WHY THIS?: This parent advice post was sparked by the reminder of a child who was killed by a staff member at a wilderness camp, a place where that child had been sent to for help.
When parents do all they feel they can do, they turn to professionals for help. I call this ‘When More Is Needed’. All too often, professional help betrays. Wilderness camps, rehabs, or residential treatment centers are often the first place many parents turn to. Many such placements are good, but some kill kids, or embitter those who survive and make all the problems worse.
Lovely picture. Lovely isn’t it. But providing care for teens of despairing parents is big business. A business that kills some kids. Check with the Community Alliance For the Ethical Treatment of Youth and read about’s Sergey Blashchishen’s death which was eventually called a homocide. He was attending a well known Wilderness Treatment Center.
Here is a quote:What did look like an obvious choice of hospitalization in a place where he (Sergio) could detox and receive therapy were somewhere changed – perhaps by an educational consultant on the payroll of schools or programs – to include a stay at a wilderness program. A deadly choice but also a tragic loss for his family who had to suffer the ultimate sacrifice – the loss of a child. May he be remembered as a person who paid too dearly with life so families of teenagers in need for treatment may be advised better in the future?
So what are my tips? I have five:
- Become an educated consumer: First steps are to read Sergio’s story and visit CAFETY.
- Follow the money: As a foster parent, I eventually tumbled onto the fact that school guidance counselors, social workers, and psychologists, while not able to charge a student’s parents’ a fee, could refer to colleagues working in other schools. Doing so meant their private practice eventualling profited. It also meant the colleague had a school bias and not a parent bias.
- Use a number of advisors: This relates to the above. Gregory Bateson suggests the more views of something, the more likely a good map can be created.
- Ask the kid what will help: Many of my foster kids had very strong ideas about what would help. Some wanted to go live with a relative or at a friend’s home. I would suggest they write to that relative or the friend’s parents and ask if they could live there. Very few said yes, but some did and contacted the kid’s probation officer expressing their willingness to help. For some kids that did the trick; some bombed out of those homes, but that was part of accepting they might have a problem. The blaming of parents by much of today’s media, and far too many professionals, creates a barrier in a child’s ability to accept responsibility for their actions. It sometimes took being in four or five different placements for a child to begin thinking that maybe a change in their behavior was needed.
- Maintain close contact with any child or adult in any type of placement: If no one is watching, the possibility of abuse grows. This also means you have to be alert to what is a legitimate complaint. Any kid in our foster home who wanted to alarm their parents cranked about the fact that we kept in a Kosher home. The reality was that we did so in a culturally accepted way. If the kids had not been told the kids would not have known.
Like this post or share it with someone who is a parent at their wit’s end with a child they love. Share it on Facebook. Share it on your parenting blog. You will be helping that others, yourself, and me. Karma dictates kindness is always returned.
Practicing Kindness is one of the 12 Daily Emotional Fitness Exercises. Click here to view all 12 Daily Emotional Fitness Exercises. If regular practice of the 12 Daily Emotional Fitness Exercises does not improve the quality of your life, more might be needed. That is the time to think about counseling and following the tips above.
Good luck, life is a struggle, caring for children harder than you expect AND despite the struggle, life as a parent is also wonderful.Katherine