Choosing to become a foster parent and offer children in foster care a safe and stable place to call home can be a rewarding experience when the decision is carefully made. While many individuals and families may consider the idea of becoming involved with the foster care system, it’s significant to realize that it isn’t necessarily the right choice for everyone.
There are some basic but very important skills that successful foster parents must possess and practice on a daily basis, so before bringing a child into your home, you must recognize if you have these qualities within and can consistently apply them to your foster parenting in order to provide the best care possible.
Understand Your Own Family Dynamic First
Having an understanding of your own home and family life is critical before adding a vulnerable child into the dynamic. If you have children of your own, it’s important that their needs are being fully met and there is no chance of them feeling threatened by having a new child in the home.
Each member of the household should be supportive of the decision and feel comfortable with the emotional and financial responsibilities of taking on a foster family role. Knowing and being aware of the environment you’re currently living in is the first skill to be mastered, and it may take awhile to get everyone on board and prepared.
Communicate With Confidence
Communication is key in foster care. Foster parents must be able to effectively communicate with social workers, court officials, birth parents, therapists, teachers, etc. You become a part of a team as a foster parent, all working toward the best interests of the child in need, and without good communication skills it will be very hard to play your part adequately.
Don’t Be Afraid of a Challenge
It’s no secret that foster parenting can be challenging. Children in the foster care system have been through a lot and dealing with their emotions on top of the difficulties that may arise concerning their birth parents can be quite a bit for anyone to handle, making patience and tolerance essential qualities to maintain.
Foster parenting also requires interactions with the judicial system, which can be confusing for someone who is inexperienced in that regard. However, there are plenty of outlets and assistance that is made available to foster parents that really help to alleviate stress and provide advice in coping with these challenges.
Organizational skills when you’re managing a family and varied schedules really come in handy just about every day. Whether it’s with a therapist, visitations with their birth parents, court appearances, medical visits, child welfare agency meetings, etc., foster children often have numerous appointments that need to be kept on a weekly and monthly schedule. Coordinating everyone’s calendar and sticking to it is a great accomplishment.
Get a Grip on Behaviors and Discipline
As mentioned above, one of the common challenges of foster care children is behavioral issues. Coming from homes where they experienced neglect or abuse, these children frequently act out because they are unsure of how to deal with their emotions in any other way.
As a foster parent, you must know the difference between appropriate and inappropriate punishment and be supportive and encouraging while not letting poor behavior run the household. Getting to the root of the problem, building a bond with the child, keeping your cool and setting limits are fundamental for successfully managing behaviors.
Using these skills along with everything else you’ve learned about positive parenting, will create a pleasant foster care environment for everyone.
By Tiffany Olson
Tiffany Olson is passionate about family issues and loves to share knowledge with others on this topic. She’s from Northern California and some of her favority hobbies include dancing, yoga, and traveling.