I hope that you got a chance to read Part 1 of this series on 10 Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Started Foster Care that I posted earlier this week. If not, you can click the link to the first half to get caught up! Today, I’m rolling out the second half of my Top 10 list!
5. Food issues are common.
I do wish I had done more reading about this before we got started! We have had kids that will eat endlessly for as long as you are willing to feed them, never seeming satisfied, and we have had kids who don’t want to eat even when its oh-so-obvious that they are “hangry!” Which I guess is true for a lot of kids who have not come from hard places, but for foster kids, the issues surrounding food usually go deeper. Often, they tie in with a trust issue with their adult caregiver. Feeding is a natural way to build attachment with your kids. It tangibly shows them that you can be relied on to meet their needs. So its not an area to make a battleground. A book that I read, after beating my head against a wall for far too long, and lots of tears, and yet still coming up short with a reluctant eater, is Love Me, Feed Me. (affiliate link) This book introduced me to the Trust Model for the first time, and that has really helped us!
4. It really doesn’t matter how awesome you try to be for them … you are not their parents.
No matter what may have transpired prior to your kids being placed with you in foster care, they will still be loyal to their parents. They can also love you!
3. Taking care of yourself (and your parenting partner) is not just a good thought … it is a must!
A few months back, I wrote about how I did not prioritize self-care, as I should have, in the early days of our fostering. It took me a while to understand how important self-care is. So without belaboring the point, I will say: don’t do as I did. 🙂 Take care of yourself from the start! You will be so much better off! Schedule date nights with your partner. Go for a coffee and a pedicure. Get in a workout to burn off the crazy! You will ALL be better off when you do.
2. It takes more time than you think.
Especially during the first month or so. (Check out my most popular blog post on How to Survive Your First 30 Days with a New Foster Placement.) When we started out, I cut back from full-time to part-time at my job. Now that we have two kiddos in our home, we took the big leap of faith to have me stay home. I’m not saying that is the right choice for everyone, but I do think its wise to have a “margin” in your life, and perhaps more than you realize. Because not only will your kids have a lot of appointments (see that post for more), but they will have needs … emotional needs. And things that might be straightforward for many kids take longer with kids from hard places. So it is important to build some space into your life.
1. You will learn more about yourself than you planned on.
Some of the things you learn will be awesome, and others … not so much. As you parent your kids from hard places, they will push your buttons. Not because they are bad kids (see Part 1 of this series), but because they are hurting, and have underdeveloped coping strategies! So it is important for you to be in a place of emotional strength and resiliency. Two books that I recommend for your own journey of self-discovery in this area are Parenting from the Inside Out: How a Deeper Self-Understanding Can Help You Raise Children Who Thrive and Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. (affiliate links) Because at the end of the day, your kids need you to learn and grow. Their needs will be challenging at times, but with time, practice, compassion and a whole lot of good play time with them, you are in a position to make a huge difference in their lives.
I hope that my list has been helpful to you. Especially if you are a new foster parent or foster parent to-be! If so, do you have any questions for me? And, if you are an experienced foster parent, your list may look a little different. Can you add some things in the comments? I love hearing from you all!