Learning how to be a good foster parent is not a difficult concept and I’m not sure why so many struggle with it.
(Disclaimer: Now anyone who knows me, or have been following me quite some time is already aware that I am a person who is blunt and speaks with brute force honesty. I don’t sugar coat a damn thing. So be warned for what you might read may be unsettling, and in some instances may trigger those who skim instead of read “offensive” content.)
Q: What Makes You So Qualified?
A: As someone who was once a child “lost in the system” I feel I’m more than enough qualified to put my two cents in. Because I offer a perspective that is ALWAYS ignored when coming directly from a child that’s in the system currently.
Family. What Does It Mean?
One of the first steps of trying to be a good foster parent is to know what family means to you.
A family is a unit of individuals who stick by each other’s side through pain and troubles with love and compassion. Through the ups and downs, family will always be there. Blood or not, family is what you make of it. NOT WHAT YOU CAN MAKE FROM IT!
Family is somebody that no matter what kind of day you had, or prior argument, you still love them at the end of the day.
You Cannot Discard Them
When you’re taking on a child or teen, you cannot just discard them anytime they’re not exactly what you wanted. This isn’t build a child now. Come on. Have some decency.
Because these foster children were not as lucky to have a family like mentioned above. The system is all they got to try and depend on it to give them the family they need.
And when you discard them for being “too much” despite them just being kids, then you’re basically telling them to give up hope and teaching them what it’s like to not be wanted.
I was a foster child. When I was waiting for a family, at 16 I was told “nobody wants a depressed teenager”. The thing is, I wasn’t depressed because of some chemical imbalance I couldn’t control. I wanted, needed, a family. That’s all I craved. But when I was told that I made it my mission to become emancipated. Would I recommend it for other teens? Probably. But the statistics are generally against you.
Can’t tell you how many times I’ve been harassed about it since I decided to love myself and be my own family because the state failed me.
Because nobody wanted a teenager. Whom take up a large portion of children waiting to be adopted.
But, nope. People want babies.
Because it’s easier to mold a human being into something you’ve always dreamt about when they start out as infants. It’s about control. And I’m sure most people do want an actual baby due to their own complications.
But there’s not many to go around. And part of being a parent is dealing with the teen years. I’m not saying it’s easy. It’s not like you’d see on television. But if you want to be a good foster parent, then you have to start realizing that starts with changing a teens life. Because you never know.
You might inspire them to grow up and adopt. And if you hang onto them like your own and build a strong foundation with them, then they could possibly make you a grandparent.
What’s Wrong With Teens?
Nothing. But there’s a lot of debate there. Because some deal with severe trauma from their childhood, and others can be unruly. But I’ve met some who were fairly behaved. It varies and not all are the same.
But I can tell you from experience, that a teen who was traumatized by childhood abuse as myself is LESS likely to be even considered or offered up for adoption. People can deny it all they want. But I dare them to go back in time and tell 14 year old me that’s not true!
Actually, at the time, they have told me that. Then when I turned 16, they finally admitted it. Yet still deny it to this day to any new teen.
I have seen teens who literally burned their home down, and are pyromaniacs get a family before anyone else. I’m not saying certain ones are less deserving of a home than the next, but there should have been some kind of reformation in the system to help everyone get a home.
What Is It Like To Not Be Picked?
You know those pound commercials, and short videos you’d see online playing sad music alongside an equally sad pet who was abandoned and/or abused? It’s that. That times 100.
To watch others get picked up by a nice looking family and avoid your room like a plague, is more traumatic than anything I’ve ever faced as a child. And I’ve been to Hell and back.
What Has This Got To Do With Being A Good Foster Parent?
Humanity. To have some. Children are not all sunshine and rainbows. Not every kid is going to be happy about the change, and not every kid is going to act how you wish. You can’t beat them into it, like I’ve heard some families do. You can’t force a religious conversion on them, that’ll just make them more resentful of the change. People change everyday and on their own. Be patient.
In other words: ACCEPT THEM FOR WHO THEY ARE AND STOP TRYING TO CHANGE THEM. They are not robots to be programmed. They are not systems to be updated. They are not toys to be played with! They are people. And what do people have? Emotions, beliefs, habits, inabilities, capabilities, strengths, weaknesses, thoughts. But God forbid any adult ever listen to a teenager.
I get they’re not adults, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have their own personality. And in order for you to be a good foster parent, you need look past that and compromise. Stop using the excuse “the constitution doesn’t apply to you” when they bring up their right to free speech or freedom of religion.
Because newsflash: it pertains to everybody regardless. I got so sick of adults always telling me that growing up. Once had a family take me back simply because I didn’t agree with their religion. I didn’t argue about it, or fight them on it. I respected their choice. But they couldn’t respect mine. Because I was a kid in their eyes who “didn’t know what she actually wanted”. Makes me roll my eyes tbh.
Summary on How To Be A Good Foster Parent:
- Be respectful.
- Have humanity.
- Be patient.
- Don’t try to change them.
- And love them!
ITS THAT SIMPLE!!
It’s only as hard you make it.