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© Gail Underwood Parker

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Focus on Fostering: Questions, Questions

How many times has your foster child been asked "How come you don't live with your own parents?" by a friend, by a child, or even by an unthinking adult? It is just one of many tough, personal questions that kids in care get asked over and over.  As a new school year approaches part of the dread and anxiety is often tied to meeting new kids with new questions. I think it is our responsibility as their foster parents to help them with how to handle personal questions that invade their memories, and their privacy.  In the language of texting, we need a polite way that they can say MYOB [Mind your own business].

How to answer depends on the age/maturity of the child being asked and on who is asking.  But the first thing that I think we owe our kiddos is the right to privacy.

We need to teach our children that just because someone asks a question, doesn't mean they have to answer it.

Children have a right to keeping personal information personal.  In this day of tweeting and facebook and my yearbook, and skpe, more and more personal information seems to be out in the world, and once information is out there, it is hard [if not impossible] to call back.

Teach children that it is okay to say, "I'm sorry, but that is very personal to me." or "I really don't want to talk about that." Even "Our family's business is our family's business."

There are may, many ways to answer questions about foster care that can educate their friends, or give enough information to satisfy their curiosity without revealing personal secrets. But, all too often we forget the possibility of NOT answering the question.  Children who have had traumatic or painful childhood's have a right and a need for privacy.  All children deserve privacy. Let's teach them that privacy is okay. Privacy is good.

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