Weston mother helps other parents
By JULIE LEVIN
When Sue Scheff was at the end of her rope trying to deal with her own out-of-control teenager, she admits she never could have imagined a time when she would become a leading voice in the field of parent advocacy.
Yet the Weston author is rapidly becoming a familiar face in the national spotlight speaking about just that.
''I never went into this to become a national voice or figure, but that is what I have become,'' said Scheff, author of Wit's End: Advice and Resources for Saving Your Out of Control Teen.
Scheff appeared last month on the Lifetime Network's daily television series The Balancing Act during an episode entitled ``Plain Talk and Straight Answers for Parents with Troubled Teens.''
A taping with the Oprah Winfrey show also is planned.
Wit's End, a 168-page book released earlier this year, is a tool for parents navigating the choices and methods available to help struggling teens.
Scheff, now a full-time parent advocate, said she wrote the book not as an expert or therapist but as a parent who endured a long and painful experience trying to help her daughter, Ashlyn.
Almost a decade ago, she watched her child go from promising athlete to troubled teen, repeatedly running away, being verbally abusive and having serious problems at home and school.
With no experience or help to fall back on, she enrolled Ashlyn in a residential treatment facility that wouldn't allow her contact with her daughter for six months.
She would later learn her daughter endured months of beatings, sexual abuse, starvation and neglect.
''It nearly destroyed her,'' Scheff said. ``It took us two years to deprogram her after what they had done.''
The experience led Scheff to her new purpose. She founded a group called PURE, or Parents Universal Resource Experts, which she said has served thousands as a parent advocacy group.
Through Wit's End, she provides parents with resources to help them sort out and evaluate treatment options, including therapeutic boarding schools and treatment centers.
''You step into an arena of teen help and you are bombarded with a barrage of information,'' she said. ``This is one way to help sort it out.''
In her newfound role as advocate, Scheff also has appeared nationally on the ABC news magazine program 20/20, The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet and Rachael Ray, among others.
Ashlyn, now 23, has seemingly rebounded and gone on to coaching gymnastics and becoming a mother herself.
Scheff said she would like their story to provide a light for other families.
''I think any parent out there struggling with a teen right now, you don't see the hope and you don't think you will ever come out of it. I didn't think I would,'' she said. ```But now I look back and see all those dark times have actually helped others.''
For information, visit www.suescheff.net.