Being a foster parent is a demanding and rewarding job. You take vulnerable, delicate, and often sad and hurting children into your home and try your best to provide them with the love, security, and support they need to have a chance for a better life, a life that is characterized by the aforementioned values. But foster children may also harbor a lot of anger, sadness, and resentment, and thus it is not always easy for the foster kids and foster families to get along. If you are or are thinking about becoming a foster parent, here are a few tips to keep in mind that allow you to build better connections with your foster kid(s):
Develop strong communication skills: Communication is what keeps a family going, and healthy communication means being able to express both good and bad feelings to those you love without fear of neglect or retaliation. Be open to your foster children and show them that you are there to communicate with them and teach them to openly communicate with you.
Know yourself and the rest of your family: If you are bringing a foster child into your family and you already have kids, it can be a tricky situation. Make sure you have a solid understanding of your own family unit first in terms of each individual member’s identity and emotional needs before introducing a new family member into the mix.
Ensure health and safety: As a foster parent, it is crucial that you provide a healthy and safe environment for your foster kids, as well as for anyone else in the family. Healthy relationships with good boundaries are the key to helping young people mature into responsible, self-respecting adults.
Help your foster kids grieve: It is ok to talk about loss and grief with your foster kids because they are likely struggling with the loss of their own parents, whether to drugs, death, or neglect. Provide your foster kids with a safe space to share their sadness and fear without fear of judgment or criticism.
Boost self-esteem: Help your foster kids see how valuable their thoughts, opinions, and talents are and let them know how worthy they are of love and goodness in their lives. This will help them to value themselves more and contribute to a more positive sense of self.
Building connections with your foster kids is about building boundaries, love, safety, and self-esteem. Re-evaluating how you relate with your foster kids can also help you to strengthen the bonds you have with the rest of your family, as well as with friends and colleagues. Being a foster parent is a challenge, and it is important that you assess whether you or your family are up to the task before you sign-up for the task, but if you are, the love and security you will bring to a foster child’s life is invaluable and precious.