Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I Drove to Chicago Yesterday, Except that I Didn't

Yup, 9 hours in the car yesterday. I coulda driven to Chicago in 9 hours. Instead I just drove around Minnesota.

Started with a homestudy update visit and then a post-placement visit, having my 8 hours in for work by 3:15. I then rushed into the house to take care of paying the Princess kennel bill and then leaving immediately with Jimmy as a companion to go visit John.

That was my first visit to Adult Jail (having been to numerous juvenile detentions over the years). Bart and I have been coming up with a plan that will help John when he is discharged in August that would allow him his one big rescue from us. We have provided I think three "last chances" to Mike, so I figure we owe John at least one more. He's had at least one, possibly two. I lose track.

Anyway, I went to discuss this with John. He looks good -- thinner than he's been in years, but a bit hardened I think. He has been granted a stay of adjudication and he is determined not to violate his probation. However, he was clueless as to how he could do so if he was homeless and in the town where he was previously arrested. So our offer of mercy was well received. I bought him a phone card on the way out to use to call me. We'll see if he does use it for that purpose. I always like to see how kids respond to guidelines on simple things -- it is almost always an indicator of how cooperative they are being and what kind of mindframe they are in.

I know that John can pull this off with some help from us if he really wants to. And I know very well how determined one can be behind bars. But there is something about all the lures of a past life when you get out that sway you in a different direction.

Bart saw Mike yesterday and reports that he is better than he has seen him in a long time. Go Mike. But Mike reports that his success is just not having many friends. MInding his business, working when he can, staying with a friend outside of our town. It seems to be working for him. He has a lot of community service, which he is doing, so that's good as well. We're contemplating inviting him to slowly spend more time with us and then the other kids.

Something has happened to me over the last year or two, particularly over the last 2 months. When we found out that Salinda was pregnant, it was kind of the last straw. Bart and I had done everything that everyone else does. I took her out when she was seven for her first facts of life talk. We had another one the week she turned nine to cover other things. Then when she was twelve we took her to a nice restaurant and made a covenant with her and gave her a chastity ring. When she lost that ring, we replaced it. We discussed her sexual activity over the years. We talked many times about pregnancy and how it would affect her.

And now that she's pregnant we are getting flack from some family members -- her siblings and some others -- that somehow the fact that we let her spend weekends with her boyfriends family is why she got pregnant (like she couldn't get pregnant in the handicapped bathroom at school had she wanted to. I know. SIck thought. Mentioned to me by a highschooler though).

So when we found out that she was pregnant I exhaled the longest sigh. I don't know if the word defeated would be the right one, but all the sudden I was being handed a situation that I had fought for ten years to prevent. And it was the final nail in the coffin of my dream that teenagers can be controlled.

By the time a child is 13 or 14 they have made some decisions. Either they have decided that they will embrace their families values, at least while living with them, or if they will head in a self-destructive path. Sure, parents can still have rules, but they will be broken. ANd parents should still consequences and attempt to redirect the kid, but you can't make a teenager do anything they have decided they don't want to do.

Sometimes rebellious teens turn into productive adults. Sometimes they don't. But now, parenting my 11th teen, I have finally figured out that i can't control them. The kids we have living here right now have chosen their path. They are going to attempt to follow our rules most of the time. They are making good choices. They want to please us. They don't want their lives to turn out like some of their older siblings. And so we have very few rules lately. I consequence very little. If someone makes a mistake, we talk about it. I ground kids occasionally or take away privileges, but for the most part I handle things differently than I used to.

And so I'm less about controlling my adult children even if we are helping them. I noticed this as we were coming up with this plan for John. Previously I would have been all about rules and guidelines, long lists of them.. Now I'm just trying to set up a situation that has only natural consequences. John's chance at making it is on him. The rest of our kids are stable enough that I don't think he will lead them astray and he won't be living at home.

I am really rambling this morning, aren't I? Anyway, bottom line -- help us pray for the financial ability to carry out the plan and for doors to open. I can't reveal the whole thing yet, but I'd like to have an option for him other than being discharged from jail to homelessness.


debbie said...

the only parenting advice i have given my adult children and any young parents i befriend is to "never say my kid will NEVER do that" 'cause you never say never when it comes to your kids.

Kacie said...

I'm really interested in your advice here. I lead a group of Jr. High girls and all of the moms are new to the teenage years and some are already at their wits end and begging us for help. Although I am the oldest of six kids, I've never parented before so I don't think my advice is worth much.

Do you have any advice you'd give mothers of teen girls that are pushing away from their moms?