Christmas is a time when many families come together to celebrate. For foster children, it can be a difficult time if they’re not able to go home for the holidays. Here are some Tips for Foster Parents this Christmas to help you and your foster child navigate the holidays.
*This post contains affiliate links. Please see the full disclosure policy below.
Tips for Foster Parents this Christmas
The holiday season is a special time of year where families come together to celebrate. For foster parents, the holidays can be a difficult time. You might be wondering how to make the holiday season special for your foster child while also dealing with the emotional challenges that come with navigating the holidays in foster care. Here are some tips on how to make the holidays special for your foster child while also being sensitive to their needs.
Talk to your case worker.
Talk to your caseworker specifically about the holiday season for your child. Many times caseworkers have insight and information from intake that can be helpful in making the holidays as smooth as possible. Ask questions like:
- Is there any reason that the holidays might be a specific trigger for my foster child?
- Do you know any of the child’s holiday traditions from home?
- Are there any holiday cultural traditions I should know about?
- Are there home visits or supervised visits planned for the holidays?
- What expectations should I set for my foster child regarding the holidays?
Favorite Foster Mom T-Shirts
Talk to your foster child.
If your foster child/children are old enough to communicate their thoughts and feelings, and your caseworker is in agreement, you should definitely have a conversation with your foster child about the holidays. Talk to your foster child about what they would like to do for the holidays. Some children might want to decorate the house or help write cards. Other children might want to spend time with extended family members or go to holiday parties. By involving your foster child in the holiday planning process, you can make sure that their needs and wants are being met.
Incorporate important traditions.
When talking to your foster child about the Christmas season, be sure to find out what traditions are important to your foster child and see if there are ways that you can incorporate them into your holiday celebration. For example, if your foster child comes from a different cultural background and celebrating Christmas is not important to them, you can focus on other aspects of the holidays like spending time with family or giving gifts to others.
Help your foster child establish new traditions.
Some foster children come from a situation where the holidays were either very painful, or almost insignificant. Some foster children have only negative memories associated with Christmas and this will be an opportunity for you to help create some positive emotions and memories to associate with the holiday. Other foster children will never have celebrated the holidays, some have never even received a Christmas gift. This will be an opportunity for you to introduce your foster child to your family traditions and help them enjoy the holiday.
Have a plan for the Christmas season.
Foster children, all children really, often do much better when they know what to expect. If your foster child is old enough, do some holiday planning time together. Make a calendar of events and post it or give the child a copy. This will be a great time to help your foster child know what to expect at certain gatherings and events. It will also help them set expectations and prepare for family visits so there will be no surprises.
Set realistic expectations for yourself as a foster parent.
Take some time before the holidays arrive and set some mindset goals for yourself. The holiday season is a stressful time for everyone and it’s important to remember that foster parenting is already a demanding job. Try to relax and enjoy the time you have with your family, even if things aren’t going exactly as planned. Also remember, that you are not responsible for making sure your foster child is happy. You cannot force them to enjoy any holiday event, gift or gathering. You can do your best, and that is all.
Have realistic expectations for your foster child.
It is important to understand that not all foster children have had a positive experience with holidays. In fact, this particular Christmas might be the worst one they have ever had. No matter how wonderful you are as a foster parent, your foster child is in foster care. That is not easy, especially during the holidays. Manage your expectations for your child’s:
- Emotional State
Seek out support from other foster parents.
Seek out support from other parents who are in similar situations as you, especially those who are experienced foster parents and have been through a holiday season with foster children before. It can be helpful to talk to someone who understands what you’re going through. There are many online forums and support groups available for parents during the holiday season.
Take some time for yourself.
Self-care for foster parents is extremely important during the holiday season. This is especially important if you are feeling overwhelmed or stressed out. Schedule respite care, and take some time for yourself so that you can recharge and come back refreshed.
The holiday season can be both wonderful and stressful, but it’s important to remember that you’re not alone! There are other foster parents out there who are facing the same challenges as you are. By following these simple tips, you can make the holidays special for both you and your foster child while still maintaining some sense of normalcy. Wishing you all a very merry Christmas!