It’s a matter of time…
In my former life as an admissions director, we had accepted Alex into our program for September. Alex’s parents were concerned that he had no summer plans and had been “experimenting” with alcohol and possibly drugs. Rather than act they decided to give him the summer to “snap out of it”, only to find that when September rolled around, he was no longer eligible for admission as his behaviors had escalated to the point where the program could no longer meet his needs. In just a short time, the best laid plans had fallen to pieces. The family was left not knowing where to turn, but knowing that they had missed out on an amazing opportunity.
Time, what does it mean? Well, the meaning of time is quite different for the adolescent/young adult from what it is for an adult. As we head into summer it is sometimes the case that parents of troubled teens want to give them the summer to wait and see what happens. Putting the burden on a struggling teen to “snap out of it” when his or her development is being hindered can only exacerbate the problem.
So, what’s the worst that can happen in three months? As an adult we can and do cope with major life crisis and forge our way through with the skill set we have created over time. An adolescent/young adult can be led astray by things such as depression, anxiety or drug use. They often do not have the skill set and resilience to move forward. Furthermore they are missing out on major milestones through which they should naturally be progressing. These milestones are necessary to mature and without them they will be less equipped to deal with life’s trials and tribulations. As a parent it is often difficult to know when it is okay to “wait and see what happens” or necessary to take action to prevent that loss of time. When in doubt it is always best to err on the side of caution to ensure that time IS on your side.