By Jennifer Thatcher
Foster care has turned my life upside down. Let me start by sharing that I am a single mom and foster parent. I have been fostering children for about a year. Up until a few months ago I was only taking in children under the age of 11. Recently God laid it on my heart to foster teen moms and man, did he open that door quickly because within 2 months I took placement of a teen mom with her 20 month old son.
So here I am, single mom with a teen, pre-teen and toddler. Whoa! The first 2 weeks of having 2 extra bodies in my house was extremely chaotic. I had no idea who was doing what at any given moment. My pre-teen was having melt downs over simple tasks and my foster daughter had no consistency with parenting. I was losing my mind.
It was amongst the chaos that my sister reminded me that God was not the God of chaos but order. I needed order in this house and fast. I was still trying to build a relationship with my teen mom at the time and trying to not sound like a nagging adult. I didn’t know what to do because I had no time to even be intentional. I was losing my mind. I prayed, during that time of prayer the Holy Spirit revealed to me of a simple question to begin asking myself, “What can do to help them succeed?”
I enrolled in City Without Orphans’ Empowered to Connect Parent Training Course right before taking this placement and I soon realized I could gain so many more parenting tools for my household. Implementing Trust Based Relational Intervention has helped me tremendously!
I started writing down chores each day on a dry erase board posted on the fridge with checkboxes next to the task to help them visualize their workload. Checking off each task has been fun for them and given them a sense of accomplishment. I no longer sound like a broken record, asking for things to be done multiple times. I took this idea a step further and began creating a schedule for the toddler and posted it on the fridge for mom to see. Too many task at once, was overwhelming their brains. It has helped gain the consistency we were lacking from day one. I realized that although they didn’t have many chores, they couldn’t see what they needed to get done in an organized manner, so their brains would feel overwhelmed leading them to do nothing.
Through all of this, I have become more mindful. I no longer take it personally when my children get sassy with me as I now realize it is their hormones doing the talking. I use to think to have structure you had to be strict but that is not the case at all. So instead of getting mad, I noticed joking around with them changes their tone. We now have a lot more fun while I maintain control of the situation.
Just 4 weeks after moving in my foster daughter accepted Jesus into her heart and I had the pleasure of baptizing her at our church. God is moving mountains. Our relationships are flourishing. My teen’s parenting is improving. My pre-teen is more content than ever.
Finding ways to help them succeed has also helped me succeed. I am no longer that “nagging, stressed out mom". My house is much happier and healthier.