Updated January 27, 2017
Take a look at all the different types of families. You will find differences in family size, income and resources, as well as level of involvement. For our purposes, the family is defined as the person or persons who have primary responsibility for the care, nurturing and upbringing of the child. Family also largely determines the way culture, heritage and traditions are transmitted across the generations.
No longer is family restricted to a mother, father and 2.5 children. Today’s families come in many forms including adoptive, blended, step- and foster families, and families with two fathers or two mothers, grandparent-headed families, and multigenerational and extended families.
It is important to be open-minded when working with children and their families, and to accept each family’s uniqueness. Recognize that in many cultures parents, grandparents and other relatives are all involved in making decisions about children’s welfare. The word “parent” includes anyone who fills or acts in that role, and could be replaced by the word “family” to be more inclusive.
To care for and educate a child well, families need to be central to our programs. Families are the first teachers. For children to be successful, families need to feel welcomed, respected, and supported. Their voices need to be heard. Blaming families for a child’s difficulty or “finger pointing” doesn’t work. As professionals, we need to acknowledge the specific challenges faced by any particular family within the complex web of society. You may have opportunities to help build partnerships with families in order to create a strong program, supportive of all children.