Professionally, Rick is a Customer Engagement and Digital Experience expert who helps companies use technology to better relate and interact with their customers. Personally, Rick is the President of the VCFPA. Rick and his wife Lisa have been foster parents to over 85 children, adoptive parents to four children and biological parents to another four children. Read Rick's full bio on our site at About Us --> Officers and Board of Directors
Trust Yourself - You're Probably Right!
We've all been there...
How many times have you been talking to someone as foster parent, relative care provider or adoptive parent and you ask a question and get an answer that is just so unexpected or off the wall that you say to yourself "Am I crazy, that can't be right?"
Now ask yourself how many time you actually accept the answer your were provided (no matter how crazy it sounded) and went about your day.
Let me be the first to ask you WHY?
Why didn't you trust your gut?
Why didn't you ask for that to be verified?
Why didn't you ask who else you could speak with to make sure the answer was correct?
Why didn't you trust yourself and your experience as a care provider and listen to that little voice in the back of your mind that was screaming at you saying, "STOP!"
While it is very easy for me to ask you these questions and challenge you with all of the "Whys" it probably isn't easy for you to answer. As human beings, the decision making process that biologically occurs in our brains in the nanoseconds between hearing information and responding is extremely complex.
Athletes, soldiers, and even key members of the business world spend their entire careers perfecting the skill of being able to rapidly process information, make extremely complex decisions, and then respond, not only quickly, but effectively. Think about it - doctors make split second medical decisions based on years of training that can save a life - or lose a life. Air Traffic Controllers track hundreds of planes that carry thousands of people and guide them through the sky based on a blip on a radar screen. What make these people different? How can they do this so confidently and be so empowered to trust their own judgement without hesitation?
It all comes down to three key things that you - yes you - the foster parent, relative care provider, or adoptive parent do on a daily basis but just aren't ware.
Training, Education, and Experience = Confidence
It goes without saying that every one of us is highly trained and we are without a doubt professionals in caring for children. Long gone is the day of the foster parent or care provider who is nothing more than a glorified baby sitter or in it for the money. Lord knows we don't make money in this profession.
Think about it... we are specifically trained in dealing with children who have experienced trauma or that suffer from emotional, physical, or mental disabilities. WE ARE NOT just professional parents, WE ARE professionals at dealing with some of the most complex and difficult children in the world. You know the ones... The ones the schools struggle to support, the ones the doctors just can't quite diagnose, or the ones the therapist just can't fix. These are the kids we take into our homes, the ones we love, the ones we make a part of our family, and tuck into bed each night. Let's face it, most of the children that come into our life aren't normal or easy in any way.
You - as a licensed or certified care provider - attend 20 or more hours of formal training a year, attend networking and support groups - like the VCFPA, you read books on topics to deal with obscure and often unbelievable behaviors, you work with domain professionals to fill the gaps and in the end try whatever you can think of to make it work. Now, multiply this scenario by the number of children you've had in your home since you started this profession.
I took the time to tell you this because I think you need to be reminded in the loudest voice possible to have confidence in your training, education and experiences. Just because you don't have "letters behind you name" like MBA, MSW, Dr., or even CEO doesn't mean you don't know what you're talking about. In fact, I would challenge that every one year of hand-on experience would equal two years of formal education.
Try, Fail, Repeat = Practice makes Perfect
Remember the first time you picked up a Rubik's Cube and spent over an hour to get one color on just one side? Now think about how quickly you could accomplish this same task after a month. In fact, after a month, you were probably able to get it on two sides or even three. Most likely some of you solved it by then. But why?
Well, the reason is pretty simple. You trained your brain to solve a six-dimensional puzzle by trail and error. You focused on solving all six sides simultaneously, not one by one. Every twist and turn that didn't work you trained your brain on what path not to take. You kept doing this over and over until the only path left was the right one.
When it comes to processing information or trusting yourself or feeling confident the only way you are going to get better is by trying and failing until you find an approach that works for a given situation. Don't hold back, don't keep it in. If it doesn't sound right just speak up. The more you do this the more quickly you're going to be able to interpret, assess, and respond the next time - practice makes perfect!
Trust BUT Verify = Accuracy
The quote, “trust, but verify,” is actually an old Russian proverb that President Ronald Reagan used during arms control negotiations with Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev in the 1980's. The Russian People and Ronald Reagan were onto something that those professionals I mentioned earlier do all the time. In short, just because someone tell you something doesn't mean that you are released from you OBLIGATION to make sure that it is correct before acting on that information.
As a trained, professional care provider you have endless ways to validate any information or material you might have been given on your topic of discussion - all you have to do is use it. Here are some simple ways to validate info:
Ifyou need to validate info from a social workerthenyou can talk with the SW Supervisor or Manager
Ifyou need to validate anything you heard from any of the people above because it still doesn't sound right then talk with an advocate organization like AdvoKids or the VCFPA - we might not know the answer on the spot but we can get to the bottom of it.
In closing the formula for getting the right answer is pretty simple:
Confidence + Practice Makes Perfect + Accuracy = You're Probably Right so Trust Yourself!