House Rules – Catch-22

They say we should do it.  That we should spell out the rules of the household for any newly arriving kids.  Who are “they”?  The social workers, the foster care books, the foster care blogs.  And we’re down with that.  But forgive me if I’m a little confused.  Read on…

During PRIDE (foster care training class), the video makes a point that you shouldn’t expect a kid to follow all of your house rules right away, because they have just had their lives turned upside down.  The children are coping with losing their parents, friends, home, schools, etc.  Asking them to help clean up after dinner is too much for them to handle on top of everything else.

Yet….

Some foster books and foster parents say the kids need to have the structure of rules to feel safe.  If they know what to expect, kids will know how to fit into your family life.

But…

Giving kids a huge list of rules can invite opposition, they say, so rules should be limited.  The kids are so upset with their personal situations, they are subconsciously looking for something to rebel against.

Yet…

They say foster parents should cover all the bases and be consistent in applying the rules, so kids can feel secure knowing that no matter how they behave, the foster parents will maintain order.  The kiddos can trust the foster parents to handle their big feelings and acting out.

But…

They say reading kids a long list of rules can make them feel alienated.  Kids can mistakenly think that their welcome in your home is dependent upon them being perfect.

So what’s a new foster parent to do?

We’re planning on sharing one rule right away:  “We don’t hurt people or things.”  This covers the most essential things, like not hurting themselves, our kids, our dog; not breaking or destroying things in our house, not being emotionally damaging (name calling, taunting, etc.).

Later on, we can introduce other rules, like doing homework or doing chores.

Is this the right approach?  I guess we’ll find out.

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