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Who’s Running Your House?

“I’ve yet to have a parent call me to say, “Sue life is great, come for tea. Instead, they all contact me with issues that have the same theme:

  • My child is at the fork of the road and I’m afraid they are heading down a bad path.
  • I’m afraid of my child. My child is abusive, even hitting me. I am embarrassed to admit that to anyone.
  • My daughter is hanging with a “bad boy, and I am concerned she is going to get caught up in some really bad things. I’m afraid she will go down as an accomplice.
  • My young adult child has graduated from high school, but won’t look for a job, help around the house, sleeps all day or plays video games.”
  • My child’s grades are plummeting and I don’t know what to do.”
  • My child is a victim of cyberbullying, and I am afraid he/she is going to kill himself/herself.”

I also receive calls from grandparents raising their grandchildren at a time in their lives, when they were hoping to take life a little easier, and not have to work to handle the responsibility of supporting young children.

Welcome to my world as a criminologist. It has been a rather unique career, one that emulated and evolved as a sign of the times, rather than a planned career I stepped in to. I love my work. I love the families I work with. I have the privilege to know them at the darkest time of their life and be part of the journey as they walk out the other side. Some of these families are facing some horrific realities. I’ve been working with them for over thirty-five years in various settings; in their homes, schools, community centers, in prison, and on the streets.

I get these kids. I was one of them a long time ago. With the help of some amazing professionals, some good luck, and grabbing on to the hands that reached out to me, I’ve had a successful career working with extremely high risk youth, violent youth, and angry people. In the course of my work with them, I have developed skills and strategies to bring about positive change for both the youth and their families. Today, I train professionals throughout the United States and internationally.

Who are these families? They are people just like you and I. These are parents who love their kids. They work hard and try to do right by them. Most are not trying to be neglectful. Sometimes the parents are doing everything right, but the child is suffering as a result of things being done to them outside the family unit. These parents come from all professional backgrounds, all socio-economic levels, some have experienced divorce and some have not, some have dealt with the death of a parent, the challenges of blended families, and some from families still intact.

Many of these families live in beautiful homes, some do not. All are just trying to get through the day the best they can. They want to enjoy their children for the remaining years they still live at home, before embarking on their own adult journey. So how old are the children parents call me about? Some are as young as six years old and some are as old as twenty-eight years old. Why so old? That’s another blog topic called “failure to launch”.  (Look for that at a later date) Many children are either living at home longer or returning home.

Why does a parent call me? They cannot change the chaos or the unpredictability they’re living in. Their lives are filled with negativity, disrespect, and violence. These parents are afraid; afraid for themselves and afraid for their children.

These parents feel like they have lost control of their house. When I ask them “Who is running your house?”, they all have the same answer. “Not me!” It feels like my child is running my house and I want the power back!” Some feel their child has been so traumatized by outside influences, it has affected their family in a profound way. If none of this applies to you, consider yourself lucky. That is not the case with most families today. It is not solely the parents who are raising their children these days, so who is?

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