As a foster parent, I know firsthand how difficult and emotionally taxing it can be to open your home to children in need. It's a rewarding experience, of course, but it can also be incredibly challenging. That's why I'm a strong advocate for therapy as a way of helping foster parents cope with the unique demands of this role. Here's why I think therapy is so important for those who have taken on the responsibility of caring for children in need.
As a foster parent, there are certain aspects of my job that can be emotionally draining if I don't take time out for self-care. In order to continue doing this work effectively and compassionately, I've found it important to practice self-awareness by consistently reflecting on my thoughts and feelings about my role as a foster parent in therapy sessions. My therapist has been invaluable in helping me understand the complex emotions I'm experiencing both as a result of being involved in the foster care system and through my interactions with the children in my care. Your therapist can help you gain insight into your individual triggers so you can better prepare yourself when handling difficult situations with your child, other family members and even challenging CPS workers, bio parents or other members of your child's village.
Creating Healthy Boundaries
It's especially important for foster parents to create healthy boundaries between themselves and their child while still providing unconditional love and support whenever possible. This type of boundary-setting is often difficult because you want to provide your child with every opportunity you can while also protecting yourself from any potential harm or distress caused by their behavior or experiences outside of your home. By engaging in regular therapy sessions, you'll be able to unpack what types of boundaries are appropriate for your specific situation so that you can set limits without creating unnecessary conflict or tension between yourself and the child(ren) in your care.
Teaching Coping Skills
For many foster children, trauma and attachment difficulties are an ongoing reality. It's not uncommon for these kids to have trouble forming attachments or controlling their emotions due to past experiences. Through my own therapy, I learn coping skills that I can teach my foster children that can help them regulate their emotions given their trauma. For instance, my therapist taught me to use this feeling wheel when I needed to dig deeper into my emotions; It's been so helpful that I've printed a copy out and hung it on our refrigerator, encouraging all families members to look at it when they need to evaluate their emotions.
While there will always be challenges associated with caring for children who have experienced trauma or neglect, it's important not to let those challenges overwhelm you or prevent you from providing the best possible care possible for these kids. That’s why therapy is such an essential part of being a successful foster parent—it helps us gain insight into our own experiences while developing healthy tools necessary for managing our emotions when faced with difficult situations involving our child. Ultimately, engaging in regular therapeutic sessions helps us become more aware and intentional about how we show up as caregivers each day so that we can provide stability and security within our homes no matter what happens outside them!
Get a free week of therapy here (affiliate link).
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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