Archive for 'Parents'

Mar 29

“Children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority and show disrespect for their elders.  They contradict their parents, and tyrannize their teachers.”  This was written by Socrates 2000 years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock.

Problems with teens aren’t new, but things have obviously changed.  Today’s youth, especially young women, face a plethora of issues that effect normal adolescent development.  Exposure to an explicit violent amoral media, drugs and alcohol at school, predators on the internet, bullying, and gang activity are among the new issues teens have to deal with today.

How does a parent know their daughter or son is becoming “at risk”?

1)  Abrupt Changes:  Adolescence is a time of great change.  Brain research shows teens are undergoing massive growth and reorganization in the pre-frontal cortex.  As a parent you must pay attention to abrupt dramatic changes in attitude, values, beliefs, dress, appearance, friends, patterns, and relations with parents.

2)  Instability:  We know teens are moody and unpredictable; however, marked changes in a teen’s emotional state that is not temporary is cause for concern.  Extreme moodiness, sadness, hostility, agitation, belligerence, personality changes, talk of suicide or hopelessness are serious warning signs for you as a parent to seek help for your teen.

3)  Irresponsibility:  Most teens vacillate between wanting to grow up and wanting to stay dependent.  When a teen begins to show a pattern of irresponsibility, i.e. lying, manipulating, breaking promises, being late or absent, a lack of any honest effort – this begins a trajectory that should be interrupted, not ignored.

4)  Divorcing their Parents:  All teens and parents have moments they just can’t seem to resolve–disagreements, even some anger or withdrawal.  However, teens cannot be allowed to divorce their parents in favor of a peer group.  Parents must stay close to their teens.  Extreme behaviors such as yelling, threatening, outright defiance or rebellion are cause for concern.

5)  Refusal:  Teens can be stubborn and uncooperative; however, outright refusal to receive parental feedback, communicate, or acknowledge problems is not acceptable and should be considered serious.

But wait, there’s more!

As if the above information wasn’t enough for parents to deal with.  Of equal concern is the juvenile system itself.  Today in Portland, and many other major jurisdictions across the country, it’s not uncommon for a juvenile to have a half dozen felony convictions and still be in the community and public schools associating with your kids.

We know that one of the prime risk factors for anti-social behavior is “negative peer associations”.  It is crucial for today’s parents to be vigilant and know who your kids are with, who their parents are, and all critical contact information.

A Chinese proverb says, “A child’s life is like a piece of paper on which every person leaves a mark”.

Looking for help?  The Academy at Sisters is a private therapeutic boarding school in Central Oregon for at risk girls.  Call 800-910-0412 and ask for Chesley or Denise.

Aug 10

Teen and pre-teen girls have never been more at risk!

It is a tragic sign of our times. Parents must be aware– don’t think it cannot happen to your daughter! The average age of entry into the U.S. sex industry is 12 years of age, with children as young as 10 years of age.  In Portland, Oregon the FBI’s Operation Lost Innocence Campaign to rescue child victims of sex trafficking, recovered 7 victims in just 1 eight-hour period. Human trafficking is the world’s second largest, fastest growing criminal industry with annual profits averaging $32 billion in 2007 alone. Human slave traders made more money than Google, Nike, and Starbucks combined.  The average pimp in the U.S. can make $200,000 a year off the trafficking of a single girl.

‘From Clark County star student to stripper’

Her story contains a warning and a lesson for all parents about the hidden sex trafficking trade operating in the Northwest.

Brianna was convinced she had found a boyfriend and freedom.  But in less than a week she found herself in a strip club far from home.  Police say she was flirting with something much more dangerous.

Family photos tell the story of a girl who grew up supported by a loving family.  She excelled in school and sports.  But what happened in December 2009 left her and her parents shaken.  “Living in a small community I’ve never not felt safe,” Brianna told KGW, “and I don’t feel safe (now).”

It was early December when a twenty-something man from Seattle named Nick and his friend started frequenting the local cafe where Brianna worked part-time.  “They were really flirty and just really really nice,” recalled Brianna.

Just days after Brianna turned 18, Nick invited her up to check out Seattle where she wanted to go to college.  She borrowed her dad’s car, lied about where she was going, and headed north.  Once she got there she didn’t want to go home.  Nick bought her expensive things, offered her a spare room, and even money for college.  “It was kind of exhilarating, kind of like ‘I’m finally out on my own, but I have this really awesome guy who’s wanting to take care of me’,” said Brianna.

Nick helped her get a job.  By her second night in Seattle, Brianna had gone from star student to stripper. “I was there for about four hours and I made $350,” said Brianna.  Nick pocketed the money, along with her phone.  She was being cut off from her now frantic family, and tightly controlled.

From Seattle, Brianna called Evan, a trusted friend back home.  She had to return her dad’s car, and wanted to know if he would give her a ride back to Nick afterwards.  Evan became suspicious.  “As soon as she said he had two cell phones, I knew this guy was involved in something illegal.” He said.

Evan agreed to give her a ride.  Then he did something that might have saved her life.  He betrayed her trust.  When Brianna arrived to meet him, she found her mom and his parents, who had miraculously tracked down former Washington Congresswoman Linda Smith.  Smith founded Shared Hope International, an organization that rescues girls from the sex trade around the world.

Smith had no doubt that Brianna was being lured down a path that would end with violence and prostitution.  It was too familiar.  “I call it the ‘go to hell’ look – she really wanted all of us to go there,” recalled Smith, who proceeded to describe the recruitment process, ‘what they say, what they do, the things they would omit’ to a disbelieving Brianna.  “I found it annoying,” said Brianna.  “Then I realized that all the stories were the same as mine.”

Brianna stopped taking Nick’s calls, and now feels foolish for being so naïve.  But sex trafficking isn’t something most families warn their kids about.  “We need to educate our girls about what this is and how they get there,” Smith said.

Brianna’s family shared their story with KGW in the hope that public awareness could protect other girls, because police can’t do much.  In this case, officers said no crime was committed because Brianna was 18 and, although she was manipulated, she was not forced to do anything.  Brianna is still afraid to be alone but grateful to be the one that got away.  “I’m just happy that I’m here, that I’m alive, that I’m back.”

Parents:  Be vigilant!  In most states Criminal Justice Laws and Policies are so lax that there are many juveniles and young adults in your neighborhoods and schools that probably should not be there.  A young vulnerable girl can be charmed, coerced, drugged and turned, literally in days.  Know who ALL your daughter’s friends are!  Know who their parents are.  Know where they live.  Know their phone numbers and Email addresses.  Always know where your daughter is!  Don’t apologize for insisting on this information!  It is sadly a part of being a responsible parent in this day and age.

In Oregon, contact OATH (Oregonians Against Trafficking of Humans) 503-251-2479 for more information, or the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, 1-888-373-7888.


May 19

Children of divorce often pay the highest price when families find themselves in the unfortunate position of dissolution or even possible reconciliation of marriage. For over a decade, the Academy at Sisters has provided expert care and educational services to teen girls who find themselves in the throws of their parent’s problems.
You can help your daughter through cooperative co-parenting. Divorce is traumatic for everyone involved. For kids there can be guilt, anger, stress, and depression. Adults must do their best to help their children adjust.

Some primary dos and don’ts of parenting are:

1) Be polite and civil to each other in front of your children.

2) Do not share negative feelings about the other parent with your children.

3) Talk to each other directly. Never use your children as messengers.

4) Don’t compete for your child’s loyalty or affections.

5) Respect each other’s rules.

6) Cooperate, communicate and try to be consistent for the kid’s sake.

If your daughter is struggling to cope with these family issues, we can help. The Academy at Sisters is a girls only, emotional growth boarding school in the resort town of Bend, Oregon.

How can Academy at Sisters help? What are a few of the services she and her family would receive?

Personalized treatment planning with Case Management and oversight by a Clinical Support

Team for medication management, any necessary testing and expert consulting

Weekly therapeutic individual sessions, 5 different Emotional Growth Groups which meet

Weekly in addition to Specialty Groups which are targeted to meet special circumstances and needs (Adoption, Grief & Loss, Victim Recovery, Body Image, etc.)

Family support and guidance to assist in successful reintegration back home
Equine Assisted Growth Program (EAGP), which is highly beneficial to students with a history of trauma, victimization, poor boundaries and/or lack of confidence; allows students to heal in a multitude of ways.

Community Outreach and Volunteer Services for development of empathy and to foster a sense of self-worth and confidence by “giving back”

An array of outdoor recreational opportunities in the resort town of Bend, Oregon

An opportunity to reach her full potential and for parents to “have their daughter back”

Apr 28

In an effort to provide some perspective on problematic behavior I want to
provide for you some guidelines on anti-social behaviors and understanding what you’re seeing. You will see some familiar terms here because we strive to address any antisocial traits when we see them.

A truly anti-social youngster approaches the world with a sense of
ownership and entitlement. For them they want things they’re way right away. They see life as a one way street – their way. This is reminiscent of the egocentricity of early childhood.

The responsible child internalizes deterrents from parents, teachers and
others. He or she anticipates consequences of behavior before acting. To some degree they allow fear to be a guide. The antisocial child “cuts off fear”. They know the consequences but the rush is worth the risk.

Another hallmark of anti-social youngsters is disregard of injury to others: personally, emotionally, physically and sexually. This character trait is usually inculcated in the responsible child by nine or ten. The antisocial youngster does not accept obligations – life’s demands, frustrations or challenges. Another trait is that the antisocial youngster is taking the short cut – the easy way out. Never working through anything disagreeable, he or she perpetually seeks the most expedient course, generally digging themselves into one hole after another.

Another trait and a very fundamental one is lying chronically usually to escape accountability or exonerate themselves from blame for some wrong doing. It is common for kids and adults to blame others as in “he started it”. While the average person may do this on occasion, the antisocial person refuses accountability, because of this they don’t learn from mistakes they simply blame and excuse make. The antisocial person considers themselves unique without much in common with others. Because of this rules don’t apply to him.

Apr 21

In their longitudinal studies, the U.S. Department of Justice and the National Institute of Justice found some daunting statistics on child abuse and neglect. Their “findings strongly indicate the relationship between abuse and neglect and delinquency and adult criminality and violent behavior.” Although no single factor is likely to account for development of criminal behavior, the importance of childhood victimization as a risk factor for delinquency, adult criminality and violence has become increasingly recognized.

• Figures for 2003 indicate that nationally about 96,000 children (under 18 years of age) were sexually abused.

• Abused, neglected children are 4.8 times as likely to be arrested as a juvenile.

• Twice as likely to be arrested as an adult.

• 3.1 times as likely to be arrested for a violent crime.

• 17.5 % of dependent children have been sexually abused (male and female; all ethnicities).

• ¾ of perpetrators are friends or neighbors.

• Age at highest risk for sexual abuse in males – 4 years of age; females – 14 years of age.

Abuse, Defined.

Abuse, according to Websters: A corrupt practice. Misuse (drugs), coarse, insulting speech. Mistreatment.

Abuse: Any act or absence of action either physical or emotional, that violates the well-being or dignity of the individual.

Derogatory: Expression of a low opinion or disparaging remark.

Disrespectful: Lacking regard or concern or to treat as unworthy or lacking value as a human being.

Apr 21

First and foremost our number one goal for kids we work with, all kids we work with, is to produce “self-efficacy”. By that we mean, “self-reliance”, “persistence”, “courage to endure adversity”, “resilience”, and “confidence”.

In order to achieve this we believe we must focus on certain aspects of a child’s makeup. Primary in our focus is “attitudes, values, and beliefs”. Secondarily, we focus on anti-social behaviors. Thirdly, we focus on personality factors. You will learn more today (probably more than you ever wanted to) on the mechanics of how we approach this change process.

Charles Swindoll once wrote: “We cannot change the past – we cannot change the fact that people will act a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.”

We use a tool called, Thinking, Changing, Rearranging, which is really a primer on Rational Emotive Therapy developed by Jill Anderson. A major premise of this tool is not letting your emotions control your life, that facts are more important than feelings, and that you can’t control events and others, but you can control how you react to them. It’s a rare person who doesn’t get discouraged but we all must learn to endeavor to persevere to be successful.

The value of courage, persistence and perseverance has rarely been better illustrated than the life of one famous American:

At age 22 – Failed in business
“ “ 23 – Ran for Legislature and lost
“ “ 24 – Failed in business
“ “ 25 – Elected to the Legislature
“ “ 26 – Wife died
“ “ 27 – Had a nervous breakdown
“ “ 29 – Ran for Speaker of the House and lost
“ “ 31 – Defeated for election
“ “ 34 – Ran for Congress and lost
“ “ 37 – Elected to Congress
“ “ 39 – Defeated for Congress
“ “ 46 – Defeated for Senate
“ “ 47 – Defeated for Vice President
“ “ 49 – Ran for Senate and defeated
“ “ 51 – Elected for President of the USA

This is the record of Abe Lincoln.

Also, central to our approach is accountability. Choice and free will are the cornerstones of our philosophy. We believe that regardless of a child’s background they can learn to do things differently, see things as they truly are, and learn to think rationally. Unfortunately, most of the kids we work with follow Ziggy, the cartoon characters philosophy of “I like things the way they aren’t”.

We want kids to actually get better not just feel better. Good mental health is not the absence of problems; it’s learning to cope with problems rationally.

Apr 14

Throughout history parents have been troubled by the behavior of their teens. When both teens and parents are prepared and aware of these commonly known hallmarks of adolescents, it makes the “transition years” much easier to cope with:

Adolescence is a time of pronounced changes in…
• Body
• Emotions
• Attitudes and values
• Intellect
• Relationships with peers, parents and others
• Freedom and responsibility

Typical teenage behaviors/changes.

Physical changes
Endocrine glands release hormones that cause.
• Sudden growth spurts
• Development of sex characteristics
• Mood swings

Emotional changes
• Tied to hormonal activity
• Preoccupation with sexuality
• Moodiness
• Impulsiveness
• Anxiety
• Restless energy
• Daring risk-taking

Social changes
• Trying to create a personality
• Inconsistent demands for responsibility/independence
• Idealism
• Peer relations
• Communications

• Peer relations
• Personal views on attitudes/values/beliefs
• Conflicted opinions

Mar 24

A parent’s basic job is to meet your child’s needs in the following 4 categories:

Physical: Doing all you can to keep your child safe and healthy
Keeping them safe
Good nutrition
Rest and exercise
Medical care

Emotional: Showing love, encouragement, providing security

Intellectual:  Help your child enjoy learning, provide learning tools, games.
Involvement in school.

Social:  Teaching appropriate behavior providing discipline. Teaching social skills.
Encouraging character development.

Mar 04

(Most overriding rules)

Don’t apologize for parenting; it’s an obligation you must carry out and do your best.

Don’t feel guilty when you must say no, it’s presumed the decision is well reasoned and thought out.

Don’t make promises you don’t intend to keep.

Don’t be inconsistent with the standards you’ve chosen to raise your child with.

Don’t be rigid and in flexible; Don’t lose your sense of humor.

Don’t put an over emphasis on feelings. The facts of a situation are more important.

Don’t stress self-esteem over self-control. Self-control is more important.

Don’t accept disrespect.

Don’t expect your kids to always like you or appreciate you.

Don’t make decisions before you think. Get some space between you and the situation first.


Do expect parenting to be difficult.

Do parent! Families are not democracies; somebody has to be the grown-up and be in control.

Do make the best decisions you can. Reasonableness is the key. You decide what’s reasonable.

Do spend time with your kids. Show interest in what they do and value.

Do be consistent with family values and morals.

Do be flexible and maintain your sense of humor and perspective.

Do judge your kids by their behavior and especially their goodness. Reward acts of goodness.

Do apologize if you are wrong.

Do be vigilant, pay attention to changes in your child.

Do know their friends and their parents.

For Divorced Parents:

1. Be polite and civil to each other in front of your children.

2. Don’t share negative feelings about each other with your children.

3. Talk to each other directly, never use your children as messengers. Keep them out of the middle.

4. Don’t compete for your child’s loyalty or affection.

5. Respect each others rules.

6. Communicate, cooperate, and be consistent for your kid’s sake.

Jan 31

Often people choose not to offer feedback even though it would be useful in communicating with others. Instead, they avoid or overlook confrontations. They don’t want to make waves, or out of a lack of concern, don’t want to get involved.

Even though we may not be aware of it, we are all capable of harming people we care for. If a person is being irresponsible, it is your responsibility to confront that person. Tell the person about the behavior you observed and give the person an opportunity to recognize it. It takes a lot of practice to make a confrontation that is fair, accurate and shows concern. It is important to practice offering this feedback as well as accepting it.

Offering Feedback:

1. Offer the person feedback out of genuine concern for the situation instead of complaining or looking for support from others. Rely on an outside observer only if a conflict develops.

2. Confront the person quietly, so as not to attract an audience, unless it is necessary at the time to prevent further hurtful behavior.

3. Don’t compare the person’s behavior with anyone else’s. Nobody wants to hear that they are inferior to others. This makes people not want to listen even if the feedback is meaningful.

4. Offer your feedback as soon as you can. Putting it off or not doing it makes the situation more difficult. Waiting allow you to build up feelings of resentment and insecurity.

5. Don’t repeat a point once you have made it and the other person has carefully considered it. Pushing a point will probably make the other person defensive and unwilling to listen.

6. Don’t put the other person down or on the defensive.

7. Object only to actions that the other person can change. Ask only what you have a right to ask for. You may ask the person not to shout, but if you ask them not to be angry with you, you’re probably asking too much.

8. Offer feedback about only one issue at a time. More than one is difficult for anyone to handle. Pick one behavior and stick to the point.

9. After offering your feedback out of concern, don’t apologize for it. Apology will only minimize what you have done. In other words, this will only lessen the effectiveness of what you had tried to do.
10. Don’t ‘soft-soap’ what you have to say. Get to the point, but remain caring in your behavior.

11. Don’t use sarcasm. It will only cause the other person to become angry or fearful. It will also cause you to feel more inadequate and fearful.

12. Avoid words like ‘always’ and ‘never’. The use of these words may prevent you from being accurate and truthful.

13. If you never compliment the person, don’t expect them to remain open to your criticism.

Accepting Feedback:

1. Remain silent while you are receiving feedback. Whether you agree or not is not an issue. This can be discussed later. Interrupting or voicing disapproval only complicates the matter and causes defensiveness.

2. Look directly at the person who is confronting you. Maintaining eye contact shows respect and indicates you’re listening to what is being said.

3. Under no condition find fault with the person offering you feedback. If they have made a mistake in grammar, or are using a bad approach, wait and tell the person after the confrontation has been made. Doing it at the time creates insecurities in the other person and keeps you from listening to what is being said and how it is being said.

4. Don’t create the impression that the other person is offending you. The hardest people to deal with are those who are defensive at first and who then, when cornered, act as though they are at the edge of despair. Acknowledge the confrontation and accept ownership.

5. Don’t exaggerate the feedback that you are being offered. If a person tells you that you were thoughtless, don’t blow it out of proportion by telling the person that you were vicious and then defend yourself against something you weren’t confronted about.

6. Don’t use negative jokes. It is hurtful behavior to someone who is trying to show you concern and creates bad feelings.

7. Don’t change the subject. Use your knowledge and understanding to help clarify the situation, not to cloud the issue. Deal only with the behavior at hand.