School’s Out, What is a Foster or Adoptive Parent to Do?

School is out and your family’s lifestyle is about to change. The transition to summer break can cause fear and dread in a foster or adoptive parent’s heart. A child who has a background of trauma typically thrives with routine and a familiar structure to their life. Boundaries and an order to their day help the child feel safe. When life is in flux and there are changes, the child may act out and try to exert control over their environment and the adults who are in charge of him or her. Tantrums, whining, control battles, and grumpy attitudes may occur. What can foster or adoptive parents do to ensure a summer of success?

Schedule time for Mom- parenting a child who comes from a background of harm is tiring. Moms need to prioritize and plan in time to recharge their battery. Many times the child’s worst behavior is directed towards the mom. The early blueprint of what a mom is like is deeply ingrained into the child’s subconscious set of beliefs. Even though the adoptive or foster mom may be very loving and kind, the child acts out of their first experience of what a mom is like. It can take years to rewire  ideas and instill that the current mom is not the past mom and the child will not be abandoned, hurt or neglected again. If you are a foster or adoptive mom, I want to encourage you to hang in there and keep loving your child and providing the consistent care and attention that your child needs to get a more accurate picture of you and of God. To provide the care your child needs, you will need to carve out time for yourself. How can you do this?

Some questions to ask yourself:
What rejuvenates me?
Do I prefer to be with people or take time to be by myself?
Can I plan a mom’s night out with a friend?
Is there a new book or TV series I am interested in?
Can I learn a new craft through You Tube or from a friend?
Where in my day or week could I schedule some time for myself?

Be prepared for challenges- our expectations of what the summer and transitions are like are very important. Our thoughts have the power to lead us to a place of frustration and desperation or to a place of patience and perseverance. How does your child react under stress? Are they more likely to say hurtful things to you, complain about being bored, pull away from the family and retreat to their room, pick a fight with a sibling, or make messes around the house? If you expect some difficulties and know your triggers then you can make a plan.

Some questions to ask yourself:
How does my child react under stress?
What behaviors should I prepare for?
What are my triggers and the behaviors that really upset me?
Which areas of discipline are most important to focus on right now? Are there areas I should be more flexible?
Are there things I can do ahead of time to deal with challenges and my child’s stress response?

Connect with your child- summer is a great time to relax and spend time with your child and deepen your relationship. During the summer, there are many wonderful opportunities that can help our children grow and gain knowledge and skills. Parents often utilize the time off from school to hire tutors, sign their child up for sports and send their children to camps. Positive input and healthy relationships with other adults and children are good things and can grow our children’s brains and self-confidence. With all the options though, parents can lose focus and not leave room in the schedule to connect as a family.

Some questions to ask yourself:
What are some fun activities that I can do with my child during the summer?
Is there a way we can serve others in our community together?

A Few Summer Activity Ideas: watermelon seed spitting, catching lightening bugs, jumping rope, making mud pies or a volcano out of mud (baking soda and vinegar mixed together are the lava), camping in your backyard, playing flashlight tag, or making homemade ice cream. Be creative, the ideas are endless!

This summer, be sure to keep the end goal of your parenting in mind. Take care of yourself, and remember that by providing the love, care and attention your child needs, you are helping them overcome the effects of trauma and mature into the young person that God intends for them to be.

And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man. Luke 2:52

Renee is a life coach who specializes in working with foster and adoptive parents.  She helps families identify areas of concern, provides training to help them understand the root cause of their struggles and through coaching, helps families apply proven tools and techniques, needed to address their underlying difficulties. You can find more information about her services at you may contact Renee at  Her Facebook page is

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