Sophia’s Success Story

Thirteen-year-old Sophia was battling all the typical teenage issues. Unfortunately, there was a lot of conflict in her home because Sophia felt like her mother just didn’t understand her concerns.

Sophia came from a big family. In addition to Sophia and her three siblings, her mother had also taken on the responsibility of caring for three of Sophia’s cousins. Understandably, Sophia was not always pleased that she had to share her mother with so many other kids, and this seemed to add to the conflict in the home.

Sophia’s mom was also struggling. Her stress level was sometimes off the charts. She had to find a way to meet the needs of all of those kids and to spend one-on-one time with each of them. She was working a full-time job, and was also a full-time student trying to finish her college degree. She desperately wanted her family to communicate well with each other, but almost every conversation seemed to turn into yelling and screaming. Even though her schedule seemed full, she was willing to add Building Families to their life because she knew she needed help.

When Thornwell’s Family Specialist began working with the family, Sophia had just graduated fifth grade and was preparing to enter middle school. She was very worried and anxious about moving on to a new school, making all new friends, and being with older children. Sophia felt like her mom was simply ignoring her fears of going to middle school. But it’s hard to see past your own needs when you’re 13 years old.

Through working with the family, the Family Specialist learned that Sophia’s mother was having a hard time discussing this issue with her daughter because of experiences in her own childhood. Difficult experiences from her past seemed to be blocking her from really connecting to her daughter in the present.

The Family Specialist worked with the family on how to use effective communication skills. One thing that seemed to have been most helpful was implementing a weekly, organized family meeting. This helped everyone get on the same page about their busy schedules, but it also helped them find pockets of time when they could spend quality time together and have a chance to talk about what was going on in their lives. The mother learned how to plan times during the week when she could spend time with each of the children, and also how to plan times to meet her own needs.

Sophia’s mother grew in her self-awareness, and her understanding of her family’s needs and her own needs. She also learned that it was okay to admit that some days her stress level was to the max, and she was overwhelmed because her schedule was so full. But she also learned how to deal with that stress in healthy ways, and how to get control of her schedule.

By the time they graduated from our program, the family had very little yelling and screaming. The Building Families program taught them new, effective ways to communicate with one another. Sophia and her mom are getting along a lot better now because they have learned how to help each other be successful as a family, and as individuals. And, Sophia has adjusted well to her new school and has made new friends.


Please visit the Building Families page to learn more about the program that made such an impact in Sophia’s life. Want to read another story? Visit the Real Stories page to read more examples of how Thornwell has helped children and families.