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Everyone in Aleigh’s family had to adjust a little to make things work

May 29, 2013
Veola and Aleigh

Veola and Aleigh

Grandma and Grandpa had to change the old ways.

Or maybe adjust them a little so Aleigh, 18, didn’t feel as if she were moving farther toward those ways than she thought necessary.

Aleigh liked her friends and sneaking out to be with the “in” crowd, but it wasn’t a positive situation.

“Aleigh had issues with respect,” said Veola, her grandmother. “She was hanging around a bad crowd and they all encouraged each other.”

Aleigh knew she was getting older and the time had come to place a priority on her future. She realized this during a church retreat last summer. Away from friends and family, she heard other children her age share their experiences about growing up, peer pressure and other issues facing teens. She saw what was happening.

“I didn’t mean to hurt Granny,” Aleigh said. “I knew I was getting older, and at that retreat, I made up my mind to be my own person. I made up my mind to do better.”

Youth Villages Family Intervention Specialist Kristin Ingram first worked with the family to help them understand and respect one another.

Kristin said her visits three times a week with the family weren’t very productive in the beginning.

“There was a lot of button pushing going on,” she said. “And Aleigh, at first, told me what she thought I wanted to hear.”

Then Aleigh began to change. She opened up more about what was going on.

“She saw we were really going to bat for her in court and at school,” Kristin said. “We role-played some silly questions applicants sometimes get during job interviews, and we had fun, but I think it was the first time for me that I got an honest answer from her.”

Veola regularly visited school and advocated for Aleigh, who turned her schoolwork around. She began singing with the school choir in addition to the church choir. She even received help from her grandfather while she was practicing a Motown song – he knew how the original tune went.

Most important, Aleigh was accountable for where she was going and what she was doing. The arguing became less frequent, and tension in the home subsided.

“I just got tired of arguing,” Aleigh said. “I try every night to give my grandpa a hug and tell him I love him.”

But she’s still Aleigh – only now her independence and strong will are simply transferred to future success rather than one night’s fun.

She’s thinking Marine Corps then college.

“Aleigh’s going to take up for herself and not be quiet,” Kristin said. “She’s doing well in home and at school. I think the family just needed to take a moment to understand each other and maybe look at how to meet in the middle.”

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