Problem Child, Difficult Child. Imagination in Recession.

Moses was a foster child and look at the trauma his foster parents experienced. Superman was a foster child and I’m sure the ability to see through walls didn’t do him any favours in childhood. Harry Potter was fostered  and defined as a problem child, a difficult child  and Lisbeth Salander,  the girl with the dragon tattoo,  was fostered and  institutionalised as a  psychotic.  I could go on with a list of characters from the heart of our popular culture who were fostered and defined by unchallenged language  such as their being “difficult” and “challenging.”  Are they  a problem to be solved or  a solution waiting to happen.

Why have we not made the connection between the brilliance of these children and the brilliance of real foster children who  use extraordinary skills to deal with extraordinary situations on a daily basis.  They don’t deserve our distancing  self regarding head tilted pity.  They don’t deserve the unquestioned assertion that they are “difficult” and “challenging” with a “troubled past”.  We know that they have these incredible stories of survival the moment they land on the doorstep of the care system.  We exploit them by our lazy labels that do more to excuse our treatment of them than anything else. Shouldn’t we be finding language to truly describe them

And worse is the blatant hypocracy in that  we recognise the acute brilliance of  Harry Potter but not the foster child in our midst?  Whole religions have been built on the words of a foster child. Moses.  (Jesus was born of a single parent and a step father and the writings have us believe he was a spectacularly “challenging”  child adult.)   By highlighting  how “difficult”  a child is we deflect the question of our own responsibilities.   Often foster parents make these statements before passing the “difficult child” on to an ever decreasing circle of parents willing to take him. They, the foster parents,   are not to blame – We are.

Incidentally (or not) the reason there’s such a drive  towards fostering, the reason their are more children in care than ever before  is quite simple and nobody seems to admit it:   It’s the recession “stupid.”

1 thought on “Problem Child, Difficult Child. Imagination in Recession.

  1. Gareth Gates – a man who is slowly turning into a prophet – was on telly this morning. His words, whilst occasionally clumsy, spoke of great joy and pride in being in a fostering family. I’m awaiting a Cameron/IDS response to this problem. Are we becoming better at our handling of the disconnected and isolated? We should aim to include and embrace more and divide and dismiss less. A plague on stigma and the past. A brave new dawn? That would be nice.

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