3 things foster parents don’t love hearing
There are a lot of things that look different when you’re a foster parent. As a result, people are curious, but don’t have the right words when they see foster parents out and about.
Lots of people want to know more, offer words of encouragement, or say something helpful. Unfortunately, there is a disconnect between words that are meant for good and what they actually sound like to foster parents. While this is understandable, I want to be a source of advocacy and information and would love to spread awareness while giving some alternative phrases to use when talking to a foster parent!
Here are three phrases we know foster parents get a lot:
“I could never do that, I would get too attached.”
The heart behind this is one that has good intentions. People want you to know that they are proud of what you’re doing and they think it’s wonderful, but also something they believe would be too difficult for them. To a foster parent, this doesn’t give any weight to the love and connection that they feel with their foster child. The whole point of fostering is to give love unconditionally to the children in our home until their parents are able and ready to give them that love again. Foster parents get too attached, they both mourn and rejoice when their foster children leave. Their hearts break for their loss but praise the Lord for a restored family.
Instead, maybe ask why they decided to foster, what they love about fostering, or what is hard about fostering. This allows the foster parent to share their heart with you and opens up opportunity for relationship!
“That child is so lucky to have you.”
Again, the heart behind this is meant to be complimentary. However, to a foster parent and to the child, it discounts everything the child has been through. The child is not lucky to have been taken away from their parents. They’re not lucky to have experienced trauma that has literally changed the way their brain works. They’re not lucky to receive the basic necessities that every child deserves. Nothing about their situation is lucky.
Instead, maybe offer to be part of the child’s support system. Offer to pray, be a mentor, find out what the child or foster family may need, or ask how you can learn more about the effects of trauma!
“You are a better person that I am”
Foster parents are not better than anyone else just because they are trying to walk in obedience in what they are called to. In fact, most foster parents probably feel like they are unworthy and incapable of truly caring for their foster children in the correct ways. The only way they are functioning is through the grace and guidance of God, I assure you it has nothing to do with the person that they are alone!
Instead, maybe say I’m proud of your obedience, how can I pray for you? Are there specific areas in parenting that you are struggling with? If so, how can I support you? What did the training process look like for you to become a foster parent?
There you have it, my top 3 things foster parents don’t love hearing. Are you a foster parent? What other questions or statements do you struggle with hearing? What would you rather be asked?
Not a foster parent? What are you curious about?