Author/illustrator to bring his story to help children of addicted parents
Author/illustrator Jarrett Krosoczka will talk about what it's like to be a kid growing up in a family dealing with addiction at an event May 23 in Oklahoma City to raise awareness and money for Peaceful Family Solutions.
The Oklahoma City-based nonprofit provides free therapy to kids ages 7-12 whose parents are addicted to drugs or alcohol.
"He's so on point for what we do. He's the grownup version of the kids we serve," said Ted Streuli, president and executive director of the nonprofit.
Krosoczka was raised by his grandparents because his mother was a heroin addict and he didn't know who his father was. His memoir, "Hey, Kiddo," tells the story of the chaos, the love and the art that gave him a sense of control over something. It was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2018 for Young People's Literature.
"When your parent is an addict, there is just so much you're not in charge of," he said. "I hope that people who are growing up surrounded by addiction will get a sense that they're not the only ones."
Streuli said Peaceful Family Solutions' four-day program teaches children of addicted parents that message by bringing them together in a peer-to-peer setting.
"They meet each other and hear each others' stories," he said. "They know they aren't alone."
The program stresses that point and three others: Addiction is not their fault. They can't control it. They can't fix it.
The curriculum was developed more than 20 years ago by the National Association for Children of Addiction. It's the same curriculum used by the Betty Ford Centers for their children’s program.
Eight-year-olds aren't equipped to understand and articulate how the situation is affecting them, Streuli said. The program helps them talk about their fears and emotions.
At one point they sit down with the parent in recovery — or another safe adult if the parent isn't to that point — and explain how they feel. Parents often are overwhelmed when they hear for the first time how their actions affected their child.
"None of them are aware of what they are doing to the kids," Streuli said. "It's a family disease, not an individual disease."
The program also helps the kids think about addiction differently and can help them later when a peer invites them to experiment with substances, he said.
If you go
The public can learn more about the program at the luncheon May 23 at St. Luke's United Methodist Church Christian Life Center, 222 NW 15. Doors open at 11:30 and the program will run from noon to 1 p.m. There is no cost in advance, but donations will be requested. For more information or to RSVP, go to sites.google.com/view/sack-o-rocks-lunch/home.