Career Criminal

Matt was 15 the first time he got himself into legal trouble. As we sat down at the table with a very stern but kind woman to discuss the consequences of his behavior, she said to him “Son, you really need to consider a different career path because you’re just not very good at this one”. Matt is not a good criminal. Probably because he was not raised to be this way. We did not teach him to be deceitful, manipulative, or unethical. Those are traits he’s acquired on his own. Now, incarcerated for the 3rd time in 5 months, I think it’s fair to say that he’s still not a good criminal.

Much to our dismay, Matt not only continues with illegal drug use, but also seems to glorify the drug culture. Over the last few years, he’s told us more than once that he thinks there isn’t anything wrong with drug use. He thinks society would be better if people were allowed to buy, sell and use substances without law enforcement getting in the way. Selling to others is a service he can provide to help people who’s doctors won’t give them the medications that actually work and help people feel better. Perhaps he sees himself as a drug user’s Harriet Tubman. He’s fooling himself trying to justify his own addiction. He thinks people should be allowed to do whatever they want to do because he doesn’t want anyone telling HIM what to do. Until he recognizes the need for rules and boundaries in our culture, he is going to continue to see the world from behind bars on a regular basis.

I wish I knew how to change his perception. I know we cannot enable him. I know we have to step back and let him hit his rock bottom. We’ve been doing all that. Still, I’m getting impatient. How many times does he need to fall before he learns? How many times does he need to be arrested before he decides he doesn’t want to live this way? Realistically, I know it might be years from now or possibly even never. As a mother who loves him, knowing that in my head doesn’t take the heartache away. It doesn’t make living without the boy I love any easier.

David and I are pretty certain Matt will be in jail for a while this time. He has no bond so his friends can’t bail him out. He has multiple charges to answer for. I have very mixed emotions about his current situation. On one hand, I think maybe he’ll suffer enough to motivate change. Maybe he’ll have time to sober up and let the drug fog clear from his brain (although I’m not naive enough to think jails are actually drug free, I have to believe they’re at least harder to come by). On the other hand, I fear he’ll spend enough time behind bars to make friends with people who are better criminals than him. Maybe he’ll learn from them, or from his past mistakes, how to continue his behavior with less chance of being caught.

At this point, I need to accept (not just in my head like I’ve already done, but truly accept in my heart) that Matt’s life is not within my control and I can do nothing for him but love him, attempt to be a positive influence in his life, and pray that Matt will listen when God speaks to him. I pray Matt will desire change in his life and be strong enough to turn his back on this current way of living and become the decent young man we’ve tried to raise him to be.

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