Shelterwood is set to open a new lodge in the summer of 2015. The new building is the result of generous donors and the recognition that there are many families around the country that need help. The lodge will house eight students, in four different pods, for a total of thirty-two. The unique design is the result of much study and consultation with the State of Missouri and the leadership of CALO.
We have decided to name this amazing new lodge after our late founder, Richard Beach. Richard passed away a few years ago after a long battle with cancer. He started Shelterwood in 1980 and invested all of his energy into developing leaders and caring for families. Richard had a special way about him, always eager to connect and care for others, and willing to talk to anybody. His conversations were always filled with humor and care.
Richard always saw the best in people. He nurtured many people, young and old, into fantastic leaders. I was fortunate because I managed to spend many years directly under Richard’s leadership and deeply appreciated his mentorship. Unlike other leaders that try to hold on to power, Richard always found ways to share leadership. Even with Richards passing, Shelterwood remains living proof of this wisdom, as most non-profit organizations go out of business within a few years of their founder leaving. Not Shelterwood. We are still here and continuing to grow.
Richard trusted the people that he developed for succession. Those who do not finish well seem to always be dissatisfied with whoever succeeds them, almost as if they are looking for, but unable to find, a clone of themselves. Richard did not hold on to power, but instead shared it freely and at Shelterwood, this continues to be our model. Over the years we have managed to develop and then release many leaders to start their own programs. Leadership development through our mentor process does not just apply to the staff that work at Shelterwood Academy, but it is also a critical part of how we interact with our students.
And so it makes sense that our new student residence would be called the Beach Lodge: designed to care for the most hurting of teenagers in an intimate way. We anticipate the Beach Lodge being filled with laughter, compassion and growth and providing an opportunity for young men and women to uncover their full potential.
Watch this fantastic video of Richard Beach share on the importance of love.
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.
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.
Letting go of fear and responsibility for your teen will be part of the therapeutic process that you will go through while in Shelterwood. Take a moment to read through some of the common internal dialogues that we often go through as parents when we have a fear of change.
1. Fear of the unknown
Parent: If I can’t change my child’s behavior, how can someone else? Will Shelterwood staff be manipulated? What if he gets sick or she is mistreated? Who else is going to be in the program?
Teen: Can I contact my friends? Do my parents care about me? Whom can I trust? Only losers are sent to residential group homes.
We are most at ease when we are completely familiar with our surroundings and sure of what the future holds for us.
2. Fear of failure
Parent: What if I spend all of this money and they don’t change?
Teen: What if I can’t change? Is this who I really am?
People expect to get everything right the first time instead of taking time to work things out and getting them right at some time.
3. Fear of commitment
Parent: What if we give everything to this process and our child remains angry and distant?
Teen: I don’t feel confident that I can achieve what I really want in life. If I focus on what I want and then fail where does that leave me? I think I might be better off not trying. I don’t want to feel trapped by high expectations and responsibility.
People should be honest with themselves and commit to a few simple goals.
4. Fear of disapproval
Parent: What if my teen never forgives me for this decision? What will my parents, friends, siblings think of my parenting if I need to place my teen in a program?
Teen: What if I commit myself to my goals and my parents still disapprove? If I change, are my friends going to dislike me?
You will learn very quickly who your false friends are and who is truly on the side of your self-esteem.