What To Do When Your Foster Child Drinks Alcohol

My heart sinks at the idea of one of my children coming back home drunk (or God forbid I find them out and about drunk). It's a hard thing on any parent to have to deal with a teenager who made the unfortunate decision to take to alcohol. But keeping your cool about the ordeal is more likely to make a better impact than getting mad. So take a deep breath and follow a few of these steps.

Wait for them to sober up: Don't try to reason or lecture a drunk child. It just won't work. Put them to bed, give em' some hangover treatments the next morning, and let them sober up before the 'big talk'.

Ask them why they drank: First of all, ask them why they made the decision to drink. Listen to what they have to say. Don't judge. Often times peer pressure is involved- and that's a really hard thing for teens to overcome. Begin by always allowing your child to explain themselves.

Talk about why it's bad: Explain calmly why you don't approve of them drinking. How bad things could happen to them. Teen girls are more likely to be raped while drunk. Drinking and driving kills hundreds of people each day. Alcohol poisoning, although rare, DOES happen and is possible. And it's fair and simply against the law- so it's not okay.

Watch a DUI documentary: Typically my consequence for my child drinking, is to have them watch a teen-oriented documentary about DUI's. Most schools have these on hand, as well has MADD and SADD groups. Libraries also have them available. All will typically let you use them for free. If a child drinks in my house. The first thing we do is watch a video about the worst possible thing that often happens when drunk.

Attend an alcoholics anonymous group: My second consequence is to contact a local AA center, and ask them if my child and I can join one of their court-ordered groups (often filled with underage drinkers who were caught and arrested). We'll go through the entire session together- and attend an entire series worth of meetings.

If my child is adamant about drinking, I will create mature, monitored opportunities for them to drink in my home. This is a controversial topic that often goes un-discussed. I am open with social workers, therapists, and case workers about this. Not all of them approve, but most understand. If my child is drinking outside of the home- I feel as though it's better for them to drink with me. I, myself, never drink. But I'll allow certain kids to earn the ability to drink in my home. They can have a glass of wine or a bottle of beer on the weekends. They can experiment maturely. They'll be in a safe place where nothing bad can happen if they get intoxicated. They can learn to monitor their intake. And most of all they won't be drinking and driving. This rule largely depends on the age of the kid, their family history, and their maturity. But, I do feel that in cases where my child is drinking anyways- and I can't control their behavior, then I should at least be able to supervise their behavior.

Where To Find Free Kids Clothes, Toys, Books, and More!

As a foster parent, free things are one of my favorite things. I love finding good deals on quality clothes, toys, books, kids bedroom furniture, and an array of other things. I can keep 'extras' of stuff I find on stock to give to new kiddos when they come into my home. I can also help the birth parents of my past foster kiddos, if they come to me and are in need of a specific item (acceptable gym shoes for their teenager or school clothes, etc). Finding free things is easier than most people think. Online there a variety of places dedicated to helping people get rid of things they no longer use and putting them in the hands of people who actually could use them.

Craigslist: Probably the most widely known classifieds site in the world, Craigslist has a 'free' section where people often give away items- usually they'll have them packaged on the curb or in the yard of their house and all you have to do is be the first person to pick them up!

Kijiji: This site is run by eBay, but is almost exactly like Craigslist. Once again there is a 'free' section where you can find great deals and snatch up some awesome items that other people aren't using anymore.

Hoobly: Again, this site is a lot like the last two listed. It's a classifieds site that has a 'free' section where you can pick up an array of awesome items.

Listia: If you're like me, you probably like giving as much as you like getting! If that's the case then listia is the site for you. On this site you can auction off your old items and earn 'credits'. With those credits you can turn around and purchase new items offered on the site. It's just like eBay, except no money is involved. You simply ship the items people bid on to them. And then bid on their items in return!

Swapstyle: This site 'went out of style' quite a while ago, but there still are a few awesome active members. Swapstyle is an international site and many women from Australia, Europe, and the US use to swap clothing. Most of the clothes are teen girl and adult women sizes- but they do have some kids clothes as well (and lots of accessories like hats and gloves). You can trade in your old clothes for new clothes! I love this for swapping out-dated clothing for more relevant stylish outfits for my kiddos.

Rehash: Just like Swapstyle, Rehash is a great site for swapping clothing with women and girls around the world. This one is a bit more kid-friendly, and actually allows anyone 13 and older to use the site- so you can set up your teen child and let her swap her own clothes! What a fun way to get her excited about geography and fashion!

Freecycle: I LOVE the concept of this site. In an attempt to lessen our burden on mother earth, freecycle was created as a 'free giveaway' site where people can recycle and reuse other people's items. There are different freecycle groups for different locations so you can search different areas near you. Many also have the rule that you need to GIVE as much as you receive. So throw out your used items, and get something you need instead!

Paperbackswap: Just like Swapstyle and Rehash this website allows you to trade items with other people around the world. Except this site is focused on books rather than clothes. I love this site and scavenge thrift shops for cheap books- then get online and trade them for books my kids want!

SwapTree: This site gives you a list of sites like Bookswap where you can trade items with people around the world. There are multiple categories including books, DVDs, CDs, and video games!

Why I Don't Set "Rules" On The First Day A Foster Child Comes Into My Home

Controversial topic time! Woo... *sarcasm. Okay, so a BIG thing that almost ALL foster parents are taught in our 'training' is to create stability for our kids by having rules. And many of us are taught that on the very first day you are supposed to tell your new foster child the house rules. I, on the other hand, HATE this technique and am avidly against it. Let's talk about why I hate it.

1) It immediately creates an environment where the child has set expectations, creating pressure on both of you. I find that sitting down and listing out a series of rules, the first day you meet the child, will only overwhelm everyone involved. The kid will feel pushed into a corner and as they're trying to adjust and fit in- they also now feel like there are -so- many things they could do wrong (which causes a lot of unnecessary grief and panic). Additionally, we as the parents, automatically feel like, since we said the rules exist, we need to immediately start enforcing the rules. Our FIRST priority should not be setting expectations and rules, it should be helping the child cope to, and adjust to this drastic and overwhelming change in their lives. Throw the rules aside for a minute and focus solely on making sure your child is comfortable. If you were just stripped out of your home and put in a strangers house (often with no awareness as to the reason), and then you were told a series of rules to follow- you would feel hurt and scared. BUT if you were put in the same situation, but instead of having rules shoved down your throat- you had a caring adult offer to help you adjust and try to make you comfortable, things would seem a lot better off.

2) For many kids, especially teenagers, authority creates animosity. If you put your foot down the second your child walks into your home you *think* you're making it aware that you're the boss. The truth is, in many teens eyes, you're only creating a challenge for who will become boss. You have to remember it is not the child's choice to be living with you. Can you imagine the anger you would feel if you were forced to live with someone who rather than making you welcome- strictly told you 50 rules you 'need to follow'. That would seem really off-putting. Once again, I feel the first day should be a day to make the kid feel comfortable. It shouldn't be about who's in control, it should be about making sure your kid is okay on their first day.

3) We set the rules later on, once we've gotten to know each other. This way I've gotten to know the kids- I know their habits and I know their personalities a bit. We're also more open to chatting with each other about the things. I -always- involve my kids in the 'rule making'. They have a say in their consequences and expectations. See my "Dawn's House Rules" posts for more information on my "rules". But once I know the kids, I also know what motivates them and what matters to them. If my kid comes home from school every day and does their homework- why should I create a rule saying "You need to get your homework done.". They obviously already do it. Instead of wasting my time on enforcing a rule that I don't -need- to enforce, I'd focus my attention on other things, that do need improvement. Knowing the kids, allows me to know what rules I should create. If they struggle with cursing- then I know I need to make a rule about language. But if they don't use bad language, why should I waste my breath setting a rule that will never need enforced anyways? Get what I'm saying here? If you raise a child from birth, you'll set rules as they need to be set. If your child is kicking another kid, you'll create a 'no kicking' rule. But until they act a certain way- you'll probably never tell them *not* to act that way. Treat your foster children the same way. Expect that they will be great kids, and when they do make a mistake- correct them and create an appropriate rule prohibiting such behavior.

We are often taught at the beginning of foster parent training that we must set clear, concise rules immediately. And I just don't follow that 'rule', myself. Call me a bit of a rebel, a rule-breaker if you must. But I feel like rules should be made for a reason. Rules shouldn't be made simply to attain control, they should be made to teach kids 'right and wrong' by setting examples and learning from past mistakes.

November Foster Parent Bucket List

Make A Thanksgiving Dinner (Or Entree) Together: Involve your child in Thanksgiving dinner preperation. Even though it can oftentimes be hectic and nerve-wracking for you- imagine how hectic it must feel for your child. So many sure to include them, don't let them feel left out on this holiday. Cook a meal TOGETHER and let them help when they can.

Go To A Movie: Take a trip to a movie theater once this month. It's a great way to treat your kid- and also give them a chance to see a movie they've wanted to. Let them pick. It will give you guys a fun discussion peice and a neat way to spend a few hours relaxing.

Visit A "Black Friday" Event: Granted, not all Black Friday sales are child friendly. But wait until later in the day and visit one of the busiest shopping days of the year. It's a neat experience nonetheless. And even if you don't buy anything- the excitement of everyone else is pretty fun to watch.

Go On A Dollar Store Shopping Spree: Treat your kiddo to $15 to $20 for them to spend at their own will at the Dollar Tree. It's a fun way for your kid to get some new things, learn money management skills, and discover smart shopping.

Visit A Local Art Museum: Discover the world of creativity by taking a day to visit a local art museum. Inspire your child's own artist inside by walking into the imaginations of others through paintings, drawings, sculptures, and more.