Friday, February 22, 2013

Foster Parent Friday - What Do Your Foster Kids Call You?

Q: How do you decide what the kids will call you and what they will call your other kids. And how do you even bring that topic up with your bio kids and the new kids?

A: This is another question from a friend of mine who is getting ready for their license and first call.

This is something we’ve learned not to stress about.  It’s very easy for us to manage and not something to overthink.  We started out by calling each other by the names our nephews and nieces call us.  I’m Auntie Mie.  Within 24 hours the kids were calling us mom and dad and we ran with it. 

Nowadays when the kids arrive I invite them into our home and introduce myself by saying “Hi!  I’m Marie.  You can call mie Marie or Auntie Mie.  The other kids who live here call mie Mommy.  You can call me that too if you want – it’s up to you!”.  These are all names I get called on a regular basis and are names they will hear others call me, that way they have options for what is comfortable for them and won’t feel left out or weird for calling mie by a different name than everyone else.   For the first few days, they usually call me by my first name or just avoid calling me by name altogether.

As for how to handle with my forever kids, I don’t.  They call mie mommy.  When they talk to foster children they’ll either say “my mommy” or just “mommy” and everyone knows who they are talking about.  Eventually, almost every child has ended up calling us mom and dad within a week or two.  We don’t ask them to and we don’t force it on them – it just happens naturally as they feel more comfortable in our family.

I have a child now who yells to mie by saying “Eh!” (especially while he’s using the bathroom and needs wiped, which makes it even more pleasant).  I remind him that my name is not “Eh!”, that my name is mommy, Marie, or Auntie Mie and that is what I’ll respond to.  I think it’s important that kids learn to respect other people and call them by a name not just yell at them like they are an object.  If they call mie by someone else’s name, I’ll correct them.  Other than that we just go with the flow and not make a big deal about it. (It works the same way with my hubby’s names).

Things do change a bit when I’m talking about their family or around their family.  I try to respect their parents when I’m around them by ensuring they call them mommy and, if necessary I’ll call refer to my (house) or your mommy’s (house).  Another way I’ll handle it is by saying “Mommy Marie” or “Mommy First Name” when there’s confusion.  Hearing their child call me mommy usually doesn’t sit well with birth parents, as would be expected.  I try to b gentle and remind them about everything I’ve told you hear and that it’s natural for them to pick it up at my house since I have other children.  I remind them it’s just a name but the kids KNOW who their mom is and no one, not even mie, can replace them.  It’s always worked out.

1 comment:

Laura: One Day At A Time said...

I love your posts. You always have an insight into some little corner of foster-parenting that I have not considered, such as what to be called and how to respect birth parents in the process. Thank you!