Had to write to tell you that we have completed your course. Other parents need to know it is not an easy change to make but as you explained it was well worth it. I know that we will still experience some bumpy times but we are feeling a bit more confident as we continue to practice the skills. Our household is certainly seeing the difference and we feel more prepared to deal with our 15 year old daughter as she progresses through these teenage years.
A lot of what we learned has also enabled us to utilize it with our two sons who are in their 20s as well. One thing I think we especially learned was that it is never too late to be an assertive parent and be a change agent in our children's lives. You do have to recognize when you aren't being assertive and willing to make the needed changes for your sake and theirs, too.
Although we have a meeting with a probation officer in a couple of weeks as a consequence to our daughter’s choice to runaway we are comfortable in knowing we did what we had to do for her. We understand that she is scared, that she is making excuses for her actions and that she is looking to blame others for what she did. She also "hates us and does not want to live with us" but she is more cooperative with us these days.
If you have any advice or guidance for us regarding this probation meeting we would appreciate it.
She has gone so far as to say she wasn't running away she just wanted to get out of the house. What she doesn't quite get yet is that she left after I was in bed, after curfew, and to her 15 year old "boyfriend's" home where a man (not her "boyfriend's" father) lives with the "boyfriend's" unmarried mother and the "boyfriend's" 6 younger brothers. This man just got out of prison, and is currently on probation, for cocaine dealing and possession. When we were phoning all of her friends and we called the boyfriend’s home we were told she was not there. That is were the police picked her up.
She is in love so nothing else matters. Being brought home by a county officer, having us search through her belongings, being told she is now in the "system" and if she does it again she will also put her friends in jeopardy did not phase her too much that day. In the days that ensued, she did open up to us a little bit more although the "boyfriend's" feelings are still more important to her these days.
After reading your autonomy section under Summary Points, the muddy waters cleared for us even further. We have re-instituted family meetings with ALL members of the family as much as possible so that no one is singled out. We have established a family support system and letting all of them know there is no shame in asking for help when you need it. Running away will not solve anything. House rules, fair-fighting, decision-making, etc. have been established. We continue to do your assignments and are getting better at them, too.
Best of all, this has made our marriage stronger! We remind each other about the "arts" of saying yes and no. We work together on earned privileges and consequences. We've learned more than we want to know about "underground punk". Most of all, we are hopeful that there will be living left for us when the kids all leave home because before that we felt drained. They do all leave home, eventually, don't they?
Just kidding, as we do believe assertive parenting will accomplish that. It is interesting, though, how you can fall into passive or aggressive parenting easily if you are not on guard. It is easier to see it in other parents first. Thanks again for your program and knowing that you will be there for us in the days, weeks and months ahead.
If there is anything we can do to "give back" please let us know. We do plan to "pay it forward" and steer parents to your program if they ask us how we managed to cope with our out-of-control teenager.
G. & J.
Thank you for your kind words. Parents like you give me the inspiration to continue in this line of work. You are a good student and a great parent! Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Re: If you have any advice or guidance for us regarding this probation meeting we would appreciate it.
Just remind yourself that you are doing this out of a loving, caring heart …remind yourself that you are saving your daughter from some very significant long-term, major pain by holding her accountable -- even though the accountability will cause her some short-term, minor pain …and remind yourself that “assertive” parents reap great rewards in the long run.
You are simply doing the right thing,