An Exchange

A number of people have young boys or girls in their lives that they feel are losing or have lost their way. Below is a typical leter of concern which has been answered by Ron and Suwanti Farmer (authors of the book and directors of the Toogoolawa Schools Limited). It is hoped it may be of some interest for others in similar situations. (Names and some details have been changed to protect the privacy of the writer)

Good evening,
I have a friend who has a very lost teenage son.
He is 13 years old and is constantly in trouble. He has been suspended more times than you can count and was eventually expelled from his high school.
His mother changed his high school, but she has recently found out that he hasn’t been at school for the last 2 weeks. Instead, he has been spending his days at the local shopping centre where he has been caught shoplifting. The other day, she received a call from the police to say he’d been caught again.
He has run away from home numerous times. The last time was for about a week, I think.
My friend is a single mother. She is beside herself with worry about her son’s future. Towards the end of last year, a friend offered to take him for a while. This worked for a while, until it got too much for her and she sent him back.
The boy’s father died when he was about 6 years old.
She has tried numerous forms of counseling for both herself and her son. I think most of the doctors she saw put him in the ‘too hard’ basket.
She has to work to support them (she has two daughters also).
He is very angry and has a massive attitude. She cannot communicate with him as to what’s really going on. He hates school, she suspects he’s being bullied and won’t admit to it.
I read about your school on the weekend and she immediately sprung to mind.
She is only 36, but feels 106. She has very little to no support from her family, who all think he just needs a good slap. She seems to believe it’s something more.
Her health is not the best and this situation is just making it worse.
I know she’s getting to the end of her tether. This is tearing her apart. She is a good person. She’s had to try and do the best she can. She’d be the first person to tell you she’s not perfect, but no one deserves this treatment.
I don’t know if there’s anything you can do. She’d burst into tears if she knew I was sending you this, but I’m really worried about her and her little family. She knows he is slipping away from her, almost in slow motion, and there’s nothing she can do to stop it.
Can you help?
I’ll await your reply, thanks for reading my email.
Carol T. , Sydney

Dear Carol
Our heart went out to your friend and your troubled son when we read your email. She is very fortunate to have you as her concerned friend.
As you suspected, we are not able to be of any practical help unless the boy lives near a Toogoolawa School and really wants to attend and change. However some parents have found that reading our book about how we operate the schools has been of considerable help to them. You can learn about the book at and you can read about our approach in the Schools at if you have the time. Many troubled boys have made a shift in their lives just by reading parts of the latter website.
Without the help of a school like Toogoolawa, the avenue we would recommend is that all of the adults in the boy’s life commit themselves to going through an ongoing transformation to become ideal role models for the boy. That is, there needs to be some significant adults in the boy’s life who have mastered the art of never getting angry, or at least always taking responsibility for one’s own anger; never blaming another for one’s own emotions no matter how severe the provocation; developing an attitude of gratitude in one’s life for all events whether ‘good’ or ‘bad’; constantly looking for the ‘good’ in the boy and acknowledging it even when it only seems to be minor and seldom occurring, so that the boy has a chance to recognize that his true nature is goodness itself, and much more. To adopt the guideline of: ‘See only good, hear only good, speak only good, think only good’ when relating to or even thinking and talking about the boy will be of great assistance to him. The advice given by Goethe many years ago was that, if we wish someone to become a better person, we have to think of them and relate to them as if they are already that better person.
None of this is easy I know.
Another thing I’d like to suggest is that the mother tries not to worry about her son. I know this sounds silly and impossible but there is a lot to it. If we can trust that the Higher Self inside the boy knows exactly what is going on, meaning that he will learn from every one of his mistakes presently being made by the handful, and if we can always believe that a truly wise soul is inside that 13 year-old body with a big loving heart, at a wordless level this is experienced by the boy and assists him to gradually make contact with that wise inner Self. The analogy is this: when we were learning to walk, we fell over many, many times, but nobody ever doubted that we would be able to walk one day. This belief they had in our ability to profit by our many mistakes was vital for our continuing self-confidence.
Finally, if you are familiar with prayer and meditation, pray earnestly every day for the boy, visualizing him being strong, loving, wise and happy, and imagine a beam of light coming through you from a higher source and being directed to the boy and to his mother, in turn, so that each one is filled with light, once or twice a day for 5 minutes or so each time.
There are some of the approaches that we use at Toogoolawa. I hope it can be of some help to you.
Of this I am sure: without the present love of his mother and your love, the boy would be in a much worse state than he is now. Love is the great healer.
With our love and best wishes.
Ron and Suwanti Farmer (Directors – Toogoolawa Schools)

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