Why I Love Having Friends Who Are Foster Parents

Photo by Katie Treadway on Unsplash

My kids and I are on a road trip this week.

After flying across the country and spending a few weeks with my parents, the kids and I took off in our rented vehicle and started a little tour of visiting friends in another city. I booked us a suite at a hotel and we made ourselves at home there for two nights, enjoying the pool and the continental breakfast and Disney Jr., and the unlimited evening Happy Hour snacks. And over the course of three days, I got to visit with three women who are dear friends, two of whom are also current or former foster parents (and the third knows a lot more than the average person about the foster care system through being friends with several foster parents).

These women are awesome, and we would be friends whether we shared foster care in common or not. We spent hours talking about our experiences growing up, dating, marriage, the enneagram (it seems like all my closest friends are into it as much or more than I am!), our shared Christian faith, and our careers. We laughed together and talked so freely and easily, and spending time connecting with each of them was such a balm to my soul.

But the thing that was more special than anything is that we also share this experience of foster parenting—this strange, hard, beautiful, redemptive experience of foster parenting. And being able to talk about our experiences—the challenges and the triumphs—without feeling like we have to watch our words or fear being misunderstood was so edifying.

We discussed books we’ve read that have been helpful. We discussed “nature versus nurture.” We discussed ACEs and the long-term effects of early childhood trauma, prenatal exposure to drugs and alcohol, disruptions and attachment. We discussed our own trauma, PTSD, triggers, coping strategies, and failures. We helped each other see progress and victories that are hard to see when you’re living in the day-to-day. We listened and shared and encouraged and supported each other.

And when our time together ended after each visit, we felt lighter.

I know we did.

Somehow, sharing together and being together and laughing together lifted our spirits and lightened our load.

I am grateful for all of my friends. I have some really, really great ones!

But, in this season of my life, I have a special gratitude for my friends who are foster parents. I’m grateful for time and space and opportunities to be with others who get it.

The challenges of foster parenting can leave us feeling discouraged and alone. Do you have friends who are foster parents? Do you have a supportive community where you can speak freely and just let it all hang out? If not, I invite you to join mine! The Flourishing Foster Parent is a community of foster parents who meet online almost every week to share together, check in with each other, and discuss a topic relevant to being a foster parent. Some of the connections I’ve made in this group have turned into friendships offline as well. If you are feeling alone on this journey and would benefit from being part of a community of people who get it, go to Patreon, look under “Become a Patron,” and click on The Flourishing Foster Parent to join us!

Monday Night Dinner Party

My family hosts a dinner party every Monday night. We call it the Monday Night Dinner Party. It started because we wanted to have my husband’s brother over for a family dinner on a regular basis. Monday seemed like a good night to do it—there’s not much happening on Monday nights, it seems. Soon, we started inviting neighbors, old friends we hadn’t seen in a while, and new friends we wanted to get to know to come as well.

The thing I love about the practice of the Monday Night Dinner Party is that we have a built-in rhythm of connecting with people over food. In a world in which everyone is busy all the time, we have carved out a space and time every week when we know we will gather around our very large table and linger over good food (usually), good wine (often), and great conversation (always!).

When we became parents, this practice became even more precious to me. It was one night a week when I knew I would get to enjoy time with grown ups. Our Monday night bedtime routine is more relaxed. Sometimes, the kids get to watch a movie after they are in their jammies, just so we adults can enjoy sitting around the table talking with one another. Other times, our guests get involved with the bedtime routine, reading books aloud with the kids.

It takes a village to raise a family. And the Monday Night Dinner Party has given our “village” a more intimate opportunity to be part of our children’s lives. It’s been amazing to watch our kids settle in to the rhythm of weekly dinner parties. They now help set the table, engage guests in conversation, and learn by example what hospitality can look like.

Ever since I was in my 20’s, when I was single and living in Richmond, VA, and then New York City, I have loved having people over. Thankfully, my cooking has evolved a lot over the years. No longer is spaghetti my go-to meal. I have collected a number of fairly simple, healthy and delicious recipes that are reliable hits with guests. I love setting a table, creating a simple tablescape, and making meal plans and prep. It’s challenging at times, with three children (sometimes more) vying for my attention while I’m trying to get the meal ready. But that has forced a kind of culinary creativity and preparation that has given me some creative satisfaction.

In coming posts, I will share recipes, hosting tips, and dinner party insights. My ultimate hope is that you might be inspired to start hosting your own regular dinner parties. The world needs more of those.