Mom, Teen Son Make Peace and Rebuild Relationship with Boys Town’s Help Friday, Jun 13, 2014 Page Image Page Content Chance Shaw is considered by most to be a bright, capable student. So why did the 16-year-old intentionally slack off his schoolwork, ensuring failing grades and a seat in summer school? He chose the path of least resistance. Socializing was more important than studying. Doing nothing was easier than working. Why be studious for a whole semester when a few weeks of summer school will put you back on track, Chance reasoned. Unfortunately, school wasn’t the only place where Chance sought the easy route. At home, he and his mother, April, were in a battle of wills, constantly clashing over house rules and chores. When told to do the dishes, for example, Chance balked; if he didn’t dirty them, he shouldn’t have to clean them. Their relationship was so strained, the two barely spoke. Chance blamed his mom for his parents’ divorce, and April blamed Chance’s misbehaviors on the broken marriage. For both, the blame was misplaced, and it continued to erode what should have been a happier home life. Chance’s defiant attitude eventually led April to enroll in Common Sense Parenting ® (CSP) classes, sponsored by Boys Town Central Florida. Coincidentally, Chance’s frequent absences at school landed him in the STAY (Seminole Truancy Alternatives for Youth) Center, an intervention program for truant juveniles. There, he received counseling from Boys Town Consultant Robert Salem, who was also April’s CSP instructor. The parenting classes introduced April to a slew of strategies to help her repair and strengthen her relationship with her son. Impressed by what she was learning, April sought additional help. “April asked for In-Home Family Services, which was unusual. Many parents don’t have the strength to voluntarily seek outside support,” said Boys Town Family Consultant Justin Colson, who began working with the family. “Because she had gone through our parenting classes, she had a strong foundation. I took the skills she had learned and tweaked them so we could address her family’s specific problems.” For three months, Justin visited April and Chance in their home. Justin taught April how to communicate her expectations and enforce consequences, regardless of how Chance reacted. He also showed April how to take the things her son enjoyed and use them to encourage and reinforce his positive behaviors. Chance, however, wasn’t quite ready to accept Justin’s help. Early in the process, an exasperated April repeatedly called Justin because Chance refused to participate. Sometimes she contacted him immediately after a home visit, before Justin had even pulled out of the family’s driveway. Resistance finally faded when Justin told Chance he wasn’t like the other adults in Chance’s life who promised that if he just did this or that, his life would be better or easier. Instead of telling Chance what his problems were and dictating solutions, Justin asked Chance to describe his thoughts and feelings. They had conversations that got Chance involved in the intervention. Soon, Chance was freely sharing his opinions and the goals he wanted to achieve. He wanted to join his school’s weightlifting team and go to college. Most of all, he wanted to stop fighting with his mom. Justin used “insight-building” techniques to help Chance see how his current behaviors at home and school were preventing him from reaching those goals. Justin also explained how endless arguments about chores took more time and energy than simply following the rules. Chance learned to see his behaviors, and his mom, from a different perspective… a better one. While the journey was bumpy, Chance started to make better choices and his attitude and grades improved. April recently said she’s the happiest she’s been in a long time. “For this family, it wasn’t about fixing every little issue,” Justin said. “Mom needed to learn how to shape and change her son’s behavior for the long term, and Chance needed to step back and rethink how his actions affected his life’s ambitions.” The stories provided about the children and families in our care are real. In some cases, names and details may be changed, and stock photos may be used, to protect their privacy and therapeutic interests.