What makes a good foster mom?

This blogger tells us. What she has to say could apply to all adults in a position of raising, caring for or mentoring a young person. It's excellent info. The following is idea #2 but LT offers you 15 ideas in total using examples from her own experiences, and it's some of the best advice you're going to get all day.

Patience, Gentleness, Steadiness; but Firm Boundaries

I don’t believe in yelling at foster children and I actually do not believe in “tough parenting or tough punishment.”  These kids have had enough “toughness” and hostility in their lives.  I think of a good foster parent as acting similar to how the Taoist describe water. Water flows gently and peacefully, …but over time is so powerful that it is able to carve through rock.

Display gentleness, steadiness, and firm boundaries regarding what is appropriate and what is not.  Set the boundaries early in the relationship.  When the boundaries are tested, stand firm; not with hostility but explanation.
For example:
  • “LT, we eat at the table; not walking around the house because we don’t won’t crumbs everywhere.  Come and sit down.”
  • “LT, we don’t condone you smoking.  You can NOT smoke in the house.  If you are going to smoke which is not healthy for you, you must smoke outside.  If you smoke inside, we will take the cigarettes.”
  • “LT, sneaking out at night is NOT permitted.  We care where you are and are concerned if you are missing.  One more time and you will spend the next month of weekends with us cleaning the garage and helping out at the community food shelter.”


  1. Interesting ideas. One problem, all of them are going to be met with resistance that can range from basic passive aggressive to out right violence. I didn't have issues with not walking around the house one likes crumbs everywhere, really. I did not care if I couldn't smoke in the house, but taking my cigarettes was a bad idea altogether. I would have perceived it as just another way to steal my things. Sneaking out, that is individual and usually means that the rules have gotten to be so much that you can't or won't follow them and feel you need your freedom.

    Since I have had all three things happen, the one thing to remember is that the kids do have ugliness and toughness in their lives. Often those that are pushovers - the ones that don't accept that it is time to be tough - will find that they are well thought of by the social workers and disdained by the kids. My least favorite foster parent was one that made sure that we knew that we were not good enough - wait that was most of them - by being condescending to our intelligence by talking to us as if we are stupid or totally ignorant (you would be amazed at how many foster children have extremely high IQs). My favorite foster parents were those that would talk to me, listen and still make sure I towed the line when it came to house rules. My favorite foster parents usually got massive burnout very fast...they are not just dealing with messed up, needy children, but social workers that were more about money or their own time than the kids. BEFORE anyone gets their panties in a knot - not all social workers are like that, I had a couple of great social workers.

  2. Thanks Lori.

    Did you read the rest of the ideas in the actual post? I think there's much there for all adults/parents.

  3. Actually, I hadn't at that time...I have since then and I like the way she approached the subject. She is still young, which makes it interesting.


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