Your child and their feelings

In the same way that you may have new or different feelings, your child can also experience a range of emotions – some of which may be hard for you and other family members to understand.

Children are usually far more adaptable and resilient to new situations and circumstances than adults. However, depending on age and the reasons a child has come to live with you, he or she may want to hide their feelings in order to come to terms with their new life with you and without their parents.

As a result, your child may behave in ways that can be difficult for you to deal with. For example, he or she may appear to be ungrateful and unhappy to be with you. If you can help your child to express, deal with and recover from their experiences and ‘bad’ feelings, this will strengthen your relationship.

Some of the most common feelings experienced by children in kinship care are:

Kinship care grandad and grandsonLoyalty towards their own parents

  • Billy was worried about telling his grandma that he wanted to visit his mum in prison.
  • Billy didn’t like to hear his big brother Tom, telling grandma how horrible their mum was. 

Rejections and abandonment

  • Billy couldn’t understand why his mum had left him with his grandmother when he was a baby and never came back.

Anger

  • Tom felt so angry that his mother left him and his little brother, he often hit other children and was always in trouble at school.

Shame

  • Tom was embarrassed being picked up from school by his gran, especially when his friends were there.
  • Billy felt that everything that had happened was his fault.

Loss

  • Billy misses doing all the things he and his granddad used to do before he went to live with his granddad full time. Billy said: “I wish I could just have my grandad back.”

Guilt

  • Tom’s grandma kept telling him that he should be grateful she ‘took him in’ and that he was the only reason she kept living.

What can you do to help?

Set aside time when you are both feeling happy in order to talk about things that have happened in the past. While you may find it hard, children, depending on their age and developmental stage, benefit from being told the truth and being able to be open and honest with you.

Listen to what your child is trying to tell you. This can be difficult as he or she may tell you something that is hard to hear and hard to believe.

Try to understand that the child is trying to adjust to you and the new relationship. For example, if you are a grandparent you will find it hard to have the same relationship you had before.

Becoming a ‘parent’ means that you have to sometimes be strict and firm. Make new rules for your new family. This involves compromise, negotiation and cooperation.

Kinship Care Helpline

The helpline, email, text and web-chat service is open five days a week - Monday to Friday from 9am to 9pm.

The kinship care helpline is there to listen, and to offer advice, support and information. We can suggest where to go for more help if needed. You can call about any question or concern, no matter how big or small.

T: 08000 28 22 33

Text: 07860 022 844

E: parentlinescotland@children1st.org.uk

We provide a web-chat service during opening hours: