- Sometimes incomplete information can help make for better decisions. We had said that we weren't going to take a girl, and that we weren't going to take in a child over Ella's age. We ended up compromising both because we were told that the kids would be split up. After a few weeks, we realized that we really should have stuck to our guns. From here on out, we aren't going to find out all of the information unless what we already know aligns with our family policies.
- Bleach isn't nearly as dangerous as I once thought. I know this because our foster daughter had a bad habit of trying to be a mommy instead of a little girl. One of the boys' sippy cups had some old milk in it, so I filled it with a bleach and water solution. It was in the kitchen sink when she decided that the boys "needed" some water. I didn't realize that she had even taken the cup until I went to do dishes. "I knew that there was a sippy cup in here," then it occurred to me that I had seen her running through the dining room with sippy cups. I may have had a slight heart attack. When I found the cup, it still smelled like bleach, even though it was obvious that she had poured out the solution that had been inside. Poison Control was very kind, and informed me that it really wasn't a big deal at all. Even if he had sipped on a cup of straight bleach, she wouldn't be worried. And that is how I learned that bleach isn't as dangerous as I had thought.
- My kids are easy. Okay, so DeLaynie has some special challenges. Okay, they have moments where they make me want to pull my hair out. But overall, they are wonderfully behaved, obedient, sweet, little girls, and this experience has taught me to appreciate them better.
- Just because you want to help someone, doesn't mean that you can. We came to a place when we realized that we just couldn't parent our foster daughter while parenting the other four. Our goal was to make it to the day that the kids could go to their birth mom again. We did, but just barely. It's a horrifying thought that there is a person that you just can't help. The last thing I ever want to communicate is that someone is so broken that they are beyond fixing. Although I believe that she is very capable of living a healthy life, I don't believe that we are the people to help her get there. At least, we can't help her without allowing our girls or her little brothers to go without some of the basic parenting that they desperately need. Even in trying to do the work of God, I can't forget that I am not God. I can't do everything. Doing a good thing is only good as long as I do it well, after all.
- Good parenting is even more important that I realized. I have those moments of concern when I'm not sure if I am doing a good job, and every once in a while I may think that a certain choice or decision was particularly good. The stark contrast between our children and the foster kids really helped me understand that involved parents make a world of difference. I came to understand that the discipline that we have instituted from birth (without much thought, to be honest) has resulted in happier kids. I have become much more structured over the last three years, but even when I was a pretty "fluid" mom, there was discipline and consistency, and I never realized how much of a difference that makes.
- Perfect parenting is not a pre-requisite to good parenting. As I mentioned earlier, I am not a perfect mom. I make more mistakes than I care to list. When trying to foster parent, I made mistakes several times a day. Still, by the end of our time with the kiddos, in just seven weeks, they were talking better, behaving much better, and they were most definitely happier. Good parenting is more tied to dependency on Christ than to our own perfection. Although we will fail, He will not. He will use every imperfect act of faith to the benefit of our children and to His own glory. I have come to a place where I am comfortable saying that any good parenting that takes place in this home is a direct result of a relationship with Christ that overflows into our parenting methods.
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
After completing a very short stint as a foster family, I thought that it would be beneficial (for me, at least) to compile a list of things that I learned through the experience.