Every time I meet a new family, I thoroughly enjoy getting to know each family member. I delight in hearing their stories: how the parents met, circumstances that led to their foster care involvement, the child’s life story. I am continually amazed at the strength and resilience that both the parents and children have shown facing challenging and trying situations.
Just like we find joy and excitement in sharing these stories, so our Foster Children long to learn about their own. Having a life story grounds them, and gives them their own unique story to share with others when they are asked to do so.
- Children need to be aware of their life story in order to grasp why certain situations, sounds, smells, sights, and people trigger them. When a child is triggered, they are faced with unexpected feelings, and it can be frightening. It’s a parent’s job to aid the children in making a connection from the past to the present.
- Our history builds the foundation for our identity. Children need to know their story to make sense of who they are, and this is especially true during adolescence. Information grounds and places a child in their home, their community, and their world. Try the following exercise to experience the significance of historical information for your child: Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Imagine that you do not possess any or minimal facts about your early life ~your birth parent’s faces and voice, the home where you were raised, your birth siblings or extended family members. What would it be like to meet someone new who shares their early life history but you don’t have information to share in return. What thoughts and feelings would you hold about yourself or others if this were true?
- When children are informed of their life story they feel more confident and settled, and they gain a greater sense of self.
- When a child is familiar with their history, it keeps them in the truth and out of fantasy. If a child is not privy to details of their early life or family, they will create a false story in their mind. Keeping a child in the truth becomes even more important if there are unpleasant facts about their early life or members of their birth family.