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"If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way" ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

A New Beginning
Posted by:Jenn--Monday, January 13, 2014

It has been 4 long years for our family, starting when Dylan was 13. 

Entering into his teenage years, Dylan had become nonfunctional.  He stopped going to school, refused to follow anyone’s rules, used marijuana, and drank alcohol.  He showed escalating verbal defiance and physical aggression toward teachers, police, administrators, and his parents.  His marijuana use and aggression brought him into court on Act 53 and simple assault charges; the judge ordered him into placement. 

Dylan’s placement career has been very rocky.  He had several unsuccessful offsite visits and home passes with his family, two attempts at running away from placement, one escape from home for a week, explosive behavior outbursts that once resulted in a broken hand and another time in a sprained toe, insubordination and attempts to assault peers/staff, and painful rejections of his parents.  Dylan made his way through 5 different placements in 3 years.  

Dylan’s most recent placement brought about many positive changes.  Undoubtedly he is more mature now, and that’s an important factor, but we also credit the various placements, probation, and therapists for providing him with counseling and support that he needed.  As he got closer to high school graduation, Dylan began showing regret that his high school years had passed him by, and that all those potentially exciting milestones had slipped through his fingers, never to be recaptured.  At some level, he seems to recognize that he bears some responsibility for his situation.

For nearly a year, Dylan had been insisting that he would never return again home to live with his family, but then abruptly began to change his tune.  He made the difficult decision to graduate from high school at his current placement, and then did what was necessary to make that happen.  He began to look forward to graduation and to post-secondary schooling plans.  He had 3 successful 3-day home passes between Thanksgiving and Christmas, where he was able to demonstrate an ability to accept frustration/disappointment, and to treat his family with respect.  We also saw glimpses of old behaviors, such as how he chafes under authority.

Just as Dylan has been changing, we (his parents) have been changing too.  We have tried to understand our family dynamics better, recognize what is in our power to change and what is not, avoid the temptations to debate or lecture Dylan, model the mature interactions that we’d like our son to emulate, and temper our expectations of perfection.  I have to emphasize the word “tried”, since we are not always as successful as we’d like.  During Dylan’s home passes, we saw glimpses of some of our own weaknesses, such as struggling with the right balance between being flexible and being enablers. 

On Friday, Dylan was released by the court to come home.  A new chapter in our lives is beginning.  We are hopeful, while at the same time nervous and anxious.  We see the potential in our son for a fantastic new beginning, along with the nagging fear that the pressures of behaving appropriately, and of avoiding the lure of old friends & old habits, could be too much for him.   

In PSST, we find hope, guidance and support from a caring group of people –not only from the dedicated, insightful probation and therapeutic professionals who faithfully support our family, but also from the other parents who are similarly committed to saving their families.  As we think about the past 3 years, once we found PSST, we are reminded that the team has been there for us every step of the way, through every hopeful sign and every heartbreak.  They have given us practical advice and guidance, guiding us through the options for getting help for our son.  The group has helped us to recognize how we can continue to become wiser, stronger parents.

We are grateful that we are not taking this journey alone.
Jenn & Brad             


Anonymous said...

Dear Jenn and Brad,
Congratulations on Dylan coming home, as you have anticipated this for years. You can now personally use the excellent advice that you have given to PSST. Dylan is blessed to have parents like you.

Unknown said...

Wow! Jenn & Brad - I can't believe it has been 3 years! What a journey you all have been on. You have re-invented your family unit and now you will be together again - only, much wiser and calmer in dealing with the bumps and potholes that raising teenagers brings.

The best of luck to you all in this new chapter of your families life.

Hugs! Cheryl, Jim, Andy & The 3 Stooges + pup (''') (''')

Anonymous said...

Best of luck Jenn & Brad & family.
You are much wiser & calmer in dealing with the bumps and potholes that come along in raising teens.

And congratulations to Dylan on graduating from high school and his release from placement to HOME!

Hugs! Cheryl, Jim, Andy & 3 Stooges

Lloyd Woodward said...

Great post. You guys are heroes.

Anonymous said...

Jdnn and Brad,
Yea!! You all have come so far. Congatulations to Dylan for graduating from high school. Now you all can start this new chapter of your lives wiser than before. You are so awesome in your dilligence to attend and have become leaders at PSST meetings. Great job! We will be praying for you as you begin again and Dylan decides what he wants to do next.


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