It’s often a dreaded adventure for foster and adoptive parents: summer travel. Or any travel, for that matter. Often, we wonder, is it worth it? Maybe we’re safer just staying home? We’re here to tell you, it is worth it. And here’s why…
Living far from family means we travel occasionally. Four kids requires extra care when traveling on an airplane. Four kids with trauma and sensory issues requires extra, extra care when traveling on an airplane. Four kids, with medical needs, and trauma and sensory issues requires extra, extra, extra care when traveling on an airplane.
You get the call from a case manager asking you to take in a teenager recently placed in foster care. Or you’ve chosen to adopt a pre-teen. Now what? How do you successfully set boundaries for them? How do you ensure you and the child are on the same page when it comes to respect, guidelines, and family values?
We didn’t wade into the shallow end of a heated pool, so-to-speak, when we began our foster care journey. We were pretty much tossed into the deep end. Our license was completed in a very short 4 weeks and the calls started rolling in. We were often unprepared, which is to be expected. This was also very much the case when we took in our first teenager. While we had served as youth pastors for nearly a decade before our first teen arrived, everything we thought we knew about them went right out of the window when we were suddenly parenting one!
Believe it or not, summer is the perfect time to start planning for a new school year. A few weeks ago we shared a podcast episode entitled How To Form Healthy Partnerships With Your Child’s School. As a follow up, we wanted to share additional steps you can take now, to form a solid connection with your child’s school before the new school year begins.
It’s almost summer here in Indiana! My kids are planning trips to the pool, playdates and sleepovers. I’m tempted to get caught up in all the summer fun daydreams. But before I can break out the flip flops, I remember I’ve got to start planning for the next school year. I’m the mom of a few children with special needs. School can be stressful for our family, summer is a wonderful time for us to reconnect, build our relationship and just plain relax. It’s also a time to get prepared for the inevitable start to the new school year.
One of the most difficult aspects of foster parenting is caring for teenagers who have come from difficult places. The many issues that come with this territory can be too much to handle at times. But, there are a few key ways to parent with success.
I could feel hear heartache through the words in her email. With each line I read, my heart sank a little deeper for her. A single mother in her 60s. Forty years deep into the journey of foster care. More than 200 children through her home in that time. If anything I should have been learning a thing or two from her. Mostly about perseverance, determination, and compassion. But she was reaching out to ask my advice.
How do you create and maintain healthy boundaries for your children in a world that is cluttered, distracting, and moving so fast that it’s hard to keep up?
We learned early on in our parenting that we were not raising children, we were raising future adults. That’s precisely why our boundaries need to compliment this strategy. While I would love to tell you that our children have risen and called us “bless-ed” for the boundaries we’ve set up, they haven’t. Not even close. The Lord above chose to give us with strong-willed children who have pushed every single boundary we’ve created. But, it wouldn’t be called “parenting” if not.
Parenting is one of the hardest things a human being will ever do. In a fast-paced, noisy world, it’s easy to lose our way. How do you get back on track as a parent when you discover you’ve gotten off course?
We travel a lot. In fact, lately it seems we’re in a different city every other week. We love it, and wouldn’t trade it, but the flight portion of our travel becomes routine. Sometimes we just put ourselves in cruise control en route to a speaking engagement because we’re so used to flying. The other day, however, I happened to have my earbuds out when the flight attendant walked down the aisle to demonstrate the safety features of the aircraft.
Parenting children with FASD is an uphill battle. This is especially true when it comes to discipline. How do you balance necessary consequences with a child who’s brain lacks the executive functioning to understand?
If you know a child with an FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder) you know that typical discipline just doesn’t work. In our home we are raising two sons diagnosed with ARND (Alcohol Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder). Our sons were exposed to alcohol before birth. FASDs do not go away, and there is no way to heal the damage that has been done. Typically, children who are exposed to alcohol suffer damage to their prefrontal cortex. The prefrontal cortex is the command center for the brain. It controls emotions, problem solving, self-control and decision-making.
Along with providing content that enriches the lives of adoptive, foster and special needs parents, we want to be proactive about creating resources you can pass on to professionals, like a teacher or coach. So when our friend Michele asked us to make a video explaining trauma to teachers, we jumped at the chance!
We jumped because we’ve been there many times in the past- Sitting in IEP (Individual Education Plans) meetings that looked more like a sinking ship than a proactive plan. It wasn’t that the teacher was unprofessional, or rude (although we’ve experienced that), it was a lack of understanding. Most of the children in their classroom did not come from traumatic pasts. Most were not abused, or removed and placed in foster care. Most were not malnourished or left to fend for themselves before their adoption. Most had a forever home from birth.