Both the family's perspectives and the staff's perspectives shape the conversation between families and staff. Our own perspectives include many elements—what we have been trained to do, what our agency wants from us, our feelings about working with children and families, and, most importantly, the personal beliefs and values gained from our own cultural upbringing. All of these elements, both conscious and unconscious, affect our relationships.
It's important to consider our own views when working with families. Although we often are told to put aside our feelings in our work, the reality is that we bring our own beliefs and values into everything we do. Rather than put them aside, we can increase our awareness so we are more effective in our relationships with families. When we reflect on our interactions with families, we can make decisions about what we say and do to promote positive family and child outcomes. Each decision we make with families makes a difference in the success of our partnerships and in the positive impact we can have.
- Be aware of your own biases, judgments, and negative assumptions.
- Identify how these biases, judgments, and assumptions may affect your interactions with families.
- Choose to approach families by holding aside these biases, judgments, and assumptions. Adopt one of the strength-based attitudes to guide you.
- Identify common perspectives and work together to understand differences.
- Ask for help from co-workers and supervisors if you need help doing things differently.
- Make time to reflect on your perspective and how it is affecting your work and your attitudes towards families.
- Before sharing your views with a family, ask the family to share their perspective first. Share your own when it can help you both come to a common understanding.
"His family doesn't want to work with us to improve his letter recognition. They always say it's our job to teach him and they don't have time to do extra at home. If they just worked with us, he would improve more quickly. They want him to read by the time he is 4 and that's just unrealistic, especially when they won't reinforce the skills at home. I'm sure in our next meeting they'll blame me that he is not further along with his letters. I want to partner with them and I'm angry they won't work with us. Can you help me think about how to approach this?"
"I'm so frustrated with this family. They tell me all the time they are going to follow-through on the referrals I give them and then they always have excuses—the kids were sick, ran out of time, I left a message and they never called me back. I feel like it's a waste of time to be working with them and I'm spinning my wheels. They say they need the resources but then they don't do their part. I don't understand what they want from me."
"David had a really hard drop-off again this morning. If his mom would just get here earlier and read with them like I suggested, the transition wouldn't be so hard. She is always running late, and it just makes it harder for him and for us. I don't know what to do."
Reflect on a time when you used this practice with a family. What did you say or do?
Reflect on a time when this practice would have helped you build a relationship with a family. What would you have said or done?
Last Updated: December 3, 2019