should foster children be treated differently(27 Posts)
I don't have any F.C but know loads of people who do, some are very strict and pushy with their own but treat the f.c very leniently, e.g. they don't care about bad grades and homework
Others have very high expectations of their f.c and get upset when they fall short, e.g. wanting pristine rooms and wanting help at dinner party prep
What is reasonable?
I suppose sometimes FCs need to feel that they belong and are valued before you can push for better schoolwork standards etc - but on the whole, I think that if you would expect something of your own child, you should be the same with a FC (bearing their background/emotional difficulties etc in mind). If you aren't careful, not pushing and FC to do well at school could be construed by the child as not giving a damn about their education, and even when children fight boundaries, they need to know that they are there and that you are prepared to have conflict, if necessary, for their good, if that makes sense.
BTW - I have never fostered, so I really am guessing.
I think that just as with all children, you have to take the whole child into account. Their abilities, their past, their emotional and mental wellbeing, so you can't prescribe one way of parenting for every child in foster care, just as there's no one way to parent a child bought up by their birth family.
I have foster children and birth children and i treat them all the same but i have to keep in mind that its not the same, because the fc have birth parents and social workers who can stick their oar in at any time. I suppose if i think about it i dont treat all my kids rhe same anyway, they are all different so how i have to react to them is different iykwim but i certainly treat them all equally well. I have had my fc since they were babies though, and i can honestly say that i love them just as much as my birth dc. I think whoooo nailed it actually.
Foster children should be treated equally to birth children, but that doesn't necessarily mean treated alike.
You have to have realistic expectations and an understanding of the child's background, which may have been incredibly chaotic.
For some children the primary education target is simply to attend school, to not get into fights. That's as worthy of success as another child's A grade.
Every foster child will have their own Personal Education Plan. This is set up in conjunction with school (every school should have a member of staff with special responsibility for looked after children), social services, the foster parents and the child. Many children need utter baby steps in order to just get back into the school building.
A child who is looked after will have experienced trauma. At the very least, they are no longer living with their birth parents. Whilst their experience with birth parents may have been beyond awful, the trauma of separation is as great for that child as for your own birth children, if they were suddenly removed from your care. Under those circumstances, learning can't happen until survival has started to happen.
For other children, a rigidly controlled environment (eg must have bedroom tidy etc.) gives them a secure boundary, a safe structure so they can try to find order within the chaos. Again, any behaviour support plan like that should be drawn up in conjunction with the child's social worker.
If you have genuine concerns that a fostered child is being treated like a second class citizen in the foster family, and these are friends of yours, please speak to them.
But be aware of the fact there are all sorts of reasons why things might look different.
A child may look incredibly scruffy because they are hanging onto the clothes which came with them, and refuse all the new clothes in their cupboards because they need that link to their past. Another child may have very rigid rules about changing clothing because they haven't been taught basic hygiene and they now need to learn it as a new concept age 16. Another may use filth as a defence against the further abuse they still fear because that was their life for so long.
Don't be too quick to judge the foster carers, and do bear in mind we won't be able to tell you the child's back story.
Natty Foster children should be treated equally to birth children, but that doesn't necessarily mean treated alike.
Natty - this is what I was trying to say but couldn't find the right words to put my semi-incoherent thoughts into some sort of comprehensible order!
Children will also be placed wiith where possible the most suitable carer. So the two families may receive children with different needs.
child person needs to be treated differently. Different expectations, approaches and what have you.
Horses for courses etc.
I cant even treat my two biologically related children the same, they're so different from each other lol
You do realise they're individual children with individual personalities and backgrounds?
There is no sweeping answer to this.
I don't think 'reason' necessarily comes into it. What Natty said sounds eminently sensitive and sensible. And I do know myself of a foster child who for months after beginning to live with a friend of mine did exactly what Natty said about insisting on wearing outgrown and almost ragged clothes because they were a link with home. I don't know her circumstances, obviously, because this is her private story, but it seems likely she was neglected at best, and at worst treated violently in her home, but she retained a loyalty to it, understandably.
I don't foster myself, but I have a couple of friends who do - one does short-term foster, the other long-term. I'm in Australia, where adoption is very very difficult now (because of various historical issues) so long-term fostering is the alternative to adoption.
The friend who does short term fostering takes babies from newborn, usually the babies of drug-addicts; they need a special sort of tolerance as they go through withdrawal themselves and she excels in that. She also does respite for under 3's, but nothing long term and nothing older. She USED to do older children until she had her now-5yo, but is sticking with the babies so far. From what I've seen of her, she treats them all the same - gives them care and love and plays with them but you can't really tell much because they're so young.
The long-term foster carer treats her 2 foster children as her own - she had the first one from ~1yo, the second from birth (they're actually siblings) because she is that sort of person - but again, they're still very small so it will be interesting to see how things change, or IF they do, as the children get older.
I suppose the only really big difference in treatment is that none of the foster children can be breast-fed, and both foster mums I know well breast-fed their own DC; but it's against the rules here.
Realising I haven't actually answered the question! The answer is "No" - they shouldn't be treated differently in general, but should be treated fairly according to their background and whatever trauma they've been through, so some accommodation should be made for that. BUt not to the point of "not caring" about how well/badly they do.
thank you for all the replies, its a hard one. I know of some F.C very hard to get through to them, mouthy and violent but calmed down at 19 and resentful that she wasn't pushed at school.
Every child should be parented as an individual. So every child in the family should be encouraged to reach their potential and meet the expectations that parents decide is right for them. Foster children have a lot more processing to do and may have experienced gaps in their education that means their expectations are different, but it won't be because they're foster children, IFSWIM; biological children in the family may have different expectations for other reasons too.
Raggy - You don't know the back ground of the foster children your friend has whom she treats differently. Very often they will have a lot of emotional problems, attachment disorder and developmental delay. The other problem is that they may well have been brought up in a very different way to that of her birth children so simply can't be treated the same.
We have two adopted children and the way in which we have to parent them is entirely different to the way I thought we would. Our son who was with his birth mum until he was 2.5yrs can't do imaginative play, can not be touched or cuddled so he has lot of different parenting needs. A lot of small behaviours have to be ignored and we only sweat about the big problems. Distraction is used a lot and I'm sure a lot of parents think I am way too lenient. But when you have a child who has suffered extreme neglect you really have to treat them entirely differently.
I was a fostered child, I was treated like I was wrapped in Cotton wall.
I would have rather been treated like all her other children.
Being singled out just made me realise I wasn't part of the family, and it did cause problems between her other children.
"I don't have any F.C but know loads of people who do, some are very strict and pushy with their own but treat the f.c very leniently, e.g. they don't care about bad grades and homework"
I suppose different children have different needs. Not every child is capable of A*s and th child needs to feel valued for who they are rather what they can achieve. There may be a big difference in the intelligence levels of the birth child and the foster child.
Foster parents have less freedom with foster children. LAC children are patented by the state. There are endless meetings to make decisions involving a range of professionals.
Most foster parents are good and it's not an easy job.
I've never fostered but I've been a foster kid. I was moved between a few homes and I think the one that helped most, and certainly that I was happiest in, was the one that gave me the same rules and expectations as their kids but while still being understanding and giving me some extra support.
So like one of the things my parents had done was leave me to grow up in filthy conditions, so whilst I was expected to keep my room clean, help with washing up etc foster mum took the time to teach me how.
She also made a point of letting me choose nice bubble bath just for me because mum hadn't been too fussed about personal hygiene.
The biggest thing she did for me that her kids didn't get though was while we were waiting for my school place to come up the older ones would go to school, we'd walk my younger siblings and her youngest to nursery and we'd go get a hot chocolate and a cake, or take her dog for a walk or do something nice just the 2 of us and chat, not always about anything important, just general chat. I was 13 and it was the first time I'd ever had that, I wasn't with her long but it's the only time I ever had anything like what I imagine is normal for most mothers and daughters (well until I had DD obviously)
So no, I don't think foster kids should have different rules as such, but at the same time they shouldn't be treated exactly the same either.
corcory: I do know the background of her children, I look after them as respite care and they are very open about it as well. They both came when they were babies (under 1)
I guess its hard because reading the replies some F.C have appreciated being wrapped in cotton wool while others haven't. Its a hard one and what about the conflict between biological children and F.C, I've seen that as well and it is uncomfortable....
Depends on the child. Our last fc had no birth parental input and they were with us for many years. We were very 'pushy parents' with regards to school work etc, the same as we were with our own children, because it was appropriate.
The educational outcomes for LAC when compared to children living with birth families are terrible.
There are a myriad of reasons for this, but schools are increasingly aware and trying to address this. Sometimes that means treating LACs "differently" - within boundaries, in a similar way that a child with additional needs would have adjustments made.
I know that isn't your question, OP, but it's part of the same picture that FCs are dealing with.
Equal treatment doesn't mean identical treatment. Fostered children may have different needs which mean they won't respond well to the same expectations as birth children, who may be more resilient.
Foster carers must treat their foster children as individuals and respond to their specific needs. That may not mean being treated exactly the same as the birth children, but obviously they should never be disadvantaged or treated badly. That goes without saying.
Join the discussion
Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Register now
Already registered with Mumsnet? Log in to leave your comment or alternatively, sign in with Facebook or Google.
Please login first.