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Aibu to expect people to help themselves in their own lives?

(564 Posts)
Lazymazy1 Mon 21-Nov-16 16:23:39

Have wanted to be a social worker for many years, have a degree and was looking to do a MSc.
However, doing voluntary work with a family who are in a very chaotic position, who won't help themselves, ie getting pregnant again whilst effectively homeless. Not taking control of things which will make a big difference in their current situation.
It isn't a case of can't, but won't help themselves, perhaps ingrained.
Am I being unreasonable ? Or are there good reasons why people just won't help themselves?

TheGruffaloMother Mon 21-Nov-16 16:29:48

Probably best to rethink being a social worker as you have too loose a grasp on why people make poor decisions for themselves. That's not meant in a nasty way but there are IMO professions where you need to leave your judgement at the door in order to really excel.

Inthenick Mon 21-Nov-16 16:32:35

Social worker is not the job for you I'm afraid. I think you saw the romantic side of the job when the reality is that people are very messed up, ill, damaged etc. and all you can do is your best to help them without judging. If they could help themselves they wouldnt need a social workers involvement so you can be sure that every case you would be dealing with would leave you perplexed and frustrated.

EekAmIBonkers Mon 21-Nov-16 16:34:37

I think YABU to hold that view and social work is definitely not something you should be aspiring to.

BadKnee Mon 21-Nov-16 16:35:53

I agree though OP- but saying so makes you "judgy" which is apparently a bad thing. (I agree it won't help you in your role as a social worker though)

I do understand that there are often reasons why people make bad choices but that does not mean that it should be encouraged or that society or worse other members of that family (especially children) should pay.

We need to educate, to reward the good choices, to enable the better choices, to support those who need it. Absolutely - but at the moment that is not how it works.

Alfieisnoisy Mon 21-Nov-16 16:36:52

I don't think you are the right person to be a social worker. That's not meant nastily by the way but to work with chaotic families you have to be able to leave the judgement at the door and help them in their current predicament. I do have some sympathy with you as it's hard to see people in chaotic positions who then take utterly mad decisions which won't help them. It helps to remember that when families are that chaotic they are usually just letting life happen and not making many conscious decisions. That's why their lives are chaotic in the first place.

I volunteer to work with families like this and it can be hard to watch them sometimes. I approach them in a "Rome wasn't built in a day" way and hope that with support from me and others that they will gradually make better decisions. I work to get them into education to support their children...English and Maths etc but recognise that to get them doing this it helps to show them education can be fun too. So we offer baking and art etc as well....then we look to move them on.

It is hard though sometimes.

BeautyGoesToBenidorm Mon 21-Nov-16 16:42:02

I don't think you are the right person to be a social worker. That's not meant nastily by the way but to work with chaotic families you have to be able to leave the judgement at the door and help them in their current predicament.

This. It takes a certain type of person to be a truly excellent social worker, and if what you describe is your kneejerk reaction to families in sufficient difficulty to warrant SS involvement for whatever reason, I really don't feel this is the job for you.

NarcsBegone Mon 21-Nov-16 16:44:01

In that line of work this is the very tip of the iceberg of what you will see. I would recommend MANY more hours of volunteering before you decide whether or not this is for you.

tectonicplates Mon 21-Nov-16 16:44:05

Sorry OP but I really don't think social work is the right career for you.

OurBlanche Mon 21-Nov-16 16:46:57

I spent 5 years working in a community charity, working with just such hapless individuals. I did judge, I did wonder WTF? on a daily basis.

But the client group never knew that. They were always faced with a never ending sense of calm, an ever listening ear, an uninvolved 'stranger' to offer advice and a helping hand.

I was, as were many colleagues - NHS and SS staff - perfectly capable of separating my personal thoughts and way of living from my professional ways of thinking.

If you have recognised such patterns of behavior you need a non-judgmental space in which to discuss it. Almost everyone you will work with will have their own way fo dealing with this. If you meet anyone who claims not to know what you mean run... smile

TeenAndTween Mon 21-Nov-16 16:47:48

To answer your actual question
- Some people are too busy getting by day to day to see the bigger picture
- Some people are chaotic due to learning difficulties and won't be organised enough to sort things like birth control
- Some people feel that there lives are so hopeless anyway that they can't make a difference
- Some people want a large family over and above any other considerations
- Some people have poor role models and don't see any other way of life

Probably other reasons too.

EdmundCleverClogs Mon 21-Nov-16 16:49:20

Really? The op sounds like most social workers I know - judgmental without an ounce of sympathy or insight. Think she would fit right in.

OurBlanche Mon 21-Nov-16 16:49:34

Meant to say... I still work with some of the same people, 20 years on, in smoking cessation and foodbank sessions.

I still wonder how the hell they manage to make the same mistakes over and over again... how they manage to think up new ways to screw themselves over (and that's without the machinations of governmental organisations, etc) and when/if they will ever be able to manage their own affairs.

GashleyCrumbTiny Mon 21-Nov-16 16:51:44

Agree with PP. I know I couldn't do social work for exactly this reason. I would get too frustrated with people who won't make sensible decisions. I know they exist and admire people who can work alongside people who seem to be undoing everything they're trying to do for them. But that's what social workers need to be able to do.

BonusNewt Mon 21-Nov-16 16:52:47

Some people make their lives chaotic (not on purpose) because they are trying to distract themselves from deep underlying issues. I'm not saying that is a thought out approach, but it does seem to be a subconscious reason. The chaos is a distraction. When the chaos seems to be lessening somewhat- let's get pregnant, or get a dog, or three cats, or something. Its like self sabotage.

PortiaCastis Mon 21-Nov-16 16:54:57

Shouldn't your volunteering be confidential OP??

MorrisZapp Mon 21-Nov-16 16:55:02

Yanbu at all. I don't get it either. I trained as a teacher but never entered the profession because I don't have the patience to deal with out and out muppetry.

Kids who want to learn, great. Kids who revel in their ignorance and try to stop others learning, fuck off. And they get it from their appalling parents.

Don't give yourself the aggro. Do something else.

Fortitudine Mon 21-Nov-16 16:58:15

You could be a social worker. I don't think you have the emotional intelligence required to be a good social worker. Although that hasn't stopped my sister-in-law...

OohhThatsMe Mon 21-Nov-16 17:01:19

She's hardly breaking confidentiality, Portia.

KERALA1 Mon 21-Nov-16 17:02:02

I used to work with clients like that. Quickly realised I couldn't do it - too frustrating. Eg child taken into care, acting for parents need to prove to judge they are seeking to improve, I would find parenting classes etc they wouldn't even go. Not working so nothing else to do.

GrinchyMcGrincherson Mon 21-Nov-16 17:04:20

I also think you will struggle in social work with this outlook. You will see chaos EVERY DAY. Every single family you work with will have chaos. Some will accept help but sadly many more won't.

For some it's self sabotage, some have issues that go back a long way, some have mental illnesses, some are just stubborn and won't accept help and some just checked out of life. These are just the tip of the iceberg. There are a whole host of reasons why someone may end up in chaos.

As a social worker you will NEVER be able to fix everything. Some families will welcome help, some will take it then something else will happen and they will go 59 steps back, some will resent you, some will ignore you, some will break your heart. It's not an easy path and I fear the frustration that comes across here will drive you insane.

ItShouldHaveBeenJingleJess Mon 21-Nov-16 17:04:29

hapless individuals

kids who revel in their ignorance and try to stop others learning. Fuck off

Nice thread.

TheNaze73 Mon 21-Nov-16 17:05:29


ThisIsStartingToBoreMe Mon 21-Nov-16 17:05:36

Another one here who thinks social work isn't the right career for you, sorry.

indigox Mon 21-Nov-16 17:05:58

As much as you may NBU with your views, social work is not going to be the career for you.

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