When It is Time to Let the Mullet Go: Realizing Improved and Carrying out Improved in Foster Care


I was a youngster of the 80s.  I was raised on Trapper Keepers, mix tapes, and scratch n sniff stickers.  I even bear in mind when Honey Smacks have been additional accurately nevertheless named Sugar Smacks (according to a 2008 study they are additional than 50% sugar by weight – no kidding).

And I had a mullet.  Business up front, celebration in the back.

It could be argued that the mullet is a timeless hair style.  Apparently, archaeologists have found proof of the mullet in ancient Mesopotamia, Syria, Egypt and Greece dating back to as far as the 16th century BC.  

So whilst the 80s didn’t invent the mullet, our generation re-found its ancient glory for the duration of this time.

Several of us carried the mullet into early 90s as nicely.  I entered college as a music key with a mullet on my head and leather jacket on my back.  Yes, I was a living, breathing cliché. Then, following my freshman year, I went to California for a summer season-lengthy missions expertise.  Part of the deal was that we all had to uncover a summer season job inside the 1st two weeks of arriving. One particular of my quite 1st interviews was at quickly meals spot.  “You have the job…but you will have to reduce your hair.”

Thanks, but no thanks.  The mullet stays.

Many days passed and then a week.  I nevertheless didn’t have a job. I was from Kansas and it was sort of surprising to me that California, of all areas, didn’t appear to have an appreciation for cool hair.  As the job deadline approached, I was starting to come to grips with my fate. I had an interview at a Jack in the Box and predictably I was told “You have the job…but you will have to reduce your hair.”

Mercy. Uncle.

Watching numerous inches of hair fall to the floor of the barbershop didn’t prove to be practically as devastating as I could possibly have believed.  I got employed to the adjust quite swiftly. My girlfriend didn’t even dump me for a guy with cooler hair (in reality, she at some point married me).  Every when in a whilst, we attain a point in life exactly where we understand that it is time for the mullet to go.

Maya Angelou mentioned “Do the greatest you can till you know improved.  Then when you know improved do improved.”

Almost every single one particular of us entered the foster care planet naively.  We have been convinced of a lot of points. From the moment we make the quite 1st telephone get in touch with to ask how to apply to be a foster parent, we commence to gradually and steadily have our assumptions dismantled.  We are excited and prepared to assistance children who are waiting for assistance. Of course, the individual on the other finish of the telephone is going to be just as excited to get my assistance and will get in touch with me back suitable away and inform me how superb it is to hear from me.  And then there is the paperwork that appears additional geared toward maintaining individuals out than letting individuals in. Then comes the coaching exactly where it positive sounds like they are attempting to speak people out of this entire factor. Then the children show up and, more than time, their preciousness exceeds our expectations as does the manifestations of the trauma they have skilled.  We brace ourselves to meet their monstrous biological parents only to uncover individuals broken like us and merely slightly taller versions of their valuable youngsters, searching for methods to heal themselves of their personal childhood wounds.

The very same is accurate for these that enter into the youngster welfare profession.  Every day holds a new reminder that this entire factor is not precisely what you believed it was.  Change comes tougher and our enthusiasm appears to have significantly less impact on justice than we had when dreamed.

The additional skilled we became, the significantly less we know.  This very easily and all-as well-typically leads to cynicism and burnout.  But it does not have to.

We can either say “nothing works” and resign ourselves to diminishing hope or we can pick to say, “maybe it does not perform due to the fact we didn’t do it the suitable way.”  Every one particular of these disappointments can be a creating block of expertise that aids us to know improved, and then do improved.  The superior ol’ days are not constantly that superior if we assume about it. Sometimes, it becomes clear that it is time to move on to improved points. We understand that it is time for the mullet to go.

I was not too long ago at a conference exactly where youngster welfare experts and advocates gathered from about the nation to discover from one particular a further how to do improved.  Right here are numerous examples from this conference and beyond:

  • We know now that advocating for precise youngsters with the individuals who currently know them is a improved way to recruit than placing up a billboard on the side of the interstate.  
  • We know now that the language we use in recruitment can sometime attract people searching to rescue children from “bad” households and place them into “good” households.  We can adjust that. We can as an alternative recruit possible foster households that are passionate about coming alongside biological households to bring restoration and reinforce these relationships — even in instances exactly where youngsters cannot return residence safely.  
  • We know now that half of foster households will not final a year unless they are surrounded by individuals who really like them and assistance them.  So let’s not sign them on till we assistance them get the assistance they will need.
  • We know now that the behaviors of our youngsters are quite typically the outcome of the traumatic points they have skilled.  This shouldn’t result in us to abandon structure, expectations, and discipline, but rather assistance us to add empathy and understanding to these points.

When we know improved, we do improved.

There is a further side to this that is genuinely essential for these of us that have been in this for a whilst.  When new individuals come along, we have to be exceedingly cautious not to despise them for becoming naive like we when have been.  The temptation is to give into cynicism and dismiss them. The suitable factor to do is to bear in mind that we have been there when, and we required other people to come alongside of us and assistance us to develop.  Here are a handful of examples you will be familiar with:

  • When an individual suggests to you that they’ve constantly wanted to create an orphanage for children in foster care, do not get judgy on them.  Just gently guide them in the points we know now about the significance of family members. They are a possible ally for you to assistance children and households.  They are at least considering about assisting children — bear in mind, that is not accurate of absolutely everyone.
  • When a couple calls about foster parenting and asks for only babies below a year-old, do not turn them away and coldly inform them there are only older children in foster care.  For one particular factor, that is basically not accurate. Secondly, you have the possibility to assistance this couple develop in their understanding and potentially assistance a youngster they in no way dreamed would be in their residence.  
  • When an individual says they couldn’t do foster care due to the fact they couldn’t deal with the birth households, do not create them off.  Plenty of individuals have fully changed their philosophies about birth households following a single interaction with a birth mom.

When we know improved, we do improved.  Let’s assistance every single other on each fronts.  When it is time to leave the mullet behind, do not appear back.  Better hair is ahead.

This post initially appeared in our Foster Roster e-newsletter which is delivered every single Friday. We hold it brief and sweet and fill it with sensible articles, videos, weblog posts and other tools for leaders like you functioning to assistance children and households in foster care.  To sign up, go to http://bit.ly/1rwn6eO.


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