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Mel Gravely

Relationship-Based Competencies: Self-Aware and Culturally Responsive Relationships

This is the second blog post in our series about the nine relationship-based competencies. Read our first blog here: Positive, Goal-Oriented Relationships.

As professionals working in Head Start and Early Head Start programs we get the opportunity to meet families that have very diverse backgrounds and come from different cultures. Building productive relationships with families means respecting and responding appropriately to the culture, language, values and family structures of each family that we work with. This can sometimes be a difficult task, when we are exposed to different cultures that we are not familiar with or don’t have experience handling.

Building self-aware and culturally responsive relationships means exposing ourselves to the different cultures of the families we service, including learning about their history, traditions, religion and special holidays. Although you might not be able to speak their language, by providing them with information in their native language, or even having someone there to translate, can make a world of difference in making a family feel welcome, particularly if they have struggled to have their voice and their needs heard in other aspects of their daily life.

Respecting the fact that each family is unique, and has very different structures is also a very important part of meeting a family’s needs. The family demographic could be a single mom, a grandparent raising their grandchildren, or a child that is staying with a foster family. There are so many different family demographics, but as Head Start and Early Head Start staff, we have to have a common respect for all. That respect that we give our families will open the door to real honest and successful goal setting that benefits everyone in the family and paves the way to self sufficiency.


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