Sunday, January 6, 2013

Life Rules for Foster (and All) Parents


by John and Diane.

We recently re-posted our House Rules for kids and teens, and got a question…”Where are the rules for parents?”  Thanks for the reminder! We have been meaning to talk about this for a while now.
Although most of this is probably already part of the heart and soul of your home, it’s a good reminder at those moments of frustration, that as parents of foster kids, or any child, we have a higher calling to be better people than we can sometimes be. But… we must always try. There are life rules we must live by, things we must do so that we can provide the basic and more complex needs of the children in our care.
With that being said…here are the Life Rules for Foster (and All) Parents:
You Must:
1.     Supply all his or her needs. This may seem obvious to most of you, but I found through the years in foster care it’s not. So let’s go through some of the easier things that I would think all parents would already be doing.
a.     Food
b.     Bed
c.     Clean clothes 
d.    Warm home
e.     And a chance to go to school and to join in other actives with children their own age. This could be in church or school and many other ways.
f.       LOVE. The one thing all of us need but a child needs more. How do you show love?
                                              i.     Make your child feel safe and secure in your home. Feeling safe and secure equals love to a child. 
                                            ii.     You need to forgive them (if you’re not kicking them out because it is SO bad,) for what they did, and let it go! Let them feel like they belong to the family.
                                          iii.     Use positive reinforcement when the child is good and just use the consequences for breaking house rules when they “mess up.”  He or she already knows will happen if they break the rules so you don’t need to berate them with negativity. State the broken rule and enforce the consequences.
                                            iv.      Please do not use sarcasm. This is not positive or negative, it’s just dumb and it will mess your child up and make it hard for them to make friends later on.    Most of the time the child has no Idea what you are saying anyway.
                                              v.      Just be honest with them and truthful.  Always tell them how they could have done something differently when they do something wrong.  Make it a learning moment for both of you and go through it all calmly and without anger (try your best.)
2.     Be trustworthy.  Even if you can’t trust the child, he or she has to see what it looks like to be trustworthy. The only way they will learn this is by watching you. This means if you tell them you are going to do something… Do it. Following through on promises you make with the child.   
3.     Make sure the child knows you are in control. This will help teach them to trust you.
This is easy to do. Make sure when the child gets something, you point out the role you had in it. Let them know how they would not have it if it weren’t for you.

 For example, show them how through your efforts in working with them, they were able to achieve something…that because they trusted you to teach them, they accomplished something.

You also will show you are in control when you enforce the house rules. By enforcing the house rules you gain the child’s trust because ultimately, your child knows the rules protect him and keep him safe.

4.     Be emotionally strong. Know your strengths, weaknesses and your hot buttons. You need to be able to control your emotions and know when you have reached your limits. Get your partner or spouse to help you if you feel you are being pushed beyond your limits, so the child doesn’t see that.   The child will not trust you if they feel you are weak.  If they feel you’re stronger than them, they will feel safe.

5.     Don’t allow things that happened in the past to cloud your judgment with your child. Always allow your child to try again at things he tried at the past. Kids are always growing in intelligence and in skills. Don’t let your own limitations and fears limit the growth of your child.

6.     Smile a lot when you are with your children.   Always be nice to your wife or husband in front of the kids unless you at trying to teach them a “life lesson,” then let the children see but remember they will treat their better half the same way, so do it in a Godly way please.
7.     Always try to treat your foster children as your own.  If people can’t tell which child is yours and which ones are foster, you’re doing a good job.    
8.     For my family we pray together and in the prayer I can ask God to help me and them sometimes the child asks for help too, this is always a good start.  A family that plays and prays together stays together…


Of course, all rules need to fit you home. Feel free to make changes and additions as need be. 

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