It chilled me.
To the bone.
I was meeting with two loving parents of someone who is having difficulty. I know that consultations are hard on parents, telling a story, often a private story to a complete stranger in hopes that somewhere there is an approach, an idea that will lead to a better life for their child must be a painful process. I am never more profoundly aware of how important the work than when seeing fear and hope in the eyes of a mom or dad.
But today, as we began, a very dignified woman turned to me. In a quiet voice she began. 'My son has received a consultation before and he was damaged by it. I need you to promise me that you will not hurt my son.'
And there it was.
Promise me that you will not hurt my son.
Promise me that you will take care with our trust.
Promise me that you will not misuse your power.
Promise me that you will think with both mind and heart.
I stumbled over my words as I made the promise. I would do everything I can in the time that I have to help the team figure out ways to better support, better teach, better care for their son. I promised I would take care, and I did.
This is advocacy at the highest level. To remind a professional that 'this is my son' to remind an advice giver 'some advice hurts, be thoughtful before you speak,' to remind one human being to be careful while muddling in the life of another. Her son carries her love, I hurt him, I hurt her.
I am always, I think careful, in what I do.
But I admit, for every recommendation I made - I gave sober second thought.
Because, and only because, I promised.