GHL: Answering Resident Frequent Complaints

I don’t like my placement.  I want to go somewhere else.

Nobody likes it here.  Seriously.  Not residents, not staff, not management.  But you’re here because your Social Worker couldn’t find a better place that would take you.  Because if they could have, they would have.  Being here is expensive, and they’d put you somewhere cheaper if they could.

I’m going to use over-the-top bad behavior to make you hate me and send me away so I can get to another placement.

That’s an option you can pursue.  You may have used it before.  We’ve certainly seen it before.  You can get yourself removed from a placement by bad behavior, but you can’t create a new placement option by bad behavior.  Beds don’t grow on trees.  Also, if you want to get to a less restrictive environment than this, good behavior is the key to that door.  If you already look bad on paper, blowing out of here on the bad behavior train is going to scare away most prospective less-restrictive placements.  They don’t want to see about how you gave staff hell, ran away, used drugs, etc.  They want to see how you turned a corner, got with the program, and have been improving.

Hating you is neither here nor there.  We might be very frustrated and angry with you, but that’s just par for the course.  If we give notice on you, it’ll be because we can’t keep you save, or we can’t serve your needs, not because you’ve really pissed us off.

I don’t like having to announce my movements, or having staff track my every little move.  I want to be able to come and go as I please, like normal kids.

You’re not a normal kid.  You’re in the system.  That is frustrating, and these restrictions are really annoying.  We get that.  But we didn’t put you in the system.  And we didn’t place you here.  We have a job to do, and the things you find annoying are about keeping everybody (including you) safe.  If we said you didn’t have to do them anymore, then everybody else would want to not have to do them either, and that could lead to you getting hurt.  You probably know who that would most likely be.  Feel free to complain to staff about how much you don’t like this — if you let us know you just want to vent and be heard, we will likely be as sympathetic about the matter as we can be.  But don’t expect to see the policy change, because this is a requirement of the contract we have with the State, and we can’t change it.  Even if we wanted to.

I’m 18, and I shouldn’t have to do things I don’t want to do.  I’m an adult now.

All of the staff here are over 18.  Talk to any adult you know about this.  Ask them about how they get to do exactly what they want to do, and never have to do things they don’t want to.  Expect them to laugh, because, even though you think this is a legitimate complaint, is ridiculous and hillarious.  You’ll understand that in a few years, especially after you’re 25 or so and your brain stops developing.  You’re not finished becoming who you’re going to be.  After your brain stops developing, you will continue to change and learn and grow.  Some estimate that you become a distinctly different person every five years.  So, even though you feel like you’re all grown up, and that you know exactly who you’re going to be forever and ever, and deserve to have that respected, that’s not really so.

The problem is that you were lied to.  We all were.  Someone once told you “Someday you’re going to turn 18, and then you can go and live your life and run it the way you want to.  But you’re not, so now you have to do things my way.”  They didn’t mean to lie to you.  They just wanted you to shut up and comply.  Because you were wrong and they were right — you might even be able to realize that now.  Being 18 makes you a legal adult.  That gives you very few rights and privileges you didn’t have when you were 17.  It did, however, dump a whole bunch of responsibilities on you that you’ve never had before.  The way I usually say it is that, at 18, you’re not an adult, but you’re in the grown up world.  Except you’re not.  You’re still in the system.  So you still have a SW and maybe a GAL, and staff — you have a support system that none of your non-system buddies from school have.

Support doesn’t mean that we’re going to give you what you want.  We’re going to give you what you need.  Think of us as guard-rails on your road of life.  If you are driving on the road, and you hit a guard-rail, it’s going to hurt.  It’s going to mess up your car’s paint, and maybe its body, too.  Fixing that is going to be expensive.  But less so than going off the cliff would have been.  That would have likely totaled your car and hurt or killed you or your passengers.  Similarly, having us shut you down is inconvenient, and you will not get what you wanted out of that experience.  But we are also saving you from some very real dangers that you don’t see or appreciate, because we’ve seen others make the same bad choices (or made them ourselves) and know how real those dangers are.  So, maybe you got your feelings hurt, or you got frustrated.  In the grown-up world, nobody really cares about what you want, or if your feelings got hurt.  We do.  But not enough to give in and let you have what you want, and take all of the pain and loss that comes with that.  Some day, you will be gone, and no longer have that support.  And you will make stupid choices and pay the price for them.  Everybody does.  You may, at that moment, miss the support you had that helped you avoid those kinds of things and then helped you work your way through them.  But this complaint is never going to persuade us to just give in, so trying it will just be a waste of time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *