Relationships between individuals and families are different and dynamic. Some parents may want to know lots of information about you at the beginning, while others may desire information in smaller chunks. It’s okay to assess, share, and reassess communication dynamics throughout the relationship, just like you would naturally do in other friendships and familial relationships.
Start here: When first meeting a parent, choose 2–3 of these key pieces of information to share about yourself/your family.
- Family members in the household
- What kinds of things their child has been up to at your house/with members of your family
- That you are there for them and their reunification
- Things you enjoy about their child
- That you would like to get to know them (or demonstrate that you would like to get to know them by asking them questions)
Questions to consider asking at this stage: What are some things I could do to make you feel supported? What information would help you get to know me? What type of communication works best for you?
Then dive a little deeper: Each time you interact with a parent, you can choose 1–2 of these pieces of information to give:
- Information about any pets in the home
- Rooms/sleeping arrangements for the child
- Information about your/your partner’s job
- Why you chose to become a caregiver
Questions to consider asking at this stage: What are some of your favorite things to do with your child(ren)? What do you love about being a parent? When do you feel most connected to your child(ren)?
When you’re ready, open up additional communication in one or more of these ways:
- Setting up an email account that the parent can reach out to between visits and you can send pictures to them through
- Giving a phone number (Google Voice or personal) and outlining how often you will be able to talk/respond to texts
Questions to consider asking at this stage: Building a true relationship with someone means that both parties know each other. In the beginning, building trust and a sense of equality within the relationship means getting curious about who the other person is. You can ask questions about other kids they have, where they work, and so on, so it is a mutual, equal relationship. While it’s important to build trust by telling parents about us, it’s also important that they feel understood and that lines of communication are open both ways.