It’s only natural that child care providers are going to be caring for the children of parents (guardians, foster parents, grandparents…) whose political and or religious views are drastically different from our own…but it can be delicate. So we need to be thoughtful and intentional about how we approach these relationships.
Looking back, when I was a younger teacher, I didn’t really have strong views yet, so it wasn’t such an issue for me. Now that I’ve lived and learned so much more, I have VERY strong opinions and views. And part of my personal journey has been to be as authentic and true to myself as possible. So how do I reconcile that with the families for which I provide care? (And let’s be real-we often become like family in this small setting and intimate role)
When talking with children: (imagine the topic of heaven for example)
- Always let them guide the conversation
- Ask them what they think
- When they ask general questions, suggest they ask their families. Sometimes kids will ask their friends or look in books for answers…roll with it
- When they ask you what you think, keeping in mind their development, answer simply but honestly. For example, I had a child keep telling me that my friend who passed away was in heaven. I believe something else, so without discounting her family faith, I told her, “I don’t know much about heaven, but I think my friends’ energy is in the wind and the snow and the sunsets.”
- Trust children to be true to their family beliefs and still encourage learning about different views, after all, you want them to be open minded in the larger sense…
When talking to adults that we’re trying to build relationships with: (imagine conservative/liberal political views)
- Keep discussions limited to the child as you get to know each other
- Make sure you only talk appropriately and respectfully if children are present
- Be honest. There’s no need to hide your views. Of course it’s not necessary to shout it from the rooftops, but if someone asks about my Bernie bumper sticker, I’ll share my affinity for his work.
- Be open. This country would be so dull if we all had the same ideals…and even though I might disagree with more conservative ideas, there’s still something I can learn from hearing where the other person is coming from.
- The adults we work with are also still learning and forming their own values. How else will they know what other views there are unless they have the opportunity to talk with people who think differently?
- Remember that it is not our job to convince people of anything other than what is best for their child in a child care and family setting. Our job is to support families as they grow, and while it might be tempting to share our views, opinions, ultimately our role is to support them as they raise a tiny human.
Bottom Line: practice empathy and respect, be who you are with pride and simplicity, and trust your children’s curious minds