Job Opportunity

My colleague, the head clinician, needs to hire a new therapist. The criteria for the position are extensive. The 14 to 17-year-olds at this program are clinically complex. An appropriate applicant must be able to handle kids who have not previously met with success. These kids have done poorly in the classroom, on the athletic field, and in their social interactions. These are the kids who push boundaries. A good clinician must be endlessly patient. At the same time, a good clinician must be sensitive to manipulation and deception.  You can help these kids if you can put yourself in their shoes, see the world from their perspective. You cannot help these kids if you buy into all their bullshit. It's a fine line.
They head clinician knows many of the attributes of appropriate employees. Wilderness therapy psychologists need to be comfortable in, well, wilderness. The nearest indoor bathroom is 37 miles over yonder. An employee who insists on hot and cold running champagne will not be well suited.
The hiring decision is important. Life or death just about. The right clinician can help a kid get back on the path to academic, behavioral, and social success. A less skillful therapist can be part of an unfortunate, expensive, and ineffective process. How can the head clinician make a good choice from among 40 impressive resumes? Every applicant has a graduate degree; all the recommendations from professors are stellar; everyone has good work experience.
So the next step is to set up interviews. But surprisingly, phone calls are not returned. Or days pass before an applicant responds to an email. Potential employees ask about salary on the phone. Or negotiate appointment times. The head clinician wonders, "do these people actually want this job or not?"
Woody Allen said that 80% of life is just showing up. In these tough economic times, wouldn't applicants be better served by saying, "Yes sir, Friday evening at 7:00 pm would be fine. See you then." And then showing up well in advance because it's better to be an hour early than a minute late. You have to bring your best game if you're going to get the job done or, in this case, get the job period.
As parents, are we bringing our best game to our most important job? Are we helping our kids develop the skills that will serve them long term? Are we putting their needs above our own? Are we making the requisite sacrifices? Are we making the hard choices? When appropriate, are we giving the "gift of no"?
No rational parent would allow an infant to cry uncontrollably and unanswered. Babies need reassurance and cuddling or possibly a bottle or a diaper change. Even at 3:00 am. Especially at 3:00 am. A responsible parent helps a little one determine that her world is safe and secure. We help our kids learn that they can sleep thought the night by giving them the skills they need, not by abandoning them to the dark.
Similarly, a seven year old should not be playing "Shoot, Blood, Kill" during dinner. It's easy to say, "I've had a rough day. Play this game while I have a drink." It's harder to say, "help me make dinner." (Note: everybody knows that it takes LONGER to make dinner when a seven year old "helps.") It takes time and effort to engage a seven-year-old, help her learn how the world works. It doesn't take anything to abnegate your responsibility, to let your kid be raised by a screen.
When your 14-year-old daughter mentions that she has been invited to an unsupervised party at the enormous home of a 12th grade boy, the "gift of no" can be difficult to bestow. Especially when "everyone else will be there" and "you are the meanest parent in the world." If you want a friend, I would recommend that you get a dog. If, on the other hand, you want to be a responsible parent, be prepared to make the hard choices. There might be drugs and alcohol at that party. In the same sense that there might be mosquitos in South Florida. Stand up. "Just say no" might not be a feasible anti-drug strategy for a nation, but it's a darn good policy for a family. "No, you can not go to that party, but I am open to what you might want to do instead."
As parents we have to show up for work every day, bring our best game. Because otherwise someone else is going to get the job of raising our beloved children. Surely we can do a better job than a 17-year-old giving a party without his parents. Surely we can do a better job than a glowing rectangle. The least we can do is show up for work on time every day.

3 thoughts on “Job Opportunity

  1. Bernadette

    I love this. My only regret-I tried to not let my children fall. I did everything for them because I loved them so much. Thank goodness no real problems but looking back its either heartache then or heartache now. There was/is no saving them from heartache.

  2. Adriano Ruppini

    I invite the readers to watch this movie clip, with the speech of Keanu Reeve´s character about showing up.
    I will not post the link, but it can be searched: “Hardball Movie CLIP – You Showed Up (2001)”

    Have a great day



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