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

Mother with Addicted 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 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.


Many of you know, because you follow us and use the site, about Eating Disorder Hope, but, you may not know that we have a sister site called Addiction Hope.

Both sites have a similar mission, to provide education and resources and connection to treatment for people struggling with either addiction or an eating disorder.

It isn’t uncommon for individuals struggling with an eating disorder to have what we call “comorbidities,” or other mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, substance use, alcohol addiction, etc.

These disorders don’t exist in a vacuum; therefore, often people have many diagnoses or may recover from one thing and, years later, go on to struggle with addiction or other mental health issues.

This interview is from a mom, author, and an incredibly inspiring woman named Sandy Swenson, who has a very powerful story of supporting a loved one who is struggling with addiction.

Sandy is the mother of two sons, one of whom struggles with addiction. She is the author of The Joey Song: A Mother’s Story of Her Son’s Addiction which was published in 2012, and Tending Dandelions: Honest Meditations for Mothers with Addicted Children published in 2017.

She also has “Readings for Moms with Addicts” app which is available on the Google Play as well as the Apple App store.

Sandy lives in a place where love and addiction meet and that is a lot of what we will be talking about in this interview.

Sandy is a voice for parents of children suffering from the disease of addiction, putting their thoughts and feelings into words, and she is a very inspirational woman and a courageous warrior.

So, Sandy, I know you have a very personal journey and reason for getting into this field and becoming an author, can you tell us a little bit about what motivated you to begin sharing your story?


Well, our journey started maybe in 2005 or 2006, it is hard to know exactly when addiction begins because we are in denial. Once it became apparent that my son was struggling with addiction, I did everything I could to try to fix it for him. I went to meetings, I read books, and I tried to understand addiction.

Even so, all the books I read were written by people who had a success story to tell, their child made it to the other side, and it was a happy ending.

Side view of mother holding younger sonThat wasn’t the case in our story, my son continued to struggle with addiction, and I felt like a failure for not being able to fix this, and my love wasn’t strong enough.

Of course, I realized I couldn’t possibly have loved him anymore, and yet, the addiction still continued.

I knew there were a lot of families out there struggling with addiction and living in the exact same place, this place where love and addiction meet and who were feeling the same way I was.

When I wrote The Joey Song, it was the book that I wanted to read when I started out on this journey, the true, painful, hopeful story that sent the message that, even if we can’t fix this for our child, we still have power.

The real, honest, truth is that it doesn’t always have a happy ending, but we can still make the best of the situation.

We do have power, and we can change the way addiction is perceived.

This conversation will continue in Tending Dandelions: Honest Meditations for Mothers with Addicted Children – Part 2


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 18, 2019
Reviewed & Approved by Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on April 18, 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.