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A Season of Thanksgiving for Parents of Troubled Teen

The holiday season brings about many struggles for parents of Oxbow students. Reality hits home as some parents realize that their sons are not in the place, therapeutically speaking, that would allow them to go home to be with their families over Christmas. 

This has been a struggle for one of the families with whom I work.  Several conversations have taken place recently that entailed progress updates as well as estimations on when their son could have his first home pass. 

As students progress through the program at Oxbow there is a lot of emotional work required of them prior to their first home pass.  This being said, there is no way to discern an exact time in which a student will be emotionally ready for this step forward.  It takes time.  It takes patience.  It takes dealing with the reality of the situation, although that reality may exclude families from being together on some important holidays and in taking part in family traditions.  This news comes as hard news to some parents, as well as to their sons.  

Some families choose to make new memories with their sons during this time.  The family mentioned previously decided that they would come to Utah to be with their son for Thanksgiving.  They chose to use this time to build trust with their son, altering their family tradition of togetherness to mean something new and beautiful for their family as they work toward healing damaged relationships. 

This year they are thankful for different things than they have been in the past.  This family is thankful for the progress that their son is making towards healing damaged relationships, and all that means.  They are thankful for the little things, such as their son’s ‘willingness to look them in the eye’ when speaking with them and for the feeling of truthfulness that they get from him.  They are thankful for the good experiences that they are able to have with their son, now that he has increased the honesty in his relationships.  They are grateful that they are able to see their son ‘grow to become a man’. 

As these parents tried to express their thankfulness for this process, they said that no words can truly describe how grateful they are at this time for all that Oxbow offers their family in helping their son make these life changes.  Although this Thanksgiving was anything but their tradition, they found themselves thankful.  by Rachelle Gallup, CSW