Courageous Parents and Troubled Teens

     Yesterday on the news there was a story about family vacationing in Southern Utah. They were around a creek that, due to the high run off this year in Utah, was more like a river of fast moving water. The news report showed a water fall about 15 feet high. The water going over the falls was dark due to the runoff.

     The story went on to explain that this family had lost sight of their young son. After frantically looking for him, the father jumped into the water below the falls feeling that was where his son was. He found his son and pulled his lifeless body up and on to the bank of the river. When he got his son to the shore he found two individuals, also on vacation, that happened to be experienced rescue workers. They began to apply their training and brought the boy back to life.

     As I contemplated the story I was amazed at the courage and faith that young father showed jumping into that muddy water below the falls. He could not see if his son was in that brown churning water but jumped in anyway, risking his own life to do so.

     Today I saw the same kind of courage while taking part in a treatment graduation phase review. I looked across the table at two parents who had lost sight of their son and knew their troubled teen was in peril. They were willing to jump in to the muddy, fast moving waters of treatment because, like the young father in Southern Utah, the thought of losing their son was not bearable. I listened as they talked about how difficult it was to leave their son in the hands of strangers. They talked about that as being the worst day of their lives. The fear was almost unbearable, but they did it. They talked about how difficult the treatment process was for them, how many times they felt so discouraged, and hopeless. Then, like that little boy on the bank of a river in Southern Utah, their son took a breath and hope came rushing back. They described watching their son make hard decisions and work through difficult issues and now, at the end of this treatment experience, they are standing with their son knowing he has earned another chance.

     I can only imagine what the parents of the little boy in Southern Utah felt when their son took in his first breath and the signs of life began to show themselves. What powerful floods of emotions must have run through them in that moment! I think many of the parents I work with know how it feels to have hope return as their sons begin to battle back from addiction, self doubt, and destructive behaviors that, if left unchecked, would end their lives.

     I have been blessed to work with and witness the most courageous parents as they take great risk in an effort to help their sons. To seek out strangers who are skilled and trained in applying treatment and then trust them enough to follow their guidance has been such an example of courage and strength to me. If that father would not have taken action and pulled his son from the muddy, churning water under the falls, his son would have perished there. But, like these wonderful parents I have the pleasure of working with, he took action and saved his son.   Shawn Brooks, Executive Director, Oxbow Academy