How can I expect my own kids to react to any foster children and vice versa?
My husband and I are both introverts. We recharge by not talking or having quality conversation. Maybe some vegging out in front of the TV. Definitely some not talking.
Our only child is extroverted. Excuse me – he is EXTROVERTED.
(Sometimes, I think God gives us gifts and then sits back and smiles a little bit because of Growth and Refinement.)
When we welcome weekend placements into our home, Cody and I are on high alert: do we have enough groceries? Can we get the other car seat in the car? Is the laundry caught up enough that we can not have to worry about it? Do we have enough clothes for our guest?
Our son is on high alert also: I GET A NEW FRIEND FOR THE WEEKEND!!!! Hashtag extrovert status.
When we are on our way to pick up a weekend visitor, or they are on the way to our house, we tell our son that he is getting a friend for the weekend. He’s only three years old, so doesn’t have full understanding of what’s going on. He gets bits and pieces of it. Like when there are a lot of tears, he asks, “Is her sad? Her misses her mommy and daddy?”
Okay, so maybe he really gets more than I give him credit for.
He is so welcoming and inviting to other children. He is very social and loves to play with others, so to him, having a friend for the weekend is a huge blessing! We really try to instill in him that when a friend’s mommy and daddy have to take a break, his friend gets to come stay with us and it’s important for us to be nice and sweet and share our toys.
He gets all of that without us prompting him, really. He’s good, y’all.
Now, let me say again that our son is three. He has his jealous moments when I am rocking another little one to sleep and he lays in his own bed. Or Cody is changing a diaper and we have to send him to the potty. Things like that get to him, too, because he has to share his mommy and daddy. He loves to be a helper, so we remind him as much as we can that he is helping us and he perks right up. We are also careful to spend quality time with him once our friend leaves, and remind him how proud we are that he’s such a good friend and helper.
When weekend guests come to stay with us, they are immediately welcomed by our little man and he often breaks the ice when our introverted selves are caught up in checklists. We have not had a problem with a child adjusting to our son because he’s so friendly. Now, as he grows older, I’m sure we’ll have more hurdles as he engages with weekend guests.
If you are concerned about your own children reacting to foster children, there are things we can do as parents to help our kids adjust. These things will translate across various ages:
* Remind him of how proud we are of him that he’s such a great friend. What child doesn’t need to hear that his parents are proud of him? And if I remind him that he’s a great friend, he’ll believe that and continue to be a great friend.
* Give him responsibility when his friends are visiting. Even if it’s “helping” wipe the table after dinner or making sure to feed the cat and dog, when he feels responsibility in his own space, he feels like he’s on the team.
* Spend quality time with him once our guest leaves. It’s important to reconnect with our children after a guest leaves. I feel like this is an important aspect of parenting, even if foster care isn’t on the radar.
Foster care is a great way to instill in our children the importance of caring for our community. If we show our children that they are just as much a part of that as anyone else, we’ll make a huge difference in their lives, and that’s something they can pass on as they grow.