I’m a father and a professional social worker. Each of these roles informs or puts perspective on the other from time to time. What I am writing here is an example of the father informing the social worker.
Combined into one word, the three ideas take on this meaning: the condition in which one has acquired the capacity to move others to act in ways they ordinarily would not have acted. In other words, empowerment occurs when one has acquired the capacity to change what others are doing.
The quote above is from a study on family empowerment , one of few I found during a casual perusal of the Internet. It will play into another post or so in the future. Of most interest to me when it comes to family empowerment is the “family” part.
In my role as a mental health crisis responder, I have seen families at the decision point regarding children and teens in need many times. The best outcomes seem to result from 2 aspects within the members of the family-
These two important aspects of empowerment may be temporarily suspended during times of crisis or trauma. As a professional, I can choose to nurture empowerment(help the family get “unstuck” and moving again) or usurp it (take advantage and do what I think is best).
I am becoming much more sensitive to the many ways that power can be taken away from families. I don’t want power to be taken away from me as a stakeholder and decision-maker in my family- no one does. Families, through each individual member, can and must be responsible for and determined to create change in their own lives. Otherwise, no positive change happens.
Unfortunately, so many external issues can conspire to disable family decision-making and close down family change capacity. Let’s deal with this more in-depth in another post.
I want to know- what do you think disables family decision-making? Have you ever felt disempowered? Was it due to reasons within yourself, within your family, or something external? Where do you find the determination to move forward in times of trial?