Being a foster parent is a big deal, no matter which way you look at it. Taking on a child or sibling group and providing everything that they need (whether short-term or long-term) is a big deal. There is a lot involved with fostering, and there are some aspects that you may or may not have given enough thought to. Being a foster parent means that there are no set 9-5 hours, and there are times when you feel like you are not having an impact. So, how can you handle these emotions and situations, and what is really involved with being a foster parent?
The Emotional Effect on You
Welcoming children into your home and seeing what they have been through will have an impact on your emotions and feelings. You may be seeing children who are exhausted and drained, and this, of course, will take its toll on you. You may also find that you struggle to get through to your foster children, perhaps because they are disconnected or perhaps because you need to take a different approach. Either way, this will have an effect on you or how you feel. As a foster parent, you must look at your emotions and feelings and look at what you can do to improve and be better. What else can you offer and provide?
The Feelings and Emotions of Foster Children
Foster children will come with emotional baggage and possibly even a large amount of trauma too. When you welcome a new child or sibling set into your home, you may not realize just what they have been through and what they continue to go through. Focusing on good clear communication is important. Talking and being open is important, and it is something that foster parents have to learn and master. Children often struggle to explain or demonstrate their feelings and emotions, and this can mean that they sometimes bottle everything up. Being a listening ear for foster children and being supportive as much as you can is important.
Having a Great Support Network Around You
There are times in your fostering journey that you will need extra support and guidance, and these are the times when having a great support network is essential. Building a support network and maintaining close connections with the fostering agency you are using is crucial. There will be times when you need guidance, and there will be times when you need that extra support. Being a foster parent is challenging, and when you have a great network around you, you can then achieve more and be more to the children you are helping and supporting.
Mental and Physical Exhaustion
Foster parents have to deal with a surge in emotions, feelings, and behavior. Handling everything can and will be emotionally and physically tiring and even, at times, exhaustive. Learning how to handle situations and taking great care of yourself is important. Managing stress, getting rest where you can, and being more prepared will help you to deal with any feelings of exhaustion you may be experiencing.