Sunday, December 7, 2014
Rafterz is afloat!
My teenage years were difficult. They were difficult because of all the usual things that teens go through such as worry about acceptance, self-image, peer pressure and getting good grades. Looking back, I don’t think I was really any different from most other teens. But, there was this one girl, Mary, and her sister that caused me to be uncomfortable. They lived with an alcoholic mother and a complacent father. I haven’t heard from them in years and often wonder whatever became of them. My wish is that they are living a happy non-alcoholic existence and enjoying good health and peace.
Growing up is tough. Growing up in a house where alcoholism resides is ten times the toughness. The feeling of being alone can be overwhelming. No one really wants to admit that their parents (one or both) or any other family member has a problem with either drugs or alcohol. Circumstances are sometimes hard to explain, parental actions can be embarrassing, and the sheer uncertainty of each the unfolding day generate an extra high level of stress.
I was fortunate to not have alcohol be an issue in my family home. But, I was the only girl in a family of five with male cousins as added residents. I often felt that I had no one to talk to who would truly understand my point of view. I had my friends, but they all thought the boys in my family where way to cute to be a bother to me. I was alone.
When I think of that loneliness now, I think how silly I was because my life could have been so very much worse. I could have been like Mary. I wonder who she and her sister talked to when they needed an ear.
Rafterz was created for teens much like my friend, Mary. It is a “secret” Facebook page created just for teens who live in alcoholic chaos. Any teen with a Facebook account may join the group. Because the group is secret, only members can view the conversations or membership in the group. Members are fee to say exactly what is on their minds and/or heavy in their hearts.
Although the group is monitored by adults, who have also been in similar situations as teens, they will not judge or criticize. They will be there simply to monitor that there is no bullying or threats of dangerous actions either to themselves or others. The group is also monitored by several active teen members so that the adults cannot rule the group with objectivity.
Joining Rafterz is easy. Send an e-mail to RafterzTalk@gmail.com with the word “join” in the subject line. You will then be sent a simple questionnaire to be filed out and returned to the admin. The questionnaire form will ask for your real name, birthday, address, name of your school, and the name and phone number of a trusted friend or relative. Because the members will mostly be under the age of 18, we (the administrators) need to know who to contact in the event that the member is in danger of serious harm. We do not take this action lightly and will only contact someone if there is an extreme imminent situation as stated by the member. For example, if the member is threating to take his/her own life several times over a short period of time, we will first contact the trusted friend or relative for help or clarification. If the statements continue we will contact the school counselor for intervention.
We do not want the teen members to fear that we will ruin their lives or reputations. Just the opposite. We want them to feel safe in the Rafterz Group. We want them to have a place where they can say they hate their parents for drinking and not feel guilty about saying it. If they are tired of being used as the family scapegoat, this is the place where they can vent that anger and frustration. This will be the TEENs group and not the group of any adult. Teens will own this group and ultimately, as the group grows, they will be responsible for it. In my long-term mind’s eye, I see the teens being their own monitors and admins with only minimal administration from adults.
If you know a teen that you think will benefit from this new group, please tell them to check it out by sending me an e-mail and experiencing it for a week before formally joining. After a week, if the submission has not been returned, the member will be blocked from the group.
So, grab a paddle and hold on tight because the Teens Rafterz is about to enter the water!
at 9:32 AM