Years before we discovered BILY, our family was being torn apart by rage and sorrow. Our two teenage sons, though both smart and talented, were often disrespectful, irresponsible, and destructive. Our older son used drugs, punched holes in walls, blew off schoolwork, screamed obscenities at us, ran away, and spent time in jail. Our younger son withdrew and dove deep into drug use. We loved them both deeply, but struggled to deal with their behavior. Our ineffectiveness as parents and our own weaknesses and failures compounded the problems. We felt terrible guilt and shame, and completely responsible for their decisions.
Over the years we read books, attended seminars and 12-step recovery groups, went to counseling, talked, wept,
prayed, and slowly grew in understanding and knowledge. Then, at the ages of 18 and 20, our sons moved out . . .
It was scary to see them leave; we weren’t sure they had the skills to survive. But that experience taught them more than we ever could about how the world works and what society expects of them. We missed them terribly, and we worried a lot. It was painful, but that experience taught us how to begin to let go – to give our sons the independence they needed to grow up.
We began attending BILY meetings a few months after they moved out, and soon afterwards our older son moved back home with a radically improved attitude and zest for life. We’d gained parenting skills throughout these difficult years, step by painful step, but in just the few short months that we’ve attended BILY meetings, applying the principles we learned there has made a big difference. We’ve learned how to best support both our sons’ continued growth by being effective and loving parents, and by finding the courage to let go and allow them the dignity to experience the consequences of their own choices and behavior.
BILY really helps. It helps to listen to other parents’ stories and realize our kids aren’t the only ones who’ve made terrible decisions. It helps to listen to other parents’ struggles and begin to recognize our own failures and weaknesses, while at the same time learning that our imperfections are not the sole cause for our kids’ destructive behavior. It helps to gain parenting tools that really work. And it helps to have a safe place to go each week to receive encouragement and support. As we continue to learn and apply the BILY principles, our confidence as parents is growing. Our sons are growing up, learning to own their problems and to figure out their own solutions. Our family is far from perfect, but our relationships are now healthier, and more peaceful, respectful, and loving. While we wish we had discovered BILY years ago, we are very thankful to be part of the BILY community today.