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Family Weathers Storm of Turmoil to Grow Closer, Stronger

​​Christine and Jake Fox weren't surprised the day an investigator from the Department of Children and Families (DCF) knocked on their door.

Their family was spinning out of control.  The couple couldn't control the behavior of their 15-year-old daughter, Mariah. Danny, their 11-year-old son, had lots of special needs.  After the family moved to Florida so Jake could start a better job, the company he worked for suddenly closed, leaving the family without a steady income and stranded far from its support system.

DCF visited the Foxes' home after receiving a report that Mariah was using drugs, skipping school and engaging in risky sexual behavior.  Danny had been diagnosed with multiple developmental, physical and behavioral issues.  He would often throw tantrums and physically fight with Mariah.  Christine and Jake had to call the police almost weekly to stop the kids from hurting each other. 

With all this turmoil and instability, Christine and Jake were frustrated and feeling hopeless. So when the DCF investigator mentioned Boys Town South Florida's In-Home Family Services® as a possible source of assistance, the couple begged him to refer the family for an intervention.

When a Boys Town Family Consultant first met with Jake and Christine, they felt like a tremendous weight had been lifted off their shoulders.  Finally, they had someone who was willing to listen to and understand their problems.  Together, the Family Consultant and the Foxes began to develop a plan to heal the family.

First, they worked on parenting.  Christine and Jake had resorted to yelling, grounding, screaming and hitting when it came to trying to discipline Mariah and Danny. When none of those worked, they just gave up.  The Family Consultant taught them a better, more positive approach that involved giving praise for good behavior and consequences for negative behavior, communicating more clearly and using daily chore charts. Christine and Jake also learned to use the "ABCs" (antecedent-behavior-consequence) to identify their children's behavioral patterns.

But just telling someone how to do something really doesn't produce lasting changes. The Family Consultant also observed the couple's interactions with their children and provided support and coaching in how best to use the new skills.  As Christine and Jake began to set clear expectations for behavior and followed through with consequences, Mariah's demeanor and behaviors gradually began to improve. The door-slamming, curfew-breaking, screaming teenager who had brought such chaos to the family's home started to become their daughter again. With positive reinforcement of his appropriate behavior, Danny also improved and his daily tantrums stopped completely.

Next, they worked on budgeting.  By this time, Jake had found a new job. But his pay was much lower and any unexpected expense created a real catastrophe for the family.  And because they were so far from relatives and friends, they really had nowhere to turn for help. With the Consultant's guidance, Christine and Jake developed a budget sheet that detailed all their bills and gave them a clear picture for how to manage their income and what they owed. They also created a "family allowance," which enabled them to put any money that was left over after all the bills were paid into a savings account for emergencies.  The allowance gave the family a plan for making special purchases they could afford, and prevented them from stressing out or fighting over money.  

The final piece to the puzzle was connecting the Fox family more closely to the community in order to develop a strong local support system. Together, they found a church nearby that had free summer activities for both kids, as well as a parenting group.  Christine and Jake were initially hesitant to join. But when they attended their first meeting with the parenting group, they were surprised to meet another couple from their hometown.  Both couples had mutual acquaintances from back home and their kids were about the same age. The couples bonded and their relationship led Christine and Jake to start friendships with other church members.

The Foxes know that every day will still bring challenges. But with Boys Town South Florida's help and a deep desire to be a stronger, caring family, they are prepared for whatever comes their way.

The stories provided about the children and families in our care are real. In some cases, names may be changed and details altered to protect their privacy and therapeutic interests.​