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The Life of a Normal American Family-Instructional Guide for New and Seasoned Social Workers
by susie harrison   

Last edited: Sunday, February 16, 2003
Posted: Sunday, February 16, 2003

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Social Workers of America are having a campaign to improve their image across the nation. As an American Family Rights Association director and member along with independent advocacy, Families at Risk webmaster and rep,columnist for Parent News, umong other affiliations; I took this opportunity to share REAL family life expectations and summarized ways they could improve their credibility with the public.

Life of a NORMAL American Family

An informative article for New or Seasoned Social Workers

On restoring social workers reputation.

I am a 35-year-old mother of four children. Basically, I am single. Daddy is around, but not often and the money is scarce. But this is life. Each family learns to adapt to their surroundings that God has given them. Not always with grace, but we learn to accept our liabilities. Might I add that poor parents love their children too?

My children’s ages are all over the board, from a toddler to teens. The diversity of issues that grace our house everyday would be alarming to you (norm to us)…and because of this-no guidelines your department experts could give me would suit our needs. No childless-Child Expert can tell ME better on how to raise my large family 24 hours a day. This includes young college graduates with idealistic goals that do not have experience raising their OWN birthed children.

I am on-call 24/7. I don’t work like you from 8-5 with perhaps some overtime to compensate for lunch or breaks. I am ALWAYS on the go…attending LOVINGLY and LOGICALLY to the needs of everyone in the world around me, EXCEPT myself. AND I don’t get paid. I do this from my heart.

I haven’t had my nails done in years, nice long nails would hurt children during diaper changes and fixing boo boo’s. When I do buy nail polish from the dollar store I can bet with in 24 hours my 3-year-old will have used it as war paint while I am in the shower.

My hair is not curled but once a year. I already went through the ER visit with my older children when they were young, for a curling iron burn on an arm or neck. Never serious, but enough for me to know that I will not be able to curl my hair daily until after my children grow up and move out of the house. This also removes the hickey/curling iron burn excuse for teens. Pretty creative isn’t it?

Being in a house full of boys there is ALWAYS noise. There is always someone hurt, there is always someone crying, AND there is always laughter.

There is always a new pro-wrestling move being experimented with while Mommy (me) is in the other room. The youngest is by far the most easiest target and we have a regular ‘kiss boo boo’ routine and close bond.

I can see your wheels turning already, but I will continue with the REALISTIC life of a mother of a large family with children she truly loves from instinct.

Siblings will rival, so there will be battles for attention from me, each other, or the girl down the street. This has happened since the beginning of time. Your new rules and fad of descriptions of disturbed children are merely whims of inexperience.

And Attention Deficit Disorder that your agency LOVES to medicate? Come on, each child has their own individual energy levels. Boys between the ages of 2-6 have the highest activity level. After this age, if you direct that energy into COMPETITIVE (yes, I said competitive) sports, you can re-channel. Don’t give our nation’s children an excuse to NOT pay attention in class and then give them drugs, teaching them that drugs can be the answer to all problems.

Many children who’s lives have been interrupted by the taking from their natural parents will also most definitely seem to have some disorder…when this is actually caused by the taking of a child.

AND temper tantrums must be addressed promptly and at a young age, or your child will live with un-abounded negative energy till they are grown (that is what real ADD is all about).

MY HOUSE IS RARELY CLEAN. There are dishes in the sink at the end of each day. Laundry days are only about once a week and never fully completed, my clothes go to the wayside for children’s school clothes first.

Kids rooms are almost always dirty, if not, just look under a bed or any available closet. You won’t find a monster in the closet, but you will find a landslide. This is also a historical tradition with any normal children. I would suspect a problem if these conditions didn’t exist.

I also pride myself on the belief that dishes can wait, quality time with MY children cannot! This should not be used against a parent.

If there are pets, there is sure to be an occasional poo poo on the floor that everyone will rush to avoid the task to clean it up…leaving ME again with the chore. But after changing four children’s diapers, poo poo does not bother me in ways it might bother the kids or YOU.

However, because I know of this experience, I choose not to have pets. This actually cheats the little ones out of that ‘man’s best friend’ relationship and the lesson of learning to care for another’s needs. They also lose that early companionship, which will spark an invisible friend, to compensate.

We have two more children residing in our home (invisible ones)…DON’T panic, our family pediatrician assures us this is normal and won’t cost me any more in grocery money.

With out the proper discipline tools (by law) when my little ones were at a learning age, I no longer have the force to insist that they carry out chore responsibilities. Those years are lost with the older ones.

I do pick a day of the week for ME to do most of the work, usually on a weekend or just when ever I find the time. SO your clever little surprise visits will always find my house in some kind of varying disarray.

Your agency may pick an in-appropriate time to ‘drop in’ if I allowed you (hypothetically). But I am not involved in your service plans to needy (normal) families. Your agency has the reputations for picking odd hours so that you can intentionally find fault in any parent’s ‘imperfect life’.

In actuality, I do have the perfect family life. Your ideas of Tim Taylor’s family or the Cosby’s house are distorted.

But I can assure you this, if I didn’t have to pinch every penny and live from payday to payday, I would have a maid and/or a nanny to make my home and life appear the way you desire.

I am not YOUR perfect mother. I am not a robot. I wake early and stay up very late to accommodate sick children, children who avoid bedtime at all costs, children who won’t get up for school, children who forgot to do their homework until bedtime...etc.

AND I get moody. HOLD the PHONE, I am not manic-depressant or bi-polar…again more made up ‘disorders’. I am a very busy Mom who has to have the uncanny ability to cry with a broken hearted teen one minute then convert to an overjoyed Mommy, when my 6 year old spells ‘mandatory reporter’ correctly for his spelling test the next day.

I must be sad on command when my teen boy does not make the Football team this year, then suddenly cry with joy as my three-year-old poops in the potty and wipes himself for the first time!

This is a great talent, not a disability.

And yes, I do get impatient while I am trying to cook dinner, speak with a disappointed teacher on the phone, while kissing boo boos, and answering business emails simultaneously.

I do snap at my children occasionally when they are inconsiderate as I try to accomplish many tasks and they do not wait their turn for my attentions. They must learn to be patient themselves, wait their turn, and to be considerate of others.

When my older child hurts a younger child by picking on him, I just may swat him 3 times on the behind and send him to time out till he feels he is ready to apologize to everyone involved. This is appropriate. AND yes, my children will often come out of their rooms a few minutes later with a hug and a sincere apology with out my prompting…thus exhibiting that this method teaches them to learn on their own. They learn their own value system, with a little coaxing from me.

We don’t always have time for touchy feely bull; we do the best job we can. There is always time made in each day for hugs. It may be 10 times of 5 second hugs, ‘I love you’s’, and kiss blowing as I drop them off at school. No matter how the day goes, the children know they are loved. They know if they misbehave they will be disciplined, when they do well they will be praised, and when they are hurt they will be comforted. If they get themselves in a real bind, they will be supported and assisted by a loving mother. In the end, a valuable life lesson will be learned.

Hopefully they are also learning that hard work has its rewards. Spoiling children is not a good thing. Children NEED to learn hard work and its rewards NOW. When they grow up and join the real world they need to have those skills already. If you pamper your child’s whims, moods, and feelings too much…they will become a burden to society as adults. They will not be prepared for life beyond home. And isn’t this our job as parents, to protect, discipline, nurture, and guide our children into a successful transition into their own independent life?

Young children DO understand the concept of lying. They happen upon a lie around 2 or 3 and discover that with a lie they both are not disciplined and get away with something, they get unjust rewards, or extra attention. I am very experienced with this. Your concept that little children don’t lie is wrong.

In addition, I know from witnessing several (usually boys) between ages 4-6 who love making up stories that sound real. This is creativity at its best, a parent must make sure the child knows and relates to others whether it is a STORY or an actual event.

While baby-sitting my best girlfriends 5 year old boy, he told me wonderfully interesting stories about his father having a volcano in his stomach and when he vomits it is erupting. Now any stranger may make many assumptions off of this very creative story, however as we know this boys daddy we know that he isn’t a sick drug addict, terminally ill, an alcoholic, or bulimic.

With the right prompting, an adult can easily manipulate children. Especially a stranger adult whom they do not know what is expected from them. Children in most cases are taught to please adult authority figures, thus their minds, own imaginations, and words can be twisted to mean something different than really happened.

If children grow witnessing parents lying, or are not disciplined when they do lie, they will continue to use lying as a technique to get what they want. They will lose a very valuable quality…trustworthiness. This will follow them into adulthood where they will seek careers that they can get away with lying and deceit, such as Lawyers, social workers, used car salesmen, politicians and so on.

Normal children do get injured, and no, parents can’t remember where every bruise or mark comes from. If a two-parent home has ONE child (especially a girl), this is possible to be vigilant enough to know. But in today’s world where there are either two working parents or single parents of more than 2 children, this concept of the completely aware parent at all times is silly. This is especially with rowdy boys in the home. SEVERE injuries, yes, minor bumps, scratches, or light bruise…no.

I get exhausted meeting all the demands of motherhood. There are days I don’t want to get out of bed. Days I would just like to sleep in, eat ice cream and watch movies all day. These days rarely happen, but believe me they are not signs of mental illness, depression, bi-polar…etc. Not all financially challenged parents need to be on Prozac, although they can get it anywhere.

Children will get in occasional disputes with neighbor children. THIS is normal part of growing up. This is NOT a sign that a child is abused or has ‘attention deficit disorder’. This is the normal pecking order in any neighborhood.

Children, as they grow learn ways to ‘play well with others’. You must give them the freedom to learn how to interact with other children. Guidance is a plus for sure, but in the end this is how children learn social skills. When parents get upset with the parent of another child over a squabble, they are acting childish. Because tomorrow your children will be friends again and the two parents will have a strained relationship forever.

My motto, be mature and let the children work it out safely on their own.

Children who repeatedly hit other children LACK discipline, and are not VICTIMS of violence necessarily. If young children do act violently towards other children the parent needs to address this swiftly and definitively. Spending time psycho analyzing a child is a waste of precious time and a danger to others in the meanwhile.

There are days I do get migraines, and it is no wonder. If a social worker stopped by my house un-announced on that day, surely they would try to FIND a way to take my children. The house is not cluttered but a mess. Perhaps the children did not even get to school on time, or an older one would have to stay home to help with the baby. Perscription medicine bottles line the nightstand by my bed or coach and I am weak and weepy. But social services does not take these normal things into consideration.

Nor does social services, who try to pop up at an inconvenient time know that regardless of the current situation; our family a few days later might be enjoying a fun-filled day at the lake fishing, camping, or barbecuing and BONDING; creating lifetime memories with loved ones.

This is life people, but in our modern day of Government intervening into families, especially low income ones who struggle are intruded upon everyday. Normal large family life is invaded upon and questioned by the inexperienced social worker with no children of their own, any life experience of the reality of parenting. These unqualified young workers have no business making the ultimate and awesome decisions to remove children from parents who love them.

Social workers MUST be taught to know the difference between GENUINE child abuse and normal family living.

CPS takes children too easily, for little or no reason. Or children are often ripped from parents’ arms because a protective parent might challenge a social worker’s legal standing. THIS happens very often. The case becomes not one of the best interest of the children…but a power or control issue of the State over parent’s rights. THIS WASTES VALUABLE CASELOADS, MONEY, TIME, AND RESOURCES AND TAKES ALL THESE THINGS AWAY FROM TRULY ABUSED CHILDREN THAT SLIP THROUGH THE CRACKS!

Instead of social workers threatening to take children over a dirty house, lack of food, lack of good clothing, lack of utility payment and so on…why not use all the federal and state money that supports the separation of such families to assist the family with out blackmail. Use this money to help hire some initial cleaning help for an overwhelmed mother, or purchase a Wal-Mart gift card for appropriate clothing for children in need (ask for a receipt), or pay the electric bill up to date. This would save a heck of a lot of taxpayer money and perhaps the mental and emotional stability of families and children.

REMEMBER, taking a child who is loved and not truly in imminent danger from their natural parents, then placing them in foster home after foster home…causes serious and irreparable harm. Attachment Disorder, Parent Alienation syndrome, abandonment, confusion, anxiety disorders, to name a few.

If you want to improve the reputation of social workers all over the country you must improve your attitude, your honesty in your paperwork, you must respect families and truly assist them, and you must defend them when they are innocent.

You must respect that if a child must be removed they be immediately taken to a close friend or family member who has a bond with the child to spare the child irreparable harm.

You must work at all costs (unless sadistic and true physical and/or sexual abuse is absolutely evident) to keep that family together and limit your intrusion into their lives.

Above all, be honest with families, don’t make false promises. Be honest in your notes of families; include all positive aspects of family relationships. AND be HONEST in court. Don’t twist words and your paperwork to cover your behind when you have found you might have made a mistake. Take responsibility for your own actions before you expect others to do the same.

Be a noble example to parents, families, children, and the judicial system.

I hope that my article to your campaign will be considered in an educational and positive light. This is how your agency is seen, as a deceitful, power hungry, intrusive, irresponsible, group out to steal children away from loving parents.

The word CPS should NOT strike fear in the hearts of every man, woman, and child in the US as it does today. It should create a feeling of warmth and safety, knowing that only truly abused children will finally be protected because you have the knowledge and time to know just who they are.

I am personally asking you to do everything you can to restore professionalism, respectability, honesty, and integrity back into such an awesome job…protecting our nations children AND families.

Thank you,


Web Site: Parent News

Reader Reviews for "The Life of a Normal American Family-Instructional Guide for New and Seasoned Social Workers"

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Reviewed by Jennifer Butler
HA! CPS is a Terrorist Organization leeching off the citizens' paychecks.

When a vengeful and abusive man has a healthy slum lord's pocketbook, a lawyer on hand, a direct dial to the Sheriff for evicting poor people, and a large, televised church, CPS doesn't CARE if the Senior Pastor of that Church was heard saying just before his semi-retirement that "All women used to be prositutes." No, CPS is going to take sides with the abusive, tormentor, tyrant, kidnapper, character defaming APE who through out his brand new, much younger bride


Who then kidnapped her son


The mother is continually accused, questioned, terrified, worried about her destroyed reputation, her health is beginning to fail due to the continual onslaught of Authoritative Strangers intruding into the sanctity of her home, threatening to take her children, making her new husband despise her, destroying her children's lives FOREVER.

With the help of Child Protection Services, and this sort of power and authoritative instruction for a young man, WHO NEEDS THE DEVIL?
Reviewed by Bree
I have one word for this....AMEN!
Reviewed by Cheryl Dunlap
It is a pitiful shame that this needs to be said. Of course your article is the epitome of common sense. The fact that we have to fight for this is what is so scary.
Reviewed by Holly Dreger (Reader)
You tell it like it is! AMEN! Thankfully, I do NOT work for CPS but in my state I have seen the fallout in families when CPS has swooped in and effectively made a huge mess of families without just cause. Unfortunately also, case workers have been called social workers, and they are NOT unless they have a DEGREE in social work. Often times, that is how we've gotten a bum rap. You sound like the kind of mom any kid would be blessed to have. :-)
Reviewed by Fern
So real it strikes a nerve with every active parent!

Remember, the Arkansas District Court recently affirmed that DFS, CPS may NOT invade a family's home because of dishes on the table and a CAT (yes, a CAT) sleeping on the clean laundry basket. Sites like this and the Newsgroup alt support child protective services are MAKING A DIFFERENCE.

They are letting folks folks know that you should NEVER speak to CPS, absent emergency circumstances. When you do, they will surely find something to remediate, so they can keep their sinecures.
Reviewed by Sabrina
Nice article...makes me rememer the good ole' days when "family" was the center of happiness and Ritalin wasn't a household word. My daughters' faces before they were taken for "suspicion" glisten with the light of love that is now a portrait of darkness. They look into the camera during these visits like dogs at the pound who feel they weren't good enough to be kept. Unfortunately, this story is a fragment of American history that I don't think will ever return.
Reviewed by michael
Yes I agree they should help remain the family and use foster care money for the parents and children in assistance to uphold the family with self esteem to prosper in education or a tech Grant with job placement at the end of schooling/
Reviewed by Teresa
I love it. This is so true. I see it in my little girls face as she is ripped from every foster home as soon as she becomes comfortable. And I see the lying deceitful social workers who dont have the 'balls' to stand up to their superiors helping to destroy the family when they know in their hearts that they are wrong. I just cant help but wonder when will it change. This is a wonderful letter.
Reviewed by Cathy Gatcia
I think SusieQ has hit the nail squarely on the head. She has put into words exactly my thoughts and feelings. Awesome Job!!!!
Reviewed by jesse shands
an inspiring look into family life! A "MUST READ" for anyone involved with children. I was one of those rowdy boys lucky enough to have a loving and SUPPORTIVE mother!! God bless!
Reviewed by Aimee Dutkiewicz
AWESOME!!!!! Susie may I have permission to reprint this. My mom would love to read it and she does not have internet now??? This is so well written, so excellent in description. I would love to send it to CT DCF 's new Commish-- she took office Friday. May I copy it to microsoft and send it out without the ID info????
Reviewed by Ann
Reviewed by Dean Tong
As a forensic trial consultant, multi-published author and battler with social services across America for the past 19 years, it's nice to receive an objective read of child protective service intake workers. Perhaps, Ms. Harrison already visited
Reviewed by Loretta Weber
I liked your story. Unfortunately, these social workers do not seem to have any common sense and don't probably understand any of it and only will when they have children of their own. Also, they probably won't read it if it is too long.
Reviewed by Robert T

I liked this story enough to link to it from my own
website. I could not put it under Scholarship, so I
placed it under Parody, though as a personal story it
has more value than any academic work. You show vividly
how the normal actions of a family can be, and routinely
are, construed as abuse, and justifications for family

Reviewed by Leah Harp
There are many loving homes and parents that are being unjustly accused, BUT there are, also, some that are being justly accused and our systems are failing to protect the child from harm due to political ties of family members---this is the case with my granddaughter which is being abused by her stepfather and being kept away from me--the one that raised her all her life while the bioparents carried on with their sorted and illegal lives. The SW need to be held accountable for the decisions that they make and they need to be properly educated instead of being able to lie on the stand and accept money for their lies from family members they were working to save by their lies. The child is the MAIN concern and should be protected at all cost --TRUTHFULLY.
Reviewed by debbie
Good job Susie !! "Social Workers" need to be educated on the everyday workings of the American Family in its various sizes and compositions and learn respect for the naturally difficult task of being a good, loving parent. Children don't come with instruction books, and parents (with a few exceptions) are still the best experts on what their children need.
Reviewed by Irene Petit
I LOVE IT! It says it all!
Reviewed by Charlotte
I agree with almost all of this article. The parts I don't agree with are "There should be no CPS" Listen to this, "CPS=government" Now, "NO CPS=NO GOVERNMENT involovment. Families should help each other. Neighbors should help each other. NO GOVERNMENT AT ALL.
Reviewed by Roger R.
This was and is a very good article. BUT, Not to be one from the other side But, I'm a single or was a single Male paerent and have been for the past 12 years of yes four (4) great kids. And NO the mother wasen't around she packed up and moved to anought State. My kids are curranly B-18, G-16, B-15 and G-13. Untell the State stepped in and I am currantly fighting DCFS/CPS and all those other letters that they have. All my G-13, and B-15 keep telling everyone is they want to go home. This all started from an arguement between me and my G-16 over her 18 year old boyfriend, Him and her called the agancy, with false lies now I'm a lost Father in the Country of UTAH, fighting to get my kids back. Please in future writings please try to encloude all the Fathers that are Single parents as well. I am as well trying to the best to give my kids what use to be a normal life. But have always been fighting as others may have and or might be doing as well. I am not putting down Single Female parents cause YES they have been fighting this war longer then their male counter parts. Bottom line is the article is a great artcle even though I changed the parts mother or femalle. To father and male. Keep up the great work. And I hope soon I might be able to bring my family back home. A Lost Father with out his Family in Utah.
Reviewed by m j hollingshead
interesting article
Reviewed by Ruth Peterson
Social Workers need to be trained to obey the federal mandates which govern the placement of children into foster care.
The first and most important thing is to lessen the impact of the trauma, associated with the removal of a child from their own home.
A social Worker is mandared to "seek out and locate a fit and willing adult relative placemnent for a child, BEFORE that child is removed."
If this were done in proper order, there would be no trauma to the child. Find grandma, do a background check on the relative, and move the child's personal belongings with the child. Everything familiar to the child will lessen the trauma if the personal possesions of the child are moved with the child.
If the child is placed with a grandparent or other relative, that will also be less traumatic, there will be NO NEED for expensive therapists and psychologists.
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