Once you’ve made the decision to place your son or daughter in residential treatment, it can be difficult to know your exact role in their journey. Though parents aren’t enrolled in the program, they play a vital role in their teen’s success both during and after treatment.
Here are seven things that I’ve found successful parents do to support their teen in a residential treatment program.
- Offer Input. As a parent, you know your teen better than almost anyone. The history, information, and insight that you can offer to team members are all invaluable in creating a treatment plan that best fits your high schooler’s unique needs.
- Do Your Homework. While your input is essential, stepping back and completing the assignments you’re given is also vital to long-term success. As your teen grows, changes, and heals during treatment, it’s important for you to do the same. Hard work is required to ensure the family is prepared for their teen’s homecoming.
- Listen and Learn. Practice being an active listener and remember to be open to whatever you might learn on this journey. All of the knowledge you absorb can turn into wisdom that helps your family succeed in the future.
- Take Down Your Defenses. Having a young adult in residential treatment can be an extremely emotional experience, and it’s easy to become highly reactive. Try to leave anger and defensive attitudes at the door. Take comfort in knowing that everyone is on the same team.
- Know the Game Plan. Your teen’s treatment plan may seem overwhelming initially, but it’s crucial that you have a clear understanding of what it entails. Without this, it’s impossible to support your teen by upholding the same goals, ideals, and methods on your home turf.
- Trust the Experts. You made the decision to place your high teen in treatment and it was the right decision. Now you have a whole team of people dedicated to your teen’s success. Instead of trying to constantly insert yourself into the program from afar, trust in the talents and expertise of those caring for your son or daughter. I guarantee, they’ve seen these challenges before and have a plan for handling them.
- Take Ownership. Many parents make the mistake of placing all of the blame on their “problem teen.” This is simply not true. Each member of the family brings their own flaws to the table and every person involved must own their slice of the problem pie. The “problem” does not belong solely to your teen, it belongs to the entire family system.
These suggestions may seem overwhelming right now, but don’t worry — your young person is in good hands. And if we all work together we can all be on the winning team.