A Parent Feels Like a Failure


I was referred to Bodin by the psychologist whom I contacted at the time my son started high school. As I became increasing concerned about my son’s rapidly slipping grades and angry outbursts, I thought of immediately seeking psychological help. After a few sessions the psychologist told me that he suspected that my son was heading down the wrong path and exhibiting some signs of criminal behavior. I kept questioning when and how that happened and where I failed as a parent.

The psychologist reassured me that it was not my fault that my child took a wrong turn in life and suggested I contact Bodin to find appropriate resources to help him. I hesitated for a while, concerned about the potential cost of the services, but then decided it was worth a try. I made an appointment with Bodin and, as I sat through the meeting, I became very impressed with the expertise the Bodin Group had in child and young adult development and a vast range of intervention options it had to offer. I was excited about finding a supportive place that resonated well within me and I arranged for the initial intake interview, to which my son refused to go. Not surprisingly, being a rebellious teenager, he was fighting every suggestion I made to him at that time.

At that point I was not ready to place my son into the program against his will and I was still struggling with my own feelings of failure and inadequacy as a parent. Instead I decided to continue with the conservative approach, going from one psychotherapist to another without seeing much improvement. It was only a year and a half later, after I exhausted all available local options and felt exhausted from a constant conflict at home, that I decided it was time for intervention. I no longer felt ashamed about failing as a parent and realized that my son’s circle of friends was creating a much stronger pull that was negating every effort I was making to show him a different life path and restore the peace in the family. I returned to Bodin and asked to place my son into an appropriate program for him.

The Bodin consultant who was assigned to my case was very knowledgeable and supportive. She immediately recognized the issues I was dealing with and offered a plan for the therapeutic intervention. I felt relieved and my confidence in making the right decision for my son increased. She suggested we start with the wilderness program, followed by a placement into a boarding school. I was offered three choices of the wilderness program and I had an opportunity to interview them before making my final decision.

I was apprehensive at first, having heard enough horror stories about boot camps the children were sent to and was concerned about the quality of service my son would receive. However, once I finished interviewing the programs, I realized how much they cared for the children’s welfare and how thoughtful and comprehensive was their approach to therapy. As I was processing the information and making my decision about a particular program, the consultant was always available to listen to me and be my sounding board.

Still the day I decided to send my son away was very hard for me. I worried about him being angry at me and losing his love forever. In retrospect, however, the opposite happened. It was the love I had for him that pulled him through and helped him make the change in his life. Sure, he was angry at me at first, but I had the support from the Bodin consultant who kept reminding me that there was a light at the end of the tunnel. I also had a weekly contact with the therapist who worked closely with my son and I felt that he was invested in my son’s success as much as I was. The Bodin consultant was in contact with my son as well to let him know the next steps and engage him in making decisions about his life.

Several weeks after my son was placed into the program, the parents were invited to the conference to meet the staff in person and visit with the children. The reunion with my son was heartwarming as I realized how much he changed for the better. He was happy to see me and cried when I had to leave at the end of the day. Of course, there were still signs of his old behavior that concerned me, but the progress was very obvious.

Reassured, I was ready for the next step – finding a suitable boarding school for my son. I felt it was important not to bring my son back home and return him into an environment of old friends. Again, the consultant offered several options, which she thought were a good match for my son’s personality and the issues he was still dealing with. I interviewed all the schools on the list and chose the one that I felt my son would connect with. Although my son was reluctant to go into the boarding school and wanted to come home, I had to stay strong for my own sake.

The first few months at the school were rough. My son was convinced that there was no need for him to be there and pleaded to allow him to come home. My heart was torn apart seeing him being so miserable, but I was determined to stay the course since all other options I tried in the past failed. I worked closely with the school’s therapist to design and implement the strategy that would help my son turn himself around. I felt connected to my son’s life throughout the process and he knew I cared about him a lot. The Bodin consultant stayed in touch with me as well as with the school to monitor my son’s progress. She was thoughtful and sharp in her assessments and provided me with a valuable feedback.

The internal shift for my son happened eight months later. At times, I thought that day would never come, but all I could do is persevere and help for the best. Another eight months past before I started to feel that I could trust my son again. It’s been a long road for the two of us, but at the end the dividends paid off handsomely. I am very grateful to Bodin for all the guidance and support they provided me with along the way.