5 Ways Being in Foster Care Shaped my Parenting

 

Those of you who have read about my family PND Curse (which I thankfully escaped) will probably not be surprised that I spent a fair chunk of my childhood in the care of various foster families and people who weren’t my parents (in the strictest sense of the word).

Unfortunately, my own Mum’s crippling PND led to her being unable to care adequately for me and the eldest of my 3 brothers. Luckily she recognised that her illness was a problem and sought help, which led to my brother and I being placed into foster care. The ball was about to get rolling on us being adopted (and split up) before my paternal grandparents found out and stepped in to care for us long term. They were not my brother’s biological grandparents, although I very quickly learned that biology is not always all it’s cracked up to be.

foster care shaped my parenting

1.Stability: From Pillar to Post

One of the things that has stayed with me the most from being in foster care is that we moved about a lot. As a child, I don’t really remember feeling all that bothered by it. As an adult, however, I am all too aware of the lasting effects of that nomadic start. The truth is, I never truly feel settled anywhere, and I’m not very good at putting down roots. When you’ve moved house more than 25 times in 29 years you get pretty good at not personalising anything.

This has made me overly conscious of the need for stability for my own children. I want for my children to have a place they feel at home for as long as they need it, and that means that I am having to learn how to really settle.

2. Possession: Nine Tenths of the Child

I remember losing things a lot. Not in a forgetful kind of way, but that things would inevitably get left behind every time we moved. As a result, I have no lasting physical relics of my childhood; no teddies, blankets, or keepsakes to pass down, and nothing that I really treasure. I suppose this has it’s positives as well as its negatives, because it’s resulted in me not being very materialistic.

What it does mean, however, is that not only do I not have any treasures from my past, I don’t really treasure anything. I have very little attachment to items that I own, and can be quite careless with things. This includes gifts from other people, and things that I really should care more about (engagement ring, expensive bracelet from my mum with very meaningful charms on it).

I also find it extremely difficult to understand the possession obsession that my children (like most) have for their things. To me it’s as simple as

“It’s just a thing, what’s the problem?”

But I know to children these things can be so overwhelmingly important. Amelia has never shown a desire for a comforter, but Wills has attached himself to a Peter Rabbit taggy/blanket type thing that Amelia chose for him the day he was born. The look in his eyes when he sees it is one of pure awe, want and need. I find this very hard to wrap my head around, and I can sometimes be careless about remembering to have it with us.

I don’t want to raise materialistic children, but I am also very keen to instil in them a desire to look after their things, and treasure the few, very special items that will always bring them back to their childhood. I think it’s totally healthy to cry when a treasured possession breaks (even if that treasured possession is a My Little Pony figure from a Kinder egg!) and I try to encourage Amelia to embrace that feeling, cry it out, allow herself to have those emotions, and learn from them.

foster care shaped my parenting

3. Attachment: People Are Important

Another lasting relic of being raised by many is that I have very few real attachments to people. This, I feel, is much bigger an issue than attachment to objects. There are only 2 people in the world who I feel absolutely, unwaveringly attached to, and they are my children. Before they came along, I couldn’t ever really imagine how a person could become so attached to another human being that it would rock their world if they lost them. Of course I love Mr C unconditionally, but I have a very black and white opinion of our relationship and partnership.

“You’re here because you want to be. I’m here because I want to be. If I didn’t want to be here I would leave. If you didn’t want to be here then you could leave. Neither of us would die.”

I find it very hard to make and maintain friendships, and the very best friends that I have get that. Sometimes we go months without speaking (including my closest friend who I actually work with, only a wall separating us!) and I am fully aware that I am an awful friend. For some unknown reason, they accept that, and also know (I hope) that while I may be absent I am always there, should they need me.

It’s not a secret that children need positive attachments, and thrive upon them. I have a fantastic bond with my kids, and it has taken no effort to create or maintain that. But what I am very conscious of is other people in their lives. I’m more than willing to remove people from their lives who I don’t believe can or will develop and maintain those relationships. Quite frankly, I don’t want my kids to end up like me!

foster care shaped parenting

4. Family: It Isn’t Always Blood, But A Bond Which Lasts Forever

Needless to say, as a child I didn’t really know the true value of family. My brother was my only family for a very long time, until we found family with my grandparents. They opened our world to a life filled with aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, great-grandparents, step-children, cousins eighty-five-times removed! There are so many of us that even we can’t keep track! Like most families, we’re scattered across the country and even the world, and sometimes we’re better at keeping in touch than other times.

I knew when I had kids that I wanted them to have that from day one, and to never be short of family. Be it biological, inherited, married into, whatever! That is why my closest friends are known as my kids Aunties and Uncles. As far as I am concerned, these people will always be in their lives, and that is what family is. My kids are so lucky to be blessed with a ton of Aunts and Uncles, Grandmas Grandads and GG’s coming out of their earholes, a thousand-and-one cousins, and everyone else in between!

Blood will never be thicker than water in my house, and I want my kids to know that.

foster care shaped my parenting
They will always have each other!

5. As Long As We Are Together…

You hear this cliché thrown about quite a lot, I think. It’s something I have been thinking a lot about recently, especially when things like money worries and the general grind of day to day life gets on top of me. Until my grandparents stepped in to care for us, my brother and I had never really known what it was to have a true and secure family unit.

Like most people, I want nice things for my kids; nice clothes, toys, yearly holidays, trips to great places, a lovely home. But ultimately, none of these things really matter. None of these things are worth focussing all of my time on. What is worth focussing all of my time on is them and us. Especially while they are so young, all they really need is us and our love (and probably some food).

They don’t need the latest gadget, or high end toys and clothes. They need me and their Dad to be a solid unit for them, to love them, to teach them, to pick them up when they fall down, to care about what is important to them (even if it’s only important for 3 1/2 minutes), to be there.

Being In Foster Care Didn’t Define Me, Being A Family Does

Having kids has taught me so much about myself, and has made me reflect not only on the so-called-bad, but all of the good in my own childhood. I have never been one to say I had a ‘bad’ start, or had a ‘hard’ time. Now more than ever as a parent I am so grateful to all of the people who selflessly took time out of their lives to care for and love us. Out of choice. That is what a family is all about.

x

Family
We are not perfect, and neither should we be! But we have each other, and one day I might even try to get EVERYONE in a picture!

54 Replies to “5 Ways Being in Foster Care Shaped my Parenting”

    1. Aww thank you, I’m glad you think so… People are often shocked by my attitude to relationships, so it’s nice to hear from someone who doesn’t think I’m a cold cow haha!! Thanks for hosting xx

  1. I also moved around a lot as a child because my parents and I were refugees. As a result I also don’t have any childhood posessions. However that has made me more attached to things. Not in a need to aquire things way, but in a desire to treasure and keep things way. Sometimes I have to force myself to toss things. #BloggerClubUK

  2. Your post brought a tear to my eye. I agree with your values whole-heartedly. It sounds like you are doing an awesome job for your children. Well done.
    #BloggerClubUK

    1. Awww, that’s such a lovely thing bro hear! I’m so glad you enjoyed it, but seriously, don’t wake her up, I’d feel rubbish if you instantly regretted it and she ended up awake all night hahahahaha!!!xx

    1. Thank you so much! Oh really? I’m glad to know that others are also able to take the positives from their experiences xx

  3. Childhood really does shape us – I’ve seen it in my mum, who also spent time in care as a young child (although she has the opposite issue with possessions, and is a hoarder, which I think stems back to having nothing as a child). Although nowhere near as many moves as your childhood, mine was also characterised by a number of big upheavals which involved changing schools. Each move knocked my confidence and made friendships very difficult, and so I’ve always vowed that my kids would have deep roots. Mind you, it didn’t effect my brother the same, and he lives far from us and does a lot of travelling. I suppose everyone is different. Very thought provoking post.
    #MarvMondays
    Sadie recently posted…thai salmon with jasmine rice [ recipe ]My Profile

    1. I think your family’s experiences just go to show how differently everyone is affected by their pasts! My brother is fairly similar to me, EXCEPT he puts much higher stock on possessions and, like your mum, can be a bit of a hoarder. He is consumed with having nice things, and has made it his life’s mission to work his little bum off for those things. Thank you for sharing your experiences xxx

    1. Aww thank you! It certainly had its challenges, but I had it way better than some and was well looked after throughout, so I’m very thankful for that. x

  4. Great post! The point that really resonated with my was about family, probably because my family is spread our across the world and sometimes I worry that my son isn’t going to have that support network. But as you’ve said, it’s not always biological, I have basically created my own family in the UK! Thanks so much for sharing with #StayClassyMama!
    The Mum Project recently posted…#StayClassyMama Link Party No. 53My Profile

    1. It’s so hard when your family are spread across the world, but as you said you get to create your own family. Some people would argue that’s a huge benefit in a way, haha! I think the hardest thing is having your mum so far away, physically or otherwise. There have been times with small kids that all I’ve wanted/needed is my mum but she’s mentally checked out for a while, so I can totally get how hard it must be sometimes not having having her close xx

  5. What a beautiful post. Your childhood absolutely moulds you and I have mixed emotions about my childhood. Family are not everything- as I’ve got older and been through testing times I have come to realise who really counts and for me, it’s us four. Sod everyone else, in a nice way, but protecting us and keeping us all safe and happy is paramount. Thanks for joining us for #marvmondays xx
    Fran Back With A Bump recently posted…Marvellous MondaysMy Profile

  6. What a thoughtful post. Although I wasn’t fostered, I totally relate to and agree with your fourth point. Family is both blood and the members who you choose. My closest friends are exceptionally important to me and to my children, as are my sisters, parents, and extended blood relatives. I love the positve way that you have shared your experiences. #bigpinklink

  7. A fascinating read. It’s quite a harsh thing to say a family isn’t defined by blood but I happen to agree with you. Sort of got me thinking about my own background. While nothing like yours, there was a certain amount of turbulence. I also admire the honesty about your own relationship. Few people would be so up front. Great post.

    1. I agree that it’s quite a strong comment to make, and I also totally get that some people just won’t agree at all! I think we all have something in our own lives that we can look back and reflect on in some way. Thank you for your lovely, honest comment. X

  8. I can actually relate to a lot of what you’ve written here. I had a somewhat disjointed childhood and I’ve also moved house 24/25 (I’ve lost count) times. I think our own childhoods can play such a huge part in the way that we want to raise our own families. I also think it can work to our advantage if the going was sometimes tough for us, as it makes us appreciate the little things and go out of our way to try and do better for our own. Thanks so much for sharing your story with us at #DreamTeam x
    Rhyming with Wine recently posted…C25K… and Maybe Just A Touch Less Cake #2My Profile

    1. I agree entirely! I think you hear a lot of stories about how childhood affects people’s lives negatively, and I kind of wanted to say that yeah it might not have been great but it doesn’t have to have a negative effect. Good can be taken from every bad experience, and a so-called ‘bad’ childhood doesn’t have to lead to a bad life, or worse, repeat itself. Xx

  9. I am so grateful I came across this. It’s a vitally important message to get out there, and has huge ramifications for families – fostering or otherwise.

    I found the point about attachment to objects very interesting: I come from a family of hoarders and am on a minimalism journey, so from my perspective I am all about trying to shake those ties to objects. But saying that, I am also interested in Gentle/Respectful parenting, so wouldn’t dissuade my kids from having treasured items either!

    Excellent read *shares* x

    1. Aww thank you, that’s such a lovely comment! I’m glad you enjoyed it, and I wish you all the best on your minimalism journey!!!xx

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