No matter why or how they came to live with you, your relative’s child or children will benefit from being in your home. When children cannot be with their parents, living with a family member may provide:
- Fewer moves from place to place
- The comfort of a familiar language, culture, and family history
- A chance to stay with siblings
- More consistent contact with their biological parents, depending on the situation
Despite these benefits, the children will face some unique challenges.
- They may feel insecure or unsure that you will take care of them
- They may act out or challenge you
- They may miss their parents
- They may be anxious or depressed
- They may act either too old or too young for their age
Remember: Parenting a relative’s child brings special challenges and special joys. Do not hesitate to ask for help or seek services in your community for yourself and your children.
For more information or support on kin raising, feel free to call us at (334) 676-1883 to schedule an appointment or click here.
What You Can Do
It will take time for your relatives to feel safe and secure in their new home with you. You can encourage these good feelings in a number of ways:
- Set up a daily routine of mealtimes, bedtime, and other activities.
- Help the children feel “at home” by creating a space just for them.
- Talk to the children and listen when they talk to you.
- Set up a few rules and explain your expectations. Then, enforce the rules consistently.
- Reward positive behavior. When children make mistakes, focus on teaching rather than punishing.
- Be as involved with their education as you can and encourage your children to participate in school activities.
This is a big job, and you may need help from your community.
Here are some suggestions:
- Help with housing or other bills, clothing, or school supplies may be available from various community-based or religious organizations in your community.
- Join or start a support group in your community for other kinship caregivers that may be experiencing the same challenges as you.
- Ask for help and referrals from a church leader, a school counselor, or a social services agency.
- Get professional help to address any special needs your relative’s children may have, such as medical care, mental health care, or special education.
Happy Kinship Parenting!