I was not raised in the foster care system, so I called upon a friend of mine who had been in foster care to get her perspective, to get the kid's angle, and to ask what it is the parents need to know from that point of view.
I came in using what I had learned as well as what I bring to the table from my research and book, my years as a teacher and my experience as a parent. I left wondering if I sounded like a pie-in-the-sky guy, because I really have no idea what it's really like to foster a child who is dealing with trauma. I was talking about where to go on dates, when they can't find a babysitter who will watch their kid. I was talking about finding their passions, when they struggle with children who won't stick with any one thing the moment they haven't succeeded.
As a teacher there's always that child who struggles with behavior and anger, and you do your best to work with the parent to change the behavior. But, you rarely get to hear the whole story from the parent's perspective. Last night, after my talk, I got to hear it. And, these parents are absolute angels! They choose to raise some of the most difficult kids to parent, because someone needs to.
After hearing all that these parents go through, I wonder how they do it. I honestly don't know if I could. I believe the relationship between Mom and Dad has to be so deeply rooted, because they have to be there to hold one another up. I respect these parents more than I ever would had I not been there to hear their stories.
And, although I don't generally have foster children in my class, I know that I do get kids who have experienced trauma at some point. So, what's the difference if they are foster children or still living with their biological parents? If they've been through trauma, their parents are probably experiencing similar experiences as the parents I met last night: defiant behavior, getting school detentions, physical tantrums, terrorizing baby-sitters, just to name a few.
I went to this meeting last night to offer insight to these parents, but I believe I was the one who learned. And, I think I can apply it to my own world as a teacher, to better understand trauma and the incredible weight that these parents of kids with trauma must carry.
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