Fostering Children at Christmas
Fostering children is important all year round – but it’s an extra special thing to do at Christmas. The festive period is a time for families to celebrate with each other, and so as a child in care, it can be a difficult time.
Why should consider fostering children at Christmas?
For many, Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. However, while it may be a joyous time for a lot of people; for others it can be a lonely and upsetting period. This more often than not the case for children in care.
As a parent, the thought of spending this special day away from your children is heartbreaking, and it’s easy to forget that not all children spend Christmas day opening presents from Santa and enjoying a big family meal with their loved ones.
Children in care will have often experienced lonely, disappointing and sometimes even distressing Christmas’ in the past. What could embrace the Christmas spirit more than offering a warm bed and loving home to a child during the festive period?
If you’re interested in fostering a child, but not sure what to expect, please read on…
What to expect when you foster a child at Christmas?
It’s likely that your foster child will not be very excited for the festive period, because as mentioned above, they may not have fond memories of it. Here a few things to expect, that will help a foster child change their views of the holiday and have a fun-filled Christmas to remember with your family…
Explaining why they have to celebrate it this year
For many children in care, Christmas has not been a happy event and can bring back difficult memories. This can cause them to resent the holiday and rebel against it. If this is the case with your foster child, a good idea is to try and plan Christmas with them, so that they know exactly what is going to happen and can get really excited about it. This can help to reduce their fears and make them feel a part of the festivities.
If you have guests coming, it can be helpful to make sure that your foster child is familiar with them or is told about them in advance so that they don’t feel awkward or uncomfortable. If children have come from homes where alcohol abuse has occurred, it may be a good idea to keep alcohol out of the celebrations, or at least wait until after the children have gone to bed.
Some very common questions that might crop up around this time of year are:
“How will Santa find me if I’m here and not at home?”
“Santa doesn’t bring me presents”
“Santa isn’t real”
“Why does Santa come here and not to my house?”
For a looked-after child, queries like this are important. They could even be signs of bigger questions, like ‘will I ever go home?’, or they could just be ensuring they don’t miss out on Christmas presents!
Firstly, if you’re not sure about your foster child’s plans for the festive period; contact their social worker and try to find out whether the child will definitely be staying for Christmas. Once you’re certain of this, you can assure your foster child. With very small children it might be a nice idea to visit Santa with them so that he can reassure them that he always knows where their presents need to go, even if they are in foster care.
Explaining why they can’t spend Christmas at ‘home’…
It’s very common for foster children to want to go home at Christmas. Even those who come from abusive or distressing homes can express this sentiment. They may express it in many different words or through a variety of behaviours. A number of children in care may even be concerned about a parent or family member being alone a Christmas. Often your foster child may be trying to say that they will be sad Christmas without their family, but they don’t want to admit it out loud.
If it’s possible, you can try and include some family contact, via phone calls or Skype, on Christmas day. If it’s not possible, you can try simple things like getting the child to write a letter or card to their family that may be missing them. You should explain to them that their family want them to enjoy Christmas, and not worry about them.
Are you interested in Fostering this Christmas?
If you think you could make a difference to a child’s life, please get in touch with us. We are always looking for loving, caring homes for children and young people who have no place to call home. Please submit your details using the form below and we will get back to you as soon as possible.