The Holiday season can introduce some unique challenges to families who are involved in foster care. While, of course, you want the season to be merry and bright for your entire family, the truth is this season can be extra tough for foster children.
As foster parents, you may be anticipating struggles ahead as you head into the holiday season but the good news is, it doesn’t have to be difficult. There are many things you can do to help support your foster child and bring extra joy to their Holidays.
Additionally as a Therapeutic Foster Care agency in Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and Indiana, we are always here to offer guidance and support to the foster parents in our network as these unique challenges and seasons come along.
So how can you make the season bright for foster children or youth in your home? Let’s take a look.
Talk About The Holidays in Advance
It can be helpful for everyone involved to spend time talking about the holidays before they even come around. Take time to find out what holidays your foster child is used to celebrating and how they celebrate. What traditions do they have or remember fondly? What religious holidays or customs are important to them? It would go a very long way to try to incorporate some of their traditions or customs into your own.
Use the opportunity to investigate the youth’s culture and research customary traditions. If the young person holds a religious belief different from yours, or if their family did, check into the traditions customarily surrounding those beliefs.
Take the time to prepare your foster child for what they can expect over a Holiday. Will the family be coming over? Will gifts be exchanged? How do you hope or expect them to participate? Having clear expectations or a good idea of how they might look can help ease everyone’s nerves or any uneasy feelings they may have.
Prepare Family and Friends
It would be best if any family and friends you see over the holidays are aware of your foster children, and better yet are expecting them or even know a little bit about them! You want your foster child to feel expected and included, don’t leave them in a situation where the host is scrambling to set up a new seat at the table for them.
We know the gift exchange portion of many holiday gatherings can feel a bit awkward. Your foster child feels this too. If you know your biological children will be receiving many gifts from family and friends, encourage those family members to also include your foster child or bring extra gifts to offset any major differences.
It’s important to remember Receiving gifts can be met with a lot of emotion for a child in foster care. It may be something they aren’t used to or may make them feel disloyal to their biological family to be receiving gifts from others.
Allow young people to purchase small gifts for their relatives, or help them craft homemade gifts. Help send holiday cards to those that they want to stay connected with.
Facilitate visits with loved ones
The holidays can be a busy time for everyone including foster parents and caseworkers. But it is especially important during this time of year to help your foster child arrange for visits with loved ones. Don’t allow busy schedules to mean the postponement of these important visits. If visits aren’t possible, consider making homemade gifts, or cards for the birth family, even if they cannot be delivered immediately.
This is a time when many foster youth feel deeply conflicted about their birth families and worry about them. It is a good time to let them know it is okay for them to be safe and cared for even if their birth family is struggling.
Therapeutic Foster Care in Pennsylvania
The wonderful thing about being a part of therapeutic foster care in Pennsylvania, Kentucky, or Indiana is getting the opportunity to share Holiday cheer even in the toughest of circumstances. While Holidays can bring up some tough feelings for foster children and youth they can also be a bright and positive light that has them feeling loved, accepted, and encouraged. We hope you take this time of year to make the most of the Holiday season as a foster family.