Tending Dandelions- Honest Meditations for Mothers with Addicted Children – Part 5

Mom Hugging Child and separating the Addict and my child

Kirsten Haglund of Addiction Hope and Eating Disorder Hope conducted an interview with Sandy Swenson about her experience with a son struggling with addiction, the significant changes she made during his treatment, and the resulting book she wrote Tending Dandelions: Honest Meditations for Mothers with Addicted Children. Kirsten interviews guests that are experts in their field such as leading doctors, clinicians, experts, advocates, and people with their own recovery experiences, offering their insight and sharing their wisdom.


You mentioned reading so many books that had happy endings and that most families are not necessarily in that position.

I read a quote by G.K. Chesterton saying that “hope without a hopeless situation is not a virtue,” meaning the only way that we can really have hope is if we feel like we are in a hopeless situation.

How did you channel, “gosh, I don’t have a happy ending” into providing hope for other mothers and families?


Well, one of the most prominent feelings I had was that of failure and that my love somehow wasn’t enough. I came to understand that addiction is a disease, and if, in fact, love could fix addiction, it would have long ago been eradicated.

Then, I realized that love wasn’t the failure. I was not the failure. But, I had to acknowledge that I couldn’t fix this for him.

The hope became letting go of what I couldn’t do and looking at what I can do.

I realized Moms and families still have a lot of power because we can change the way addiction is perceived and believed. We have so much power, and in using that power, we send our children the message that addiction is a disease, not a disgrace.

We can help spread the message to stop hiding and to stop treating addiction like it is something shameful. Our children are also going to be looking at themselves and seeing themselves in a different light.

I think of mothers of addicted children as dandelions. We are all tattered and frazzled and have been through a lot.

But, we are strong, and we are survivors. When we tell our stories and scatter our message like dandelions, we use our power to change the way addiction is perceived.


One individual commented that you helped her separate the addict from her daughter, can you talk about that?


Absolutely. The Addict and my child share the same shadow. For so many years, I was butting heads with The Addict, but it looked like my child.

Father And Teenage Son Having A HugWe were fighting, and it was horrible and awful. It took me a while to understand that I was not fighting with my child. I was fighting The Addict.

The Addict wants me to do things that are harmful to my child, and I came to understand that I need to honor my child, not The Addict.

The Addict may hate me, but I don’t care because it is my child that matters. My child is the one I want to see live beyond tomorrow. My child is the one that I want to have to be grateful one day that I did the right things for my child and not for The Addict.


That is such a helpful tip, and I think it can also be used in eating disorder recovery, to separate the eating disorder from the person because it helps hugely, not only for family members but for the individual struggling.

This conversation will continue in Tending Dandelions: Honest Meditations for Mothers with Addicted Children – Part 6

Please See:

Tending Dandelions: Honest Meditations for Mothers with Addicted Children – Part 1
Tending Dandelions: Honest Meditations for Mothers with Addicted Children – Part 2
Tending Dandelions: Honest Meditations for Mothers with Addicted Children – Part 3
Tending Dandelions: Honest Meditations for Mothers with Addicted Children – Part 4


Weekly Hope Conversation with Sandy Swenson on March 12, 2019.

Please visit the Weekly Hope with Kirsten Haglund page for other presentations.

About the Author: 

Sandy Swenson ImageSandy Swenson is the mother of two sons—one of whom struggles with addiction. Author of The Joey Song: A Mother’s Story of Her Son’s Addiction {Central Recovery Press], Tending Dandelions: Honest Meditations for Mothers with Addicted Children [Hazelden Publishing], and Readings for Moms of Addicts App [Hazelden Publishing], Sandy lives in the place where love and addiction meet—a place where help enables and hope hurts. Sandy is a voice for parents of children suffering from the disease of addiction, putting their thoughts and feeling into words.

Sandy lives in suburban Minneapolis, Minnesota. When she isn’t writing or traveling to speak with other parents coping with the disease of addiction in their family, Sandy enjoys gardening, reading, and spending time with family and friends.

About the Interviewer:

Kirsten Haglund HeadshotKirsten Haglund is an international speaker, mental health advocate, and digital media strategist. Through her media and communications company, En Pointe, she works with a diverse group of clients in both the profit and non-profit sectors increasing social engagement and scalability, social listening, communications training, spokesperson work increasing brand awareness.

Kirsten serves as a media spokesperson, speaker, and Director of Global Business Development and Digital Media for Eating Disorder Hope & Addiction Hope. She is also Community Relations Specialist for Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center and is Founder and President of the Kirsten Haglund Foundation.

She also does political analysis across television news networks and radio, including on MSNBC, CNN International, Fox Business Network, and Fox News Channel. Her Op-Eds on politics, culture and non-profit advocacy have appeared in the New York Daily News, Forbes.com, Huff Post and in industry journals.

She served as Miss America 2008 and Goodwill Ambassador for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Kirsten graduated from Emory University with a B.A. in Political Science and is currently based in Zürich, Switzerland.

About the Transcript Editor:

Margot Rittenhouse photoMargot Rittenhouse, MS, NCC, PLPC is a therapist who is passionate about providing mental health support to all in need and has worked with clients with substance abuse issues, eating disorders, domestic violence victims, and offenders, and severely mentally ill youth.

As a freelance writer for Eating Disorder and Addiction Hope and a mentor with MentorConnect, Margot is a passionate eating disorder advocate, committed to de-stigmatizing these illnesses while showing support for those struggling through mentoring, writing, and volunteering. Margot has a Master’s of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Johns Hopkins University.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from multiple physical, emotional, environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Published on April 24, 2019
Reviewed & Approved by Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on April 24, 2019
Published on AddictionHope.com

About Baxter Ekern

Baxter Ekern is the Vice President of Ekern Enterprises, Inc. He contributed and helped write a major portion of Addiction Hope and is responsible for the operations of the website.