Strained Relations

Strained Relations: Help for Struggling Parents of Troubled Teens

Posts Tagged ‘Troubled teens’

A Parent’s Declaration of Independence by Theresa Froehlich

Posted by Marcia on July 1, 2011

Please note I am now primarily posting at Strained Relations: Parenting Troubled Teens. You’ll find all of the content you have sought on this blog. Please follow me over there.

Thank you,

Marcia

 

Today’s guest blogger is Theresa Froehlich. She is a writer, speaker, Certified Life Coach, and ordained minister. She has been married 28 years and is the mother of two young adult children.

For parents in pain – whether it is the result of a child’s addiction, failure in school, estranged relationship, or failure to move forward with life – the most difficult challenge is managing emotions.

After my husband and I discovered that our daughter, eighteen-years old and a college freshman at the time, became an alcoholic, my range of emotions were all over the map: fear, depression, anxiety, anger, guilt, shame and despair. A year later, our son went off to college, crashed and burned because of his computer and online video gaming addiction. My emotional workout then ramped up to the post-doctoral level!

During the last few years, I have reflected a great deal on how parents in pain can manage their emotions, regain sanity, and get on with life. This strategy (more fully described in my book now being considered for publication) is based on our declaration of independence, the relentless detachment from the problem child.

1. I acknowledge that my child’s destiny is no longer bound up with mine.
2. I admit I am powerless to change my child.
3. I respect my child as the sole captain of her ship.
4. I choose to steer my own ship, and mine alone.
5. I refuse to let my child’s poor choices determine how I feel.
6. I refuse to view my child’s achievements as my source of joy; instead I give my child the credit that is due to him.
7. I respect real life as a competent teacher for my child, and therefore I can resign from being the teacher/leader.
8. I admit I have a journey of personal transformation to make, but I will not accept responsibility for my child’s poor choices.
9. I admit that I am also a learner, just as much as my child has been. Therefore, I deal with my own shortcomings and learn to forgive myself of my mistakes.
10. I rest in the confidence that God can do a much better job at changing people than I can, but I also accept God’s timeline as different from mine. Therefore, I suspend judgment, relinquish fear, and patiently wait for God’s timing.

What situation do you work with? What are the challenges you face in managing emotions? What strategies have you used?

I blog about these topics at http://www.transitionslifecoaching.org and would like to invite you to visit me there. Please join in the conversation so we can connect and support one another.

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Posted in changing parent behavior, family difficulties, nagging the kids, online video gaming addiction, out of control teens, parent coping with disappointment in kids, Parents and teens, repaired relationship, teen alcoholic, Theresa Froehlich, Troubled teens, worried parents | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Guest Blogger: Fern Weis’s Top 5 Parenting Tips

Posted by Marcia on March 24, 2011

Our guest blogger today is Fern Weis, and she provides tips and some insight into her own family. She is a certified coach, middle school teacher, wife, and parent of two wonderful young adults. She specializes in supporting and educating parents of teens and young adults through individual and group coaching, as well as educational workshops. Fern continues to volunteer as a facilitator of family weekends at Hyde School. She is committed to strengthening American families, one family at a time. Learn more about her work at www.familymatterscoach.com. You can also contact her at fgweis@gmail.com. And now…here’s Fern.

In a recent blog post, Marcia Stein posed some serious questions about the downward spiral of Charlie Sheen. She also asked readers to share their own experiences. I am pleased to be able to share part of my life with you and what I learned along the way.

In our family, it was our son spiraling into a pit as a teen (and taking us down there with him). What was so painful was that somewhere in this out-of-control teen was a kind and loving person who didn’t know how to come back to us. When he was having a good day, we would hope against hope that this was a sign he was turning around. We were not facing reality. When we could no longer deny it, and accepted what was happening and that we had no control, we pulled him out of high school. First step, a one-month wilderness program to separate him from his community and from us. Second step, two years at an amazing boarding school called Hyde School, a program of family-based character development.

The deciding factor in choosing Hyde was the intensive parent program. While we considered ourselves good people, and understood that he made dangerous choices, we knew that we needed to change, too. We couldn’t ask the school to ‘fix’ him, and then have him come home to the same parents. We had to do things differently, see ourselves differently.

I learned that I taught my children so much about how to see themselves and life, not only by my words, but by my actions, reactions and responses to people and events in my life. It’s frightening how much our children learn from us that we are not aware of.

I learned that you cannot stand by. It hurts to take difficult steps, but it hurts more to watch your child self-destruct. Change is hard, but not changing takes you in the opposite direction of where you want to go. So…

1) Do the hard thing. Don’t worry about your ‘relationship’ with your child. He has lots of friends, but only one set of parents to teach him how to get through life. Children need us to set limits. They don’t have the self-control to do it for themselves. If you don’t do it, who will? Whether it’s saying ‘no’, or having a serious intervention, do it!

2) Understand that parenting is more about YOU than your children. Step up! You know all those qualities you want to see in your children? You want them to be truthful, persistent, courageous, compassionate, generous, thoughtful, curious and optimistic. Make sure you are the best role model you can be (for your own benefit, as well as theirs). Have you given up on a dream? Have you ever been less than honest? Do you tell them to be more assertive, and then avoid saying what you need to say to others? Do you expect more from them than you do from yourself?

As they get older, you have decreasing control over the choices your children make, the actions they take. They are counting on you (even though they will deny it) to show them how it’s done, and to be their guide.

3) Ask others for their insights about you (this includes your kids). I can sense some of you mentally walking away from this one. But we are often the last ones to see our own inconsistencies. It’s the inconsistencies that prevent us from moving from struggle to confidence. The mixed messages make parenting, decision-making and personal growth more difficult.

Ask the people who love you most (spouse/partner, kids, trusted friends and family) for their input. You don’t want them to sugarcoat it, and you don’t want them to be cruel, either. You are looking for helpful feedback so you can be a great example for your children and enjoy life more.

3) Listen, listen, listen! Your kids want to be heard. It doesn’t matter whether you agree with them or not. Listen and become the trusted adult they turn to when there’s something really important to talk about. This is not the time for judgment, criticism, or fixing it for them. After they have vented is the time to help them with coping and problem-solving strategies.

4) Be a teacher, guide and mentor… but don’t be ‘the fixer’. Too many young people are not prepared to launch themselves into independence. When we give them the answers and solve problems for them, they are not learning the skills.

Step back. Guide and teach without doing it for them. And if you are not always the right person to teach the skill or lesson, you have options. Ask for help in being a better teacher. Consider who might be more effective in helping your child work through challenges. There is no shame. It really does take a community to raise children.

5) Share your struggles with your children. What was challenging for you growing up? What did you fail at? How did you deal with it? Our kids see us as adults who mostly seem to be in control and know what we’re doing. As confused, hormone-ridden teens, they can’t imagine being competent and self-assured. They need to know that it does get better, that we were once like them and we, mostly, successfully muddled our way through, too.

You already know how important this job is. And while you weren’t given a user manual for your children, it doesn’t always have to be difficult. Learn when to step in and when to step aside. Listen as least as much as you speak, if not more. Ask for help when you need it. Inspire your children by sharing your own difficult experiences. Your children need this from you, now.

P.S. My son graduated high school and college, and is employed in his chosen profession. The child we thought we had lost is a motivated and generous young man who gives me bear hugs, tells me about his work day, and dances me around the kitchen. His sister, who prefers not to be highlighted in my writing, is an amazing young woman and daughter, and friend to all who know her. Life is good.

Posted in changing parent behavior, changing parent's behavior, chart progress, confidence, enabler, entitled, family difficulties, Fern Weis, forgiveness, listen to family problems, missing our son, out of control teens, Parents and teens, repaired relationship, teen intervention, teens and consequences, Troubled teens, wilderness program, worried parents | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Information About the Involuntary Psychiatric Hold

Posted by Marcia on March 14, 2011

I have blogs and websites with tools to analyze traffic, see what terms people are using that lead them to my sites and my book. I use analytics to learn more about what information you’re seeking, and I occasionally use that along with discussions, emails and calls to determine topics to present.

Due to the ongoing discussions about Charlie Sheen and similar or more extreme experiences of others, this article is devoted to a difficult subject: the involuntary psychiatric hold or commitment. Involuntary commitment is when a person is placed in a psychiatric hospital or ward against his or her will. This must be in compliance with the mental health laws, is usually limited in duration and requires regular reevaluation.

I will direct you to some informational websites to help you or your friends as I am not in a profession that deals with these matters: I simply know how to research.

A Wikipedia entry at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Involuntary_commitment#Alternatives has a good overview of the history of involuntary commitment and some information about the process in different countries.

In California, Section 5150 allows a qualified officer or clinician to evaluate a person and have that person involuntarily confined. There are specifics as to who is qualified to evaluate a person and what circumstances would lead to this decision. Generally speaking, the person must be a danger to self and/or others and/or be gravely disabled. There is a Wikipedia entry regarding Section 5150 at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/5150_(Involuntary_psychiatric_hold).

There is a brochure describing the California involuntary 72-hour and 14-day hold that explains the process and a person’s rights under the law. This informational piece was created by the California Network of Mental Health Clients in Sacramento. The brochure is at http://www.disabilityrightsca.org/pubs/502401.pdf and their number is 916-443-3232. They have provided additional resources if you need them.

The last topic I will mention is “conservatorship” or “guardianship.” You can read an explanation at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conservatorship. In order to be another person’s conservator, you must have clear and convincing evidence that it is necessary to provide for the other person’s “physical health, food, clothing, and shelter” or that the person cannot “substantially manage his…own financial resources or…resist fraud or undue influence.”

I started this article by mentioning Charlie Sheen. It’s terrible to watch and I can’t imagine what this is like for the family and friends who love him. What would I do if I were in their shoes? I don’t know, and it’s hard for any of us to know from a distance exactly what’s going on and why. I can say this on the basis of my research – you don’t have to stand by and watch, and you don’t have to walk away because you don’t want to be enabling the behavior. A good psychiatrist and/or an attorney can help you sort through the options.

For those of you living in these extreme situations, I hope this has given you some information to consider and the courage to act. You will absolutely need courage and resolve.

Posted in behavior of someone using drugs, conservatorship, danger to self, enabler, enabling, estranged, family difficulties, family violence, Involuntary commitment, Involuntary Psychiatric Hold, mental illness, mentally ill teen, meth addict, out of control teens, parenting adult children, Parents and teens, restraining orders, Section 5150, teen and addiction, teen intervention, Troubled teens, violence in mentally ill people, what drugs cost, worried parents | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

How to Listen to Disclosure of Family Estrangement or Difficulties

Posted by Marcia on March 2, 2011

In my last post I wrote about the process of deciding to share difficult information about one’s family. This post is devoted to receiving this information.

Some of the richest and most heartfelt conversations I have had have been when someone decides to confide in me or when another person listens to my story.

When your family member or friend is having family problems and decides to share these issues with you, it takes a lot of courage, hope and trust that you will not judge, will listen carefully, offer help if asked, will not gossip. This is a confidential and difficult conversation.

Truly listening means that you turn off distractions: this is not a time for watching TV, texting and taking calls. Turn off your phone and give that person your attention. Listen with your head and your heart. Don’t ask a lot of questions, just a few to clarify the situation if needed.

Don’t change the topic unless you’re very uncomfortable hearing this news, and if you are, it’s better to just say you’re uncomfortable.

This conversation is about the other person, not you and your family, unless you’ve experienced a similar situation. Then it’s appropriate to share but limit your input: this person has a lot to say.

Be private and confidential. If the person wanted all of the family and friends to know, there are many ways to alert everyone. It can hurt the person’s feelings if you talk about this to others and damage your own credibility as a confidante.

Don’t judge the people involved. You’re hearing a part of the story and you’re hearing it for the first time. It may be shocking news, but all of it is in the realm of the human condition: the things that happen to people and the decisions we make.

Ask if there is anything you can do to help and provide resources if you have them. One woman called me regarding her son and after listening to her story, I asked if she wanted resources or how I could best help her. She was looking for resources and I gave her a few places to start, indicating there were additional resources in my book and on the blog if she needed them. It’s easy to become overwhelmed when you’re already dealing with a stressful situation. I also keep in touch, ask how things are going, and remember her on Mother’s Day and Christmas, two really hard holidays for her.

When you see or talk with the person in the future, ask about his or her child. I know from personal experience that the concern people show is helpful. It helps me to know that they haven’t forgotten I am a parent, and birthdays and some holidays in particular are really difficult.

Keep in touch and show concern and compassion. That’s the best way you can help anyone.

Posted in adopted kids, apology, behavior of someone using drugs, changing parent's behavior, cope at the holidays, defiant adopted kids, enabler, enabling, estranged, estranged from dad, estranged from father, estranged from parents, family difficulties, FASD, feelings about Father's Day, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, file restraining order against son, forgiveness, juvenile hall, kid on meth, listen to family problems, mental illness, mentally ill son, mentally ill teen, meth addict, missing our son, Mother's Day avoid, Mother's Day dread, Mother's Day sadness, orders of protection, orders of protection against son, out of control teens, Parents and teens, repaired relationship, restraining orders, return adopted child, rewarding good behavior, sadness at the holidays, signs of drug use, step-parent, teen and addiction, teen intervention, teens and consequences, Troubled teens, truancy, truancy and penalties, violence in mentally ill people, worried parents | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

What is truancy and what are the penalties?

Posted by Marcia on September 9, 2010

I was surprised to learn all of the ramifications and penalties for truancy.

A link on the California Department of Education site provides a thorough explanation about truancy and penalties for students and parents. http://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/ai/tr/ Penalties range from warnings to a $1,000, and if you are in contempt under the law, you may be imprisoned. I’ll provide summaries and quotes, and you can go to the site for additional information.

Definition of a Truant

If your child misses more than 30 minutes of instruction without an excuse three times during the school year he/she must be classified as a truant and reported to the proper school authority.

First Notification Mandate

In addition to the reporting requirement, the school district must notify the parent or guardian by first-class mail or other reasonable means, and must include specific information related to the unexcused absences and notes that the parent or guardian must require the child to attend school. The parent or guardian has the right to meet with school personnel to discuss the issue.

Pupils may be subject to prosecution, suspension, restriction, or delay of the pupil’s driving privilege. It is also recommended the parent or guardian accompany the pupil to school and attend classes with the pupil for one day.

Habitual Truant Mandate

According to the law, once “a student has been reported as a truant three or more times in one school year and after an appropriate school employee has made a conscientious effort to hold at least one meeting with the parent and the student, the student is deemed a habitual truant. The intent is to provide solutions for students who failed to respond to the normal avenues of school intervention.”

Interventions

If your child “… is a habitual truant, or is irregular in attendance at school, or is habitually insubordinate or disorderly during school, the student may be referred to a school attendance review board (SARB) or to the county probation department…. The student may also be referred to a probation officer or district attorney mediation program…. The intent of these laws is to provide intensive guidance to meet the special needs of students with school attendance problems or school behavior problems…. These interventions are designed to divert students with serious attendance and behavioral problems from the juvenile justice system and to reduce the number of students who drop out of school.”

Penalties (Student)

“The law provides schools and school districts with discretion regarding student penalties for truancy as long as they are consistent with state law. The penalties for truancy for students … become progressively severe from the first the time a truancy report is required through the fourth time a truancy report is required.”

The first time a student is truant, a written warning may be issued by a peace officer. A record of the warning may be kept at the school for a minimum of 2 years or until the student graduates or transfers from that school. If the student transfers, the record may be forwarded to the new school or any school receiving the school records. A record may be kept by the law enforcement agency.

The second time a truancy report is required within the same school year, the school may assign the student to an after school or weekend study program located within the same county as the pupil’s school.

“The third time a truancy report is required within the same school year, the student is classified a habitual truant and may be referred to and required to attend, an attendance review board or a truancy mediation program.”

If truancy is reported a fourth time within the same school year, the student is then within the jurisdiction of the juvenile court and they may determine the pupil to be a ward of the court.

If your child becomes a ward of the juvenile court, he or she will be required to do one or more of the following:

“(1) Performance at court-approved community services sponsored by either a public or private nonprofit agency for not less than 20 hours but not more than 40 hours over a period not to exceed 90 days, during a time other than the pupil’s hours of school attendance or employment. The probation officer shall report to the court the failure to comply with this paragraph.
(2) Payment of a fine by the pupil of not more than one hundred dollars ($100) for which a parent or guardian of the pupil may be jointly liable.
(3) Attendance of a court-approved truancy prevention program.
(4) Suspension or revocation of driving privileges pursuant to Section 13202.7 of the Vehicle Code. This subdivision shall apply only to a pupil who has attended a school attendance review board program, or a truancy mediation program pursuant to subdivision (c).”

Penalties (Parent)

“Penalties against parents apply when any parent, guardian, or other person having control or charge of any student fails to compel the student to attend school.” Penalties are:

“ (1) Upon a first conviction, by a fine of not more than one hundred dollars ($100).
(2) Upon a second conviction, by a fine of not more than two hundred fifty dollars ($250).
(3) Upon a third or subsequent conviction, if the person has willfully refused to comply with this section, by a fine of not more than five hundred dollars ($500). In lieu of the fines prescribed in paragraphs (1), (2), and (3), the court may order the person to be placed in a parent education and counseling program.”

“… A judgment granting a defendant time to pay the fine or prescribing the days of attendance in a program shall order that if the defendant fails to pay the fine, or any installment thereof, on the date it is due, he or she shall appear in court on that date for further proceedings. Willful violation of this order is punishable as contempt.” In this case, you may be charged a fine of up to $1,000. If you are in contempt under the law, you may be imprisoned.

Posted in family difficulties, out of control teens, Parents and teens, Troubled teens, truancy, truancy and penalties | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Kick “Meth Kid” Out

Posted by Marcia on October 17, 2009

Recently, a woman called to talk about her son. She knew what she should do but doesn’t have the courage to do it.

“Jane” and her husband are professionals and successful in their fields. They live in a very expensive area and many people would assume they have a perfect life, but their 20 year old son lives in a guest house on their property and he is into meth. She knows he smokes it and sees people coming and going into the guest house at all hours. I asked why they tolerated this, and she said at least she knows where he is and he’s safe.

I remind people I’m not a therapist; I’m another parent looking at difficult situations. If someone asks me for my thoughts, I give them. She asked, and here’s my advice: kick him out.

She was shocked and asked how I could suggest such a harsh measure.

This kid isn’t “safe” and won’t be safe as long as he’s on heavy-duty drugs. Meth houses can blow up. He’s got people coming and going so it’s likely he’s dealing. She has a drugged-out kid, strung-out strangers on their property, and the possibility of a home explosion or police busting this kid.

I asked, “If you have a choice, would you prefer to kick him out or watch his descent into drugs and endure the probable disaster coming your way?” For me, the decision to kick the kid off the property is difficult, but it’s the better of the alternatives. And she’d heard similar advice from others.

You have to make a lot of difficult decisions as a parent, and this is one of those situations that should never be tolerated, no matter how harsh the alternative may be.

Do you have thoughts or experience in a similar situation? What happened? You’re welcome to comment confidentially.

Posted in out of control teens, Parents and teens, Troubled teens, worried parents | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

John Rothmann’s Show on KGO Radio

Posted by Marcia on October 11, 2009

I had the privilege of being a guest on KGO Radio’s John Rothmann’s show Friday night.

How’d it happen? I’m a long time fan of KGO Radio and had seen John do a presentation about his book, Icon of Evil: Hitler’s Mufti and the Rise of Radical Islam. (That’s a fascinating book, by the way.)

I emailed him last Monday about my topic of parents dealing with troubled teens and hoped for the best. He left a message that night requesting a copy of the book, and he said he couldn’t promise anything. I mailed the book Tuesday and John called Thursday evening, inviting me to come on the show Friday at 11 PM. He had read the book and felt this was an important topic.

Bill and I drove to San Francisco and found the station offices. It’s a nice building and their lobby has a case filled with broadcasting awards.

John was so warm and welcoming to both of us. He’s got a ton of energy and a big booming voice! He’s also (dare I say it?) a sweetie-pie. He asked if I’d been interviewed on the radio before and the answer was no. I’d called in occasionally on talk shows, but being a guest is a different matter. He assured me he’d lead me through the process.

I was not intimidated by the broadcast booth. After all, I watched Frasier for years! Have to say this was different. More desks and huge microphones along with computer screens and three TV screens on the wall, too. The hosts have a lot of information they can review as they’re talking, and that was another interesting thing to learn.

I was a little concerned that no one would call in as many people with difficult teens do not want to identify themselves. John said not to worry if no one called, we’d still have plenty to talk about.

Being a guest for one hour on a commercial radio show is not like being on an NPR show for an hour. KGO is a news talk radio station, and there are two news breaks per hour, traffic, weather and commercials. Because I’m a regular listener, I knew I had limited time in which to make the points I hoped to make and answer questions, too.

John was FANTASTIC! Now let me share why: he knew I was a novice, he cares about the topic, he advised me during commercial breaks about the topics he’d like to touch on next, and he gave me a little information about callers. My husband was sitting in the room, too, and we both enjoyed getting to know John a little. He lives close to work, has two kids and is happily married. He had arranged his work-life to spend a lot of time with his kids, and they’re very close. You can just tell he’s a kind person.

There’s a link to the edited podcast on my website. John suggested I edit the commercials out and upload onto my website.

If you’ve heard the podcast, please let me know what you think and if anything struck you in particular.

If you know someone I should contact to appear on more shows or speak in person, please let me know. You can find more information about that side of my work at www.tellmeaboutyourself.info.

Posted in out of control teens, Parents and teens, Troubled teens, worried parents | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

A Worried Parent Called

Posted by Marcia on August 7, 2009

A man who had read my book called to discuss the topic. His therapist thought he should read it, and he understood why once he read the first few pages. He felt he had to share his story.

This man is a highly educated executive in a high tech company living in a prime location. His family has the best of everything: a great home and vacation homes, cars and possessions, but his family was falling apart. He’d been a “great provider” and he was positive that no one in his social circle would suffer anguish due to their teens’ behaviors.

Both of these kids went to great schools, were tutored when needed and were kept very busy so they would stay out of trouble. And both of them, around age 14, started drinking and displaying a lot of anger towards both parents. The kids ruled the home: the mother was afraid to tell them to stop and that escalated their bad behavior. The father worked at the office very long hours, primarily seeing the family on the weekend. The situation in their home was so difficult and frustrating, the parents felt helpless to stop the downhill slide of their family.

The parents were considering a divorce and an ugly truth came out: neither of them wanted to live with the kids. Their lives were out of control in every way. While seeking help for their marriage, the topic of their kids came up immediately. Their therapist referred them to a specialist working with teens. While the parents went for marriage counseling, they also consulted a coach to work with them on effective parenting techniques.

Meanwhile, both kids were evaluated and it was determined their son needed immediate intervention. He had gone far beyond drinking and was heavily into drugs. A year ago, he was placed in an emotional growth school where he receives individual and group therapy. He has steadily been modifying and improving his behavior.

They hoped to correct their parenting skills in time to help their daughter, but they learned via a social networking site how deep her problems have become, and they feel the safest place for her is in a separate school for girls. She’ll be sent to one this weekend, but she doesn’t know about it.

Both parents are devastated and worried about their children. They have wondered where they went wrong and still feel very alone. This isn’t the kind of thing one discusses among executives or at social events.

They have decided that saving their children and their marriage was more important than anything and took action to improve their lives. Their decisions were not easy and were driven by worry and desperation, but their recovery as a family will surely happen.

Posted in out of control teens, Parents and teens, Troubled teens, worried parents | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Strained Relations: Help for Struggling Parents of Troubled Teens

Posted by Marcia on May 1, 2009

 

Do You Have A Troubled Relationship With Your Teen?

Are You At the End of Your Rope?

Are you Reluctant to Talk About it With Friends and Family?

  You Are Not Alone.

strained_relations6

This book can be purchased by clicking on the title:

Strained Relations: Help for Struggling Parents of Troubled Teens

Now available in paperback, soon to be available in ebook format.

Posted in out of control teens, Parents and teens, Troubled teens, worried parents | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

 
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