You can always tell a real friend; when you’ve made a fool of yourself, he doesn’t feel you’ve done a permanent job.” —LAURENCE J. PETER

Thayne, Tim. Not by Chance: How Parents Boost Their Teen's Success In and After Treatment (pp. 148-149).

Your child's rehabilitative journey is almost complete at this point in Dr. Tim Thayne’s Not by Chance. After sending your child to the most appropriate therapeutic boarding school, wilderness therapy program, or residential treatment center, they have completed the program and have returned home.

So now what? 

According to Dr. Thayne, “Coming home is a critical moment in your teen’s story. You want to make it as welcoming, loving, and motivational as possible.“

Community is Key 

While it may be easy to think of your child’s rehabilitative journey as strictly family business, it’s important to remember that a returning child’s community is crucial in their healing process. Teens growing up inside a community are just beginning to develop a sense of themselves, a sense of their self-worth, and are driven by the concept that other people outside of their home and immediate family care about them.

The perception of an impressionable teen works like this: Mom and dad love you. Great, they have to love you. But love, care, and support from outside of the home from the community (peers and teachers from the school, the pastor and congregation at church, etc.) go a long way. This external support can encourage teens where parents cannot, or at the very least, be an invaluable tool a recovering teen to utilize when times get tough -- which they most certainly will.    

Getting the community’s support begins long before a child returns home

 While the notion of sharing your family’s “business” may feel awkward, to get the community’s full support, it’s important, to be honest about your child being in treatment. That’s not to say that you have to overshare or divulge anything that would make your child uncomfortable. Share enough information that explains intervention was necessary. 

However, as Dr. Thayne warns, it’s important not to say enough to scare off those within the community, as this may ruin your child’s chance at gaining their acceptance or forgiveness when they return home.  

 “A caring community environment for a young person will produce thousands of spontaneous micro-interventions on that young person’s life path.” 


Thayne, Tim. Not by Chance: How Parents Boost Their Teen's Success In and After Treatment (p. 168). 

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” —HELEN KELLER

Adding to the communitive theme, Dr. Thayne talks about building what he calls a “home team” in chapter 6. Building a home team is what it sounds like: assembling a support team of friends, family, and/or mentors for when a teen returns home.

Dr. Thayne recommends introducing new people into the returning teen’s support system (the previous family’s dynamic). Introducing this new “home team,” parents can change their child’s surroundings and support system’s dynamic. 

Building The Home Team

Now it’s time to brainstorm ideas about potential recruits to add to your teen’s home team. As Dr. Thayne recommends, parents should look beyond therapeutic professionals, such as therapists or teachers. Instead, he recommends that parents seek out “natural mentors” such as coaches, religious leaders, parents of other teens, positive coworkers, extended family, neighbors, and even friends of friends. 

When brainstorming ideas for potential recruits for your teen’s home team, look beyond the professionals such as therapists or teachers, and reach into the pool of natural mentors such as coaches, religious leaders, coworkers, extended family, parents of other teens, neighbors, family, and friends.

Identify which general support areas each individual might offer: companionship, emotional support, or instrumental support. 

Use individuals from your family history or historical or faith-promoting characters to draw parallels with your teen’s positive character traits. Help your teen build his or her identity on the positive similarities you find between those inspiring individuals and your teen.

Thayne, Tim. Not by Chance: How Parents Boost Their Teen's Success In and After Treatment (p. 186). 


In chapter 7, the book covers the emotions both your teen and your family will experience upon their return home, as well as what you and your teen can expect. In this chapter, Dr. Thayne explains that this level of anxiety and excitement is normal. Still, most importantly, it can be used to incentivize you to do the work necessary before your child returns home. 

Dr. Thayne instructs parents on the do’s and don’t’s of this period:

  • Be ready to hand over and restrict certain privileges
  • Establish absolutes in your home (rules pertaining to drug use, screen time, curfews, etc.) 
  • Don’t Give in to guilt.
  • Don’t give in to repeated requests if your therapist says otherwise

Another important thing to remember is that friends and peers can either be great for supporting your teen or instrumental in their downfall and return to engaging in old, negative behavior patterns. Take the time shortly before they return home to establish which friends will be fruitful and which ones will be harmful to your child.


…the three-month maximum period between a person’s entry into a new situation and a person’s complete screwing up of said situation or essential elements of it. This phenomenon is backed by massive amounts of studies and social psychology and even more massive amounts of personal testimony from bitter, angry people.” –UrbanDictionary.com.

Thayne, Tim. Not by Chance: How Parents Boost Their Teen's Success In and After Treatment (p. 203)

The honeymoon phase: the first few weeks after your child returns home and everything seems to ‘click.’ However, it is shortly thereafter this phase that parents and teens generally begin to become bitter and resentful towards one another after things naturally begin to devolve into less than perfectly “rose-tinted.” While this phase is an enjoyable one, Dr. Thayne warns not to falsely prolong it. 

“I have some suggestions for you in this honeymoon phase. First of all, enjoy it while it lasts but don’t try to prolong it by giving your son or daughter what he or she wants all the time, letting misbehavior slide. This is doubly tempting because we love the feeling of being in the honeymoon phase and we really hate the pain of falling out of it and into the testing phase that’s coming next. We have to work extremely hard, as parents, to keep from bending over backward to ensure we keep the soft glow and romantic music of the honeymoon alive.” - Tim Thayne (p. 206.)

See the strengths in your son or daughter by becoming a” talent scout.” Remind yourself of your child’s unique and loveable gifts, and growth as the honeymoon starts to fade. 

Use the good feelings and lofty thinking to firm up plans and structure for your child’s life now that he or she is home.

Warm up the relationship as much as you can in this phase. There will be bumps ahead, and you will want this connection and warmth to sustain you both.