No saints around here

“I couldn’t do what you do”, “how do you hand them back – doesn’t it break your heart?’, “aren’t you frightened of allegations?” – these are all phrases seasoned carers are used to. I have noticed that the longer that we care and the more people are aware of our situation and life style, the more likely people speak about you in a demi-god like way. For many of the right reasons foster carers are starting to take their place in society as robust change makers who are doing a hard job.

Of course we are happy to accept this praise! Who wouldn’t be. It is nice to be held in peoples esteem at this level. Who doesn’t like to feel that they are involved in a special work that has a legacy like few others. I do feel however that it is important that we out ourselves here though.

I have had moments of profound therapeutic influence which I have been really proud of but there have also been times where I have hit the absolute roof and shouted and screamed just like any parent. I have been calm as young people have unloaded on me and wondered about what’s going on for them and I have been on the verge of throttling them after more abuse at the end of a hard day at work.

Foster carers are not superheroes they are normal people who have decided to go the extra mile. We are fallible, just as likely to make rubbish decisions and can be triggered into the worst version of ourselves just like anyone else. The people who get better at this are the ones who reflect and analyse their behaviour – it’s that simple but there are plenty of falls, trip and encounters along the way that can make us embarrassed and feel like any other parent.

So don’t treat foster carers like saints but do treat them like human beings who are thinking about tomorrow. Support them, let them shout and scream, let them cry, let them laugh, let them be people. Any good carer knows that they are no different to anyone else so the phrases above will never hold water for them. There are no saints in my house, just people figuring it out along the way. The best people I have around me are the ones who know that I’m a goon but love me anyway and say things like “do you want the afternoon off?, “you’re looking tired, are you ok?” or “I know it’s hard but keep going you are making a difference, I can see it”. They are the people that foster carers need and those are the kind of comments that do us good!

James

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