A few months back, I had a foster teen placed in my home, one who came from a life of hardships and betrayals. To be sure, this young teenage boy had been lied to so many times by his mother and various step fathers, had been abused by some of the step fathers, and had been neglected by his mother for much of his young life. It was no wonder that when he was placed into my home, he did not trust me or my wife. Indeed, why should he trust us? This young boy, who had been hurt so deeply in various ways, did not know my family, and did not want to be placed into our home. After all, we were strangers to him. As a result, there were a great many issues of trust in our home for the first few weeks and months, and it resulted in a time of stress for not only my wife and I, but for all in the house.
When a child is suddenly taken from his home, and from his family, and placed in a home against his will, there are bound to be issues of trust. One way to combat this is to create a trusting and nurturing environment within your own home. Let your foster child know as early as possible that he is welcome in your house. Along with this, you will want to let your foster child know that your house is a safe one, and that he will not come to harm in your home. Not only do you want to let your foster child know this when he joins your family, it is just as important to remind him of this as often as possible. You want to show your foster child that you value him as a person, and that he is important. What he says, what he thinks, what he believes; your foster child needs to realize that all of these are important. For some children, this might be a new experience, as they have never been shown value before.
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Trust can also be built by showing your foster child that you care for him. Building a trusting relationship means showing your foster child that you are concerned for his well being, physically, emotionally, and mentally. Showing compassion for your foster child is an important part of building a healthy relationship, as he needs to know and feel that you care for him. After all, close relationships between children and adults is a central part of avoiding further risky behavior. Trust, though, does take time, and for some foster children, it may take a very long period of time. Remember, you are planting seeds, here; seeds of trust that you may never see come to fruition.
Dr. John DeGarmo
For more, purchase Dr. DeGarmo’s training book The Foster Parenting Manual: A Practical Guide to Creating a Loving, Safe, and Stable Home.