How much do you do to support another person? When does helping become enabling or even hurting? How do you know when you’ve reached the line?
These are all questions we have been asking ourselves the last little while.
As Foster Parents we have been thrown into a world that is new to us. The Other Mother’s children are not the same as ours. They weren’t raised the same, they aren’t wired the same and they don’t respond the same as our kids did to the various challenges that come their way.
Now to be fair we raised 3 children who were all very different. They had different personalities and responded differently to challenges. They are all competent adults and I am thankful for that! However on a certain level they were all similar enough that they felt familiar. Or maybe we just knew them so well that we could anticipate how they would do as challenges arose.
Enter in Foster Children. No history, no way to know, just a desire to see them do their best at all they do. They had missed almost 2 years of school when they came to us so our first challenge was to get them on track at school. We helped with homework, helped them schedule their time and stay on track, booked summer school and provided extra learning opportunities at home. It became the norm. We’ve helped with a lot of homework the last 18 months! They are holding their own at grade level, in some things even excelling.
However now he is resentful of time spent doing homework. Reentry has been hard after 6 months out of school. He argues and grumps and procrastinates and stalls… you get the picture.
He is doing great in school! He is VERY proud of his good marks. They have come at a cost. So… we have decided that we need to back off and let him decide how much homework he does. He regularly underestimates the time he needs to accomplish a task. We have been factoring that in as we help him schedule his time. He thinks he can do it himself. We will see how it goes!
Now when he asks if he can hang out with friends I just ask if he has homework and when he says yes I say “Well, you need to leave time to get it done.”. When he works on homework for 30 minutes and then says he is done because he needs a break, we just let him.
We will see how many of the habits we have been teaching have caught. High School is next year and there will be lots of things to manage. I hope he surprises us! I want to see him figure it out and keep the marks he is so proud of.
If he starts to stumble we will be here to help… when he asks. The hard part will be letting him stumble and maybe even fall. When you see it coming it is really hard to stand back and let it happen. I don’t want him to experience the hurt; I do want him to succeed. Success can’t happen without risking failure!
This is the journey of parenting. Caring enough to give them opportunity to fly on their own. Loving enough to pick up the pieces when they fall. Celebrating their successes and getting ready to let them go again!!
Foster kids often have stories of abandonment and failure from the adults in their life. We get to show them a different story. Letting them fail is hard because I fear they will see it as a parenting fail. I don’t know how this situation will play out, but I do know that we will be here to navigate it with him no matter what.
This is the next step in the journey.
In the midst of the mess