Remaining connected to your culture is key to a sense of identity. Children in foster care usually come from a very unstable situation, and your home is a refuge from instability.
By respecting and including their culture throughout their time with you, you are helping them to feel secure in both who they are and where they are currently.
Cultural Diversity in Foster Care
The United States is home to cultures of all shapes and sizes. Beliefs and customs vary from town to town, let alone group to group, and this can cause challenges when it comes to being a foster parent.
If your foster child comes from a different culture than yours, it is important to include their beliefs and customs in order to make them feel at home.
Ignoring their background can be detrimental to their growth, as it could make your home, that is already not theirs, feel even more like something out of the ordinary.
Our cultures are what help us feel connected to other people, and when a child is in foster care, feeling connected is a crucial component to keep them going during a tumultuous time in their lives.
Diversity and Foster Families
One of the challenges you may face as part of a diverse foster family is that you may have preconceived thoughts about the culture your foster child comes from, and they have preconceived thoughts about yours.
Everyone develops stereotypes — however, the key is that you, even more than them, must be willing to learn.
If their culture is different from yours, there are going to be teaching moments where you must listen to the child and learn about their culture. There are going to be times when you need to do research on your own. There’s no one way to get this right except to keep an open mind and be willing to learn.
How Do I Support Their Culture?
Supporting the culture of a child in your care that differs from your own may seem like an impossible task — but it’s not!
You do not have to step too far outside of your comfort zone to make the child feel at home, especially if you take baby steps.
Learn about the culture, and, like we mentioned before, talk to the child. Listen and find out what they want and the types of traditions, activities and celebrations that their culture is used to that yours is not and vice versa.
Here are a few ways to do that:
- Perhaps there are holidays or events that you do not personally celebrate that would make your child feel a lot more welcome if you did. Find out what those are and incorporate them into your life, too. The same goes if there are celebrations that your culture celebrates that theirs does not.
- Talk to members of that specific community and ask what you could do, as well. There are many people who would love to help you support the child’s culture.
- Include your child in social events and gatherings with people who match their cultural beliefs. Keep them engaged with activities that are about them.
What If I Don’t Know What I’m Doing?
It’s completely fine to not know what you are doing. You are providing a stable, loving home to your foster child and bridging the gap between cultures is a big undertaking.
You can do it, and your child will feel that much more loved and part of something bigger than themselves because you made an effort to keep them immersed in their culture while in foster care.
KidLink Community Services, located in Brentwood, Tennessee, is here to help with your foster care needs. Whether you are thinking about fostering a child, need therapeutic services for your foster child, or are thinking about fostering to adopt, we are here for you.
Contact us today by calling 877-714-1313. Our foster care experts are available to answer any questions about foster care.