If you’re thinking of becoming a foster carer, or you already have taken that step and are developing along the process, we’ve put 10 tips together for when it comes to staying strong as a foster carer, whether you’re doing it alone or as a family unit.
1. Respect the child’s biological family
This may seem harder at times than others, especially if you do have ill feelings towards them due to the way they treated the child. However, at the end of the day, they are the family of the child you are looking after, and however hard it may be, you will need to put your feelings aside a lot of the time.
2. Ask for help when you need it
Admitting you need help or just a bit more support is nothing to be ashamed of, and is perfectly natural when doing something like this. The organisation you foster through should have lots of help and support at your service to help when times are particularly tough.
3. Give yourself a break
You’re unlikely to get things right 100% of the time, especially as you will face a number of delicate situations. Don’t be hard on yourself and realise that you’re doing an amazing thing.
4. Don’t treat the experience as a temporary thing
If you’re caring for the child for only a short amount of time, it can be easy to see each day as just part of the temporary arrangement. However, viewing it as temporary can mean you will not experience the full joy of the time you have together. Let go and submerge yourself fully into your time together, regardless of how short it may be.
5. Realise it’s ok to ‘grieve’ when it’s time for the child to move on
When the child leaves your home, don’t be afraid to grieve for them, as they will have been a huge part of your life. Look for support for grieving for a foster child. Also keep in touch where possible to help the healing process for both of you…they’ll miss you too!
6. Include the child in your family’s normal activities
This sense of normality for the child will really benefit them and aid the building of their self esteem, but it will also help you enormously, too. Go about your day to day life with the foster child in tow to help build relationships and to give you all a sense of routine.
7. Accept that it takes time
Miracles don’t happen overnight, and the foster child won’t automatically slot into your family perfectly in a few short days, too. They can find it really difficult, and so can you! Be patient and it will soon happen.
8. Look to others who have been through the experience for support
Whether it’s before the actual process has begun, midway through it, or even afterwards, looking to other people who have been through it is really useful. There’s a great blog where foster carers discuss how ‘Fostering has changed our Lives’ here.
9. Support each other as a family unit
If you’re doing it as a family, stick together and help each other through each part of the process as you will all need support in different ways. If you’re doing it alone, look to your wider family and friend network for some support.
10. Understand that the wealth of emotions you feel are perfectly natural
Whether it’s guilt, sadness, jealousy, pride, happiness or disappointment, you will no doubt feel every sort of emotion under the sun at one point or another – and they are all perfectly natural and normal.