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One family’s struggle — becoming another’s hope

Sometimes even the most committed, loving families experience problems.  John and Jeanne Taylor* know that firsthand. The couple set out from the beginning to raise their three children in a structured, faith-filled home, punctuated by hugs and laughter. But the couple’s move to a new community six years ago unraveled their hopes and dreams for their son Matt*.

As sometimes happens, Matt fell into the wrong crowd. Influenced by his new friends and in an attempt to fit in, Matt, then in 7th grade, began sneaking out at all hours, stealing from his parents and fighting violently with them. He punched holes in walls and his interest in Wicca led to him exploring witchcraft. His grades fell from A’s and B’s to C’s and D’s. The gothic, somber appearance he assumed outside signaled the dark changes happening within.

Desperate to get their sweet son back, John and Jeanne tried everything they could think of. They sought help from his school, from social workers, from their church — each time asking what they should be doing differently. They took Matt for drug testing, allowed him to be arrested for stealing their car and sought restraining orders to keep his most dangerous friends away. “We were fighting for our son,” recalls Jeanne.

“I dehumanized my parents and genuinely hated them,” admits Matt. “I don’t know why I was so angry.”

“We thought we were imploding. Our daughters became fearful, anxious and withdrawn, spending the bulk of their time in their rooms. We couldn’t manage what was happening and were looking for any help to make it through,” says Jeanne.

As a last-ditch effort to save Matt, the Taylors were preparing to get a second mortgage on their home to gather the $60,000 needed to send Matt away. That’s when they learned about Family & Children’s Center.

A therapist at the center convinced the Taylors to let him try to help their son. He reassured John and Jeanne they were doing what they needed to do and asked for them to let him do what he could. That was two years ago, and Matt is now himself again.

Matt was able to open up to the therapist in a way he hadn’t before. “I liked him. He didn’t try to put words in my mouth like others had. I just wanted someone to listen to me. He actually did that,” says Matt. “I’d treated my parents so poorly for so long, but they never gave up. I could see what was going on. I began to respect them again, and that slowly turned back into love.”

Matt is back on the honor roll this year and scored well on the ACT exam. He’s looking forward to attending college, using money his parents have saved for him since birth. He works two jobs, makes time for his worship band and helps his sisters get to school each morning. “Three years ago no one could have seen this coming,” says Matt

“Like other parents, we have hopes and dreams for our children and we want the very best for them,” says John. “We want them to be happy, to reach their potential, to get along in the world.  I feel confident that Matt is going to be an attribute to society. What more could I ask?”

John and Jeanne have a difficult time finding words to express what Family & Children’s Center has meant to their family. “Family & Children’s Center was there at a time when there wasn’t anyone else left,” says Jeanne. “They gave us hope that we could get through it.”

To express their gratitude, the Taylors began donating money to Family & Children’s Center to assure the services will be available for other families in need. “Actions speak louder than words,” says John. “A financial gift says I really appreciate and believe in what you’re doing. When we have it to give, we do.”

The Taylors say it’s hard to measure the extent of Family & Children’s Center’s influence in the community, but their family benefits from it every day. “You might not need to use Family & Children’s Center, but it benefits the people around you because the people who use it may be rubbing shoulders with your children. If you have good counseling, good support for families, it’s going to help the community as a whole.”

*Names changed to protect privacy.