Whutz Up in Paradise Cove A monthly newsletter written for parents of kids in Samoa. Paradise Cove is a residential treatment facility for troubled adolescent boys.
Vol. 1, No.2 February 1997
IN THIS ISSUE.... PARENT LINK SUPPORT GROUP EVERYTHING IN IT'S OWN TIME HAPPY BIRTHDAY! INTERNATIONAL PHONE RATES TWISTER HITS SEATTLE THE TEAM EXPERIENCES WITH A HOME VISIT THE TRANSITION EXPERIENCE ENROLLMENT AT DISCOVERY TRAINING SEMINAR REGISTRATION PARENT COORDINATOR'S CORNER HAVE SOMETHING TO SHARE? PARENT SUPPORT GROUPS SPECIAL NOTICES PARENT LINK SUPPORT GROUP There is an active Parent Support Group that you can participate in via e-mail. It was started by Paradise Cove families, but now is joined by the other families from Cross Creek, Spring Creek Lodge, and will surely also soon include Tranquility Bay. To subscribe, follow these directions: Send an e-mail to: email@example.com In body of text please type : "please subscribe to pffl-link " Send an e-mail to the link at: firstname.lastname@example.org Then jump on in, introduce yourself and participate! EVERYTHING IN IT'S OWN TIME by Anita Smith, son in Samoa 9 months Sometimes I think about the agony we went through during the year my son went south. It is tempting to wish we had found Teen Help on day one of that year. But I have come to realize we had to go through all of those crises and pain to get to the point when we could see and accept the help we needed. We needed to be humbled to the point where it was no longer in doubt that we did not have anything else in our bag of tricks which would help him. Loving him was not enough. It was either swallow our pride and trust someone else to help, or give up, close our eyes and keep our fingers crossed that he would somehow survive. We had enough sanity left to realize the choice was a no-brainer. So we bought him a snorkel and swim fins and sent him to the South Pacific. Then I had to start another segment of my journey . . . letting go. It was pretty easy to study the Parent's Manual and get all the rules into my head. But it seemed that was all that my son was doing. It looked good . . . minding his own business, staying within the rules, but keeping it all at arm's length . . . no internalization of change as yet. I realized it is easy to avoid looking for real growth if all he, or I, did was gauge that growth by focusing on the number of points, levels achieved, or number of courses completed. Seems that is a common course many of us go until we realize it is a dead end. I remember being somewhat frustrated early on at how vague the program was about duration of treatment. But I now see how valid that approach was, and how I would have been just like the kids if I had been given a time frame . . . focusing primarily on the calendar and not the substance of growth. For me it would have been . . "Oh, the calendar says such-and-such... must be time to bring him home.!" . . . "But the book says that X-amount of points means Level 2, why isn't he there?" . . . "But the rules say he has to write home every Sunday. Why haven't I had a letter in a month?" We had our second phone call recently, after a three month gap. My husband and I found it amazingly unsatisfying - we dubbed it a non-event. He whined about new boys going through the levels too fast - "What's your point, son? You are barely holding onto Level 3 after eight months. So what difference does it make to you that someone else made Level 4 after five months? How does this apply to you? " He wanted to know when he could come home - "Gosh. We have no idea. I'm sure the staff will let us know when it is time. " Every time I tried to address something close to his or my heart, he changed the subject. Never said he loved us, missed us, just lots of "What will you do for me?" Sometimes we build up these phone calls in our mind, thinking the boy who calls will be the boy in our dreams every night. The sweet 7-year old who asked us to buy the house next door, when it was for sale, to save for him to live in when he grew up so he wouldn't have to live further away. I have found it freeing to let go of levels and points, and sometimes it amazes me that I don't want to grab it back. I acknowledge the growth my son has achieved thus far, and appreciate the reality that he alone has the ability to choose when and how he will go forward from here. Daily, I am thankful for the personal growth my son's situation demanded I make. For this is the reality of my choices . This is the life I have control over . . . no one else. I like myself much better this way. Life is full of challenges . . . in this there is personal growth . In letting go . . . . there is serenity. HAPPY BIRTHDAY! by Sue Morton, son in Samoa 10 months I wanted to share with you the e-mail I sent my son for his 16th birthday. I know my son is in a good place and I am very happy for him, and for our family. The pain of missing him on his 16th birthday is still with me! But he is safe, and that comforts my heart. And I know he is learning to make new choices for himself. Internal change is a slow, challenging process. Requiring consistency and patience on both our parts. Though I miss my son, I am committed to supporting him, and that includes doing my part as well. Thank you for letting me share this with you. Life is a process, one that is continuously changing. With each change we are offered unexpected opportunities for growth. Change is what fosters our development. It encourages us to risk new behavior and may even result in some mistakes. Fortunately, no mistakes can seriously hinder us. In fact, most mistakes give us an additional opportunity to learn. Where we stand today is far removed from our position last year, or even last week. Each and every moment offers us new input that influences any decision from this moment forward. The process that we're participating in guarantees our growth as long as we remain conscious of our opportunities and willing to respond to them. We can be glad that the life process is, in fact, never static . . . always moving, always inviting us to participate fully! Happy 16th Birthday, Son! INTERNATIONAL PHONE RATES According to some of the parents on the e-mail parent support group, there are currently some excellent international phone rates. There are, perhaps, other carriers offering similar rates as well. Please verify these rates and information with the carrier of your choice. Sprint: Sprint has a special rate for international calls to a country of your choice. Until June, it is $1.50 per minute. AT & T: AT & T is offering One Rate International Plan anyday, anytime for $1.05 per minute. TWISTER HITS SEATTLE by Paul Johnson The following story was shared via the e-mail parent support group, and Paul agreed to let us share this with all of the Paradise Cove families through our newsletter. Paul has a daughter in the Cross Creek Manor program. We want to thank him for sharing this with us. Mine is probably not a unique experience, but it happened so close on the heels of the Discovery Seminar, that my wife and I suspect that the seminar trainer, Duane, had a hand in arranging it. This happened immediately upon our return from the Seminar on Sunday night. We live north of Seattle. It is about an hour drive from where the Seminar was held. It was wet and foggy and there was a lot of traffic, so we didn't pull up to our house until almost 1 am. Our 19-year old son is away at college (so we thought), so the house was supposed to be empty. When we arrived, the house lights were on, people were moving around inside, and we could hear music from the front porch. When we went inside, not only was our son home, but so were his guests - 3 girls and 3 boys, and he was having a party! My normal reaction to this type of event was to go ballistic. In fact, as I walked in the door, I was framing the words that would have embarrassed him, antagonized his friends, and clearly demonstrated who was in charge of this particular domicile. I was tired, emotionally drained, and it was long, long past my bedtime. But I couldn't get the harsh words out quickly enough. The impact of the Seminar was still strong in my heart. Our son quickly introduced us to his friends, and the appropriate moment for yelling was past. However, I still had the opportunity to be seriously grumpy. They were playing a game called Twister in the middle of our living room. They were all playing. It involves several people, spinning a dial, placing your hands and feet on the appropriate spot on a mat, indicated by the dial . . . last one to fall wins the game. This is ordinarily enjoyed by small children, but I was surprised to see college students playing it. Clearly, no rational adult would consider it! As my wife and I entered the living room, one of the kids asked us if we wanted to play. He was obviously asking to be polite, since we looked so tired you would doubt our ability to carry in our suitcases. Besides, I'm 57-years old, walk with a cane, and have spent a lot of energy working on the image of a formal, aloof and dignified gentleman. That person does not play Twister with six college students who were uninvited, and in the middle of his living room at 1 am. Well, I didn't . . . at least not very well. I only came in 4th place. My wife is a little younger, and a lot more agile . . . she tied for 1st place! The next day the kids went back to school. That morning, I got an e-mail from my son that said, "Thanks for making my friends welcome. They think that I have neat parents . . . and so do I." All other parents will know the value of that sentence! It is clear to me that the three days of effort at Discovery have already paid for themselves. THE TEAM On the day of your birth a team was born. That team was you and I. The game is life and the field is rough. The stakes are very high. Since you were so young, I became coach. That's how it had to be. Just understand that I'm learning, too. Some plays are new to me. Some days you will see some other coach Calling plays you'd like to run. You'll feel playing on the other team Would surely be more fun. But those days will pass, so try to learn The coach is on your team. This coach wants only the best for you And shares your every dream. One other thing you need to know, Else this very team may fall, The coach may call some plays, my son, But it's you who carries the ball! EXPERIENCES WITH A HOME VISIT by Tim Flood, son in Transition Home 6 weeks Our 18-year old son, Jacob, voluntarily in the Transition program at Spring Creek Lodge, arrived home in January for his first home visit. This was a wonderful, though challenging, experience for all of us. We'd like to share these tips and experiences with you. Don't expect a completely different person to return! Your child is the same wonderful, but imperfect, person he always was. Would you want it any other way? The difference is that he now functions at a much more mature level. His basic personality is still the same, only unfettered by the nonworking image and negative conditioning of the past. Too much togetherness is not a good thing. Give each other space to breathe. Remember, you haven't been together for a long time. Focus first to reestablish family cooperation. Togetherness will come naturally. You all have to get used to each other again. The kids are taught the tools they need to succeed when interpersonal issues arise. If you've been working your side of the program, you too have tools to succeed. Old issues will come up! Your family will not suddenly transform into the Walton's! When conflict occurs, fall back on the tools you've learned. The kids will do this automatically. They are hoping for the same from you. Watch out for old, subtle issues. Here's a great example of one that came up for us. The phone rings. Tim's at the computer; Sandy's fixing dinner; Jacob picks up the phone. It the girl across the street - definitely not a friend who can support Jacob in a drug-free lifestyle. Jacob asks Tim is he can go see her for 10 minutes before dinner. Tim, worn out from spending the entire day with his intense son, mumbles his consent, totally absorbed in his project on the computer. Sandy inquires of Tim as to Jacob's whereabouts. Tim has an immediate, uneasy feeling of being caught at something he doesn't exactly want to understand! He says, with blank innocence, "Oh, across the street . . . he'll be back in 10 minutes." Sandy says she's upset with Jacob because this is a violation of his home contract. Exasperated with talking about, but never seeing, a typed home contract, Tim angrily says, "What home contract?!" and retreats to his computer. When the wanderer returns, exactly on time, Time hears a few words between the other two in the kitchen and lays low. The whole situation is not resolved. Tim stays in his unconscious sea of tranquility. Everyone choose to avoid the situation - - itself an old family pattern. After realizing his involvement in this, Tim becomes depressed. He starts to dwell in the past. Oh no! We're not good parents! We're not partners! Jake will continue to manipulate us! He's slipping back! This is all coming unraveled! Wisely, Tim recognizes his condition and calls Steve, his Seminar buddy., who listens with empathy and objectivity. What helps his own family in their issues, Steve says, is to simply ask, "Do you acknowledge we have a broken agreement? Yes or no." Steve helps Tim recognize he is reacting out of fear from the past. Tim then shares this conversation with Sandy and both are able to get back on an emotionally even keel. Next we ask Jacob to look at the sequence of events with us: (1) Jacob violates an agreement. (2) Tim preferring comfort without disturbance, goes unconscious and gives Jake permission to do whatever he wants, making Tim compliant in violating the agreement as well. (3) Sandy sees the situation clearly but lacks the personal confidence to take on the other two effectively. (4) Thus mother and father are divided and have harsh feelings toward each other. (5) Bottom line, son gets off scott free. Sound familiar, anyone? The result of our review of this with Jacob? Both gentlemen acknowledge their broken agreement. Sandy takes accountability for her powerlessness. We all learn something. Jacob acknowledges that the home visit is a success precisely because these issues came up and we learned to deal with them. Old issues like these will come up! What do they mean? Nothing . . . unless you give them meaning. The past is over, so learn from it and forget it. Try to avoid looking at your child or yourself from the standpoint of what used to be. One loose thread does not mean the whole cloth is coming unravelled. Better to live in the now and take care of the lone loose thread! If you get down, call for help. There are so many loving parents, like Steve, involved in the program now. There is always someone you can call upon for help. Asking for and giving help builds community we can all draw upon. Oh by the way . . . we're all looking forward to our next home visit! "Old issues will come up! Your family will not suddenly transform into the Walton's!" THE TRANSITION EXPERIENCE by Dave Brothers, Transition Home - 6 weeks So far for me, Transition has worked out well. When I first got to Montana it seemed like a cold version of Samoa. Since I knew the program so well after 16-months in Samoa, at first, I did not feel challenged and was bored at Spring Creek. That all seemed to change when I went on my first home visit. Living with my parents for a week was one of the most challenging things I've done. It seemed almost immediately the old feelings and patterns were there again. For us, working through that has been beautiful, but not easy. After my home visit I went back to Spring Creek with a lot to work on. I then had the opportunity to staff the first Discovery for Spring Creek Lodge with Duane Smotherman. After that, I woke up and realized I have to challenge myself in Transition, but more importantly, at home. Right now, things are going great for me because I choose to challenge myself. Transition works if parents and child are committed to making it challenging, and if you utilize the opportunity of the home visits. The staff here are an amazing amount of help to me and they have pointed out some rough edges that I didn't see in Samoa. I feel I've grown a lot from this experience and it has given me space to build back a relationship with my family. ENROLLMENT AT DISCOVERY TRAINING by David Gilcrease, Resource Realization We have had some confusion about who is entitled to go to the Discovery Training free of charge. The following may attend without charge: * Parents * Stepparents * Grandparents * Anyone who is on the contract as financially responsible. If you staff a training, you may send a sibling over 16 to the adult training at no charge. All other guests must pay the $250/person of $400/couple fee. We have not been tight on this, and unfortunately this has led to an abuse of the policy. I have instructed Ren to enforce this with all enrollments. One assumption we made in moving the Parent Training into regional areas was that we would have some enrollment in conjunction with a fee. This was one of the request parents were making in order to share the training with family and friends. The operations cost of the Parent Discovery took quite a jump when moving to the regional areas. Operation costs, such as equipment for each area, travel costs, additional hotel fees, are higher in these other regions than in Utah. In order to keep the overall cost of the program low, it is imperative we begin to build enrollment into the Discovery Training. Enrollment into the training was never intended to pay for the training. However, we want to keep the cost of the overall program as low as possible for our parents. The TASKS program is a vital element of the overall program and I am committed to ensuring we keep it in the local areas, keep the quality high, and not add significant cost to the overall program. The main purpose for enrolling into the training is to build your support network before your child returns home. Family members, friends, school personnel, and people you may work with are part of the network you can build to support your family while extending to these people an invaluable opportunity. General public training companies which do similar types of experiential trainings cost between $450 and $550 for a Discovery type training. Focus is generally $650 to $750 per person. Your friends are getting the bargain of their lives! I encourage you, as graduates, to begin to seek out others to enroll into your life and the training. I hope this clears up misinformation and creates a different consciousness about enrollment. SEMINAR REGISTRATION Please note that all seminar registrations, and staffing requests, are to be made with Ren. You may contact her at 801-635-0918- voice/message, 801-635-2331-fax or email@example.com. Please have all requests for seminar registration to her 10 days prior to the seminar to allow time to coordinate the proportionate amount of staff personnel. PARENT COORDINATOR'S CORNER Glenda Cook During February, I relocated my office to St. George, Utah. My office hours remain the same, but my contact information has changed. Please note changes, below. Please also be aware, that I am out of the office during many of the seminars. The focus of my time is to orient the new parents. If your are a new parent, and we have not spoken yet, feel free to contact me. I will return calls in the order received. Please note urgent calls do take priority. When sending an e-mail to my attention, put Attn: Glenda in the subject line. M - F 9 am - 5 pm Mtn. Time 1-801- 467-3768 Voice 1-801-656-0632 Fax P.O. Box 3109 St. George, UT 84771 firstname.lastname@example.org HAVE SOMETHING TO SHARE? Have you ever thought about sharing your special experiences, personal growth, or tidbit of helpful information with the rest of the Paradise Cove family? Perhaps you have an inspirational or motivational thought, poem, or amusing anecdote that would lift someone else's day. Well, please don't be shy. The more the merrier. We'd love to hear from you. If you have something you would like to submit to Whutz Up, please send them to Glenda Cook's attention at one of the numbers listed in the Parent Coordinator's Corner. PARENT SUPPORT GROUPS There are numerous parent support groups around the country. If you have one you would like included, send that information to the Parent Coordinator. San Diego Dan & Ellen Koller 619-481-2057 Seattle Kate Burdette 360-825-5100 So. Calif. Jeff Wells 818-914-2320 No. Calif. Tim Flood 415-349-4358 Atlanta Dina Dalton 770-971-3853 Miami Lynn Pretzfeld 305-595-8099 Chico, Ca. Shelly Tedford 916-893-2141 Fairbanks, Ak. Bill Lanning 907-457-7384 SPECIAL NOTICES Temporarily we will be unable to accommodate packages being sent to Paradise Cove via Brightway. While the expansion and construction is underway, extra space for shipping is extremely limited. FYI- the staff in Samoa have noted that it seems the most efficient means of package delivery is by the regular US Mail, with contents clearly labeled. Also, when sending packages, mail, faxes, or e-mail, please clearly note your son's name and Case Manager's name for ease in sorting. Please be advised that Rita is out on emergency medical leave. In the interim, Doreen and Joann will share her caseload. Your patience during this time would be greatly appreciated.