Well, think about it. Poverty. Unemployment. Dependency. Just to name a few. Words of this kind convey images and do nothing to benefit the world of public child welfare – certainly not during these times when highly energized debates flourish over the use of tax dollars – debates that force greater polarization between people.
In contrast, Bryan Samuels, the Commissioner of the Administration on Children, Youth and Families, recently placed emphasis on wellbeing with respect to child safety, development, and care.
“Wellbeing.” Now there’s a word that elicits movement toward a healthy, positive regard for the human condition … it is, simply, being well. And that is what public servants for children and families should be supporting, a positive regard for children being well.
Language shapes our thoughts and feelings; it even shapes our beliefs. Our responsibility to serve children and families being well necessitates a heightened positive regard for our use of language and the influence it has on us and the focus of our efforts.
So, perhaps now is the time to loosen our hold of language suited for older paradigms shaped by welfare dependence and talk differently about our children through the advancement of their wellbeing? Perhaps now is a good time to speak differently, so we think differently, and ultimately, act differently. Together, we are part of the public child wellbeing system, and as such, we are promoting healthy growth, safe development, and a positive regard for the children we serve and for the system in which we function.