You can go to “Therapy Formats” and see how strong our focus on family therapy is and how the components are sequenced.
It has become clear, after watching the parents of more than 1,300 young men go through Capstone since 2001, that all parents are trying to do is find ways to help the outcome turn out good for their child and everybody else in their family. “Helping” needs to be defined here, or perhaps undefined. Capstone does not see or label parents of struggling children as codependents who need to detach or enablers who need to practice tough love. Instead, as Heather Hayes, an outstanding therapist in Atlanta, taught me, I see fierce lovers and protectors of their families. Fierce lovers and protectors who need to keep on fiercely loving and protecting – but learn to do so in ways that can make their efforts more effective. And that is what all fierce loving and protective parents want: to be effective with their unconditional love, good intention and great efforts.
Our goals for family therapy are to help each parent grow in their wholeness and health so they can be the most effective fierce lovers and protectors of their family. Helping parents become stronger and more effective is vital in dealing with difficult teenage behavior or young adult struggles. Our approach to family therapy is to help the individuals to become healthier so the marriages and parent-child relationships can become healthier, and then, the child we are working with can get healthy and fulfill their hopes and dreams.
In other words, it is a primary purpose of Capstone to help you in your helping. To help parents with a struggling child to help that child and your family overcome the struggle and become healthy and whole as individuals and as a family.
I wish none of you were currently in this battle, but instead, that all of you were back in time as the parents of your first baby child and you were intentionally preparing to prevent the above battles from hurting your family. Most of you wish you could go back in time and start all over because you are in crisis mode as you read this, extremely concerned, if not desperate, as you continue to seek ways to help.
There are three absolute and undeniable truths that I want to stress here. First, even if you had prepared in every possible way to prevent such situations from happening to your children or family, there would still be a huge percentage of them, perhaps a majority, that would still be facing the ordeals addressed in this book…because you can’t prepare for, and prevent, so many hurtful and threatening experiences, no matter how hard you try.
Second, although you can’t prevent all things bad, you can be knowledgeable and ready for the unexpected and take them on in the best ways possible. And while ahead-of-time preparation would be great, it is rare. We learn most of the important things through on-the-job-training. Getting prepared while in the middle of the battle is not only the way it happens mostly, it is also effective and successful most of the time.
Third, there is one thing that I am sure of when it comes to quality parenting: Our finest hours do not occur when life is just peachy with the whole brood. Our finest hours come in the darkest hours, even though when in crucible of the darkest hours we feel like absolute failures. It’s one of those counterintuitive things in life that you only can see in your rearview mirror. Most of the families that I’ve been privileged to work with, including the children who were at the center of the battle, have come through the valley and arrived at a place where they have found a deeper connection to each other, a grateful heart, strengths and talents born out of their struggle, and clarity in their life’s direction and purpose.
The possibilities of a good outcome are not dependent on good luck, absence of bad luck or wishful thinking. They are about gathering information, making informed decisions and following through with consistent and committed action. Most of the parents and families who do so really do win this battle.
Many of you are probably feeling like you’ve failed because you are in this battle to begin with. And you know what? Are there things you wish you had done differently? Do you have regrets? Of course, and I warmly invite you to join our club. Every parent is eventually in it.
But consider this: There are ways to learn from mistakes, gain new knowledge and skills, and turn things around from here. There’s nothing that can’t be healed or made better or at least handled in a healthier way. I’ve never seen a young adult or adolescent that needed a 180-degree turn in his/her life’s direction. Frankly, a 10- to 15-degree change is what the clear majority need. Which means that most of who that son is needs to stay the same because he is mostly good. So, for most of you, you did a good job in raising that child. Most of who-they-are is “just right,” and that is overwhelmingly from you, the parent(s). It’s those few degrees of being off course that will ruin them if maintained.
Something has infiltrated your family with the stealthiness of a virus that has to be faced and overcome to get the needed change. As we old papas and nanas know from experience, we all will face battles with our kids. Battles that rip our hearts out. And it is in the battles that we discover our “finest hour” as parents. I have worked with thousands of parents and families, and I have rarely seen a parent who lacked in love, effort and good intention in their parenting. And since you are reading this, you are probably cut from the same cloth.
If Capstone is your choice, I look forward to knowing you and watching you take your love, effort and intentional action and learn to use it more effectively in the battle for your child and family. And I pray that someday, when you are living in health and wholeness with your whole family, you will look back on this time as your “finest hours” of parenting.