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Navigating Criticism as a Foster Parent

Updated: Feb 11


Criticism

We know the journey of foster care is challenging and complicated, which is why we've been talking about these topics at our support group gatherings this session. Our goal is to provide a safe space for connection and learning with other families walking the same path.


"Why do people criticize me or the decisions I make?"

We walk into our foster care experience hoping others will see the great things we’ve done, the sacrifices we’ve made, and say “well done”. But somewhere along the way we encounter criticism and it catches us off guard like having a tire blow out driving down the highway. It's when you least expect it but also when you can't afford any setbacks. Then you find yourself asking "Why do people criticize me and the decisions I make?" Foster parents often live in a glass bowl where everyone examines all our actions. Being in that spot wears on you and you become like a bald tire. Criticism can come from school staff, agency workers, counselors, or just others you interact with. Also, we can face criticism when we encounter others who find what is normal for you is foreign to them. Right? What is normal in my family may not be in your family. What I choose to let my kids do may not be what the critical person does and vise versa. It’s like a foreign object in your tire. A nail. Maybe other’s don’t understand what we do because they’ve never fostered or they think they know better simply because they are a "professional". Last, when you advocate for a child, especially when others disagree, it can feel like you’re making a sharp turn and end up hitting a curb. The reality is everyone else is not invested in this child like you are and it causes criticism. One of the hardest part about being criticized is feeling judged and misunderstood.


Dealing with Criticism

Criticism is an expression of disapproval based on perceived mistakes. So how do you manage criticism when it happens? First, pause for a moment. This can reduce the chance of a quick emotional response that will make things worse. It's like taking time to rotate your tires to reduce the chances of a blowout. Second, embrace the opportunity. It can't hurt to ask yourself if there anything you can learn from this situation. While it really sucks facing criticism, not asking this type of question is like saying I don't need a spare tire or even a tire repair kit on my trip. Last, remember it’s just not about you. Maybe the person offering criticism also has things going on in their life causing them to be more critical. Knowing the road ahead we help us make sure we are taking wide turns.


Final Thoughts

I know everyone's situation is different and there is no perfect answer but it sure can help being prepared if you do receive criticism. We know foster care is a journey filled with rewards and challenges. We hope this blog helps! Leave us a comment on how you've handled criticism.

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