Written by Washington Foster Team
The holidays in particular can be an emotionally fraught time for foster children.
They can also be an opportunity for foster parents to have a tremendous impact on the children in their care.
The key is to help foster children maintain a sense of the familiar. That means doing everything possible to keep their own family traditions alive during the holidays and beyond.
Traditions Increase Stability
Imagine being uprooted from your home and placed with a family you barely know.
Now imagine how much more confusing it would be to suddenly be immersed in family traditions and cultures you find unfamiliar.
Making an effort to incorporate your foster child’s traditions into your own family traditions can go a long way toward making the child feel more stable and less interrupted. It can also make them feel more at home.
Traditions Keep Foster Children Tied To Their Culture
Culture creates a sense of belonging.
We’ve previously written about how culturally diverse foster parents can help foster belonging in a child. This is particularly true during the holidays, when culture is often the focus of attention and children already feeling unmoored from their families need a sense of normalcy.
Traditions Don’t Have To Replace Your Own
If your family celebrates Christmas and your foster child celebrates Hanukkah, what do you do?
While every fostering situation is unique, in most cases, you don’t need to fully immerse your family into your foster child’s traditions in order to make them feel comfortable.
Talk to the child’s parents — and, if possible, invite them to be a part of the celebration in whatever form it takes. This not only keeps a foster child connected to their own family and culture, but exposes everyone to traditions and cultures they may not experience otherwise.
Regardless of the situation, though, it’s critical to keep communication open with your foster child. Before surrounding them with your own traditions, ask them what they do with their families to celebrate.
Whenever possible, work together on a compromise that makes everyone feel like they’re at home. That feeling, after all, is a big part of what holidays — and family traditions — are about.
For more on fostering, download our free resource The Essential Guide To Becoming A Foster Parent In Washington State.