With the holiday season approaching, we get together with people from many backgrounds, and hopefully some current and former foster youth will be included among them. Many former foster youths have shared some of the best intentioned, yet worst things said to them over the holidays.
During these get-togethers, you should avoid saying these five things to a foster youth.
1. Do You Miss Your Real Parents?
Obviously, this common question isn’t meant to be hurtful, but there are various reasons why every child in foster care has reached this point. Many of them have great relationships with their biological parents, but some don’t.
While we may be curious, it really isn’t anyone else’s business whether the youth misses or doesn’t miss their parents, so then it is better to just not bring it up.
2. I Understand What You Are Going Through
Empathy is a great quality, but unless you have been in foster care yourself you really don’t know what these youths have experienced. Each one of them has their own unique story and wanting to let them know that they are not alone is understandable but saying you understand from experience is just not the same.
The world needs more empathetic people so please don’t stop lending an understanding ear, just don’t go down this path.
3. You Are So Lucky
Although this statement is obviously not meant to be demeaning, it comes off that way. These kids have been through a lot and may not feel lucky even though they are in a safer situation. Whether they do or don’t is irrelevant and no one can say what they are feeling, so rather leave lucky for a different conversation.
4. I Wish I Didn’t Have to Deal with My Parents
One of the ways that many people deflect is with humor because it is easy to fill silent or awkward situations, but this doesn’t mean that is the best practice. Rather than joking about your family’s problems it would be better to avoid talking about them.
5. You Don’t Look Like a Foster Kid
Okay, so what does a foster kid look like? This is a highly offensive statement that reduces the independence and individuality of each child in foster care. The youth in foster care don’t look the same, they don’t sound the same and they definitely don’t share the same experiences; each one of them is unique.
Instead, ask them about their studies or what they find exciting about learning, rather than commenting on their appearance.
We believe that these statements were made with good intentions, which, when it comes to spending time with youth in foster care, can unfortunately, often miss the mark. It would be better to not bring it up or comment on it. Rather let them enjoy the moment without being reminded they are in foster care.
If you are in the Dallas and Fort Worth area and you have a heart to help foster youth, Kids First is here to help you help them. Through our training, you’ll be fully equipped to deal with all the new situations you’ll find yourself in. Contact us today to see how we can work together.