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Mother's Tough Choice Gives Son a Second Chance

By the time he was 13, it was clear Miguel was headed down a path of self-destruction.

The youngster had already been in and out of several youth placements and detention centers, mainly because he couldn’t obey authority figures at home, in school and in the community. Several times, he was involved in fistfights and threatened to kill others. Arrests for theft and destruction of property also dotted his police record.

Miguel’s mother, Sonia, was at her wits end and losing all hope. She was deathly afraid she would soon lose her son to violence on the streets.

Raising Miguel and his siblings as a single mom caused turmoil at home. Miguel’s father had never been in his life, and when Sonia remarried, Miguel grew angrier and more aggressive. He didn’t want anything to do with his new stepfather, and the two often got into shouting matches and physical altercations.

At school, Miguel argued with staff members and was suspended a number of times for aggressive behavior, and for threatening teachers and other students. He had already been expelled from one school and was perilously close to getting kicked out again.

One day after a shouting match with his mother, Miguel stormed out of the house and didn’t come home or attend school for three days. His mother was at her breaking point. There was only one thing she could do to save her son: She contacted the state child welfare authorities and told them she couldn’t control Miguel anymore.

The state stepped in, sent Miguel to a temporary youth shelter and eventually placed him in Boys Town Louisiana’s Family Home Program SM.

Being in the Boys Town residential program wasn’t easy for Miguel, but there were promising signs. He got along well with the other boys in the home, and while he frequently argued with his Family-Teachers ®, the married couple who lived in the home and cared for the youth, they continued to focus on teaching Miguel new skills for expressing his emotions in healthier ways and accepting the decisions of adults.

After a few months of this consistent teaching and structure, Miguel began to buy into this approach. He was consistently using his new skills, in the home and at school. The transformation Miguel was experiencing was evident when he started asking his Family-Teachers for help when he felt frustrated, angry and upset.

Sonia also could see the changes, and was pleasantly surprised when Miguel began making visits home. Miguel listened to his mother and accepted his stepfather as a new authority figure in his life. He also got along with and enjoyed spending time with his brother and two sisters.

Returning to his Boys Town Family Home after one particular weekend visit, Miguel told his Family-Teachers he wanted to be reunited with his family and was willing to do whatever it took to make that happen.

Miguel worked even harder on his attitude and behaviors. After a year at Boys Town Louisiana, he graduated from the eighth grade and was able to return home.

Thanks to Sonia’s courageous act of letting her son go so she could someday get him back, along with Boys Town’s effective intervention, Miguel has chosen a new road to follow – the road to being a better son, a better student and a better person.

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.