Monday, December 3, 2012

It Doesn't Take One to Know One

In my life as a school psychologist and later a social worker, one of the most frustrating roadblocks was a parent's refusal to take me seriously because I didn't have my own children. I heard from my colleagues that it wasn't just my age; parents were often hostile even toward established workers in the field who were childless.

This is ridiculous. The male obstetrician who assisted me with Peter's birth had never given birth, but he knew what needed to be done (and what didn't need to be done) for a healthy birth. I've never dealt with divorce, self-injury, or parental substance abuse, but I've had successful counseling relationships with teens and children facing these issues. Even before I had Peter, I had an understanding of child development and positive parenting choices.

Clearly, parenting this boy has brought me new levels of wisdom.
And yes, that's the U from his foam tub letters.

The "you don't know me!" mindset is pervasive, though. It prevents pro-life men from speaking out because they'll be accused of being chauvinists. It's used as an argument for priests to marry (how can a celibate possibly be able to counsel a married couple?). Even among parents, we find a way to dismiss another's insight. "You wouldn't say that if you had a son/daughter/teen/etc."

If the only flaw you can find in someone's advice/critique/opinion is that he doesn't share your life experience, perhaps you need to reevaluate your position. Then you'll be qualified to give advice to people who change their minds. ;-)

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