Friday, January 9, 2009

Dr. Laura's Advice: Part 2 Raising Childen with Consequences

Part 1 of Raising Children with Consequences was about the first time I heard about "Mark". Mark was presented at our social worker meeting as an at risk child. He was twelve years old, in middle school and was just suspended from school for picking fights. His parents were teenagers when they had him - they married shortly after but were divorced before Mark was two. His mother was out of the family picture after she left home when Mark was three years old. Mark was raised by his very young father and grandparents. During this time Mark's father entered into a gang and got into a lot of trouble when he was a teenager. He had been arrested three times when I first met him. Mark showed signs of dyslexia in class and had never had one on one attention at school for a teacher to realize that he had a learning disability. Mark's dyslexia made him feel slower and not as smart as the other students in his class. This angered him. After some testing and a one on one tutor Mark showed that he could learn. What consequences did I introduce to help Mark succeed in his life?

It's hard to pinpoint the exact moment that Mark made a turn around in his life, but he did. After months of Mark taking steps forward and taking some steps backwards, he showed signs of improvement at school and in his relationships. I first noticed the improvement when his grades started to improve. So did Mark's attendance to school. Instead of being absent from class 3 times a week he was not only in class most of the week, but participating. He felt comfortable with his female tutor and started to learn how to work with, not against, his dyslexia.

In our therapy sessions, he started to open up. In each session he was able to go deeper and deeper into his feelings. He had some blow ups, but he learned the consequences. If he took his anger out on me or left the therapy session we would skip the next session. He seemed to respond to this.

Because of all of his hard work he was starting to make school friends although he was still worried about bringing his new friends home to meet his father. I suggested that he and his new friends go out to movies or to ballgames. Only when he was ready should he introduce his friends to his father. He also started to have feelings for a girl in his class. This was a huge improvement as the only people that he had been interested in were his female tutor or therapists. He felt good that he wasn't setting himself to fail, but to succeed.

One of my proudest moments of my time with Mark was when he got an after school job. The positive reinforcement that he felt by making his own money, gaining responsibility and following through really helped his self esteem. He was able to work the job for several months before being let go due to tardiness which was a good consequence of his own actions.

As Mark made more and more improvement our time together started to end. The need for me to shadow him had changed. I stayed in touch with one of his therapists "Lacey" and years later she told me that Mark had graduated from high school which was a huge accomplishment. I felt a true sense of pride. Then she told me that Mark's father had returned to jail and Mark was now living with his grandparents

I believe that each person that we come in contact with helps shape us. Do you agree? Would you like me to write more about the cases I worked on as a social worker? What are your thoughts about Mark?


Simplicity said...

You must be so proud of him for graduating! Are you still in touch with him??

Yes! Definitely write more about your work as a social worker.

Laura said...

Hi Sim, thank you for your comment. I still cannot believe that he graduated. No are not in touch but Lacey and I are. I still get updates. Mark had some trouble after high school, but generally is working and doing well. I have some cases that didn't turn out well and broke my heart.

Miss Anne said...

How wonderful is this??? What a difference you made in his life!

I loved reading your story... yes please share more!

In regards to Mark... therapists and teachers will always be his saving grace I bet. There is no doubt in my mind that you made footprints in his life and heart and he'll forever have you there.

:) Kudos to you for your kindness and grace.

Georgie B said...

By all means, please keep sharing the stories about your job.

Like I've stated previously, I only see the other side of these issues, so it's refreshing to learn about this particular aspect of social work.

In any event, it has chipped away at my overall negative opinion on certain parts of social work.