Sleigh bells ring, are you listening? In the lane, snow is glistening… Or maybe not.
But you get the picture. The season of goodwill is upon us so we will take a break from our typical weekly round-up of all the stuff happening in the world of foster care – if I see anything you need or might want to know I will aim to tweet accordingly.
So Christmas is coming and the big man in the red jacket and trousers is on his way with his mini-herd of reindeer. What does that mean for foster carers and the children they look after? A quick perusal of the blogs past and present will find some extremes – a foster family that have altered some family traditions in a bid for a calm Christmas while another will paint a picture of a foster family ever prepared to welcome new children even in the run-up to the big day itself. Unsurprisingly the blogs such as this one from Belong will tell us what a stressful time of year this is for many – and if you want evidence then Sarah Naish’s therapeutic parenting Facebook group* will provide you with a few examples of Christmas tree carnage – and we haven’t even broken up from school yet.
Articles from foster carers such as this one in Community Care that appeared a few years ago and this year from Nexus Fostering provide some views on how to foster as we gallop towards Christmas Day – but as ever with all things fostering there are no absolute truths when it comes to children in care and Christmas. You might want to provide the “best Christmas ever” with a hoard of presents worthy of Santa himself only to find yourself outdone by gifts from birth parents, previous foster carers and, if you are lucky, the odd gift from a social worker or therapist too. Or your child might come from a background where they had nothing at all. Depending on the sort of foster care you offer this might be the one Christmas a child spends with you so ask yourself whether you are helping your child’s future family by trying to achieve the ultimate Christmas experience rather than one that is low-key. And for a child that just wants to be home then your Christmas will never be what they want no matter how perfect you make it. And no amount of the stuff is going to make up for that. For others a big worry is simply that Santa won’t find them as they are not in their regular home – one of the easiest issues to resolve.
Jane Evans has some good advice for the extended fostering family. She also suggests asking your child what they expect Christmas to be like (although be prepared for them to not want to tell you) and respond accordingly. A slide on Lisa Cherry’s site reminds us to look after ourselves and to “Go with the flow” – excellent advice. And although written from the point of view of an adoptive mother Hannah Meadow’s blog provides some helpful advice that could benefit the extended family of any fostering or adopting household. And finally Lynn Findlay reminds us of the power of magical thinking – and perhaps to preserve the innocence of childhood in spite of what might have happened. After all we can all benefit from a bit more magic in our lives…
*If you have not yet come across Sarah then you will find some incredibly useful videos on her Facebook page and You Tube – some providing a brief introduction to therapeutic parenting that would be useful for family and friends too. Although mostly geared towards the adoptive community incredibly useful for foster carers too.
For updates, links to stories of interest, opinion and comment, head for This Week in Fostering’s Facebook page, and ‘like’ it to get notifications of new content. Don’t forget to follow @TWiFostering on Twitter too.