Training Up Children

Megan Stiver Profile
Article by Megan Stiver
Foster Parent

We became licensed foster parents in the spring of 2014 and since then our "family photo" has gone through multiple changes. Our first, short-term placement added two boys, making us parents to six boys in all; our second group of siblings kept us at six kids, but added a girl to the mix; and currently five rambunctious boys call our house home.

Being a foster family has not only changed our family size and composition, but many other aspects of our lives as well. Our schedules have had to change to include appointments and therapies; our expectations have had to change as we figure out a new "normal" for life with traumatized kids; our discipline strategies have had to flex and expand.

My hope and belief is that amidst it all, not only are schedules and strategies changing, but that lives are changing as well.

I believe the biggest changes have come in our own lives as parents and a family. God has used foster care to reveal the greatness of His love and grace, as we have been challenged to extend the same to children who act out in defiance or struggle with regressive behaviors. He has helped us develop patience, self-control, and wisdom. He has established an extra measure of love and healing in our own hearts. Romans 12:2 says,

"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."

While being a foster mom, I have had to continually ask God to help me not conform to the world’s way of doing things — growing impatient, holding onto bitterness, giving up when it gets tough, or complaining about the “system”. Instead, I have tried to dig deep into the Word of God and press into His presence to renew my mind from those patterns of thinking and to transform me into what will make me more like Him — and a better mom!

But the truth is, when we started our journey as foster parents our focus wasn’t on all the ways God would change us, but how we thought we could make a difference in the lives of children in need.

Proverbs 22:6 tells us,

"Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it."

We expected to step into our role as foster parents to provide “training up” and parenting that would help correct mistakes made against these kids in the past. While our efforts to do that in the way each child has needed have not always been as fruitful as we expected, we have seen change in many positive ways, from overcoming speech disabilities to learning how to say sorry after a conflict. We have helped build behavioral skills, encouraged emotional expression, and seen academic improvement. We have witnessed significant physical changes as we encouraged healthy eating and exercise habits.

Most importantly, we know we have planted seeds of spiritual change. During our very first placement my husband was able to tell the children in our home that God made them and loved them — something they had never heard before! During our few years as a foster family, our greatest desire has been that God would use our family as His tool to establish His lasting, spiritual changes in the hearts and lives of the little ones He brings into our home. While we may never see the full effects of the seeds planted, we are thankful for our part to plant the seeds of change that others may water and that God will cause to grow.

Megan and her husband Lance are currently Foster Parents at Gateway Woods.