To Foster Parents Who Take it Personal

“Don’t take it personal.” It’s a phrase I’ve heard more than a dozen times in the last few months. I hear it when I call my agency for advice. I hear it when I cry about the recent attitude my foster kiddo got with me. It’s a phrase I grew to hate. How could I NOT take it personal?

To me, fostering and raising kids is one of the most personal things I will ever do. I pour my heart into these kids daily. I wake up and immediately hit the ground running. I go to bed after everyone else. I make the meals, clean the home, haul kids where they need to go. I sacrifice my own wants and needs for others. How could I NOT take it personal?

Foster parents, this job is personal. Loving these kids is personal. But there is a difference between taking the attitudes to heart and the job to heart. This is something that has taken me several months to realize. The actions of these kids have nothing to do with us. They’re just being kids. But it doesn’t mean it won’t hurt along the way.

I finally see that the outbursts and yelling has nothing to do with me. Like any family or close friend, foster kids will let out their frustrations towards you.  Why? Because we are the closest people to them. It also means that they are comfortable enough to be vulnerable. They may not scream their actual struggles but they are telling you in their own way that they are hurting.  Consider it an honor that these kids feel like they can say what they feel.

Now I’m not saying yelling and cussing is tolerated. You do need to let them know they need to be respectful. But remember it has nothing to do with you. I wish I had understood that sooner.

In those tough moments I want you to remember that you are probably one of the few people fighting for them. Even if they feel like you’re against them. Remember, on top of all of that trauma — they’re just kids. It’s normal to get eye rolls and whining. I know I did it when I was young.

Most importantly, be kind to yourselves. If your foster kid calls you names or says you suck as a parent — know that it doesn’t mean you’re doing a bad job. The fact that you opened your home to love someone else’s child is reason enough to know that’s not true.

Don’t take the behavior issues personally. Instead, take the job personally. Keeping loving them. Show them you’re not giving up.

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Parenting Through Grace

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“What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” – Philippians 4:9

“What did I say?” “Don’t touch that.” “No. ma’am.” I have repeated these same phrases for the last few days. My daughter is almost a 2-years-old; which means we are working on listening to mom and dad. My main struggle has been repeating myself and yet she continues to do the same thing after I told her not to. I feel like a broken record. Why won’t she listen?

If you’re a parent then you know exactly what I’m talking about. You spend most of the day trying to teach and correct your children. And yet it seems the information goes in one ear and out the other. Yesterday was a rough day. I found myself frustrated with my daughter. I would correct her and then she was doing something else. She is starting to test her limits with me. Always trying to see how far she can go. It’s frustrating.  That’s when I realized this must be how God feels.

God parents us each day. He gives us guidelines to live by. (The Bible). He teaches us through His word what we need to do as Christians. However, we continue to push the limits. Even when we know it’s wrong. Many of us have faced the punishment for our actions. And yet we’re still making mistakes. Why?

Because we are all sinners. Yes, even our babies. Those cute and chubby kiddos came into this world as sinners. True, they learn habits from those around them, but we all have sinful nature inside. Even as an adult I fight against daily sin. If you’re human then so do you. But there is good news.

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” – Ephesians 2:4-9

God’s grace. I had a friend text me during my rough day. She reminded me of how God gives us grace even when we don’t deserve it. Our kids need that as well. Even when it seems like they will never do what we ask. We have to remember to give them grace in the midst of those moments. It may take months or even years to see the lessons we teach them. But I promise it’s not wasted. I can think of MANY times I tested my limits with God. But He was still there. He never left my side. Eventually, I decided to follow His advice instead of my own.

As a reminder to you amazing parents, like your kids, you are still learning as well. For parents of young ones, now is the time to strengthen the patient muscle. To fight through the tough days even when we feel like failures. You’re not wasting your breath or energy. Every effort you put into your child means they are one step closer to becoming the Godly men and women they were called to be.

What are some struggles you face with your kids?

How do you remind yourself to show them grace?

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