A question that regularly arises between foster carers is – should I treat my foster children as my own?
The answer to this question (like most things in life) is not black and white! So many factors impact how families relate to a foster child or children. You may want to treat every child that comes into your home exactly the same as your own children. However, a foster child’s needs and understanding may mean that you treat them differently to your own child. Simply put, the boundaries may look very different in comparison to your own children. A new foster child may not understand that ‘look or tone of voice that would signal to your child I’m on thin ice here’. So we need to slowly build trust and develop the relationship so that some of the things you take for granted with your own children will have an impact of a foster child. We understandably think yes, I will treat this child the same, but the real skill of fostering is understanding that the child may need a different type of parenting.
One thing that every foster carer can agree on is, no one child is the same and they need unconditional positive regard and understanding to help them thrive in the foster home. Foster carers often have to explain to their own children about why some rules are different and the needs of the child often dictates how they blend into the family.
How you look after your foster child should definitely be a discussion you are having as a foster carer with your own family and supervising social worker. The outcome will dictate what kind of foster parent you will be and the relationship you will have with your looked after child. It avoids the sense of powerlessness that can occur if the things you did as a parent suddenly doesn’t work with a foster child.
There are also some cases where a child doesn’t expect or even want you to treat them as your own child. This is understandable, each foster child comes to you with their own identity, sometimes with one that is very different to yours. Every foster child also enters your home with a family of their own and will still have deep connections to their family despite their reason for being in foster care. In these circumstances it is important to not try and replace their family or be their family, but instead be as understanding and supportive as you can.
Although there are many cases where foster children want to be accepted into your family and are looking for a family home that they may not have ever had or are now missing. In these circumstances it is important to make the child feel welcomed and included in everyday family activities. If you go out together as a family, be sure to include your foster child. If your children do chores around the house then be sure to make your foster child help out around the house too.
Ultimately, we believe that children in foster care should have unconditional positive regard and be given a genuine sense of acceptance and belonging when they go into a foster home. This is the key to helping them thrive and flourish whilst in foster care.
Here at Ascent Fostering we have a wide range of training sessions, therapeutic sessions and a tight-knit team to ensure that you are fully equipped and confident to give a foster child the best care possible.
To find out more information about Ascent and the training we deliver, get in contact with us here.