Building strong communication skills isn’t usually what most parents think of when preparing to add new foster or adopted siblings to the existing children in the family. Many parents rely on how things have been going, assuming that their ‘resident children’ (the ones already in the home) will speak up if things become difficult for them.
But what most often happens is that the resident children are afraid to speak up when problems arise, for fear it would be just more stress added to their already stressed family.
Fostering and adoption are beautiful things, but they do cause family dynamics to shift in ways that are unsettling for resident children. Most resident children are not prepared adequately for the changes that will affect them personally. Most are unprepared to speak up to their parents for their own needs.
Most parents assume that the level of communication openness already existing in their family prior to fostering or adoption will be sufficient for the resident child to withstand the changes coming to him or her. But even in the most openly communicative families, these changes can be more unsettling than the resident children are able to say. They’ll need support to express themselves in healthy ways.
Preparing your resident child for the new sibling takes hard work! Dreaming about instant friendships between the siblings is fun. But having the transition play out in real time is . . . well, not always fun. Being in an environment where open communication is the norm will help your resident child adjust better and make a smoother transition for everyone.
So, what does it take to have more open communication? How can you, already consumed with the needs of your new child, learn what it looks like to inadvertently silence the voice of your resident child? What can you do to avoid that? How can you empower your resident child to speak up about their own needs?
It takes determination, but it also takes know-how.
You can be 100% determined, but if you don’t know what to do, you will struggle.
That’s why I recommend starting today to work on your communication skills with your resident children.
Anyone can begin today to create a more open environment, no matter how long things have been difficult.
We’ve created an e-course called 8 Steps to Empowered Voices that takes you through a step-by-step process to increase the level of communication openness in your family. It’s full of content to help you understand:
- WHY your resident child is often reluctant to talk to you about their struggles
- WHAT you can do to support them
- and HOW to connect with them even if it’s years later (like with me)
You can support your children already in the home – it’s never too late!