Fostering self‐esteem: exploring adult recollections on the influence of foster parents


attachment theory, foster carers, self‐esteem, support


Foster parents are in a unique position to improve the self‐esteem of children in their care, which may be lower than that of their non‐fostered peers. According to Harter's dual‐influence model, both general support or attachment and domain‐specific support contribute to self‐esteem. The current study used this model to explore the ways in which foster parents had influenced the self‐esteem of a sample of five adults with differing foster care experiences. Retrospective interviews were used to gather memories of high self‐esteem from time spent in foster care. A thematic analysis of the interview transcripts supported Harter's model, and provided a number of examples of ways in which foster parents could boost children's self‐esteem. The model was further extended to show the importance of ‘normality’ and inclusion for this sample of fostered adults. Further research on this topic is recommended with a view to widening the scope of foster carer training beyond attachment theory.

Original Publication Citation

Luke, N., & Coyne, S. M. (2008). Fostering self-esteem: Exploring adult recollections on the influence of foster parents. Child and Family Social Work, 4, 402-410.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



Child and Family Social Work




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor