A woman has revealed how having her daughter ‘kidnapped’ was the “most difficult thing I’ve ever done”.
Ms Johnson said she had moved across the country, and left her career in finance, to bring up her daughter and 13-year-old son in Florida, after divorcing their father.
She told how, during this time, her daughter’s behaviour started to change – she begun to mix with a new crowd, her school grades fell and her attitude altered.
Her daughter decided to leave school and become a hairdresser – something her mother did not agree with.
“I was distraught,” Ms Johnson said.
“There is nothing wrong with hairdressing, but I wanted her to get a proper education first, so she would have choices.”
When her son was caught with drugs, Ms Johnson had sent him to a strict boarding school – an experience that had seemingly changed his behaviour.
The mother-of-two wanted to do the same for her daughter.
In The Guardian column, Ms Johnson reveals how she found a boot camp for troubled children in Utah and hired private escorts who could take her daughter there – against her will or otherwise.
On the night that the private escorts were to take her daughter at 3am, Ms Johnson said she had given her daughter sleeping pills.
When the teenager tried to gather some of her things to take with her, her mother said simply: “Where you’re going, you don’t need anything.”
She was then flown to the Utah desert.
Ms Johnson said: “That first day I grieved. I knew deep down I was right, but I didn’t know if my daughter would forgive me: I had to be prepared to lose her in order to help her.”
Her daughter was to participate in an £11,000 programme, for seven weeks, consisting of mental and physical challenges.
“The other kids were in desperate situations: young offenders, drug addicts, some were suicidal,” Ms Johnson said.
“I was aware my daughter didn’t share their circumstances. They lived like cavemen: they didn’t see a roof the whole time, took care of their sanitary waste, learned survival skills and did physical labour; some cut off their hair because they couldn’t bathe.”
In letters written to her mother from the camp, her daughter was initially angry and confused, but she said she soon understood why she had been sent there.
“She was back to the daughter I knew, the one without the attitude,” Ms Johnson said.
Her daughter subsequently finished high school with straight ‘A’ grades and attended college, before completing a Master’s degree. She now works within the legal profession.
“Both my kids joke that I’m a psycho mom, but they forgave me and we remain close,” Ms Johnson writes.
“It’s the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. Could they have got where they are today without such drastic action? Perhaps, but it wasn’t a chance I was willing to take.
“I believe the more we suffer in life, the more we grow.”
Readers of Ms Johnson’s story reacted to the piece on social media with fascination to branding her methods “total lunacy”.