Saturday, September 10, 2016


In fostering a large part of the fun is watching progress.

There's always plenty to drive you up the wall; clothes strewn over bedroom floors, toothbrushes obviously not used for three days despite assurances, vegetable wars, nightly re-negotiations about bedtimes.

If you're not careful you might miss the positive developments your child makes. The reason you might miss them is because they aren't flagged up by causing you inconvenience. Quite the opposite; they make your life easier, so they're not so easy to notice.

What happened was this;

I'm about recovered from a small operation, but they won't let me drive yet.

One of our looked-afters started a new school and normally I'd pick him up in the car. But I can't. So he has to walk home.

Now, when I was his age we all walked home, parents didn't do school runs. The culture is totally different now and I'd expected a ruck - he's doing a much longer day and now had a 30 minute walk up a hill at the end of it. He gets a ride in the morning from his foster dad, but his day is now ten and a half hours. Long day.

We explained why he'd need a walk and he was completely cool.

Now, it would be easy to miss something here. One could easily say that the child is simply doing what has to be done, so no big deal.

But it is a big deal. The child is pitching in to our family's needs. Not really done that before. It's huge. No moaning, no arguing, no feeling sorry for himself. No trying to negotiate a toy or a phone upgrade.

We could easily have ignored his contribution. We could have said to ourselves that he had no choice, that it would be the same for any other kid, that lots of people do 10 hour days.

He's traipsed home every afternoon and flaked out on the sofa without a single whinge or attempt to wangle anything to make up for his discomfort.

He's been so fantastic we'r trying to think of a way to reward him.

Why look at it like that? Because you are mad if you deprive yourself of the celebration of a great moment. You just have to keep your eyes peeled.

Why not go looking for the joys of fostering in the same way that it's easy to notice the struggles?

It makes sense, and makes everybody happy!


  1. This is such a valid point. Its brilliant that he is buying into the family life and understanding his part in keeping it ticking. Consideration, empathy and maybe a bit of maturity?

    We've had some progress too, our lovely Teen Drama Queen received a "maybe" instead "yes" about an event she wants to attend. Its an expensive event, a want and not a need, and comes on top of several other wants we've already agreed to.

    After a bit of re-stating her point, explaining how completely unfair it would be for us to not agree, we said a firm "it’s a maybe, we will discuss it when you have the full details". Tears started to well up, and she pursed her lips, glaring at me. It was the start of either a rage or a sulk... but she pulled out, was quiet for a few minutes then returned to normal.

    Its easy to get annoyed about her tone, the looks could kill scowl and refusal to accept that we can’t and won’t say yes to every expensive request - however she didn’t turn it into a drama. She didn’t shout, storm out of the room or curl up sofa crying about how mean we are, dragging up old arguments or grievance. That’s massive progress.

    And for the record, we are going to say yes, we just spreading out the yeses.

  2. That's the sort of progress you need to keep alert for in fostering, so well done you guys on every count.
    I'll be honest; there were times in fostering where I said Yes where I really felt No, the reason being I needed to protect everyone from another drama. I had to make sure I said Yes more often to my own children.
    It's always paid off, so far at least. The child gradually came round to making reasonable requests with reasonable gaps in between. I suspect too they sometimes asked for things they didn't really need/want because they liked to be told No as it helped them understand the geography of the comforting boundaries they appreciate.

  3. See you've done it again - got me thinking on new lines - I've never thought about the need to be told no before.

    Brightone will make outrageous requests, things she knows we won't approve - "can I wear my DIY bubblewrap cloak to the cinema?" was a recent one.

    I think their previous experience of parenting would have been a mix of extreme highs ("lets just have fun and be silly") and deep lows ("whatever, why would I care") with no stable, middle "norm" to give them a secure base.

    Hmm.. food for thought indeed...

  4. Much as I like the concept of a bubblewrap cloak, you were right to say'No', it can be a liberating word for them, used right. I find the protestations taper off, but you have to give it time.
    You're spot on about the highs and lows of their previous lives, with no meat in the sandwich.