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In-home service strengthens Nashville family and teen

September 4, 2013

Create a mental image of a successful family.

What do you see?

Simon (left) and his mother, Candelaria.

Simon (left) and his mother, Candelaria.

When helping youth and families live successfully, sometimes that picture of success isn’t what we expect. In fact, many times success is more of a process – a starting point on a journey to becoming a strong family unit. Progress is always the goal, where each day is better than the one before.

Simon and his family teeter on that divide at times as the 15-year-old and his mother, Candelaria, try to repair years of damaging behavior and mistrust. Simon’s history includes physical and verbal aggression, poor school performance and running away. He also has legal involvement from marijuana use and theft charges.

Simon’s journey began when a legal incident landed him in drug court. Then he was referred to Youth Villages’ Family Intervention Specialist Jennifer Roque-Pichardo.

“I just did whatever I wanted,” Simon said. “I’d leave the house and stay with friends.”

And he wouldn’t go to school. But after his legal troubles, he made a decision to change. He stopped using marijuana. He began attending school and applying himself. Jennifer showed Simon how to cope with his anger and aggression by using de-escalation techniques, then supported Candelaria as she began to set rules and implement rewards and consequences. In addition, she began to hold Simon accountable for where he was going and what he was doing. But it was difficult for Candelaria to maintain – she doesn’t speak English, which caused problems when dealing with juvenile authorities. Simon’s brothers translated the conversations.

“Some of their issues were culturally based,” Jennifer said. “We worked quite a bit on communication between Simon and his mother.”

Simon has two younger brothers. And as he progressed through negative drug tests and improved performance at school, his home life became better as well. He stopped hanging around negative influences and began riding his skateboard again. He’ll be attending high school next year. Shortly after the family completed their Youth Villages program, there was some discord between Simon and his mother. Simon is close to being released from probation, and while tension continues between Candelaria and her son, they both understand it as a process. So each day, they both work to be better than they were the day before.

“This is a long journey,” Candelaria said. “We have a way to go to repair the damages.”

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