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A peek inside "The Interpreted Rock"

By Stephen C. Schultz


I was sitting in Atlanta waiting for a flight to Bermuda. It was actually a work related trip and the conversation between my wife and I as I headed out the door was;

“Yes, it’s Bermuda. But, it’s a short stay and we will be in a workshop the whole time.”

“Oh…I’m crying crocodile tears!” she mocked.



It was no use. There is no way to gain anyone’s sympathy when you are headed to Bermuda. It is a wonderful place for sure. I’m fortunate to work with an organization that takes seriously the support and encouragement of families no matter where they are located.

I received a message on my phone from a friend who said it had been a while since I posted something on my blog. She said she looked forward to seeing what was next.

I mentioned this to my brother Jared, who was sitting next to me in the airport (why he was going to Bermuda with me is another story). I showed him the message from my friend and mentioned that I had a blog. He laughed. I mentioned it was a blog that blended personal experiences, insights, childhood memories and situations related to work. He laughed again. So, I booted up my phone and showed him the blog…he started to read. He laughed.


My brother read for a while, then looked over, raised an eyebrow and said,

“The Interpreted Rock?”

I told him the idea actually came from a conversation I had with “Doc Dan”, the former Clinical Director at RedCliff Ascent.

Back in the early days, when wilderness therapy programs were starting to be recognized as a viable treatment modality for teens, it was common for students hiking in the back country to get frustrated. It still is. But back then, when a student would swear, they would be required to pick up a rock and put it in their backpack. While this “consequence” provided an opportunity for students to “think before they act”, it was simply a consequence that soon became perceived as “Punishment”. And, punishment is a dynamic these students were very familiar with in their families of origin.

The problem, Dan said, is that the “Rock was never interpreted”! There was never any “meaning” brought to bear on the situation. There was no value to the students. It was simply an “Un-interpreted Rock”.

How often in life, when we are communicating with and parenting our own kids, do we throw around “Rocks” like; “you’re grounded!” or “…because I said so…” or “…if I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times…”?

Do we take the time to interpret the situation with our kids? Do we encourage meaning, understanding and insight to take root? Or, do we simply allow consequences to be the proverbial “un-interpreted rock” in the “backpack” of our children’s lives?

So, with that explanation of my blogs title, my “PhD and trainer of therapists’’ brother nodded his head in agreement. He then glanced in my direction and with a chuckle in his voice said, “A blog…?” He laughed.

Comments

Academic said…
Thanks, Steve. YEs, it brought a nice smile.
I'd like to hear more about the "other: Discovery program about which I heard during Asheville. Geared toward trade and technical training?
Hi Stephen, love this post because it's both entertaining and informative.
Thanks so much Jennifer, It was certainly a fun time in Bermuda with my brother! I appreciate the comment! I'm glad it was informative and helpful.
Unknown said…
Your brother sounds like quite the character lol Love this piece and its application.
Thanks so much +Dyane Forde. Yes, my brother is a fun guy! He's actually taking a new position at University of Arizona this summer. Moving to Tucson...gonna be a Wildcat!

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