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For Maria, there’s no place like home

May 20, 2013
Maria speaks with Youth Villages Family Counselor Leroy Payton. She’s doing well in school and at home after learning better ways to communicate with her mother and sisters.

Maria speaks with Youth Villages Family Counselor Leroy Payton. She’s doing well in school and at home after learning better ways to communicate with her mother and sisters.

Maria’s arguments with her mother were a daily occurrence. They escalated, sometimes becoming nearly physical. It wasn’t a good situation for Maria, 17, let alone her mother and four siblings.

“It was chaotic,” Pamela, Maria’s mother, said. “She would derail any attempts to make rules. Maria would disobey me and do things I told her not to do.”

Maria was cramped in a trailer home with her family, and had to take on a parenting role when Pamela began working more.

“Maria was troubled,” Youth Villages Multisystemic Therapy Counselor Leroy Payton said. “She would leave the home and go run around with a group of girls that weren’t a positive influence. She was getting kicked out of school two to three times per month.”

It was affecting the home. The younger children began imitating the behavior, arguing, fussing and not following home rules.

Maria was referred to Youth Villages’ MST in-home program.

“I was looking after the little kids a lot and always fussing,” Maria said. “I wasn’t sure what to expect with Leroy.”

First, they worked to establish what they wanted to be different in the home.

“Mom wasn’t sure what to do at first,” Leroy said. “But she did whatever it took, taking my suggestions and implementing them right away. Maria saw that and it made a big difference in her behavior.”

In a small home with four girls, disagreements can quickly get out of hand. Leroy showed the family how to communicate and treat one another so situations wouldn’t escalate to shouting matches. Also, Maria needed privacy so she could do her schoolwork.

“Space was a big issue,” Leroy said. “But mom was a champ, and gave Maria time to herself when she came home from school.”

Maria learned better ways to communicate and strategies to cope with frustrating situations. Leroy made sure every family member had an opportunity to speak without being interrupted. He stayed calm during the family sessions, which kept the family at ease.

“We worked on what I say and how I say it, and what I can do to stay calm,” Maria said. “Most importantly, we worked on doing better.”

They are a loving family, and have a deep affection for one another. Leroy said the family is like the Waltons when they aren’t arguing. Maria says school is fun again, and she has friends who help her stay on track. After high school, she wants to go to culinary school.

“Maria’s polite and fun to be around,” Leroy said. “She’s come a long way.”

Best of all, Maria likes to be at home.

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