Giving Compass’ Take:
• Vu Le has some practical advice for those in the nonprofit sector who may dread family gatherings, if their parents or relatives fail to understand the nature of their work.
• This could be a good opportunity to inform those closest to you about your philanthropic passions and build a strong family legacy in such areas. Are we willing to listen as well?
Many of us — especially those of us from immigrant and refugee backgrounds — have to contend with challenges with our own families, in addition to the many challenges we face in general as nonprofit professionals. Besides the misconceptions or complete lack of understanding of what we do, there is also the constant comparisons to others with more “successful” and “prestigious” careers, feelings of guilt for letting our families down or not being able to support them financially, being attacked by the communities we are trying to help, and existential doubts about our place in our families and our worth to our communities. Our jobs are often hard, and not only can we not rely on our families for emotional support, but our families themselves are sources of emotional stress.
In choosing this path, many of us will feel the guilt of letting down our families. I started college as a pre-med student, aiming for psychiatry, and I dropped it to go into social work. The disappointment from my parents was something that stuck with me my entire career. They had gone through so much — a war, re-education camp, refugee camp, the giving up on their dreams so we kids could have a future — and the least I could do was become a doctor instead of being so selfish in pursuing this career. It would have made them so happy…
If you experience the above, here are some recommendations:
- Understand where your parents and families are coming from.
- Examine the feelings of guilt you may be experiencing.
- Show your family your work, and get them involved when possible.
- Persist at following your path.
- Accept these challenges with our families are part of the dynamics of doing this work.
Read the full article about how to deal with your family who has no idea what nonprofit work is by Vu Le at Nonprofit AF.
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If you are interested in Family Philanthropy, please see these relevant events, training, conferences or volunteering opportunities the Giving Compass team recommends.
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