Family Support, Foster Parenting, Make a Difference MondaysSep. 5, 2016

Make A Difference Monday | Say This, NOT That to Foster Parents

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I was born without a filter.

That’s not true. I used to have one, but somewhere around college, I found my voice and it has been hard to silence ever since.

I call my craft wit.

Others call it inappropriate.

I never intend to be offensive…but sometimes my best intentions fall short and sarcasm settles on sensitive souls.

So I understand the struggle from the mind to the mouth. And I get the well-meaning wisdom of strangers that stumble into conversation with me at the park and sneak a peak into my frenetic flight of foster motherhood.

But sometimes, casual comments make me wince and the checkout line with five crazy kids crying and clinging and complaining isn’t a great place to go deeper with this sort of thing. So I just smile and nod and raise my eyebrows just enough to show surprise at what was just uttered. Friends, strangers, family, neighbors.

No one is immune from thinking after you speak.

I see your heart, people. And I know you can’t feel the weight of your words.

So I’ve made a short list of some sentences to leave out of our next conversation:

* Is that the same one?

There’s always an extra kid tagging along in our family–it can be confusing, I get it, but this question feels so sterile. Try “gosh, he’s cute, have I met him before?”

* I could never do what you do.

This statement prompts my brain’s fight or flight mode. I can’t always find the energy to engage in recruiting new foster parents or list the many reasons we aren’t qualified either.

* I could never let them go.

It’s cold. It implies that I’m heartless and you are full of compassion.

AND THIS ONE SHOULD NEVER BE UTTERED. EVER…

* You’ll get another one.

Cringe. Transitions are traumatizing enough. This comment cuts to the core and seems the most insensitive of all. Foster kids are our kids…even if for only a season. We don’t just “get another one” because this one isn’t replaceable.

//

Enough with the say-nots because we are all (yes, me too) skilled at saying the wrong things. It’s advantageous to know the right phrases to articulate.

Pick one of these next time you talk to a foster mama:

* How can I pray specifically for you this week?

Foster care is a battlefield. We need warriors willing to stand in the gap.

* I’m free to babysit this __________ (insert day of the week).

Court, visitation, staffings, phone calls, drop in home visits, home studies and other awesomely time-consuming activities abound in foster care. I’m tired just typing it all.

* Here’s a giftcard to your favorite restaurant. I’ll babysit.

#trending #babysit #freebabysitting #babysittersrock

* Don’t be discouraged, you are doing such a good work!!

Words of affirmation never stop short of filling up my soul.

* I’m sending someone to clean your house.

Seriously. Someone did this for me several months ago. #bestgiftever

* What night can I drop off dinner?

This is one of the brightest rays of sunshine that I bask in on this journey. I can’t stand to cook and I don’t care what you bring.

Basically, cook me dinner and watch my kids while I take a nap.

Kidding. For the most part.

But for real, though. No need to tip toe around conversation or act like this journey we’re on is a burden. We know it’s hard and time consuming and it’s draining the life out of us at times.

Keep speaking and say something.

We’re listening.

And even if what you say is awkward or out of line or insensitive, we’re thankful to know you see our sacrifice.

Worst case scenario, your words give our community comaraderie and a whole lot of laughs.

#bringdinner

Kristy Sutton

Kristy Sutton familyKristy and Zach are biological parents to 4 beautiful kiddos under the age of 9. They have called 12 other babies their own since starting their journey as a foster family in the summer of 2012. They say yes to the hard and crazy as they follow Jesus on this journey of surrender and obedience. Kristy loves coffee, good conversation, comfy clothes and Anne of Green Gables. She is assertive and loves change as she learns to thrive in the chaos. Follow Kristy on her personal blog – This Hard Calling.

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