Because, I Don’t Want My Son To End Up In Prison.

Sometimes on the parenting journey we have to make decisions for our children that are gut-wrenching and painful. We do so, because our love drives us toward finding any solution despite our own emotional or financial cost!

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The drive heading West from Indianapolis is not very scenic. At least at first glance. If you drive it during the winter you will notice a peculiar gray shade created by the droves of naked trees lining the expressway. The only real landmark is a city or two. The rest of the scenery feels desolate.

Last week, we made this drive and it was painful. When I close my eyes, I remember it vividly.

Every mile that passes, the emotions choke in the back of my throat. My eyelids are like dam walls holding back a flood of tears. In the passenger seat, next to me, sits my wife. Most of the way she tries to sleep, or read. Occasionally we have conversations. A few times I hold her hand while my other grips the steering wheel. She’s in as much pain, or more, than I am.

In the back seat is our 11-year old son. He spends most of the ride listening to music, or playing games on my iPad. Every-so-often he catches me looking at him in the rearview mirror and he smiles. I love his smile. In fact, I love his heart. He is one of the most compassionate kids you will ever meet. That’s why this drive is so hard for us.

On that particular afternoon we are driving him to a boarding school, many hours, and several states away from our home. It’s a school that specializes in helping children with extreme behavior, addictions, or oppositional defiance. While my son is a good boy, with a good heart, he  suffers from a mental illness that has made it difficult for him to make good decisions. He has made choices that have put our family in real danger in the recent past. It’s difficult to write those words because it’s hard to admit the reality of our situation. The road we’ve traveled with him has brought us to our knees.

We know he needs an environment that is structured, disciplined and focused. We know he needs more than what we can provide. What we found in this school, is a group of people who care for his heart as well as his choices. We made this decision because we believe in his future. We don’t want him to end up making a choice that could ruin his life forever. We know something most of this world does not- He’s better than that!

He’s way better than that. We can see it in him. With all of our heart and soul, we believe God has a great big plan for him. He’s going to use our son to change the world! We believe in this so strongly that we’re willing to do whatever it takes to help him through his difficulties now, while he’s still young.

The Principle Of The Path.

I usually never comment on the stock photo that we use for our posts. That’s because they usually speak for themselves. Today, however, I want to comment on this particular picture because I carefully chose it to go along with this post. This is how I picture our path in life and this picture feels peaceful to me.

You see, I believe with all of my heart that God is going to use my son to do amazing, world-changing things. Just this morning as I prayed for him, a calming feeling swept over me. I believe God Himself has a plan for our boy. We have put our son in a position to fulfill that plan. Our son is now able to choose to walk the path that leads to this destination.

Andy Stanley has this great quote that I have shared over Twitter and Facebook several times. He says this- “Your direction, not your intention, determines your destination.” Simply put, if you don’t like the destination you’re heading for,  choose a different path. Move in a new direction. You can’t wish, hope or even pray your way to a new direction. You have to actively move in the right direction.

We know that our children will ultimately choose their own path in life. They have the freedom of choice. We pray every day over their choices. For now, as parents, we choose the path our family travels. We choose our direction. Our intentions mean zilch. We have to make choices as parents, that are sometimes difficult even though lead to healthy destinations. Our hope and prayer is that our choices now will help lead our son down a path that opens to a  bright future.

Leaving In Peace. 

My emotions almost overtook me that afternoon. I couldn’t bear the thought of my little guy living in another state, far away from us. I love him so much. For the first part of our admissions meeting I couldn’t look at the guy talking. I couldn’t even acknowledge what he was saying or even the questions my wife asked me. Frankly, I couldn’t really believe we were there.

Then, as if someone slowly poured a warm bucket of water over my shoulders, and down my back, a calming spirit washed over me. We left in peace because we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that our son is in good hands. We trust and believe that this is exactly what he needs to change his heart, and his behavior.

We made this choice because we love him. If he were sick and the only way we could find a cure for him was to travel around the world, to a remote place, to see a special doctor that cost tons of money, then we would. We don’t want his choices to someday get the best of him. We don’t want him to wind up at a destination that could have been avoided. We want to provide him with every opportunity while we still can. We chose this because we love him!

Question: Have you ever had to make a gut-wrenching choice for your children that you believed would make them a better person in the long-run? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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  • Melissa B

    We made these hard choices for 13 years. However, that sweet little two year old boy that we adopted has ended up in prison anyway. Sometimes “all that we can do” is not enough. At the age of 15, his choices caught up with him and at the age of 17 he began a 12 year stint in prison. I praise you for doing what is best for your child, but I caution you that it may not be enough. It has taken me years to realize that it was not my fault and that we really did “do all that we could” to help him.

    • Thanks Melissa. We recognize that we could face the same thing. But, we are praying this direction is exactly what our son needs. So sorry your son has ended up in prison. That has to be extremely hard to deal with! We hope your Christmas is filled with as much peace as possible.

  • Dee

    My heart goes out to you both and your family…I can’t imagine how excruciating this decision was but I will agree with you in prayer that this school will make all the difference in his young life and yours. There’s a difference between making decisions based on your own understanding and decisions based on your faith. This is the latter. As you continue to follow Him…God WILL see you all through this. I promise. He always does.

    • Hey Dee, thanks so much. I appreciate your kind words. While it was tough we are at peace knowing there’s a great plan for his life. He knew it too. One thing we did not include in the post was how peaceful he actually was when we left. We hope our open and honest story will move and inspire others!

      • Tammy Henkle Perkins

        We too have had a similar situation with our adopted son who is now 12 we have had him since he was 3 years old, he has ODD and has no regard for rules at this point, we had to make the very hard decision to have him placed in a state group home sad to admit but our 12 year old son is now on probation and was the reason we had to make the decision to not allow him back in our home at this time, we are a family of seven and he has made some very poor choices and has put everyone else in our home at risk and has put himself on the path of self destruction and soon if we didn’t make the gut wrenching decision to do what we did would soon be in prison. Many people have judged us and faulted us for our decision but it was the only decision we could make because we do love him. So I can relate to your situation as you know its touch I do not like the fact our son is not living in our home, playing with his friends and siblings, riding bikes etc…but he is just not capable of such easy tasks at this point

        • Tammy, we know exactly what you are going through. It’s a very difficult road to travel. Our hope and prayer is that our son will be transformed through this experience (and we will too). We’re making this tough choice now because we do not want to visit him behind bars some day when he’s an adult. We want him to win in life. Thanks for your honest comment. Hang in there. ~ M

  • Barb M

    We, too, have had to make this kind of decision with 2 of our boys. It is heartbreaking but knowing that the Lord knows our hurts as well as theirs is very comforting. It’s scary, it’s hard, it’s the road we’ve been asked to travel with these kiddos. Praying for your family.

    • Barb, thanks so much for your prayers. It is extremely hard but we are at peace knowing he’s where he should be. So sorry you’ve had to make these kind of decisions for your sons as well. Hope you’re finding peace on the road!

  • Thank you for sharing this heart-wrenching post. I, too, have been on that long drive, taking a child away from home.

    • Nealie, you are most welcome. So sorry you have had to travel this same path. It’s hard but very worth it in the long run. Hang in there.

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  • Karen Mutnansky

    Praying for you all! Weblove Berry-nation! May God continue to lead, comfort, and bless your family.

  • Karen Mutnansky

    Praying for you all! We love Berry-nation! May God continue to lead, comfort, and bless your family.

  • Julie Long Matthews

    Knowing this young man, I can say that you are right “He is better than that”. God has great plans for him and part of that plan was placing him with the two of you. God knew that you would listen and rely on Him when it was time to make the tough decsions. I am praying for you guys.

    • Thanks for your prayers Julie. We appreciate them greatly.

  • catschool123@sbcglobal.net

    We also had to make that hard decision and put our 15 year old son in boarding school for his, as well as our other children’s safety. The year that he was there brought some healing to our other children as well as our battered 26 year marriage. Not only was it the hardest decision that we ever had to make, but it also isolated us from my husbands family. We suddenly were uninvited to holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas because they blamed me for sending him there. They even missed their granddaughter’s high school graduation because they didn’t want to see me. Our son is home now and doing fine so far, but I am heartbroken over my husbands relationship with his family, not to mention the damage done to our other children. Thank you for your story. It feels good to know that others have been there.

    • Oh no, I am so sorry to hear that you were treated that way by your extended family. My heart breaks for you. We understand how hard that decision was to make. And we understand the pain and agony that is ongoing. Hang in there. We are in the trenches with you!

  • Hillary Alexander

    My husband and I are facing the same type of decisions right now for my son, he is from my husband’s frist marriage, I have raised him as my own since he was 2. He does not remember his bio mom, she has chosen a life without him in it, and from what I hear that may be for the best.
    My son has started stealing from everyone and everywhere he can. We have a long list of stores he is no longer welcome in. I have scars from his rages.
    We are now looking at options to help him. I want to see him succeed in life, and it seems our only hope is a boarding school similar to where your son is finding help. I pray for your son and mine to heal.

    • Hillary, thanks for your prayers. Our hearts are with you guys as you make these tough decisions. We know exactly how that is.