Christmas is a special time of the year for young people, but it can also be hard for some foster children. Traditionally, Christmas is a time of year where families come together to celebrate and share memories, but for foster children, it can be depressing or sad. They have been separated from their family and may have trauma or bad memories of the holidays. Christmas can be the perfect time to make foster children feel special, welcome, loved, safe and welcome.
Here’s three Christmas tips and reminders for foster families and those of us supporting foster families:
- Remember every child will have a different concept, memory or way of celebrating Christmas. Some foster children may not even know what Christmas is. Being mindful of each child’s circumstances, beliefs and experiences can make or break the holidays.
As foster parents, it is important to embrace that some children may have bad experiences associated with Christmas, and may require a more subdue celebration. You may even need to work with your children to help them feel comfortable and see the true meaning of Christmas. Take time to answer their questions and read them books to understand the meaning of Christmas.
- The holidays can also be a reminder of their biological families and the fact they are separated from them. When a child has only been in a foster home for a short while, it can be intimidating to wake up on Christmas morning to a family sharing memories, laughing together and loving each other. They may also struggle with feeling as though they are abandoning or being disloyal to their own families if they enjoy Christmas with you.
Be mindful of the surroundings you put a child in and ask them what will make them comfortable. Also, depending on their circumstances, gift giving may be a foreign concept and they may need some additional guidance.
- Finally, talk with your child about their Christmas traditions and work together to blend your own traditions with theirs to help them feel more comfortable. This could be as simple as cooking one of their favorite Christmas meals together or opening gifts on Christmas Eve and not Christmas Day.
Christ gave mercy, love and understanding, and that is what these children need during the Christmas season. What better way to tell the story of a Savior being born to love and save the world, then to shine his light and love during the holidays?
Written by Jorie Morrison, a Buckner foster care home developer/case manager in Amarillo, Texas