An interesting one, thanks Mooglet.
I think fostering feels this quandary most sharply at Christmas and birthdays, but it's probably an issue for the child all the year round. We try to give them the normal generosities parents offer children, not just appropriate gifts but appropriate loving care; and they put two and two together and realise their previous experiences weren't good.
I guess we foster parents have to look at each individual case to decide how to explain it and help them with their feelings.
Maybe the real parents don't know they are coming up short, maybe they didn't get much in the way of presents or love themselves. Our social workers can help by giving us whatever background information they can.
Maybe the parents have financial dilemmas. I can't remember if I've ever looked after a child whose real parents had independent incomes, and, while the government give winter fuel payments and a cold weather payment, people on benefit don't generally get any extra for Christmas; it might not get spent properly anyway.
I remember a child who came to us once, just before Christmas, a teenager. She was going home for Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
We bought her Christmas presents and a stocking-full of nick-knacks, all carefully wrapped. She said she wanted to open them in front of us on Christmas Eve just before we drove her home.
She said that the previous Christmas she'd been given a Lidl carrier bag with half a dozen unwrapped Lidl things in it; biscuits, a chocolate santa. A 99p deodorant spray. That sort of thing.
She wept with each unwrapping. Gosh, I'm filling up remembering. Her big present was a mobile phone; we'd discussed it with her social worker and it was what she craved. On top of that we did our best to buy her things that matched her aspirations, such as grown-up cosmetics, false eyelashes. We put some thought in.
By the way; her previous Christmas - the Lidl carrier bag - that was from her foster carer. Not a Blue Sky carer I have to say, but a foster carer nevertheless.
The girl said she didn't want to take the presents home and unwrap them on Christmas Day because it would embarrass her mum, so she had awareness.
The concern here is how we foster parents help our foster children deal with the differences between our parenting and the parenting they had before they came into care.
I've always tried to stick to the facts and avoid opinion and try not to seem to criticise the parents; that's the advice we get at Blue Sky. But however you present the facts the obvious implication is that their parents could have been more generous, more loving, more caring.
They can work out for themselves that I do what I think is right, and that I probably think that what their parents did was wrong.
A harsh truth indeed, for some. But it's their truth, I don't upfront it.
Anyway what are we foster parents going to do or say to soften the blow? I'm damned if I'll give up lavishing my own children and family with their usual happy junk in order to protect my foster children from knowing what they've been missing.
Thanks again for the subject Mooglet. Does that seem about the size of it to you too?