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What To Do When Your Foster Child Is Bullying Another Student

Bullying is a huge issue, whether or not your child is going through a rough time- they have no right to bring other children down. And it's important to raise awareness of bullying in children. You should never tolerate your child being unnecessarily cruel to someone- but at the same time, it's important to look for the root of the problem- and rather than simply discipline your child, encourage better behavior. So what do you do- when you find out your child was bullying?

Listen to the victim: Get the victim's side of the story first. Listen to the parent, child, school counselor, or some other person who can tell you an honest account of what your child was doing. Explain you want the facts, as honest as they can be given, about what your child did- so you can make sure to fix the issue as realistically as possible.

Get their side of the story: Before you judge your child or even lecture them- sit them down and ask them why they did what they did. Listen to their side of the story without judgement or interruption. Ask questions when you don't understand what they are saying. But truly listen to your child. It will let them know that you are FAIR because you also offered them to explain themselves. And rather than immediately jumping to conclusions- you got their side of the story as well.

Explain why their behavior is not okay: Once your child finishes explaining themselves, let them know why what they did was not okay. It hurt the other kids feelings, it disrupted the teacher's lesson, it made them look mean to other people round them.

Have them apologize to the other student: The only appropriate thing to do after an issue like this occurs, is to make sure your child apologizes. Have them write a letter, make a phone call, or meet the child at school (or at their house). Make them write an honest and thorough apology for their actions. And also make them promise to not let the same actions occur again.

Invite the other student over for an activity: One of my favorite things to do in a 'bully situation' is to have the victim over to my house and force my child to interact with them kindly. Why do I do this? For a variety of reasons. When my child gets to know the kid they were bullying, they are more likely not to bully them in the future. They learn how to develop positive relationships. They learn about forgiveness and human nature to trust again. They learn how to be kind- and find positive attributes in the other person. A few hours of time together, and most kids can be forced to get along.

Have them attend an anti-bullying campaign: There are anti-bullying campaigns held all over the country. And they're a great way to promote kindness and understanding amongst kids. Have your child attend one! Trust me- they'll leave the event with an entirely new attitude.

Watch a bullying documentary: There are quite a few documentaries on bullying in America. Make an effort to have your child watch real-life accounts of the issues kids face with bullies. It will show them the perspective of the victim, which can open their eyes and lessen their meanness.

Offer alternative ideas: Together, work with your child to create a list of alternative ways to deal with an issue- other than being mean.

        Talk it out: Let your child know that there are other ways to get their point across. If a child is doing something that makes them mad- teach them how to tell them nicely to stop. There is always a better way to say things than to bully.

        Tell an authority figure about an issue: If they have an issue with another child, rather than bullying them- tell an authority figure (teacher, school counselor, principal) about the issue.

        Ignore "Annoying": When someone annoys your child, let them know that is NOT a reason to bully them. So rather than being mean, just simply ignore them.

What It's Like To "Date" As A Foster Parent

At twenty-two, being a single foster parent raises a lot of questions. And one of the most common is whether or not I date- and if I do date, how exactly does the entire 'relationship thing' work for me? I've dated as a foster parent, but I've also devoted 99% of my time to my kids- which always have and always will be my "number one". With that being said, I do feel that this is an important topic- especially for younger single individuals interested in fostering. How do I do it? And what is it like?
Let me start by saying that I don't go out searching for dates, but when the opportunity arises- I try to keep myself open to potential partners. If I happen to see the same person at the library each time I bring my kids around, and we happen to hit it off, and they happen to ask me out to coffee- I'll usually say yes. But I am very protective of myself and my children. I do feel it's important that I don't do 'blind dates' and I don't do 'random dates' and I do don't 'online dating'. I basically don't set myself up to go on a date with someone who could end up being a big mistake. I need to get to know the person first. It could be a coworker or an acquaintance I've met many times. But it does need to be someone who I have built up a past relationship with, so I can move forward knowing that they actually are a decent human being.


If I accept a date, the next big concern arises, which is my schedule. I have a very closed-schedule. I don't use 'respite care' (which are people who drive your children to visitations or attend therapy with them in your place or babysit them for you periodically). I choose to be as involved as possible. So 99% of the time I will be with my child- and my child will have 100% of my attention while I'm with them. There are a few instances when dates seem to work. Lunch-time dates, where we're meeting while my child in school tends to work great. Other times that work well are when my child is at an approved-sleepover with friends or at a private visitation with their family. A big test for any potential partner of mine is whether or not they have the patience to wait it out for an 'open moment', and whether or not they can understand that my child(ren) will always have most of my time.

Speaking of my kids- they are never involved in any of my romantic endeavors. They don't meet the person. They're not even aware that I'm dating. It's a private affair and everything is kept separate. My kids come first, my dates come second. And in order to create a sense of stability for my kids- the dates are kept completely separate from them.

With that being said- what do I do when I've been dating someone for many months and they've shown interest in my kids? Essentially we've made a healthy, positive connection, and I feel that they would be a good influence on my kids. Do I introduce them? Not right away. First I will require them to get a background check. A bit of an uncomfortable topic- but I had to get one to become a foster parent, and they need to get one to meet my foster kids. I will talk to my kids about it ahead of time. With teenagers I'm 100% open with them. With younger children I simply explain to them that I have 'a new friend I'd like them to meet'. I ask the kids if they WANT to meet them. If not- we don't meet. If they do, we'll just have a chill activity at the house where the kids can get to know them and vice/versa. I've only been in one relationship while fostering- and it went relatively well. We eventually realized we were better off as friends, but the man I was with continues to be a positive part of my foster parenting and is a great male role-model for all of my kids. 

Dating as a foster parent is entirely different than dating under any other circumstances. It's difficult, but it can also be very rewarding (in cases like mine where I met someone who may not have been 'the one', but is certainly a great friend who continually makes an effort to be a great male influence on my kids).

YA (Young Adult- Teen) Books About Foster Children

I believe reading with your child can open up so many discussions, and can really become a therapeutic (and educationally inspiring) activity that both you and your child can enjoy together. I am always on the look out for fantastic books that feature a child in foster care. Here is a list of a few of my favorites. Feel free to add your choices in the comment section below!

Harry Potter (Series): Harry Potter follows the trials of a young boy, who's parents passed away, and he was adopted by his very cruel aunt and uncle. At age 11, Harry discovers he is in fact a wizard- by the blood of his very own parents. The story follows Harry as he attends wizarding school and finds love and contentment amongst the people there. He discovers that 'family' and 'home' aren't always with blood relatives- but rather with friends and the people who love you most.

Series of Unfortunate Events (Series): This murder-mystery series follows the journey of three siblings who's parents pass away in a house fire. They lose all of their belongings and are sent to live with different relatives and foster parents (whom they have never meant before). The books are relatively sad (as they involve a series of unfortunate events), but have the uplifting message of sibling bonds and the love of strangers.

American Girl: Samantha (Series): The popular American Girl series of Samantha, features the life of a wealthier girl in the mid 1900s. Samantha's best friend, Nellie is an orphan. The stories revolve around Samantha's and Nellie's friendship, and how being sisters doesn't mean you must be blood-related.

Pictures of Hollis Woods: This brilliant tale of a teenage girl in foster care follows Hollis Woods. The book tells a beautiful story of a foster child who leaves a loving family who had the intent to adopt her, and finds herself placed in the home of a woman who needs Hollis, more than Hollis needs her. This story shows that love can come in many forms, and fate works miracles in unique ways.

Julie of the Wolves: Julie is a 13 year old girl, who in the beginning of the story loses both her mother and father at different points in her life. She is sent away to live with her foster parent aunt- who tells her she can leave her house if she marries a certain boy. Julie's life seems to be miserably held together and in an attempt to find happiness she decides to try and venture her way to her pen-pal in California. In the wilderness she teams up with a pack of wolves to survive, finding family amidst the creatures.

A Tundra Tale: A Tundra Tale is an arctic fairytale novel based on Alaskan folklore, with a paranormal twist. The book follows Olive, and an orphan girl named Sasha, as they adventure into the tundra in the hopes of helping a ghost named Charlotte pass on from the dead. (SPOILER: In the end of the book Olive adopts Sasha, and both of them realize that family and a mother/daughter bond does not need blood ties to be real).

Anne of Green Gables (Series):
This infamous novel follows the charming and lovable Anne- an orphan who is mistakenly sent to an older couple who had intended to adopt a boy to help them on their farm. Anne is sent instead, and the couple eventually falls for her charm. Along the way Anne discovers how family truly can change someone's life, and that love is always worth fighting for.

October Foster Parent Bucket List

Send Halloween Goodie Bags To Siblings/ Birth Parents/ Relatives: Pick out some candy together, and make treat bags for your child's siblings, birth parents, and relatives. It's a good way to keep them connected during the holidays- as well as allows your child to celebrate Halloween with their birth family (even if their birth family can't be there physically).

Carve Pumpkins: Pumpkin carving is fun for people of all ages. It's messy and artistic and creative. Not to mention you can cook the seeds, and the fruit of the pumpkin in pumpkin pie! There are so many more activities aside from simply carving!

Pick Out Halloween Costumes: Let your child pick out any costume they want. Halloween for many foster children was an independant activity and they may have never had the chance to have a fancy costume. So treat them this year, and let them be whatever they want.

Go Trick-Or-Treating: Trick-Or-Treating is an activity that is widely participated in on October 31st. Dress your kiddo up, and head out to collect some candy. There's no better way to spend a Halloween night than treating a sweet tooth- and then soothing a tummy ache.

Attend A Football Game: Whether it's a high school homecoming game or a professional NFL event- football games are fun ways for your child to celebrate their team pride and experience new things. It's just a fun way to have fun together.