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this child in this family who is part of this program. If one of you has to give
in, it’s not a third space solution.
Everything I’ve said so far depends on sincerity and authenticity. You
have to be yourself, to show genuine feelings. You can’t pretend or deceive.
You have to be honest—with yourself and with the other person. And while
you are doing all this, remember that it’s nice to be nice! To summarize, here
are six suggestions to help early childhood educators be sensitive and respon-
sive (Gonzalez-Mena 1992):
1. Know what each parent in your program wants for his or her child. Find
out families’ goals. What are their caregiving practices? What concerns
do they have about their child? Encourage parents to talk about all of
this, to ask questions, and to be honest with you about their dreams for
2. Be clear about your own values and goals. Know what you believe about
children and your goals for them. Have a bottom line, but leave space
above it to be flexible. When you are clear, you are less likely to present
a defensive stance in the face of disagreements.
3. Build relationships. Relationships enhance your chances for successfully
negotiating cultural bumps. Be patient. Building relationships takes
time, but with them you’ll enhance communication and understand-
ing. You will communicate better if you have a relationship, and you’ll
have a better relationship if you learn to communicate effectively!
4. Become an effective cross-cultural communicator. It is possible to learn
these communication skills. What is your communication style? Learn
about communication styles that are different from your own. What
you think a person means may not be what he or she really means. Do
not make assumptions. Listen carefully. Ask for clarification. Find ways
to test for understanding.
5. Use a problem-solving rather than a power approach to conflicts. Be flexible—
negotiate when possible. Look at your willingness to share power. Are
you dealing with a control issue?
6. Commit yourself to education. Educate yourself and your families. Some-
times lack of information or understanding of each other’s perspectives
is what keeps a conflict going.
6 C H A P T E R
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