We Saw A Need With Our Foster Children
Our family loves to pretend and play games. When our children were smaller, I created magical creatures that live around our home. Some of this game of pretend came out of needs my wife and I saw early on when our children were still in the foster care system:
- Playful engagement
Our kids were survivors of rough situations, and they didn’t have time to learn how to play. We would show our 23 month old a toy car and would merely get a confused look across his face. Even our five year old daughter would destroy rather than use them for games of make-believe. They would follow us around the house aimlessly. Our children needed to be taught how to play, and the adults needed to show them how to pretend. Dr. Karyn Purvis, a leading researcher and advocate in the field of working with foster and adopted children, emphasizes the importance of “playful engagement” with “children from hard places” in order to connect and to build trust. This is an excellent way to do that!
- Recapture the childhood lost
As I already mentioned, our children were dealing with issues of survival early on instead of playing. Many of us would consider it a crime to rob a child of that magical time when they are young and everything is possible. Discovering magical creatures around the home allowed our children to daily reclaim some of their lost childhood.
- Explain the mysteries of everyday life
Some of the creatures help with fears such as nightmares. Many of our creatures explain certain phenomena such as:
- Why do some girls wake up with tangled hair?
- Why are there creaking noises around the house at night?
Our children enjoyed these creatures so much. I can’t prove it, but I suspect that a couple of them even eventually caught on to the game. However, they continued to pretend for a good many years. Even as most of our kids are teens, they still have great fun talking about those magical creatures that became a part of their lives.
What Did Counselors and Other Professionals Think?
As with most children in the foster care system, our kids were expected to see several therapists, counselors, and doctors quite frequently. It was always interesting to have a counselor call me back to their office and explain to them why a child was talking about little folks living in the walls of a house or finding a Dipsy Toad for good dreams at night. While the explanations always began awkward, many professionals complimented our household on our imaginative creatures that explained everyday phenomena in a playful way.
"Many foster kids are 'parentified' - meaning basically that they've taken on a bit of an adult role with regard to their younger siblings, and need to re-learn that it is OK to be a kid...I think including a sense of fantasy into the worlds of kids can be helpful and fun. Your [Transfiguring Adoption's] idea is very charming, fun, and engaging." - Addison Cooper, LCSW and Founder of Adoption At The Movies
Bring Our Magical Creatures Into Your Home
Therapists and doctors were not the only people that heard about our creatures. Friends, family, and other foster parents were curious about these creatures. We have been asked several times to write about these animals so that other families can use them around their homes. Here is your chance to bring the magic of pretend into your child’s life and create wonderful memories that you’ll talk about for a lifetime.
What To Do?
- Read about the magical creatures in our guide with your child.
- Make it more than a story
You’re going to have to model the pretend for your child by talking about the creatures amidst everyday life. You might think it’s difficult to pretend yourself. However we have tried to do some of the thinking for you to get the ball rolling. Participate in the suggested activities we have included at the end of each creature’s description.
- When your child gets to the age of moving past belief in magical creatures or when they discover that it’s all a game, it’s OKAY.
It has been sad to have to tell each of our kids that Santa Clause does not exist. However, we have told them that adults like to play, too. We have then invited them to help us make Christmas magical for other little children by continuing the pretend in a small child’s presence. Foster and adoptive kids know that the world is full of strife, BUT you can show them that it is a fun world as well.
Share With Us
Please add fun games and events to our guide as you pretend with your child. Make sure to comment in the blogs about your ideas. You will help other parents who are participating in the fun.