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The Influence of Culture on Caregiving

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1 The Influence of Culture on Caregiving

2 What is Culture: Culture:  is a shared, learned, symbolic system of values, beliefs and attitudes that shapes and influences perception and behavior -- an abstract "mental blueprint" or "mental code." Must be studied "indirectly" by studying behavior, customs, material culture (artifacts, tools, technology), language, etc. * Each one of us is shaped by experiences with and relationships in different groups. These groups combine to create and individual of us is shaped by experiences with and relationships in different culture or unique context from which we view the world. * The unique nature of our individual cultures means that we cannot generalize about what a specific group believes, wants, or thinks simply based on their race, nationality, or religion * Cultures vary just as much within groups as they do across groups * Even as we identify ourselves with a primary culture (e.g., African American culture), we participate in other cultural groups and are influenced by other cultural groups as well

3 Values, beliefs and assumptions are the “lens” through which we see and understand the world.
So how do we define each of these areas? Read on and see.

4 Values: values are how important something is to us. For example the mainstream culture in the United States tends to value independence.

5 Beliefs: Beliefs are ideas that we accept as true. People are very attached to their beliefs and are unlikely to change them. For example, one person may believe in the existence of a higher being and another person may believe, equally strongly, that there is no such thing

6 Assumptions: Assumptions are ideas we have based upon previous experiences. Unlike beliefs, we are usually able to explain the rationale for our assumptions. We are often less attached to our assumptions and are more likely to change them with new information. For example, some parents in the United States assume that answering a young baby’s cries too quickly will lead to spoiling him. When they learn that holding a crying baby helps him learn to soothe himself, parents are often willing to change this assumption

7 Values, Beliefs and Activities
We interpret behavior and interactions from the standpoint of our own culture When a family’s culture is similar to ours, these interpretations may be more accurate. When a family’s culture is different from ours, we may interpret a message differently than the family intended. Culture shapes our values, beliefs, and assumptions and, by extension, influences how we interpret our interactions and experiences

8 What is Caregiving? Very young children do most of their learning through their relationships with the adults who care for them. Through caregiving routines and rituals, children learn about their culture While we are caring for children, we are also teaching them about their culture This isn’t deliberate teaching with lessons and activity sheets, but teaching that takes place naturally through our interactions with children. It is teaching by doing, seeing and saying

9 Through the ways in which we care for children, we are providing a model for how to communicate, express emotions, build relationships and explore their world.

10 Culture and Caregiving
Every aspect of child-rearing is influenced by culture. If parents make a request, it must be important to them in some way. Instead of asking “why” ---ask “why not?” Turn a judgment (“I can’t believe they would ask me to do that?”) into a question (“I wonder why she asked me to do that?”) By learning more, you can understand what this is about Possibilities, compromises, and ideas can emerge when you appreciate the parental goal behind a particular request, and recognize the link between culture and caregiving.

11 Parental Goals Culture shapes parental goals. Different cultures seek different skills, abilities and attributes in children. This influences the choices parents make in their caregiving style Parental goals are rooted in the parents’ life experiences. Knowing about the experiences of a parent gives us insight into their parental goals Asking what the parent hopes the child will learn through a particular practice will also give us important information about the family’s cultural beliefs, values and assumptions. This information helps us meet each family’s individual needs more effectively

12 By opening our minds to the possibility that there is more than one “right” way we can begin to appreciate families' decisions as a reflection of their personal history and family culture. This helps us establish a foundation of trust and mutual respect, and helps us build a strong working relationship with parents.

13 Cultural Continuity Cultural continuity between child care and home environments describes a congruence in beliefs and practices around daily routines and caregiving activities, this consistency promotes a sense of collaboration and nurturance for the family as a whole. Why is this important? Supports development of a positive sense of identity Provides a stable foundation of emotional support Makes transition to child care less difficult for children When not present? Children lose basic frame of reference Receive conflicting messages from different environments Children feel less competent than peers

14 Cultural Reciprocity Cultural Reciprocity is a collaborative process of information-sharing and understanding, begun by provider This emphasizes the importance of give- and-take relationship

15 4 Steps of Cultural Reciprocity
1. Self Awareness 2. Learning about other cultures 3. Explaining our recommendations 4. Collaborating with families

16 Practice: This week take notes about how you practice cultural reciprocity. What have learned about the culture of one of the families you provide care for? How did you explain your recommendations for altering a child care providing situation? What was the final collaborative effort- was there give and take? Next week there will be time to report on your experience.

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