Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Duty of Not Judging

I try to stay aware of when I start feeling judgy about a client's behavior or choices. I was meeting with a gentleman and advocating on his behalf to try and get the amount of his check adjusted since much of it was cut because of owed child support. Due to his garnished wages he was no longer able to even afford rent. A part of me couldn't resist feeling that some justice was made. He didn't attempt to pay child support nor did he come to court when he was summoned and now found himself in a tough spot because he didn't take care of his duties as a dad.

We don't judge. Or we shouldn't judge as case managers.* It's not fair that a father doesn't take care of his kids but his check shouldn't be reduced so greatly that he can barely live off his income. Not to take away from his responsibility that he should've taken care of his responsibilities. But he already got the results of his mistake and now he'll have to pay child support. It's my job to advocate that he gets a more fair judgment.

I've worked with men who failed to pay child support, people who committed felonies, people who were involved in domestic abuse towards their partner, past or current drug or alcohol abusers. It's illuminating to work with people who've made choices I may not agree or understand. It makes me think -- about what brings people to make decisions they do and the context in which they make choices. 

I don't think it's such a wide gap  a person from making a right or wrong decision (of course defining right and wrong is another story, but I would keep it as a right decision is one that doesn't hurt yourself or another person). Makes me think also about how society views people with a tarnished background, particularly in terms of rehabilitation. It's challenging in many ways to force myself to consider another person's perspective.

* I'm separating judging from reacting to a situation that we know a client is actively wanting to or is hurting himself or another person.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was discussing this with someone recently. A non-social worker was saying something along the lines of, a lot of my clients don't deserve to be parents. It was so hard to explain to him the idea of being non-judgmental--the fact that, learning people's stories and what they've been through int heir own lives doesn't excuse their behavior, but it does help to explain it. And that if I didn't have faith and hope in my clients, and approach them with a non-judgmental attitude, I wouldn't be able to work with them at all--where would that leave us?