Parenting a foster child is easier said than done. It is a big responsibility and you can find no easy recipe to make it work. Since every child is unique and every situation is different, you need to approach the matter of foster parenting on an individual basis depending on the child you are fostering.
Having said that there are certain qualities and skills that can help you to be a successful foster parent. But more than anything else, these skills will help you to bring about a difference in the lives of your foster children and form a beautiful bond with them. Here are the essential skills you need to have to become a good foster parent.
When it comes to foster parenting a child, patience is an invaluable quality. Remember that the child entering your home under your foster care will be facing a new life and a new environment. This life and environment may be quite different from what the child is used to.
On the other hand, your home has its own set of rules, regulations, and culture that you would want the child to follow. It may not be easy for the child to adjust to everything at once. Your foster child may even take a long time to adopt these changes. You will have to exercise patience and offer unconditional support while dealing with the child.
As is the case in all relationships, communication assumes a vital role in developing your relationship with your foster child as well. In most cases, children coming under foster care have gone through mental or physical trauma or neglect.
Being a foster parent, you will have to reach out to them and encourage them to speak and share about their lives. You will have to learn to develop listening skills as well. By communicating with them, you will be able to help them to gain confidence and transform into emotionally strong individuals.
Ability to handle challenges
If you are having a hard time going through the adoption process, fostering parenting might be an option. But do not forget that becoming a foster parent comes with its own share of challenges. You may be up for several twists and turns along the journey of foster parenting that you might not have anticipated at all.
One thing to keep in mind is that training to be a foster parent and actually being one is two different things. No training can completely prepare you for the role of a foster parent. You will have to exercise your ability to overcome the challenges on a day-to-day basis as you go about creating a loving bond with your foster child.
Empathy and understanding
To be able to develop a healthy relationship with your foster child, you will have to understand the child’s position first. Place yourself in the shoes of your foster child and try to visualize the things from the child’s point of view.
This will help you to gain a better understanding of your foster child’s needs. Once you have an idea of what the child lacks or why the child is behaving in a certain way, you will be able to gain the child’s trust by communicating verbally and non-verbally that you understand and empathize with the whole matter. This will go a long way in laying the foundation of a happy and healthy relationship with the child.
Being a team player
Bringing up a foster child is not a solo act. This is something where you will have to work with your immediate family in order to raise your foster child in a loving and caring atmosphere. At the same time, you will also have to remain in constant touch with the birth family of your foster child. Sometimes you may even have to guide the family of the foster child as well in order to ensure the child’s well-being.
In many cases, foster parents have to deal with social workers frequently. Considering such varied aspects of foster parenting, you will have to learn to be a team player and work with a whole bunch of people to provide your foster child a happy life in your home.
It’s not just the child who has to adapt to a new environment when moving under foster care. As a foster parent, you will also need to be able to adapt to the changing situations that may arise in your life due to the child.
For instance, your foster child may develop an emotional issue or suffer from a medical problem. This may need you to drop your regular plans and attend to the child’s needs at short notice. If you are not ready to make such adjustments, your journey of fostering a child may not be smooth. Being flexible and adaptable will help you to develop a fulfilling relationship with your foster child.
Ability to shower unconditional love
Children in foster care often come with the baggage of a love-deprived childhood. This can impact their emotional state and reflect on their behavior. Showering them with love, care, and appreciation can make a big difference in their lives.
Your act of showing them unconditional love can help them to overcome their past and grow up to become responsible individuals. Taking care of such children and showing them love is not always easy. This is where you will have to be resilient and make sure that they do not feel deprived of love when under your care.
Becoming a foster parent can be a rewarding experience in itself. On one hand, it will help a child to get a good life, love, and care. On the other hand, you will be able to derive satisfaction from the fact that you are impacting a child’s life in a positive manner. Fostering a child may not be simple, but it’s not impossible either. With genuine effort and the skills mentioned above, you will be able to fit into the role of a foster parent in a confident manner.