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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Adolescence/Teen Years (07/16/09)

TITLE: Terrie's Struggle
By
07/22/09


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Terrie was fourteen and enjoying life; she kept busy with school and helping her Mom with chores at home. One of the hardest things in life for Terrie was watching over her twelve year old brother, Gerald. Gerald was a good kid but around eleven he began having problems with depression. .

She did what she could to help with Gerald but much of what she did—listening, babysitting and taking walks with him--seemed to do little good and often he argued with her that she was not being a good sister.

It was during the last days of August when she felt the need to talk with her parents. Often when she talked with her parents, she sensed that they didn’t really listen to her and that “they” knew what was best for Gerald. She noticed, too, that after spending hours trying to help her brother, she found that she had little time for summer school projects, friends or time for herself. Her parents said that they appreciated her honesty and help but said implied that maybe she was just being “too sensitive.”

That August morning she made up a list of things to talk with them about. The list included: (1) Tell mom and dad that no matter what I do with Gerald, nothing works, (2) Tell them that I'm running out of steam and that maybe they should see someone professional about Gerald’s problem and (3) Understand that I need time for myself—my friends and school projects and that they have been leaning on me too much.

After writing down her needs, she felt in her heart that she was doing the right things—helping her brother, doing what she could as a daughter and taking care of her own life. At times, she felt like a parent and that brought on anxiety and fear. Well, she would talk with them and hopefully, things would change.

She set up the meeting with her parents for the next day after dinner. After dinner she began:

“Mom and Dad, I need to talk with you about Gerald. You know how much I love and have tried to help him and I know you’re working with him on his behavior but when I try to help him, he turns on me so bad and has made fun of me in front of my friends and I’m getting tired of his insults and meanness. Is there anything that I or all of us together can do that can help him to settle down, not be so mean and help with his depression?”

“Terrie, thank you for coming to us and telling us how you feel. Your Mom and I have been so busy with our work and taking care of our home and Gerald, that we seldom take time to see how you’re doing. We realize that Gerald is a handful and we are sad to say that we’ve been putting way too much burden on you. Please forgive us; I guess we think that you’re so capable of handling him that we forget that you have limitations and needs, too.”

Terrie’s Mom shook her head in agreement and added, “Yes, forgive us dear. We’ve been so worried about Gerald that we forget that you need time for yourself and that you have concerns, too. So many times, we just don’t know how to handle him.”

“Terrie, your Mom and I have been talking about how to make things better for Gerald and for all of us and we’ve decided that Gerald needs professional help and we as parents and family need to find out how to deal with him in a more compassionate, yet firm way. We have made an appointment for Gerald to see our family physician and get a referral for him with a psychologist, to see about a diagnosis and treatment. The appointment is for next week and I want all of us to go with him. His depression and anger cannot go on.”

After months of therapy and help with Math and his homeroom teacher speaking with several of Gerald’s students, Gerald was beginning to feel much better. Terrie’s Mom and Dad learned that sometimes it takes outside professional help when a family member is suffering…


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Member Comments
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Seema Bagai 07/23/09
So true. Too often teens are called on to care for younger siblings. Glad this girl had the courage to confront her parents.
c clemons07/30/09
Good content, but some thoughts were not completed before starting another one. The parents responses read very stilted and did not flow naturally. Work on that and I'm sure you will get better.