Our youngest son’s school guidance counselor was a Godsend during the darkest days of our older son’s addiction. Midwestern Mama reached out to Ms. K with good news.
During middle school, our youngest son was doing well by all accounts – getting good grades, making friends and participating in school activities; however, he carried an emotional burden that could have negatively affected his learning and well-being. As you know, our older son was addicted to drugs and was resistant to treatment so our youngest son witnessed and experienced some of the darkest days of his older brother’s substance use disorder.
Always honest with him about what was happening, we tried to shield him from some of the chaos but he could still sense that it was going on and needed a positive outlet to process his emotions.
We were very lucky to have an approachable and knowledgeable school guidance counselor, Ms. K, who worked with younger brother during sixth, seventh and eighth grades. Together, they talked about his brother’s drug use, addiction, homelessness, attempts at treatment, lying, stealing, relapses, and more.
Younger brother and Ms. K met regularly. She helped him sort through and separate himself from some very scary issues. She helped him open up about his feelings and find his strength to be successful and happy during some very trying times.
This Godsend built trust and respect with our son, maintaining his confidentiality while also keeping in touch with our family. Together, we could provide the necessary heads up whenever there was a new twist or turn regarding his older brother’s drug addiction. As a mom, I felt comfortable sharing what was going on and was confident that she would address it directly with our kiddo in an age-appropriate way, and more importantly in a way that gave him the confidence and hope that might otherwise have been absent.
Without a doubt, Ms.K demonstrated care and concern throughout his three years in middle school. Further, she set him up for success to transition to high school for 2014-2015.
Ms. K developed a special rapport with our son by sharing personal understanding of having a family member struggling with addiction – this showed him he was not alone. It helped him better understand the complexities of addiction and mental illness such as depression and anxiety.
3 Reasons to Share Good News
People appreciate progress reports instead of wondering what’s going on.
It’s nice to keep in touch from time to time with people who have touched your life.
It creates new opportunities to share experiences, resources and hopes with others who might be going through a similar situation.
During middle school, students undergo a significant transition from childhood to young adulthood. When a sibling is witnessing devastation and experiencing a wide range of emotions, it has the potential to refocus attention and ability. Instead, this counselor was a guide who helped him excel in his own right – as a student, a friend and an athlete. He did well in his classes, made friends and became a student-orientation leader, and participated on athletic teams, where he garnered peer and coaching-staff recognition for perseverance and achievement and for demonstrating a commendable attitude.
Ms. K was a rock for him – a true role model who inspired him to be himself and to do his best no matter what. We are forever grateful for the positive presence she had in our youngest son’s life during sixth, seventh and eighth grades; it made a lasting impression on him and on the whole family.
As ninth grade wraps up, I reflected on our younger son’s path and its parallel with his older brother’s, who is now nearly 11 month sober. It occurred to me that Ms. K might like an update, so I picked up the phone for a chat.
In addition to updates on the boys, I shared with Ms. K the creation and evolution of Our Young Addicts. Next school year, I hope to expand the #OYACommunity within our local middle and high schools, and with Ms. K’s support, I’m confident there will be an open door for this opportunity!
Side Note: Our youngest son and I nominated Ms. K for an “Above and Beyond” award for our school district. Although she was not selected as one of the recipients, it was our way of recognizing her amazing efforts. Touched, she said it was the first time anyone had ever nominated her for the award.