When the Noise Don’t Stop

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Stop that. Don’t hit him.  Be nice. No pinching.  Don’t pull her hair.

She won’t play with me.  He keeps staring at me.  So and so won’t get out of my room.

Somedays the noise is constant.  Especially when you have older kids in the house.  And it’s even worse when you have a blend of ages because then you have babies crying and older kids fighting.

 

Obviously this is a typical household for everyone with large families, but there are some extra challenges when it comes to having foster children.  I always call it the “don’t eat my children” hormone.  Some people have it, some don’t.

Now I’m not saying I have a desire to eat the children.  But I will be honest with you, the screaming gets on my nerves much faster with foster kids then most people.  And when you blend children from different families the dynamic becomes even more intense.  Children who barely know each other are expected to act as if they are siblings.  This is often easier said than done.  Children are adept at making friends but the novelty often wears off when they are living together.  Just ask anyone who has step-children.

He said. She said. They said.  Sometimes the noise just doesn’t stop.  My recommendation is an ipod.  Gets very loud directly in your ear and covers up the noise. 🙂  Obviously you need to deal with the serious problems but if you try to moderate every single interaction every single child has, then you will very quickly lose your mind.  At some point, you just need to let the kids be the kids.  This is where the headphones come in handy.

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Co-Parenting: The Birth Parent Relationship

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To parent a child is difficult enough, but adding in the troubles that come with parenting someone else’s child and the results have the potential to be catastrophic. People often become foster parents with little knowledge of why children enter foster care. Sure, we all know about the parents who starved the children or locked them in cages or did any number of horrific things to their children. Let me just say that these are not the people who have rights to their kids any more.
The vast majority of children in foster care are on the path of reunification. Reunification means the goal is to send the children home to be raised by their biological parents. The myths surrounding foster care are many but this is perhaps the most pervasive. To truly be the best foster parent you can be, involves actively parenting with the birth parents.
Parents that have children removed or choose to relinquish them for a variety of reasons including poor parenting skills, medical reasons, or behavioral difficulties. This does not make them bad parents. Foster parenting is the epitome of the “it takes a village” concept. Co-parenting with the birth parents is better for everyone involved. If the birth parents and the foster parents can get along, then the child will feel more at ease in the home. Smaller children rarely understand fully what is going on, but this is essential in parenting older foster children.
I learned many things in my first year as a foster parent. The most important lesson I learned is that all mothers love their children. Sometimes they just need more help. The cycles of violence and neglect are only cycles until someone teaches them a better way. That is the foster parent’s job. Someone once said to me, “When I knew better, I did better.” I think that just about says it all.
To effectively co-parent, one must form a relationship forged in respect and understanding. You may not always approve of their choices and they may not approve of yours, but you must respect the families as they are.
Foster parents and birth parents often find themselves on different ends of the spectrum. Children are generally placed based on space not compatibility. When children come into your home they are often faced with culture shock and disbelief. Imagine watching TV every night to go to sleep and then moving to a foster home that doesn’t have television. I will admit that is probably our number one complaint from foster kids is that we don’t have a television. We don’t see the need for one.
Due to infertility issues, our family made the decision to only be foster parents and never biological parents. We chose to live in a world where we will always be the co-parents. It is definitely a challenge and one that most of our friends and family do not understand. However, we know that we are making a difference. It does take a village. Our village is always changing and we spend constant hours mentoring biological parents. The end result is always worth it.