“Whatever.” That was 14 year old Michaela’s reaction when she heard her father was being released from prison… again. Dad had been in and out of prison, mostly in, since Michaela was 4.
Michaela was raised by her grandmother, Lucille, who stressed the importance of school and set boundaries to keep her granddaughter out of trouble. Sometimes Michaela chafed under the restrictions, but she knew they came from a loving place, and Michaela certainly needed that in her life.
Over the years, Michaela grew into an intelligent, mature, and ambitious teenager, and while she was very close to her grandmother, she sure didn’t feel close to her father.
Even though she was blasé about her father’s release, Michaela knew it would bring about some changes. So, when he suggested that she meet with a counselor from Families in Crisis, she agreed.
Sheryl, a Families in Crisis caseworker reassured Michaela that her parents’ behavior was not a reflection on her, that she shouldn’t confuse their destinies with her own destiny. Sheryl’s words broke through – Michaela frequently told grandma, “I’m not gonna dig a hole like my parents, I want more for my life.”
Michaela learned another important lesson from Sheryl, how to open up and allow herself to build a meaningful relationship with her father. A relationship she had to admit she really always wanted.
Lucille and Michaela both cried when Sheryl told them one day that “you don’t need me anymore, you are on your way.” Of course, relationships don’t just end, and Sheryl still checks in on them occasionally. But Sheryl was right, they didn’t need her any more.
Today, four years after his release, Michaela and her father enjoy a growing relationship. When Michaela is not studying at Central Connecticut State University for a career in BioScience, they go to the beach, play Monopoly, and spend many nights just hanging out at his place.
It’s no wonder that Michaela says the greatest gift her father ever gave her was the introduction to Families in Crisis.