A therapeutic program isn't an easy or inexpensive option for parents.  It can cost tens of thousands of dollars.  No doubt, it will be one of the hardest decisions you'll ever have to make.  But one statement I hear from kids and from their parents over and over is this:  "If I (they) didn't come to Heartlight, I think I (they) would have been dead or in prison by now." 

It's a harsh reality to send a child off to be cared for elsewhere.  But that reality pales when you consider the possibilities or outcomes of your child's current behavior and how such behavior could ruin his or her life.  What you are giving him or her is something that can't be found in the current home setting.  You are loving them in a way that perhaps you haven't loved them before.  It's tough to think that they'll have to miss some of their time in the local high school, and may never graduate there.  But it's a good decision if it will save your child. 

Don't ignore what is happening in your family. Though you undoubtedly hope it will just go away, it won't likely do so without a major change in the way your home operates, or placement of the teen in a therapeutic program away from home, especially if the behavior has already been going on for many months.  And if you think the problem will disappear when your child turns 18, think again.  It won't disappear; it will likely get worse and linger well into adulthood if it is not dealt with earlier. Just envision the chaos in your home from having your teenager still living with you at age 35, either because they continue to be addicted to drugs or they can't find a job because they were arrested and have a record. That's a reality in more homes today than you might imagine.  

May 31, 2010

Mark Gregston is an author, speaker, radio host, and the founder and executive director of Heartlight Ministries, a residential counseling program for struggling adolescents located in East Texas. Web: www.heartlightministries.org Phone: 903-668-2173.