Part 3 – Getting Through the Challenging Times
Foster parenting will have its challenging moments that are beyond our control: a child’s behavior may backslide because of changes with his birth family; a foster parent may be facing a health problem; a new treatment team member joins your child’s team.
Here are some final considerations and thoughts to nurture your relationship with your partner while fostering:
- Don’t always talk about foster care. It may be hard to avoid when your day is filled with the task of parenting. Try to connect on an individual level – “How are you doing?” and “What do you need?”
- Give each other breaks. Allow your partner some time to be alone, go out with friends, and be refreshed.
- Date each other. Finding time may be a challenge, but keep your marriage a priority. If you can schedule a monthly date night, it can give you each something to look forward. If you have caregivers available, use them. Get creative. Spend time together at home when kids are with friends.
- Make use of respite care when feeling overwhelmed. Some foster parents feel that having a child go to respite sends the message that they do not care for the child. In reality, it can tell a child that everyone needs a break and time for themselves. A child can create new relationships in respite and often come home with a new perspective.
- Recognize your partners’ “love language.” The five common ways that a person expresses love include words of affirmation; quality time; receiving gifts; acts of service; and physical touch. Learning your partner’s and your primary love language will help create a stronger bond in your relationship.
- Finally, recognize that you and your partner will not always be on the same level every day. If your spouse is having a difficult week, step up and provide extra help. Marriage includes sacrifices. Same days you may be on the giving end and other days you may need to receive help. It is the balance that creates the partnership.
Take the time to celebrate the relationship and your partner. Foster parenting can be difficult, but you are doing good things together. See the positive qualities developing in yourself and your spouse. You may see the depth of compassion your partner has toward healing a traumatized child, or they may see the deep protectiveness you show toward a neglected child.
The two of you are sharing this journey together. Let the highs lift you as a couple and the lows unite you in support of each other.