When you are considering jumping into the world of foster care, naturally, you will have some reservations. Doubts and questions about how it’s all going to work, how you will have the time, and maybe even how your existing children will feel about the situation. Though you want to help other children by taking on this challenge, will you be hurting your own?
Your children, whether they have siblings or not, are used to having their parents to themselves. It’s natural for kids to be territorial of their parents, and want to keep the attention for themselves. If you’ve had more than one kid, you may remember your first child working through a bit of jealousy when it came to the new baby. The phase will pass, and all it takes is a bit of an adjustment period and making sure you show your child some extra love.
Just like adults, children show and receive love in different ways. There are five universal love languages that are a great tool to refer to when figuring out how to express love to a child. They include words of affirmation, physical touch, quality time, gifts, and acts of service. Of course, your child’s love language may shift as they grow older, but understanding the way in which they best receive love now is what’s most important. Once you figure it out, do your best to show them love through that language, to ensure they feel safe and a valued part of the family.
If you are about to welcome a foster child into your home, first explain to your child what is happening, and why it is happening. Prepare them for all the possibilities, like the need to give the foster child space, as they may be upset when they arrive. Secondly, encourage them to be a role model for the foster child, and empower them to be a leader. Lastly, make sure your child knows that you are here to listen to their concerns and that you value what they think of the situation. Never make your child feel like their opinion doesn’t matter.
When the time comes for the children to meet, help them break the ice as best you can. Introduce activities for them to do together by offering games or letting your child show them around the house. If things don’t initially go as planned, don’t worry. All children are different and some may take more time to warm up than others. Things will work out in the way the Lord has planned.