Parent Support Groups… Through New Eyes
I don’t know about you, but when I start something new, I often find myself jumping in with both feet, needing to learn everything there is about it, craving to get everything I can out of each and every experience. This is especially true of my new position at Evoke. How could one not be intrigued by all this, right?
So it was that I found myself sitting among 13 of the most caring, dedicated, sincere parents, past parents of Evoke clients to be more specific, who all came together to grasp another morsel of guidance or hope from Evoke’s Clinical Director Dr. Brad Reedy during a recent Parent Support Group in Los Angeles. Their children had been through the amazing experience of wilderness therapy, and many were now doing very well, some still struggling a bit, but these parents all realized that they too needed to do their work. And here we are.
Having worked in this field for the past 10 years, I’ve heard similar stories of distress before – adolescents and young adults who are good kids at heart but somewhere got off-track, struggled with depression, anxiety, other behavioral issues and/or substance use. And I know without a doubt what a gift wilderness therapy can be to help change the course of people’s lives. It was blatantly obvious how much these parents had appreciated the experience, how much they had learned and were still learning from the process and the self-realization that had taken place.
One of the fundamental concepts that Brad talks about, both to this group and in his book “The Journey of the Heroic Parent,” is that none of us are perfect, that we all have made (parenting) mistakes and will likely continue to do so, but the focus is on continuous improvement. How can I continue working to take care of myself and setting the boundaries I need to be the parent I want to be?
We discussed this concept at length, with parents sharing some of the pitfalls they had experienced, struggles of trying to let go of the outcome of their children’s decisions, allowing their children to make mistakes, accepting that they cannot make their adult child do or learn anything in absolute terms. Boundaries, taking care of oneself, truly listening to our kids permeated the conversation.
I was in awe of the discussion and the courage of this group to share what was on their minds and in their hearts. It was a lovely evening of food and conversation, sharing and support, laughter and understanding. I would highly recommend these groups to our parents. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to be amongst such special people. I imagine this will be a recurring theme of my new journey with Evoke.