While attending the 2017 INA conference, we were fortunate enough to attend a session about cultural differences and sensitivities from Susan Labadi, (President of the Genius School, Inc., writer at Halal Connect Magazine, blogger at It’s A Halal Life).
Susan gave us a much deeper understanding of the multiple unique cultural differences nannies and childcare specialists may encounter, and how to appropriately support and nurture your nanny charges throughout your time with them.
Culture Is Invisible Yet All Around Us
As a nanny, childcare specialist or private educator, you may find yourself joining a family that has a different cultural or religious background than your own. Though culture is somewhat intangible in many ways, there are specific ways that you can acknowledge these differences and honor them with respectful curiosity and acceptance. Gaining an understanding of those differences and knowing how to navigate the intricacies of those relationships is imperative to you becoming a more valued, connected, and vital part of the family.
Confront Personal Bias
As adults, we all draw our own conclusions about life, spirituality, customs, and traditions based on our own lived experiences, along with the input and information we receive from others. Our own perception of anything that differs from our personal experiences may be clouded by inadvertent bias, so much of our ability to interpret the world around us is impacted by deep-seeded societal beliefs, many of which ought to be challenged. In an effort to become more engaged, open, and genuinely accepting of another culture, we as nannies and childcare experts need to model respectful curiosity for our charges. Be open to any new possibilities and practice good will and positivity in the face of the unknown.
Become A Student Of Culture
One important way that nannies and childcare specialists can seamlessly join a family from a different background or that models a different lifestyle, or adheres to a specific diet, or holds different traditions, is to invest time researching the things that are new and perhaps even unusual to you. Crack open your laptop and get to Google – educate yourself by diligently studying their culture, their diet, their traditions, and work to gain an understanding of their values. Take time to actively observe, learn why they do what they do. With open analysis, most differences will make sense, but if after researching you are still unsure of how to interact with the differences you observe, be open, respectful, and ask your employer, research even more, and then ask an informed friend!
What Brings Everyone Together? FOOD!
A universal way to create unity is to meet at the table. Regardless of any differences, food and fun conversation always has a way of establishing and strengthening bonds, even between strangers. As a nanny or childcare professional, you can really ‘wow’ your nanny family by offering to create a meal, keeping in mind their cultural and dietary requirements, and invite the family to the table for a great evening of getting to know one another better, while also showing them your true interest and investment in understanding their culture.
Invest More Time In Research
Throughout the first few weeks in your new and different environment, evaluate your own disposition: with a new family, approach with an open heart and be ready to grow your mind. Mental agility and upbeat adaptability are success tools that will serve you well as you work to become a vital part of the family unit. After you’ve done lots of research, asked appropriate questions, and have gained a general sense of what the differences in your nanny family may be, we recommend taking your knowledge even further by investigating some in-depth research tools as well. Susan Labadi recommends several resources to deepen your understanding of different cultures and etiquette, so as you invest time in researching the specific of your nanny family, consider checking out Country Navigator, the Institute For Cross Cultural Management, and the Culture Social Scientist.
What have your experiences been like in working with families that are culturally different than your own upbringing? What did you discover about yourself as you navigated that situation? We’d love to hear your thoughts, reach out to us on Facebook, Instagram + Twitter.
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