Lately I’ve been seeing A LOT of articles along the lines of “Don’t EVER Say These 10 Things to a Pregnant Woman” and “10 Things You’d Better NEVER say to a Mom of Boys”. When I first started seeing lists like this, they were primarily witty and focused on “funny because it’s true”. At some point, they seemed to become kind of bitter and convey the idea that “you can communicate with me ONLY on the following terms.”
This weekend I’ve made a couple of birthday resolutions that basically amount to focusing my energy more on positive things, rather than emphasizing the negative. So in this post I want to flip this “things you should never say” trend around. Instead, I’d like to suggest
5 Things You SHOULD Say to a Foster Parent
1. You have a beautiful family.
Because our family composition can change quickly, and because our families don’t always all “match”, we are accustomed to getting a lot of strange looks – and our share of rude questions. But acknowledgment that our family is beautiful – no matter how different – is appreciated. An added bonus – if you approach us this way, we’re more likely to be willing to answer your questions about our kids and foster care – assuming the questions are appropriate. And if you do ask something inappropriate, we’re less likely to be offended if you started out with complimenting our family.
2. I would be happy to get fingerprinted and background checked so I can babysit for you.
The nature of the foster care system means that nothing is ever simple – this is especially true with babysitters. As much as we appreciate an offer to give us a break, most foster families aren’t allowed to leave the foster kids with anyone who hasn’t been background-screened and approved by Child Services. If you’re willing and able to do this, please let a foster family know.
3. What you do is important and necessary.
Almost every foster family I know has had someone in their life who has been at least unsupportive, if not outright hostile, about the decision to foster. We don’t want to hear that we’re saints or that you could never do what we do. But it is nice to occasionally have it acknowledged that what we’re doing matters.
4. I can only begin to imagine how hard and rewarding it is to be a foster parent.
Again, we don’t want to hear that we’re saints or how you wouldn’t be able to let them go. But, acknowledgment that what we do is hard is nice to hear. Especially when it’s accompanied with acknowledgment that it’s also rewarding. (^Hint: We also don’t want to hear that you understand exactly how we feel because you foster cats, and that’s basically the same thing.^)
5. How can I pray for you?
It may not be immediately obvious what our prayer needs are, but we definitely need your prayers! As an example, when Lady Bug was reunified with her dad, several people told us they would pray that she came back to us quickly. However, the prayers we really wanted were that her dad would do what he needed to do to make sure Lady Bug never needed to be in foster care again.
Hint: It has recently come to my attention that not all of my readers can easily tell when I’m being sarcastic. That is truly unfortunate, so finding a solution was imperative. ^Obviously, the easiest answer is to assume that if something can be read with sarcasm, it should be;^; but that’s not really workable, I guess. After reviewing several options for a “sarcasm font”, I’ve come up up with my own system. Whenever you see italics inside carrots (^snark^), that is my “sarcasm font”.