Sometimes it’s tough being a kid. And it’s especially hard when a child has an alcoholic parent.
Shelley Friss knows this well – she was one of those kids. As a teacher, she is able to communicate and help them understand the issues they are dealing with, and she is able to offer help.
Friss operates Lions and Butterflies Support Services. “My goal,” she says, “is to empower the kids. I want to let them know that they’re not defined by their environment. And I want to empower them to engage in the ability to see what they can offer the world.”
Lions and Butterflies can complement professional counselling or therapy, she says, or it can be a positive first step – an empathetic and supportive program for kids who don’t know how to deal with alcoholism in the family.
“I’m just helping kids understand and deal with what they’re going through, because I went through the exact same thing.”
Every child is an individual
The approach depends on the child. “Some kids are going to open up and want to talk, and other kids aren’t,” Friss says. “So the biggest thing will be discussing what they’re going through, what they’re experiencing, their feelings.
“And we’ll talk about what addiction really is. Kids often think that the drinker is just choosing to drink, over spending time with them. But that’s not the case. The drinkers lose that choice.”
Lions and Butterflies offers one-on-one coaching, play therapy, and a safe space for the kids.
The company’s name reflects the strength and leadership associated with lions, and the transformation and journey – and fragility – of butterflies.
“It’s normal for these kids to feel alone,” Friss says. “They have to internalize their experiences because they don’t know who they can talk to or how to talk about it.
“And then of course that leads to anxiety, health issues, and a lack of ability to trust people or to form bonds with people. So yeah, there’s lots of lasting effects.”
Drop by the upcoming open house
Lions and Butterflies is having an Open House on Oct. 13, from 1 to 4 p.m. They are located above Iron City (formerly Rob’s Gym), which Friss and her husband also own. In fact, the gym adds a dimension to the Lions and Butterflies services.
“If someone has some aggression to get out and wants to go hard for 20 minutes on the treadmill, it’s right there,” she says.
More information is available on the Lions and Butterflies website and Facebook page.