One of the myths about being a foster parent is that you have to be married. Well, you don’t. I know this because I’ve been a foster parent as a single mom for years. (You also don’t have to own a home either in order to be a foster parent but that’s another story.)
Are there particular challenges to being a single foster mom? I think they are similar to the challenges faced by other single moms. I have to be able to handle many roles and during those inevitable tough times, I miss having a partner to pitch in and help. It can be lonely at times. Fortunately, I have a network of foster parent friends, single and not, who are there to cheer me on and pick me up when I need it. Those late-night texts and e-mails are truly a lifeline. I think my being a single parent has made me understand the importance of building a support network.
How do I manage as a single foster mom? I do what all single parents do…..multitask, multitask, and multitask. I work hard at staying organized, have a huge dry-erase whiteboard hanging in my kitchen, and have learned to put everything on it. With time my foster children have learned to use it also. It is so important that we all know where we need to be and how we’re going to get there. I also have become very good at knowing when I need help and asking for it.
Do my kids have positive male role models? I do my best to involve them with reliable male relatives and friends. I put lots of energy into helping them connect with good male teachers, coaches, and members of our church including the pastors. I acknowledge that it can be hard not to have a dad around and am very careful to be aware when my foster child is feeling this absence in their life.
Is there any advantage to being a single foster parent? Most of the foster children I have cared for come from single-parent homes, most often headed by a mother or grandmother. Due to my being single I think I have an extra dose of empathy when it comes to my foster kids’ single parents. I appreciate their struggles and know how hard it can be to raise children on your own. And, I know that my foster kids always benefit from my understanding and respecting their birth families.
So, remember that there is a huge need for good, caring, competent foster parents who happen to be single!
– Written by Diane Kindler, MSW, LICSW