I had a very interesting conversation with a young parent recently and she was happy for me to tell you what she said.
We were talking about why relationships between parents and social workers can get so bad so quickly. Just what is going wrong? Obviously it is often a difficult and tense time for parents and social workers to try and talk about really important things involving people’s children and lifestyles, particularly if there are court proceedings looming and on going.
But at the end of the day we are all human. And we should be able to talk to one another as humans.
Is this another consequence of the ‘child rescue narrative’ that seems to be driving so much of current care proceedings? Sally’s experiences seem very common; a lot of parents complain that their behaviour and reactions are consistently seen in a negative light, whereas similar behaviour from professionals (such as being late to contact) is excused or explained by external events (such as traffic jams).
Why don’t social workers have a sense of humour? Has it been removed from them? My partner and I coped with difficult situations by making light of it. I will give you an example
We were asked some intrusive questions about our sex lives and we tried to make a joke about it. It would have really helped if the social worker could have reacted in a more relaxed way, rather than making it obvious that she was shocked and upset by what we said.
It goes beyond ‘having a sense of humour’ . I really noticed that everything we said or did was seen in the most negative light possible. So making lighthearted comments or jokes was used against us.
I know this is a serious situation and it isn’t always the right thing to try and joke about. But sometimes if we were scared or nervous we would try and lighten the mood. But anything we said that we thought was obviously a joke was taken seriously.
My partner jokingly kissed my neck and scooped me into his arms during an assessment. The assessor wrote that she thought we were intending to have sex in the office! and that we probably indulged in ‘inappropriate sexual activity’ in front of our child.