Mending a Broken Family; Strengthening a Healthy Family

Learn from a family that endured a painful separation. Actions matter.

Posted Oct 22, 2013

healing broken families, healing a family, broken family

To enjoy a healthy family you have to be there.

One of the greatest challenges a family can face is when a parent is incarcerated. Overcoming the issues that existed prior to and during incarceration are often more than most families can survive. When families shatter as a result of incarceration, children pay the highest price, and statistically have a much higher chance of committing a crime themselves. 

The RIDGE Project has developed a unique method of reaching and healing families in this demographic, based on founders Ron and Catherine Tijerina’s personal experience with incarceration. 

Vital reminders for all families about mending broken families and strengthening healthy ones.

Ron and Catherine recently sent the following thoughts to members of the family-strengthening Smartmarriages movement.  Because all families are inherently fragile, and many families experience difficult times from which they need to heal, I am posting Ron and Catherine's letter here. Their vision is applicable to every family.   Ron and Catherine implore all of us to make a choice to act, now. 

Dear friends,

It’s the thought that counts. I’m sure you’ve heard this cliché applied in various situations. There may be times when this saying is true; when it comes to parenting however, it simply is not. 

We have talked to many people who say they want to be better parents but never get around to doing anything about it. They want to communicate better as couples. 

They have good intentions of spending more time with their children. They are thinking about beginning to eat dinner together as a family. 

When it comes to having a healthy family, however, good thoughts are nowhere near as valuable as good choices. When you choose to begin consistently putting your family’s needs before your own, the impact is immediate. Unfortunately, when you put off making this kind of intentional decision, you still have made a choice. 

Ron recently celebrated 7 years of life after incarceration. When Ron was incarcerated, he wanted to physically be there for our sons. He wanted to help them learn to ride a bike. He wanted to play catch with them. Sadly, however, he was only able to experience these milestones in photographs.  

Although we learned how to cope with separation and have a healthy family, Ron missed out on precious memories when our sons were growing up. We have resolved to not let that happen with our daughter, Bria. Even better than that, we have lived our resolution by intentionally planning to spend time together as a family and then following through. 

The Greek philosopher Aristotle said “We are what we consistently do.  Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Having a healthy, resilient, forever family is not an accident.  It is a habit. 

We encourage you to be an intentional part of the solution for your family. Schedule time to play with your kids. Take a date night out with your spouse. Eat dinner together as a family. 

The choice is yours! 


Ron and Cathy Tijerina, 


To explore starting a Ridge Project program where you live, please contact


Denver psychologist, family therapist and author Susan Heitler, PhD is a founder of, an online program that teaches the skills for marriage success.