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Our life has been hell for the past 2 years...

Dear Mark,

My name is E___, and our son's name is J___ (he is 15 yrs old). J___ has been sentenced to a four month open custody at the Young Offenders Centre and 2 month community supervision sentence which may be served at home or in a group home, we don't know yet. The judge ordered child welfare to be in contact with us 45 days prior to his May 30 release date from open custody to be involved to find a home for him for assessment and treatment. We had a case conference at the Centre last week as he is eligible for a group home during his open custody. It was decided by them to keep him there for 2 months as a stabilization time before he is moved.

His sentence was for breaching the conditions of his probation (he had 3 breaches)...not following the rules of the house, drug (marijuana use), and not going to school. His involvement with the law started last spring when he was running away and not coming home for days. In that time he was charged with shoplifting a skateboard and the police put conditions on him, which he had no regard for. One month later he was also charged with stealing our motor vehicle. We charged him after the third time taking it. The courts then put more conditions on him and he was arrested several times for breaching his conditions and held in custody for 2 - 3 days 3 times. He was finally put on house arrest while he waited for a pre-sentence report and actually did pretty good in that time. He was put on a year probation last August and as soon as probation started he began not following his conditions. After several times in court - sometimes dates being moved, etc. He was to be sentenced on Dec 6 of last year and went to court stoned and they held him for a week so that he wasn't under the influence at sentencing. At that time he was sentenced to 90 hours community service and told one more breach and he would be sentenced to some time. He kept putting it off and asking for update on his sentence report, which happened in fall as well, but was unable to comply and continued to not follow his conditions (it was myself who reported his breached to the probation officer. His sentence came on Jan 31/08. That's the background.

J___ is not angry with us and realizes to some degree his consequence. He calls us everyday (he only has 10 minutes) and we have been visiting on the weekends at the centre. He says he realizes that his marijuana use was coming before everything else. He says he wants to make changes, change some of his friends. We are going this weekend to see him along with the drug addictions for a counselling session. What he is not understanding is the length of his sentence because there are other people who have less sentences for worse things. We have tried to tell him its not just for the 3 breaches but all the other breaches (probably about 20 plus) since last summer, and that when the same judge sees you 10 times. We try to tell him he was given lots of opportunities by the courts and us. We tried to have house rules and you didn't follow them as well as not following your probation. He has put in appeal for the length of his sentence and we did tell him a couple of weeks ago that we don't support and we won't go against the judge's decision.

I've started reading through your book online, and yes we've been through tons of counselling. Eventually he will come home and I feel the changes need to start happening now even though he is not at home, even in our conversations. He does have a mentor that he calls and talks to (he talked to you last week - Tom Barthel). I would like some suggestions on how we can communicate with him effectively so that he realizes that people care about him and that when rules aren't followed like you say in your book, society will control him. Also so that we support him but can't enable him. He is a good kid at heart, very intelligent and polite, but defiant and making some bad choices and his life was definitely heading down the toilet. My husband and I love him dearly. Our life has been hell for the past 2 years especially the last year.

I would love any immediate suggestions.

Thank you,



Hi E.,

Re: I would love any immediate suggestions.

I would simply "let go" and allow him to experience his natural consequence (i.e., the sentence). Other people are taking care of the discipline side of things for now. I don't think you need to do anything additional in the meantime (other than accept his phone calls and making your weekly visits).

During his first week home, implement Session #1 Assignments. Week two, implement Session #2, and so on.

Re: I would like some advice on how we can effectively start communicating.

First of all, implement Session #1 Assignments when he returns home as stated above.

Also, the strategies in the eBook entitled "The Art of Saying Yes" ..."The Art of Saying No" ..."When You Want Something From Your Kid" ...and "I See - I Feel - I Want" will be effective in weeks 2, 3, and 4.


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