What I’ve learnt from borrowing other peoples’ kids September 13, 2015 – Posted in: Advice, Confidence, Relationships – Tags: children, family, fostering, love, parenting
As many of you know I have three daughters aged 11, 8 and 6. I also have the honour of ‘borrowing’ other people’s children for periods of time as a foster parent to older teenagers.
We’ve been fostering as a family for nearly six years and it’s been a wonderful, life-affirming and challenging experience to share our home, our hearts and our lives with the young people who’ve joined our family.
Being a foster parent has taught me a lot about parenting my own kids. Here’s what I’ve learnt:
The most important thing any child needs is love
Sometimes when we welcome a new young person into our home they have never been properly loved. It’s heartbreaking. These kids often then choose toxic relationships with boyfriends or girlfriends because, for them, any love is better than no love. And, toxic love is often all they know.
This has taught me that every time I give my girls a cuddle, my time, a kiss, a story, a cheer or wipe their tears away I’m filling up their reserves of love and self-esteem. I don’t have to be the perfect parent – I just have to love them as much as I can.
Boundaries are an act of love
Children need boundaries because boundaries communicate that you care about that child – their safety, their development and their future. Boundaries also communicate to a child that you have self-respect and by enforcing those boundaries you are modelling self-esteem.
So, when my own kids complain about the boundaries I put in place I am reminded of the safety my foster children tell me they feel when I put boundaries in place.
I can do my best but I can’t control the outcome
My foster kids have been badly damaged. Some of them flourish with me and some continue to struggle a bit. I’ve learnt that how they turn out is not my responsibility. My responsibility is to provide a safe, loving home they can belong to for as long as they need it.
The same philosophy applies to my own children. I will do my best for them, love them, nurture them and champion them but how they turn out is not my business. I will keep on loving them no matter how they ‘turn out’ and there is no ‘finish line’ anyway – they will keep growing and developing as people (as will I) for as long as we’re on this earth.
The more we give the more we get
My daughters love having borrowed big brothers and sisters. They have learnt that when we share our home we invite more love and more fun in! That when we give to people we get heaps back from them. We’ve all learnt this – our foster kids have given as much to us as we’ve ever given to them.
So, love, give, relax and enjoy those little lives you have been blessed with!
This post originally appeared as an article on Bath Mums