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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Focus on Fostering.... Holiday backsliding

Ok, so Halloween is over and those of you new to foster care might be think that things will settle down once the candy high is past.  I advise you to think carefully about the children in your care and whatever is their background, because you may need to prepare for some rough waters. Halloween is just the first of a cascade of three holidays that focus on "Hallmark moments." You know what I mean... holidays filled with images of "typical" families, with close bonds, loving moments, sharing fun and celebrating together.

For children who are not able to be with their families, separated from parents, often separated from siblings, from neighborhoods and familiar schools, it is hard to find anything resembling Hallmark's images. Can you "fix" that?  No. But you can be aware of the stress it causes, particularly in children old enough to notice, but not old enough to really understand, let alone appreciate what you are trying to provide for them. Don't take it personally! Be prepared.

Talk to them about the holidays.  Find out what they would like to happen. They may have great holiday memories, terrible ones, or even innaccurate, imagined memories. Thanksgiving for them may have little to do with a big festive meal with relatives around the table. Start early to focus on the concept of thanks. Plan ways to help the children identify things they can be thankful for, modeling things for which you are thankful. And... though I know it is nearly eight weeks away.... start thinking about how you can support them emotionally not just through Thanksgiving, but Hannukah or Christmas or Kwanza the next month.

You cannot create perfect  Hallmark holidays, but if you are prepared and creative you can help them get through this stretch without falling apart.

PS. Remember that ALL kids can struggle during the holidays.  Click here for a fun post about some of the risks and strategies of even "typical" family gatherings from blogger Holly Homer who blogs at

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