Do-it-yourself and remodeling shows are extremely popular. One channel devoted to such programming spends about $500 million per year to produce shows that reach an international audience 24/7/365. The residuals on reruns alone are astounding, because more people watch these networks than watch cable television news, and product sales are equally impressive as physical and on-line stores continually appear with brand names associated with this programming.
Let’s be honest, we all enjoy watching at least one or another home show, whether it’s learning to make new foods or learning how to replace leaky fixtures, or whether it’s watching someone buy a luxury home in an exotic location while we daydream with them. It is our animal nature to find nesting places, to find something comfortable to live in—and it is human nature to renovate the space from time to time. New paint, new furniture, a basket or two, new sheets… When our home is comfortable to us, we are comfortable.
Homes also reflect a part of who we are. What I see is what I feel. But that might not translate well to you! If my life is busy, my home may look chaotic to you because I haven’t had time to dust or to put away dishes, but it might just look lived in to me! If I own a lot of sports memorabilia, you may think I’m materialistic, or even hoarding. Yet it might look like fun times and special memories to me. If my house is neat and clean, you may think I have too much time on my hands or that I am germ-phobic. But I may see my home as tidy and organized in order for me to concentrate my efforts elsewhere, worry-free. And all or none of these assumptions may be true of one or more of us. Our nests, and our perceptions of what is “comfortable”, are individual expressions of our feelings, after all.
On Friday the 13th of July, we held Parents’ Education Day on campus. Johnna Pilipchuk, MA, LPA spoke with our parents about the adolescent brain, and how it can seem pretty disorganized at times. As she describes it, the teen brain is still “under construction.” Ms. Pilipchuk spoke about the values of mindfulness and the scope of Dialectical Behavior Therapy—two opposing truths present, and true, at the same time. There is one truth that this is the best you can be given all that you have experienced and all that you are, and there is another truth that you can be better. Given how intensely an adolescent processes emotions (more so than at any other stage of development), parents were challenged to think about the behaviors they see in their children and to balance this with an understanding of the pressures facing a teen. Parents were reminded that they are not at “fault”, but they, too, can do better and think of new ways to adapt. Ms. Pilipchuk talked to parents about their journeys, asking them to acknowledge things they think they do well and things they think need to change. Some of the responses were interesting and inspiring to other parents as they shared their truths and their struggles with each other.
As she spoke, I pictured a home with a teen residing there, where the room colors change daily—sometimes moment by moment. At one point, the teen’s room is bright yellow and sun soaked, filled with happy things—stuffed animals, concert ticket stubs, pictures of friends, the school pennant on the wall—and the next minute, all of these happy things are trashed, destroyed, or just forgotten and stuffed in the back of a closet somewhere. The walls are painted a dull gray, the blinds are down, and the furniture is scratched or broken. Then just as quickly, the room is repainted royal blue with white curtains in the windows, a map on the wall, a stiff breeze blowing in, and the smell of the ocean. It is no wonder that parents often feel a bit sea sick during a teen’s turbulent years.
As parents, we always want to repaint or repair the damage we “see”—yet sometimes, it is not our place to do so. Is it really damage, or is it growth? At what point do we intervene? At what point do we say “enough”? And what is our intervention, our act of intercession? We know that sometimes to not act is more dangerous than it is to act. Parents who come to Auldern have decided that it is time to do something to redirect their daughter’s current path of apparent destruction. Some send their daughters to a wilderness program first, or they placed their daughter in a residential program and are ready for the next step. In some fashion, parents have begun the intervention process—but there is more to do. At any and at every point in your daughter’s journey at Auldern, we engage in the renew and redo with our families. We know mistakes will be made along the way, but that it is also part of the dialectical—two opposing truths being true at the same time. At Auldern, we don’t tell parents what they “must” or “must not” do, but we give parents options—space, time, and support to process what is “fact” and what is your truth through family therapy, social calls, parent coaching, and Parent Education weekends.
Relationships are like our homes—we renovate, accessorize, or repaint as needed to feel comfortable. Sometimes, however, some jobs are just too big for one or two people to undertake on their own—and parents, like all homeowners, need to know that it’s okay to ask for professional help.