Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Confession - Please don't judge!

I have a confession to make - sometimes parents make me mad. The parents of children that I have worked with in foster care and now as a therapist. A lot of this anger has to do with the fact that a number of my clients are mandated - by court or by DCFS - and therefore do not have a lot of insight or inclination to work with me. But some of the parents who willingly come into my office now make me mad too. Maybe mad isn't the right word - maybe its frustration. But the feeling comes from many places - anger at birth parents for causing some of the problems that their children have, anger at foster/adoptive parents who don't 'get it', anger at the parents who think that dropping them off in MY office for 45 minutes every other week is going to be a miracle cure, parents who refuse to change anything about the way they deal with their child......

(I have also known some really great parents too - ones that go to the moon and back to help their child, biological or otherwise, but that is not part of my confession today.)

But I say all of that to say this: I realize that sometimes I need to take a step back and remember that the parents need just as much support as the child - if not more. I think I do a pretty good job at this generally. I work with very young children (most are under 7 years old) and almost never do individual work with them, so I have to work with both the parent and child. I also teach parenting groups and love seeing parents make new connections with their children. I hate it when I feel angry at a parent - because it usually means I am angry at myself for not doing enough to meet them where they are at right now. And, I really enjoy things that remind me of this. Just today I got an email from our Family Resource Developer about the class that she started running this past week. Its a class for parents of children with emotional disorders and they give out a brief survey at the beginning of class to see where all the parents are at in regards to their child's diagnosis. Here are the questions and a list of all the answers - it was so helpful to read these and remember that not every parent copes with their child the same way. And that the only way I can truly hope to help the child - is by helping the parent. Social Workers who are reading this - I hope it reminds you too! Parents reading this - I'm trying! And, you are obviously not alone.


List 3-6 words that describe what the experience of your child’s mental illness has been like for your child.

Stressful, Hopeless, Angry, Sad, Frustrating, Overwhelming, Lonely, Hopeless, Irritable, Sad, Aggression, Confusion, Unhealthy, Stressful, Discouraging, Confusion, Frustration, Guilt, Anger, Loss of control, Confusion, Cloudy, Frustration, Chaotic, Confusion, Frustration, Loose cannon, Denial, Blame, Anger, Stressful, Frustrating, Hard to deal with, Confusion, Unpredictable, Frustrating, Learning, Confusing, Overwhelming, Anxiety, Frustration, Anger, Puzzling, Confusing, Frustrating, Stressful, Confused, Angry, Emotional, Stressed out, Distracting, Scared, Selfish, Laziness, Emotional, Disobedient

List 3-6 words that describe what the experience of your child’s mental illness has been like for your and your family.

Stressed, Overwhelming, Limited social life , Embarrassing, Stress, Confusion, Stressful, Loss of control, Frustration, Frustration, Agony, Embarrassing, Exhausting, Infuriating, Draining, Stressful, Anxiety, Verbal Abuse, Worry, Chaotic, Stressful, Exasperation, Worrisome, Frustrating, Tiresome, Always fighting, Confusing, Unpredictable, Frustrating, Rewarding, Overwhelming, Stressful, Frustrating, Depression, Stress,Embarrassment, Anxiety, Chaotic
Draining, Loud, Embarrassing, Playful, Emotional, Stressful, Angry, Confused, My fault, Guilt, Stress, Worry, Confusing, Stressful, Angry

List five words that describe your feelings when you have to describe your child’s diagnosis.

Forever, Sad, Hopeless, Frustrating, Sadness,Confusion, Anxious, Compassion, Anger, Untapped , potential, Creative, Active, Overwhelmed, Energetic, Private, Unwilling, Guilt, Sadness, Fear, Hope, Grief, Sad, Overwhelmed, Frustrated, Anxious, Upset, Maddening, Anger,
Stressful, Frustrated, Irritated, Drained, Tired, Annoyed, Frustration, Hopelessness, Overwhelmed, Fear, Stress, Embarrassment, Unintelligible, Hope, Emotional, Embarrassed, Mad.


  1. I'm pretty sure you're allowed to be angry at people. It shows that you're human. :p

  2. Lord, yes, you have every right to get frustrated! How could you not? I have so much admiration for the job you do. You truly care about the kids which doesn't seem to always be the case. You have helped me so much just by reading about my struggles and sharing your wise insight. You don't have to do that and it really means a lot. Really... you rock! No judging coming from here!

  3. No judging here either. You are human. I can totally see where the anger would come from too.

    You are doing an amazing job. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.....


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