If there’s one thing I’ve noticed about the many young mothers and their children it is this.
Their family units, if there is one, are dysfunctional and fractious. In many cases, families and loved ones are torn irreparably apart mainly due to extreme poverty. Now, I’m also one of those who believe that poverty is no excuse for men to sit around idly and abuse their spouses and children, sometimes quite violently. As the traditional breadwinners, I’m saying this without any prejudice; men can do much to take the burden off the shoulders of the women who are always running about looking for food to feed hungry mouths.
I’m speaking subjectively most of the time, but what I am doing here is advocating the need to rebuild the family unit and get the balance right. I’m also emphasizing the value of always being around loved ones. I say this too out of experience and out of love. I too, have experienced hard times, who hasn’t. But in the workplace I have witnessed hardships unimaginable. People in dire straits need to be helped as quickly as possible. Just one day’s delay could see a complete breakdown and leave them in a situation which makes it very difficult for them to get back on their feet again.
I’ve also witnessed what love can do. Without it the chances of successful recoveries are diminished. With love there is great potential for families to recover and have some semblance of normality restored to their lives. Children are no longer hungry, are properly clothed and sheltered and able to go to school every day on a full stomach. Mothers and fathers have their dignity restored and go on to secure jobs which can help them with supplying their families with the basic minimums required to have a normal and secure life. When people give of themselves willingly, I have noticed, blessings abound and the path towards a better life is made easier. When people merely feel obligated to help, the insincerity felt remains painful for those on the receiving end. Pride and dignity is not always restored.
Rebuilding the family unit
When the process of recovery is begun every effort is made to bring lost family members together again. This is imperative. One struggling mother with three children cannot cope. She needs her husband or partner at her side. If they have always loved one another and were only separated due to extreme poverty, I have every confidence in believing that the family unit can be restored. Of course, where there is rampant abuse and little chance of family reunification, another plan is embarked upon. This is where we, as social workers, come in to help. We provide troubled mothers and their children with a halfway house of sorts to help them back on their feet.
Getting the balance right
The perfect family, I have always believed, has both mother and father together supporting each other equally and doing their fair share of bringing up their small children. When one is missing, it becomes harder for the other to do everything on her own. It is all good and well that women in general have the natural ability to multitask but being overburdened with everything from a job, if there is one to go to, to domestic duties and supervising children’s homework, if they are at school, is never easy. I also don’t think I’m stretching it when I say that I believe a good and healthy family functions better when spouses are married for better or for worse as the saying goes.
The need to be around loved ones
When children, young or old, are surrounded with love from both the mother and father, they have a better chance of developing into healthy, well-rounded young adults. Love is also tough. Good mothers and fathers, inasmuch as it may hurt them sometimes, do go out of their way to discipline their children whenever necessary. In my view it is simply not enough when one mother or father (or both) merely go through the motions of fulfilling their obligations as parents. Children know when they are loved. They know when they are emotionally neglected as well. This is where rebellious streaks are often manifested in growing boys and girls who seek recourse and recognition elsewhere, often falling into the wrong hands and the wrong company.
Of course, this has only been an emotive conversation on my part. It could not be helped. But it is nice to let off steam every once in a while without having to talk purely on a professional level. You see, when you are dealing with family crises on my professional level, you are often required to distance yourself emotionally. This is not easy for me to accomplish. But there are many sound and professional reasons for maintaining that detached distance, most of which have to do with dispatching of social services efficiently and without delay. Counseling sessions have to be conducted humanely, of course, but remains effective when the social worker is not drawn into the patients’ circumstances on a personal level.
But I suppose that the hard work is made all worthwhile when it is done with love and especially when positive results ensue.