Rob posted a few weeks ago on this blog about our parent retreat. Since that post we have had some very nice comments from parents, students, and staff who attended. I thought it might be nice to hear directly from one parent about her experience at the retreat. I was struck in reading her email by how alone parents can feel when dealing with a significantly emotionally challenged teen. The retreat helped many parents and students recognize similarities and also helped to end some of the isolation they have felt. Here is the unedited letter from the attending parent:
"My husband and I both attended the Calo parent retreat and found it to be extremely helpful. Our situation was a bit odd: our daughter had only been at Calo for 6 weeks when the retreat happened and she refused to go on the retreat with us. We initially felt awkward being the only parents whose child chose not to attend, but we also felt strongly that there would be a lot to learn at the retreat and it would be a great opportunity to meet the other girls in the program as well as their parents. We found this to be the right choice on all counts.
The staff were amazing and we learned a great deal from them. They gave seminars, but they also taught us important things with the activities they had designed. The activities were all designed to build trust and closeness and it really worked! We enjoyed the adults and teenagers on our team very much. And although we were sad not to have our daughter with us it did give us a chance to watch other families try to handle the same problems we have had with our daughter. The similarities between their stories and ours were both startling and very encouraging.
As the parents of children with attachment disorders we had all tried everything we could think of…we had read parenting books and tried lots of different parenting strategies and in spite of all our efforts our children were in treatment. During meals at the retreat we discussed these things with the other parents and it was heartwarming to hear different versions of the same stories. So many of us feel isolated and confused and in many cases harshly judged by friends, neighbors and even family who generally see our children at their best and cannot imagine why that charming child would behave so badly for us. What in the world are we doing wrong? We left the retreat feeling as encouraged as we had been in a long time. The other parents were encouraging, the staff were encouraging and really, the other teens were encouraging talking about their own issues and improvements and their hopes for our daughter. We are so glad we went and look forward to another retreat- hopefully one that our daughter attends!"