Gift of Desperation
For Collective Courage: Building Communities of Safety, Healing and Peace January 23-24, 2003, with thanks to Family Support America and the W.K. Kellogg and Robert Wood Johnson Foundations.
Gift of Desperation
Excerpts, updated, of remarks by Eve Sullivan
at Stand for Children Rally in Boston on May 31, 1996
I am here to give everyone who cares about children -- and that's everybody here today -- a gift. I call it the gift of desperation! If you are desperate, you will do whatever needs to be done to get care for your children.
Eight years ago I faced one of the most serious challenges any mother can experience. One of my teenage children was out of control, drinking, using other drugs, and getting into a lot of trouble both in school and out. I did not find effective, long-term support from any teacher, doctor, counselor, or court officer, although they all tried to help. Instead, parents in a therapeutic community involving me, my ex-husband, our troubled young person and our other two children succeeded in helping us all make positive changes over a two-year period. The key to these changes was improved communication skills.
Then, out of the lingering pain of nearly losing my son to alcohol and other drugs -- and out of deep gratitude to parents who helped us establish better family relationships -- came Parents Forum, a positive program:
Our mission is to bring together groups of parents and others to practice effective communication skills in order to be more responsible in our families and more involved in our communities. With respect and honesty, we work through the conflicts and strong feelings that arise in family and community life.
Please be assured that I am not here today as an expert! Although I like to think that I have more successes than struggles, I certainly still have my share of struggles. Day by day, I get encouragement from listening to other parents' experiences and reassurance from others listening to me.
All of us here today at this historic Stand for Children want to do the best we can for young people. To do so, we must support parents! When you leave this remarkable gathering and return to your home communities, remember the energy, the inspiration, and most of all the desperation you have felt here today. Take these feelings home and share them with everyone you meet ...
Yes, we may be overworked and worried about our children's future, but desperation gives us energy. We can do better! We must do better! We will do better!
For more information on Parents Forum call +1 - 617-864-3802.