Your relationship with the families you work with is very important. As much as this is a serious profession, it is also a profession that can get very personal. You are going into people’s homes and interacting with their family. You’ll naturally build bonds that exceed the typical professional realm. Setting boundaries can be difficult but it’s imperative for keeping the professional relationship between you and the parents healthy and thriving. Let’s dive into ways to establish healthy boundaries with the families you work with.
At the Start of the Relationship
When starting with a new family, it’s best to discuss and hash out all of your preferences, deal-breakers, etc. during interviews, trials, and contract negotiations. By setting the tone from the beginning, it makes it less likely for there to be misunderstandings later.
During Initial Conversations
This is when you’re getting to know each other and seeing if you all are a good fit. It’s important to lay everything out on the table.
- Your care style
- Schedule and pay preferences
- Family and/or religious obligations
- Any other deal-breakers that would be important to you in your work environment
During Contract Negotiations
Your contract with your family is the foundation of your professional relationship with them. By solidifying all of your preferences in written form, it sets your boundaries and allows you to know the parents.
- Final Schedule
- Paid time off
- Holidays important to you
- Overall expectations of both you and the family
Re-establishing Boundaries in a Current Relationship
Once you’ve been working with a family for a while, it’s normal for everyone to become comfortable. You’re in their home every day and a part of their lives. Your duties may have increased or some of the boundaries you included in your contract have been accidentally crossed more than once. It’s normal for you to want to assist your family as much as you can. But, protecting the boundaries you put in place helps you avoid burnout. The key is to communicate as soon as you feel your boundaries have been crossed. This allows for both parties to amicably discuss things and find a solution. You need to:
Create a list of:
- All the topics you would like to discuss
- Potential solutions to some of the issues listed
- All boundaries that need to be rectified and are deal breakers for you
- Request a sit down with the parents
When speaking with the parent:
- Start with positives
- Lead with issues you have solutions/compromises to
- Be clear and firm on your deal breakers
- Be open to the parents’ feedback
- Be prepared to compromise
Overall, discussing boundaries can be intimidating. The good news is, it doesn’t have to be. Just be open and honest always and that will foster a strong and healthy relationship with the families you work with.