeutic program is reporting a lack of change in your teen. Markets take time to reverse and so do teens. When a teen is struggling the most and things seem the bleakest, this is often when they will finally capitulate and begin the process of positive growth. So try to be grateful in these moments of despair. Try to be calm when you might actually be very nervous. Lean more heavily into meditation and spiritual reflection to gain a proper perspective and peace.