For David and Norma Cates, raising their two daughters was a fairly uneventful, normal parenting experience. The girls responded to discipline and never had any problems making friends and fitting in. But things were always different with their youngest child, Josh.
With special education needs and challenges, Josh had trouble socially at school and was bullied. At home he was difficult, creating chaos when things didn’t go his way.
“Josh definitely used to run the show,” remembers his sister Amy. “We’d go where he wanted to eat, do what he wanted to do, because we didn’t want to deal with what he would be like if we didn’t do that.”
The disruption in the home caused family members to retreat and grow apart. When Josh’s sisters became adults, they moved away and rarely visited. His parents spent more time in their room to maintain peace in the home. “We were having a lot of conflict between the girls and Josh. Amy and Melissa were having a hard time accepting what he was doing,” said David. “We all just wanted to get away from Josh and his behaviors. We fought all the time. There wasn’t a closeness. It was no way to have a family.”
One bleary morning, in desperation, Norma went online to find help. “I was just frustrated one night. I was up at 3 o’clock in the morning researching the internet and praying for God to give me a sign,” she said. “Eagle Ranch popped up. It was the only thing that stood out to me.”
Once Josh was at the Ranch, the entire family committed to the program. Through counseling and parent groups, the family learned how to reestablish relationships and set boundaries that worked for Josh. “I learned it wasn’t just Josh’s problem; it was a family problem,” David said.
“He’s definitely calmer now,” said Josh’s oldest sister, Melissa. “He’s not quite as persistent about things. He’ll step back and think about things instead of keep pushing.”
The rifts are beginning to close and the family is spending more time together. “Things aren’t perfect, but we love and respect each other. That’s something every family should have,” said David. “I think Eagle Ranch has brought us much closer. We’ve got our son back.”