Today I asked if my husband could share his thoughts on fostering. You may remember that it took us years to be on the same page about fostering and to get started on the licensing process. It seems to be a common theme for men to be a little more reluctant to become licensed for foster care than women, so I asked my husband if he could share about his concerns beforehand and how he feels now. This is what he had to say:
My first reason for not wanting to foster was fear of doing further harm. I think moms can screw up more and it’s okay, but when a dad screws up, it’s a bigger deal since we’re bigger, stronger, and more intimidating. And oftentimes dads are the ones doing the abusing. There are a lot of correlations that can be drawn there even between small things. Traditional, instinctual male things play a part: wanting to carry on the family name or a biological priority on own children.
But it’s a difficult thing to say no to. Logically, you know it’s doing a good thing, but you also see all the things that go wrong. I wasn’t sure how well I’d be able to bond with someone else’s child. I felt like the situation was going to be more out of my control than I wanted, more at the hand’s of parents with issues or a disorganized system. I knew I’d have to suspend my own value system of how I’d raise my own kids, and that difference in values would cause problems.
Kids don’t really give you a lot of time to contemplate parenthood; you just do it.
Something that helped was setting aside all the reasoning and simply doing. Kids don’t really give you a lot of time to contemplate parenthood; you just do it. Having my own child first helped as well because it settled many of the instinctual concerns and gave me an opportunity to see what areas of my value system I could give on for a foster child. You have to fall in love with an individual; it’s not about falling in love with the idea of being a foster parent. A maternal instinct is more easily transferable than a paternal one in that way, and it’s easier for women to be passionate about a cause or a feeling. I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about being a foster parent. I focus more on the child we have in our home and love that child.
You have to fall in love with an individual; it’s not about falling in love with the idea of being a foster parent.
Don’t feel bad about your concerns. They’re good and right, but learn how to address them. Don’t let them get in the way of doing it. If you need to take some time away, go in your room for a while, it’s okay. Wives can be understanding of that too. I’ve found that babies are easier to start out with because the relationship is simpler. I love the children we’ve fostered, seeing them learn and grow. It’s just like any child.