November/ December 1999 - Volume 2 - Issue 8
The holidays can be one of the happiest times of the year, particularly for children and the young-at-heart. The bright twinkling lights, the colorful decorations, the thrill of anticipated and time honored traditions of song, candle lighting and prayer. Oh yes, of course, the gifts are always a thrill for everyone to give and receive.
Unfortunately, in the world of a foster child this time of year may not bring all of the "warm fuzzy" feelings of Christmas that some of us may have. All the attention given to the importance of family and sharing the season with those you love, gives the false impression that everyone has a "perfect" family. Many foster children may also be trying to figure out why they are in the situation that they are in. Asking why they are not able to be with their family and friends. They may see themselves as different and not "belonging".
This stress and tension will become apparent in the negative acting out behaviors of your children. They may seem more withdrawn, they may do more verbal or physical acting out or there may be an increase in their acting out in school. Recognizing the emotional turmoil your children are facing and making yourself available can often ease the tension.
Consistency and communication will prove to be very valuable during the holiday hustle and bustle. Schedules are bound to be tossed aside. For some children this adds to the stress of the holiday. Support their need for routines by checking in with them through daily family meetings. This will offer some of the much needed stability to the ever chaotic world we create during the holidays.
Allow special time to include your foster children in the spirt of celebrating by allowing them to add a tradition of their own. Talk to them about what they remember most that made them happy about spending the holiday with their family. Is it a special cookie recipe , something special for dinner or even a holiday game? Maybe it is a can of Campbell's soup and crackers for Christmas dinner.
Be it Christmas, Kwanzaa or Haunakkah, enjoy this holiday season with your family and friends. Traditions are old and never forgotten but are meant to be created for remembering. Open the doors to learning and sharing something new about your foster children.