You’ve decided that your teenage daughter needs to go to a residential facility for treatment because of trauma, depression, or another mental health issue, but you’re hesitant to inform her. This is normal. You should know, however, that many parents subsequently regret not being upfront with their kids about going to treatment. It is not recommended that you delay telling them until they arrive as this starts treatment off on a sour note.
The first thing you should know is that it’s typical for a teenage or adolescent girl to be reluctant to participate in residential treatment, uninspired to do so, or overtly hostile toward residential treatment. At Evangelhouse, we suggest being truthful and direct. Explain to your daughter that you are concerned about them and it’s your primary duty to ensure they reach adulthood safely and successfully, with all the tools they need to thrive as an adult. While you prefer that they are happy now, experiencing temporary discomfort now is a small price to pay to resolve her issues before she becomes an independent adult.
It is important to ask your daughter the specific reasons why they don’t want to go to residential treatment. Address each concern, whether that’s facing stigma for a mental illness or missing their friends, family, or pets. Reassure your daughter and remind them of how much better things will be with their current issues in the rearview mirror.
Your daughter might also believe that their stay at Evangelhouse would negatively impact their future admission chances to the college of their choice. We are happy to give you pointers on how to handle this concern as our experience is that graduating from Evangelhouse does not have a negative impact. In fact, due to our small class size, accredited academics, and ability to cater to everyone’s individual needs, your daughter actually has a better chance of college success from attending Evangelhouse.
Validate your daughter’s worries once you’ve determined the cause of their treatment resistance. You must address their questions, worries, and anxieties head-on. Avoid starting out with your well-researched and prepared responses. Lead with compassion and understanding. This is crucial. It is important to start with emotional affirmation. Tell them you understand how hard it will be, but that you love them and will be working on your issues as a family in a concurrent process with the therapeutic team at Evangelhouse. Spend some time with them and let them know you understand.
Focus on the future and help them understand it’s also difficult and painful for you as their parent. Re-assure your daughter that when she is your age, she will look back at this difficult time and think, “I know this decision was hard for my parents, but I’m glad they made me face my issues. It made me the successful, confident woman that I am today.”
You can also mention that they will make friends at Evangelhouse that will last a lifetime. Discuss all the activities, sports, and daily schedules. Let them know about any activity at Evangelhouse they may be interested in, like horseback riding, soccer, and social outings.