If you’ve been a foster parent you’ve probably dealt with helping a child with the feelings of separation & loss. Of course certain personality types are more prone to wear their feelings on their sleeve as it were, and others do a better job at keeping their feelings and emotions bottled up within. But a closer look would reveal that they too are dealing with the separation & loss, but in a very different way.
My wife and I foster six children at this time and we have both types of children in our house. For the ones that cry and seem outwardly effected by the separation and loss, we try to console and take extra time to talk about their birth parents and their past. This seems to calm emotions down quite a bit and will subdue their concerns of not knowing where their mommy or daddy are. One thing that we’ve also tried with great results is to sit down with the child and have them write a letter to their birth parents and tell them everything that is on their heart. We did that with our six year old. They talked and we wrote.
Our other child who rarely talks about her birth parents could be caught internalizing the thoughts and will show very little emotion towards the matter. After we caught this pattern, my wife and I now proactively bring up the history of her and the birth parents. We have learned to draw out feelings so they don’t stay bottled up inside and cause grief later on.
The idea of talking about birth parents to new foster parents could seem counterproductive but usually the opposite is true. Normally, the more you incorporate their family history, the healthier the child will be emotionally. This is not always the case but in the majority of cases, it stands true.
Tuning into your child on an emotional level is the most important thing you can do to help your child. This is where the magic happens and you start connecting in different ways. The child connects with you and understand your love and investment into their life. When an adult takes time and tunes in, foster children will understand and appreciate on various levels the true love that you have for them.
Remember that foster children have experienced life in very different ways than you might have. I’m saying this because in many ways they could be a lot more advanced in many areas than you might give them credit for. A six year old raised in a loving home is very different than a six year old raised by parents who have been on drugs since the child was born and have exposed them to a lifestyle of drugs, parties, sex, street life, etc.
Keep your hopes up with difficult children and they will slowly change in time, but remember that it’s a process. Learn unconventional way of dealing with issues and problems. You may be the only one who has ever believed in them!
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