I don’t usually do lengthy series, but what I have to share about keeping that strong bond while your children are in foster care is important. With over 20 plus years of experience, I have seen much and know a lot about what will help you.
InPart One, it was a look at the big picture and the bias in favor of foster parents. In Part Two, we talked about what can be done to keep your parenting moving forward and how important it is to come prepared for your parenting time. You are not there to “visit” – you are there to parent. I talked about infants and toddlers in Part Three. Here, we discuss elementary ages and teens, acting out, and dealing with the end of your parenting time.
- If your child is older, think about what they enjoy doing. It might help you to imagine yourself at a church service or doctor office; a place where you must keep your child calm, happy and occupied. Legos ®, coloring books, a board game, a favorite book to read together are all good ideas. Try to avoid devices (I-pad, Tablet, Switch, etc.) as those don’t tend to promote interaction between you and the child. You want your “watchers” to see you interacting positively, not passively.
- Teens can be trickier. Try to focus the conversation and anything you bring around their interests. Give them the space to talk – or not. Keep it as positive as possible. Try to redirect and refocus any conversations about the case or the foster care home.
- You should also be prepared for your child to “act out”. How many times have you left your child and the minute you return your child starts acting up? Even though the whole while they were with the sitter, they were fine? It happened to me a lot when my children were growing up. We even had a name for it: “grandmother’s house syndrome”. You might not have any acting out, but if you do, be ready for it. Think in advance about how to handle it. Nobody knows your child better than you do and you will find the best way to deal with this issue. I have confidence in you.
- Finally, at the end of the parenting time, reassure your child of your love. Reassure your child that you are working to get more time and ultimately to get back home together. Be encouraging without being specific. For example, it is better to say, “It’s going to get better, hang in there” than to say, “My attorney is filing a motion for more parenting time.” Give lots of hugs if your child is receptive and then let go. Start planning for the next week and keep working toward reunification. You have a goal in mind – reuniting your family – and the attorneys at Cronkright Law are here to help you reach it. If you need us, contact us today.