WE'VE all heard the old saying about "Can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em" and that was exactly the position Will and Amie Crawford found themselves in.
But instead of giving into the sense of defeat engulfing their relationship, they decided to seek help.
It all started when the duo was dating and Mr Crawford found himself in a cycle of substance abuse.
Mrs Crawford saw his behaviour as toxic to their relationship and they went their separate ways.
"I was a speed addict and Amie didn't want that in her life, so we broke up," Mr Crawford said.
"But two weeks after we broke up, we found out Alex was on the way.
"Six months later we got back together because we wanted to make sure it was about us and not just Alex."
Mrs Crawford said a lack of love was never the problem, but rather an inability to cope with the stresses of life in a way that set a positive example to the kids.
Mr Crawford gave up drugs and they tried the best they could to get beyond some of their more negative coping methods.
They struggled through, sometimes winning and sometimes losing, until Mrs Crawford fell pregnant with baby number three five months ago.
Recently they decided they needed to take things to the next level and get some professional help to stay on the right track.
A marriage counsellor pointed them in the direction of PPP Parenting, a course designed to offer any parent the tools they needed to cope better with stress, enjoy healthy relationships and raise emotionally-sound, resilient kids.
After just two weeks both of the Crawfords felt like they had a few new tools in the box and had already noticed improvements in their family life.
Mr Crawford said, as somebody with an often-negative outlook on life, it was a breath of fresh air to meet other parents from all walks of life going through similar struggles.
He said the sense of guilt he felt in not being the best parent to Alex was instantly alleviated when he discovered two main things.
The first was that all parents struggled, not just people trying to sort out anger issues, and the second was that a naughty child isn't automatically a bad child, just one who is struggling to communicate.
It strengthened his resolve and he noticed immediate improvements.
The other key point both of them learned was the most important thing about their family was the strength of their own relationship, not the kids as they previously believed.
"PPP is so non-judgemental and the environment is such that you are actually more honest than you maybe set out to be," he said.
The next PPP Parenting seminar series is over three weeks from April 24 and parents can decide from there whether they would like to advance to group sessions. To find out more or book into the free seminars, contact Every Family Project local co-ordinator Lena Krause on 0438937350 or email lena.krause@ uq.edu.au.
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