Tuesday, January 09, 2007

I think it *might* be working.

At the risk of totally jinxing us, I think that our approach with BeBe might be working! As you may recall, we initially were *very, very* nice to BeBe and chalked a lot of her behavior up to "what she had been through". At least if I've blogged about that before you may recall it. And if not... well that's what we did.

Anyway, this really led to nothing but BeBe running all over (and around and on top of) us. We realized relatively quickly that BeBe needed way more structure and firm guidance. So we set limits and focused on the basics. We started going over the "rules" every morning as we were getting BeBe dressed. Said rules included:

1. We don't hit people.
2. We don't hit animals.
3. We eat at the table.
4. We don't run away from people.
5. We listen to big people when they ask us to do something.
6. Who's the boss? PB is the boss and Amanda is the boss. BeBe's not the boss.

After going on two weeks of this, she seems to have gotten the idea, at least partially. Her nursery school teachers don't seem to cringe quite as badly when we enter the building and it has become much more pleasant to be around her. She actually listens when we ask her to do (and not do) things and she responds well to praise and rewards. She is, in short, a much different kid.

Additionally, and I'm not sure if it's attributable to the structure or to the change in environment, BeBe seems much more relaxed. She is not hypervigilant, constantly looking for someone or something, she isn't physically tense when she cuddles with us. She can play by herself for several minutes without freaking out.

It was interesting to watch all this change during the visit tonight. I like BeBe's mom (V), I really do. She loves her kids like nobody's business and she is working her butt off to get BeBe back. But she has no backbone. She never makes BeBe do anything she doesn't want to do. And BeBe, being the smartypants that she is, picks up on that. Her demeanor changes the instant we pull into the parking lot of V's apartment building. She gets wild again and stops listening and can't sit still.

I'd like to talk to V. about this, because I really think BeBe is better off with some structure - it must be pretty hard for a 3-year-old to be in charge all the time. PB and I are trying to figure out if, and how, to broach this with her. I think we may bounce the idea off our caseworker when she visits on Thursday... try to get some good advice.


Renee said...

JMHO I would not say a single word to her Bmom. not a word. I think that the relationship you have with her is so important for you and for BeBe and it is so vulnerable right now. You can certainly model infront of her, but I personally like to stand back in the presence of bio's and let them do all the "parenting" and to even let them give me advice, even when I know I wont take it. I also think there is a chance that maybe BeBe is walking all over her mother now in front of you because her mother fears any discipline will be judged wrong...or she could feel guilty because BeBe was taken into care and she is just giving her whatever she wants to make her time with her nice. I can think of a lot of reasons, including maybe a possible lack of good parenting skills. Even if that were the case I would not be the one to point them out to her. I am wondering if parenting classes will be a part of her caseplan? Sorry if Ive over stepped her with my strong opinion. GL!

Renee said...

FWIW I only say that because of the experiences Ive had working with the bio's I have worked with. R's mom for 1 example was highly highly defensive, felt VERY threatened by me and it made things misserable. I sent him in stride-rite (new/pre walker soft sole sandals) and she contacted the worker's supervisor to let her know I was damaging his feet by putting him in shoes atall(he was a new walker and was always dragging his toes on my patio cutting them up) I sent highly diluted juice(think 90water/10juice) and fresh blueberries and avacados to visits and shed give him cheetos and hawaiian punch. I tried so hard to avoid a power struggle and in the end I had to accept that she WAS his mother afterall and while YES she did have him removed from her care and yes she parented him very differently than I would she was still his mother and he was going to go home to her and while I wouldnt feed a 1yr old cheetos and hawaiian punch it wasnt going to kill him either. I knw you arent talking about food issues but setting limits etc, and I honestly feel that any mention of this by you to her will immediatly put her on the defense and only make things more tense--ofcourse I would be way off base...as silly as this sounds Im only saying any of this because I wish to spare any and all foster parents of the negative experiences I have had working with bios. For the record I had a WONDERFUL relationship with D's mom as do I with A's bmom. It makes a huge difference, and I can safely say I didnt always/dont always agree with either of their parenting styles. Ok Ok Ill stop rambling.

Amanda said...

Thanks, Renee. You definitely didn't overstep and I very much respect your opinion, so I appreciate you being candid.

One thing I didn't mention in my post, V. was in foster care with BeBe for 3 years (from 15 to 18) and has, to some extent, replaced her old foster mom with me. That's weird for me because I don't think of myself as old enough to help her, but I do have 11 years on her, which I forget sometimes.

I think she might be open to it. OTOH you make some great points about how I know nothing about how she parents when it's just her and BeBe... I honestly hadn't thought of that which is pretty silly of me.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps a different approach might be to tell V. how well she is doing in your home after the first couple of rough days, and what you learned because of that, and tell her that every morning, we go over the rules, and tell V. the rules?

That way, you are imparting information that you don't allow her to run over her in your home, without coming off as "giving advice"?

What do I know, though?

TeamWinks said...

I'm glad your techniques are working for you! I think routines and rules work well in all kinds of situations.

Renee said...

I had a mentoring type relationship with D's mom--I took her lead and it worked out very well. R's mom was 19 and honestly too immature and emotional to see the situation for what it was because in her mind she had to blame someone and she choose to blame me! I think if you feel that V is open to it then go for it. I can imagine how hard/scary it must be to age out of fostercare with a dependant child. She really DOES need a mentor---has the CW mentioned to you what kinds of supports they may have in place to help her? In our county they are implimenting something called "family-to-family" which means they want the fosterparents working directly with the bio's and acting as mentors. I know of many FP who are very opposed to this and refuse. I OTOH enjoy it very much under the right circumstances. GL!

Oh and I agree with the PP who mentioned you offering to the bmom the things you have been doing with BeBe and how they have been working--another way to work into this is to ask her what she has found that works best in such-and-such situation and then you can both banter together about BeBe and what works what doesnt. Chances are good that even if she doesnt act openly receptive to your ideas she WILL be listening. This was how my relationship went with D's mom. She would say forexample--When do you know how to burp him? I would answer and she would say--Well I always knew when XYZ. Then Id observe her doing it "my way" she was learning, and keeping her pride and felt validated as a parent.

Susan said...

We have had good luck with holding visits in a neutral setting. The kids tend to revert to old behaviors in the bio family home and the parents feel comfortable with the old behaviors. Most of the time we meet at the public library in the children's section. It is a pretty calm place if we avoid story hour times. There are books and puppets that can be used. We have found that our moms tend to lower their voices and encourage the kids to play in a calmer way than at home. If we do go at a story hour time parents learn to sing songs with hand play and see story reading modeled. When the weather is nice we sometimes meet at a park. For us it seems that bio moms tend to try harder to have positive interaction with the kids out in public.