Forming Family Connections

One challenge of working with multiple foster children in one home is the family dynamic. Some of our children are siblings, but others have never met until they’re placed together in one of our homes. It can be the cause of much tension between children, so when something like the following happens, we count it a victory.

Harrisburg schools recently hosted their spring “MusArt” evening, where students’ artwork is displayed and musical numbers are performed. One of our Home Parent Dads was there with the school age youth from his home. One 12-year-old girl, Crystal*, who is unrelated to the other children in the home, had asked to bring her recently earned allowance money with her.

It proved to be troublesome. Crystal couldn’t stop playing with it, throwing it, dropping it, etc. during the music performances. At one point, she asked if she could go and see if the concessions were open yet, so her dad gave her permission and sent Tiffany, who is a bit older than Crystal, along with her.

When they came back, Tiffany was visibly flustered and said, “Crystal’s friends just came up to her and manipulated her, telling her that she had to give them money. And she did!

“I told her, ‘You don’t have to give them money!’ But her friends kept telling her she had to, because she’s their friend.  I told her that friends shouldn’t treat her like that, but she gave them the money anyway,” Tiffany concluded, expressing her frustration.

Shortly after, Gavin, the 10-year-old boy from the home, asked if he could go to the restroom. He was given permission and promptly left. The girls sat there, continuing to feel shook up about what Crystal’s friends had done.

A few minutes later, Gavin returned and dropped some quarters in Crystal’s box that was sitting by her side. He turned to Tiffany, grinned and gave her a high-five, then sat back down.

Dad, trying not to smile too much, looked at Gavin and said, “I don’t think you went to the restroom, did you?”

Dad concludes, “On the one hand, I could have been upset that Gavin hadn’t told me the truth about where he was going. But on the other hand, it was SO very cool to see Gavin stand up for Crystal and not let her friends bully her like that. What makes it even more exciting for me is that Gavin and Crystal have had this love/hate relationship which often causes struggles in their interactions with each other. That makes it so awesome that he would stand up for her and look out for her like that. It was a moment of connection as a family, and I loved it.”

*all names changed for sake of confidentiality