November 12, 2012

Maddie's Story


This past Friday was a very important day in our lives. Maddie had college orientation at a 4 year university where she will be getting her Bachelors in Psychology (she practices on her family) and her masters in Occupational Therapy. Big deal, you say? Well, the truth is, it kinda of is a big deal around here. A very big deal. Let me tell you why.

Around the first semester of Maddie's Freshman year of high school she began to not care much about school. She loved the socializing and the boys but really didn't think it was worth her time to do her school work. We did all of the things we thought parents should do. We checked her grades online constantly. We reprimanded, grounded, punished, rewarded, allowed natural consequences, cried, yelled and grounded some more. Her groundings probably added up to nearly 3 years of her high school career. Still it continued. We were at our wits end. We tried counseling, prayer, giving her space. Seriously nothing worked. We are the kind of parents who always stick to our guns. We have boundaries. It's not all willy nilly up in this house.


We had no one to turn to for advice. We were the first of our peers to have a teenager. Our friends were baffled. Family members were judgmental. Of course it's easy to judge when your kids are still in preschool and you have no idea what's down the road. People we didn't know very well who had teenagers would make it sound like their teenagers were perfect. Their kids never did anything they shouldn't, were straight A honor roll students that were always respectful, volunteered at homeless shelters and fell asleep every night reading their bibles with their chastity nicely intact. I now know this kind of teenager is more the exception that the rule and that parents are often in the dark or in denial, which is a very good coping tool during the teenage years. That and wine.

The low point of my parenting life came in December of her Senior year, almost 2 years ago. She said to us, Can't you see, you can't MAKE me care about school? Nothing you have done for the last 4 years has made any difference. Why don't you just stop trying? I don't care about school. I don't care about my future. My poor momma's heart nearly stopped. What do you do with that? She was absolutely right but watching her not care and destroy her future was destroying me. Then the most wonderful thing happened. She failed 2 classes the first semester of her Senior year, one of which was English. You kind of need that to graduate. About that same time she received a conditional acceptance letter to college but she has already blown the conditions and all of her friends were starting to get their acceptance letters. Maddie realized something, turns out she did care about her future only she was kind of late to that party but she was determined to change the path she was headed down.


The last semester of her Senior year she killed it! At this point it was too little too late but it did make her realize she could do it.We had always known, but now she knew too. She was serious. Finally. Left with few options she started Community College in the Fall. We made her financially responsible for a good portion of that cost. We felt she needed ownership. It was a smart move. Maddie has been working hard this past year and a half. She takes school so much more seriously that most of her friends. She currently goes to school full time, gets great grades, works 2 jobs and has grown into a genuinely wonderful girl who I love but who I also very much like. With this transfer the next chapter of her life will begin. I couldn't be more proud of her. She might as well be transferring to Harvard. That's how proud I am.

For those of you out there who are struggling, know that there is hope. Know that you aren't alone. All those lessons you think are going in one ear and out the other, aren't. Don't give up no matter how badly you want to some days. Most importantly know that you will survive this and maybe even be better off for having been through it. True story.

40 comments:

  1. So proud of her and of you for sticking to your guns. My daughter is only 12 and we homeschool. However, I have 2 step daughters who are in their late 20's and early 30s who just don't get it. For them life has been an uphill battle all because of the bad choices they made in their teens. I am of course praying for a better outcome for my own daughter.

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  2. Congratulations to Maddie. Hoping the next four years bring her even more personal growth. She will one day be able to better understand some of the struggles her OT patients face because of her own experiences.

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  3. Your daughter's story made me think of my g.son....he went to IUPUI for a year..transfered to Anderson, then now he's going to IU,near his home...the boy is a homeboy....likes being around family and friends. So his mom says it may take him a bit longer to get his degree. I say , as long as he gets it...and works. My daughters all worked. I know it's hard to keep hanging in there when we think they don't care....Thank God Maddie saw for herslef...she's beauty, my prayers go with her . xo, Susie

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  4. Congratulations to YOU and Maddie! Thank you for being so real and honest - something you don't often see in blogland. Your girl looks just like you! Beautiful!

    I wish her well on her new, well earned journey!

    and 'cheers!' to you momma!
    xo~Jill

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  5. Wow. What a great, inspirational story of growth and enlightenment and just all good things. It's not always easy, but Maddie is SO right- it's not our job as parents to "make" our beloved children achieve academically...they have to come to a place where they are ready to go full out and make it happen for themselves. Congratulations, Maddie!!! You may not have loved the process of learning when you were younger but now you've given yourself an enormous gift. The world is your oyster, sweet girl, now go and gather the pearls!!! xoxo from the Jersey Shore

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  6. Congratulations to Maddie. Thank you so much for sharing her story with us. My little F is only 2 and no.2 not quite born yet but I already slightly dread those teenage years! So good to read this inspirational story. Fiona x

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  7. Glad to know we are not alone. We are struggling with our 13 year old son and boy, does your story sound all too familiar. So happy for your daughter, she's proof there is light at the end of the tunnel.

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  8. Jen, You have every right to be proud. Proud of both your child and of yourself. This is truly a beautiful story. The teenage years are so tough on everyone. There is just so much going on. I wish her much success. OTs are greatly needed. I love stories with happy endings.

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  9. Parenting is not for the faint of heart. Even though it is hard, the best thing you can do for an adult child is to let them take ownership of their decisions. My daughter is 26 and having just finished her schooling is only now starting out on a career that is well suited for her and we couldn't be more proud. It was a long tough road from about 14 to 24 (we all have the scars to prove it)but we all made it to the other side. Congratulations to Maddie and to you and your husband for loving her through it.

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  10. This is a wonderful story and I want to thank you for sharing it. I have two kids - the older one is still trying to figure it out, while the younger one absolutely gets it. So who knows why they are like they are. But thanks again for sharing - gives me hope that there is still hope for number one.

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  11. Cheers, Maddie! Well done. The next exciting chapter in your journey of life is just beginning. Congrats!

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  12. that is so awesome for maddie!!
    i'm so happy for her!!!
    you're an awesome mama jen
    xoxo

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  13. Great and honest post. I should have a PhD in preaching to teenagers about how important their grades are...but to be real, I remember being a teenager and grades weren't really at the top of my list either. And to be really fair, these kids do have it way harder than we did. Thank goodness, you held your ground and Maddie found her spark!

    Will told me at the end of his Freshman year of college that he wished he would have tried harder in highschool. Now he's all about making the best grade in the class.
    Sounds like Maddie is quicker than Will!

    Hug that smart and pretty girl for me. xoxo, Julia

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  14. Oh how cool is that!!!! Our kids go thru so many stages and when that lite bulb moment comes, I tell you it is like Helen at the water pump. Good job Mom and good job Maddie! Kit

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  15. Can't even tell you how happy this makes me. I remember those dark days... :) JJ, I feel like I need to bookmark this for 14 years from now. Not mentioning any names. Thanks for plowing through it for moi. :)

    ps - You girls are gorgeous AND Maddie has the best teeth I've ever seen in my entire life. And that's no joke.

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  16. Jen- That is a wonderful story. We had a teenager like that. We finally had to let him fail...again and again and again. He graduated, went on, failed in business, failed in marriage, failed in life in general. Then, a funny thing happened. After a last fail when he had no one to blame but himself he turned his life over to God and became the man we always hoped he would. Sometimes it just takes longer for them to "grow up"...and sometimes no matter what you do as parents it is out of your hands and all you can do is put them in God's hands.

    This is a wonderful story about your sweet daughter. Blessings to Maddie AND you because you stood by your guns and waited. xo Diana

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  17. Thanks for sharing this story. My son is only 3.5, but it is not too early to begin thinking about his teenage years.

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  18. My daughter was diagnosed at 16 with Bi-polar, and fell pregnant at this time. She was very poorly and lost her baby, soon after she felt she couldn't carry on and tried to take her own life. My husband had left us due to him being unable to cope with her behaviour and I was left by myself. My daughter could not return to school and left without any qualifications. One year on and much has changed due to me not giving up and just loving my daughter regardless. We have had more than our fair share of tears, tantrums and bad days. But I pray almost every day and keep the rules consistant with a touch of negotiation. She is now at college and chooses life no matter how hard it is for her. I am so proud of the work she has done and completely understand how proud you are too. Big hugs and prayers to all who need help with sons and daughters.xx

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  19. My daughter was diagnosed at 16 with Bi-polar, and fell pregnant at this time. She was very poorly and lost her baby, soon after she felt she couldn't carry on and tried to take her own life. My husband had left us due to him being unable to cope with her behaviour and I was left by myself. My daughter could not return to school and left without any qualifications. One year on and much has changed due to me not giving up and just loving my daughter regardless. We have had more than our fair share of tears, tantrums and bad days. But I pray almost every day and keep the rules consistant with a touch of negotiation. She is now at college and chooses life no matter how hard it is for her. I am so proud of the work she has done and completely understand how proud you are too. Big hugs and prayers to all who need help with sons and daughters.xx

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  20. jenn - once again your honesty and candor hits home.
    we all have stumbling blocks (nice to know others are walking the same path... and seeing great success!) BIG congrats to you, maddie and family! <3

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  21. what special news! so excited for her...and for you as y'all support her in this journey! sometimes the hard lessons are the ones that stick with us the best.

    and the two of you look so alike in that picture :) both beautiful, inside and out. :)

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  22. So excited for her but most of all for you as a family! We went through a pretty similar road with our oldest daughter. I hear you when you said that 3 years of her high school were devoted to be being grounded. We did stick to our rules but many times I felt like giving up. My daughter is now a senior in college and things are going very well for her. I think she even likes me now. I know I like her now! God bless. ~Amy

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  23. Congrats Maddie!!! Beautiful girls....photos...

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  24. How great that she is getting her college and master's degree. Whatever her past, she seems like a girl with a vision for her future, which is a lot more than many kids have who start off right out of high school going to a 4 year college. Congratulations Maddie!

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  25. We are all different and that is so great that she on her own found herself with your guidance. How excited and proud she must be, good for you both!

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  26. What joy for you to see her ownership of her future. Learning that will be such a blessing for all of you. It is a hard, lonely road to walk when children seem on a different path ... friends become acquaintances, stress is a way of life, and hope can seem dim. What a blessing you have shared with her story and what a wonderful, deep, thoughtful young lady you are raising!!

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  27. You must be so proud of Maddie! What a wonderful story -- I'm sure that it all means so much more to her because of the work that she had to do to get where she is.

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  28. Wonderful, Jen. Been there! It has worked out wonderfully!
    Hugs,
    Suz

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  29. That is one of the most honest, beautiful, and inspiring stories I've ever read. Parenting is THE hardest job in the world and the teenage years are incredibly challenging, to say the least. Congratulations to Maddie ~ and I hope you can breathe a bit easier now. :-)

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  30. I love this story. Thank you for being honest. I wish her well!

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  31. I read this the other day and didn't have time to comment, Jen. This is a lovely, heartwarming, uplifting story. Yay for Maddie1

    xo
    Claudia

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  32. Congratulations on your family success.

    Maddie is so right - only she can do it.

    It all works out, just different times for different people.

    Both our children are college grads. Our son did it the hard way. He is brilliant, but wants to make his own mistakes and solve his problems. He earned degrees from CAL and UCLA and ended up teaching at UCLA. He was laid off in June and is now back in college for a completely different career.

    Our daughter on the other hand sailed through UCSB and started in the corporate world. She has worked for Google, GAP, facebook and now a small amazing design company.

    They don't come with manuals. We do our best, make some mistakes and hopefully more right choices than wrong. Everything I have read in your blog over the years tells me you are on the right track.

    Thanks for sharing your happy story.

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  33. Congratulation to Maddie (and her parents). She has not only made it into the university program she wants, but she has learned all kinds of important life skills along the way.

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  34. Good job, Jen and good job, Maddie! After raising 4 teenagers that were only 5 years total apart in age (lots of grays under this bottled color), our youngest son gave us the same challenge. He messed up in high school until that magical Senior year. Something clicked ( I want to hope it was our love and dedication) and now he is a successful young man with his own business. Just knowing you support and love them no matter what seems to make all the difference. Your daughter is beautiful. She looks just like her beautiful mom. xx

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  35. A great story...congratulations to you and your beautiful daughter. My teen son graduated from High school today with a lot of bumps along the way...I gave to him Dr seuss's 'oh the places you'll go'...very appropriate.
    thanks for making me feel our journey has been normal...
    all the very best!
    Bec x

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  36. Congrats to both of you! Wishing her the best! I really enjoy reading your blog - it's such a happy normal!

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  37. Oh my...I just got off logging into my daughter's school and I am having the same problem..YIKES..sometimes being a parent isn't fun. But with that said you have made me feel better as sometimes we get lost in our own troubles and think were the only ones going through this turmoil. Thanks for sharing a light at the end of a tunnel! Congrats to you all <3

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  38. Jen I am so thrilled for you as a momma and so proud of Maddie too! I know she will just love go to school there and meet so many amazing people.

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  39. You know - I needed to read this. my 13 year old is in the 'I couldn't care less' stage. We homeschool so it makes me feel like it's my fault - and I somehow can make her want to do a better job. thanks for posting this - it is a big encouragement to me!
    And Maddie - WAY TO GO!!!!

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