Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Deserve. I hear and use this word a lot. But what does it mean? It's one of those words that gets thrown around, and it's base lies in the eye of the beholder.

1. To earn by service; to be worthy of (something due, either good or evil); to merit; to be entitled to; as, the laborer deserves his wages; a work of value deserves praise.
[1913 Webster]

I realize that I frequently make comments using this word. This person deserves this, that one doesn't. Most commonly in my job stating this mom or that deserves to lose their parental rights to their children. But why?? What gives me the right to make any such judgments? Now granted, at my work I see some pretty horrific things. Neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, drug abuse. You name it, I've more then likely had to deal with it on my case load, or had to learn about it in training, or knew about it on someone else's case load. This bombardment of negativity would eventually turn the stomach of Mother Teresa, and Mary Poppins would switch from a spoon full of sugar to a glass full of boos.
The longer I work here, the more I learn that many of these moms and dads had no level ground on which to built their own house of parenting. You are what you know. Many of the drug users are just trying to get by, but the children become collateral as their parents can't even meet their own needs.

So who deserves what? Did these parents deserve better parents? Do they deserve another chance? Do the kids deserve to be severed from their parents and all of their relatives?
Or more simply thought, do people deserve to have bad things happen to them? How do we know someone deserves something when it's a good thing, but not a bad? Maybe I don't deserve to be a parent, maybe I do. Maybe I deserve this job, maybe I don't. Maybe women in Africa deserve to die of AIDS, maybe they don't.

This is where your belief system jumps in. If you believe in karma, God, nothing; those things are all designed to attempt to answer the questions about who deserves what and why. But this doesn't stop the internal need to answer these questions and jump to conclusions ourselves. And what damage does that do? When my friends say 'you deserve to be a mother', my initial response is 'why'? What do you base this belief on? if you look at my history, the risk of my screwing up at parenting is much higher then average. Combined with my tendency to be lazy, not follow through on things, get bored easily, love to sleep, and controlling manner, it's a recipe for chaos and disaster. And you think I deserve to throw a child into that mix? What am I missing here?

But there I am telling someone else they deserve to be a mother, too. And I usually base it on my gut. Except with fellow bloggers, and then god help me if there's any rhyme or reason to my justification! What I've read? What they've commented? Or I don't have anything to base why they don't deserve.

So maybe we should all leave it up to the powers that be.

But my my my wouldn't that be boring~


CA Momma said...

Great Post Steph! Personally I don't think that people deserve to have bad things happen to them but you're right it is not MY place to make any judgements. I am in such awe of you! Suviving the bombardment of negativity...

Bea said...

You're right - the word "deserve" is loaded. The most I can accurately say is person X deserves something "as much as the next person" or something to that effect.

But as a society, I do think we have to make judgements. And whilst we should take extenuating circumstances into account, ultimately we can't allow certain actions to flourish (abuse/etc).

I guess it's safer if we judge the actions, not the person.


My Reality said...

I love this post, Steph. I think that you probably see many cases where people have children who don't deserve them. I think that would be an awful thing to see, especially when so many of us struggle to have what comes so easily to them.

As far as what a child deserves, I think they deserve the best a parent can provide. That doesn't necessarily mean private schools and designer clothes. I think it means a loving home with unconditional support. I also think it means you deserve to be a parent. You see so much bad and it is your time to do good for a child. How can I answer that, when you are right, who are we to judge who deserves to be a parent? Easy, like you said, a lot of it is gut instinct.