The Straight-Line to Adulthood

Teen on an empty roadI am sure when you were a young teenager you did all the things your parents asked you to do.  The list of chores and rules for adolescents is long - clean up your room, brush your teeth, come home on time, don’t talk back, help with the dishes and the list goes on.  I am sure you smiled at your mom or dad and said, “yes, I would be happy to help the family by pitching in right away.” 

And, as you grew older and wiser, got your driver’s license and gained independence, I am sure you did your homework on time, did not stay out past the designated time, always drove the speed limit, hung out with all the “right” people and continued to get all your chores done. Your parents probably never worried about your behavior or your judgement. 

Actually, I am most sure you DID NOT!  All young people push and test the boundaries.  When we are young, we generally know the expectations and the rules, but some deep internal force makes us test the limits. The line to adulthood is not a straight accent of obedience and compliance to responsibility. We zig and we zag. We make progress and we regress. We make two good decisions followed by three bad ones. 

Having someone who loves and cares for you makes this bumpy, curvy road a little bit easier to navigate.

Now imagine for a moment that the person entrusted to love and guide you, instead physically, sexually or emotionally abused you, neglected you, or just abandoned you all together. Imagine for a moment you were left to fend for yourself or fend for you and several sisters and brothers.

This is the story of almost all the young people who come to Boys and Girls Homes.  Not only are they dealing with the emotional change of becoming an adult, where we all naturally test boundaries, but they are dealing with the mental pain and shame of abuse or neglect.  How much harder would it be to navigate the road to adulthood? 

We are here to help them.  For them, it is NOT a straight-line to adulthood.  Our youth go forward and then they regress. They push hard at the boundaries and expectations.  They are trying to figure out how to be an adult while dealing with devastating pains from childhood.  They have their good days and they have their really bad days. However, we are here for them, to keep them on the path, to let them try and fail, to pick them up and keep them on the path moving forward.

It takes time, effort, patience, and your support.  We never charge a child or a family a dime for their time with us. We do, however, need your support.  During this holiday season, please remember the children of Boys and Girls Homes with a gift.  Recall when you were a teenager, your trials and the people who guided you. Help us be there for these teenagers who are on the rocky, winding road to adulthood.  

Mike Garrell is the Chief Operations Officer for Boys and Girls Homes of North Carolina.

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