You and the families you work with may differ on some dimension of culture– race/ethnicity, country of origin, language, age, sexual orientation, number of children, and socioeconomic status, among others. Recognizing and sensitively discussing those differences early in your work together will be important for developing rapport with your families and ensuring that they feel understood and valued. Here are some tips for discussing differences between yourself and the families you work with:
- Before going into visits with a new family, reflect on your cultural identity and your own values and attitudes about how families function. The Family of Origin exercise on the Culture homepage can help you think about how your upbringing may influence how you think about families.
- Within your first few visits, talk about cultural and identity differences with the family. This lets them know that you’re aware of your differences and are comfortable talking about them.
- Take the lead. Don’t wait for the family to start a conversation about cultural differences or concerns.
- Acknowledge that your values and attitudes developed from your unique life experiences and may differ from the family’s values and attitudes.
- Encourage the family to talk with you about cultural differences in the future.