Saturday, December 5, 2009

Troubled Teen Pulls Through

I do various workshops and presentations and after one of them, a woman told me the story of a family she knew.

The parents had hoped "Ann" would grow out of her difficulties or maybe she'd just get married and move out. There were no high expectations of Ann as she was female, but her brothers were encouraged to achieve in school and in business.

At 20, Ann was not working, had left college in her freshman year, and her boyfriend was abusive. The father had run out of patience and told her she had two weeks in which to either get a job or move out. The mother was appalled and upset, arguing with her husband that her daughter should just stay at home, that at least they would know where she was. The father prevailed and Ann moved into a rented room with a friend. She found a job and bounced from job to job over the next three years.

At a certain point, Ann looked at her friends and compared her life to their lives. They had completed college or had been working in one job for awhile. They were growing up and moving on, but she felt “stuck”. She signed up for a class at the local college and learned how to study for a college course. Although it took her several years to complete her undergraduate degree, she did it because she felt the drive, she understood the value, and she felt proud of herself for each accomplishment.

“Ann” is now an executive, and she is the one who relayed this story. She learned many years later that the disagreements between her parents brought them to the brink of a divorce and it was terribly hard on both of her parents; they worried about her constantly. They felt tremendous pride and joy when they attended her graduation ceremony, and her mother died a short time later.

Ann said she is now dealing with her own difficult teen, and her experience has given her a special insight into his difficulties, how she can best help him and how he needs to help himself. And she’s ready to give him the toughlove he needs to be responsible.

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