University of Illinois Extension

Respecting Family Differences

Families are all different. All families need and deserve respect. It is important as a babysitter that you respect their culture, religion and the way they want you to care for their child or children. Their beliefs might be different from yours, and you may have to talk about what you are comfortable with, and what you can do as a babysitter.

Learn by asking. Talking to the parent is a good way to find out many things about what the family values, has difficulty with or wants you to know. This may be as simple as what kinds of foods are allowed or not allowed, or even what a child might be taught to say before eating. It might be more complicated, like saying prayers that you might not know or might be uncomfortable saying with a child. Ask about restrictions or limitations for television watching and computer and video games. Find out if a parent feels uncomfortable about the use of certain words.

Ask the parent:

  • Are there any food restrictions for religious or cultural reasons?
  • Do you want me to help your child say anything before or after he or she has her meals?
  • Are there television shows that are offensive to you and your family that you do not wish to be shown?
  • How do you feel about children using slang words or talking back?
  • Are there certain clothing practices you should know about?
  • Are there any restrictions or religious practices that you would like me to know about?

Learn about the culture of the family. You can also share your own background. You can tell things about where your family originally came from or what religion your family believes in. You can talk about how your family feels about cleanliness, your clothing and how you look. As you share things about yourself, the parent may then tell you what is or is not important for their child.

Some families might be very different from your own. You will want to know how to respond if a child swears, and then tells you, "My parents let me use those words." You might have to set your own limits if you are uncomfortable. You might have to watch your own language and be careful what words you use. All of these considerations are important when you are sharing the caring of a child with his or her parent.