Parents, Think Twice

Time after time colleagues ask the same question: Should parents transport their at-risk adolescent to treatment?

Most of the time no is the correct answer to this question but perhaps not for the reasons you think.


You are probably thinking that it is important for parents to accompany their troubled teens because they will be separated for a long period of time; or because they can help their own child transition into their new environment; or because they will have some good bonding time on the drive to treatment.

Not so. These reasons could not be farther from the truth.

Think about it: your teenager has not graduated from high school and you are not taking them to college ready to decorate their dorm with matching drapes and bedding. Your teen is at-risk; they are troubled and exhibiting risky behaviors. They may have been diagnosed with issues that need to be addressed in a controlled environment...and believe me the family SUV is not a controlled environment. As a caring parent you made the decision to add a therapeutic component to your at-risk teens daily life in order to provide a path for healing. In many cases parents are not equipped with the ability to transport their own at-risk teen because they are emotionally connected and will not always make the best decisions for them during a transport.

Parents: think twice about making the decision to do-it-yourself... and while you are giving it a second thought read this true account...the names have been changed to protect the Clients identity.

Recently a mom of a troubled teen…I’ll call her Jean… inquired about a SafePassage transport. Jean had enrolled her son in what she termed an expensive program. After a lengthy conversation Jean decided it was not worth the added expense for a SafePassage transport and decided to drive her son…hmm, Jimmy… to treatment. Jean engaged her BFF to drive with her so she would not have to make the drive back home alone; and, Jean decided to use the family Tahoe so Jimmy could have the back seat to himself. Treatment was 3 States and 7 hours away from home, but Jean was confident she could handle anything that may arise. I asked Jean to call me and let me know how everything went when she returned…and she did.

Jean said Jimmy was angry at home when she told him he was going to wilderness but eventually got in the car. Jimmy was quiet at first, but when they stopped for fast food Jimmy ran over to the police officers who were seated inside the restaurant and begged them for help saying that Jean and her BFF had kidnapped him; the police officers immediately arrested Jean and her BFF and detained them in the backseat of the police cruiser for what seemed like forever.

After the situation was sorted out and the police released Jean and her BFF and escorted Jimmy back to the Tahoe.

Jean and her BFF tried to converse with Jimmy as they continued on their journey; but Jimmy became argumentative and began to attempt to bargain away his upcoming wideness trek. A short time later Jimmy insisted they stop at a certain rest area along the interstate and Jean complied. As Jimmy got out of the Tahoe he ran across the parking lot to a nearby car and jumped inside. Jean said she had not yet gotten out of the drivers seat and so she was able to quickly use her Tahoe to block the other car; and, with the help of a stranger, was able to get Jimmy back into her SUV. Apparently Jimmy had contacted his on-line gaming buddies and one of them answered his call for help and was waiting for Jimmy at the rest area.

That’s right Jimmy had his cell phone with him in the car...but despite their adventure Jean still at this point had not taken his cell phone away and as a result Jimmy had posted his "kidnapping" all over social media and Jeans phone began to blow up with calls, texts and emails from friends and family wanting to know if Jimmy had been found!

Following their arrival and departure from the wilderness treatment program, Jean and her BFF had to find a place to stay for the night because they were too emotionally spent to make the drive home. Jean also had to make time to post her own social media releases to counter all of Jimmy's posts and essentially make their private family matter public.

Upon her return home Jean went up to Jimmy’s room where the previous day began only to find Jimmy’s room trashed. Apparently, after she told Jimmy he was going to treatment Jean said she would meet him at the car and she walked away. While Jimmy was alone in his room he took a baseball bat and destroyed the contents of his room including his computer and put holes in the walls. Jean said she couldn’t face the destruction so she took the Tahoe to get detailed only to find out that Jimmy had taken his pocketknife to the back seat and slashed the leather which would now need to be replaced.

Jean said she wished she had arranged a SafePassage transport. Jean said her level of exhaustion and mental fatigue was only exceeded by the level of anger she was harboring toward her son. Jean went on to say that the expense of a SafePassage transport would have been money well spent.

Thank you Jean.

Do we really need to address the emotional toll that Jean took during this difficult experience with her son? Suffice it to say Jean re-lived her emotional roller coaster throughout the Tahoe repair and Jimmy's room cleanup. And, as a single mom, these repair expenses were not in her budget. Jean took a second job to pay for these unforeseen expenses.

Since not every parent should transport their at-risk teen, which parents should?

Only parents who can have a civil, dinner-table conversation about treatment with their troubled teen knowing their son or daughter will, at that moment, buy-in and immediately get in the car with you and go to treatment. Most importantly, these parents should know, with out a doubt before they enact their plan that their at-risk teen will be 100% cooperative and drama free while you are en route to treatment. These, and only these are the parents who are equipped to transport their own troubled youth to treatment. You see, its not solely about the parents ability or capability, you must factor in your at-risk teen and how far down the road they are before you even thing or making the transport a family event.

Every parent is not equipped to transport their troubled teen to treatment. Arrange a SafePassage transport today!

 SafePassage Transport Teams provide an intervention and a safe environment for transport; and we make certain there is no access to electronics for any troubled teen so the decision to send your at-risk teen to treatment remains a private family matter. Contact us today: 770.667.7467.

Lane Taylor