I'm writing to you today to give you a word of encouragement to remember when you're in the trenches of fostering.
Parenting is hard. Add in trauma and it's a whole new ball game. When they are triggered and don't know it, they can be difficult. When they lie, cheat, and steal -- it's usually a result in fight or flight. When they self-harm -- it's usually because they've been told so many lies that they don't know how else to cope. When they don't do well it school -- be involved. They haven't had anyone take an interest in their education. When their anxiety flares up -- think about the number of homes they've been in and passed around like pound puppies. When they act emotionally younger than their real age -- the trauma probably started around that time and they never got the nurturing they needed.
There are so many different scenarios that you will find yourself in. Kids aren't in the foster system because they were living peachy keen lives. Each kid that comes out of the foster system is a "special needs" kid. They have SPECIAL NEEDS and trying to find out how to nurture those needs can take a toll on a parent.
BUT....yes, the oh so big BUT. You are doing an AMAZING job. Keep it up! Go to your support groups. If you don't have one, start one. Get respite. You need time to gather yourself and rest. Self-care is so important. Make time for yourself. Seriously. It's okay. They probably want some time away from you, too. But please reassure them that they will be coming home. Read Kids in Crisis, several times. Call up a friend and invite them over for coffee. Meet on your turf. Cry. Journal. Blog. Vent. Do what you need to do to be the best parent you can be. You can't parent when your emotional bank account is empty. Find things to fill you up so that you can fill up your kids' accounts. They've been so depleted that it will take a lot more to bring them from the negative to the positive. But it's worth it. I give you permission to do all these things and then some!
It's worth it to see their faces light up when they begin to do AMAZING things. When things start to click and you're the one that was there to see it, they feel so important. When they're standing just a little bit taller, it brightens your day. When they give you a hug or call you "mom" or "dad", knowing that they're loved is so important to them.
Yes, it's hard, but oh so worth it. Keep it up! You are AMAZING!
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