“It Didn’t Do Me Any Harm!”

When undertaking an assessment of a parent’s or potential carer’s capacity to parent, it is vital to gain a clear picture of what their childhood was like.
Although it is important to grasp their view of their childhood you do have to be aware that this may be of little use to you in assessing their ability to parent
Why might this be the case?
Because the vast majority of parents you come into contact with have no other, or limited alternative parental experiences with which to properly compare or evaluate the parenting they have received.
This is why you may be working with someone who has really had the most horrendous, terrible childhood experiences, but who claims that their childhood was fine. Despite the information you have gathered how abusive it was in reality.
Or they might comment that it didn’t do them any harm.
Whilst they may argue this point passionately, the reality is that they were rarely in a position to make an informed decision because they had nothing to compare it to and thus don’t really know whether the parenting they received did them any harm or not since they are not in a position to properly explore or judge it.
All parental experiences are of course relative. By this I mean that your evaluation of their parenting experience is dependent on who you compare it to, or by the standard you judge it against.
When analysing the quality of parenting a parent has received it may be useful to ask them questions such as ‘Out of 0 to 10 (0 being totally unhappy and 10 being ecstatic) how happy would you say you were as a child?
What this will provide you with is an understanding of what they view as ‘normal’ and your understanding of this is crucial because what is normal to them will be the standard that they set for their own children.
You will probably trying very hard to get them to appreciate the need to improve the quality of their parenting but you could well be hitting your head against a wall, because they have no understanding of why their parenting should be improved in any way. Since they will either argue that it didn’t do them any harm, or alternatively say that they provide better parenting than the parenting they received, whilst failing to be open enough to realise their parenting like their parents’ is just not ‘good enough.’


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