Recently I’ve been asking myself, “Does culture neutral clothing exist?” And if so, should I aim to dress my foster children in a culture neutral way or in a way similar to their cultural background? One of the biggest surprises I had as a foster parent was learning [the hard way] how important foster children’s clothing style is and the complexity that culture plays. At first it seemed trivial. Do I really have to address my foster child’s mom’s issues regarding the stores I shop at for clothing? As long as the clothes are clean and neat, does it matter what they’re wearing? Aren’t there much bigger issues at hand to be discussing in this foster child’s life? Well, after years of fighting it, I’ve finally learned to accept and embrace the significance of how I dress my foster children for their family visits.
The easiest way for me to rearrange my thinking about how I dress my foster kids is to imagine visitation with their family to be like church. Dress up. Dress nice. Make an effort, or at least look like you did. Look around and see if this is a blue-jeans-Sunday-morning kind of church or a stocking-and-a-hat-even-on-Wednesday-nights kind of church.
Even when I’ve been the same skin color as my foster kid’s moms, our cultural backgrounds have barely overlapped. A style that looks cheap to me will look respectful and fancy to my foster child’s mom. A style that I think is fancy and respectful will be viewed as dowdy and haphazard.
Is this a conflict?
How much does it matter?
May is National Foster Care Month! You may also like 21 People Who Have Done 21 Different Things to Help My Foster Kids and Fosterhood’s First Day at Babble!
Read more of Rebecca’s writing at her Blog Here.