Explaining Recovery to Children

Once long ago I sat tallest in the small chairs arranged in a perfect circle. Sitting among a group of precious children, we’d grown comfortable with each other and our surroundings in the large back room. Removed from their parents in the next room who were grappling with their issues of early recovery, a home turned counseling center offered unique services to meet the needs of the clients at Self Help Counseling Center in the city of York, Pennsylvania.

We had several sessions where we talked about the disease of alcoholism. I vaguely remember reading from the children’s books about alcoholism available at the time, but the needs of these children were not being met by the material I could find. We had our ‘feelings’ poster on the easel and spent many sessions talking about feelings. Plenty of focus went into instilling the fact that feelings aren’t right or wrong, they’re just feelings. No one was required to talk but most of the children were eager to share.Victims of a disease which effects the entire family, they had a safe arena to express their hurt, anger, and sadness. They talked about the way the disease made them feel and how it made them act.

Vivid in my memory is the moment Mikey rose his hand in frustration and blurted out,

“But, what’s Mommy doing now? She’s still out every night. There’s no difference to me.”

The light and the open widow blended to create the look of pixie dust in the air. I don’t think I was the only one to notice. The pause felt intense. I could sense he spoke for them all.

I realized how focusing on the disease was informative and helpful, but these children needed more. I also imagined this need was probably not unique to this particular group. While having parents in recovery was cause for celebration, it dawned on me that these children had no understanding of the recovery process. Of course, I explained that their parents were going to meetings and working hard to get better.

The search was on. At the time, I found nothing. As the days passed a story arose in me from I don’t know where. Well, actually I have a sense of where it came. It seemed like I practically took dictation from a higher part of me. Out emerged my first story aimed at explaining what Mommy or Daddy might be doing in their new sobriety. Funny how the birth of an idea changes everything. Over the years more stories came forth as did my desire to write one story for each of the 12 steps.

Today the winding road of life has stopped at my new destination. It is my pleasure to offer these stories in book format. I have worked hard to explain each step of recovery to children. I hope these stories delight your children and enhance your own path of recovery.