Reminders for foster mamas who share online
Not all of us foster mamas share our story online – many prefer to keep their story as private as possible, and for good reason. But for those foster mamas like myself, who decide for one reason or another to share parts of their foster care journey publicly, there are a few reminders I’d like to share with you to make the sharing of your story as painless as possible.
You may have read that and immediately wondered: why would sharing part of my foster care journey be painful in any way? If that’s the case, I feel thankful that you have yet to experience any backlash from a post about foster care. For the rest of you, maybe the ones who have had a stranger judge you for fostering because they disagree with the institution of foster care itself, or perhaps they themselves felt triggered by something vulnerable that you shared. Whatever the reason, foster care is a topic charged with emotion, and if you’re going to share any part of your story online, I’d love to share the following encouragement with you…
No one gets to tell you what your boundaries should be
If you want to engage with every single negative comment that comes your way, you are absolutely free to do so. If you choose to delete harsh or judgmental comments because it steals your peace or people-pleasing has been a struggle for you in the past, you can do that, too. There is no right or wrong here, as long as you are honoring yourself and setting boundaries as you see fit. Others may try to tell you that that’s not ok, and that all voices should be allowed. But as a human AND a therapist, I wholeheartedly disagree. Your boundaries are YOURS, and they are set by you for a reason. Most likely, your boundaries allow you to feel safe to show up and to show up vulnerably, if you so choose. Whether your boundaries are around foster care, or toxic friends or family members, or anything else in the world, set them as YOU see fit, and don’t let anyone (especially judgy strangers on the internet) talk you out of them.
Set a boundary for yourself around how much time you will spend on social media each day
I recently set the boundary that I will spend no more than 15 minutes a day on Instagram (my online sharing platform of choice). Prior to setting this boundary, my relationship with social media was veering to an unhealthy edge. I felt like I constantly had to converse with people (yep, even judgy strangers) in my comments and in my direct messages, to the detriment of the people I love dearest in this world: my own family and my true friends. I thought I needed to do that because I was worried about what people would think of me if it took me too long to respond, and I also just sincerely wanted to help as many people as possible. Then I remembered: that’s WHY I started my group coaching program, and that’s why I have an online course and community – to share the resources I have learned as a therapist with my fellow foster mamas. I have created two safe containers to do that work, and Instagram is not one of them. So while I will continue to use Instagram to share bits and pieces of my foster care journey and engage with other foster mamas on theirs, I will no longer be a slave to it. And that feels pretty darn amazing to say.
When you show up vulnerably, it WILL trigger people
My friends, when you or I do decide to bare some of our foster mama soul to the world, we should absolutely know and expect that it will trigger some people. That’s why it’s so very important to get clear on WHY you are sharing on social media or online in the first place. Is it to raise awareness for foster care? Is it to encourage more people to become foster mamas? Is it to give a voice to marginalized voices? Is it to support and come alongside foster moms and prospective foster moms? Whatever your reason, hold it tightly when you receive pushback or criticism.
And when you do unintentionally trigger people with something you post, know this: it’s actually a BLESSING. You can continue to pour love on them and know that if they let it, it can be a conduit to their own growth and healing. Because if someone is triggered by something you post on social media and the next thing they do is go ape on you or blast you in your comments or direct messages…they have a LOT of growth and healing to do.
So we can pray for them. We can wish them the best. And if you want, you can continue to converse with them, or, if it feels safer to you, you can delete and block as you see fit.
People are going to have a problem with you one way or the other
I wish I could tell you that if you just post about certain things or in a certain way, judgy strangers on the internet will leave you alone. But my love, that’s just not true. In a recent conversation on my podcast with Jamie Finn, of Foster the Family, I asked her directly: “how do you deal with people who don’t know you coming into your online space and judging you or being mean to you?” She confidently replied: “If you live for the praise of man, you will die by the criticism of man.”
Some people might see my feed and think I’m the best thing to ever happen to foster care (I’m not).
Some people might see my feed and think I’m the worst foster mom on the planet (I’m not).
But the good news is that whatever people think about you is THEIR business. And what you do with those opinions is yours.
For my part, I like to think of my online space as my house. No one is allowed to just come into my house and just steal my things and hurt my people. Likewise, no one is allowed to come into my online space and say whatever they want about me and my people. You see, my intention is to make my online space a SAFE container for my fellow foster mamas. And that might trigger some people. And while that is never my intention, I validate and see how it can and will happen. That’s ok. Again, I send love to those people and pray that they get the help and healing they need. But I also recognize that the help and healing they need isn’t something that I’m supposed to be a part of. And that’s ok too.
Much love to you, my friends! I’m in your corner and I’m cheering you on. So thankful you’re on this journey with me.