Families, like individual human beings, exist in seemingly endless varieties. Think of your own family and other families you know. Most likely there are similarities as well as differences between them. The article “What is Family Diversity?” offered two definitions of family diversity: Using one definition, the term family diversity refers to numerous distinctly different family forms, (i.e., the traditional nuclear family, foster families, gay/lesbian families, and others). Using the second definition, family diversity refers to the different ways in which those outside a family interpret each family’s unique characteristics or culture. For example, one person might look at a family’s morning rituals and label them “chaotic,” whereas the family members might label them as “easygoing and creative.”
Regardless of your specific role in the early childhood field, families are a part of your work and each will have a unique family culture. If your belief systems, attitudes, and interactions create an atmosphere in which each family clearly feels welcomed, respected, safe, and empowered, you have accomplished a key professional goal. There is no fool-proof way to bring this about. A significant step, however, is accomplished when you develop a deep level of understanding your own family culture. You will then more likely respond with profound understanding of and respect for every family’s complexity and uniqueness.
With these thoughts in mind, review pp. 1407–1417 of the article “What is Family Diversity” by Harris and then consider the following questions:
- What was the “form” of your childhood family?
- What are three key characteristics (e.g., specific behaviors, patterns, traditions, expressions of emotions, values, etc.) of your family culture?
- Referring to Harris’ examples of interpretive family diversity: In what ways might people outside your family interpret these unique characteristics differently from you and other family members? Provide at least one example.
- In what ways has your family culture influenced you?
- Referring to the article Understanding Families and the six family systems characteristics, (i.e., aspects of family culture, discussed): In what ways do any/all of these characteristics continue to affect you and shape your thoughts about yourself and your interactions with others?
- What is an example (or examples) of similarity or dissimilarity between your childhood family culture (or your current family culture) and the dominant culture—and in what ways did/do you deal with the resulting feelings of congruence/incongruence?
- In what ways does your childhood family culture and/or your current adult family culture influence your professional life?
- Referring to Harris’ examples of “objective family diversity”: What insight(s) offered by these examples provided you with a deeper understanding of family diversity—and in what way(s) will this support your work with children and families?
For this assignment, write a reflective essay in which you respond to all of the above questions.
By Day 7
Assignment length: approximately 3 pages