Monday, October 22, 2018

PUSHING THE ENVELOPE

There's always something new to think about when you've a foster child in your care.

The latest thing in our house is an ongoing one and it's not going to go away. Each day brings something new on the same tack. Our eldest foster child is starting out on the road to independence.

This afternoon he messaged me on his way home from school that he was going straight to a mate's house to chill.

That was all the message said. No mention of whether he wanted his tea left in the oven, or what time he planned to come home. Not surprising, because tea and coming home was the last thing on his mind. The only thing on his mind was the heady delight of being in charge of himself.

Being a teenager used to be easy as I remember back in the day.

The passing of time deceives us parents because 99% of teenagers have a torrid times and I dare say we all did too, but nostalgia softens the memories so we tend to get het up because the new generation of teenagers seem to be making a meal of it like we didn't.

Only we did. And the problem is that we have to try especially hard to remember in order to  connect with their turmoil.

So. Eldest messaged that he was going to a friend's house. What do I reply?

I want him to  explore and grow into the world (goodness knows he's seen enough already in his short life to have some idea that it can be fraught, so for one thing he's not naive).

But keeping our foster children safe is a major priority. To be honest ( a much overused phrase these days, but I mean it in this instance) I find that I'm mostly marginally more protective of my foster children than my own, which sounds a bit off; but thinking about it, it's about right.

Point one; it's NOT because my own my own children are less important to me, for goodness sake - as if I have to say so, but I will.

There's a bunch of reasons why I'm a bit more cautious with my foster children than my own. For one; the ultimate guardian of a foster child is the local authority that has brought them into care and entrusted us with them. So if one's going to err it's on the side of caution; I ask myself what the child's social worker might do or say. What you don't do is phone the local authority social worker up ten times a week and ask their views on X Y and Z. You use your common sense, but maybe err a bit on the side of caution.

Another reason is that you don't know your foster children as well as your own. Mind, even with your own they can surprise you, but the possibilities for unpredictable behaviours are greater for a child you don't know so well than for one you do. So you err on the side of extra caution.

And here's the thing; nine times out of ten they are pleased and relieved when you impose those cautions. Why? Well for one thing it gives them something to moan about. For another they often secretly didn't really want to have a sleepover on a school night (or whatever), but were trying it on. But mostly they are made to feel secure that someone cares enough to say no. A lot of children who come into care have been allowed to stay up as late as they want, wander the streets with abandon and hang out with whoever they want. The adults at home often can't be bothered to do even the most basic of parenting.

I texted eldest back and said tea was at 5.30. That's all I texted. I didn't get into an argument about permission. I knew that the mate's mum would be in the house, and she was a mum you could trust. I guessed he hadn't been invited to stay for tea, and I knew he'd be hungry.

He was in at 5.25. 

Result.

Now for a few more happy years of the same...




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