But, let me tell you, seeing your child in an orange jumpsuit handcuffed is HARD. Just typing that makes me cry. Seeing him in pain because of his choices is so hard as a parent to watch.
But we have given him the necessary tools, guidance and resources to make the right choices. We have had to step back and let the natural consequences play out. And, if you want a dose of humble pie - go sit in the waiting room at Gardner Betts Juvenile Center waiting for your child's probation officer while every other person that walks by knows your name!
Very humbling. I look at the other moms in the waiting room we all look like we all need to go to the spa. We give each other the I-can-relate-exhausted-look. No matter what part of town we live in, how much money we have in the bank, we are on the same battlefield: fighting for our kids. What have his teen years been like? What have you been through?
To say his teen years have been difficult is a major understatement. We have cried buckets of tears through these years. We have screamed at God. Pleaded to God This was NOT what I envisioned our family of 6 would look like. We never wanted to spend these teen years concerned about suicide, going to court hearings, spending hours at counselors, having random visits from parole officers.
And we are still right in the trenches.
Still pray every morning that Landon makes it through the day without getting arrested, killed or hurting someone else. I pray fervently that I would be a vessel of God's love. I need His love to pour through me to Landon because my human self doesn't feel it. I don't expect a lot of parents to understand how you couldn't feel love for your child.
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The first time I realized I didn't feel love for Landon I felt like I was defective or sick or just plain cold hearted. The first time I actually said that out loud to another seasoned mom that had raised a child like Landon and she said, "I know exactly how you're feeling. Cried so hard. That's what I hope comes from being transparent about our struggles - for those parents out there that are having a hard time - You aren't alone!
I know there are going to be lots of parents out there that will judge me for this post.
We've had relatives judge us. Please don't judge us or do, I really don't care. We ARE good parents. You have no idea what it's been like. He has probably hugged me back 10 times in 10 years - note I hug him A LOT, but it's comparable to hugging a wooden board. But, that didn't keep me from speaking to him. This is reality with him.
I want this so badly. I'm claiming that someday I will naturally again. But right now, thankfully God is providing. What have you learned? How has parenting Landon affected how you parent your other three? We have learned through several years of counseling, that there is only so much we can do and that it is not our fault. This was HUGE for me because I kept thinking we were doing something wrong; wrong parenting technique, not praying hard enough, not spending enough time with him, not having the means to take him to the perfect treatment center, etc.
I blamed myself and my husband for so long for all the choices Landon was making. I thought his behavior was a reflection of our parenting. And I was embarrassed! My husband was the family pastor at our church! We were supposed to have it all together and be a role model for other families. Y'all - that is the enemy talking!!! Stop believing it.
Get out of the church or community that makes you feel like a failure because your child is "misbehaving.
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It's SO freeing. Landon has 3 younger siblings. Thankfully they are all doing really well. We don't tell them everything that's going on with Landon, just that he has made poor choices and we still need to love him. They are smart though and know most of what's going on.
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Through all this we emphasize how important communication with each other is. We want our kids to be able to come to us with anything. We get the opportunity to prove that with Landon.
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Our actions definitely speak louder than words and others are watching. What would you tell another parent who is in the midst of heartache with her struggling child? Get help. Get support.
Don't try to do this alone. We have been to family counseling with our children, and marriage counseling. This was huge. Get a 3rd party in there to help. Godly counsel has saved our marriage! If you're married, keep your marriage top priority! You and your spouse need to be a team. The enemy will see this as a way to ruin your marriage, and it will if you don't put time and effort into making your marriage strong. Make sure your teenager knows that you and your spouse are on the same team and in agreement. When talking to our kids about parenting decision, my husband and I try to always say, "We decided, we think it's best, our thoughts are I would seek out a team of strong, loving peeps to back you, support you and help.
We sought out prayer warriors to come along side us and pray with us in this battle. Doesn't matter if it's another couple that's older or younger, just someone you can trust and know that they will do battle with you. I have a friend my cousin I call and vent to at least once a week. I don't know how she puts up with it! But she listens and doesn't judge and that's all I need. I do have to remind myself that I need to go first and foremost to God with my venting.
The more I allow myself to be turned to God through these struggles the more peace and wisdom I am given. Get respite. You need a break. Dealing with a troubled teen is SO exhausting. SO stressful. It can deplete you if you let it. See if there's a trusted family member or friend that can take your teen for the week or the summer.
You never know unless you ask. We ended up sending Landon to Youth Reach Houston , a home for troubled boys. I can't speak highly enough about this ministry. They are raising Godly men there. Anyways, we had 6 months of respite.
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