Thou Shall Not Judge?

For me, it started before I even had children.

After I graduated from college, I started working at a publicly funded mental health clinic for kids.  My degree was not in social work, but it was a steady job with good benefits in a slowly disintegrating economy.  (Where I was living, the economy has been very hard-hit in recent years, even before the 2008 downturn.  Many houses halve lost over half of their former value.)

My job wasn’t difficult, but it was very draining emotionally.  Many of the clients were single parents or “makeshift families” (grandparents or foster parents).  Most of the families were struggling with major issues of poverty, addiction, abuse, and a huge array of mental health problems from “mild” to severe.  (Problems like schizophrenia and psychosis often make other still serious problems like depression and reactive attachment disorder appear “mild” in contrast.)  It was not unusual for parents to walk in at 9 a.m. smelling like alcohol and cursing.  Even the nicest clients were often frazzled and completely overwhelmed by their life circumstances.

I had two main jobs.  One was to make sure the insurance companies approved medications, and the other was typing up psych evaluations.  These included full health and family histories, and were typically pretty rough.  Many of the children were referred to the clinic by their school for “behavioral and emotional” problems, and many were abused and neglected.  Quite a few of these children had developed odd behaviors or become perpetrators themselves, putting their other siblings and friends at equal risk.

All day, every day, delving into the personal lives and tragedies of others…  I have no idea how social workers do it…  And they get paid a pittance for it.  I worked there for less than two years, and was emotionally drained from it after a couple of months.  It was also tough not to judge the parents for their decisions.  And I would frequently find myself judging others, even though I had no possible way of putting myself in their shoes…

Naturally, the spaghetti monster realized I was in need of a comeuppance.  He must have laughed as he watched my own clumsy transition to parenthood…

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5 Responses to Thou Shall Not Judge?

  1. parentsfriend says:

    Not easy to care and not judge. A parent drinking, drugging and abusing is doing wrong. A two year old throwing something that breaks in anger is doing something wrong. The behavior needs changing and that is judging. Can’t avoid it. I say that as a social worker for many, many, many years. The person, child or adult, is doing their best; holding on to that and under pinning it with an awareness of why is the heart of a social worker’s non judging and a parents. Both require letting go of expectations that are beyond the person or child in question. Parents do it best. Stay strong.

    • I couldn’t agree more with your first sentence. On the one hand judgement is wrong, but it is definitely not easy to care and not judge. Thanks so much for your comment.

  2. Liverwurst says:

    Who is the spaghetti monster?

  3. Liverwurst says:

    For the record, “judging” is not wrong. Judgment is not a bad thing , and doesn’t necessarily have to mean the same thing as judgmental.

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