The holidays are a time of joy, celebration, and family. But for foster children, this doesn’t always come so easily. A new home with new traditions can be decidedly overwhelming for a child, especially if they come from a family where there was no sense of holiday joy or Christmas spirit. Whether this is your first holiday season with a foster child, or your seventh, here are a few things to keep in mind when celebrating at your home.
Getting accustomed to new customs
Every family has its own holiday traditions: decorating a tree, lighting candles, buying gifts, cooking special dinners… the list goes on and on. The beauty in these traditions is that they are unique to each and every home – which may, however, make introductions to them a bit more difficult. Your foster child may not have celebrated Christmas the way your family does, or at all even. They may be conflicted with missing their own traditions, feeling a sense of imposition, or simply being confused with this new situation. It is therefore vital to take the time to explain your family’s customs and traditions to your foster child, as well as get to know their own experiences from the holidays. Not only will they feel more comfortable with a greater awareness and understanding, but you will get a greater sense of what they are accustomed to and how you can make this a smoother transition for them.
Riding a wave of emotions
Despite all the joy and excitement in the air that comes with the holidays, your foster child may also be facing a wave of guilt or sorrow in regards to their biological family. Taking part in another family’s intimate celebrations and finding cheer in a new home may feel like an act of betrayal for this child, as they are turning away from their previous parents. This can in turn cause anxiety, depression, further confusion, and stress for not only the child, but for you as well. As a parent, it is your responsibility to help them find comfort and light amidst any difficult emotions by allowing them to address their feelings and supporting them no matter what. Perhaps try offering to help them send a gift or card to their biological parents (if possible) to make them still feel connected to them and further spread the joy of the holiday season.
Remembering what the holidays are about
When it all comes down to it, the holidays aren’t about gifts or decorations or lights or desserts – they’re about spreading cheer and being with the ones you love. Remember this when bringing in a new child into your home, as their comfort and happiness is key to ensuring their success as well as your family’s.