Every now and then you read a book (or these days, listen to a book) that changes your life. For me recently, that has been two books. One that I needed for my current stage in life (I just turned 50) and one that I wish I read at the very beginning of our now 17 year-long fostering journey.
The first book was by Robin Sharma and is called The 5am Club. As the name suggests it is all about getting up early and “starting each day committed to harnessing your mental, emotional, and spiritual power through a standardised early morning routine.”
God knows that as a Foster Parent you need as much mental, emotional and spiritual power as you can get. And yes, God actually does know.
For me, I found this book to be one of the most badly written, but totally life transforming books I have probably ever read. I guess that means it was written well but if you read it, and you should, you will see exactly what I mean.
The thing is, to go on this fostering journey (and to stay on it) boy do you need to get better at mastering your mental and emotional fitness.
The other book I listened to recently (as I worked out at the Gym at 5.15am - go me) is called What Happened to You, and it was written by Oprah Winfrey and renowned brain development and trauma expert Dr Bruce Perry.
This book should be mandatory reading (or listening) for anyone considering fostering - or teaching, or working as a social worker, police officer, security guard, basically anyone with a heart beat. Certainly anyone who believes that ‘kind’ is a key part of the word, humankind.
As a Foster Carer, let me tell you that it can be tough, like, real tough. So you want to make sure what you are doing has at least a decent chance of success because to be honest, sometimes what us good-natured, God loving, love giving Foster Carers do, is the exact opposite to what we probably should be doing. Yes - after 17 years my wife and I have learnt, by numerous mistakes, much of what Dr Perry talks about, but by reading a book like this and understanding the concepts, you will hopefully achieve more thriving than diving.
In a nutshell Oprah Winfrey and Dr Perry “explore how what happens to us in early childhood - both good and bad - influences the people we become. They challenge us to shift from focusing on ‘What’s wrong with you?’ to asking, ‘What happened to you?’”
The book takes a deep dive into how the brain works at different stages and how the order of interventions can be just as important as the type of interventions. There are dozens of real-life stories and different approaches used that made a lasting and measurable difference to both care givers and the ones they care for. This book will move you and hopefully move you…
Life is tough, your upbringing impacts everything about you and how you will behave as a parent, carer, friend, lover and hater. I often say (mostly to myself) that “Nothing changes, if nothing changes.” Sometimes it is a word of encouragement, an ‘aha moment’ or an audio book asking what happened to you, that will make all the difference.
So… what happened to you?