Foster Parent Shares Importance of Keeping an Open Mind When Parenting
By Jasmine York, SFH Marketing Intern
Rosemary Terry has worked with Seraaj Family Homes, Inc. as a foster parent in Towson, Maryland for three years during which, she became the foster parent of two children.
“I knew the need was out there and I had some time on my hands,” said Terry. “I just wanted to make a difference in some child’s life.
Terry has found that with each child comes a varying level of challenge. As a foster parent, she’s had to make necessary adjustments according to each child.
“I try to create an accepting atmosphere when the child first comes,” said Terry. “I try to welcome them in such a way like they belong in the household.”
Terry believes both the child and parent should come into the situation with an open mind. While the child should respect the home, she believes the foster parent should also think in terms of flexibility and find a healthy middle ground.
One way to meet the child where they are is to have an open mind when it comes to the child’s choice of words. Terry believes it’s important to allow the child the freedom to express their minds, however to do so in such a way that doesn’t turn others off.
“If you’re not used to curse words, you may hear a curse word,” said Terry. “I try to tell them that they can talk about anything they want, but let’s try to use a different type of dialog.”
Being able to be flexible with language is not the only way Terry has found to get along with her foster children. She also believes in allowing children to stay connected with their biological parents or siblings, based on a case-by-case evaluation.
“It’s very important, but it depends on the situation of that foster child and how they deal with their parents and their siblings,” said Terry. “You want that connection because we’re here to unify them and the kids, but if they don’t want that connection it may [become] another trauma.”
Overall, Terry has found that being patient, speaking to children in a calm way, and demonstrating unconditional love are keys to help create positive effects in the children’s lives that they will remember and carry with them into adulthood.
“Meet the kids where they are,” said Terry. “When they see that you are really there for them, you’re going to get some type of positive effect — that’s for sure.”
Because of Terry’s understanding approach, she has been successful in forging long-lasting relationships with her foster children that extended beyond their time living within her home. After one of her foster kids returned to her biological home, she continued to visit Terry and brought others along to learn from Terry’s guidance.
“There was a knock on my door and it was one of the previous foster kids who was back home with her parents,” said Terry. “She brought another girl who was having problems so that I could talk to her.”
Terry remains encouraged by moments like this, knowing that she’s truly making a difference as a foster parent one child at a time.