Mother’s Day can be a tricky time for many children in foster care. This is because it’s common for them to have experienced some sense of loss or abandonment during their lives. In some cases, their mother or parents may have died, or have serious illnesses so they cannot take care of the child anymore. However, in other cases, the mother or parents may have abandoned the child, or are simply unable to take care of them any longer.
Whatever the reason, it’s likely the foster child will be suffering with the loss of their mother in their life on Mother’s Day – as this day will serve as a reminder, which can make them feel sad, or even dread the day approaching. That’s why we’ve put together this informative guide highlighting the ways to help foster children cope on Mother’s Day.
As each foster child is different, based on their different experiences growing up, it’s likely that some foster children may be very indifferent towards Mother’s Day – whereas some can see it as a painful reminder of the mother that they no longer have.
In order to evaluate how the day should proceed, and how to respond to the child’s feelings, it’s important to have a conversation with the child about their thoughts regarding the day. You could ask them what they have done in the past to celebrate the occasion, and how they are feeling for the upcoming day. You can then use this information to plan how to manage the day to be as painless as possible for them.
If the child responds to the above with a clear sense of loss and pain, it’s important to acknowledge this and address it head on. By encouraging the child to be open about their feelings, this will allow them to feel safe that they can display this emotion on the day – and reassure them that it’s a completely normal and natural reaction to think of their mother on this day.
If their mother is no longer with them, whether that means she has died or is unable to look after her child, you can ask them if they’d like to honour their birthmother on this day by lighting a candle, or saying a prayer.
During this time, the heightened emotions may cause your foster child to become distracted, or potentially exhibit anger. It’s important that the adult role models in their life – such as teachers, dancing teachers, football coaches etc. – know about the upcoming celebration, and how it might affect your child. For teachers specifically, this will allow them to modify the work set (for example, creating Mother’s Day cards) to also account for children who are no longer with their biological mothers.
Again, dependent on how they value the day, it’s important to consider how involved the foster child would want to be in the celebrations. If you have biological children already, it’s likely they’ll be teaming up, or working alongside Dad, to help organise something special for Mother’s Day. As a foster parent, regardless of whether you are the mother or father, it’s important to communicate to your biological children to involve your foster child. This is an important part of inclusion and feeling accepted into the family, and ensure they are treated in the same way the biological children are when giving gifts or making breakfast in bed.
However, if your foster child refuses to join in, it may be because this is too painful for them – and they want to deal with this pain in their own way, so it’s important that you don’t force them to join in if they would rather not.
Perhaps most importantly, remember that however you and your foster child decide to celebrate Mother’s Day, there’s no right or wrong way. It’s likely to be led by your foster child’s feelings and emotions towards the day, so keep lines of communication open and ensure your child feelings safe and secure enough to express their emotions on the day.
And, of course, if you ever need any fostering support during how to handle this tricky time, our team are on hand 24/7 to address any fostering concern you may have. Contact a member of our friendly team now for instant support around managing Mother’s Day with foster children.