Dore Frances frequently offers helpful advice to many of the readers on Troubled Teen Blog, you will see her supportive comments on posts throughout the site. Professionally she is an self proclaimed educational consultant. Helping parents of troubld teens. Famiiies in crisis. It is her own personal story with her daughter that is so compelling, please read on …
My Daughter Age 15
This short article is a compelling “readers digest” version of my daughter’s personal story. I was so very grateful to the powers that be that her father and I recognized just in time that her life needed to be saved. My daughter had just turned 15, and she had good intentions for her life, however her priorities were poorly focused and she was slipping away from us.
She was drinking, had an eating disorder and was using drugs. And she had an attitude that had developed which greatly interfered with her academics.
There were many steps that were taken in our local community with group therapy, family therapy, individual therapy, summer camps, and even having her spend time with relatives during the summer in other states. We were engaged in doing all we could to turn her life around. As an advocate for at-risk kids at the time, I was holding out hope, just like every parent that I assisted, that we could create the right atmosphere and opportunity for her to change her situation. There was a defining moment, like there is for every parent, in which we knew she needed more help than we could provide. My former husband and I had been divorced for 7 years, and worked very hard at co-parenting; this decision was heartbreaking for both of us.
We called an associate of mine who was an educational consultant.
In a matter of 3 weeks a residential boarding school had been chosen, papers signed, and arrangements made for us to take her on February 10, 2001. I remember that date as surely as I remember the day she was born. We did not tell our daughter about “the plan” until the night before. She cried, we cried, and then we came to find out a week after she was in treatment that she had known something was up and was preparing. She had made a suicide pact with her best friend to be executed on March 1st. The night before we were to fly out I sat up in bed with my clothes on, the covers pulled up to my neck. Even though our daughter was not a run risk, it was a fear I had that she would take off during the night, and I wanted to be prepared.
At 4am I woke her to get dressed so her dad could drive us to the airport. Just she and I were making this journey. It was dark outside when her dad drove up. I kept waiting for a miracle to happen. I kept hoping my daughter would ask not to go.
Many kids do – she didn’t. At the airport her dad cried and gave her a hug and asked her not to worry, that she was going to be in good hands, and she would be safe.
In a confident manner she said “I will be fine dad.” We boarded the plane and had to have a small layover and change planes. I asked her if she wanted to call her dad, and she said no, she was hungry. She ate, I did all I could not to vomit, as my stomach was in my throat. We boarded the next plane, arrived at the rental car, and off we went. We had a 2 hour drive and I wanted it to last all day.
As we approached the turnoff from the freeway it was about lunch time and there was a Red Lobster, her favorite restaurant. I asked if she wanted to have lunch, still delaying as much as I could. “No”, she said, “let’s just get there.” As we drove through town to our location, I just wanted so badly to turn the car around, go home, and hope she had “learned her lesson”. Yet, I knew, my daughter was in need of help and a “threat” of “look at what could happen” was not going to work. Threats are just lies and they never work. Kids are smart enough to figure that out.
Fast forward, nine years later
My daughter is now 24, living on her own in a state she loves, going to school and working. She has taken herself to therapy twice over the years, as she has learned how to ask for help and knows it is okay. She created a relationship with her dad that works and one with me that works. We all live in different states now and she visits us each separately. I do not speak with my former husband any longer.
We have what now works for us and none of us have any regrets that we took those most difficult steps and engaged in some of the hardest work we had ever done as individuals and as a family.