“You understand you can refuse our involvement”, said the support worker over the phone.
It’s been a couple of months since a social worker knocked on my door admitting a relative of my husband had made claims against my parenting. You can read more about that here.
Since this day the social worker offered my family involve a support worker who would have weekly meetings with my husband and I. The goal is to give us support as we learn to navigate having toxic relatives in our family’s lives.
The social worker said she could see how the involvement of my in-laws in our family’s lives was on the verge of tearing us apart. She said her service is not simply available to remove children from a home, but to offer assistance and support in any way necessary to help a family thrive.
She offered my husband and I involve a support worker who would give us different resources and exercises to teach us practical methods of protecting our family, boundaries and proper communication methods.
I’ve felt communication methods especially helpful for me because in the past I’ve felt I had no choice but to let my in-laws get involved in our family’s lives. Having them come over unannounced and handle my kids as they pleased- it was hard to stand up and admit if I was uncomfortable or say to my husband that they couldn’t come in without notice.
During the first meeting with this support worker, she clarified to me every topic we would be covering in our time together. She said her services are available for 3-6 months and that we can refuse her services at any time or can extend her involvement if we wanted as well.
Hearing that I could refuse her involvement made me question if this was a real option. I mean, knowing a social worker was the one who recommended her, made me feel that I had no choice but to involve her in my family situation or else I would be at risk of losing my kids. Yet through out the process of meeting with me, this support worker has not insisted on being involved further than I was comfortable with. She often suggested exercises and activities and at any point I said anything was too much for me she instantly backed off.
This support worker seems to take cues from me and my comfort level. It makes me feel like I’m not being reprimanded for my in-laws filing a claim against my parenting, but truly being supported.
I’ve been open with close friends about how this process has been for us. I actually have two friends that are involved in social work. One is a social worker and the other is just about to graduate from the University program. They have been a great encouragement to me concerning each step taken with the social worker and support worker’s involvement. They help me to understand why each step is taken and the level of safety I can truly have with this involvement.
I have been pleasantly surprised by this experience so far. Though there is still the feeling of despair in my heart for the fact that this is my life. Why do I have to be the one with such cruel relatives involved in my life? Why do I have to involve such measures as social workers and support workers to simply live a comfortable and thriving life with my husband and kids?
I know my story is not a rare one. So I’m telling it. Because I do believe many look at the involvement of social workers and support workers as negative. For me and my family, I believe it’s been of the utmost importance. I also know many who struggle with toxic family members and don’t feel they can speak up about this. That needs to stop. Just because someone is “family” doesn’t mean they are safe.
I hope this post has encouraged you. If you are going through a similar situation or know someone who is please feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org