We know that Asher’s primary love language is words of affirmation. And when he is getting a steady supply of it, his ability to cope is magnified noticeably. Anyone not familiar with The 5 Love Languages ought to check it out. Mr. Chapman does an outstanding job of clearly explaining how we each need a specific expression of love to feel full or satisfied. And when those close to us are regularly speaking in our love language, we are far more likely to trust them when mishaps or conflict occurs. Makes sense. I can easily give a fellow English-speaker the benefit of the doubt when we bump into one another in a crowded train because our spoken language and unspoken cultural cues are the same. That stranger can readily answer my question of intent with an eye-roll that immediately makes us comrades in arms. But, put me in the same situation in a foreign country with an unfamiliar language and unknown social cues and the outcome may be far different.

Asher lives in a foreign land at JCF. And if we want to continue the train analogy, then he’s in Tokyo where uniformed men will literally stuff you behind the closing doors using white gloves – bumping elbows and all.

I. Can’t. Even. Imagine.

However, an inability to speak the language doesn’t give me the right to be intentionally rude when that inadvertent bump occurs on the foreign train. This is where maturity plays its role and is marked by the ability to regulate our behaviors and emotions even when people aren’t speaking our love language.

Everyone seems to think we are entering the final stages of Asher’s incarcerated rehabilitation.* The only thing that continues to hold him back is his ability – or rather lack thereof – to regulate difficult emotions appropriately. And without the rock-solid confidence that he can handle himself even when pushed (imagined or otherwise), we cannot trust him in our home.

The difficulty comes in recognizing what is maturity, what is love language misunderstanding, and what is appropriate to expect from a not-even-15-year-old-boy.

Asher craves validation and recognition. But he needed it in unhealthy ways before the abuse was disclosed. It seemed we were never able to give him enough praise. The more we provided encouraging feedback the more he demanded it from us. The more we tried to give positive reinforcement the more entitled to it he became. It was an exhausting and fruitless cycle. But now, Asher lives with a group of boys who are all supremely selfish and often immature. He receives very little positive affirmation from his peers and even the staff will withhold it in an attempt to teach the boys how to self-regulate. I agree with the concept of this method, but I do feel they take it to an extreme at times. But the bottom line is still the same. Life doesn’t cater to us, and we each must learn to cope.

That means praying for Asher and encouraging him to utilize the tools he is learning in the different programs used at JCF. It also means trusting that God’s timing is perfect and our son’s length of stay is necessary and good.

*We haven’t heard anything regarding the investigations from this post. But, we were told that it is common to not hear anything when there is nothing to report. Presumably, that means the detectives identified and then interviewed the involved parties and came to the conclusion that further action was unnecessary.