Supporting Foster Youth During the Holidays
For most people, the holidays are usually a time of joy and family connection. But for others, the holidays may resurface traumatic memories and even cause feelings of despair and depression.
Foster youth may feel more conflicted than most during these times. They might feel a sense of abandonment or longing for their families.
The good news is that there are ways you can start supporting foster youth during the holidays. Here's what you can do for Virginia's foster children.
Understanding the Unique Needs of Foster Youth During the Holidays
No foster child's holiday experiences will be the same. Each child has their own beliefs and traditions surrounding the holiday season.
If they come from a Christian family, they may have gone to church on Christmas Eve or Easter Sunday. But these children may be placed in homes with different beliefs. For instance, maybe your Easter tradition involves going on an egg hunt.
There may be some differences between your traditions and your foster child's. It's essential to make them feel welcome by asking how they used to celebrate the holidays and consider incorporating some new traditions.
Please encourage them to participate in your traditions or create holiday traditions with foster youth.
Creating a Safe and Supportive Environment for Foster Youth During the Holidays
Try to understand that not all foster youth feel comfortable celebrating the holidays. It might bring up traumatic memories for them. Remain empathetic, and never push them to do something uncomfortable.
Talk to them and ask what would make them feel better. Remember to remain flexible, as that's crucial to becoming successful foster parents.
Honor their old traditions if you can. Doing so might help you learn more about other cultures, ethnicities, etc.
You can support foster kids by talking to them before the holiday season. It will help to let them know what to expect, such as who they might meet or what you usually do at this time of year.
New situations can feel overwhelming, so always consider the emotional well-being of foster youth during the holidays. If they want to avoid participating or need a safe space, make sure you provide this.
Building Traditions and Creating Memories With Foster Youth
Are you considering becoming foster parents or adoptive parents soon? If so, you should consider fun ways to create new memories with your family.
Building traditions lets you experience the holidays in a new and exciting way. It's also an excellent way for foster youth to feel involved. You're all experiencing this together!
If you're looking for ideas, consider looking up family-friendly activities online. Traditions can vary from complex to very simple, and you can also find plenty of cost-effective ways to celebrate the holidays.
Watching fun holiday movies together is a great family bonding activity that doesn't have to cost anything. You can also make it a tradition and a way to kick off the holiday season each year.
Addressing Difficult Emotions and Challenging Behaviors During the Holidays
Your foster or adopted children may express difficult emotions or challenging behaviors during the holiday season. As a foster parent, it's vital to remain to understand.
Foster kids may act withdrawn or act out. Remember that not all foster youth have experienced a loving and stable family.
Many in foster care during the holidays may not have had homes. For instance, finding foster homes for sibling groups can be challenging.
Understand their history and maintain a calm and therapeutic attitude.
You can help them prepare and understand what to expect by talking with them before the holidays. Give them options and remain flexible. If they're uncomfortable visiting one of your relatives and being around strangers, you may have to alter your holiday plans.
Foster parenting classes will give you more information about how to react to challenging behaviors and obstacles.
Reaching Out for Additional Support: Where to Turn for Help
Accessing holiday resources for foster youth can help. Ask your child how they used to celebrate the holidays (if at all) and what they're comfortable trying. Reach out to their family for tips and advice and ask them about traditions and customs.
If appropriate, now is a good time of year to encourage sending cards or making gifts for their birth parents or family members. This helps ease some of the conflicted feelings they may experience.
We've compiled a brief list of frequently asked questions regarding supporting foster youth during the holiday season.
If you have questions about fostering and how you can become a better parent or support foster kids, feel free to contact us here too.
Q: How can I prepare myself and my foster youth for the holidays?
A: Talk to them about what to expect. Let them meet your family members before the holidays if possible. Please talk about your traditions and ask them about their experiences.
Q: What are some common challenges faced by foster youth during the holiday season?
A: Foster youth may feel conflicted during the holidays. They may wonder about their birth parents or have difficulty processing traumatic memories. They might also lash out or display problematic behaviors.
Q: How can I support the emotional well-being of foster youth during the holidays?
A: Create a supportive environment for them. Make new traditions together, but never force them into celebrating when they're uncomfortable doing so.
Q: What types of holiday traditions and activities are appropriate for foster youth?
A: There are many family-friendly activities you can participate in together. For instance, you might grill out for the 4th of July or watch holiday movies together.
Q: How can I access additional support and resources for foster youth during the holidays?
A: We're always available here at FosterVA. You can also seek support groups to join or ask your child's family for ideas.
Start Supporting Foster Youth During the Holidays
If you use these tips, you'll find supporting foster youth during the holidays much more straightforward. Remember to remain flexible and communicate with your child to find out what they're comfortable with. Consider their needs and make adjustments to your plans if you have to.
Are you ready to support Virginia's foster youth? If you want to become a foster or adoptive parent, you only have to ask! Please fill out our online form to learn more.