The holidays can be a challenging time for a child in foster care. This may be their first time away from their biological family, or their first time in your home. Even if they have lived with you for holidays previously, meeting new family and having new traditions can be sad if you remember past holidays with your biological family. What are some ways you can help your child this holiday season?
- Discuss your family’s traditions and family that may come in town ahead of time. This gives the child time to prepare themselves, so they are not surprised for the holidays, and gives them time to ask questions. If you have pictures from past years, you can show them so they can better visualize these events.
- Ask your child about their past traditions in their biological homes, any dishes they are used to having as part of their holiday meals, etc. If they are open to sharing their traditions, consider asking them to show them to you and incorporate them in part of your holiday traditions.
- Help the child in your care pick out gifts or make gifts for your family and their biological family. For younger children, make it a game to help them think of the best gift. If they have a gift for their biological family, or take pictures with family for the holidays, have them bring them to a visit with their biological family and hang them around the house.
- Discuss expectations ahead of time. If the foster child is expected to go to certain events, hang out with the family for a certain amount of time, or participate in any games or activities, make sure they know what is expected ahead of time. If they are not able to meet those expectations, be sure to discuss this with your family ahead of time so they are aware and don’t put your foster youth in an uncomfortable position.
- Most importantly, be flexible. The child in your care is likely having a tough time. If they look like they are struggling, be sure to take some time to let them process in a space by themselves and check in with them.
And, as always, remember you can check in with your case manager ahead of the holidays or call our on-call line in time of crisis!