Some parents will understand these comments by Dena Yohe so personally and intimately they’ll feel like they could have written them themselves. Of raising a troubled child, she said:
“We had so much guilt and shame as parents, especially because our children were our ministry. We took our parenting seriously. I chose not to work. I stayed home, so I could focus all of my attention, my effort, and my energy into who our children would become. I poured myself into living out my faith in front of them. So to see one of our children begin to harm herself and go down a dangerous path was horrifying.
“Somewhere along the way, without realizing it, we started believing that parenting was a formula. If we’d just do A and B, we’d get C. When that didn’t work, we were convinced that the problem was us. It was hard to forgive ourselves and to stop beating ourselves up for our failures. How could we not know that our daughter was in that serious of trouble? But we had to learn that, when they want to, kids can hide their pain very well.”
Tom and Dena Yohe were overwhelmed with the destructive choices that their daughter, Renee, was making. They soon discovered she’d been through severe trauma and was abusing alcohol and drugs. She was so distraught and down on herself one night that she carved obscene words into her arm that described what a terrible screw-up she thought she was.
But through intense prayer and God’s grace, Renee’s story is now one of healing and redemption. Symbolizing that is a movement that has been borne of her journey. One of the people who participated in an intervention for Renee that got her into treatment blogged about her story and printed T-shirts with her story to help pay for her treatment. The slogan on the shirt was “To Write Love on Her Arms.”
Only with God’s help could Tom, Dena, and Renee have made it through so many difficult years. And it’s only with God’s help that you’ll make it through yours.
Tom and Dena Yohe are the co-founders of a ministry called Hope for Hurting Parents. They’ll be our guests today and tomorrow on our radio broadcast, “Finding Hope in the Midst of Raising Troubled Kids.” You can hear the program on your local radio station, online, or on our free phone app.
Before I close, I want you to know that we have a staff of licensed counselors here at Focus on the Family that would be happy to talk with you about the difficult circumstances you’re facing and to give practical advice on what your next steps can be. Please give our counseling line a call at 1-800-A-FAMILY (232-6459). I think you’ll be glad you did. We don’t want you to be out there alone. We are here to help you.
Dena has also written a book titled You Are Not Alone: Hope for Hurting Parents of Troubled Kids. That and other helpful resources can be found in our online store.