Something good out of something bad

August 19, 2011

By Beth Bitler

Sometimes you get to make something good out of something bad. I’m thinking in particular about our workbook “Recovering Families.” PFSA came out with this last year, as a resource for parents in the grip of addiction, who are trying to get their families back together and start parenting again – sober.

The workbook came about because I had seen “up close and personal” the struggle with alcoholism that a dear friend endured for almost 20 years, the entire time the kids were growing up. This family experienced homelessness, incarceration, foster care, poverty and broken relationships – all because of the parents’ addiction. The help they received from child welfare was both a curse and a blessing , sometimes effective, sometimes damaging. While affectionate and loving to the children, this parent had no template for what it means to be a parent. Growing up in homes with addiction themselves, both parents struggled to know what is “normal” and were overtaken by their own feelings of despair and failure.

PFSA gave me the opportunity to offer help to families just like this, by writing a book that combines the concepts of 12-step programs (think AA and NA) with good parenting. The effectiveness of 12-step programs is well known; why not adapt them to parenting?

So far, “Recovering Families” is well received. Recently, it was reviewed in the National Council on Family Relations publication, “Network.” The reviewer called it a “treasure,” and said that “for anyone working with newly sober and clean parents….this resource is a must have.”

While it’s always nice to be complimented on your work, and I’m very proud of “Recovering Families,” the real compliment would be helping a family like my friend’s to stay together and parent “one day at a time.”