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Opinion & Essays - Feb, 2000 Issue #66 

LOOKING BACK
By Kristen Vollar
December 29, 1999

[The author is the daughter of Woodbury Reports publisher Lon Woodbury and his wife Denise. She graduated from the Explorations Wilderness Assessment Course in Montana in 1993 and Mission Mountain School also in Montana in 1994. She was inspired to write this article after participating in conversations with other parents while working at her fatherís office. Her presence there is a demonstration of the positive relationship that has evolved since she has returned from the above-mentioned programs.]

Tomorrow is my 24th birthday. Looking back, I clearly remember when I was 17 years old. Back then, I wasnít sure if Iíd ever see my 24th birthday. If it hadnít been for my parents, I might not have, or I might be spending it in jail. But they decided to intervene in my life, despite the fact that I would turn 18 in a few months.

About a month after I turned 18 while at Mission Mountain, I decided that I was going to leave the program we had chosen several months before. They then had to make a difficult and heart wrenching decision. They knew they had had enough of my deceit and lies. They told me that if I decided to leave, I would be on my own, and I couldnít take anything they had ever given to me. In other words, I would be alone with nothing.

Sometimes a parent just has to ďget down and dirtyĒ - on the childís level. If that seems a little harsh, think about what your child has become and what he or she is putting you through. Think of what your life would be like knowing you had the chance to get a foot in the door and you just walked away. The hardest thing for my parents to do was to make me believe that they really meant it. They had to be strong and direct. My parents were able to do that well; despite the turmoil they were experiencing.

Years later, they told me that it was probably the most difficult decision they had ever made. However, if my parents had backed off, letting me make my own decision, or if they had showed any weakness, I donít know if they would have ever seen me again. That outcome would have been infinitely harder for them to live with than any difficulties they experienced in setting firm boundaries for me.

Because they were so strong and very firm about their decision, I decided it wasnít time for me to leave yet. I stayed to continue the progress that I had already made, and I graduated. As a result, I have a great relationship with my parents and I still continue to grow. I use the tools that I gained in my program even now when situations arise in which I need help. Believe me I am glad that I stayed.

I have talked with other parents who are dealing with similar issues and have a question or two for the ones who think it is too hard to make a firm decision and follow it through: Do you love your child? Are you willing to face a challenge or would you rather stand by and lose your child, possibly forever?

It is a difficult decision to make; there is no guarantee how long it will take, or even if it will work. Sometimes talking to your child feels like talking to a brick wall, and other times, you might get a good response. Success depends on how you approach the situation, how determined you are, and of course if luck is with you. However, while there are no guarantees if you send your child to a program, you are far more likely to see the changes you are hoping for that if you donít send them.

Copyright © 2000, Woodbury Reports, Inc. (This article may be reproduced without prior approval if the copyright notice and proper publication and author attribution accompanies the copy.)

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