Managing Father’s Day with Foster Children
Let's explore some fantastic strategies to make Father's Day extra special when you have foster kids in your loving home!
When you have foster children in your family, some holidays and special occasions can be difficult. Father’s Day, like Mother’s Day, can be a tough time for kids who are no longer with their birth families.
There are all kinds of different backgrounds kids who have to live with foster families may have, and you can find out more about this on our About Fostering page. The personal history of your foster children will be likely to have an impact on how they see Father’s Day. It could be a time of grief if they lost their father, or a time when they have complicated feelings if their father abandoned them, or they never knew him. There is no right or wrong way to celebrate Father’s Day, but they may feel left out of activities at school related to the occasion, or they may want to be involved in things your birth children are doing for you.
5 Ways to Manage Father’s Day with Foster Children
Here we look at some strategies to help you manage Father’s Day when you have foster kids in your household:
Talk to Them About Their Thoughts on Father’s Day
Communication is the most important thing. Every child is different, and they may not feel the way you expect. Some children who have had family issues in the past just aren’t interested in Father’s Day at all and may prefer to ignore the occasion. Others may have memories of good Father’s Days in the past and might be sad thinking that this one won’t be the same. Others still may be upset because other kids have relationships with their dads that they don’t have.
Use the fact that Father’s Day is coming up as a way to raise the subject with your foster child. Try to keep the conversation positive and let them know that you’re willing to do whatever they want to do to mark the occasion, if they want to do something in honour of their biological father.
Consider Activities to Remember Their Father if They Want to
If your foster child’s father died, or can’t be with them due to illness, for example, then it can be good to come up with some activities they can do in honour of him on Father’s Day. Depending on their age and religious background, this could be anything from lighting a candle for their dad to writing a letter or poem for him. If you live nearby, you may want to consider visiting his grave if that is something that you think your foster child would find helpful.
If their father is still in touch with them, then choosing a gift and card together can be a good way to support your foster child.
Talk to the Other Adults in Your Child’s Life
A lot of the time, schools and groups like scouts, which your foster child might be involved with, have activities like making Father’s Day cards ahead of Father’s Day. As you might expect, the adults supervising these activities are used to there being kids with all sorts of different family situations, and so will be sympathetic and understanding towards fostered children. However, it could be a good idea to have a chat with them to find out if any activities like that are planned and to talk about how they can support your foster child while these are going on.
Talk to Your Birth Children About Father’s Day
If you have birth children in your household, then it is of course likely that they’ll be planning ways to celebrate Father’s Day, and shopping for or making gifts. It could be that your foster child would like to do these things with them, and might feel left out if they are not included. Your foster child may or may not want to do something for their foster father, but if they do, then it is important that your birth children invite them to be involved in their plans and activities.
Talk to your birth children once you have an understanding of how your foster child feels so that they can be sensitive to their situation and make sure they behave appropriately. It may also be that you’ll want to advise your birth children to make this Father’s Day a bit more low-key than they may have done in the past if the day is upsetting for your foster child.
Remember That Every Family is Different
Holidays of all kinds can be complicated when you are fostering because of the associations with family and the memories a foster child may have. The important thing to remember, and to remind your kids, is that every family is different and celebrates holidays differently. There is nothing to be ashamed of for kids who don’t want to celebrate holidays at all, or who get upset or angry on these occasions. All of the talk about dads, Father’s Day cards in shops, and things about Father’s Day on TV can make the time quite intense for children who have lost their fathers or who have had traumatic family situations in their history, and they mustn’t feel under pressure to feel or act a certain way.
Remember too that how they choose to celebrate in terms of their foster father is also going to be a reflection of how they feel about the day itself, rather than how much they appreciate their foster parents. Since becoming a foster parent, you have probably had to negotiate various occasions and holidays, so you should just see Father’s Day as another opportunity to help and care for your foster children in what could be a tough moment for them.
It is also important to remember that things do change as kids grow up and more time passes, so even if this isn’t the first Father’s Day you have had with this child, they may feel different compared to previous years, and it is still important to keep an open dialogue about the holiday.