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© Gail Underwood Parker

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Soapbox: Home Repairs-Kid Repairs

Someone asked me the other day how foster parents do it.  I usually just fluff the question off, but afterward I kept thinking about it. I decided to tackle the question... After all,  building a child is not like a Build-A-Bear workshop where you take A,B,C,D,E, and poof you have a fully functioning individual. I think helping foster/adoptive/or otherwise traumatized kids is a lot like house repairs.
As comedienne Gilda Radner always used to say, "It's always somethin."
Anyway... here are five key skills I think foster parents need, and all good foster parents have.

1. They are prepared to climb a few ladders to get to where the root of the problems may be. Kids and houses and their problems won't necessarily be immediately obvious. You may have to do some looking. Waiting for the child to come to you is not a good plan.

2. You need to have a big bunch of good tools.
Take trainings whenever you can. Read newsletters, magazines, articles, and books to learn from the experts.  Join with others and learn from their experience. [Apprenticeship works in more than just plumbing!] The more good tools in your toolbox the more likely you will have the right tool for each repair when the need arises.

3. You need to know the limits of your skills.
--Do you have the skills, patience, resources, and energy for a major rebuild of a seriously neglected house?
--Or are you looking more for a relatively simple fixer-upper that needs a fresh coat of love-paint, and some sprucing up? [P.S. Be prepared, with kids just as with houses, sometimes you think you have a simple project and when you start working it suddenly gets much more complicated!]

4. You need to know when to call in experts.
If you discover the supporting beam, the foundations are damaged beyond repair, this is not a do-it-yourself project.  Call in the people who know how to deal with whatever the issue is.  We wouldn't blame ourselves for not knowing how to put  in foundations or repair a chimney. Why should we feel that we can handle any and all child building on our own?

5. Face the fact that you will never be done.  Just like a house, just when you think everything is set for a while.... something happens.  Even people who buy brand new houses usually have unexpected problems surface.  Likewise something that looks all shiny and great at first sometimes isn't.  You may see a small crack and when you start to dig in and repair it, the crack is just a small red flag for a much deeper problem. They made a movie called "The Money Pit" years ago about how a house is never finished.  Kids are kind of like Love Pits... you never know when they will need an infusion of extra love. But all in all as pits go... a love pit isn't so bad.

These may not be the perfect answer, but it's more honest than my usual brush-off. Anyone want to chime in their answers?

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