Hanging In There as a Foster Parent
Being a foster parent is a tough job, even in the good times. And, of course, there are the times when things just don’t seem to be going right for your foster child. Despite your best efforts, it seems you can’t get through to the child you want so much to help.
You understand that it takes time for your foster child to feel safe in your home and to begin to trust you. But hanging in there with a foster child who keeps pushing you away is difficult. How do you keep going?
You know that you foster child needs you not to give up on him. There are things you can do to keep going through hard times.
Remember that change occurs in small steps. Don’t lose sight of the progress that your foster child has made, no matter how small. Two angry outbursts a day are better than three. Some eye contact is better than none.
Progress happens on a bumpy road. Sometimes your foster child may seem to be losing ground. You may know what has happened. Other times you have no idea what caused a setback. This is when it helps to remember that change is hard and seldom happens at a steady pace.
Have faith that things will get back on track and share that optimism with your foster child. “I know this is a tough time for you and we’ll help you get through it.” Saying something like this shows that you see her pain and that you are confident that you can help make things better.
Give yourself a break. Especially when things aren’t going well, you need to take care of yourself. Caretakers tend to dismiss their own needs! Do your best to carve out time to do things that will replenish you. Schedule some me-time as you as schedule all the things you do for other people. Write it down. Ask for the support you’ll need in order to take a walk, have coffee with a friend or read uninterrupted for an hour.
Find your tribe. Make sure that you have strong connections with people who “get it.” Other foster parents have “been there.” They can let you vent without judgment and help you see the humor in life as a foster parent. Tell the professionals you work with what’s going on and what you need from them. Maintain connections with people who support you as a foster parent…..in your community, your church and your extended family.
Remember that being a foster parent develops those hanging-in-there muscles and that you’re stronger today than you were before you began this crazy journey.
Written by Diane Kindler