There really is no room for negativity in foster parenting. Negativity leads everyone involved into a downward spiral that only ends when the negativity ends. It’s a valuable habit to foster a positive attitude, albeit a realistic one as you’re working with troubled kids and managing the ins and outs of the foster care system. Don’t be hard on everyone in your family hoping that this will somehow elicit good results. It won’t. Work with yourself on developing an attitude of forgiveness and forward thinking to get what you can out of each experience fostering.
You may have had parental role models who were hard on you when you were growing up. It’s normal to resort to this kind of behavior as a parent when this is what you grew up with yourself. But really think about how you actually responded when parents were hard on you. Did you really perform better when parents came down on you for doing poorly? What kinds of behaviors worked to get the best results out of you when you were a kid? There’s such a thing as giving kids constructive criticism and using disciplinary strategies that fit the crime, but did you perform well when parents yelled or became negative toward you? Most people answer a resounding “no” to this question. It is rare for a child not to care what his parents or guardians think of him and his behavior. Most children innately want to do what their parents or guardians want them to do. Being hard on them makes them believe that this might be impossible for them.
Further, think about your own behavior as a foster parent and how you resort to doing things that your parents did when you were a kid. Perhaps there are things that you swore you’d never do as a kid, but you almost can’t help yourself when you’re presented with a similar situation. Your foster children are in the process of doing the same thing when they manifest behaviors that are difficult to manage. Many of them are simply resorting to what they’ve seen in their families. It feels natural and since they’ve seen the results of their behaviors play out inside their own families, they feel comfortable trying them on for size. Being hard on kids for doing things “wrong” won’t help reshape the behaviors and develop positive ways to be. It will just diminish their sense of self-worth and their faith in themselves to change.
Being hard on your spouse or other people who are involved in your foster child’s life will be similarly detrimental. Anger is an emotion that almost always stands sentinel around a gaping hole of hurt. If you’re angry, you’re probably hurting in some way. Anger is simply a more socially acceptable emotion than sadness or hurt. If you find yourself being hard on others, you’re probably angry about something. And if you’re angry, you’re probably hurt. Think about this for awhile. Introspect. Then fix whatever the problem is inside yourself and quit worrying about changing everyone else.