The intake day was challenging, as they often are, because Mom was on her own and without any additional support. Her daughter was pretty hard on her mom-in the customary ways.
But a Shelterwood student (Brooke) helped this family in an amazing and unprompted way. The new student had sneaked back into Mom’s rental car and staged a 90 minute sit-in unless Mom agreed to fly her home and deliver her to a Detroit jail (which, as you’re aware is better than Shelterwood). Brooke, shared her own story, speaking very highly of Shelterwood and sharing that the Shelterwood process offers “only the challenges that are needed for someone to heal, grow, and ultimately thrive.” Brooke single-handedly coaxed her out of the vehicle, gave mom a hug (making mom cry tears of gratitude). As Mom left, she shared “I can’t wait until my daughter becomes mature, loving, and wise beyond her years like Brooke; maybe, even someday, she will talk some other new student out of a rental car!” I told Mom I was confident this was possible for her and I chuckled knowing that few would have ever thought this possible for Brooke.
Yesterday reminded me of everything that’s great about Shelterwood. Namely, how we work so hard to love well and how on our hilltop, even a parent’s toughest-day-ever can end well. Lastly, I was reminded how Shelterwood’s culture of loving tenaciously can melt even the toughest of student hearts like it has Brooke’s to the point of creating Shelterwood loyalty so persuasive it can even pry a hostile teenage stranger from her mom’s rental car.
Bravo, team and thanks.
Jeremy Lotz, MA, LPC, NCC
Director of Training & Leadership
Change is a process, not an event
Do you ever say, “We have already dealt with this, why is he/she still struggling with this?” As parents we crave growth and change so deeply that once we see it displayed, even once, it is really hard to accept when it isn’t immediately repeated. Seeing behavioral growth might even tempt us to get caught up in the success and bring our teen home prematurely. After all, it is really tough to cover the costs of residential care and live so far away from our kids. It is natural to want them home, especially when we see good things happening. But teens that are required to attend treatment tend to demonstrate improved behavior before they have truly changed on the inside. Much like a cake when it is pulled prematurely out of the heat, it will always flop. Change isn’t about making one good choice when everyone is watching. The true mark of growth is when your teen makes the right choice when no one will know. This type of deep character growth that impacts all future decisions is what you should be seeking. So be patient and move through Shelterwood with purpose rather than with reaction. Your teen might return home with a depth that might surprise you.
Is your troubled teen an influence of siblings?
University of Washington Sociologist Dr. Abby Fagan found that children who have older brothers or sisters who smoke and drink are three to five times more likely to use tobacco and alcohol, because siblings are a more powerful role model than friends or parents.
- 10 percent of younger siblings with non-smoking older siblings used tobacco, compared to 40 percent of those whose older siblings smoked.
- Younger sibling alcohol use increased from 25 to 53 percent when older brothers and sisters reported drinking.
If siblings are more powerful role models than parents, than siblings and their potential influences on each other should be a primary focus of intervention. The influence of siblings highlights the value of residential placement and the removal of the influential teen from the home.
Hear how Shelterwood impacted these families.
If your older teen is a negative influence in the home and more of an influence of siblings than you originally thought, give us a call and let us help.