How to Avoid the Myths
Myth #1 Foster Parents Are Only In It for the Money
I like to say that this is not one of the myths; but, I’m also not going to pretend that there aren’t those foster parents who are only in it for the money. And, I need to point out that foster parents are doing a lot of work and deserve every cent that they make, probably more! That said, money should not be your only reason for becoming a foster parent.
So, how do you avoid and even dispel the myths?
First, don’t only do foster care for the money. When the housing market crashed a few years ago, as a home builder just a year or two away from my teaching license, my income took a big hit. We needed help financially, and foster care seemed to be a good fit. My wife and I been successful working with teens, and often troubled teens. We were both able to make connections with teens and make a difference in their lives because we cared, and we enjoyed working with teens in need. Can you see how, yes, we needed the added money but, no, the money was not the only reason or even the biggest reason for deciding to do foster care?
Second, don’t talk about the money as a motivator. Simply ignore that aspect. Some people will ask, but most wont. Instead, talk about the other reasons that you are motivated to do foster care. You might explain how you feel satisfaction when you make a connection with these teens in need, or you feel drawn to helping foster kids and giving them new chances. Share some of the most rewarding experiences you’ve had. Maybe you’ve helped a kid pass all of his classes in school. Don’t talk about the money.
Myth #2 Foster Parents are Mean
One of the other myths is that Foster Parents are mean! Some foster parents are mean, and I mean really mean; but, there are so many more foster parents out there that are truly kind and caring. And, like before, I need to make a point or two. At times, as foster parents (really, as parents in general), we need to be mean. Don’t be a pushover because you are afraid of being mean.
So, how do you avoid and even dispel this myth?
First, don’t act out of anger. Your foster kids are going to do some things that make you angry. Some things you will need to ignore, others you will have to react to, but don’t act out of anger. There was a time when some of my foster youth were brought to my home at 2am, with a police escort. I was mad. I wanted to make their lives a living hell–for the rest of their lives. In the moment I wanted to be mean; I wanted to get my point across. So, Deb made everyone go to bed so we could be calm and kind in the morning. There were some serious consequences that our foster youth had to face, but we weren’t mean about it. We were sure to let them know that we were sorry that they had made the choices that led to this, and we felt bad that they were so miserable. I’m sure they didn’t want to hear it, but they knew we cared and that we weren’t being mean.
Second, don’t talk bad about your foster kids. If all you do is complain about your foster kids, everyone you complain to is going to think, “Why are they even foster parents? They’re so mean.” I know this is simple, but it is also hard to do. Sometimes you need to vent, and if you do, vent to your spouse or someone who can support you and help you. Don’t just vent to anyone who will listen!
Leave us a comment and let us know what you think about these myths and what other myths you deal with in foster care.