Holidays and starting new traditions with your foster child
Five Ways to Help Foster Children Enjoy the Holiday Season
Helping Your Foster Child Adjust to the Holidays with You
Holidays are a time in which people have differing opinions. It's dependent on how you view your past holiday experiences, what you've created, and what the holiday season means to you.
Please think of the children in foster care and all they've experienced. Most of them have memories of holidays from before their time in the foster care system. These could have been fond times with family members and holiday traditions. Or it could have been a time filled with abuse and neglect.
The holidays can be a painful reminder of the trauma that children have faced before coming into foster care. This time can trigger feelings of being away from their birth families and birth parents.
Children in foster care deserve a holiday season filled with love, tradition, family bonding, and safety. Below are five ways to help foster children over the holiday season.
- Create New Holiday Traditions
If it's their first time in your home during the holiday season, you can work on creating new holiday traditions that include them. They may feel like an outsider in the home, or they may have traditions that differ from yours. Working together to create unique and special memories will benefit everyone in the household.
- Be Empathetic
It's okay if they don't feel as "in the spirit" as you and your family do. However, it's not okay to force it upon them. You want to be sure to offer and make them feel included, but if it's their first time or too much of a trigger, be empathetic. Be available and understanding of their emotional and social needs during this time.
- Be Flexible, Be Versatile
Ask the youth about things they want to do to make this a memorable holiday. If it's a feasible request, make it happen. It may require some flexibility or adjustments from that which your family is used to, but remember you took on this position for a greater purpose. Flexibility is part of the journey and will pay off in the end.
- Honor or Infuse Old Traditions
This goes along with being flexible, honoring, and respecting their prior practices. See how you and the family can infuse some elements of the two together. This is another way to make your new foster child feel like family. Treating your foster child with respect and care in this way can lessen the blow of trauma that may be increased during this holiday season.
- Celebrate Your Children and Family
This may be the first holiday you're spending with your foster child or the first time the youth is experiencing the celebration of a holiday. Spend the season celebrating family life and being a foster family! Write holiday cards to each other, express your gratitude for one another, or simply spend quality time together.
The holidays are meant for gratitude and family togetherness, so be sure to show your foster child that you are thankful to have them in your life.
1: I train potential foster parents and guide them as they navigate the road to certification to become licensed foster parents.
2: I conduct home studies of likely foster parents, a critical part of the certification process.
If you'd like to know more about becoming a foster parent and possibly get to make this opportunity a reality, please feel free to contact ESP for more details!