Blog: Other People's Children®

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PodcastJune 1, 2023

Listen to a Great Interview on The D-Shift Podcast

I had a wonderful time on the D-Shift Podcast with Mardi Winder-Adams. We discussed the importance of being there for kids and always having their back - especially during times of divorce or when they are in foster care...

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Foster ParentingMay 30, 2023

How to Help Kids Aging Out of Foster Care

The last day of this month, which has focused on foster care, very appropriately is National Aging Out of Foster Care Awareness Day. It’s a day to consider the almost 23,000 kids who age out of foster care every year, many of whom have no safety net. They can’t go back to family for various reasons, and they haven’t connected to a foster family...

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Childhood TraumaMay 25, 2023

Four Important Principles for Letting Our Kids Bounce Off Us

In my last post, I discussed why we need to let our kids emotionally bounce off us. In this post, I discuss how to do that. Here are some important principles that I have learned for dealing with kids in the moment...

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Childhood TraumaMay 23, 2023

What It Means to Let Our Kids Bounce Off Us and Why It's Important

One essential and hard-to learn skill is knowing how to respond when our kids are angry, unhappy, having a meltdown, or simply reject us. Children who have suffered trauma are particularly liable to react in all of these ways. The best thing we can do as parents of those children is...

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Parenting TechniquesMay 18, 2023

Is Less Supervision the Solution to Childhood Depression?

The Journal of Pediatrics recently published an article arguing persuasively that a major cause of the current epidemic in childhood anxiety and depression is that we supervise our children too much. With the best of intentions, the authors argue, we are depriving our children of important opportunities to become self-confident and independent...

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Parenting TechniquesMay 16, 2023

How To Keep a Good Relationship with Adult Children Still Living at Home

As the school year ends, many of us will face the conundrum of high school graduates who don’t plan to continue in school or college graduates who come back home while they search for a career. On the one hand, most graduates are legal adults, with the right to manage their own lives. On the other hand, few young adults in...

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Parenting TechniquesMay 11, 2023

Five Ways to Deal with Being Overlooked on Mothers’ and Fathers’ Days

When raising other people’s children, it’s easy to start hating Mothers’ Day and Fathers’ Day. It’s a bit like being single on Valentine’s Day. All of the attention goes to biological parents, and foster parents or stepparents are left on their own. Fortunately, there are some helpful ways we can prepare ourselves to avoid disappointment...

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Foster ParentingMay 9, 2023

Foster Parents Often Feel Alone, But Three Ideas Can Help

As we consider foster parenting this month, one rarely-discussed problem is how lonely the challenge can be. Raising another person’s child carries unique obligations. Your friends who have not dealt with the complex needs of foster children and...

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Parenting TechniquesMay 4, 2023

An Object Lesson in How to Prepare Children to Handle a Crisis

One story that has been all over the Internet recently is the 7th-grader who safely stopped a school bus after his bus driver passed out. Some background that hasn’t been getting a lot of attention are the skills that may have come into play when he needed them...

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Foster ParentingMay 2, 2023

Four Important Reasons to Be a Foster Parent

May is National Foster Care Month, and a good time for me to answer a question I hear a lot, namely why anyone should become a foster parent. Raising other people’s children is a challenging, often frustrating, task, but it also can be incredibly rewarding. This week...

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Parenting SkillsApril 27, 2023

Three Ways to Help Our Kids Learn Work Skills

Today is “National Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day,” and a good time to think about what we can teach our kids about work skills. Schools can teach them content, but we may be the only people who can teach them the attitudes and soft skills they need. There are several important steps we can take to let...

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Foster ParentingApril 25, 2023

Three Ways to Find Mental Health Help for Foster Kids

Perhaps the greatest challenge facing foster parents is finding help for our kids’ mental health challenges. One study estimates that up to 80% of children in foster care have mental health issues. The American Academy of Pediatrics says, “Mental and behavioral health is the largest unmet health need for children...

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Parenting TechniquesApril 20, 2023

The Power of Hanging Out With Our Kids

Schedules are crowded these days, and most of our kids have their days structured from bedtime to bedtime. It’s easy to forget the power of just hanging out together. I had a strong reminder of that point recently. These days, my husband and I are taking a break from foster care in favor of mentoring young...

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Media AppearancesApril 18, 2023

The Counter Culture Mom Show Looks At Commitment, Boundaries, and Unconditional Love

Tina Griffin has a phenomenal website at, as well as a dynamic podcast. Join us as we discussed commitment, boundaries...

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StepparentingApril 13, 2023

Three Ways to Cope with Toxic Biological Parents

A big challenge for many blended families is dealing with toxic biological parents. I didn’t have conflicts with my stepsons’ biological mother, but I had a lot of conflict with my foster children’s parents. I have never had the good fortune of being able to be friends with any of them; I was simply unable to look beyond...

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StepparentingApril 11, 2023

Four Ways to Encourage Step-Sibling Relationships

One of the hardest parts of blending families can be getting two sets of children to form a family, or even be willing to try. Few, if any, blended families find themselves in “Brady Bunch” territory. Fortunately, a few important principles can increase our odds of having our kids get along. This week of National...

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Childhood TraumaApril 6, 2023

Six Ways to Help Our Children Stay Hopeful

In my last post, I discussed hope as a way of looking at life, and specifically a trait that we can learn and develop. Today, I want to consider some ways that we can practice that trait, as well as helping our kids be more hopeful...

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Childhood TraumaApril 4, 2023

Three Destructive Myths About Hope and How to Counter Them

This week, Passover starts, Christians are looking forward to Easter, and the weather in most places is turning towards spring. It’s a time of hope and looking forward to new beginnings. Hope is essential for people parenting other people’s children. This week I want to think about how to understand and find hope in...

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Parenting TechniquesMarch 30, 2023

Why and How to Have to Have Difficult Conversations With Our Children

Therapists and other relationship experts talk a lot about the importance of communicating with our kids. Experienced parents who aren’t mental health professionals (like me) agree that open communication is important. It can be very hard to do that, though, particularly when our kids tell us something that we...

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Parenting TechniquesMarch 28, 2023

Why We Need to Love Our Kids Unconditionally and Set Boundaries for Them

One of the most important things we can give our kids is unconditional love. They need to know that, whatever mistakes they make, we still love and care about them. At the same time, we have to establish clear boundaries for them. Knowing how to offer unconditional acceptance while enforcing boundaries for...

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Self CareMarch 23, 2023

The Best Reason To Keep Trying With Our Kids

This Saturday is Tolkien Reading Day, so it’s time for my annual look at what one of my favorite authors can teach us about raising other people’s children. This year, I’ve been thinking about how to stay optimistic in the face of all of our and our kids’ challenges...

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PodcastMarch 21, 2023

Check Out My Conversation with Family Twist

The Family Twist podcast and I had a grand time discussing foster parenting, how to explore starting as foster parents, and what to expect.

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Childhood TraumaMarch 16, 2023

What If Our Kids' Bad Habits Are Actually Out-of-Place Skill Sets?

An incredibly frustrating part of parenting children who have suffered trauma is understanding why they do some of the wrong-headed and counterproductive things they do. We work to provide an emotionally safe environment, and then they lie to us. We try...

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Mental HealthMarch 14, 2023

A New Study Suggests The Best Solution for Teen Depression Is Exercise

A recent social science study adds a new wrinkle to what we know about the importance of providing structure for kids. This analysis suggests that people who faced high levels of uncertainty or trauma as children had a higher level of health problems as young adults...

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DepressionMarch 7, 2023

More Research Recommends Exercise as the Best Way to Battle Depression

On the heels of the CDC survey showing the incredible rise in teen depression and anxiety, we have a new comprehensive study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine showing that the best treatment, at least for adults, is exercise. The researchers analyzed 97...

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Parenting TechniquesMarch 2, 2023

How the 80/20 Rule Can Strengthen Your Family Relationships

We know that strong family relationships are important for our children, and we hear constant suggestions about how to build those. Yet the day-to-day responsibilities of parenting children with trauma take a lot of time. So how do we find time in our busy schedules to build a healthy relationship with our kids...

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MediaFebruary 28, 2023

Listen to My Conversation with Rich Heller on Rick in Relationship

Relationship coach Rich Heller invited me onto his podcast, and we had a great conversation about how to be the person who is not supposed to be in a child's life. Llisten to it on any major podcast platform, or on Rich's website here...

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Mental HealthFebruary 23, 2023

What Research Teaches About How to Help Our Children Struggling with Depression

I know from experience that of the biggest challenges in parenting is knowing how to help a child who suffers from depression. The recent CDC report about our teen mental health crisis shows that more and more us are facing that challenge. Young people who...

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MediaFebruary 21, 2023

Listen to My Conversation with Debbie Henne

I had a great conversation with Deborah Henne on her podcast Sounds Like Freedom...

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Parenting TechniquesFebruary 9, 2023

How to Motivate Our Children to Do Household Chores

In my last post, I discussed research showing how household chores benefit our kids. Regular chores can teach them new skills, the importance of a work ethic, and how to tackle the unpleasant tasks that are an inevitable part of life...

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Parenting TechniquesFebruary 7, 2023

Why Our Kids Need Responsibility for Household Chores

One of the best ways to help kids grow past their trauma is one that our society no longer values and many of us forget. Research overwhelmingly shows that our kids need to do chores, whether self care (such as doing laundry) or family care (setting the table for...

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Parenting TechniquesFebruary 2, 2023

Why Do I Have to Constantly Repeat Myself With My Kids?

Today is Groundhog Day, a holiday that because of one of my favorite movies, has become forever linked with repeating the same day over and over. That’s a familiar sensation to parents. No matter how many times we warn, lecture, teach, or predict, our kids keep making the same mistakes over and over...

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Parenting TechniquesJanuary 31, 2023

Our Teens’ Brains May Be Hard-Wired to Ignore Us

Every parent knows that young teenagers start ignoring most of what we say. It’s part of normal child development, and child psychologists explain it as part of a teenager’s growing need for independence. According to a 2016 neurological study (only recently published), the shift may be due to biology as well as...

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Parenting TechniquesJanuary 26, 2023

Do You Feel Like Your Household is Chaotic? Here’s How to Cope!

Thinking through how my daughter and my friend could have such different views of the family, I realized that they were looking at different things. My friend was looking at the packed schedule and long to-do lists. My daughter, on the other hand, was looking at the family relationships. Yes, they were all busy...

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Foster CareJanuary 24, 2023

The Plight of Kids Aging Out of Foster Care

Mentoring young adults who have aged out of foster care has brought home to us many of the unavoidable glitches in the foster care system. Most teenagers age out while living in group homes, which means that they have had little experience in making independent decisions. Even those in independent living...

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Parenting TechniquesJanuary 19, 2023

Four Ways to Be the Mentor, Not the Villain, in our Children's Stories

It’s retro-Thursday, with the second in my earlier series about how to step into the lives of children who have joined our families. For a thorough exploration of the topic, download my free ebook (and sign up to get these blog posts in your Inbox) here...

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Parenting TechniquesJanuary 17, 2023

Figuring Out Where We Fit In Our Children's Stories

I’m fighting a virus this week, so I’m recycling two of my earliest posts about stepping into the history of a child who has joined our family, either through foster care or forming a new stepfamily. For a thorough exploration of the topic, download my free ebook (and sign up to get these blog posts in your Inbox) here...

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ResilienceJanuary 12, 2023

Why We Need to Resist Letting Our Children Think of Themselves as Victims

As we think this week about helping our kids find lasting happiness, I want to discuss what I see as one of the biggest barriers our kids face. The current philosophy of encouraging our children to think of themselves as perpetual victims is extremely dangerous to our kids, especially those who are trying to...

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ResilienceJanuary 10, 2023

How to Empower Our Children to Create Their Own Happiness

I ran across some wonderful parenting advice in an article that has nothing to do with parenting. The curator of a model railroad museum explained that hobbies can “really bring that extra spark, the extra ingredient to bring that fulfillment. When you have that, that is a happiness you earn and that is the most...

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Parenting TechniquesJanuary 5, 2023

How to Accept that We Cannot Control Our Children's Decisions

As we start a new year, it’s a good time to think about how to evaluate the multitude of advice that we get about parenting children who have suffered trauma. We hear about attachment theory, trauma-focused parenting, and a multitude of other ways of parenting from just as many experts. Having parented...

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Parenting TechniquesJanuary 3, 2023

Five Principles for Parents to Regroup and Recharge for the New Year

The new year is a popular time to plan a new start, but setting lots of goals for yourself is rarely the most effective way to move forward. Being a parent is hard work, and parenting other people’s children is particularly hard. Setting all sorts of new goals for yourself may just be setting you and your family up for...

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Parenting TechniquesDecember 22, 2022

Take Time to Enjoy the Opportunities We Have With Our Children

All too often, the holiday season can feel like nothing more than making it through a long list of places to be and things to do. In the process, we can miss out on the joy of the unique moments that we have right in front of us. This year, try to find some time to stop and savor the miracle that we experience from having...

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StepparentingDecember 20, 2022

Feeling Lonely as a Stepparent is Common, and There Is Help

One rarely discussed issue with being a stepparent is how lonely you can feel in your new family. When you become a stepparent, you join your bonus family’s story halfway through. They already have a shared history, with customs and stories and family jokes that you do not (and cannot) share. Their bonds as...

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Self CareDecember 15, 2022

The Importance of Taking One Step at a Time

One struggle we all face, especially this time of year, is how to find the strength to keep up with all of our tasks. Sometimes the problems our kids face can seem insurmountable. The sheer magnitude of the trauma they have suffered, and sometimes what...

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Parenting TechniquesDecember 13, 2022

Five Things Theater and Movies Can Teach Us about Dealing with Family Drama

One of the most difficult challenges of parenting bonus or foster children is dealing with all the drama. Our kids’ lives are not what they want, and many of our kids have trauma reactions that can be hard to manage. It also seems that, even when our kids are...

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Step-parentingDecember 8, 2022

20 Holiday Traditions to Try With Your Blended Family

One common suggestion for blended families during the holidays is to create new family traditions. That’s usually easier said than done, particularly when it comes to thinking of new traditions. Below are some suggestions that I’ve found for blended family traditions, including some that I wish I had known about...

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HolidaysDecember 6, 2022

How To Cope When Your Children Reject You

The holiday season puts pressure on us to be the ideal happy family enjoying each other’s company. So, what do we do when one of our children just doesn’t accept us? How do we deal with those feelings of rejection? Here are some principles to help get through those rough spots. Putting these principles into...

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HolidaysDecember 1, 2022

How Communities Can Help Foster Children Cope With the Holidays

We’ve discussed before how the community can help foster families. This time of year, there is an even greater need for community support. Foster parents have the same holiday to-do lists as every other family. In addition, they have to find time to help their...

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HolidaysNovember 29, 2022

Three Important Things to Remember About Christmas Presents for Your Child's Biological Parents

One never-ending controversy during this most difficult time of year is whether and how to help our foster children and stepchildren buy presents for their biological parents. As a single foster mother, I never questioned that I needed to help my children strengthen...

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HolidaysNovember 22, 2022

Why and How to Help Your Kids Stay in Touch with Biological Family During the Holidays

As we navigate through these holidays dedicated to family ties, let’s remember that many of our kids may have a different family — a biological family — that they are tied to emotionally. If you and your spouse have custody of your stepchildren, those children will have strong ties to their non-custodial parent. Your...

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Media AppearancesNovember 17, 2022

Discussing Bonus and Foster Families With Circle 31

Ayana Robinson Dixon and I had a wonderful time discussing foster care and step-parenting on the Circle 31 podcast. The Circle 31 International Women’s Ministry is a Christian organization where women share their experiences and encourage each other. Listen to...

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Media AppearancesNovember 16, 2022

Discussing Resilience and Gratitude With the Transacting ValYou podcast

The Transacting Valyou podcast looks at how important values can help you navigate various challenges. Josh Porterhouse and I discussed how resilience, gratitude, and appreciation fit into parenting foster and stepchildren. I thoroughly enjoyed talking to him...

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Foster ParentingNovember 15, 2022

Why and How to Help Our Kids Deal With the Unavoidable Loss in Adoption

In the midst of celebrating National Adoption Month, we need to also remember the heartbreaking journeys that brought our kids to this point. It is good to celebrate new beginnings, but we shouldn’t forget that our kids are available for adoption only because they...

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Parenting TechniquesNovember 10, 2022

Seven More Ways to Manage Holiday Stress

In my last post, I discussed seven ways to lower your family's holiday stress this year. In this second part of the series, I’m including some more great ways I’ve heard about to avoid conflict and stress. There really are no "best ways" to navigate the holidays; each family has its own unique source of stress. These...

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Parenting TechniquesNovember 8, 2022

Seven Ways to Help Manage Stress Over the Holidays

Somehow, all of the normal stresses of raising other people’s kids seem to combine and hit us all at once during the holidays. Whatever disagreements we have with biological parents pop up worse than ever, and our foster and bonus kids have a hard time navigating all of the family tensions. Whether it’s school...

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ResearchNovember 3, 2022

Supportive Parenting Styles Correlate with Warm Relationships with Adult Children

A new study has some optimistic news for parents. Researchers surveyed more than 1600 young people starting in 6th grade and following them to age 22. They found that children whose parents followed supportive parenting styles reported closer relationships at age 22. The parenting styles with the highest...

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Parenting TechniquesNovember 1, 2022

Why and How We Need to Manage Our Expectations for the Holidays

We’re headed into one of the most stressful times of the year for blended and foster families. Winter holidays can be a constant reminder for our kids that their world is off-kilter and different from what they want it to be. There’s nothing we can do to change our kids’ perception of the holidays, but we can take steps to

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ResilienceOctober 27, 2022

More Research about Family Traits that Help Foster Resilience

There’s no doubt that families are an important resource for helping children recover from trauma, but there has been little research in exactly which characteristics are important. Researchers looking at that question recently analyzed 31 studies surveying more than 8600 children, many of whom had been...

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ResilienceOctober 25, 2022

7 Things You Can Do if Your Child is Suffering from Anxiety

Our children steadily are becoming more anxious and depressed. Even before the pandemic, anxiety disorders and depression increased by 27% and 24% respectively among children. By 2020, 9.2% of kids studied had been diagnosed with anxiety problems and 4% had been diagnosed with depression. During the...

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ResilienceOctober 20, 2022

How to Build Our Kids' Resilience By Helping Them Change Their Self-Defeating Narratives

Resilience is one of the most important skills we can teach our kids, as well as one of the hardest ones to instill. One big hurdle is the narrative that our kids tell themselves about their lives. We want them to believe that they can accomplish anything. They often see themselves through the prism of whatever...

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BullyingOctober 18, 2022

Is There A Difference Between Bullying and Conflict and Does It Matter?

Bullying is an ongoing problem for many of our kids, and with the focus of October as National Bullying Prevention Month, we’ll see a lot of suggestions about how to prevent bullying. Contrary to what many parents (and children) think, not every insult or disagreement is a bullying situation. Sometimes a dispute...

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Parenting TechniquesOctober 11, 2022

7 Ways to Teach Our Kids to Be Self-Reliant

Parenting is unique in that, if we do it right in the long run, we work ourselves out of a job. Our most important responsibility is to teach our kids how to develop into adults who don’t need us. Yet, in today’s protective culture, it can be hard to teach our foster or stepchildren the essential trait of self reliance. It’s a...

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Foster ParentingOctober 6, 2022

25 Techniques for Foster Parents Who Work Full Time

One common question I hear is whether people who work full time can be foster parents. The short answer is emphatically “yes.” You don't even need flexible schedules or part-time work in order to foster full time. Those accommodations can be helpful, but they aren't essential. I have spent my entire foster...

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Parenting TechniquesOctober 4, 2022

How to Parent Children From Different Faith Traditions

This week is Yom Kippur, one of the most holy days in Judaism. I am not Jewish and know little more than what I have learned from the Internet. Religious holidays are a good occasion, however, to visit the challenges in parenting a child of a different faith than ours. As the winter holidays approach, some of us...

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Foster ParentingSeptember 20, 2022

Five Principles for Successful Single Foster Parenting

I often hear questions from single people who are prospective foster parents, but who are worried about whether a single parent household could meet the needs of children placed there. I started out as a single foster mom, and then I later fostered with my husband. Both being a single mom and fostering as part of...

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Self CareSeptember 15, 2022

How Healthy Boundaries Can Be Your Best Self-Care

One essential part of self-care is setting clear boundaries of what we expect from each other. It can be hard to do that, especially when we know as foster or bonus parents that parenting our children requires some level of self-sacrifice. However, if we sacrifice too much of ourselves the relationships become toxic.

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Self CareSeptember 13, 2022

Five Principles of Effective Self-Care for Foster and Bonus Parents

I sat with my arm around my foster daughter as she tearfully recovered from an emotional meltdown. I knew that I should have seen the warning signs and helped head off the triggering event. The fact was, I had accepted this placement too soon after my previous placement had ended rather explosively. I hadn’t

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Mental HealthSeptember 8, 2022

Are We Prescribing Too Many Medications for Normal Teen Problems?

Most foster parents and many stepparents have to help our kids through bouts of anxiety and depression. Inevitably, the question comes up of whether to opt for medication and how much of it to agree to. Often it seems that therapy isn’t helping, and that medication is the only option. Some articles that I’ve seen...

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PodcastSeptember 6, 2022

Join Me on the Precarious Parenting Podcast

Marie Arymar graciously introduced me to her audience at the Precarious Parenting podcast. We had a grand time discussing how to be the person who is not supposed to be there, how to establish healthy boundaries, and how to build relationships while we are parenting other people’s kids.

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Foster ParentingSeptember 1, 2022

Foster and Adoptive Parents, Join Us at the CAFO Summit

Join me (and thousands of other orphan care advocates) at the Christian Alliance for Orphans (CAFO) Summit in Atlanta, scheduled for September 28-30, 2022. On those dates, thousands of foster and adoptive parents, orphan advocates, students, pastors, and leaders from every U.S. state and more than 30 nations...

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ResilienceAugust 30, 2022

Why Accommodations Should Lead to Success, not Excuses for Failure

“I can’t and I don’t have to,” my foster daughter announced. “I have a diagnosis, so I don’t have to do all of my homework if I don’t want to. I’m no good at school, and that’s just the way it is. Your nagging isn’t going to change anything...

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Parenting TechniquesAugust 25, 2022

Four More Ways to Help Children Struggling with School

In my last post, I discussed some important techniques that we can use at home to help our kids find more success in school. In this post, I’ll discuss three more important principles for helping our kids who show symptoms of anxiety or excessive worry about either school or life in general. As with all parts of...

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Parenting TechniquesAugust 23, 2022

Good Ways to Help a Child Struggling With School

While we are working with the school to help our kids adjust, we can’t forget the rest of the time that our children spend with us. After all, while they spend a lot of time in school, they spend more time at home. That fact raises the question of what we can do to help our kids succeed in school. Some of our kids will...

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Parenting TechniquesAugust 11, 2022

38 School Accommodations for Children Who Have Suffered Trauma

In my last post, I talked about the importance of explaining trauma to our kids’ teachers and school administrators. Knowing what accommodation to ask for can be an essential part of a trauma-sensitive classroom. Here are some practical ideas for creative accommodations for kids who are dealing with the impact of...

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Parenting TechniquesAugust 9, 2022

6 Principles for Advocating for Trauma Sensitive Teaching for Your Kids

 I have heard this pattern countless times from foster parents and stepparents. It’s become almost a foregone conclusion that kids who have suffered childhood trauma will also struggle in school. When I first started working in foster care back in the day, the professionals and I had no idea how these responses...

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Parenting TechniquesAugust 4, 2022

One Important Alternative When Your Teens Struggle With School

As we head into the back-to-school season, we need to remember that for many of our kids, particularly foster children, school is a place of failure and added trauma. Not all of our kids are suited for academics, and we may not be helping them by forcing them into that mold. For older kids who struggle with school...

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Parenting TechniquesAugust 2, 2022

Five Things to Remember When You Can't Do It All

When I had kids at home, the back-to-school season was the hardest time of year for me. Changing from the summer schedule to the structure of the school year was hard for all of us. In addition, I had to field all sorts of well-meaning advice from education experts about how to get my kids ready for school, set up a...

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Parenting TechniquesJuly 28, 2022

How to Let Our Kids Know We See Them Clearly and Love Them Unconditionally (part 2)

In my last post, I discussed why it’s important to let our kids know that we see them clearly and love them unconditionally. In this post, I’ll discuss four more of the best ways to let our kids know that, even if they make mistakes, we will keep loving them...

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Parenting TechniquesJuly 26, 2022

How to Let Our Kids Know We See Them Clearly and Love Them Unconditionally (part 1)

Shortly after our marriage, my husband gave me a ring that his mother had worn for many years. A few years later, I misplaced it. As I frantically searched for the safe place where I had put it (and promptly forgotten), my husband kept telling me that everything was OK.

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Step-parentingJuly 21, 2022

Why It's Easy to Repeat the Cycle of Trauma and How to Stop

I ran across a story about a very sad and dysfunctional stepfamily that illustrates the problem of repeating cycles of trauma. It’s from a famous Reddit forum, and the person posting was a 16-year-old who says that his stepmother requires him to cook for himself as he’s...

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Foster ParentingJuly 19, 2022

Five Ways that Your Organization Can Support Foster Families

An article from PBS illustrates what I see as currently the largest need in foster care — the lack of sufficient support for foster parents. The article begins with the story of Isela Perez, who “estimates she moved more than 20 times among group homes, mental health facilities...

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ResilienceJuly 7, 2022

The Best Way We Can Encourage Resilience and Build Self-Esteem

A pattern that shows up very often in studies of resilience is a high correlation between resilience and self-esteem. It would be very easy to conclude that, if we help children develop self-esteem, we can also increase their resilience. It’s a small leap from that conclusion to trying to rise our kids’ self-esteem with positive...

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ResilienceJuly 5, 2022

How to Encourage Resilience Through Emotional Support

Anyone who spends enough time looking at the effects of trauma on child development easily could conclude that our children are doomed. Current research in child welfare connects trauma to everything from obesity to significant increases in anxiety and depression. Fortunately, there is a growing recognition in the...

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ResilienceJune 30, 2022

We Can Build Resilience By Providing Social Support

A recently-published research study from Canada found that children who witnessed parental domestic violence had a higher incidence of depression, anxiety, and substance abuse than children without that exposure. Among a sample of more than 17,000 people responding to a survey, 326 had been exposed to...

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ResilienceJune 28, 2022

How to Build Resilience by Encouraging Our Kids to Take Risks

One of my youth organization clients once had a three-year-old child sneak out of the facility, cross a busy road, and visit a toy store. Fortunately, he was not hurt, and the store owner called my client to come get him. I helped my client figure out where their system had failed and where it needed to be shored up...

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PodcastJune 27, 2022

Join Me on the Pursuing Uncomfortable Podcast

I had a great conversation with Melissa Ebken on the Pursuing Uncomfortable Podcast. Join us and learn more about her amazing podcast...

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ResilienceJune 23, 2022

New Study Says Risky Play May Be Good for Our Children

A fascinating new study from the UK found that children who engaged in risky play were more resistant to mental health problems during the COVID lockdowns. The researchers looked at two data sets, one with 417 parents and the other with 1919 families. They identified adventurous or risky play as “child-led play...

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Speaking EngagementsJune 16, 2022

Join Us at the National Foster Parents' Association Virtual Conference

I'm thrilled to be a presenter at the National Foster Parent Association's virtual 2022 Conference. They have a dynamite lineup of workshops. I will be presenting on the topic, "We Are Not The People Who Are Supposed To Be There, and That's OK." Join us and add to your store of knowledge about foster...

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June 14, 2022

How and Why Fathers are Important to Our Kids

Father's Day is coming up, and it's a good time to think again about the importance of fathers in children’s lives. Numerous studies show that involved fathers have positive effects on their children's development. Children whose fathers take an active role in their lives have better grades and fewer behavioral problems...

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Speaking EngagementsJune 9, 2022

Join Me (Virtually) at an International Conference

Next week, I will be speaking at the European Conference for the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect. I will be helping my law partner, Tom Rawlings, present a workshop on "Establishing a Safety Culture" in youth organizations. There are virtual tickets still available, so if you work with...

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Childhood TraumaJune 7, 2022

A Common Reason Why Your Kids May Reject You

I tried to stifle my exasperation as I glanced over at my foster daughter in the passenger seat. She had run away — again — a few days before, I had picked her up at her case worker’s office, and we were on our way home. After a few moments of small talk, I finally broached the topic that was on both of our minds...

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Parenting TechniquesJune 2, 2022

5 Important Things to Remember about Our Teens and Summer Jobs

One of the best ways to teach teenagers the life skills they will need as adults is to help them get a summer job. One of the silver linings of the current Great Resignation is that more employers than ever are willing to consider hiring teenagers. Now is a good time to help our teens take advantage of the job market...

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Parenting TechniquesMay 31, 2022

5 Principles for Teaching Teens to Be Independent

With school graduations coming up or already behind us, one topic that I often hear is how to teach teenagers to be independent. It can be frustrating knowing that our children will soon be legally independent, but wondering if they will have the skills they need in time to be functionally independent. It can be...

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Childhood TraumaMay 26, 2022

Positive Childhood Experiences Can Boost Resilience and Help Heal Trauma

An interesting study recently looked at the competing effects of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and positive childhood experiences (PCEs). There are quite a few research articles about the effects of ACEs and PCEs on individual health, but this one took a different tack in surveying the effects on family health...

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Parenting TechniquesMay 24, 2022

Lowering Our Expectations May Be the Best Way to Lower Our Kids’ Stress

The CDC recently released a study showing that teen depression and suicidal thoughts have risen by more than 40% in the last ten years. At the same time, the American Psychological Association published a meta-analysis of various studies indicating that parental expectations may be the biggest driver of unrealistic...

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Foster ParentingMay 19, 2022

How the System Loses Good Foster Parents

A Massachusetts judge has dismissed involuntary manslaughter charges against two foster parents, Matthew Tucker and Cassandra Barlow-Tucker. The district attorney charged them after an infant in their care died from strep throat and pneumonia. The DA based her case on a belief that the foster parents failed to...

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Foster ParentingMay 17, 2022

How Foster Parents Can Protect Themselves Against Unfounded Allegations

One unfortunate part of being a foster parent is knowing how to protect yourself against false or unfair allegations. When you sign up for foster care, you sign up for increased scrutiny from your state’s child protective services. Foster children are more likely than biological children to make accusations, out of either...

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Foster ParentingMay 12, 2022

Why and How to Become a Foster Parent One Step at a Time

In my last post, I talked about entering foster parenting with realistic attitudes. In this post, I want to talk about how to actually start. Agencies will offer training, but you need real life experience. I recommend getting that experience a little bit at a time. Parenting other people’s children is a skill, and just like any other...

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Foster ParentingMay 10, 2022

7 Important Things to Consider if You Are Thinking About Becoming A Foster Parent

With the emphasis this month on foster care, we will hear a lot of appeals for people to become foster parents. The pull to provide a family to children who need one is strong, but parenting traumatized children can be difficult and messy. Even experienced foster parents sometimes find themselves wondering what they...

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Parenting TechniquesMay 5, 2022

Why and How To Keep Our Kids Connected to Their Biological Parents

Mother’s Day is one of those holidays that always creeps up on me. After my mother passed away, and I had no obligations to anyone, I stopped paying much attention it. It is a holiday that can cause a lot of stress in foster and blended families. I’ve written before about how one of the best ways to lower the stress is...

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