Some of the toughest questions to ask ourselves as parents are: “At what point does my son need more help than we can offer him at home?” “Should we enroll him in a rehabilitation program?” “Will this destroy what’s left of our relationship?”
As parents of an Ozarks Teen Challenge graduate, my husband and I struggled with these same questions. So when the staff at Ozarks TC asked me to answer a few questions for them to share with future families, I jumped at the chance.
Top 5 words of advice for parents who are considering enrolling their son in a rehabilitation program?
1) Don’t second guess yourself.
We know our sons need help. We’ve all heard, “it’s just a phase he’s going through”, “he’ll grow out of it” or “they’re all doing it”. If you are considering a program, you know he needs it.
2) Your son won’t hate you.
At least not anymore than he already does. Chances are he’ll end up thanking you.
3) You’re not a failure as a parent by asking for help.
You didn’t cause it, you can’t control it, and you can’t cure it. But, you can contribute to it by continuing to bail him out or making excuses for him.
4) Time is of the essence.
There is such a thing as “loving them to death”. Do everything you can to get your son the help he needs before he does something to himself or others or he does something that would be on his record permanently.
5) You are not alone.
There are many, many parents going through the same thing you are. Ask the OTC staff for contacts.
What do you wish you had known when you first brought your son to Ozarks Teen Challenge?
I wish I had known how important it is to work on myself while the staff is working on my son. It doesn’t make sense to remove a sick tree from its soil and then nurture it and feed it, only to return it to the same hole and soil.
What surprised you the most about Ozarks Teen Challenge?
The staff surprised me the most. I saw during the course of the program, how the staff uses God’s word and love to change the boys’ hearts.
What helped you to personally grow during his time at the center?
Several things helped me. The first thing I did was read “The Cross and the Switchblade”. It really showed me the heart of Teen Challenge. I read many books recommended by the staff and others in support positions. Attended an Al-Anon meeting at least once a week, a support group and listened to many speakers through “Parents Helping Parents”. I also spent many hours on my knees praying!
What were some of the best lessons you learned as a parent during this time?
I learned to:
1) Set and enforce boundaries
2) Detach with love
3) Let go and let God.