There are a lot of frustrating things about being a foster parent. Dealing with social workers and bureaucracy, managing behaviours of unruly kids, finding out one's own weaknesses, and others. The thing that I, personally, find the most aggravating is talking with parents.
One of the things that I frequently do is discuss behaviours of my foster kids, to try to find solutions. On Facebook, in person, and on message boards. I have read parenting books and blogs. As someone who had rather negative childhood role models, I am trying to navigate being a decent parent. I want to be able to understand where the kids are coming from, and have them understand me. Some days go better than others, but that's expected.
What I dislike the most, when I'm asking how to deal with certain behaviours is when somebody remarks, "Well, that's just how kids are!"
I want to yell at people that say this. I want them to understand that they had 10+ years of a learning curve to understand their children. Their children that they raised from birth. The children that they know inside and how. Children whose behaviours and actions they have monitored and noticed for years.
As a foster parent, I don't have that luxury. As a brand new foster parent, I am distinctly at a disadvantage. Parents of natural-born kids get to learn and grow with their children. Foster parents are thrown in 6, 10, 15 years after birth, and expected to make a difference in the kids' lives.
The children in foster care have had years with their parents. Usually in dysfunctional or traumatic circumstances. These children have learned to do what they have to do to survive. Their brains and actions are usually different from their "normal" peers. Typically, there is more manipulation, more behaviours, more issues in foster kids than with biological kids. Which makes total sense.
But most lay people don't get that. And most people don't realize that I've been a parent for 2 months. Trying to raise children that have had 9,10 years of someone else's conditioning/raising. Essentially, I'm jumping into the ring halfway through, and expected to TKO the opponent-even though I was only the towel girl until that morning.
I'm not griping about dealing with the kids (this time!). I'm upset because I have been told over and over that these behaviours that I'm seeing are totally normal, and just typical kid stuff. You know what? These behaviours might be normal for their child-who they have watched and known for 12 years. They might have had a breakthrough 7 years ago where they understand the child's main motivation, and can adjust learning accordingly. And that is awesome. I'm glad they have a good relationship with their child.
That's just not my experience. From either the parent or child side! So these "normal kid" behaviours are not normal for me. Me trying to connect with a wounded child that has been pulled out of their home and lost everything important to them is not very similar to dealing with the child that a bio parent has had a relationship with since conception.
I'm not trying to say that I have nothing to learn from bio-parents. I just wish I would be cut some slack sometimes. Because, at the end of the day, we all want what's best for the kids in our lives.