Doing Christmas for all the family is always going to be hard to get right for everyone, no matter what the situation.
There are always fine details that need to be carefully thought about and even more thought goes into it if we foster. This doesn’t mean more hard work or effort, just sometimes an extra thought or gesture to help make the extra new child or young person in your family feel good.
A fostering Christmas could be (and has been) the best Christmas ever had!
There are many different situations for children/young people that occur at and around Christmas time so, with this in mind keeping an open heart, a listening ear, alongside a gentle approach to this time of year is always a benefit to both them and you.
The festive period can be very hard for some children in care.
Some of them may never have experienced Christmas, some will have had lots of presents but no decorations or food, and some will have had a “normal” day interspersed with abuse.
Their previous experiences can be very hard to deal with as it means seemingly simple things can trigger challenging emotions and behaviours which can unexpected and sometimes difficult to deal with due to the name of the day “Christmas”.
Sometimes just the word “Christmas” can spark memories good or bad as well as unwanted feelings and the “family” nostalgia that comes with the word can be harder on some than we would ever realise.
They never wanted to be put into this situation and although they may love and feel at home in their new surroundings (your home) it doesn’t stop the feeling they may experience during this period.
What should be a happy time of year for many children can sometimes be overshadowed by a complex array of emotions that can be experienced by looked after children.
So, what do we do to help?
It’s important that you feel like you can sit down and discuss Christmas together. Talk about what Christmas means, traditions, and discuss the value of money and the importance of giving as well as receiving. Christmas is a good time to try and instil these values.
Ask the children/ Child/ Young person what they think Christmas means and what they would like. You might be surprised by some of the answers! A book might help explain it to smaller children. Explain to your children that they can’t have everything just because they believe their friends will.
Try to find out how they view the day and then you can try to find compromises between your ideal day and theirs and discuss; you could even make a plan of the day which could be quite fun when done together with colouring pencils and stickers and some imagination!
So, all is not lost when fostering at Christmas! It could be the best Christmas ever, and not for just you!