Friday, February 12, 2016

Don't Spoil Your Foster Child

Don't spoil your foster child.  Seems like a mean thing to say. This doesn't mean that you should love, care for and buy things for your foster child. Perhaps the title should be parent your foster child.

The other day I was talking with Emma and Michelle. I wanted to know why they persist on screaming when they are corrected. We talked about how it didn't help them at all. Somehow this lead to a conversation about their last two placements. I have read their record. I saw the report that the last adoptive home read. There was no mention of tantrumming for hours on there. I can see why they were overwhelmed, especially since they never fostered before. They were not ready at all and that led to another move for the girls.

I asked them if they did that tantrumming in the foster home they were in before going to the adoptive placement.  Michelle has the most memories of that time and she told me no. I said that I wondered why they tantrummed in one home and not the other.

Michelle had the answer, she said it was because they were spoiled in the foster home. I asked what she meant by spoiled because that can mean many different things. She said that whenever they started to have a fit they gave into them. They also got whatever they wanted. She said that they received everything there. Ride on cars, dress up clothing and junk food all the time. Funny thing is, all that stuff they "got" didn't go with them. They came with the garage sale clothing and broken toys.

But worse, they left that home with the expectation that when they wanted something they just had to throw a fit. Because of that experience they struggled in their other placements. Emma started the major tantrumming. They both came with terrible eating habits that we still struggle with today. Michelle's biggest struggle is with the sense of rejection.

Those foster parents might have thought that those "poor foster children" needed spoiling. However, their lack of parenting created problems down the line with behaviors and expectations. Foster children don't need to be spoiled with things and low expectations. They can be spoiled with love and acceptance. Children need to be parented to show them how to behave in acceptable ways. They need to be parented and guided.

I wonder how many foster kids go home and have terrible behaviors because of lack of parenting from their foster parents. I can't imagine how difficult that would have to be if they were struggling to keep their family together and have kid who tantrum to get their way and expect to be given everything that they want. When we had foster children who were heading home I would talk with the parents and tell them how we deal with different issues. If they are little I tell them what their bedtime routine is, what they like to eat, what soothes them. I try to ensure that their reunification is as smooth as possible for the child and the parent. This would apply for the adoptive placement as well. I still have relationships with some of those families today.

Foster children need to be set up for success not failure. Having a disrupted adoptive placement because of behaviors that were reinforced in the foster home is not setting a child up for success. If you want to be a foster parent, don't forget the parent part.  They need it.

1 comment:

  1. LOVE this post! Our 2 came to us abotu 6 months ago. we were told they had very few problems. The truth was no one took the time to actually parent them so they acted perfect...when you gave them what they wanted. No one ever took the time to really get to know them and uncover the hidden issues to address them!