As a T.C. director, when I see family members bring their loved one into our program, my heart breaks. Often parents, siblings, children, and spouses looking like “deer caught in the headlights.” Family members wonder if they could have done more, if it is somehow their fault, or so tired that they are “just plain done.” Many are scared that Teen Challenge might not work and that their loved one will go back out to further self-destruction.
And if that isn’t enough, sometimes, as a family member, you may feel left out of your loved one’s program, all alone, and struggling with unanswered questions. This is especially true if you hear a Teen Challenge staff member say things like: “I cannot confirm or deny…” or “I can’t comment on that.” Today, I would like to give you a few helpful tools:
- First, if a Teen Challenge staff member seems evasive when you ask about your loved-one there is a reason. SVTC is bound by Federal Privacy Laws. We cannot give out information without expressed written permission from your loved one. It is against the law. We cannot even tell you if your loved one has left without his our her permission! Nor can we defend any accusation a student my make to you about their program. So, if you have a question, or something seems out of sync, please ask your loved one to set up a meeting with the Center Supervisor or the Ministry Director. In the meeting, the TC staff will get expresses permission to talk freely, and the all concerns may be addressed. If your loved one does not give permission, you may already have your answer.
- If you have questions about “why” we do certain things or why we have certain rules-ASK! We can freely talk about the structure of the program.
- Please come to our SVTC events! At these events, hopefully you will be encouraged and come to have a greater understanding of the program.
- Lastly, to be the kind of support your loved one needs, keep everything “on the table”,any concerns- bring them to light; Keep your loved one accountable- do not allow behavior on visits that is not SVTC approved; and absolutely do not let any questions go unasked!
Hopefully this helps. For, I too know what it feels like to be a family member on “the other side of the table.” -PJ