Funny thing about parents: They are almost always the last to know about their children’s substance abuse. Not funny thing about parents: They are almost always the last to know about their children’s substance abuse.
Doesn’t matter who they are. Where they came from. How they raised their kids.
Often a parent comes in who doesn’t really believe that. “Why am I here with parents of real drug users?” Others are raising the children of their children who are caught up in addiction’s death grip. “I hope they turn out different than their mamas and daddys. I am depending on prayer.” Still others are stunned by the turn their lives have taken and can’t even put two thoughts together.
Here’s the thing. We are all sitting in the same room. Our children are all here for the same reason. This is a difficult road and it takes brutal honesty and a willingness to overcome the internal obstacles that prevent seeing our children for who they really are. Some parents take longer than others to grasp that. I know. I was one of them.
So the next time you are talking about how different your situation is take a moment and try to imagine all the similarities. It’s a good place to start the healing that only those other parents can understand.
There is no winning when you cover for your child once it’s become clear s/he has drug or alcohol problems.
You want to protect her. You want to show how much you love him. Despite the disrespect. Despite the drugs. Despite the stealing and lying. You think you are making it better.
What do they think? You stupid.
The Parent Pledge requests you stop doing what hurts you and start doing what helps you. Exactly what is that? Get the entire explanation here.
Lucas County, Ohio
Bunch of kids in detention tonight. If it’s an average night in Lucas County, Ohio that means forty-four juveniles are already sitting in their cells. Out of that forty-four there’s a really good chance that 25%, or eleven, of them have a mental illness.
According to the Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio
An Ohio official, quoted in the GAO reported, that “[m]ost
youth with mental health concerns are housed here whether
appropriate or not as there are minimal mental health resources
provide by this state for them.”
Really? We stick them in jail because there’s nowhere else for them to go? Can you imagine not being able to get the services your child so desperately needs because they aren’t available and they end up in jail? Where they can’t get services because the justice system isn’t designed to manage mental health issues?
Unconscionable. Outrageous. Destructive. How do we call ourselves civilized?
Want to read more?
Rethinking Juvenile Detention In Ohio
Here is a mantra for you. Say it at least two times a day: Morning and night. Repeat it whenever you feel your kid’s drama taking over – up to one hundred times per day .
Imagine your teenager has been recently diagnosed with epilepsy. The right mix of medications hasn’t been found yet so seizures happened randomly and frequently.
While he didn’t do it on purpose it is mightily annoying he can no longer drive. School is a disaster because the seizures are disruptive and nobody wants to be around him. Now you have to force your child to go to school even though he was fine before. People start to comment or ask invasive and critical questions about what you did that might have contributed to all this. Shoot it may be hereditary – clearly your fault. All the intervention you’ve gathered up is not working so it must be the child must not want to get better!
You figure the best way to get her to come around and get straight with this disease is to punish her every time she has a seizure. Get her into an institution that isolates her from family and friends. That will show her! It may be a disease but she should be able to deal with it and Lord knows you shouldn’t have to do anything to help.
No. I haven’t lost my mind. This scenario sounds utterly ridiculous and any parent who went down this path would probably be reported by several agencies as negligent – at best.
What if I am describing kids with drug or alcohol disease? Does that change your mind?
Many people believe it does. That the social ills created by this medical issue are far more important. That only bad families raise kids who use drugs or alcohol. That locking them up because of the crimes they commit to support their disease is the best solution.
Disease is disease. You can hate it. You can fight it. You can label it. But every one deserves treatment.
There has never been a time I was in the JDC visitation room that virtually every kid who entered the room did not run to his/her parents. ”Hi Mama!” ”Daddy you came!”
I get choked up thinking about it.
These are children. Their brains aren’t completely developed. We all know that. Why else are there laws against driving under the age of 16 or voting at 17 or drinking at 20? We have decided as a society that people aren’t sufficiently mature to engage in those activities at least until then.
I understand that many of those kids were found guilty of crimes (the rest are being held until a hearing). I get it. I promise you I would have been faint with fear if I found any of them in my house or trying to steal the change out of my car or who knows what.
We weep over the ignorance of a girl who has a baby at 12 but believe she knows exactly what she is doing when involved in holding up a convenience store. We shake our heads at violence in music, movies and games then feel shocked when teenagers internalize that violence and act on it. We drink and smoke and have random sex as adults and are incredulous when our kids follow suit underage.
I have discovered that children are believed to understand when they have committed “horrific” crimes. The ones that are headline news. That no neighbor predicted. Beyond the comprehension of friends. God forbid it’s an election year.
We don’t expect them to fully comprehend the consequences of stealing a car or buying a dime bag of dope or bullying someone on the internet.
Sending them to adult prison doesn’t work. The research is overwhelming. We have to come up with a better way.
And for those who say “They’re criminals. They deserve everything they get!” I say I hope you never have to face it.
Want to read more?
Parent Testimony Less Youth Crime Lowering The Age Of Responsibility
I am always amazed about stories I hear. Just in general.
This story about an autistic teenager getting locked up is one of those stories.
Short version: Kid is seen sitting in an open grassy area near a school. Might have a gun. Area schools lock down for safety. Law enforcement is called. Struggle ensues. Taken down. Taken in. Sentenced in a couple weeks. No gun.
Here’s the other part of the story that amazes me. It became a national story. Holly Robinson Peete whose son is autistic brought it up on her television show.
Many young people with autism can’t read social cues, she said. “They don’t know how to interact with authority. We need to make sure that law enforcement understands this, too,” she said.
That will not happen. Law enforcement has one, and only one, responsibility. That’s to prevent, stop or solve crimes. We have to stop asking them to take on jobs that need to be done by mental health specialists, counselors and institutions.
In other words shall we spend $50,000 a year incarcerating someone who clearly doesn’t fully understand what is going on around them or should we spend $8500 on community services?
The other question. Who will stand up for the kids who don’t have such socially acceptable problems like autism? Why are the voices in the heads of schizophrenic, depressed or bipolar teens held more responsible?
I always say the best time to discuss difficult things is while driving. It is impossible to take your eyes off traffic for more than a millisecond or you can look out the window if you’re the passenger. Amazing how much can get done when direct eye contact is not sustainable.
On the other hand a thought provoking article claims we are now so addicted to technology we are wasting precious time with our babies and children and fail to look at their faces while we are with them.
It hurts them and you.
Need to talk about trouble at school or family problems or a break up? Yeah, definitely the car. Want to talk about happy things? Make sure you are face to face!
I recently had a long phone conversation with a very charming, very smart woman about the lovely Ashley Kamm. Throughout she would say “Red flag!” and internally I would say “Yeah, I knew that”.
Denial isn’t for sissies. It takes tremendous effort to stay in that warm, fuzzy place where hope springs eternal and other people don’t know what they’re talking about. It’s different for my child and here are the reasons why…
After the conversation ended, I told Ashley we needed to talk, make a plan and then implement it. Why? Because I could not let her stay in denial: That I would always be here to protect her and help her pick up the pieces. That I would always be able to pay her bills so that she could continue her limited forays into the world. That I was even willing to do that anymore.
Did she get it? Yes, in her head. In her heart, not so much. So we continue the conversation every day. It’s loud sometimes and messy. She is struggling as much with the changes in me as with the changes I am demanding from her.
Denial is an addiction. Getting clean isn’t for sissies either. It takes commitment, patience and understanding. Like every other person in recovery I truly regret it took so long.