This week I am tired.
The kind of tiredness that doesn’t exist for a particular reason, more of a weariness that is joined by a reluctance to participate in the normal routines of life! As I look through my facebook memories, a wonderful time capsule of thoughts and moments of my little world, it appears that this time of year I am struck down in much the same way. Now we all know that 2020 has thrown out a new reason to be exhausted, both physically and mentally. Our relationships with those we share a home with may be stretched, and understandably so. Whether you are currently experiencing a second lockdown, or attempting to strike a balance in this new socially distant ‘normal’; anxiety, stress and frustrations are undoubtedly a driving force in your reactions to your world. Now, let’s throw in some challenging behaviours of neuroatypical children, re-establishing family contact and attempting to conduct therapies over facetime, and you have every reason in the world to find yourself rocking in a corner with the cooking chocolate! Over the past few months I have found a need to equip myself with quick skills and reminders to share Grace with those around me, to ensure that our relationships come through this period intact and potentially, even strengthened. I have looked to the Grace Based Parenting Book by Dr Tim Kimmel and videos he has provided online from a Grace Based Foster Parenting Conference. Here are my few takeaways: 1- Freedom to...be vulnerable, candid, make mistakes and be different. Here is my home, we have 6 children between 2 and 13. It doesn’t matter what genetics they have, they are all different from each other (and from me!) While I say this routinely, there is still a little part of my parenting that attempts to coerce them to be more of what I understand, which ultimately, is to be more like me. The idea that tapping on the table, might be annoying, but isn’t morally wrong, so therefore may not need a reprimand, isn’t particularly earth shattering, but by leading with a little bit of grace on my part that it is ok for each child to have their quirks, it can bring a new level of peace to my home. 2 - Reaching for the Heart. Providing any kid with a Secure love, Significant Purpose and Strength through Hope is important, but how much more necessary is it for a child in crisis? The crisis may be when they are first removed from their family of origin, or it could be because they are living through a pandemic. Reaching for our child's heart is more valuable than always teaching them what to do. I coach my daughter’s entball team and when I think back to my years as a young netball player, I don’t remember who was in my team each season or what games we won, but I do remember how each coach made me feel. There is a balance to sending my young team of netballers out onto the court with the appropriate skills to be competitive in the game with the confidence and desire to want to play. The same needs to be said for the kids in our home. Reaching the hearts of our children and providing in them a desire to be as whole as they can be, will have more lasting effects then always telling them what to be. 3 - Respond. Don’t React. If I am honest, this is the hardest thing for a red headed Mum! I may not be known outside of my home for having a fiery temper, but inside our 4 walls I can be very quick to take away all screens for a month or some other disastrous reaction that I make in the moment. Learning to respond to questions, conflict and other situations with Grace takes discipline. I had a friend who used to set a kitchen timer for 5 minutes in the heat of an argument. Once the timer went on the argument had to be paused and each person took a breath to think through their response. I tend to find that when I take a moment, I realise that my reaction is being driven by other outlying stressors rather than what is happening at that moment. We certainly have plenty of outlying stressors in today’s current climate and as foster families, learning this skill is helping me show Grace, but it is also providing me with moments for God’s grace to dwell in my life. The Grace Based Foster Parenting conference and book don't provide all the answers, and they certainly are not the only parenting advice out there, but the knowledge I have gained is another tool in my parenting toolbelt. As our kids keep growing, and our family's too, it is vital that we continue to equip ourselves. We are our best as foster parents and people when we are capable and competent of providing the same Grace that has been shown to us by a loving Father, no matter the circumstances.
If you are interested in journeying with us through an online community that will look more in depth to Grace Based Foster Parenting and ways you can implement it into your life, join us here. Our next group will start on August 5th, 2020.
You can be a part of the discussion, watch the videos and be encouraged by other foster carers.