I’ve been fortunate enough to have had some great experiences working with families, especially parents. As a parent educator and my experiences as someone’s child, I have seen different important factors that affect a parent and child relationship. In my graduate studies, I learned of a culturally diverse concept that helped clinical therapists consider contextual factors that make up an individual.
John Burnham and Alison Roper-Hall developed an acronym system called social GGRRAACCEESS that takes you on a journey through an individuals’ perspective in life and the way they behave and think relationally to others. These factors explore the cultural diversity of one’s upbringing and life by exploring their stories dealing with gender, race, religion, sexuality, ethnicity, etc.
Throughout my experiences with working with parents and their parental approaches, I started to see how much these cultural factors affect the way parents engage with their children. As a parent, these cultural factors play an important role in their perspectives, something I refer to as developed perspectives. The way parents interact with their children is largely influenced by the way they were raised by their own caregivers.
When there are traumatic experiences associated with our cultural factors, they create unhealthy perspectives that can be motivated by fear, anger, anxiety, unrealistic expectations, etc. Teaching yourself to become more aware of your own contextual perspectives, agendas, and emotions is the first step to intentional parenting. It’s an antidote to creating in children the ability to also become self-aware of their own contextual perspectives, agendas, and emotions.
Using this, your social GGRRAACCEESS can be an amazing self-reflective tool in identifying how much of your own developed perspectives influence the way you parent. Not all learned or influenced parenting skills are problematic, but this can be a beneficial tool to understanding more about the self.
Self-awareness promotes change, positive change that attracts healthy parent-child relationships and empowers you to develop new and healthy perspectives. As we become more aware of our own emotions and feelings connected to our upbringing and wounds, we become better at attuning with our children’s needs, emotions, and struggles. The goal shifts from wanting to fix or control the things we see wrong with our children, to checking in with ourselves. In those moments, we’ve identified what is most important; the desire to see and understand our child, by understanding who we are first.
Below you will find the acronym and what each letter represents. If you are married or have a partner, go through this with your significant other and share your findings. Think about your experiences with each acronym. Identify any positive and negative experiences you may have faced within each cultural factor. After you’re done, identify how each experience has influenced your perspective in your parenting style.
- Gender (female, male)
- Geography (birthplace, location of upbringing)
- Race (African-American, Asian, German, etc.)
- Religion (Christianity, Catholicism, Judaism, etc.)
- Relationship (single, married, dating)
- Appearance (small, medium, large, hair type, eyes, facial features)
- Ability (high, average, low physical ability)
- Culture (American, Mexican, etc.)
- Class (Lower, middle, upper, etc.)
- Ethnicity (US citizen, Canadian, etc.)
- Education (High school, college, graduate degree, etc.)
- Employment (job title, position, work schedule, work ethic)
- Sexual Orientation (heterosexual, homosexual, etc.)
- Spirituality (Low, medium, high scale)