Monday, May 09, 2016


"RAISING AWARENESS..." of matters of concern has become something of a national pursuit.

I have to admit I can't take everything in, I don't think many people can. We tend to get sucked in to something such as those unaccompanied Syrian refugee children when it swamps the TV news, but many issues sadly glide by largely unnoticed. In the last month I've already missed World Pillow Fight Day not to mention Donkey Week.

But coming up is National Children's Day and they've picked on a very thought-provoking point in their video which explains all, it's only a few minutes and easily digestible (it's a cartoon). So although I get fed up with people sending me links and adding the message 'Take a look" and it turns out to be some unremarkable 50 minute You Tube thing, here's a link to the National Children's Day UK homepage which has a link to their video;

But if you haven't time I'll sum it up, because it's very applicable to foster parents.

Their point this year is that the wellbeing of any child is dependent on the wellbeing of their significant adults; parents, carers, teachers.

They highlight the stresses of modern life, parenting and teaching.  They mention caring but don't go into the fairly obvious fact that foster caring brings special challenges. Instead they talk about the wellbeing of ordinary parents and teachers.

There are some stark factoids;

10% of all mothers are dealing with mental health problems at any one time, and 6% of all fathers.

I get the impression from the video that although foster carers are sometimes on a rockier road than many adults in contact with children they are less at risk of loss of wellbeing than parents and teachers.

I have heard of a foster dad who was giving everything to his frightened foster son, that the dad himself had to go into counselling. I can't stress how rare this is, but you can see what must have happened.

He let his fostering chip away at his own peace of mind, but unlike an ordinary parent or teacher, help was on readily hand. His needs were quickly identified and support mechanisms put in place.

This is something I always try to make clear to prospective foster carers; unlike ordinary parents foster parents have a team of supporters at their side. The team helps with the practical aspects of fostering (for example, they handle the red tape and most of the paperwork) as well as the challenges of helping the child grow up in positive ways.

But the NCDUK awareness day is worth focussing on for a moment. The wellbeing of the child depends on the wellbeing of the parent.

We foster parents have to look after ourselves. Eat well, drink sensibly, ixnay on the tobacconay, exercise (especially stretching), find time to re-charge the batteries (even if it's only watching Bargain Hunt), make full use of the help our social workers offer, take time to reflect on the things we are doing with our foster children that are working. Plan a holiday, plan a treat. Smile. Laugh. Phone a friend. 

And anything else that floats your boat.


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