Launched & Unraveled: The Young Adult Phenomena
Joanna Lilley, M.A. Owner and Founder of Lilley Consulting
Chris Blankenship, LCSW, Senior Clinical Therapist - Transition Age Young Adults Group (18-20) at Open Sky Wilderness Therapy
Brenda Zane is a Sky’s the Limit Fund board member, Founder of Hopestream Community, and podcast host of Hopestream
About the episode:
Joanna Lilley, M.A. and Chris Blankenship, LCSW work with parents to understand and address the myriad reasons why young adults are so often unprepared for independent adulthood. They place added emphasis on the difficulty of leaving home in the tumultuous and unpredictable environment that COVID has created. Joanna and Chris explore alternate ways of preparing young adults to better address the stress, anxiety, and empowerment that can come from life as an adult working towards independence.
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Hello, Welcome to another great episode of Sky’s the Limit Fund Speaker Series. I am super excited to be here with you today to host this event. And I’m Brenda Zane, I am a board member of Sky’s the Limit Fund. And they were generous enough to let me hop in and host these events for these amazing speakers that we have. And I’m really glad that you’re taking the time today to spend a few minutes to learn about some of the resources that are available for families who have a kiddo who’s struggling either with mental health issues with substance use, we know this last year has just been a real struggle for a lot of kids. So you’re in the right place today, especially. And before I introduce our speakers, I just want to let you know that we are going to be kind of having a interactive talk today, which was really cool. So you’re gonna want to make sure I have your phone handy. So if you don’t have your phone handy, make sure and grab that. And I just I’m gonna spend a minute and tell you a little bit about Sky’s the Limit Fund in case you’ve landed here and you’re not familiar with who this organization is. We are a nonprofit organization that helps families afford wilderness therapy, which is an evidence based best practice therapy for teens and young adults who are struggling and they might be struggling with substance use and might be struggling with mental health issues. And it’s an incredibly, unfortunately, incredibly expensive form of therapy and treatment. About $600 a day depending on the program. So Sky’s the Limit Fund helps families afford not only the experience of being out in wilderness, but also family support, kind of scooping up those families and wrapping services around them while their child is in treatment. And afterwards, and treatment post care for the child as well. So when you give to Sky’s the Limit Fund, and if you want to do that you can use the little donate button, your money goes straight to having a kid be able to be out there in the woods. So just want to say thank you for that if you’re supporting us, thank you for our donors. There are just so many amazing donors that are supporting sky’s the limit funds. So thank you for that. So today you have a treat for our speakers. I have spoken with Joanna Lilley before on my podcast. And she just offers incredible resources for families. So she and Chris Blankenship are going to be talking to you today about some of the struggles that our kids are going through, especially the ones who are I hate to use the word Failure to Launch but they’re struggling, they are not launching as planned. And so they will be talking with you about that we have some great interactive elements to the presentation. So let me just tell you a little bit about Joanna. She is the owner of Lilley consulting. She’s the co founder of college alternative.org. She’s worked with students and young people in various capacities and then transitioned into consulting capacity, working specifically with the 18 plus crowd, which is great because there’s a lot of them that aren’t necessarily following the the expected path. And then Chris Blankenship is the senior clinical therapist for the transition age young adult group, which is 18 to 20 year olds at Open Sky Wilderness. And he provides direct support and techniques that help families understand not just their child, but the whole family system, which as we know, this is a whole family issue. And he works with those young adults to stabilize them and then to give them the tools that they need for growth. So if you’ve got your phone and you’re ready to go, we will bring on Chris and Joanna.
Yes, well, we’re excited for your presentation. And what I love is that it’s not just a presentation. You’re not just talking at us we’re going to actually get to interact a bit so I will hand it over to both of You, thank you. Alright,
so let’s get that. So you can all see the screen. Fantastic. So, as Brenda said, I’m Joanna and Chris, you can introduce yourself here in a second. We’ve titled this launched and unraveled the young adult phenomenon, because we also don’t really love that expression, failure to launch. And we are going to jump right in with an activity because that’s what we like to do. So with your phone, you should see a banner pop up, we need you to type in this code, slides with.com, backslash silky, and answer this question. Why do you think young adults are struggling?
And as people are doing that, we’ll actually see some answers pop up. Oops, I’m going too fast.
Maybe? Yes. All right. So pressure. Sure. I want I mean, Chris, we’re talking about Where’s that coming from? Parents school. Substance use stress. Yeah, young people. A lot of young people don’t have coping skills, or they don’t have the amount of coping skills that a lot of previous generations had. Social media, obviously. COVID Definitely.
Yeah, some undiagnosed ADHD or any type of diagnosis, boredom, wow, this is amazing. Keep it come in.
So obviously, what stands out is the fact that COVID is definitely wreaking havoc on this transition, social media and social skills. I’m gonna let people slide things in for another, like five seconds.
All right. This is amazing. I’m so excited. So interactive, Thanks for engaging.
So lots of awesome feel like I’m talking
to myself, which is so weird. Family issues, for sure, or especially anything that’s related to unexpected circumstances, which again, can be tied to the pandemic? Chris, is there anything else that you would add to this?
I’ve been typing things in. Because why not? I think I add a date and like the no social skills and substances. And it seems like those were echoed by other people. Those are just some of the biggest things that that I see. And I think other people seems like they’re seeing it as well. Social media being so big on there. Makes a lot of sense to me. That’s one that I so often hear.
Yeah, I completely agree. I appreciate everybody that is typing things in because realistically, everything that’s showing up on here, regardless of the size of the word, or the kind of the expression that you’re getting at is absolutely why collectively young adults are struggling. So let’s tee this up. And I think it’s important for Chris and I to talk about our stories, not just our professional intros that Brenda shared. So Chris, take it away.
Absolutely. Thanks, Joanna. Thanks, Brenda. So as Brenda said, I’m a therapist here at open sky, I work with 18 to 20 year olds exclusively. So work with a lot of people that failed to take that launch and then or did launch and then unraveled. I also spent before I became a therapist spent some years as a classroom teacher. And once upon a time I was kindly asked to leave college for a semester because of my, let’s just say, poor decision making. This happened while I was a freshman at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and I was well prepared for college academically, and I was doing really well in all my college classes. But I didn’t have the impulse control necessary to manage all the independence and responsibility that was given to me. And I thought that it was personally perfectly reasonable for me to spend all my time partying and disregarding the rules and expectations of the campus where I was living. And I watched as a lot of my peers struggled with managing our schedule. We’ll be doing our laundry making qualities over social connections. And unsurprisingly, these are the tasks that are too often ignored when we’re actually preparing high school students to actually launch into college or career. Luckily, people that are struggling with college nowadays have the benefit of getting to work with someone like Joanna so that she can help to suss things out when things do get out of control. If you want to you want to share a little bit about your story.
Yeah, absolutely. So again, Brenda kind of laid the foundation of like, how I transitioned into the consulting space, but I think it’s helpful for me to just share briefly, I actually held the role of the college professionals that we’re working with students like Chris, right, so Chris, circa 19, or 18 years old college freshman who’s making decisions that he’s making. And so I had the pleasure and honor of getting to work with a lot of young people, helping them to navigate that experience on campus, right. So getting connected to on campus supports or making the decision of you know, what, I need to take a break from school, and where do I go from here. And so, instead of continuing to work in higher education, and working for one particular institution, I selfishly wanted to be a part of that journey for that one particular young adult. And so now I have the honor and pleasure of helping several young adults navigate that process, either deferring their collegiate experience, or exploring, hitting pause and getting connected to resources to help them again, grow up or get, you know, if they need therapeutic services, getting connected to the appropriate therapeutic services with the ultimate goal of if you want to go back to college, let’s navigate that. But first and foremost, right now, your holistic well being is going to be the priority. So that is the lens that we both share. And with that, we are going to hop into more info.
So I’m going to talk to you a little bit about how we’re inadequately preparing young people to actually become adults. Because my initial failure, which is similar to countless other people who have been in my shoes was due in part to that way that we’re preparing people to launch into adulthood. College and Career Readiness is primarily measured through two means standardized testing, and GPA. And I’d argue that this approach is insufficient. In assessing the student’s true capacity for college success or for joining the workforce. The Department of Education and each date are individually defining the standards for readiness for adulthood. And these standards are typically assessed by the LSAT, the ACD, and GPA. And all those things are primarily focused on English, math and science. This myopic focus on standardized testing leads many states to prune out what they call low quality high school courses. Basically, the classes that don’t teach standardized test content. When I was in high school, I took classes like auto shop and woodworking, cooking and conflict resolution. Now, clearly, those classes didn’t do anything to help me. But for many of my peers, they were the classes where they learned about the passions that would become their careers, and they learned the structure and social skills that would be integral to later success. The relegation of those lessons in favor of one more math or science class is having an adverse impact on high schoolers overall personal and interpersonal development. That other primary measure of the other primary method of measuring college readiness is GPa. However, even that is becoming less reliable. A recent study showed that our nation’s highest GPAs were disproportionately coming from our nation’s wealthiest School District. What this means is that the social pressure in those communities is leading to the artificial inflation of students grades in order to facilitate their acceptance into better and better colleges. Unfortunately, what this does is make it so that students are overmatched with their eventual colleges, and that they’re set up to fail once they actually arrive on campus and Palo Alto or Boston or wherever else. Colleges for their part, aren’t helping. More and more schools are moving to test optional admission standards, meaning that they’re disregarding ACTN SATs scores all together. This leaves the objective apart the objective part of admissions assessment entirely up to a student’s GPA. Now, as I stated earlier, I don’t think that SATs and AC T is a perfect way to assess readiness. But I’d argue that we need more ways to actually assess whether a student is ready for adulthood rather than fewer and leaving the assessment of students up to increasingly unreliable school systems. Seems like an abdication on college and half of this is impacting how students are struggling or or how students are actually struggling when they land on college campuses. Joanna, do you want to jump into how students are struggling there?
I certainly can, just in case anybody sees this, we’ll we’ll Yep, circle back. But like you said, Chris, now make sure you have your phone out, we’re actually going to do another activity. What we’re asking you this time is what you think young adults are actually saying is the reason that they’re struggling. And you’ve got a selection of answers to choose from.
And we’ll give it a second to see a few other people kind of fill out. I love seeing all the emojis.
And you can pick as many as you want.
Yes. Thank you for that, I forgot.
All right, we’re gonna flip so you can see so far this will continue to change as it’s coming in. Obviously, some of those the answers that we actually shared as options collectively was what Chris and I are seeing kind of top of mind for what students really are, or young adults are really saying, This is what we’re struggling with. So we wanted to hear from you as parents and professionals, what it is that you believe young adults are identifying. So it looks like for right now, the majority of people are saying that young adults are expressing anxiety and depression as the number one kind of issue that they’re, they’re struggling with or working on, followed by motivation, followed by closely tied unemployment excetera that seem accurate. Chris, do you feel like that kind of speaks to really like the bulk of the young people that you’re working with?
Yeah, you know, the thing that sticks out to me is that motivation, where motivation can be lacking, has so many different routes. And I love that answer, because it’s so accurate. But then just stressing out where the lack of motivation comes from, I think that’s where you get into the shame. And you get into the second guessing college and you get into substance use, right? There’s so many things that lead to that lack of motivation. And so I think it’s, it’s really accurate. But then we get into the deeper reasonings. Why
I’m, so some of you have also found this very exciting feature to this activity, which is that there is a looks like a speakerphone or a microphone in the right corner. So you can engage, we’re just asking that you use them at appropriate times. So we’ll say like, Hey, now would be a great time to hit that button, make all the noise that you possibly can, because we do want to be as engaging as possible, especially since the last what feels like yours. Right? Exactly. Thanks, Chris. We’re, yeah, we haven’t been as connected as we want to be. So let’s, let’s make this like move and shake. Alright, so with that, just quickly, I wanted to highlight what colleges are actually doing. So I think it’s important to know and again, this lens as well is we’re talking about young adults across the board. So we’re not necessarily focused on college students. But we want to speak to what it is that those, you know, those of you that have college students, what colleges are trying to do to help your young adult and at the same time, it’s important for those of you that aren’t working with college students to still be kind of familiar or understand what’s being done for post secondary institutions, if and when or again, if your young adult decides that they want to go to college. So it’s important to know that pre pre pandemic colleges were already doing algorithms to populate the specific student that was least likely to succeed on campus like gender down to the geographic location based on GPA. And they were targeting retention efforts and initiatives towards those student groups. Because historically speaking, they were most likely to leave after their freshman year, which would subsequently tank their six year college graduation or matriculation rate, which is what colleges really think their success or kind of prestige on. So again, they were already doing this now, everything’s kind of out of order. But it’s important to know that really what’s happening is that across the board, colleges are trying to just target everybody, if anybody showing up. They want to do the best they can to extend an olive branch to help every student regardless of where they’re from their gender, their major etc. And to really understand that we’ve all been in a real slump, and so they want to retain their students. Most colleges initially actually cut a lot of their mental health supports on campus, especially when they sent all of their students home, if especially if it was a high out of state institution. But now we’re circling back. They’re increasing mental health supports, and they’re also just beefing up their direction and guidance and referral source for local mental health supports for students that are either local, or, you know, in different states again, or just within the like larger college community. They’ve also increased parent and family support services. So newsletters, support groups, Facebook pages, you name it, understanding that parents are also seeking just as much right now as their young adult, because we’re living kind of in this like really wonky higher education slash emerging adult time. And a lot of schools have also increased supports around leaves, so deferring to gap year or specifically helping more students request medical leaves, and then again, be connected, kind of circling back to that second bullet point to mental health support services. And then really, most important of all, is that in the beginning, right, in March 2020, we just like hammer to this phrase, social distancing, which then that seed was planted, when in reality, what we met was physical distancing. But because all of a sudden, the seed of social distancing had planted and we watered it, we are feeling so socially isolated, especially our young adults. And so it’s imperative that they be connected to some sort of individual social person, or just somebody else, right, like a group. So I got Chris.
So next, we want to ask you all a question. And that is, what do you think we are seeing in terms of why young adults are struggling? So make sure you pull that that URL up? And then again, you can click as many answers as you want here. Why? What are we seeing? What are the things? What are the traits that you think that we are seeing most of? And again, you can make multiples.
Yeah, no trick questions, realistically.
So what we’re getting to here is a lot of the skills that are missing, right, we’re assessing students in their when they’re in high school for their math skills, their reading skills, where we know how well they are able to get through a science class. But these are the issues that we’re actually seeing are resulting in more failure once people get to college. Right? And there aren’t classes on social connection, there aren’t classes on eye contact, there are classes on self awareness, right? These are a lot of the things that are actually leading longitudinally to failure. So someone might be able to manage the calculus class that they’re in. But if they if they can’t actually make friends in that calculus class, how often are they actually going to go back. And that’s the issue that’s going to result in most likely in dropping out or needing to pursue something different. So if we bring this up, if we go to the next one here, I should bring up a bar graph. So we can see. Yeah, people needing to ask for help people’s lack of self awareness, people’s inability to make friends, right, like these are all the things that are actually so often resulting in failure in a college setting, or in a work setting in a workplace setting, not their, you know, not necessarily just their their, their poor math skills, their poor reading skills, yes, those things are going to contribute, yes, those things are going to exacerbate these issues. But these are the primary issues that we’re seeing people actually leave college and then seek out treatment for. And I would argue that if we were doing a better job of preparing people to do these things, then once they got to college, they can learn the academic issues, they can figure out how to, you know, this calculus issue or that issue in their biology class, but it’s making friends that no one’s teaching them how to do. It’s asking for help that no one’s really actually coming in and saying, Hey, let’s learn how to do this. And those are the things that I think are so often missing, those are the things that might actually need to be learned in order to be successful as an adult. To go on to the next slide, you got it. So all this, this leads us to is what can you do as a parent And I’m sure you’re you’ve either you’re asking yourself now, or you’ve asked yourself in the past, like, what should I have done. And it comes down to a couple of different things. The first thing that that I like to teach parents who are working with young adult who have a young adult child to do is to figure out that they can’t force their kids to do anything. You can’t force them to get a job, you can’t force them to finish the semester. What you can do is you can offer help and resources and you can resend help and resources. offering help looks like listening and validating. give your kid a place where it’s safe to share without fear of judgment or ridicule. Don’t jump in and solve the problem, even if they’re asking you to. Instead encourage them to develop a plan, and then offer your support or feedback. Help them to connect with professionals who specialize in this work, to share a dirty little secret that therapists like me are probably providing a lot of the same feedback and recommendations as parents, but I have the distinct benefit of not being that person’s parent. So finally, if if you’re working on all those things, and it doesn’t seem like things are being ironed out, then it’s important to seek the help of another professional who can actually help to connect with opportunities outside of the traditional post high school track. Joanna, you want to share a little bit more about getting unstuck, and what that looks like?
You bet I do. Well, I think you already spoke to it just a little bit, Chris, in this this first slide where I’m saying have a plan, create an agreement, you said specifically have the young adult create the plan and then as a parent, either choose to support it, or resend the support that you feel like, you know, kind of have some line drawn of where it is you feel comfortable. When I say have a plan, what I mean is when you just verbally have a conversation about hey, do you think you’re going to get a job? When do you think you’re going to get a job? Okay, do you think you can contribute to rent? When do you think you’ll be leaving, all of that is really ambiguous, and it comes across really as like walking on eggshells. So it’s really important to make sure that when we’re creating this, whatever it is agreement or plan to relaunch that it needs to be in writing. And the young adult needs to be contributing, if not completely driving the process. It’s really important to know right now, I mean, even six months ago, we still were able to use the excuse. And I will call it an excuse because it felt valid at times to do nothing, right? I can’t work a job because no one’s hiring right now. Because nothing’s open. I don’t want to go back to school because I don’t want to learn online. So if you’re not working and you’re not going to school, what are you doing? Right, we at least have this very compartmentalized vision of like, there’s very few options when in reality, there’s a lot. But just to summarize this particular bullet point, there, there’s no room to be doing nothing now, because things are starting to resurface or reopen right now. Beyond that, it’s important to know that with everything reopening that there’s going to be some increased mental health issues. Right now we’re navigating this space where people might be experiencing acute stress or fear, gosh, heaven forbid, next winter, we ended up having another virus scare, it’s going to feel almost like not PTSD, but a little bit triggering for all of us of like, Does this mean that we’re going to be shut down again. So imagine what your young adult may or may not be processing or thinking about in terms of all of a sudden hitting pause on their young adult life again. I think it’s also important to know when we said it before, that connection, especially socially is going to be key moving forward. So a part of that getting unstuck is if the young adult is actually connected to other young adults that have had similar experiences that solidarity is like basically allowing there to be this normalization of man, I’ve been really unmotivated. Me too. Okay, great. We’re in this together. How do we get unmotivated? How do we get unstuck and having that peer connection is really going to drive that young adult, no longer feeling socially isolated, and no longer feeling truly stuck and living at home, if that’s where they are.
Great. So this is another thing where you’re going to contribute here. What options do you all think exist to help young adults? Again, make sure you’re on the right thing and then type in a word. What’s out there? What do you think can help
and I think this is a great time. I’m to be extra goofy. So once you have submitted something, go ahead and distract everybody else by sending in some audio. And that way it’ll blow up on everybody’s phone as well as if you’re using a laptop. Again, we’re just trying to be speaking of connection being a little bit more engaging right now in a very virtual space.
Thanks, Joe. Thanks, Joe.
And then this should pop up a word cloud. Maybe we need to be in the next. Yep. Sorry. Oh, no, sorry. Yeah.
That was mid gulp.
Just paying attention to the clapping, Wilderness Therapy. Coaching gap years. technical programs. Yeah, absolutely.
I didn’t know that was that was like the individual soft clap. That’s a great one. Yeah, it was good.
Did someone just put in three question marks? If so you came to the right place that’s good. Families, small and also all lowercase. But that seems like it could be it could be bigger. Yeah, social skills groups. Yeah, this is pretty good. Yeah, you all should I give a presentation.
Awesome, great. Just a few last submissions here. Anyone have any thing else they want to throw in there? And then join us gonna talk about the things that that are definitely out there and the things that we can be looking towards. Travel? Love it.
Yeah. That’s awesome. Okay, well, I mean, basically, everything that you said before is on this slide. I love how creative we are already in thinking. And I think it also just helps to know that, again, we don’t have limited options, it’s important to know that really, we have endless options, which can be really overwhelming for the young adult. But as parents, it’s helpful for us just to make sure that as they’re creating their plan, that we expand the young adults mind for what the possibilities are for them. So obviously gap your programs do exist, they’re opening up even the international ones. So explore that young adult transitional programs, outdoor behavioral health, which is what we consider wilderness therapy, employment internships, church group, we like to call it Corona core, because that’s, we just went through that. There. Again, it’s just there’s a lot. And obviously, if we were like, able to just leave that word cloud open for a lot longer, I’m sure everybody would have chimed in at least three more. I think the most important in all of this, though, is the last bullet point. So if your young adult is refusing to do anything, but enroll in college, and you see the writing on the wall, the professional see the writing on the wall, that they may not do well, academically, they’ll be fantastic. But in terms of socially, emotionally and in any other area of wellness, like there’s a strong possibility that they will not thrive. At minimum, consider being proactive and hiring some professionals to be a team from day one when they get back on campus. Because again, there’s there’s a strong possibility to that a lot of young adults have a little bit of this cognitive dissonance where they think they’re fine, right? We think we’re totally fine when in reality, we’re really right on the cusp of not being okay. And so, again, as a parent, just support your young adult. Again, if they’re determined and hell bent to go to college, then by all means, make sure that they have support didn’t seem like that was supported. I’ll leave it at that.
All right, shall thank you. Appreciate you all showing up and contributing in the way that you have. We have some time here for question and answer. I don’t know exactly how that works. Brenda can can jump in there and share
I had muted myself. So I think I’m back now. Thank you that was really really helpful. As the mother of two who did not go traditional routes. I know how stressful that can be when you are when your expectations are low. Of course they’re just gonna go to high school, go to college, and then that doesn’t happen. I think we as parents often have to set aside our own agendas and our own dreams and visions. Because that might not be the best thing for our kids. So thank you for this was really amazing. We do have a bunch of questions. So if you are up for it, I will read it up, let’s go. So the first one is, what if your child’s not in crisis, and you’re trying to preemptively avoid the crisis? My child suffers from social anxiety, ADHD, and situational depression? So what do you
think that last bullet point on Joanna’s list there of what’s out there? Right? It might not need, like a full program might not need something out of home. Right? But But what kind of support can be there? So there are plenty of supports for executive functioning, training. situational depression, like, what, what’s going to best buffer, that person who’s kind of right there and could fall into crisis, but pull them back is really building some scaffolding around them. Trying to find some coaching, trying to find the therapists preemptively trying to find, do check all the boxes that you can well, you know, schools have a lot of resources, have a lot of options. Look into them, try to find mentorship. Also, I can’t, I can’t downplay the value of just regularly talking with them. Right? Like, we’re going to talk, every Saturday morning, we’re going to talk, you know, every Wednesday afternoon, or whatever it is. And I know we’re going to talk at this time, every single week and having that set up so that if they miss it, Hey, what happened? Right? You kind of got a little barometer there, where you’re actually able to assess how are you doing? And you can ask like, how are things you know, like, what’s going on in school? What’s going on? Like, how are your friends, those kinds of things. But you know, you have that time that you’re talking every week, it’s when you leave it to chance that maybe you’ll talk maybe you won’t, that things are going to fly under the radar and things are going to happen without you knowing and then you’re going to actually go into crisis. So you want to build in the scaffolding, build in the supports before crisis. And then you want to have a way to assess whether those things are working or not add anything,
the only thing I would add is, you know what, what my what is a crisis for me may not be a crisis for you, right, Chris? I’m kind of like using you as the example. And so obviously, if you’re whatever that looks like you’re trying to avoid, I think in addition to what Chris shared, which all of that is fantastic. The only other thing that I would potentially explore is some sort of parent coach or your own therapist. Again, I think that some of that work on the parent end is what can help mitigate or really alleviate the crisis altogether, too. Right. If as a parent, you’re viewing what’s happening for your young adult as a crisis, it’s going to be a crisis. So making sure that you’re getting connected to the resources as well, just to kind of support you in that communication and then helping with that wraparound team for your young adult. Great question.
Awesome. Awesome. Yeah, that was great question. All right. Here is another one any tips to avoid failure to launch and a recently graduated high school student who doesn’t know what comes next?
Yeah, I’m the aisle, just Chris, I’m gonna take this away. I think that the most important thing for the biggest tip, and all of this, it goes back to one of the slides where we just said, create a plan, have a plan, if they don’t know what comes next. I mean, none of us really do. But what it is that we’re pursuing and are interested in is something we can explore. So if you want to avoid that, in, quote, failure to launch as a parent, you need to work with your young adult, especially that newly graduated high school student to identify, Okay, you’ve checked that box. Now you’re done with high school. So there’s a million things that you can be doing and here’s what we’re comfortable helping to facilitate you being in our house for our house for a certain amount of time. But while you’re here, you have to be doing several things will allow you to decide what it is that you want to do. But you cannot be here just to hang out. So there’s got to be really clear expectations really clear timeline, like I said, it needs to be in writing and ideally, your newly graduated high school student is the one who’s leading what is said in that document.
Great, that’s awesome. Yeah, there’s I think there’s this feeling of at least this is what I see in the families that I work with, like oh my gosh, we got them over the edge. Right, like, after this horrific year, we we got the graduation done. And now it’s like, there’s just almost like this huge exhale. But now what? Which kind of goes to this next question, how do I balance encouraging my young adult to do things to help them launch successfully without nagging too much and causing conflict?
So, Joanna kind of hit on this earlier, you have boundaries, you can’t tell them what to do, you can tell them how to do it. But you can’t have an expectation of engaging in something, right? Let them figure out what the something is. But the expectation is, you’re not just sitting here at home, playing video games hanging out with your friends. If you’re not at school, then you need to be at work, there needs to be a certain number of hours per week that you’re engaging in, figure out what that is, right? That have some boundaries. You can’t, you can’t force how they fill their time, but you can’t have an expectation that time is being filled. You I’m assuming, are paying for the roof over their head paying for their food paying for their car would pay for college or pay for whatever else, right? Like, those things can be conditional. Right? We will continue to pay for these things, you can continue to stay in your room, you can continue to eat the food, you can continue to take advantage of your internet and your phone, and your car and your insurance and all the things that we are providing. If you are doing something, you figure out what that something is, and then come to me and tell me this is something I’m going to do. And I will say whether that is sufficient or not. Right, but let let that person but let the young adult figure out how they’re going to fill their time. And that’s actually a way to empower them. And a way for you to not be in charge of it because no one wants to be micromanaged. And your role actually needs to be moving away from managing day to day schedule, and more towards just holding the boundaries of what you will and will not support.
Yep. Yeah, I always great to be passive aggressive, or just passive communication. So in this particular situation, be direct. Like, that’s crazy. You hit the nail on the head.
Right? Right. Absolutely. It is a tricky time. I think for a lot of parents, because you’re moving from that mandatory parent, you know, relationship to sort of that, like you said, a voluntary, like you can live here with this set of expectations. So that is that is very tricky. All right, we have a question is sober college a good option for kids starting out in recovery? And maybe you can talk about what is so College? Or what are different sober college scenarios?
I can jump into that one. Eye contact, I can just answer quickly. So there are a lot of colleges actually have collegiate recovery programs or collegiate recovery communities, I would say yes, it could be a good option for a young adult who’s starting out in recovery, if they are motivated to be in recovery. If the idea is we’re going to, you know, recommend that you go to Insert name of school because they happen to have a collegiate recovery community, there’s no guarantee that they’ll be connected to that team or that group just as much as they would be with a badminton, you know, community or somebody who wants to be in chess club, like you can’t have your young adult participate in anything. And so, especially when we’re talking about recovery, it’s just paramount to really gauge what that looks like. So let me also reel it in. When I talk to parents about this is the last thing I’ll say, Chris, and then you can you can chime in. When I talk to parents about a young adult that’s in recovery, I focus on the recovery program. And then look at what colleges or post secondary institutions are surrounded, like surrounding that program. So usually the reverse of what parents are or young adults are often looking for just like I want to go to the school, and then I really hope that there’s sober living nearby or I really hope there’s plenty of young people’s meetings in the area. It’s like actually, if you’re truly dedicated for recovery, you need to look at the recovery community first and then connect to the post secondary institution.
Good to know good to Chrissy, I won’t add anything on that.
No, she nailed it.
Okay, so that it kind of this is a nice dovetail. If my smart if my son is smoking a lot of pod meeting daily, is it smart to send him off to college? It seems like a train wreck waiting to happen. I’m sure this question could be asked by about a million parents right now.
So I I don’t think it’s necessarily smart or dumb. Because he’s, so let’s say your son stays home, well, then he’s just gonna smoke a lot of pot at home, right? What you want to do is you want to have the things that you will not support, I will pay for you to go to college, if you are. All campuses have drug testing, if you’re taking a drug test every week, right? I’m only willing to support you going to school, and me paying for you to get an education. If I know you’re going there to get an education, if all you’re doing is going there and figuring out new ways to get high with people, well, then that’s not something I’m going to pay for. So sure, go to college, but I’m going to, but I will pay for college, if you can consistently show up and you’re sober. And let’s say you fail a drug test, and you fail a class, well, then I know what you’re doing at college is probably focusing on getting high and not focusing on class. In that situation, I’m not going to pay for that credit. And you can take out a student loan to pay for that credit. If you really want to go to college, and you really want to learn, you need to actually be invested, and you need to set yourself up for success. I think that I think that means you need to be sober. And so that’s how I can support you. And then alternatively, if he’s, you know, if he’s saying, Look, we’ll tough, I’m just gonna get high anyway. You can say, Sure, you can go to college, and you can pay for it. And if your grades are good, then great, then maybe I will pay for those loans for you. But I’m not, I don’t trust that you’re ready to go to school right now, because you are getting high all the time. And so therefore, I won’t pay for you to go to school while you’re getting. So you can use that leverage there to hold the boundary?
Got it? Got it. Anything to me want to add on that one?
Yeah, I think you know, the only the you have to take off the parent lens of worrying about will your child be successful in college? And I think Chris, you kind of spoke to this, you have to put on the business investor hat, right? You put that that lens on. So if I’m investing in my young adult who has a business, right, if I know that that business is going to be smoking weed, right, we’ll just go with this. If they’re smoking weed, and they’re not going to actually produce, then I’m throwing my money away. So is that a strong business investment? Probably not. Right? It’s not wise. So what would you do instead? Would you still invest in that particular business? If they made some changes? Absolutely. Or maybe not.
All right, like it? All right, we have lots Oh, questions here? How can I get my 20 year old to be open to new opportunities to make friends and not reject all the ideas I offer?
Just like rock paper scissors. You got, um, I think, again, this is being direct with communication, because what I’m how I’m reading this, and interpreting this is that your 20 year old is living at home, and you are casually throwing out, you know, any type of suggestion for them, and they’re shooting everything down. So obviously, you know, enter in the chat, if I’m making an assumption about this, and this is not accurate. With that, I would go back to okay, I’m no longer interested in making ideas or are offering anything, here’s what I’m willing to support, right? You figure it out, I will support you or I won’t. So as a parent, this is your opportunity to pull back entirely. We call it individuation. It’s no longer your job to throw out ideas, right? If your young adult wants to sit and just kind of flounder like that’s on them. And it actually takes weight off of you because you’re constantly spinning your wheels to throw out or explore other ideas that you think that will potentially help your young adult. So make your life easier and just say you know what? I’m not going to waste my time you’re going to figure this out and buy weeks might waste your time. I’m not being offensive, I promise. I’m just saying you don’t have to throw out ideas. Chris, please.
Yeah, don’t throw out ideas anymore. Yeah, it’s not your job to 20 years old. They want to make friends, they can get out and make friends. If you one of the things you can do is you can actually role model what it looks like to go out and make friends if you think that’s a really important component for for them to have in their life and show them what it looks like. No, go and play tennis with your friends go out to dinner with your friends, have your friends over for a barbecue and they will see that and they’ll say hey, I want that in my life. Or I don’t want that in my life. But they’re an adult and they get to decide and if they want to socialize, you can show them what socializing in a healthy way looks like but you can’t force them to do. A mentor of mine always told me the quickest way to teach something is to role model it. So if you really want them to have friends, show them what having friends looks like and then you Let them figure it out. And maybe they come up and they say, Hey, can you help me with this? I’m struggling to make connections and then you can offer right, but unless they’re asking for it, they’re just gonna reject any offers you provide.
Yeah, that is very true. I love I love that reminder of role modeling, I think it can be easy as a parent to get very myopic on, you know, our kids problems and forget that we have to live our lives. And we have to be that example of exactly like you said, Chris, this is what it looks like to lead a well balanced, well rounded, healthy, active life. And because if we’re so dialed in to their problems, we we lose sight of that. So that’s awesome. Another one, how do you guide your adult in deciding on a degree choosing a career or finding a job in hopes that they choose a path that keeps them motivated and happy?
Listen to their tone. When they talk about their math class. Are they excited about it? When they talk about going outside, are they excited about it when they talk about this internship opportunity, like listen to those things that that might not be fully said. And say that, hey, it seems like you’re really excited about the science thing. Like maybe that maybe we should take another class along that line. Break there. Again, it’s not your job to decide that degree. It’s not your job, your job to decide that career path. But what you can do is you can point out those nonverbal ways that they’re communicating what they’re going through, and you can help them to see it, they might not see that they’re really into chemistry. Right? They might say, like, oh, chemistry sucks, but then they might sit there and talk about chemistry for the next 40 minutes, just like you said, it sucks. But then you talk about it forever. I never heard you talk about any your English classes, maybe you’re actually really interested in chemistry, even though that Professor sucks, right? Like you can pick up on those things. And you can help to point those out. But it’s not your job to help them decide, right, your your job is to just let them know what you’re seeing.
Down the only thing I’ll just chime in there too is if they’re if they’re undecided, or if they’re switching their major multiple times. That’s normal. Actually, that’s, that’s like the majority is changing their degree over the four plus years that they’ll be an undergrad at least three to five times, three to five times. That’s a lot, right? They’re really trying to explore and like Chris said, just listen, pay attention to what it is that they’re interested in, make sure you hold a mirror up to them so they can see it themselves. And then just normalize the fact to of finding a career or choosing a job. We work in a generation where we’re living in a time now where people change career paths all the time. And that’s okay. So if they’re really stressed about the college degree that I’m getting is going to tee me up for X, Y, or Z down the road. Like certainly they can put pressure on themselves for that. But as a parent, it’s important for you to make sure that you’re hands off with the pressure, because the reality is at at least once in their life, they will divert career paths.
Yeah, it’s kind of that gig economy, right? Where a lot of I think that it would be a little bit stressful, because I think a lot of the jobs that these these students are going to be moving into don’t even exist today. So how do you prepare for a job that doesn’t even exist? Which could be maybe part of that cognitive dissonance you were talking about of like, oh, how do I do this? How do I get myself prepared for something that I can’t even see? would be would be really complex? Okay, we’ve got time for one more question. And I think I’m gonna pick this one. Because I see this all the time. What do you do if your kid won’t admit that there’s a problem, even if they are clearly failing school and getting into trouble?
This would be a great opportunity for you to split wearing that business investor hat in the parent hat and saying, You’re clearly failing, right? You can almost have it’s almost like the sit down intervention, where you’re just clearly and as rationally right? Because this is if, if that, if at all possible, excuse me, pulling away the emotional piece. I’m not paying for you to spend another semester in college, if you want to continue to go the route that you’re going, you’re going to have to pay for yourself. If they’re getting in trouble, right. There’s a lot of ways in which we can interpret what is that mean? Right? Are we saying that they’re getting in trouble with the law or are they just getting in trouble on campus, like what’s happening there? So again, there or an adult. So at this point, you can either choose to intervene, or you can choose to let them kind of naturally fall into place of where things are with them and their life, right. So essentially, you can allow them to hit rock bottom, or you can pull rock bottom up to them, you can intervene, get them into a program, like open sky, or explore something else.
There’s a whole theory on how people change. And it’s, it’s based on the psychologist Dr. Cheska, started out in like the 80s, about like, dieting and smoking cigarettes, but it’s essentially changed into all sorts. It’s been adapted to all sorts of different mental health issues. But basically what what people started out as pre contemplation, and what you’re describing is your kid being in a pre contemplative state that they’re, they’re not actually ready to even contemplate that there is a problem. Right? And, and forcing someone from pre contemplation to contemplation is a really challenging thing to do. I don’t mean this to be a wilderness therapy plug. But one of my colleagues here actually just had an article published about how what she sees as the role of wilderness therapy is the best possible way to take someone from a pre contemplative state into a contemplative state, right, we, we hold people accountable, we hold up that mirror, we force people to take a look at themselves. There are a lot of other interventions. But essentially, you can’t shift someone from pre contemplation into contemplation unless they’re ready, or unless you’re doing a really good job of challenging them. That’s something that quite frankly, as a parent is hard to do. Because as Joanna said, there’s a lot of emotion involved in it. You can set boundaries, you can resend what you’re supporting. But at the end of the day, then moving from every contemplative state into one that’s contemplative is going to be difficult, and it’s going to be on death. Yeah.
Oh, that’s so good. Yes, I would agree. As somebody who’s had a child and wilderness, it does give them the chance to just step away from everything that’s going on and start thinking about those things. And if a parent is listening, either to this live or to the recording, I know that there’s a lot of question about when is the right time? Or what circumstances would you be looking for in order to consider wilderness therapy? Chris, is that something that they can reach out to you or to Joanna? For directly? Are you are you open to taking emails or phone calls about that? Because I know that’s a really, really tough decision to make.
Absolutely, absolutely. Happy to.
Okay, great. Well, we’ll make sure that your contact information is available along with the video. And thank you so, so much for taking the time. These are the hard questions that parents have. It’s so hard, and there’s not a lot of opportunity to ask these questions. And there’s not a lot of forums to ask these questions in. So I really, really appreciate you taking the time because you do this every day. And I think that’s the other thing for parents is we only usually do this once, right? And if it’s your oldest child, you’ve never done this before. So to speak with people who do this day in and day out, and you’ve seen hundreds or 1000s of kids go through this was just great context for us to get and to get some of that emotion out of it because it is it is so emotional. So thank you so much for joining us. Thank you.
Thank you. Great.
So thank you for everybody listening, I just will let you know that we are going to take a little bit of a break in the speaker series for this summer. So July, August, July, August, September. I could be wrong about that. But we will be sending out emails when the next speakers are confirmed. And we look forward to having you back here and don’t forget that if you want you can use the little donate button and help to have a child, young adult or teen really get the gift of wilderness therapy. So thanks for being here.
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