What Should I Call You?

Child 1

Child 1 (Photo credit: Tony Trần)

The one question that comes up with nearly every child is: What should I call you?

The concept of new parents, no matter how temporary, can be really hard for children.  Kids have many emotions about being in foster care.  Some are embarrassed, some are sad, and sometimes they are even relieved.  This myriad of emotions can cause the kids to have some serious confusion about where they fit in their new family.

My advice is to let the kids decide what they want to call you.  So long as it is appropriate, allow them to decide how they want to fit in.  I have had kids begin calling me mom within hours of meeting me and I have had some that prefer to call me by my first name.  Some call me Aunty because that makes them part of the family without calling me mom.  But it all depends on the child and their case.

My one child has lived with us for two years but only started calling us mom and dad a few months ago when she switched to being an adoptive placement.  She is a preteen and was on her way to reunification before so she wasn’t ready.  Now she is.  The younger ones tend to just slip into calling you mom and dad, especially if you have other kids calling you that.  In general, ages 1 to 3 mom and dad is more of a role in their minds than a person.  What I have noticed is that they see all moms and dads as moms and dads but their bioparents or primary caregivers are Moms and Dads with a capital letter.  The older children tend to vary based on where they are in life.  Some will call you mom and dad based on their desire to fit in and not let people know they are foster children.  Others have a genuine interest in becoming a part of your family.  And some may have a condition called Reactive Attachment Disorder or RAD.  Other children will only call you by your name.

The biggest thing is to not be offended on whatever the children choose to call you by.  It is not a reflection on your parenting, more a reflection on the children’s personal lives.  And for those of us who are not parents before becoming foster parents it can be awkward to be called mom and dad but you do get used to it.  I don’t have any bio-children or adopted children so when I first started getting called mom it was definitely an adjustment.

When the children ask you what they should call you, just let them know that they have options and it is up to them.

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Meeting Safety Regulations

Optical smoke detector

Image via Wikipedia

So we got to spend a day baby-proofing and child-proofing our home.  I mentioned some of this on a previous blog but some comments led me to believe that I should elaborate more.  I have been babysitting my nephews for years.  I never knew my house was essentially a death trap.

Well it was.  There was so much to do.  First, we had to go get those little plastic inserts for the outlets.  Wow are those ever frustrating.  They are such a pain to get out of the outlet for things like vacuuming or using a blender and they must remain plugged in at all times in every room of the house.

We also had to be fire safety compliant which requires smoke detectors in every room and for them all to be wired together.  Therefore, if one smoke detector goes off, they all go off.  Trust me, we learned the hard way.  We also had to put carbon monoxide detectors on every level of the house which comes with it’s own craziness.  There are so many rules as to where you can and can’t place them for accurate readings.  Scary!  Also, we needed to get fire extinguishers for the house.

All drugs, prescription or otherwise including pets, need to be kept locked up.  Many young children are already aware that they have a street value.  In addition one must lock up lighters, matches, plastic bags, and power tools to ensure the safety of the children.

Furthermore, we had to lock up power tools so they don’t hurt no one and household cleaners and plastic Walmart bags and virtually anything else we could think of that could potentially endanger a child.  Surprisingly, we didn’t have to lock up our knives though considering everything else I might just do it anyways.

We also have to get screens on all of our windows.  Fun.  AND we had to put up the stair banister.   I have mentioned this before but that stair banister was TERRIBLE.  We just have the worst staircase angle ever I think because nothing worked.  We had to do some serious improvisation to make it safe and serviceable.  It looks really ugly but it is super safe.

So we decided to just put padlocks on the basement door and might do our bedroom door too.  Now any time I want to clean something I have to schlep down to the basement to get my cleaners.  Crazy.  I never thought about how dangerous all the things in my house could be.

I know this isn’t the most exciting post today, but so much goes into the preparation that I think it is important for people to be aware of what they are undertaking.  Also, we are awaiting our first placement and that is when I think things are really going to get interesting!!!!