Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Let's not Assume

After working diligently with a family for 3 months, they successfully completed the family therapy program today. This was a kid who smoked marijuana daily, ran away often, barely went to school, and the mother had a history of being physically aggressive. Now, the family is communicating well, handling their conflict appropriately, and the teen is looking forward to starting 10th grade this week.

Interestingly enough, though this family is a success, I never really got a vibe from the mother that she liked me very much. She often disagreed with my therapy techniques, and there were times where I could have sworn I saw a scowl on her face when I came by the house for our weekly session. She was fairly quiet in general, and only seemed to speak up when she was arguing with someone in the family.

So here I am, saying my goodbyes, handing the family their certificate, when the mother blurts out, "I'm sad." I ask her why, and she looks at me, smiles sheepishly and says, "I feel like I'm losing a friend." I was speechless. And touched. I stammered something about keeping in touch and always being available for support but I really was in shock. It's funny how we can perceive a situation (or person) one way, and the reality be totally different. I thought her final words to me would be "Don't let the door hit ya, where the good Lord split ya!"

That experience led me to think about how many times we all make assumptions about people and maybe treat them unkindly because of it. Of course I always treat my clients with the utmost respect and kindness (even the challenging ones), however, what about other people in our everyday lives?

What about the homeless man on the corner? "Oh, he probably is gonna use this dollar for drugs so I better not give it to him." What about the mother in the grocery store with the toddler having a meltdown? "Wow, she's not parenting properly. Look how she's enabling that kid to have a fit in the middle of the aisle!" What about the ex-con who's applying for a job? "Hmm. It's best not to hire him 'cause old habits die hard. He probably can't be trusted." Meanwhile the homeless man was hungry, the toddler's mom was tired, and the ex-con was reformed.

We should always try to give people the benefit of the doubt. If someone cuts you off on the road, ya they could be a terrible driver, OR they could be on the way to an emergency situation. We should always treat others the way we would want to be treated, and I'm sure you'll agree that we all want to be cut some slack sometimes. How we treat others should solely be based on our desire to show love and kindness, not how we expect to be treated in return. And that's a lesson that we can all use for many different relationships in our lives.


  1. I LOVE this post! Congrats on a successful counseling experience with that family! :)

  2. I was thinking the sms thing just the other day...thanks for this post, it's worded much better than I could do!