Foster parenting can be a rewarding experience, but it can also bring its own unique challenges, especially if you have biological children at home. It’s important to remember that your biological kids are just as affected by the changes brought about by fostering as any other family member. Here are some ways to make sure your biological kids stay supported during this transition.
Create Boundaries and Routines
Creating boundaries and routines is essential in any household, but especially so when fostering. Make sure that you have clear expectations of what is acceptable and what isn’t. This will give your children stability while they adjust to their new reality. Additionally, create routines that everyone in the house can count on — such as regular meal times and bedtimes — which will help foster a sense of security and consistency for all involved.
Give Everyone Time & Space
It’s important to give everyone in your family some time and space to process their feelings about the changes in their lives. This includes your biological children as well as yourself or other adults living in the house. Make sure that each person has a safe space where they can go when they need some time alone or if they need to work through something emotionally. You might even consider setting aside specific times for everyone to talk about how the transition has been going for them individually, so that everyone feels heard and supported throughout this process.
Validate Feelings & Provide Praise
Biological kids may feel overwhelmed, anxious and excited about their new foster sibling — all at the same time! That can be confusing for anyone, but especially a child. They may also be frustrated that their connection with the foster child may not be going as smoothly as they imagined. Validate all of these real feelings. Let your biological child know these are okay. Praise them for the efforts they've made to bond with their foster sibling, even if small. For many kids, hearing that they're a "good brother/sister" to their foster sibling will be great affirmation during the difficult transition.
Get Support For Yourself & Your Family
Foster parenting requires a lot from everyone involved, so it’s important not to forget your own needs while trying to provide care for others. Take advantage of resources available in your area such as counseling services or support groups specifically designed for foster parents — these will help you manage stress levels while providing an opportunity for you to connect with other parents who understand what you are going through. Additionally, think about getting professional help for both yourself and your family if needed; this could take the form of individual counseling sessions, parent coaching, or family therapy depending on what works best for you all.
Foster parenting offers so many amazing opportunities, but it may feel overwhelming at first—especially if you have biological children at home too! Remembering to prioritize self-care is essential here, as is creating boundaries and routines that benefit everyone in the house equally. With some patience and effort, this transition can be an incredibly positive experience for everyone involved!
I'm a foster mom, bio mom, working mom, special needs mom, busy mom. I'm also married to my high school sweetheart, I'm a proud 23-year childhood cancer survivor, and I'm passionate about serving my community.
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