I guided people through some of the most difficult times in their lives and connected them with critical resources when they had nowhere else to turn.
It’s a career I’m proud of, and even though I hung up my social worker hat 3 years ago, I still use those skills every day.
Here are 5 things I learned as a social worker that help me be a better mom.
1. Not to Do Things for My Kids that They Can Do Themselves
My job as a parent is to give my kids the skills to be successful in life. Not to make them happy. Not to ensure they have the trendiest clothes or the newest toys. It IS my job to understand where they are developmentally and encourage them accordingly. Even though it might be more time consuming to insist that they make their own beds or pour their own juice or even write their own thank-you notes, doing things on their own will help them in the end.
2. To Meet Them Where They Are, Not Where I Want Them to Be
Sometimes we have expectations for our children that are more a reflection of our own desires than their development. I was in denial about my daughter’s speech delay, for example, until I recalled the social work mantra “Meet them where they are.” What this means is that we should accept our children, or clients as the case may be, where they are developmentally and work from there. When I think now about the months of speech therapy that my toddler missed out on because I wasn’t ready to accept her delay, I’m filled with regret. But at least that social work training kicked in when it did— she’s back on track verbally and doing great.
3. That Everyone Has a Story
It’s hard to remember that everyone we encounter has a history. People often have reasons for their choices that I’m not privy to. This is true of pediatricians, preschool teachers, coaches, and even our own children.
4. That a Little Listening Goes a Long Way
As a mom I find myself talking a lot more than I listen. But especially with my 9-year-old, I’ve noticed that when I take the time to listen to him without judgement, just as I did as a social worker, his trust level goes up and he confides in me more.
5. That at the End of the Day, What Matters is How I Treated People
There’s no doubt about it: motherhood has plenty of difficult days. Even when there have been tears and temper tantrums, I can at least take comfort in the fact that I’ve cared about 3 little people with all my heart. The same was true when I was a social worker.
How does your career training help you be a better parent?
Mary Lauren Weimer is a social worker turned mother turned writer. Her blog, My 3 Little Birds, encourages moms to put down the baby books for a moment and tell their own stories. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.
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