What Makes A Family Good?

Yesterday, shots rang out in another American high school, but this time it was in my home town. Most people shared this reaction, “He came from a good family.” Some were talking about the shooter. However, others were talking about the victim. Who was right? What makes a family “good”?

Meet The Smith Family

Bob Smith, the patriarch, works for the town’s most prestigious car dealership. Everyone in town loves Bob. He served in Vietnam. In his free time, Bob likes to garden, and he shares the harvest with everyone on his block. Bob sings in the church.

Bob’s wife Fran is friendly. She always has a pitcher of tea and twenty minutes to sit down at the table and chat. Fran loves to take care of her grandkids. They spend most Saturday afternoons in the neighborhood park or at the library.

Likewise, Bob and Fran’s kids are upstanding members of the community. Their daughter is in pharmaceutical sales. Their son is a brilliant engineer and a respected veteran. Both of the kids are active in their respective churches.

Now Meet The Jones Family

Mark and Jean also have two kids. Mark knows everybody because he’s had lots of jobs. Jean is funny. She’s always making jokes, usually at Mark’s expense.

Their youngest is almost finished with probation. She was arrested last year for selling drugs near a school. Although their oldest is filing bankruptcy this week, he’s doing well. He’s a year sober and the family’s bright spot. Between the two kids, there’s two failed marriages, two arrests and two stints in rehab.

It’s easy to tell which family is good, right?

Wrong. They are the same exact family. The Smith family represents the positive side we post on Facebook and share at the coffee shop. The Jones family represents what many families try to hide. Each day they breathe a sigh of relief when last their latest court case doesn’t make it into the paper.

To Get A Solution, We Have To Have A Problem

The idea of “good families” prevents healing because “good” families don’t have problems. Nothing to see here folks. Just one good kid shooting another good kid for no good or bad reason. All of the other nearby kids were good too. We’re all good, and we’re all “fine.”

American Families Are Not “Good”

According to drugfree.org, one in ten Americans over the age of 12 are addicted to either drugs or alcohol. One in five Americans experience a mental illness in any given year according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. The National Institute of Drug Abuse found that 67% of the people in drug abuse treatment centers were physically or sexually abused as a child. This is not good; too many Americans are hurting.

Drop The Label And Get Better

Recovery teaches us to drop the “good” and “bad” labels. We look at what doesn’t work for us, and we admit there is a problem. Mental illness and substance abuse impact an entire family for several generations. Once we tire of feeling “bad” enough, we look for a life that’s better than just “good.”

Are you ready to find something better? Recovery Guidance can help. Recovery isn’t just for the person fighting addiction or struggling with mental illness; it’s for the whole family. From our website, you can find mental health providers, addiction treatment centers, family counseling, and family support groups. You can also use our site to search by city, state or zip code. We list resources from across the country.

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Good treatment encourages healthy family participation in the course of care. Click on the button below to take our self-assessment guide:

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Pam Carver

A Recovery Guidance Exclusive By: Pam Carver

Pam Carver is the author of The Co-dependent In The Kitchen.  She is a contributing editor for Recovery Guidance, and she writes a weekly column on Reach Out Recovery.