Markus and Charlene called to tell me about their daughter, Elena, age twenty. Elena had already been in therapy for eleven years, with quite a variety of diagnoses: depression, bipolar disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, attention deficit disorder, and more. She defied her parents, screaming obscenities at them. She drank and used drugs. She had sex indiscriminately with many men. Her university finally threw her out—after she had tried to kill herself three times—insisting that she be hospitalized and stabilized before she could return to school.
Her parents wanted to send Elena to see me, but I recommended—insisted, really—that they accompany her. Children don't develop behavioral problems in a vacuum.
I spent three days with the family. When Elena first sat down, she scowled, folded her arms across her chest, and said, "I don't have to do ****."
"No, you really don't," I said, and she was surprised that I had no interest in controlling or "fixing" her. She began to talk and didn't quit for three days. It turned out—no surprise—that neither parent had ever been loved, and they had no clue how to listen to or genuinely care for their daughter. During those three days, and in quite a number of subsequent phone calls, I loved and taught the parents and Elena, and the parents practiced loving each other and their daughter.
Six weeks later, I received the following email from Elena: "I can't believe how I feel. I have the most beautiful life ever. I just want to share how I feel with everybody." This from a young lady who had been suicidal weeks before.
The next day her father, Markus, wrote: "You are not going to believe where Elena is. She's out mowing the lawn. Without anybody asking her to. She's helping around the house. I don't remember the last time she did that. She's being kind to us and her brother. I never thought this would be possible. And my marriage is better than I ever thought it could be. The effects of Real Love are springing up all over our family."
Charlene wrote: "Elena and I have been fighting for so many years that I just thought it would continue like that. Now we talk almost every day, and we like it. I'm so grateful. Real Love has even changed the way I supervise people at work."
As we exercise faith in the power of loving and teaching, miracles happen consistently.
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