Who says “I love you ” on Mother’s Day?

Who says “I love you” on Mother’s day in Foster Care

Mother’s Day on the second Sunday in May coincides with the National Foster Care Month. This year it is on Sunday May 14, 2023.

So it’s timely to think of ways how everyone can celebrate Mother’s Day in the Foster Care ecosystem by saying “I love you,” to the foster child. This is the reverse of the biological child saying “I love you” on Mother’s Day. But first some background.

Mother’s day is meant to honor all mother figures in our lives including our own mothers, aunts, god mothers, foster mothers, grandmothers etc. Later visions of Mother’s day included the community leadership role that mother have always played. At StartFosterCare we believe that foster mothers are true heroes because they take the mother’s role beyond their own children.

There is a history Ph.D. Thesis ” Memorializing motherhood: Anna Jarvis and the struggle for control of Mother’s Day” by history professor Katharine Lane Antolini. And the origins of Mother’s Day is fascinating. We quote:

“Mother’s Day celebrated its centennial in May 2008. A century before, on May 10,1908, four hundred members of the Andrews Methodist Church, in Grafton, West Virginia, and a crowd of fifteen thousand people at the Wanamaker Store Auditorium in Philadelphia attended the first official observance of Mother’s Day in the United States. The following year, forty-three additional states joined West Virginia and Pennsylvania in commemorating the day. The speed and extent of the observance’s popularity gratified its founder, Anna Jarvis. It was obvious to her that the country’s sons and daughters craved such a day of maternal tribute as she recounted how “thousands and thousands of persons in all walks of life, with the mother-hunger in their hearts, found Mother’s Day a blessing, a comfort and an uplift.”
She resolved to devote her life to the day’s perpetuation and, after six years of urging, Congress designated Mother’s Day a national holiday in 1914. The Mother’s Day Flag Resolution (H.J. Res. 263) empowered the President of the United States to issue a formal proclamation calling on the American people to honor the nation’s mothers by displaying the American flag on all government buildings and private homes on the second Sunday in May.”Source : Page 1, Ph.D. Thesis , Katharine Lane Antolini (2010)

For our readers interested in the historical role of Anna Jarvis, in founding Mother’s Day read Dr. Antolini’s book at Amazon.

Anna Jarvis did not like the way Mother’s Day got commercialized.

It turns out the Americans spend the second highest on Mother’s Day after Christmas.

Mother’s day is not about spending money by the foster kid (who has precious little anyway) but about who says “I love you” . A Foster Kid is already traumatized and needs more support than your biological kid to celebrate Mother’s day. Here are some ideas everyone involved in foster care, particularly foster moms:

Saying “I love you

Foster Care academic research is silent on whether Foster Moms,Biological Mothers or Social workers do say say “I/We love you” to the child. Anecdotally, we understand that many foster parents do so. However, there is a fascinating piece of research by Richard Wilkins, and Elisabeth Gareis,”Emotion expression and the locution “I love you”: A cross-cultural study.”  in International Journal of Intercultural Relations. They conduct research and identify the relational context in which people say “I love you.” The 77 respondents were from a Communication undergraduate college course. We can assume that most of the respondents were from functional families that we consider “normal”.

Naturally romantic love declarations had the highest numbers. Followed by parental numbers where love was expressed. As you can see parents said “I love you” twice the number of times than kids said “I love you”. Similarly grandparents said ” I love you” to grandkids more often than grandkids who said “I love you” to their grandparents. In other words, in “normal” families parents and grandparents say “I love you” far more often than kids say “I love you” back to them. In other words, kids in “normal” family situations seem to be shy of saying “I love you” to their parents and grandparents. For saying “I love you” comes with a fear of “what if the other person does not love me?”

Understand the fear of rejection in saying”I love you”

It is not common for a kid to say “I love you ” from a “normal” family as indicated in the research above. One can only imagine how hard it must be for a foster kid to say “I love you” to their foster mom, biological mom or any other mother figure. For the foster child, the fear of rejection is real.

Take the leadSay “I/We love you“to the foster kid

For all mother figures in the foster care system it is probably important to take the lead and say “we love you”, to the foster child. With this you can encourage the child to reach out to their other mother figures via text, call or card for mother’s day. Try to reduce the fear in the child’s mind of saying “I love you” for Mother’s Day!

Take the initiative for a get together

As we come out of the pandemic plan a get-together. That could be at a restaurant (expensive on Mother’s Day!) , picnic or backyard party. Be sure to invite mother figures in the child’s life. There are two goals for such a gathering. First the foster parents can reduce the hostile feelings that biological parents have towards foster parents. Second, you give reunification a chance- a major goal of the 2023 National Foster Care Month.

Happy Mother’s Day and National Foster Care Month to all!

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