Tending Dandelions- Honest Meditations for Mothers with Addicted Children – Part 7

man Sitting at the window batteling Eating Disorders and Addiction

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, eating disorders and addiction, 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 have a retreat coming up that you are facilitating, I wanted to give you an opportunity to tell us a little bit about that.


Yes, it is on June 14-16 at Hazelden Dan Anderssen Renewal Center in Center City, Minnesota.

It is a gorgeous facility. It is “Mom-to-Mom: Where Love and Addiction Meet,” and it is a weekend of growth and coming to terms with the power that we hold in loving a child with addiction.


It is such a cool thing that you are doing, and I love how you do not quit, you don’t just give up, and everything is not perfect, and there isn’t necessarily a bow on the end of the story, but you’re using what you can do to help influence others.


Everything I do, someday, some way, if all of us Moms are out doing the same thing, it is going to touch my son.

That is the scattering of the dandelions; it is going to make a change and help others and will touch your children.

That keeps me going.



We do have one more comment that says, “what sucks about an eating disorder is you don’t get clean from it, you have to eat, you need food to live, that is the hard part of this addiction.”

I understand this because you have to face your struggle daily.

People don’t do crack in moderation, and many abstain from alcohol for the rest of their lives. They can’t do it in moderation, or they will die.

The more I have been exposed to this field, the more I think about it. I thought about this and started to see that, with advertising, it is still everywhere.

You can’t bar yourself from all of the addictive exposures. Whether it is smoking, quitting a nicotine addiction, or alcohol advertisements, It is all in the mainstream. It is all over.

lady dealing with Eating Disorders and AddictionI do feel that I can relate to what some individuals that struggle with addiction have to go through because they face so many of the same triggers that I do as someone who is recovered from an eating disorder.

What are your thoughts on that, Sandy?


I think that makes very good sense.

From the time our children are born, they are bombarded with messages to use drugs and alcohol in songs, clothing ads, movies, magazines, etc.

Whether they recover or not, they have to continue to face that bombardment.


Absolutely, the emotions for addicts and people in recovery from an eating disorder are so challenging and valid.

But, it does get easier. It does get better. It can get better. It doesn’t always, but with hard work and perseverance, it absolutely can get better.

For you Sandy, I’m sure it was hard to give up some things in an effort to try to protect your son but then realize it isn’t up to you.



My son once wanted to become friends with me on Facebook again. I thought “I would love to,” but I can’t open that door again, or I’ll be right back to stalking.

You have to have boundaries with your child, but you also have to create boundaries for yourself.


Absolutely, just one more thing, we have a lot of parents that are watching. Maybe they’re supporting someone who is going through this, or they’re in a super dark moment right now, what would you want to say to them, and, maybe, to you yourself ten years ago?


Dandelion in the sunWell, like the deceptively delicate dandelion, we moms are made to persevere.

We may often feel fragile, but we’re strong and we’re many.

We can change the way addiction is perceived. We have the power and coming to terms with the fact that we do have power. We are not helpless in this.

We do have the power.

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
Tending Dandelions: Honest Meditations for Mothers with Addicted Children – Part 5
Tending Dandelions: Honest Meditations for Mothers with Addicted Children – Part 6


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 Image wrote about Eating Disorders and AddictionSandy 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 26, 2019
Reviewed & Approved by Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on April 26, 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.