Hi, Dr. Laura!
I heard the call from the Boy Scout leader who you told that the boy he mentored might have ended up in jail without him.
I wanted to tell you about my dad who is now 82. Growing up, my dad's dad worked 12 hours a day so he hardly ever saw him. His mom was physically and verbally abusive and was probably mentally ill. His parents divorced when he was in high school because his dad was having an affair and everyone knew about it. This was in the 1940's, so you can imagine the devastation during this time period when divorce was so infrequent.
As a young boy, my dad had a friend who invited him to join the Boy Scouts. His friend's dad was the Boy Scout leader and often invited my dad over to his house. The Boy Scout leader and his wife became second parents to him. My dad will tell you that he remembers vividly one time when he was a young boy the leader's wife let him rest his head on her lap on the sofa and how safe and comforted he felt. He never received any affection from either of his real parents. His real dad never went to any of his Boy Scout functions.
My dad went through a lot of counseling as an adult for the anger problem that he developed as a result of his childhood. He had a counselor tell him that if he hadn't had the Boy Scout Leader and wife in his life, that he would definitely either be dead or in prison.
I think about this story often when my teen daughters tell me their friends think my husband and I are "cool parents" and their friends sometimes call us "Mom and Dad." Very few of them have intact families, and the things I hear from my daughters about the "parenting skills" being used are always distressing. There's not a lot I can do, but I can pray for them, and I can give them a hug and a smile and tell them they're special and beautiful. That may not sound like much, but I think that can go a long way, as evidenced by my father's life.
Please thank all the Boy Scout and Girl Scout leaders and Youth Workers out there and others who are pouring their lives into young people for me. They may not think they're making a difference, but they are.