Becoming a parent is a drastic change in anyone’s life, but if you have come from an unstable background with a lack of support then this change can cause serious difficulties. That is why some parents go into foster care with their young children. Parent and child foster placements allow the parent a chance to successfully care for their child and develop their parenting skills. However, this can be a testing time for the foster carer. The parent will most likely come from a very different background from the foster carer and may display some difficult behaviour. This doesn’t mean that they don’t deserve a chance to improve though and this article aims to tackle the issues surrounding parent and child fostering to help foster carers overcome any problems they may face.
Issue 1: It may not be the parents’ choice
For some parents who go into foster care with their children, it has not been their choice to do so. If their social worker has assessed them before the birth and comes to the conclusion that the baby should stay with the parent but the parent does not show sufficient parental qualities, the social worker may decide for them that they need to go into foster care. For the parent, they have no real choice, they either go into foster care with their child or the child will be taken away from them. This may lead to feelings of resentment towards the foster carer. In order to deal with this, the foster carer should not be judgmental of the parent; offer help but don’t force it upon them and always be ready to give advice should they come to you for it.
Issue 2: The parents existing support structure
It is likely that those who are in parent and child foster placements have not had a positive role model in their own life to teach them how to become a good parent. This means they may not know how to build a relationship with their own child as they never had a parent who tried to build a relationship with them. As your first step you should try to build a relationship with the parent and earn their trust. Once you have done this, you have already started teaching them how to be a parent. Now you can move onto teaching them other practical skills.
Issue 3: The age of the child
Another likelihood is that the parents’ child will be very young, if not new born. This means it will be at a very vulnerable and impressionable time in its life. Your first priority is the welfare of that child, if you see the parent doing something wrong you must correct or even report it straight away. With the child being so young, this will add more pressure to the parent too. Not only do they have to learn how to live in foster care but they also have to learn how to be a parent. Take that into consideration and try to be patient with them.
Issue 4: The age of the parent
The age of the parent can affect their behaviour and attitude towards the foster carer. If they are a very young parent, they may display some form of teenage rebellion and negativity towards the ‘authority figure’. On the other hand, if the parent is older, they may feel patronised by the foster carers’ advice, feeling that they have enough life experience to know what they are doing themselves. Understand the issues that the parents age may bring can help you prepare your approach suitably.
Issue 5: Traumatic experiences
The parent may have recently faced a traumatic experience that has resulted in them needing to be placed in foster care. It may be that they have had a traumatic lifestyle prior to this point and adjusting to a foster home may be hard for them. You should allow them some room to breathe but don’t let them shut you out, they may need you more than they realise. Concentrate on offering support and stability to help them through this difficult transition.
Helping an inexperienced parent to develop their parental skills is an amazing gift to give and can lead to a much happier, healthier life for both the parent and the child. While there may be a few issues to tackle along the way, you will be left with a great sense of satisfaction at the end of the placement. For more information on parent and child fostering, please contact us today.