Barriers to partnering with families

Defence and First Responder families are often regarded as stoic and less likely to ask for help, however, it is important to note that each family is individual. Some families fear that any sign of weakness will jeopardise the serving member's career progression. This is because deployment (or absence from home) only happens for those who are considered fit (physically and mentally). Deployment (or absence from home) and promotion are intrinsically linked. Stigma can also be a reason families do not seek support.

person looking out through window

Service families are often transient. Educators may get weary of building relationships with these families, and then they leave. Starting new relationships takes effort, and it can take time to build trust. That can be wearing for both educators and families. It is worth reminding yourself that new information needs to be shared with new families, regardless of the time of year. Educators may have spent lots of time letting families know how their service works, what is required and who to contact in times of need, but this may be a mystery to a family who arrives at the service in May. However, this can be an opportunity to get to know the family and find out the child’s strengths and interests in a less rushed manner.

two brown boxes and DVD cases on rack

Getting to know all members of a service family can be more challenging. This might be due to one parent being away, and the extended family may be far away. The parents can invite extended family to connect with the service if you prompt the at-home parent for contact email addresses and permissions. For example, learning stories about the child can be shared with extended family and the absent parent. Events might include Grandparents Day. Information and photos could be gathered in advance and displayed on this day so they are part of the day, even if they live a long distance from the service. Flexibility to use teleconferencing and other technologies could also be part of the day- such as pre-recording a video, which can then be shared with the children.

boy holding Canon DSLR camera

When working with families, remember the old saying that you have "two ears and only one mouth" and try to balance communication with the parents in that ratio. The greatest gift you might give these families is to simply be a sounding board for them. Listening to them will help you understand their circumstances and assist your efforts in supporting them. Too much one-sided communication can become overwhelming. 

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Last modified: Friday, 15 March 2024, 12:43 PM