Foster parenting is never a solo decision but that of a family and things can get even more challenging when you have biological children as well. A foster child is more than an addition to the family and your own children may struggle accepting him or her as a new sibling. After all, it would be unrealistic to expect a child to understand the depth of the responsibility and the commitment that goes into the decision. However, as a parent, you are responsible for ensuring that your child is able to embrace the foster kids and build a bond with them as well. Here are a few tips that can help you in handling your own children while you bring home a foster child.
- Get your children involved in the decision
To start with, get your children involved in the decision even while contemplating the idea of fostering. Of course, they may be too young to understand your motivation behind the decision or the implications that it will have but they need to be given good reasons to accept the change. And whatever be the age of the children, this single decision is bound to bring a major change for them. Not having them involved can cause resentment, which is the reason that it would be best to explain them the value that your family will be adding to a child’s life with this decision.
- Check in often
Getting the child home does not mean that your work is done; in fact, it is just the beginning of the challenge considering that you will now have to handle both, the new member as well as your biological children. The trickiest part as a parent to maintain a balance that none feels ignored at the cost of the other. Undoubtedly, you will feel the need to give some extra attention to the foster child but keep checking on your children to assure them about your presence for them. Ask them about what is working for them and what is not and also try to address their issues.
- Plan dates with them
While family outings are a good idea to encourage bonding between the foster child and the rest of the members, planning one-to-one dates is equally important. It need not be a lavish affair; take them to the park for a walk or just stop by for an ice cream when you pick them from school. Maintain this practice once a week and try to talk to the child to find out how they feel about the change. Not only will it bring you closer to the child but also make them understand your perspective. They need to realize that this commitment goes beyond foster care pay and is all about making a difference to someone’s life.
- Take the family for a break
The initial phase of fostering a child can be a tough one as it involves making the child comfortable and also making your family adjust with the situation. But once everything gets into routine, take time out for a family break. Going out together will bring everyone closer and develop a new comfort level among them. You need not break your budget for a long vacation; even a weekend getaway will be good enough. The objective, after all, is to bring the family closer together.
- Be honest with them
As a parent, you need to be honest with the children, the foster child as well as your biological child. Remember that parenting is not about perfection and you can make mistakes too. Learn to accept them honestly and ask your children to bear with them. This will definitely strengthen your bond with the children and they will appreciate your efforts to be honest. Furthermore, honesty breeds trust and makes the children realize that they can talk to you about their challenges and problems without hesitation.
- Seek their help
Another tip to ease the experience of your children when you start fostering is by asking for their help. This sounds contradictory but getting help from your children for making the foster child comfortable will actually do well for them. They will feel responsible for the new member in the family and will be more accepting. Moreover, it will get you much-needed assistance for handling the tedious physical aspects of foster parenting.
Remember that this decision should not change your attitude towards your own children. Rather, it is an opportunity that you can use to get closer to them and teach them the value of making a difference with a positive move.