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In over my head/could use some guidance w/teenager

Monday, October 03, 2011

I agreed to be a mentor for a friend's son who is attending a challenge program run by the National Guard. He's had some run ins with the law with pot, theft, car theft (from family members) and school. With a couple of strikes against him, it was back to juvenile detention or this program.

There was no doubt this program was going to be tough as anything for him. 22.5 weeks. But when he finishes, he'll have his GED, and with 15 hours of college classes, he'll be able to get into the Navy at 17.

So, I agreed to this. The mentor had to be a non family member who cares about the kid. I've known him since right after he was born. His mom and I used to work together years ago, and have remained friends since. She had been married to his dad, but he was abusive, they divorced and she has since remarried and has two younger kids.

Unfortunately, I think he learned some bad habits from his dad - specifically the pot smoking and abuse. Recently, he actually assaulted his mom, the police were called, and he almost did not make it to the program.

The current husband has made it clear that he is no longer welcome in the house with the two small kids. I can't blame him based upon the assault.

But, you know how there are two sides to every story. Since I took on this role in July, I am seeing a fuller picture. I'm feeling like it's not just the ex-husband/father.

There's a family day coming up in four weeks. It will be the first opportunity to see him since the program officially started (last week). My friend and her current husband have season college football tickets, so are planning to go early and leave before lunch to make the game. There's a similar plan for Thanksgiving Saturday.

And, yesterday, I spent a half an hour with him and his counselor on the phone as he plead his case to leave the program. It was gut wrenching. But, it was me on the phone because the current husband will not let her talk to him because of the abuse. And, they have told him point blank that he is no longer welcome in their house. The counselor was trying to get the father, but he would not pick up the phone.

I agreed to be a mentor. And, I am trying my best. I've written him a few times, I spent a day away from my own family for training. Hell, I have even looked like the geek by sending him the poem "If" by Rudyard Kipling. But, I was expecting to be backup to the two families. Not the primary point of contact.

And, I really don't know what to do if he does ultimately leave. While I want desperately to see him succeed, I, selfishly, do not want to impact my own family dynamic more than I already have. I cannot have him living with me.

I am at a loss. I am trying to prepare myself and prepare options for him. But, I feel like it is the family who should be doing this. But, it's almost as if they have washed their hands of the situation.

I would appreciate any thoughts you might have. If you don't have thoughts, prayers for the kids and his family would be good too.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I agree with the others. You're not a guardian, you're a mentor. I don't know where I would be had it not been for the selflessness of not only my foster parents but my coaches and other teaches God sent into my life to keep me from totally self destructing. This young man is in a lot of pain, hurt people hurt people. Is there no other family he can reach out to for support? I'll be praying as the Holy Spirit lead. Keep sparking!
    2316 days ago
  • JULJOH70
    Here are my thoughts...

    You agreed to be a mentor and have a vested interest in this child. You need to talk to his mom and dad and step dad and tell them that you want to help but that you are really discouraged with their lack of interest in their son.

    Although I do believe that there are some people who can not be helped I believe most "problem" children are the result of "problem" parents. As a parent it WAS their job to make sure when these problems started to present themselves, to get him and their whole family help.

    I commend you for helping him and I am sure that given enough time and support he will turn out to be a fine young man...and he will have you to thank for it.

    Right now he sounds like a little boy screaming out to be loved and wanted and supported.

    You have the opportunity to help turn this boys life around for the better. And his parents should be asshamed for throwing him to the wayside like garbage!
    2330 days ago
    It sounds like mom and dad need a wake up call.

    I think you need to have a serious talk with mom and set a boundary for your support. Their has to be a clear definition and understanding as to what you are doing. You are not a replacement for his family.

    She also needs to understand that HER child needs support and it's her job to be there, with or without new husband. It's all about perspective. 1 day in 5 weeks is not a lot to ask. There will be another day for football.

    In my mind a mentor is meant to be a go between. As a piece of the support system. You can't do this alone, and the other players need to understand this as well. This may include talking to the counselor without kid present to fill them in on the situation.

    You need to put your own family first. It's not selfish, it's common sense.
    We cannot be all things to all people.

    You have my sympathies, nothing about this situation sounds easy :S
    Good luck!
    2330 days ago
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