Foster Parenting – Three Tips for Foster Parents


Foster parenting is a challenging, yet rewarding job. It’s a beautiful thing to give a child a home and a chance at a normal life. At the same time, you must understand that you are taking a child under your wing, without really knowing what she has been through or the ways in which she has been traumatized by the system and by her feelings of abandonment. It takes a special individual to provide a safe harbor for such a child. In this article, you’ll learn three important tips for foster parents.

  • Your foster child will take issue with your authority. Expect this and you will not be disappointed. The reason a child will have a problem with your authority is that she has probably never had an authority figure in her life whom she could trust. Think about it. She is in the system because she was abandoned in some way. It doesn’t matter if this abandonment was intentional or not. Even if a child is in the system because her parents died and there is no one else in the family to take her in, she still feels that she has been abandoned. One of the first things that you need to do again and again is show this child that you are an authority figure whom she can trust. Although she won’t always like the decisions you make as a parent, if she sees that you act in her best interests, she will come to trust you and respect your authority over time.
  • Know where your foster child is in terms of her development. Since you have not raised this child from birth, you don’t know which of her dependency needs were met and which were not. This is why understanding child development is a must for foster parents. Once you figure out where your foster child is along the path of human development, you will know how to meet her needs, so she’ll start to feel like her needs will be met the same way in the future. This is essential to creating a healthy relationship and a strong, emotional bond.
  • Foster parenting (like all parenting) involves spending time with your foster child. I’m not just talking about quality time which most parents see as doing something fun (like going to the movies), but what I refer to as “quantity time.” Quantity time creates connection through the experience of doing mundane tasks together, like chores, walking the dog or shopping for the groceries. This is what parents do to teach their children about how the world works. Something magic occurs when hands are busy with everyday tasks. Emotional walls come down and the intimacies of the heart are often shared. Remember, the heart-to-heart talks you had while helping your mother wash the dishes or your father fix the car? This is a great way to create connection while working together to create a comfortable and comforting home.

Foster parenting can be a mutually rewarding experience for parent and child. As you learn to see who your foster child is beyond the coping skills she has developed to protect her from the authority figures of the world, you will find a beautiful child who is yearning for the chance to be loved and love in return.

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