Earlier this year, I became a dad. But the kids I am “dad” to currently didn’t give me 9 months of mental preparation. (If there is such a thing!)
As I’ve shared on the blog before, becoming a foster dad has been a journey of not knowing what to expect. If you are a foster dad, are married to one, or are simply considering what this would look like, here’s the truth:
Being a foster dad is the most beautiful opportunity to invest in the lives of children who come from hard places. It’s a rewarding, exciting, and purpose-filled experience.
But it’s really hard. Like it is for any parent, there are many days when it feels like you don’t have anything left to give. When it feels like you’re in way over your head. When it feels like you actually don’t have what it takes.
So we wanted to share some truths for foster dads to remember. Whether you’re in a mountaintop season or a valley season, these five truths are things that I regularly repeat to myself to remind me of why what I’m doing matters, and why it matters that I’m doing it.
So here are 5 important truths for foster dads to remember:
1. You are modeling the love of our Heavenly Father for your kids.
This is such a motivator for why what you’re doing matters.
No matter what your child’s story is, you have the ability to communicate that you will protect them, provide for them, challenge them, and love them, no matter what.
Why is this so important?
Because your example helps provide a tangible perception of just how much more their Heavenly Father protects them, provides for them, challenges them, and loves them, no matter what.
2. Your influence is as crucial as your provision.
It’s easy for us as men to get hyper-focused on how we’re providing for our family. (That’s not a bad thing!) We like to ensure that we are providing the resources, finances, and support necessary for our family to be safe and strong.
But it’s important to remember, especially when you’re fostering, that your influence is just as important as your provision. The time you spend with the kids in your home is an opportunity to intentionally invest in their growth and build a meaningful relationship with them.
Just remember that they need your love, your presence, and your support, just as much as they need those things from your spouse.
3. You have to know your personal “why.”
If you would have asked my why we were pursuing foster care when we were going through our training classes, my honest answer would have been, “Because it’s something my wife feels we need to pursue.”
Whether you sometimes feel that way or not, here’s the point: If you don’t know your personal “why,” it’ll be really hard to stay steady when the journey gets hard.
So take some time to consider these questions: Why are you doing foster care? Why do you believe it’s important? Why does your role as a foster dad matter?
4. You need to be as slow to anger as possible.
Can I admit something?
Sometimes I get angry. Sometimes I yell. Sometimes I feel inadequate and get frustrated. And sometimes I overreact.
We all do it at some point.
But here’s what I’ve realized: Reacting out of any level of anger perpetuates the cycle of fear that our kids came into care with.
James 1:19 says, “Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger…” As dads, let’s commit to respond rather than react to our children. Let’s be intentional about how we speak to them. And let’s be intentional not to fault them for the environment they grew up in.
5. Your marriage has to remain your priority.
Finally, in the busyness of life with any number of kids, it’s so easy to prioritize our kids above our marriage. And when those kids have a higher level of needs, it makes it even harder to be intentional about our marriage.
But here’s my plea: Don’t let your marriage go on autopilot. Because strong marriages are the foundation of strong families.
Make time for deep conversation. Take date nights. Enjoy time with each other. Make space for intimacy. Communicate clearly to your spouse that they are your priority.
That’s my list! What would you add? Or which of these connected the most with you?
Austin is the Managing Director and regularly blogs at 95Network. He and his wife, Larisa, are new foster parents, and are along for the ride! Austin holds a Communications degree from Moody Bible Institute and is passionate about seeing churches grow healthier and make a difference in their communities.
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