Impact Letter


An 'impact letter' is a powerful tool some families use to speak to their children about the events that led up to enrollment in wilderness, as well as provide feedback about the teen's behavior and the family's experience watching their child spiral downward. The point of an impact letter is to trigger empathy on the teen's behalf for their family's experience in observing the teen's choices. This is also an opportunity for the family to take ownership for what they did wrong and what will be different in the future.

Dearest Antoine,

We are so, so proud of you for embracing wilderness and working so hard. It cannot always be easy but we hope you are finding it useful. As you know we speak to Wesley every week and he tells us everything that you are doing. We are also studying a parenting book with Wesley, which is helping us to realize how we can help you more at home.

We know that the last month or so of school for you was really tough, as you had to be out of the classroom on your own for so much of the time. That is not fair for you. We want you to be able to learn with your friends and have fun in the classroom.

At home we were always fighting – either because you were bored, or because you wanted to eat, or because you wanted to do something that we didn’t feel was appropriate. That kind of environment makes none of us happy and we want to change it as much as you do.

Mum finds it especially difficult when you negotiate and make deals and she is scared that you will get mad and curse and throw things, but she is going to keep better boundaries for you so that you can be fairer with her.

We have learnt that we will give you better and more understandable boundaries and not let them change from day to day because this will help you feel safe and struggle free. Alice always finds this difficult, how you are allowed to curse at us and she isn’t. Of course that is not fair on either of you and we will work together to give you better boundaries and consequences so that Alice will not feel that you get away with everything. That must be difficult for her. She loves you very, very much and wants to protect you as well but she also needs to be able to be a teenager and she needs us as much as you do. She finds your comments sometimes very annoying, especially when they are unkind or uncalled for. We understand that you find it difficult not to blurt out what you are thinking but we know you are working on this in wilderness too.

Wesley told us about how you are working hard at understanding why you ask so many questions, even when you sometimes know the answers. We will make sure to also understand these situations and help you sort out the real questions from the one’s that you don’t have to ask out loud. We heard all about your challenge when the frog got your voice and how well you managed with it. That must have been so hard!

We have also learnt how we will help you express your emotions. We love you for who you are and you are an incredible person with so many funny and interesting things to say. We know that if you feel sad or mad, we can help you feel safe with these feelings. It is all about how we manage them together and we will try to allow you to find the solutions yourself.

Lots and lots of love and big hugs and kisses

Mum and Dad xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

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