The emotional roller coaster that is foster parenting has many highs, lows, twists and turns. It’s exhilarating, exhausting and everything in between. The decision to foster isn’t easy and the experience sometimes involves heartache but, for foster parents who believe in changing the life of a child in need, it’s an incredible and rewarding journey. Music, as is often the case, can capture the essence of parenting, foster or otherwise, in ways words sometimes fail to do.
Here are five songs every foster parent must hear:
Beautiful Boy by John Lennon
You probably heard of this guy who started that band The Beatles. Well, he also happened to be raised in a kinship situation by his Aunt Mimi after his mother Julia could no longer adequately care for him. This song, a dreamy lullaby to his son Sean, captures every parent’s desire to build a world that’s safe and secure for their children.
Listen to this: Before you cross the street/Take my hand/Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.
Forever Young by Rod Stewart
Not to be confused with Bob Dylan’s song of the same name, Rod Stewart’s tune about his kids has become a staple of father-daughter/mother-son songs at weddings. The song, like others on this list, is a wish list of things a foster parent would like to see for the child in their care – to grow proud, dignified and true.
Listen to this: And when you finally fly away/ I’ll be hoping that I served you well/ For all the wisdom of a lifetime/No one can ever tell/But whatever road you choose/I’m right behind you win or lose
Father / Son by Cat Stevens
As a foster parent, you only want the best for the children in your care. You want them to experience all the joy and love you’ve experienced while avoiding all the pain and heartbreak that’s also come your way. But children have to go their own way, make their own mistakes and live their own life. No song captures this conversation between parent and child better than this classic Cat Stevens song.
Listen to this: I was once like you are now, and I know that it’s not easy/To be calm when you’ve found something going on/But take your time, think a lot/Why, think of everything you’ve got/For you will still be here tomorrow/But your dreams may not.
Here For You by Neil Young
Written for his then 21-year-old daughter Amber Jean, this song is all about the pain of having to let go and accept that your child has grown and must go on alone. For a foster mom who might have to watch the child in her care leave, the ache is particularly strong. But as Neil Young points out in his song – “Yes, I’ll miss you, but I never want to hold you down.”
Listen to this: In the spring, protective arms surrounding you/ In the fall, we let you go your way/ Happiness I know will always find you/ And when it does, I hope that it will stay.
Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon and Garfunkel
Alright, so this song isn’t written specifically about children – it’s instead directed at Paul Simon’s then wife Peggy Harper. But listen closely to the lyrics and you’ll see it’s a song about being there to help someone through the hardest of times — and what is parenting without steering your children through hard times. Foster parents, who take vulnerable children into their homes when they need it most, should definitely see themselves in Simon’s lyrics.
Listen to this: When you’re weary, feeling small/ When tears are in your eyes, I’ll dry them all (all)/ I’m on your side, oh, when times get rough/ And friends just can’t be found/ Like a bridge over troubled water/ I will lay me down
Please let us know your five songs every foster parent must hear in the comments below and we’ll be sure to share them on a playlist.
Lloyd Nelson is the Digital Media Manager of Foster and Adoptive Family Services. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.