How Will Fostering Affect My Own Children?

When you are considering becoming a foster parent, there are many things to think about. One of the top questions I get asked by prospective foster parents is, “how will fostering affect my own children.”  The short answer is, “it most certainly will affect your own children.”  But the “how” is a much longer answer, with many varied factors. 

There are stresses faced by ALL families 

Bills. Employment demands. Household maintenance. Homework. Chores. Meals. Transportation. Need I go on? These kinds of demands are encountered by most families, and they can be stressful. Stress is a normal part of life. Adding a child to the family can increase the existing stressors you are facing. More children will need your time and attention. More children will use more space and resources in your home. Each family member must decide if they are ready to take on the balancing act of adding another member to the household.  

Consider the positive effects this could have on your children 

You may have already contemplated some of the more negative effects. Your own children may be jealous. Your own children may feel that they are treated differently. Your own children may learn some negative behaviors. But have you considered all the positive effects?  

  • Fostering brings diversity into your home 
  • Fostering can give your children different perspectives 
  • Fostering can show children how to have a positive impact on someone else’s life 
  • Your children may have the opportunity to model positive behavior 
  • You children may become more adaptable and flexible 
  • They will learn how to say good-bye in a healthy way 

The adult biological child of one of our foster families writes, “My childhood was immensely better because we fostered. Sure, I may have learned a few choice words over the years, and I cried more than a few tears, but I also gained protectors, friends, and endless memories. The (foster children) reminded me how lucky I was.” 

Involve your children in the process 

Prospective foster parents will often ask me how to prepare their children for becoming a foster family. You can prepare your own children by talking with them about your decision to foster. You can ask them about their feelings about becoming a foster family. Is there anything they are excited about? Is there anything they are nervous about? What questions do they have? Accept and acknowledge all their feelings, from “I don’t want to share my toys” to “I don’t want to share my parents’ attention,” they are all valid feelings. It is important to keep the lines of communication open between all family members and ensure that all voices are heard.