Young man sits on street with head resting on knees

The Foster Parent’s Mantra: It’s Not Personal

Posted on September 20, 2016 by

A mantra is a word or phrase that is repeated often and expresses someone’s basic beliefs. It can help you keep your wits about you when life is especially challenging.

For many foster parents, “it’s not personal” is an important mantra.

People become foster parents because they want to help kids. So it can be really hard when a foster child resists your offers of support and caring, or maybe challenges your authority and breaks all your rules.  In fact, their response may be so strong and so consistent that you think you must be doing something terribly wrong.  Well, chances are, you’re not.

There can be many explanations for why your foster child is struggling in your home. More likely than not, it has to do with his previous life experiences. Maybe in past situations he was mistreated or rejected. Maybe she’s been moved multiple times, always experiencing abrupt ends to relationships that she was trying to build.  Maybe he assumes all the same things are going to happen again sooner or later.

It can take a long time before you understand what is behind the puzzling behavior.  In the meantime, the “it’s not personal” mantra might help.  Internalizing this belief can protect you from feelings of failure and help you persist in your efforts to bond with your child regardless of how difficult his current behavior may be.

Most foster kids eventually respond to the care and love provided by their foster parents. But getting there can be long and difficult. As you go through the day to day steps of building a trusting relationship, try to remember that your foster youth’s struggles generally are not about you. And repeat three times, “it’s not personal, it’s not personal and it’s not personal.”

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