edu180atl: dianne hiltman 10.4.11
She stood up and wailed, almost. “But if I restrict my 10th grader to only parties where no alcohol is allowed for kids, she won’t go to ANY high school parties!”
The 9-hour risk-reduction class was nearly complete. I’d given it my best. I was wrung out.
Before the entire class of adults, I went speechless. I had no ounce of compassion to hear this mother’s concern for her child’s popularity.
I have been trained to respond something like: 1-I can understand that seems limiting and detrimental 2-But research shows we tend to behave like groups we spend time with 3-So I carefully limit the groups my sons associate with—or something equally affirming and professional.
I was trained that way. I have taught that technique for years. But I forgot.
I almost said “Have you lost your mind?’ But I didn’t.
I wanted to say, “How many friends did you lose to alcohol?” But I didn’t.
I nearly demanded she phone me in 10 years to tell me how her daughter turned out. But I didn’t.
I did remain silent, letting the misery and confusion in both our minds slow, took a full breath, and moved on. I hoped silence might allow this mother to wrestle with and sort her priorities, eventually siding with low-risk expectations for her daughter. I knew almost anything I might say could completely mess things up.
I learned that I can forget something I know well, just in the moment I most need it.
Dianne Hiltman teaches drug & alcohol programs, cares for her parents, husband & cats & delights in her young adult sons. Mostly, she learns.