Becoming a foster parent is like a new journey, very different from that of being a biological parent. You bring an unknown child home and need to make sure that he or she is comfortable in the new setting. And if you already have your own children at home, be prepared to face a new set of challenges. Whatever may be the difficulties, the experience has rewarding aspects as well. After all, opening up your home and heart for an unknown child is not something that everyone is capable of doing. There are a few things that you need to understand before embarking on this amazing journey. Knowing them and incorporating them into your parenting strategy can go a long way in making you a successful foster parent. Here are some dos and don’ts of successful foster parenting.
- Do take care of their basic needs
Start by taking care of their basic needs, such as clean clothes, personal hygiene items and any medicines that they may need. Try to know their food preferences and include them in the family meals to make them comfortable from the day one. Show them around the house and introduce them to your family. If you have children at home, prepare them beforehand that they will have new siblings at home and you would expect them to behave well and be receptive towards them. Also, be realistic and give them time to break the barriers and get close to the new additions to the family.
- Don’t make comparisons
As a parent, never make comparison between the foster child and your own children. After all, they are different people and have different background and can never be the same academically, behaviorally or in any other aspect. Being neutral as a parent is essential because it will make the foster child feel comfortable and develop confidence in you. On the other hand, they will never be able to gain trust and close the rift if they find themselves being compared to their new siblings in any way.
- Do make the child feel welcomed
Another thing that you must do to become a successful foster parent is to make the child feel welcome in the family. Discuss the implications of the decision with your spouse and children before bringing the new member home. Being empathic with the foster child is equally important as you cannot expect them to gel with your family on the very first day. Give them time to develop a comfort level and treat them with love and care meanwhile. Encourage them to open up and get comfortable with you and your family.
- Don’t get unrealistic with your expectations
Being a first time foster parent can be a little daunting as you really don’t know what to expect. The mantra is to not get too unrealistic with your expectations, from yourself, your family and the foster child. Remember that all of you need time to adjust in the changing environment and making things normal would take time. You may have some parenting goals but do not have timelines to achieve them because there is no proven formula to handle children and get you results as expected.
- Do document your memories
Cherish every single memory with the foster child, as you would have done with your own children. Document every milestone in a journal and capture the special moments in family pictures. This will give you the chance to relive this special experience in future and bring the child closer to the family as well. You never know how long the child will remain in the foster home and this is the best way to keep the memories with you.
- Don’t be daunted by the social workers
As a part of the foster care program, you will need to take the child to the social worker who has been assigned your case. They may also pay a visit to ensure that you are taking good care of the child. But you should not be daunted by the idea of being evaluated as a parent as they have nothing personal against you and are neither out to question your parenting. This is just a part of their job and is a norm that has to be followed during the fostering programs.
Following these tips can make you a good foster parent and ease the challenges involved as a part and parcel of life with foster children. Besides these, you need to practice patience and give unconditional love and care to the child. Behave with them as you would with your children and understand that you need to teach them good values.