Over 400,000 children are in need of a safe and loving home in the US. Sadly, not enough foster families are available for all these children. You can help by stepping up to become a foster parent. Choosing to become a foster parent is a big decision, one that takes preparation and resilience. So before becoming a foster parent, be sure you’re up for the challenges (and joys) ahead. Continue reading to see if you have the qualities to become a foster parent.
- Effective Communicator
Foster parents need to communicate with many people and organizations. To be an effective foster parent, you must be able to listen, share your point of view, and advocate for the child in your care, yourself, and your family. Other people might include professionals like case workers, therapists, social workers, and agency staff.
As a foster parent, you will be working with many different professionals to help support your foster child. Being a good collaborator is part of being a good communicator, but there’s more to it than simply being a good team player.
- As a foster parent, you may be asked to attend meetings with a group of people. If so, it’s important to be prepared to participate in providing valuable insight into the child’s needs.
- Many new foster parents are nervous about meeting the child’s birth family, but you may be fostering or mentoring the whole family in time. It’s an integral part of the family reunification process.
- Open to Challenge
Children in foster care have often endured adverse and sometimes traumatic childhoods. As a result, they may use challenging behaviors to communicate and cope. In addition, the foster care system may be unfamiliar, and it can be very frustrating and confusing to navigate as a foster child and foster parent.
- Consider how you will establish your new role as a foster parent. Understand that it will take time for the child in your care to adjust and feel safe and comfortable with your family.
- Be honest about the ages, genders, and behavioral issues that will fit best with your family.
- Empathy and Compassion
A key ingredient for successful foster parenting is empathy and compassion. It may sound obvious, but feeling what others feel can be challenging. It takes practice to develop the ability to relate with your foster child emotionally, even if they are different from you in many ways.
As a foster parent, you will have the opportunity to provide a safe and supportive environment where children can calm down and heal emotionally after traumatic events that may have happened before they came into care (or while they were in their original homes). You can also help them develop friendships with peers who share similar experiences of neglect or abuse.
Foster parents should be able to create a structure to provide stability and predictability — for example, by having regular bedtimes each night — and give children the sense that someone cares about them deeply enough to want them to survive and thrive as well!
- Have a Sense of Humor
Humor is a tool for coping with the stress of being a foster parent. It helps foster parents to be more relaxed and less stressed, which helps them better deal with the challenges of fostering. It also helps foster children feel safe and secure in their new environment, especially if there are other children present for whom humor may not be as readily available or easy for them to express themselves.
- Patience and Flexibility
When you decide to foster, you must realize your life will never be the same. Life with a child will throw you curveballs, and there will be days when you think you can’t handle it anymore. But this is par for the course if you’re a foster parent.
You’ll have to deal with many unexpected changes — from your family’s dynamics shifting as your fostering journey continues to sudden surprises like trips or emergencies coming out of nowhere (which may require quick decision-making).
Even though fostering is challenging at times, there are also lots of upsides! Foster parenting forces everyone (parents included) into new roles and relationships within their community; it brings out qualities in each person that might otherwise not have been seen before joining this family dynamic!
- Positive Discipline and Conflict Resolution Skills
You’ll want to have a fully stocked toolkit of positive parenting skills. Know that kids are doing their best. Your foster child will need your love and support, as they may test your limits and challenge your rules. Being prepared for conflict resolution is vital to foster parenting success.
There is no mold for becoming a foster parent. But all foster parents have one thing in common: a strong desire to give children hope when they need it most.
Consider Becoming an SOS Foster Parent
As a foster parent, you can provide a safe, loving atmosphere that has the power to change a child’s life. One thing that sets SOS Children’s Villages Illinois apart from traditional foster care is full-time, professional Foster Parents. The SOS Illinois model places Foster Parents in single-family homes in one of its Villages, where up to six children, ranging in age from infants to young adults, call home.
Change a Child’s Life Today!
If, after some research and thought, you decide that foster care is not for you, there are many other ways to support foster children and other foster parents. Donations change lives! You can also help by participating in an SOS Illinois fundraising event or contributing to our Amazon wish list. The generosity of donors has enabled us to provide safe, stable, loving homes for thirty years.