I am currently working in the field (in a group home specifically) and have been for about 10 months. I have found a lot of differences between staffs views on things that should be allowed within program and things that shouldn't. For example, I have always told our youth that they can listen to whatever type of music they want as long as there is no derogatory language used and doesn't contain profanity. Recently, I have started working with someone regularly who lets them listen to whatever they want with no restrictions. I tried talking to him but he feels that it is acceptable because the majority of our kids are 17-18 years old and now it has started causing complications with the relations and bonds I have built with the youth because they see me as not as "cool" and more "uptight". I know I'm not here to be their friend but I want to be able to support them and am having issues doing so because they wont communicate with me as much. How should I approach this? He has worked for this agency for long time and in the field even longer.
(New to the field and lost)
May I suggest a music program you can initiate. The youth can bring their music, show case the artists and talk about why the music speaks to them. You can find out a lot about a person by what they are listening to. Bring in yours as well. You may have the same views in the end but they will see you made an effort to see their perspective.
One of the most important components of programming for youth in a congregate care setting is predictability. When something is allowed on one shift, but not the next, and then both allowed and not allowed on the next shift depending on which staff is in the room, it does not make for a predictable environment. We could all give our opinions on whether that sort of music should or shouldn't be allowed, but what's more important is that your organization determines what the expectation is, and that staff are all on the same page about that expectation. Which means this is an issue for your supervisor(s). I would talk to them about establishing some set parameters. (It's great that you talked to the other staff about it, but if there's no clear-cut expectation about music in the first place, then who's to say which of you gets to decide?)
As a side note, since profanity is often a part of the culture of youth today, it may be that the youth in your care will view you as "uncool" for banning such music, regardless of whether other staff do the same or not, or whether it's against the rules or not. If they aren't communicating with you, it may be that they don't feel like they can relate to you. Please note that I'm not providing an opinion one way or the other regarding whether such music should be allowed.
Good luck and thanks for sharing!
You could do 2 things. Talk to your supervisor about this and see if they could talk to this person with you. Another thing you can do is bring it up in staff meeting as a generic “I have noticed that different staff have different stances on youth and their music. What is our position as a team?” That way your team can get back on the same page. Hope this helps!
It is always a difficult thing when staff are not on the same page with each other. I would suggest having a discussion about consistency of rules and expectations at a staff meeting. This gives the staff team the opportunity to listen to each other and come up with a solution that can be followed by all. Sometimes we need to discuss these things in detail and look at the expectations in a different way, or perhaps even make an official rule about something.
This is a good question. I learned wisdom from a Muslim youth I worked with once. She said her mom didn't care what went into her head just what came out. Here was a young woman straddling multiple cultures who listens to hardcore gangsta rap but also wore a hijab. Its been my rule of thumb with kids. If kids can't regulate what comes out then we as caring adults regulate what goes in until they display the resiliency and self control to regulate what goes out. And sometimes some death metal feels good as a means to check out.
Can't fight the yute!
Have no fear, you are not alone in navigating through these kinds of challenges between different views (belief’s, values, etc.)within staff teams. Over the years I have actually grown to love that we do not all share the same philosophical stand as when there is difference it provides an opportunity to engage in conversation with each other. It also provides an opportunity for self-reflection and for us to ask ourselves why we think or feel a certain way. No one can answer those questions for you personally, but you can step back and examine why you may feel that it isn’t appropriate for the 17-18 year olds to listen to music with profanity, etc. and ask your colleague why he thinks or feels it is. I can say for me that the underpinnings of all my work with children and/or families is having a relationship built on trust and respect so if you think that is being threatened then maybe you might consider picking and choosing your battles.
If you feel it is important that you and your colleague are consistent in your approach perhaps talking to your colleague about developing some guidelines around the subject would be useful. I would also include the youth in that conversation so they have a voice on the matter. Good luck, hang in there Jen.
1) Your supervisor needs to know that staff are not
all on the same page.
2) Have discussions with the youth about where you stand on this issue. Telling 17-18 yr. olds that it’s the rule, or it’s the program, doesn’t foster personal respect. Talk to them about why you believe their music should be monitored and sometimes restricted. What your standards are and why. If while planning this honest discussion you cannot “tow the company line” then try these:
3) Maybe the youth are right and the program’s policy for that age group is not valuing their goal of preparing for independence. If the program won’t shift on this, maybe it’s about living in a world with rules you don’t agree with and understanding the consequences.
4) Empower the youth to challenge the policy. Teach them how to advocate for what they think is right.
I would suggest that at the next staff meeting the rules that you are unclear of be made clear. It is imperative that the rules remain the same from staff to staff. Consistency is key! There shouldn’t be different rules for different staff. This creates stability for the youth and eliminates conflict among staff.
Working in a team comes with important developmental differences regarding worker engagement. Learning about ourselves is another perk of the field. Finally the feeling of being lost comes as a result of growth. Being called "not cool" is the least of the names you'll be called likely. Choosing sides on this topic is an important part of the relationship and process that teams need to go through to arrive at a comprehensive understanding of what to do with music that portray's profanity and misogynistic themes. These themes are abhorrent to us who lived within families that subjected us, as children, to values and beliefs that rejected harmful themes. Hmmmmm....actually, just read Lorraine Fox's cyc-online contribution this month and discontinue reading my post. Sorry Lorraine, there for a minute I thought I had a useful thought... See the music the residents listen to as a symptom rather than a problem it may offer another view of your position. If you listen to their music you may come up with some wise questions, that offer you opportunities to connect and engage with them differently rather than reject their bid of engagement. Rejecting their music could mean for them rejection of their identity. Chances are you are still not going to be cool to them. Again, it could be brilliant team meeting discussion.
I am delighted that your youth are listening to music that includes profanity and derogatory language. This has ever been so since the teenager was invented to safely consume rebellion rather than fight wars! I am old enough to recall how the moral majority in America helped my generation’s impressionable minds choose the music with ‘parental advisory’ stickers as we knew it would have the message of rebellion and upset certain adults.
I would use the opportunity to engage in discussion regarding the lyrics and the message. Consider bringing in the rebellious sounds of your youth, compare and contrast. What drives these messages from within the music industry and wider culture? Is offensive language as objectionable as the sexualisation of younger and younger children in the videos some artists produce? What about the representation of women in the music industry?
You have a rich seam to mine in popular music and arbitrary ‘rules’ from moral guardians can only block creative learning and bonding opportunities.
Maybe we could start a thread of significant songs to enjoy and explore with youth. Those that make us stop and think.
I would suggest Public Enemy as a good starting point for engaging with themes of police violence, white supremacist power, oppression of culture and identity.
You can use the wonderful interweb to find lists of disturbing and upsetting songs covering pretty much every topic our youth will have experienced.
As that one time offensive group the Village People said ‘you can’t stop the music’.