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Program can help put families back together

Editor’s note: This is the third in a series of articles regarding Sierra Recovery Center and its programs that will be published on the Community Outlook page.

Raising children is perhaps the most important task in a person’s life and also the most difficult. Add to that not having good role models, being a single parent and now, being in recovery from substance abuse, and the job becomes overwhelming at best. Undoing a lot of the damage that parents had done is one of the biggest challenges parents face when they enter Parenting Education at Sierra Recovery Center.

“Inconsistency is one of the most destructive things that people who were using and drinking were doing with their children,” said Roberta Rogness, a certified intern counselor at SRC and instructor of the Parenting Education group.



“The inconsistency came because the parent’s drug or alcohol use was their first priority. So, inconsistency is the number one parenting technique that was not re-enforced.”

The Parenting Education group meets on Thursdays at 2 p.m. for 90 minutes a week and lasts 12 weeks. There is a limit of 10 members per session and the course is continuous so parents can start the group on any given week. The curriculum consists of 12 subjects to teach addictive parents who are now in recovery how to relate to their children in a healthy manner. Parents must complete the entire course in order to receive the completion certificate, which for many of them is required by Child Protective Services or their probation officer. Others in the group simply want to become better parents now that they are in recovery.




“I’m even learning new parenting techniques for dealing with my grandson,” said Rogness, who became a counselor nearly four years ago after entering recovery. She first worked at Sierra Recovery Center’s Residential treatment houses on the graveyard shift before continuing her education.

“When I was a parent my techniques were not enforced but now I am becoming an effective grandparent,” she said.

“The very first topic we talk about is guilt and making amends,” said Rogness. “When someone enters recovery they have so much guilt and kids know that and the kids play off that. So I have to teach the parents to deal with the guilt and to make amends and to be able to move on. Especially if the parents don’t have custody at the moment, they can be far too lenient and that can cause a whole lot of problems.”

Some of the other topics that Rogness teaches in the group include “Understanding Children’s Behavior and Misbehavior,” “Encouragement: Building Your Child’s Confidence and Feelings of Worth,” “Communication: How to Listen to Your Child,” lessons in getting a child to cooperate and learning effective discipline techniques.

To say that the majority of Rogness’ group members are single parents would be an understatement.

“I have one couple in a group right now, but that’s the first time in three years. All the rest have always been single parents. Just being a single parent is a challenge enough. Then you add being in recovery and you have a double challenge,” she said.

“I really love teaching this group because I get to see the best. For many, CPS has taken their children away. In the three months that they are in Parenting, I can watch them go from supervised visits with their children to unsupervised visits to overnight visits and even to reunification. It’s just the best to see them slowly become a family again and this time a healthier family,” Rogness said. “This process is the most rewarding to me.”

In addition to Parenting Education, Sierra Recovery Center offers residential detoxification and treatment, outpatient substance abuse treatment, DUI programs, Harm Reduction and Relapse Prevention groups, criminal justice programs and individual counseling. Local referrals are made for youth and family counseling. SRC also offers transitional living for men, women and mothers with children.

For more information on the many education and treatment programs available call (530) 541-5190.

-Denise Sloan is public relations and fund development director for Sierra Recovery Center.


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