Does A Title Define?

I’ve had a lot of titles in my life. Some were made, some were earned, some were given.

Like most parents of the male persuasion, the title I love most is Dad. People tell me I’m a great dad. My kids tell me I’m a great dad. My wife and parents tell me I’m a great dad. But that which re-enforces to me most of all, that I may indeed be a great dad, is when people inform me how wonderful my children are.

Now I’m also the first to admit that I’m far from a perfect parent. But let me tell you, I’ve seen some pretty bad ones. Where and how you ask? Well, I’ve been a Foster Carer for over twelve years, and I’ve seen things I dare not print. My own four children have grown up seeing a side to life you wouldn’t ever wish upon them again. But they’ve grown to be tolerant, respectful, empathetic, and most of all……. OPTIMISTIC.

Now with 50+ youngsters moving through our home over that time, many of them came with titles. To be more to the point, you’d call them labels. Some of those labels came from their families, the protective agencies, and society. But more often those labels came from themselves. Shields to help block out the pain. Weapons to hide it. But with every young soul we encountered, I found that that eternal optimism was rubbing off on them, bit by bit. Sometimes these youngsters took quickly to the love and sunny-side on offer. Sometimes it took longer, much longer. But it was always on offer, and was always offered freely.

When people comment about the great job we have done with “such and such”, or the amazing outcome with “those kids”, we didn’t do it alone. Often Foster Parents are the enemy, fighting the barriers and barricades in our way of helping young people in care. But our four kids, our Optimistic Ambassadors, were the ones that were their friends. Sharing their toys, sharing their rooms, sharing their stories, sharing their friends, sharing their lives. In fact saving lives.

When I tell you my children and my wife are optimistic, it’s not the title that defines them. But to me, and many others, they define the title.

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