Handling difficult situations with grace

At 17 and on the brink of adulthood, Katelyn is a young woman who seems poised and ready to step out into the world. Her life hasn’t always been so stable, however. She met Kim Cross in 2009, when she first began her stay with Quinte Children’s Homes (QCH).  As Kim reflected, things haven’t always been easy.

Kim has been a foster parent – what QCH calls a parent therapist – for seven years, and met Katelyn while she was staying in other QCH family homes. “I started noticing that Katelyn would come over before dinner time and always accept an invitation to join us. I think she enjoyed that family time around the table.”

Early in 2010, Katelyn decided to leave foster care to live with a few friends – an arrangement that didn’t last long. Kim noted at the time that she didn’t have any plan or savings to be able to look after herself, and after a few weeks Katelyn called and told Kim she needed to leave. “It was a good feeling to know that she felt that she could depend on me and make that call,” Kim said.

Turning toward a better future

“I will never forget that day; the condition of the place where she had been living, and the way she was being treated, were very disturbing. I took her into my home and said that I would help her get back on her feet. I think I was able to show Katelyn that she was cared for and she was worthy of so much more.”

That day also marked a turning point for Katelyn. “From that day, I truly believe Katelyn made a decision that she wanted more for herself. With some encouragement and support, she finally had the confidence to move forward and work towards a better life.”

Kim said she thinks Katelyn has grown a lot in just the past year. “I feel she’s learned a lot of important lessons, like the importance of establishing trust and respect in a relationship, how to treat others and how she wants to be treated in return, and key factors of being physically and emotionally healthy.”

“As she gets ready to move out on her own, I feel confidence in her abilities and skills, and I think she’s properly prepared this time to make it on her own and be successful. I am very proud of her.”

Advice for foster parents, parent therapists

There’s a quote from author Cathy Rindner Tempelsman that Kim often reflects on: “The child who acts unlovable is the child who most needs to be loved.”

Asked what advice she would give to foster parents or other QCH parent therapists, she offered two key suggestions:

  • establish a connection with the children in your home by making them feel important and cared for (examples of things you can do: preparing their favorite meal, turning up the volume when their favorite song comes on, surprising them with a day planned to do an activity they enjoy).
  • try to deal with difficult situations in a manner that will end with you and the child in a positive mind frame. There is always something positive to reflect on before the day comes to an end and it’s important for a child to hear the positives.

How do you deal with difficult situations?

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