To become a foster parent is not as simple as many think

One of the biggest decisions you can possibly make is to become a foster parent, and there are few things you really need to know before taking the plunge. One of the first things to consider is how the rest of the family, including any children, feel about it, and fostering can also make a massive difference to the relationship with your spouse.

They need to get used to the idea well in advance and prepare themselves to accept a new member to the family. Secondly, communication is vital, for a while you will be lost in a strange world where you, the fostered children, social workers and birth families co-exist. Don’t be hard on yourself and try to rush things, just take it easy and go with the flow.

Raising a foster child is both a huge challenge and responsibility, this child may have faced numerous problems that are known only to them and this may reflect in their behaviour. The first thing you need to do is let the child understand that they are now in a safe place, just don’t push it and try and get them to open up to you straight away. Trust has to be earned and can take a long time.

If you aren’t a patient person forget fostering. That may sound harsh but foster children, through no fault of their own, can be very difficult to handle. You don’t know these children like you do your own, and you need to have boatloads of patience if the child is difficult to understand. When it comes to discipline, any kind of physical punishment is a no-no, many come from violent backgrounds and this will have a negative impact.

The child may arrive in your home suffering from trauma and you must be both patient and loving during their time of mourning. This could come from a number of issues; such as the death of their birth parents or being taken away from foster parents they had grown to love. Being a foster parent is one of the most rewarding things you can do, and as long as you are prepared you can make a massive difference to a child’s life.