Jamar had been in case management services through the Juvenile Drug Court Program for only a few months when he learned that his father passed away. Throughout his life, Jamar had seen his father’s health degrade more and more as he battled a debilitating disease. Although he loved living with his father when he was younger, Jamar was forced to move in with his mother and her boyfriend when his father’s health concerns became too burdensome to parent with.
Jamar’s new home proved to be challenging. At his mother’s home, he and his two sisters were at the mercy of mom’s boyfriends that cycled through the home. And although his mother never harmed him directly, her drug use, unmet mental health needs, and insatiable pull towards abusive men kept her children in constant fear and chaos. Jamar found sanctuary by running to his father’s home when things were at their worst. Eventually, services determined that Jamar and his sisters be removed from the home, but instead of returning to their father, they were placed in foster care.
It took 9 months for Jamar’s mother to leave the man who had abused her children to have her children returned to her. Jamar still refers to this as his mother not being able to choose him over men who abused him.
Jamar had a rough childhood, and has had a difficult life as an adolescent as well. Having services in his home for most of his life has left Jamar untrusting and skeptical of outside services and authority figures. Over time and with relationship building, Jamar has learned to trust his PCMS case manager in drug court. When his father died, he was linked with mental health support and a grief counselor. Now that the relationship is established, Jamar has finally been able to divulge the real problems in his home and discuss his struggles with his mother. After years of trying to protect his family from outsiders, and guard against criticism of his mother, Jamar is reaching out to the resources he has and is learning to cope with his past and life today. We have been privileged to see him grow in character and strength as a young man.
A few weeks ago I had an “aha moment”. My teen son had assisted in doing some chores earlier in the day on our family work day. As he passed by me later that evening I called to him and said “Thank You for your help today.” He paused for a second and said “are you kidding? I asked what did he mean by his reply and he said “no” I’m serious I thought you were kidding.
As the weather warms up, spring arrives and the families in our communities get busy enjoying the weather and all the many activities it has to offer. We over commit to activities and we get busy. My “aha moment” reminds me that no matter how busy you get, take the time to admonish each member of you family. Model an attitude of gratitude and one that is uplifting. It is so easy to take the lives that are so near and dear to us for granted, as I have learned from those who have gone before me. Our children are young for only a short time and before you know it they are on their own and you are left to ponder how we did as parents.
Take some time today and affirm those who are dear to you. Encourage them, thank them, and build them up. You may be thinking “well they don’t encourage me!” As I respond to this as I do too many of the children I work with two wrongs don’t equal a right. Only you can bring change to someone’s life, so go for it. Model it, and watch it change countless lives.
When was the last time you said something to build someone up?
Like many parents we have a tendency to try to save our children from discomfort and negative experiences. Some experts would call this being a helicopter parent, hovering near by ready to swoop in and save the day. Unfortunately, this practice sets the child and the parent up for failure over the years. The child learns that my parent will save the day no matter what poor choices I make. It may seem like not a big deal when they are little but it’s quite different when they are 22 years old or better yet in the 40’s. The parent on the other hand will find themselves anxiously awaiting the next calamity when they will need to foot the bill or fix the situation.
A healthy parenting tool is to begin by asking yourself whose problem is it really. Then instead of engaging the problem, ask the child in a loving way how they could fix it? It amazes me how resourceful children are. When given the opportunity they can solve problems and figure out how to fix situations and make things right. Depending on their age they will need some coaching but they will not need you to save the day. They just need the opportunity, support and love. A little bit of discomfort because of poor choices can teach us a great deal that can help us in the real world.
A word from one of the JDC Family Services Case Managers:
As a Juvenile Drug Court Family Services Case Manager we have the opportunity to build relationships with our clients that give them the support they need to succeed. All of our clients have various challenges and strengths. I have seen clients who struggle with everything from mental health issues to family dysfunction and are using drugs to help cope with these situations. We have had teens come through our program who have parents that aren’t supportive of their work toward sobriety. Some parents won’t attend court, will call our staff for every little infraction to try and get their child in trouble, and consistently express their disbelief that their child will be anything more than an addict. However, through working with their Family Case Manager many of these families receive help and support to move past these issues. We have helped set up family therapy, parenting classes, individual therapy, and more in order to give parents and teens support in their family relationships. Once these are put in place we see our teens desiring to engage in therapy and work through issues with parents. We see parents grow in supporting their teens and we see teens grow in confidence that, not only can they complete Juvenile Drug Court, but they can succeed as a sober and necessary member of society. We have watched teens come into our program who are struggling to stop using but when they leave they are not only sober, but engaged in sports, taking classes toward college through Upward Bound at HCC, working within community non-profits such as Teens Have Choices, the SPCA, Habitat for Humanity and others. They also leave investing in positive relationships with family members and friends. Our participants’ attitudes change while in our program and, because of our Family Case Managers, many of them leave realizing that, despite past belief, many adults desire to support and help them accomplish great things in life. It is rewarding to work with teenagers who leave our program making us proud to have known them and honored to have worked with them toward their sobriety.
A hidden treasure of time can be found in many homes throughout our community. That treasure is meal time. I recall growing up and the many stories that were told, experiences shared and relationships developed all during a meal time. Every evening we sat at the table and had dinner and of course how could I forget the special Sunday routine of eggs and toast. As I have grown older I have realized that for most families it is difficult to have a meal a day together a week. If we do we sit at the table fighting the hand held electrical devise, TV, or everyone eating in their rooms. This time can be a treasure if prioritized and made routine in a household. Here are a few things that some families have done to prioritize meal time. Some families schedule 3 nights a week without compromise when everyone is together. Meanwhile other families have established a no technology zone during meal times. One of my favorites is the, everyone gets to share 10 minutes of their day and the parent is the moderator. A family can do one or all of them; it is amazing what one can learn during meal times and how family values can be passed on. Take time out of the business of life and schedule a creative dinner time. Whereas a family unit you can experience real life engaging one another, encouraging one another and empowering one another. I can recall a man who inherited a coin collection. He didn’t know what it was worth so he took it to a change machine and turned the coins into cash. He later found out that the collection was worth thousands of dollars but he only got $32 dollars. He didn’t realize that what he had was so valuable. Take time and treasure your time together.
On Saturday March 1, 2014 PCMS participated in the Annual Washington County Homeless Resource Day event. This event is designed to bring vendors and community providers together to create a “one stop” shop for homeless individuals and families in the Washington County Area. This event allows those that are faced with homelessness an opportunity to be paired with a Volunteer who took them on a tour of the event and helped to gather information from the different providers. PCMS was represented by several staff on hand to talk with folks as they came through about the services we provide and how we could best meet their needs and complete an on the spot referral if there was interest in doing so.
“If the future of our society is our children, then the key to that future rests primarily with parents and teachers” (Michael H Popkin. PH.D., Active Parenting Now)
A week ago we added a German Shepherd puppy to our family. Similarly to the birth our children it changed our routines drastically. Our routines were changed as we had to get up a few times throughout the night to take him out, feed him at certain times, and train him on what to do and not to do. Prior to bringing our puppy home we read a number of books and felt comfortable in regards to what we would be getting ourselves into. Things that we learned were that he would need comforting in the early days in the home, that a crate is a good thing, that he would need to be watched all the time, and puppy proofing the house and training was a necessity. As long as these foundational things were done and we continuously built on the foundation of learning we would have good experiences in the later years of development.
Our children are amazing gifts; we can all agree that in the early years of our children’s lives our lives were drastically changed as we adjusted to having a new life in our homes. We went out and bought carriers, cribs, the appropriate foods, and of course diapers. Needless to say as our children develop and grow we need to adjust to their development. What worked in the early years is not always needed any longer due to their development. As parents we must continually be adding new skills to our parenting tool box. We need to be continues learners so that we can teach and train our children grow in to healthy adults.
As you go throughout your day take some time and evaluate how you parent. Do you find yourself being like your parents; doing and saying the things that you said you would never do to your children? Do you find yourself parenting your 10 year old child the same way you parented him at 5; the result being more back talk, disrespect, and frustration. I would encourage you to add new trainings to your parenting toolbox. There is so much information out there that can help you as a parent. Become continuous learners and lay a foundation that will help your children become healthy adults. What you do now can influence generations to come.
Case Manager/Love and Logic Facilitator
To coin a 90’s catch phrase “Stop the Insanity”. I remember as a teenager seeing this blond lady on the TV with spiky hair going around all intense making this declaration. I also recall Jeff Goldblum who played Dr. Ian Malcolm in the movie Jurassic park, when confronting the park owner when he says “Yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.” This morning I listened to a news report that said that the average child spend 7.5 hours a day interacting with some form of technology. These technologies would be game systems, cell phones, television, computer, the net etc. A few weeks ago I saw a commercial for a cable company that was highlighting how every one can now be connected to their choice of social network while watching TV.
In my humble opinion it seems as if we have as a society have substituted authentic face to face relationship with that of cyber-relationships. I know this may sound extreme, but it is a concern. I am all for technology and I enjoy using it just like the next person. I believer though we need to use wisdom and discernment in how much we allow technology to infiltrate our lives and families. As a society statistics have proven the deterioration of the family, as well as the levels of dysfunction that can be found in relationships due to poor communication. I am not saying that technology is the cause for these statistics but that it can be a negative factor.
I have had to reflect upon my family as well as others that I know and it is amazing how we can spend hours using our TV, PC, IPOD, or Game System and maybe a half an hour a day speaking to one and other in our family. I conclude restating that technology is not evil but we do need to examine how much we allow it to consume our lives. As adults we set the standard and give boundaries for the younger generations lets begin now to establish some level of balance for ourselves and the generations to come.
“We are so Busy!”, to quote a friend of mine. It seems as if families are busier than ever. If your children are elementary through high school age you more than likely are feeling the strain. Spring is here and the extracurricular activity schedules are getting ready to start. Along with the business for parents comes stress which is unhealthy for all of us. So what is the solution to the business? Is it to quit everything? Is it to sacrifice family activities, or cut back on overtime? Well though unpopular but wise maybe the solution is not to do it all. Examine you family schedule necessities and priorities. Then evaluate the extras, in light of your priorities. Another thought to ponder is what activities can the whole family participate in? Hopefully as we assess our schedules this spring and summer we will have balanced and stress free families.
Case Manager/Independent Love and Logic Facilitator