“Nothing in life is so exhilarating as to be shot at without result.” —SIR WINSTON CHURCHILL

Chapter 9 begins with what Dr. Tim Thayne refers to as “the testing phase.” This phase crucial phase can start as soon as your child’s first day back, or even three to four weeks after they return.  During this time, you will start to notice your child’s old behaviors start to emerge. 

It is natural to feel anxiety, frustration, and even anger during this phase. As the “honeymoon phase” wanes and your child begins to show signs of their previous negative behaviors, it is common for parents to develop what Dr. Thayne calls parental post-traumatic stress disorder (PPTSD). It’s important for parents not to panic or worry but rather expect this and be prepared for this phase.

Say it with me: “Hello, testing phase. I’ve been expecting you.”

It is important to manage your emotions during the testing phase. While stressful, it’s the home stretch; once handled correctly, you will be able to seamlessly transition from the testing phase into the last and longest stage: the maintenance phase -- when things settle, and you and your teen fall into a more predictable and stable routine.  

Testing Boundaries 

Dr. Thayne explains that it won’t be long after your teen returns home that they will do what teens naturally do: test the limits of your rules and set boundaries. 

You must keep your resolve, stay calm, and hold your boundaries. During this time, “sticking to your guns” will be just as much of a test for you as it is for your teen. By standing firm, you will be able to convince your teen that you mean business and that they won’t be able to circumvent your rules or set boundaries as they had previously.


“Persistent people begin their success where others end in failure.” —EDWARD EGGLESTON

 Like any stage of your child’s recovery, there will be peaks and valleys. What separates this phase from the previous ones is that so-called bumps in the road will be much less severe. Why? Because your teen is gaining confidence because they have been learning how to apply the coping skills during treatment.

What’s more -- given that you and your family were involved in your child’s treatment and prepared for their return home -- you are also more confident and have learned new coping skills and parental strategies during your child being away. 

Basically, you’ve made it through the testing phase. You and your child have grown together and overcome the proverbial rough waters together. 

“As in the other three phases, keep an eye on your own actions and reactions. Maintain your label as an influencer, rather than drill sergeant or buddy.”

However, that’s not to say that you can let your guard down and let your child live on their own. It’s just as crucial as ever to establish and stick with a routine that involves regular check-ins and supervision. It’s the home stretch now, and to falter now would be all the more devastating.


“We first make our habits, and then our habits make us.” —JOHN DRYDEN

By this point in the book, your child has returned home and has shown a track record of success. Using your support, their newfound knowledge, and therapeutic and behavioral strategies learned from their time in a program, your child has overcome arduous challenges and has avoided potential pitfalls during the trigger-laden testing phase. 

That said, the journey is not over yet. To retain their recovery, your teen will have to continuously identify and overcome challenges -- both expected and unforeseen challenges that will test their rehabilitation at every turn. Thankfully, your teen’s mental health and emotional intelligence are leagues above where they were before treatment.

Keeping Up the Momentum

As you help your teen overcome their life’s many obstacles, you will begin to notice that their momentum, self-confidence, and excitement will mount with each challenge they successfully overcome.

That said, it’s important for you as a parent to have a prevention plan and strategies prepared. For instance, if your child struggled with drug and alcohol problems, you should have a support system and relapse prevention plan prepared that includes avoiding people, places, and attitudes that acted as triggers for drug-abusing behaviors in the past.

As Dr. Tim Thayne explains at the end of chapter 11, "Consistent structure in your teen’s daily schedule, exercise, sleep patterns, employment, service opportunities, hobbies, and social interactions will amount to a well-rounded and healthy son or daughter." 

...  Next week, we will continue our coverage of Dr. Tim Thayne's Not By Chance, Chapters 12-14. 

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