What To Expect When You’re Fostering: Can’t We Just Get Along?

What To Expect When You’re Fostering: Can’t We Just Get Along? One of the greatest challenges of being a foster parent is blending your foster children with your current household. Learn more about how to grow your family unit as smoothly as possible right here on Newsymom!

Helping hands comes to you in partnership with COAD4Kids

 

If you ask any foster parent about one of the biggest challenges they have when their new placement arrives home, they’ll likely tell you that blending everyone to be a family unit is one of their toughest struggles. Nothing happens overnight, and having everyone get along can definitely be a lifelong struggle (for birth or blended families)!

There are three major ways you can make the transition of blending families much easier for your family and your foster children:

Communicate

From the get-go, keeping an open line of communication is key to understanding your family’s needs. As a parent, you need to keep an open mind so your children come to you when they need help. Some examples of reinforcing that open line of communication comes in:

  • Asking their permission to help them with activities, such as unpacking their belongings.
  • Learn about their favorite things (movies, foods, interests, etc.) and show that you care with little surprises! Make their favorite dinner one night or take them to a baseball game since you know they’re an Indians fan!
  • Recruit their help when it comes to shopping or cooking! You’ll learn more about them and they’ll feel more included when you value their choices and decision-making.

Never pressure them into talking with you. If they need your help, they’ll come to you! Create opportunities that show them that line of communication is open if they’re ever in need of someone to talk to, but don’t do it in a way that seems ingenuine.

Spending time together is super important to creating those opportunities for your child to confide in you. Pick a day to go out and do some activities they like… you might be surprised when they start to open up to you!

Support

Providing support to all of your children (equally) is the key way to ensuring you don’t start any fights. It may seem like common sense, but making sure all your children have fair and equal opportunities and responsibilities keeps them from fighting. Some examples of ensuring your kids all have fair opportunities include:

  • Taking the entire family on trips out or vacations–leave no one out!
  • Including everyone in photos around the house, refrigerator recognition, and opportunities for praise!
  • Encouraging all your children to pursue their interests (sports, games, art, etc.) and learn new things.
  • Giving all children equal responsibilities around the house (i.e. chores). 

Support from foster parents is critical in helping to rebuild a foster child’s sense of self. Letting your children know that you’re in their corner no matter what is the secret sauce to having self-assured children!

Comfort

The last thing each child needs to feel included in the family is a safe space: metaphorically and physically. This comes in these forms:

  • Allowing your child to have their own physical safe space. Have them choose colors, decorations, sheets, blankets that they like so their room can be their safe place.
  • Give your children room to grow–let them choose activities to do that are interesting to them! (Though, you can mention new activities going on in the community to see if they’ll open up with interest!)
  • Let your children dress themselves to help them show off that style and reclaim their identity!
  • Always get consent before you give hugs, kisses, or any affection. Don’t guilt trip them if they aren’t comfortable sharing that need with you yet!
Allow your children the space to grow and explore their interests! This will make them feel more comfortable with you and instill confidence in themselves-something that was likely lost when they entered foster care.

Putting these tips to practice will help your birth family and foster children blend easier together… and with a lot less conflict! 

For additional help and resources on becoming a foster parent, read our other articles in the What To Expect When You’re Fostering series:

There are many reasons to become a foster parent, but the most important one is to share love and support with a child in need! To learn more about becoming a foster parent, send an email to foster5@coadinc.org, call (330) 364-8882, or follow COAD4Kids-New Philadelphia on Facebook.

Melissa Klatt

Reporting

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