3 Things You Can Expect When Experiencing A Transition At Home

February 3, 2022 | 4 min read

So, you’ve found yourself caring for your loved ones’ child. This may have been an entirely unexpected situation for you, or maybe you’ve discussed this with your loved one before welcoming them into your home. Regardless of how it came about, you’re now faced with some unique and new challenges.

Often, kinship caregivers don’t have the luxury of planning and preparing for the changes that come with welcoming a new child into your family. Instead, many kinship caregivers find themselves thrown into the deep end, having to learn and adjust as they go. Luckily, there are countless outlets that kinship caregivers can rely upon and utilize to better equip themselves and their families with the strategies, skills, and resources they need to thrive.

Today, we’re shedding light on the realities of becoming a kinship caregiver. In this blog, we’ll outline 3 things you can expect when you go to welcome a new child into your home, as well as what you can do to prepare for the challenges that lie ahead.

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1. Expect to be asked difficult questions.

This situation you and the children you care for is something unprecedented. You probably never expected to be in this position, caring for your loved ones’ child, and the children in your care are likely uncertain about why they’re not living with their birth parent(s) anymore. This means that you’re bound to be approached with some questions by the children that are difficult to answer.

Kinship parents would benefit from preparing for these questions and coming up with a response ahead of time so that you are not left scrambling in the moment. It’s okay if you don’t have all the answers, but you should be open and honest with the children you care for so that you can create a foundation of trust.

If possible, you can try to communicate with the child(ren)’s birth parent ahead of time to see what sort of answers they are comfortable with you giving them. Remember that this is a learning period for all of you and that it will take some time to get to a healthy, honest place.

2. Expect the children you care for to experience a whirlwind of emotions.

This transition period is sure to bring up a lot of emotions and thoughts for the children in your care. For younger children, it can be challenging to understand what is happening and why. They may feel a sense of loss not being around their birth parent(s), or they may feel that their parent(s) don’t want them anymore. These emotions can manifest in behavioral outbursts, moodiness, and other negative actions in teens and younger adults.

Remember that these feelings are common, and these children are justified in their feelings. As a kinship parent, it is your responsibility to help them grapple with these emotions and to help them find healthy ways of expressing them. Take care to explain as much of the situation as you can, and remind them how loved they are by so many people. Help them develop strategies for reframing their train of thought so that instead of feeling as if they aren’t enough, they can see the situation for what it is.

3. Expect it to take time before things run smoothly.

This might seem like a “no duh” kind of expectation, but it’s worth noting. This transitory period will not be smooth sailing right from the start.

For starters, you’re bringing a new person into your home life. This means that you’ll have to undergo some adjustments as you get used to having a new child around. On the other hand, the child(ren) you are welcoming into your family is sure to feel out of place at first.

In their parent(s) home, they were used to a particular process and way of doing things. This might be drastically different than the way you run things. Understanding how one another works, thinks, and reacts to situations will take time and effort.

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Be patient with one another while you get used to living together. Often, a lack of clear communication can be the most significant barrier to a healthy home. Be clear with the expectations you have for one another, and take the time to discuss the ground rules you have for your household. Discuss topics like:

  • What time are they expected to be in bed? 
  • What chores do they need to help with around the house? 
  • How are you going to handle confrontation if something goes wrong?

The more you talk through these potential situations upfront, the less room for confusion and irritation. As with everything, it will take compromise, but together you can achieve a healthy, positive home environment.

As a kinship caregiver, you’re bound to be challenged in unique ways. Even with all the preparation and time in the world, you still will find yourself in a situation where you aren’t sure what to do. In times like these, it is essential to rely on the help and support of others who can understand what you’re experiencing. That’s why NCHS created our Kinship Navigation services. We aim to support kinship caregivers and their families by connecting them to community resources, certified help, educational materials, and more. To learn more about this program or see how you can get started accessing support, reach out to our team today!