The moment when you wave goodbye to the last child to leave your home can be a moment of mixed emotions. Pride that they have succeeded and achieved enough to attend university, move abroad, or get a place of their own, tinged with a realisation that their leaving the nest will end a close bond.
Yes, there is the undoubted joy that you won’t have to do their laundry or restock a fridge two days after a large supermarket shop, but those actions are part and parcel of being a loving nurturing parent. If any of these points sound familiar you may be suffering from empty nest syndrome.
In the months since they moved out the house may have seemed quieter, less noise, less hustle and bustle. It can be a huge change for parents who have spent decades living with children, chatting to them and advising them as they embark on life’s journey. These are, in fact, important and vital skills that are sorely needed in fostering. You could argue that a CV that shows decades of successful nurturing and care, ultimately leading to a well-balanced young adult moving out into the world are the perfect skills for a potential foster carer.
Affinity Fostering are always on the lookout for experienced parents. People who can share the safe and secure environment that they raised their own children in with a child in need of a home. As well as filling your nest, deciding to foster can also have a massive impact and positive influence on the life of a young person (you can read about Gladys and Felix and the effect they had on their first placement here). Stepping in to help another young person achieve and receive opportunities that they may never have had access to is not only hugely rewarding, it’s also a learning experience. Every child is different, as are their needs, a foster carer is never going to be that child’s parent, but they can become an adult they learn to trust.
As someone who has already waved goodbye to your own children, experienced empty nesters are also familiar with loving and caring and then letting go, which is a useful skill for those working in fostering. This is because we never know how long a placement will last. It could be a matter of weeks, months, or even years. The flexibility and emotional resilience gleaned from raising teenagers into adults is invaluable and, in many cases, the end of a placement isn’t necessarily a goodbye as young people do sometimes choose to maintain contact with their foster families, creating a wider family network.
So, if you have suddenly found yourself staring at an empty bedroom door, missing that extra face at dinner, or have been thinking about how long it might be before you become a grandparent, maybe a career in fostering might be perfect for you.