© 2002 Franklin Cameron.
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Franklin Cameron,

Franklin Cameron, is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Certified Addictions Counselor (CAC) III. In his private practice in Boulder, Colorado he specializes in working with adolescents and their families who are experiencing developmental and/or substance abuse issues. He serves as a consulting therapist and lecturer for private and public schools in the larger Denver-Boulder area. He is also Affiliate Faculty at Regis University’s School for Professional Studies Department of Psychology.

I am often asked to speak to adolescent and parent groups about all things adolescent. The developmental process, the awesome challenge of substance abuse, peer dynamics, what it means to be a young person in the process of becoming an adult in our culture are some of the topics that prominently figure in my talks.

A live talk is a multidimensional experience. The speaker and audience are in the same room together. That alone generates information that all parties actively interpret and integrate as the lecture proceeds. A good question from the audience offers an opportunity to amend or clarify any statement. The written article, however, is a more linear experience. Ideas have to be arranged logically. A thematic foundation has to be laid before you can start playing off it. For the lecturer-turned-writer, it’s hard to not worry and doubt whether the shades and tones of what you’re trying to say are being properly expressed. With each article you envision four more articles to address all the counter-arguments, exceptions and parallel themes that come to mind.

At one point, I decided not to launch this web site until I had written absolutely every article on every idea about the adolescent experience I’ve ever espoused. Only then could I be satisfied I had made statements that I were clear and defensible. Unfortunately, the idea of writing so many articles without being in relationship with an audience felt lonely and oppressive, to say the least. Then, I thought, “And what about all those ideas that keep evolving and changing? Will committing them to type stick me with old viewpoints?” At some point, I realized that, by the time I finished this opus, I’d be ready to start rewriting it.

So, I decided to leap. The four articles presented here could be said to form the philosophical foundation of the articles that will follow. These will include a variety of topics. My main intention is to approach the adolescent experience from an even more fundamental question. Namely, “What does it mean to be human?” I don’t profess to know the answer to that question, but as a fellow human I reserve the right explore it. I’ve found that within that larger context, a lot of things about the adolescent experience begin to make sense, and even point toward meaningful action.

Works in Progress
Some of the subjects we will be exploring in future articles are listed in the outline that follows. As you will see in the four articles presently featured in “Featured Articles,” I chose to open my web site by addressing a concept listed below under the subsection “Understanding Your Teenager in Terms of Your Family System.” That concept is, “Creating a ‘holding environment’ in which your teenager can root and grow.” I did this for a lot of reasons. Most fundamentally because we all spring from some kind of family that could be said to be our soil, our ground. The ground seemed like a good place to start.

Adolescence as a Developmental Process
• Identifying the developmental challenges your teenager faces. Understanding “the job” of the teenager.
• Preparing your prince or princess to take the throne of their emerging young adult life.
What should your teenager have mastered before adolescence? If he or she did not master these skills, how can they catch up? How can you recognize that your teenager is not prepared for the tasks he or she faces?
• The importance of peers and belonging: What your teenager feels is important, and why.
• Understanding the dynamics of power—assessing what’s really going on in those dreadful confrontations. As many parents have painfully discovered, adolescents are hard-wired to win an argument at all costs: They'll even shoot themselves in the foot sometimes to do it. Believe it or not, parents can learn how to respond to this force of nature in a way that does not result in power struggles that can shatter the peace of the home.
• Creating win-win scenarios in the context of family structure with the aid of natural consequences.

Parenting In the Face of Drugs: You Are Not Alone
• How drugs affect the adolescent vs. the adult nervous system. What all the fuss is about.
• Understanding your own family mental and substance abuse history and what that means to your children
• Understanding Drug Use vs. Abuse vs. Dependence.
• When to call in the troops. Who are the troops? Networking with other parents.
• When has a parent begun to enable their teenager’s drug use?
• How deeply involved in drugs is your teen-ager? How can you tell?
• When do you know you need help? What would that help look like?
• Defining treatment: Education, Outpatient or Residential.
• Urinalyses: Why? When? For how long?

Understanding Your Teenager in Terms of Your Family System
• Parents take a careful look at themselves. How long has this been going on?
• Family roles: Is your teenager’s behavior more scripted than you imagined?
• Parenting styles: What’s your style? Does it work with your teenager?
• Creating a “holding environment” in which your teenager can root and grow.
• Identifying the strengths in your own family's structure and making them stronger.
• Witnessing and admiring your teenager
• Helping your teenager find his or her dream. Helping them launch.

Welcoming Your Teenager to the Reality Principle
• Modeling a balance between Pleasure and Reality
• When to protect your teenager from reality, when to let them feel the bump.
• Compassionately contending with teenage egocentrism
• Love and work. Teaching your teenager the value and necessity of work. The search for one’s “true work.”
• Let's talk about love and pleasure. If we don't, teenagers are going to discover them
anyway, with or without your balancing input.

Toward Another Social Paradigm
• Owning the mixed messages our society gives teenagers about drugs.
• Spirit versus body. Are we just stimulus-response organisms?
• The incredible human nervous system: Have we even begun to appreciate its potential?
• Is radiant health a myth? Contemplating the role of nutrition in drug prevention.
• Does the spiritual have a role in healing?
• Acknowledging the perceived benefits of drugs before you address their shadows.
• Envisioning a drug-free world may imply more than we think.
• Finding your own way.