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Parenting with Mental Illness or Addiction

Featured Books in this Category / Main Booklist

Featured Books

After a Parent’s Suicide: Helping Children Heal. Margo Requarth, $22.95

The premature death of a parent can be devastating for young children — with the consequences far more profound when the parent dies by suicide. Amidst the resulting grief, turmoil and confusion, the surviving parent is faced with the monumental task of tending to the emotional lives of the children left behind. While many books have been written for grieving families, very few focus on the specific needs encountered by children and teens coping with the suicide of a parent.

After a Parent’s Suicide addresses the issues every family must face following the trauma of suicide. In this instructive and impassioned work, long-time children’s bereavement counselor and psychotherapist Margo Requarth offers pathways through the despair, confusion and fear that follow.


Assessment of Parenting Competency in Mothers with Mental Illness. Teresa Ostler, $45.50

The stakes are undeniably high when it comes to deciding whether a mother with mental illness can raise her child in a safe, nurturing environment. Now, mental health professionals will have sound assessment strategies that fairly evaluate the parenting competency of mothers with a wide range of mental illnesses, from "baby blues" to schizophrenia.

Going beyond measuring only the mother's degree of mental illness, the safety of the environment, or the rate of child development, this groundbreaking resource integrates multiple approaches so that professionals understand the full picture of parenting competency. With this much-needed resource, psychologists, social workers, nurses, and child welfare professionals will be primed to conduct more accurate assessments, make informed decisions, build stronger mother–child relationships, and facilitate family preservation whenever possible.


The Bipolar Bear Family: When a Parent Has Bipolar Disorder. Angela Ann Holloway, $28.95

The Bipolar Bear Family is a story about a young cub who struggles to understand his mother’s behavior and her subsequent diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder. The story helps children of bipolar parents address such questions as:

  • Is this my fault?
  • Is it contagious?
  • Can I fix it?

According to the National Institute for Mental Health, Bipolar Disorder affects more than 2 million American adults.  Further, we know that the dynamics of Mental Illness closely mirror the dynamics of alcoholism and addiction in its impact on the family system.  By compassionately educating parents and children, the author hopes to make a life-long difference for these courageous families.

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Can I Catch It Like a Cold? Coping with a Parent’s Depression.  Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, illustrated by Joe Weissmann, $19.99 (ages 5-8)

When a parent has depression, children have many questions. Can I Catch It Like a Cold offers reassurance and allays fears for kids who cope with this adult-sized problem.


Can I Tell You about Depression? A Guide for Friends, Family and Professionals. Christopher Dowrick & Susan Martin, illustrated by Paula Dowrick, $14.95

Meet Julie — a woman who suffers from periods of depression. Julie and her family help readers to understand what depression is, what it is like to feel depressed and how it can affect their family life. She explains how coping with depression can sometimes be very difficult but there is support and help available that can relieve the feelings of depression.

This illustrated book is an ideal introduction to depression — a condition that can be particularly difficult for children to understand. It is suitable for readers aged 7 upwards and shows family, friends and anyone who knows someone affected by depression how they can offer support.


Everything Changes: Help for Families of Newly Recovering Addicts. Beverly Conyers, $19.99

A relative or friend has finally taken those tentative steps toward sobriety. With the relief of this life-changing course of action comes a new and difficult set of challenges for recovering addicts and those who love them.


Facing Change: Coming Together & Falling Apart in the Teen Years. Donna O'Toole, $10.95

This informative book helps teens understand their losses and discover creative coping strategies to deal with them. FACING CHANGE is unique in that all kinds of losses experienced by teenagers are listed and validated. As the author suggests, no one but the person experiencing a loss can ever know just what unique meaning and importance any particular loss holds. Topics Include:

  • Recognizing and Understanding Loss
  • Common Ways Loss Is Experienced
  • Finding and Using Help From Others
  • Resiliency — The Art of Grieving and Growing
  • Coping Strategies That Work
  • How to Know You're Making Progress

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Families Care: Helping Families Cope and Relate Effectively. Facilitator’s Manual. S. Bubbra, A. Himes, C. Kelly, J. Shenfield, C. Sloss & L. Tait, CAMH, $29.95

Families CARE is a group-based program that helps family members Cope and Relate Effectively with the person who has a substance use problem.

The program offers education, support and skills development. Family members learn about, discuss and practice such skills as coping, grieving, dealing with emotions, solving problems, setting goals, communicating, setting limits, supporting and responding to the person with a substance use problem, and helping children affected by a family member’s substance use. The facilitator’s manual consists of 18 modules that include:

  • Objectives and session outlines
  • Teaching points and discussion
  • Handouts that provide information, clinical exercises and home practice for clients to use during the sessions and at home

The Family Intervention Guide to Mental Illness: Recognizing Symptoms & Getting Treatment. Bodie Morey & Kim Muester, $25.50

Family members play a crucial role in recognizing mental illness, and helping a loved one get the treatment they need. The early signs of mental illness are clear if you know what to look for, and getting rapid and effective treatment will help your relative get better faster. If you think a family member or friend may be struggling with a mental illness, or isn't getting effective treatment, this guide will help you recognize symptoms, get the right treatment, and work together as a family to help your loved one get better.

Inside this book you'll find step-by-step support and information for determining whether someone you care about is suffering from a mental disorder, and what you can do to help. The Family Intervention Guide to Mental Illness outlines the nine fundamental steps to recognizing, managing, and recovering from mental illness. It provides both diagnostic information and details about therapy options and useful medications. With the right advice, determined effort, and a lot of love, you can make a difference.


Helping Children Affected by Parental Substance Abuse: Activities and Photocopiable Worksheets. Tonia Caselman, $39.95

This practical resource provides a wealth of activities and photocopiable worksheets to use with children and young people affected by parental substance misuse. Children living in substance abusing homes are at risk of many different negative outcomes, such as behavioral problems, low academic achievement, depression and anxiety, low self-esteem, as well as self-blame for their parent's substance abuse. The activities and worksheets in this book have been designed to assist counselors, therapists and other professionals to facilitate group sessions for children of addicted parents. Each chapter reviews a different issue related to children living in substance abusing homes, and gives step-by-step instructions for leading a group session, accompanied by the latest research and suggestions for discussions based on best practices. Children will learn to reduce feelings of shame and isolation, better understand the nature of addiction, increase self-care and create healthy interactions.

This is an essential resource for professionals working with children affected by parental substance misuse, including counselors, child psychologists, therapists, and youth workers.

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Kit Kitten and the Topsy-Turvy Feelings: a Story about Parents Who Aren't Always Able to Care. Jane Evans, illustrated by Izzy Bean, $17.95

Kit Kitten and the Topsy-Turvy Feelings is a therapeutic storybook for children aged 2 to 6 about a kitten called Kit whose parent isn't always able to care for them. To help support Kit Kitten, Kindly Cat comes to their house and helps Kit to identify the feelings that are mixed up inside.

Many children live in homes where things are chaotic and parents or carers are distracted and emotionally unavailable to them. This storybook, designed for children aged 2 to 6, includes feelings based activities to build a child's emotional awareness and vocabulary. A helpful tool for use by parents, carers, social workers and other professionals to enable young children to begin to name and talk about their feelings.


Mommy’s Different Faces. Barbara Patterson, illustrated by Scott Collie, $14.95 (ages 4-10)

If you have a child or know a child who is coping with a parent who has a mental health issue, this book will help facilitate a conversation about their situation.


My Happy Sad Mummy. Michelle Vasiil, illustrated by Lucia Masciullo, $18.95

The symptoms of a mental illness can be challenging enough for adults to understand and live with. For a child whose parent lives with bipolar disorder, witnessing and experiencing the highs and lows that this mental illness brings with it can be very difficult for a child to process. My Happy Sad Mummy provides a starting point for the necessary discussion, as well as for comfort — to know that their experience is a shared one.

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Parents Who Misuse Drugs and Alcohol: Effective Interventions in Social Work and Child Protection. Donald Forrester & Judith Harwin, $64.95

This insightful book presents original research outlining the key elements in responding to parental misuse of drugs and alcohol:

  • Offers a definition of “misuse” and “addiction” and the factors that influence the nature of misuse or addiction
  • Reviews extensively the nature and impact of parental substance misuse on children and families using the latest evidence
  • Explores how research and theories might help inform professionals or non-professionals assessing families affected by parents who misuse drugs or alcohol
  • Provides an in-depth discussion of Motivational Interviewing, including a critical discussion of the challenges and limitations involved in using it in child and family settings
  • Considers the wider implications of the findings for practice and policy and argues that these responses can be used across the field of work with vulnerable children and their families

Pretend Friends: a Story about Schizophrenia and Other Illnesses That can Cause Hallucinations. Alke Hoyle, illustrated by Lauren Reis, $17.95

Little Bea has a pretend friend, so does Big Jay. Their pretend friends are very different and people react very differently to them. Little Bea has lots of fun adventures with her pretend friend Nye Nye. Big Jay's pretend friends don't make him happy, in fact they can make life quite hard for Big Jay.

This full colour story book helps to explain in a child-friendly way what life is like for those who hear voices or have other hallucinations or delusions as a result of mental illness. Appropriate for children aged four and above, it describes why these auditory and visual hallucinations are very different to the enjoyable imaginary friends many children create, and explains some of the things that may help people like Big Jay.


Skills for Families, Skills for Life: How to Help Parents and Caregivers Meet the Challenges of Everyday Living. Amy Simpson, Paula Kohrt, Linda Shadoin, Joni Cook-Griffin & Jane Peterson, $27.95

This revised and expanded edition of Skills for Families, Skills for Life can help family practitioners and other professionals incorporate the teaching of life skills into the assessment of and treatment planning for the families they work with. More than one hundred thirty basic to complex skills in thirteen caregiving areas are outlined in step-by-step detail. Skills areas have expanded to include:

  • Relationships
  • Mental Health Needs
  • Preventing Abuse
  • Community Safety
  • Housing
  • Money Management
  • Informal and Formal Supports
  • and Education

An enclosed CD-ROM allows you to print skill sheets to use as checklists, make notes, and list resources as you counsel individual families. A new chapter also helps you locate public and private, local and national sources of assistance for families.

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A Sober Mom's Guide to Recovery: Taking Care of Yourself to Take Care of Your Kids. Rosemary O'Connor, $19.99

Recovering from an addiction is tough enough, but when you throw in the tremendous responsibilities of motherhood, resisting cravings and remaining abstinent, can seem like an impossible challenge.

Rosemary O'Connor brings her many years of experience working with women in recovery to addressing the key life issues mothers face at all stages of their recovery path. At once affirming, engaging, and practical, A Sober Mom's Guide to Recovery combines down-to-earth advice with the inspiring stories of recovering moms, including the author's, to offer guidance on over fifty vital topics, including stress, relapse, relationships, sex and intimacy, spirituality, shame, gratitude, dating, and, of course, parenting. The result is an inspirational and practical handbook, not just for getting through the day, but for building a sense of well-being that radiates outward, allowing you to be present with your kids and loved ones, and find hope for the future.


Somebody Cares: a Guide for Kids Who Have Experienced Neglect. Susan Farber Straus, illustrated by Claire Keay, $13.95 (ages 6-11)

Somebody Cares explores the feelings and thoughts many kids have when they've had to look out for themselves or be alone much of the time. A useful book to read with a caring adult — such as a parent, foster parent, kinship parent, or therapist — Somebody Cares reassures children who have experienced neglect that they are not to blame for what happened in their family, and that they can feel good about themselves for many reasons. It takes time for kids to get used to changes in their family or living situation, even when they are good changes. This book will help kids learn some ways to feel safer, more relaxed, and more confident.


Splitting: Protecting Yourself While Divorcing Someone with Borderline or Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Bill Eddy & Randi Kreger, $25.50

Divorce is difficult under the best of circumstances. When your spouse has borderline personality disorder (BPD), narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), or is manipulative, divorcing can be especially complicated. While people with these tendencies may initially appear convincing and even charming to lawyers and judges, you know better — many of these "persuasive blamers" leverage false accusations, attempt to manipulate others, launch verbal and physical attacks, and do everything they can to get their way.

SPLITTING is your legal and psychological guide to safely navigating a high-conflict divorce from an unpredictable spouse. Written by Bill Eddy, a family lawyer, therapist, and divorce mediator, and Randi Kreger, coauthor of the BPD classic STOP WALKING ON EGGSHELLS, this book includes all of the critical information you need to work through the process of divorce in an emotionally balanced, productive way.

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Tokens of Affection: Reclaiming Your Marriage After Postpartum Depression. Karen Kleiman & Amy Wenzel, $41.90

Postpartum depression is hard on a marriage. In their private practices, authors Karen Kleiman and Amy Wenzel often find themselves face-to-face with marriages that are suffocating, as if the depression has sucked the life out of a relationship that was only prepared for the anticipated joy of pending childbirth. What happens to marriage? Why do couples become angry, isolated, and disconnected? TOKENS OF AFFECTION looks closely at marriages that have withstood the passing storm of depression and are now seeking, or in need of, direction back to their previous levels of functioning and connectedness. The reader is introduced to a model of collaboration that refers to eight specific features, which guide postpartum couples back from depression. These features, framed as “Tokens,” are based on marital therapy literature and serve as a reminder that these are not just communication skill-building techniques; they are gift-giving gestures on behalf of their relationship. A reparative resource, TOKENS OF AFFECTION helps couples find renewed harmony, a solid relational ground, and reconnection.


The TurnAround Mom: How an Abuse and Addiction Survivor Stopped the Toxic Cycle for Her Family and How You Can, Too! Carey Sipp, $22.95

Part courageous memoir, part influential how-to guide, The TurnAround Mom offers the tools you need to end the legacy of toxicity. With chilling vignettes from author Carey Sipp's own abusive past, plus the tips and techniques she used to turn her life — and the lives of her children — around, this stirring story will be the daily touchstone that you and your family deserve.


Understanding Addiction and Recovery through a Child’s Eyes: Hope, Help and Healing for Families. Jerry Moe, $22.95

Author Jerry Moe shows how young people affected by family addiction can thrive, using the simple techniques and tools he’s learned from years of experience as an addictions professional and the National Director of Children’s Programs at the Betty Ford Center.

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The Weather House: Living with a Parent with Borderline Personality Disorder. Lisa Laporte & Ronald Fraser, $22.95

This illustrated book for school-aged children provides clinically sound and age-appropriate information for children, giving them clear answers about the BPD of a parent, and suggesting ways to cope with their parents' stormy moments.


When Someone You Love Has a Mental Illness: a Handbook for Family, Friends, and Caregivers. R. Woolis, $17.00

WHEN SOMEONE YOU LOVE HAS A MENTAL ILLNESS offers vital information about recovery from mental illness and substance abuse. It addresses short-term, daily problems of dealing with someone who has a psychiatric disability, and long-term planning and care. Of special interest are the forty-six "Quick Reference Guides" about such topics as: responding to delusions, hallucinations, violence, and anger, deciding if the person should live at home, handling holidays, helping siblings, keeping a life of your own and how to help people who do not understand that they have a mental illness or substance use disorder.


When Survivors Give Birth: Understanding and Healing the Effects of Early Sexual Abuse on Childbearing Women. Penny Simkin & Phyllis Klaus, $43.95

The only book of its kind, When Survivors Give Birth provides survivors and their maternity caregivers with extensive information on the prevalence and short- and long-term effects of childhood sexual abuse, emphasizing its possible impact on childbearing women. Challenges in the client-caregiver relationship are thoroughly portrayed, with much practical advice for improving trust and communication as well as self-help techniques to handle abuse-related distress. Chapters on birth counseling, psychotherapy, and clinical care of survivors make this book a useful resource for survivors and all who work with them.

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Why Are You So Scared? A Child's Book about Parents with PTSD. Beth Andrews, $13.95 (ages 4-8)

When a parent has PTSD, children can feel confused, scared or helpless. WHY ARE YOU SO SCARED explains PTSD and its symptoms in kid-friendly language and encourages kids to express their thoughts and feelings.


Wishes and Worries: Coping with a Parent Who Drinks Too Much. Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, $19.99 (ages 5-8)

Children have many questions when someone in their family drinks too much. WISHES AND WORRIES helps to initiate dialogue, offers reassurance and allays fears for those who cope with this adult-sized problem.


Wishing Wellness: a Workbook for Children of Parents with Mental Illness. Lisa Anne Clarke, Illustrated by Bonnie Matthews, $20.95 (ages 6-12)

Wishing Wellness is a workbook for the child whose mother or father is suffering from a serious mental illness. Packed with information, interactive questions, and fun activities, it's an ideal tool for children and their therapists or other professional mental health workers.

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Complete Booklist

Resources for Professionals

Assessment of Parenting Competency in Mothers with Mental Illness. Teresa Ostler, $45.50

Families Care: Helping Families Cope and Relate Effectively. Facilitator’s Manual. S. Bubbra, A. Himes, C. Kelly, J. Shenfield, C. Sloss & L. Tait, CAMH, $29.95 

The Family Intervention Guide to Mental Illness: Recognizing Symptoms & Getting Treatment. Bodie Morey & Kim Muester, $25.50

Helping Children Affected by Parental Substance Abuse: Activities and Photocopiable Worksheets. Tonia Caselman, $39.95

Parents Who Misuse Drugs and Alcohol: Effective Interventions in Social Work and Child Protection. Donald Forrester & Judith Harwin, $64.95

Skills for Families, Skills for Life: How to Help Parents and Caregivers Meet the Challenges of Everyday Living. Amy Simpson, Paula Kohrt, Linda Shadoin, Joni Cook-Griffin & Jane Peterson, $27.95

Understanding Addiction and Recovery through a Child’s Eyes: Hope, Help and Healing for Families. Jerry Moe, $22.95

When Survivors Give Birth: Understanding and Healing the Effects of Early Sexual Abuse on Childbearing Women. Penny Simkin & Phyllis Klaus, $43.95

Resources for Families

After a Parent’s Suicide: Helping Children Heal. Margo Requarth, $22.95

Everything Changes: Help for Families of Newly Recovering Addicts. Beverly Conyers, $19.99

A Sober Mom's Guide to Recovery: Taking Care of Yourself to Take Care of Your Kids. Rosemary O'Connor, $19.99

Splitting: Protecting Yourself While Divorcing Someone with Borderline or Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Bill Eddy & Randi Kreger, $25.50

Tokens of Affection: Reclaiming Your Marriage after Postpartum Depression. Karen Kleiman & Amy Wenzel, $41.90

The TurnAround Mom: How an Abuse and Addiction Survivor Stopped the Toxic Cycle for Her Family and How You Can, Too! Carey Sipp, $22.95

When Someone You Love Has a Mental Illness: a Handbook for Family, Friends, and Caregivers. R. Woolis, $17.00

Will I Ever Be Good Enough? Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers. Karyl McBride, $18.99

Books for Kids and Teens

The Bipolar Bear Family: When a Parent Has Bipolar Disorder. Angela Ann Holloway, $28.95

Can I Catch It Like a Cold? Coping with a Parent’s Depression. Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, illustrated by Joe Weissmann, $19.99 (ages 5-8)

Can I Tell You about Depression? A Guide for Friends, Family and Professionals. Christopher Dowrick & Susan Martin, illustrated by Paula Dowrick, $14.95

Facing Change: Falling Apart and Coming Together Again in the Teen Years. Donna O’Toole, $10.95 (grief/loss, ages 12-18)

Kit Kitten and the Topsy-Turvy Feelings: a Story about Parents Who Aren't Always Able to Care. Jane Evans, illustrated by Izzy Bean, $17.95

Mommy’s Different Faces. Barbara Patterson, illustrated by Scott Collie, $14.95 (mental illness, ages 4-10)

My Happy Sad Mummy. Michelle Vasiil, illustrated by Lucia Masciullo, $18.95

Pretend Friends: a Story about Schizophrenia and Other Illnesses That can Cause Hallucinations. Alke Hoyle, illustrated by Lauren Reis, $17.95

Somebody Cares: a Guide for Kids Who Have Experienced Neglect. Susan Farber Straus, illustrated by Claire Keay, $13.95 (ages 6-11)

The Weather House: Living with a Parent with Borderline Personality Disorder. Lisa Laporte & Ronald Fraser, $22.95

When a Family is in Trouble: Children Can Cope with Grief from Drug and Alcohol Addiction. Marge Heegaard, $12.95 (workbook)

Why Are You So Scared? A Child's Book about Parents with PTSD. Beth Andrews, $13.95 (ages 4-8)

Wishes and Worries: Coping with a Parent Who Drinks Too Much. Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, $19.99 (ages 5-8)

Wishing Wellness: a Workbook for Children of Parents with Mental Illness. Lisa Anne Clarke, Illustrated by Bonnie Matthews, $20.95 (ages 6-12)

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