Over the last six months, I have been doing Emergency Shelter Foster Care for FCNI in my home, during which time about 13 girls, all but two of them teens, have lived with me. I have soothed nightmares, eased the pain of detoxing from drugs, and have listened to traumatic stories of abuse, sex trafficking, abandonment, sibling separation and loss. I have been yelled and cussed at, have deescalated impending fights and have had girls run away.
Tag: voice of a foster parent
September is National Recovery Month sponsored by SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration). I could think of no better way to honor this month than to write about my own Dad's recovery from alcoholism. One of my earliest memories is the sound of ice cubes clinking in a glass as I lay in bed and my Dad walked down the hallway past my room. He always had a glass in his hand. I was too young to understand that there was usually scotch or vodka in there, but I did know that his mood became darker and angrier the more he drank.
The more a human being has been hurt, the more natural it is to be self-protecting and to believe that the only person you can count on is yourself. But many great philosophers, spiritual leaders, artists, therapists and social scientist have come to the same conclusion: relationships are what heal.
For the past 25 years, I have been a Resource Parent to over 100 youth ages 12 through 18 and yes, that has been my choice! Most people who hear these numbers cringe and exclaim that they can’t understand why anyone would choose to surround themselves with teenagers. For me, it has been an incredible opportunity to help kids prepare for the transition to adulthood. When I started fostering, there were no Transitional Housing support programs for youth who were aging out of the foster care system.
As a Mom, when I heard that April is officially “The Month of the Child”, my first thought was, “’The Month of the Child’??? Isn’t every month, even every day for the child?! How come Moms and Dads get only one day out of the whole year?”
Wow, I guess I was feeling a little sensitive about this subject!
March is Social Worker Appreciation month and as a long time foster parent I wanted to weigh in on my experience with these intrepid, hardworking souls. Let’s be honest, no one becomes a Social Worker to make big bucks or to become famous. They do it because they want to make a difference in the lives of children and families. Most of the Social Workers I have worked with over the past 25 years have had 25 to 30 children on their caseloads and yet they make sure to see each child at least once a month—no matter where s/he might be.
First, a few years into working with children with behavior problems stemming from trauma, I began to notice how some kids developed a sense of hopelessness in very rigid homes/group homes. The more difficult a child’s behaviors were, the more restrictive the consequences would become; and eventually, the child would have no privileges and no areas of success. Once this happened, they had nothing left to lose and their behaviors would often escalate.
When my daughter first moved in with me as my then foster daughter, I was her 17th home. After just a few weeks, the testing began. It felt like a 24-hour a day attack; she was very determined to push me away. Even though I had every reason to be emotional, angry, frustrated, doubtful and full of fear, I quickly realized that my “rights” to these feelings were not doing me any good. I would imagine my girl getting on a daily roller coaster ride and I knew that I had to refuse to get on it with her.
As parents, one of our greatest struggles is how to help our children with their social problems without being overprotective or missing important signs that our child is being bullied or mistreated. It turns out that this is a long-term endeavor, as we are not just getting our children through a rough patch at school, but are teaching them relationship skills that they’ll need throughout their lives
As parents and caregivers, we often feel a mixture of relief and stress as the school year begins. The structure and positive activity that school provides can be both stabilizing and stressful. Each child is unique and has a different reaction to school. Here are four main ingredients to consider as you develop a weekly routine that fits your child and family.