Quote of the Week

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

2016 Parent of the Year Speech
Posted by:Jenn--Friday, October 14, 2016

Below are Brad and Jenn's comments given at Allegheny County's Juvenile Justice Week awards ceremony:

To quote comedian Jim Gaffigan, “Most of the time I feel entirely unqualified to be a parent.  I call these times being awake.”  Although his statements are meant as a joke, it certainly was not a joke to my husband & me when we found ourselves totally unprepared to be the parents of a defiant, substance abusing child.  And so, 7 years ago, we began our journey into the unknown.

From our perspective, our son’s teenage years were chaotic and challenging, with numerous out-of-home placements, ¾ houses, and rehab facilities.  We know that all of us are works-in-progress, but clearly some of us just take more work than others.  For our son, there have been many successes and many failures along the way.  As one of Dylan's counselors always told him, Dylan just seems to need to learn everything the hard way. 

I’d like to focus on the more recent successes: Dylan graduated from high school, has been clean for the past 6 months (and nearly 9 months before that), recently earned his driver’s license at age 20, and has aspirations of becoming a D&A counselor.  In addition, our previously dysfunctional relationship with him has become much healthier. 

Is our son “cured”?  We don’t know.  One of the many valuable lessons we learned over the years is that we cannot control our son’s actions; the only behavior we can change is our own.  What we do know is that Dylan is on a better path, and just for today, we can accept that and feel good about it.  Our motto, one day at a time.

We have worked with a dream-team of truly amazing people along the way, who have helped give us the strength and guidance to move forward in our journey with Dylan.    

·       Judge Hens-Greco was fair, firm, and encouraging in all of her interactions with our son.

·       Val Ketter’s Juvenile Probation staff, including Lloyd Woodward & Justin Innocent, gave us meaningful support and guidance on a regular basis – even when we didn’t know we needed it.

·       Alleg Co Juvenile Probation also sponsors a truly innovative support group for parents called Parent Survival Skills Training, which became our lifeline over the years.  The Probation staff who guided the group, along with all the other parents who attended the meetings, gave us invaluable, non-judgmental advice.  That group helped us to keep our sanity.  They also challenged us to become better parents.

·       There have been so many other dedicated individuals along the way who helped our family, many therapists and counselors – like Kathie Tagmyer! – from various agencies, ¾ houses, & drug rehab facilities.  Some of these counselors are even addicts in recovery themselves.

We have learned so much from these individuals, and have been blessed by their involvement in our lives.  We are grateful for each and every one of them. 

We accept this award on behalf of all the parents who love their troubled kids, who don’t give up on them, who make their own share of mistakes but bounce back, who refuse to enable their children when they are making poor choices, and who provide loving help and encouragement when they are making good choices.

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