There is nothing more heart wrenching than to see children in distress. There is nothing more heart warming than to see those same kids receive the love and attention of caring adults. When they smile, it’s like watching the sun coming out after a long, dreary rain. This film made me smile. It also made me cry. My son was just like one of the boys at Mulberry Bush when he was the same age. The trauma of enduring the abandonment of his dad and then having to see me struggle with single motherhood on my own (3 jobs, a mortgage under water, no supportive family or savings and an elder daughter to provide for as well) drove him to self-destructive, violent and dangerous behavior. When his dad did want to come back into his life — after quite some time away — I was “guilted” into allowing TOO MUCH contact between them. This was altogether the wrong thing for me to allow. The father launched a vicious custody battle (after an amicable divorce, 5 years previously) and my son was used as a pawn. To please his dad my sweet, gentle son began to hit me, he threatened me with knives, tried to throw me down the stairs and started using the foulest language — in the exact same way his father was accustomed to, with exactly the same offensive phrasing. Long story short: I surrendered custody of my son to his father, when he was 11, after a 2 1/2 year, insanely waged, unremitting “war”. It was the hardest thing to do but I still believe that it saved his life and possibly mine, too. He was suicidal by that time, emotionally and mentally split down the middle. All the psychologists and therapists couldn’t reach my son. Nor could I any longer. The father got what he wanted and the relationship between mother and son was stamped out, completely. I was never allowed to contact or visit him again and his father would never let him contact me. My son is 22 now. His father died a year ago. I try and try to make up for the way things went down, but he still hates me and pushes me away. It’s been 11 years of pure torture for me. However, better that I live with the pain and NOT him. My heart cannot bear the heaviness of knowing that he is still suffering, too. This film brought back so many memories. Some good, some horrible. I was left with the feeling that there is real hope for those children. As one of the boys said to another: “Try not to remember the bad things, try to remember more of the good things.” Hold Me Tight, Let Me Go will linger in my memory for the good things shown far more than for the unpleasant things. It took tremendous courage and compassion to make this piece. Sincere thanks and praise to the film makers, the staff and, especially, to the kids.
Thank you to the filmmaker. I just had the opportunity to view this documentary. It brought back memories from when I worked at a Home for troubled youth. When I began at the home I thought all of them were there because they were special ed. No, this was not the case and is not the case in this documentary. These are troubled youth in both instances. Some of the comments are premature. Go back and view it again. The families that the youth come from are broken, abusive, alcoholics and who knows what else. There was not one normal family in the children’s lives. Of course they are going to act out. I have seen kids act out who do not come from abusive families. What would YOU do if this was happening to you? This behavior comes from rejection from those they look to for love and care. These youths were spitting, hitting, cutting, yelling etc. these behaviors come from pain. They are too young to understand how to express themselves. How to get attention and be heard. The staff handled each situation in a professional caring manner. Its good to tell the child what you have said or done hurts. Restraints was a good way to calm them down or would you rather they be tossed in an isolated, dark padded room? This is what they do in America. Nothing is perfect. EVERYONE can improve therefore every situation can improve. I was so glad to see this documentary. I can not wait to show it to my husband so that he can get an idea of what I went through all those years. It is not easy to do this type of work. I also worked with teenagers….think on that for a second. So remember these kids are not special ed per se. They have family issues, and when the family is broken, so is the child.
I’ve never worked with children with severe behavioral problems, but my specialization is early-childhood music and movement. I think this is an important film for ANYONE who loves children and works with them. It is also improtant for the general public to see this film, and to understand the repercussions of childhood abuse and neglect. I also agree with [the comment] above — so much tax money is needed to “try to” repair the broken souls left by people who should have NEVER been parents. I say “try to” because so many fall through the cracks. I myself was such a child, and despite achieving a bit of success musically, a combination of criminal childhood neglect and abuse mixed with a government’s discrimination against my family (USA) has left me disabled and on SSI (i.e. tax dollars). I’ve never met a person with severe mental illness who was NOT from a tortured childhood.
I was intrigued and heartened by watching this program. I really appreciated the care that the staff take to make the children think about their actions and that they encourage thought instead of allowing the easy, violent, attention getting actions that the children have learned as coping skills for the crap that they have had thrown at them. How sad that the youngest members of society have to work so hard to overcome their early experiences. The use of physical restraint to control the children when they are acting out was encouraging to me — I think we here in the U.S. have become afraid of physically interacting with disturbed children as a result of overactive litigation. For any child sometimes the only thing that can break into a mental spiral is a kind but forceful physical interaction. Other respondents have wondered about the children’s medication and one suggested more meds and less talking, but I think that is the easy way out for everyone except the child who stays dependent, whether on people or medication. Often children are unable to articulate the side effects that meds may bring — their behavior improves, but sometimes only because they are too much in a fog to formulate disruptive coping behaviors. So the meds mask the problem instead of confronting it and teaching the child appropriate societal coping mechanisms for when they feel hurt or unhappy. I applaud this program and wish its participants the best of futures.
To read more reactions and reviews, visit the Hold Me Tight, Let Me Go overview page.