Special post today exploring the experience of being a mother and a social worker.
As I am only a cat momma, and I believe in only writing what I know, I decided to interview my mother, who has worked at DHS Child Welfare since I was a child.
My main question was this: How do you think being a social worker has affected you as a parent?
For my mom, being a social worker has had upsides and downsides to her own parenting experience.
One of the major difficulties is the emotional demands of the social work profession. One only has so much emotional energy in a day, especially in the child welfare field “with new kids coming into the system every week, the work load can be crushing.” So it leaves mothers who are social workers in the tough place of feeling like they can’t do justice to their job or their work fully.
In child welfare you see so many people that aren’t very self aware, reactive, when they are mad, they punish. They are not bad people, they are parents who were never parented.
While persons who harm children are a very small portion of a population, as a child welfare social worker you are inundated with stories of abuse and neglect. This can skew one’s perspective about the world. For my mom, this caused the tendency to be cautious and over protective. That skewed perspective puts a higher level of anxiety on the parenting experience.
Social work jobs tend to be family oriented. They support workers taking off to go to school activities and be involved with their children.”You appreciate your kids more, you just want to hug them when you get home.”
Social work builds a host of communication skills, child development knowledge, parenting courses, stress management and more. These skills can be beneficial in one’s own personal life and family.
That doesn’t mean that social workers are perfect parents. As my mom explained “it’s still challenging being a parent even when you know the right thing to do. When it is your child you don’t always see things clearly. You have a different reaction. You won’t handle situations objectively like you may with a client. But the difference is you know where to reach out for help, resources.”
My final question was the proverbial ” What would you tell other social workers who are mothers?
“You have to leave work at work, be present for your family. Just leave work undone, you just have to leave it.”
Even though I’m not a mother, I would add one note as one closing this interview.
Have grace for yourself. You are doing justice to your job and your family. Who knows, your kids may grow up to be social workers themselves.
Any mothers out there doing the social work that have a thought to add?