Thursday, November 12, 2009

My Experience at Ala-Teen

A student of mine (let's call her Pocahontas) has a father who is an alcoholic. Out of support I offered to attend an Ala-Teen meeting with her. Ala-Teen is an organization that offers guidance, counseling, and support for the children of alcoholics. A little background on Pocahontas, she lives with her mother, has seen and been through some very traumatic experiences. She wants to do what is right and she wants to succeed. I feel a connection with her and I want to reach out to her before that window of opportunity is too late. Thus far, Pocahontas has surprised me. At a glance you think she is going to give you an attitude and nothing but trouble. God never stops teaching me. I was humbled by how wrong I was.
So Pocahontas and myself drive to this meeting. Immediately I am surprised by 2 things. 1. There are children in here that can't be over 7 years old! 2. There were over 15 children/adolescents in this meeting. We began the meeting the standard way...introduce yourself, "Hi, I'm Kat" and in unison I hear, "Hi Kat". The floor was opened for discussion.
Sharer number 1: (guesstimated age 14)
My best friend lives down the street from me. I walk to her house often. Last night I joined them for dinner. As I was hanging out with them I see a mom who is Betty Crocker, a dad, and a brother and a sister. We sit down and eat dinner together and there was not 1 fight. I went home that night and I felt really messed up inside. I want that so bad. So I took out a notebook and wrote down everything in my family I wanted to change. And I'm willing to make these changes. I'm even willing to get along with my mom's boyfriend. I gave this list to my mother and for about 2 days things changed but after that everything went back to the way it was. I was in the kitchen making easy-mac for my usual dinner and as I'm throwing away the box I see on top of the trash can my list crumbled up. I just stood there...all my hope had been thrown away in the trash can. I took my mac and habitually spent the rest of the evening in my room alone.
Sharer #2: (guesstimated age 12) I think we all want that. We all want a family. I have to make sure that my mom buys 7 TV dinners so I will have dinner every night of the week. I love my Dad, but he is responsible for him and I am responsible for myself. He tells me he's going to change and I know there's nothing I can do to make this happen. Last time he told me that I said, "I'll believe it when I see it."
Sharer #3: (guesstimated age 16) I had to decide who I wanted to live with. I told my Dad that I can't live with him because he is unable to set boundaries for himself, yet alone me. I don't do well when I don't have boundaries and structure.
Sharer #4: (guesstimated age 7) My dad is going away to treatment. I think he is only going to obey his mom. If that is true than that makes me really sad. If it's not true than it makes me happy.
Sharer: 5: (guesstimated age 11) I don't like getting in the car with my dad because he is always drunk and high. It makes me so sad because he's willing to put his life in danger, but what is even sadder is he's willing to put MY life in danger.
Pocahontas teared up several time through out this meeting. I teared up several times. To see these "adults" in young bodies share such wisdom and courage was so inspiring. I wanted to take them all home with me. I wanted to hold them all in my arms and tell them that you DO have a family. You have a whole kingdom! It's amazing how smart and aware these children are. For them to take the role of a parent broke my heart. Children desire to be taken care of, they desire to be loved. I wish I had their knowledge at my age. Despite their situations they still had hope. They chose joy. I want to thank these children for teaching me how important love is. I want to thank them for teaching me how important my choices are. I can only pray that they will continue on a path of maturity and that their parent's love them more to sacrifice a change.
Say a prayer for Pocahontas. I invited her to church this Sunday.

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