There are few callings in life that bring more reward than foster parenting. Loving and caring homes for children, especially those who have been through the trauma that precedes separation from parents, is a need that befalls every part of the world, and is important for stable families to step up. Many families who choose to be foster parents often have children of their own currently living at home, and parents often wonder what effect this family adjustment will have on their kids.
Like most things, reactions and adjustment time will vary from child to child, but there are some consistent challenges and benefits that seem to be true for the majority of families.
The following identified challenges are going to depend heavily on birth children’s age, gender and current relationship with parents.
1. At first, birth children may identify new children in the home as an unending party with friends who will never leave. While excitement about the prospect of including foster children is excellent, it’s important to speak honestly about boundaries and paint a realistic picture of day-to-day family life.
2. We’ve all heard about the importance of birth order and how it can dramatically shape a child’s worldview and personality. Unfortunately, bringing foster children into the home can rearrange birth order and cause some confusion for kids. Again, speaking openly about these challenges can break down barriers and create healthy life and relationship experience.
3. Foster parenting is full of challenges and sometimes birth children will become resentful of the stress that comes with behavioral issues and bad habits exhibited by foster children. There are a number of ways to address this issue, but it’s important to make sure they do not take their resentment out on their new foster sibling.
4. Birth children can feel neglected as their parents energy on the newest family addition. This is common, even when a new birth child is introduced! It’s important to take time to make your birth child/children feel loved, heard and included as you transition into this new family dynamic.
The following identified positives are going to depend heavily on birth children’s age, gender and current relationship with parents.
1. Foster parenting exhibits for your birth children a very tangible sense of generosity and care for others. Hopefully, this is an attribute that they will carry with them through the rest of their lives.
2. Living with foster siblings can open children up to different cultures, different lifestyles, and instill a sense a grace and acceptance within them at an early age.
3. Welcoming foster children into your family can unite your family, allowing all of you to work toward the common goal of making this new addition feel loved, safe and protected.
Having children, whether through birth or foster parenting is the hardest and most rewarding thing you will ever do, and the same goes for your other kids. With a healthy and realistic perspective, and lots of love, everyone will grow and benefit.