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

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

Most of 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.

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. They are troubled; exhibiting risky behaviors; and may have been diagnosed with issues that need to be addressed in a controlled environment. A therapeutic component needs to be added to your at-risk teens daily life in order for them to redirect and heal. 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, you need to think twice about making the decision to do-it-yourself. So while you are giving it a second thought read Jean’s story.

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 he 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 until what seemed like forever.

After the situation was sorted out and the police released them, they continued up the road. A few more hours 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 was able to quickly block the other car from leaving; and, with the help of a stranger, was able to get Jimmy back in her car. Apparently Jimmy had contacted one of his gaming buddies and arranged for him to be at the rest area…that’s right Jimmy still had his cell phone with him in the car.

Following their arrival and departure from the treatment program, Jean and her BFF had an uneventful drive home. Upon her return Jean said she went up to Jimmy’s room where the day began only to find Jimmy’s room in shambles. 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 the sheet rocked 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.

Not to mention the emotional toll that Jean took during this difficult experience with her son.

The morale of this story is… every parent is not equipped to transport their troubled teen to treatment; arrange a SafePassage transport.

So, not every parent should transport their at-risk teen, but who should?

Only parents who can have a civil conversation about treatment with their troubled teen knowing their son or daughter will buy-in to your line of thinking; immediately get in the car with you and ride to treatment; and that you know for certain they will be 100% cooperative and drama free while you are en route to treatment; these are the parents who are equipped to transport their own troubled youth to treatment.