I recently received a call from by best friend. She lives in Virginia, where we met 19 years ago. We have lived in different states for 17 of the 19 years we have known each other. However, we have remained close. We share our fears for our children, our aging parents, extended family, etc. We also talk about mutual friends we have from when we lived in the same area.
Three years ago, my friend asked that I reach out to one of her friends who was struggling with her 16 year old son. My friend thought I may be able to help this mom by listening her story, and be a non-judgmental ear. I had never met this woman, but I was more than happy to call and speak with her, if she wanted. Talking honestly about the issues have when dealing with our children is difficult, because we don’t want others to judge them and think poorly of them. We want to protect our children, and our selves, and don’t want others to think we have raised drug users who are promiscuous or have violent outbursts! However, being able to open up with someone and share our anger, disappointment and heartache is freeing. We need to be able to share with someone that we love our child, but don’t know what to do…our beautiful child is causing so much heartache in the family. We need to be able to know that someone understand what we are feeling, and isn’t judging us for those feelings.
Well, I reached out to this friend of my friend’s and we talked briefly. I explained to her a little about the issues that my family had dealt with, and all the therapeutic treatments we had tried. I explained that we had spent a lot of time in prayer, in addition to reseaerching all of the options that were available to us, and that we had ultimately decided we needed to give our daughter, and our family a “time out”. I shared with her the experience that we had with a therapeutic boarding school, and how it was working for our family (our daughter was in a program at the time). She thanked me for my time and that was the end of the call.
Several weeks later, the woman called and explained that she had been having a very difficult few weeks and had additional questions about therapeutic boarding schools, whether I knew anything about wilderness programs or residential treatment facilities. She had many questions about the financial commitment of treatment and how the cost would be difficult for her family. I understood her concern and had similiar concerns when I was considering a program. I explained that I had come to the realization that I needed to make the sacrifice. The college fund that had been set aside for my daughter would be used for the treatment she so desparately needed. The woman was so concerned about the finances, and she never sent her son to treatment.
Over the past three years, the woman and I have been in contact several times. My daughter connected with the woman’s son via text and spoke with him many times about his struggles. However, the calls stopped and I had not received any updates on how they were doing for a while.
My best friend recently called me to let me know that the woman’s son had been involved in an accident that resulted in a fatality. My mind went right back to the phone conversations I had had with the woman and how much pain she had been feeling at the time. What must she be feeling now?
We as parents try to do the very best we can for our kids! Unfortunatley, in today’s world, there are so many outside influences that are very powerful. Drugs and alcohol are cunning and social media is addictive for many young people. Friends have a strong influence with our children, and if the influence is negative, we have an even bigger challenge.
I know, as a parent, that therapeutic programs are expensive, but I also know the incredible work that I have seen accomplished in a quality program. Lives can be changed…and potentially saved!