As parents, we are constantly being looked upon by our children. We are showing them the right and wrong ways of the world, and it is our job to shape them into future citizens of the world. Because of the bond children and their parents hold, you are a huge example to your children- and acting accordingly is so important.
For foster kids, many are coming from an unhealthy family relationship into a new family. You are working to reteach them what a family looks like, what unconditional love looks like, and even what a healthy adult relationship should look like. Though we can’t be perfect all the time, we should keep this in mind when we are in front of these kids. Here are some essential examples that are you should teach your kids as guidelines to live by.
Teach them that perfection is unreachable. We all make mistakes. If your foster child thinks they have to reach perfection, when they make a mistake shame and guilt may follow, which can be detrimental to their mental health in the long run. Instead, teach your children that making mistakes is okay, as long as they apologize and work to make things right. Lead by example by owning up to your own mistakes when you make them, and practicing apologizing when necessary, including apologizing to them. Extend them grace when they apologize- this goes hand in hand with respect, too.
Be an example of hard work. Your child will inevitably pick up the habits that you exhibit. If your sink is always filled with dishes and the laundry never gets put away, it will be hard for your child to adopt these habits for themselves. Set your child up for success by doing your best to stay on top of your housework, as it is only fair that you practice what you preach. And don’t complain! Be patient and do your work with a smile. Give them their fair share of chores, and show them what responsibility looks like.
When in front of your children, act with intentionality. You are their role model. If you see something that you think needs to change, first check that you’re not setting up a bad example that they are imitating. Acting with patience, grace, and respect is the simplest thing you can teach your kids, and one of the most important as well.