Foster parenting is commendable and rewarding, but it can also come with a whole new set of challenges that you may not experience as a birth parent. Oftentimes, the concern over these challenges are a big reason why teenagers in foster care aren’t taken into homes as readily as babies and young children, but the truth is that 13-17 year olds are still children who need love and a sense of security just as much as an infant or toddler. Here are some things to keep in mind, whether you’re considering taking a foster teen into care or already have.
It’s Common For Teens to Get Moved Around From Place to Place
Adolescents need stability just as much as younger children do, but that consistently seems to go overlooked in foster care. Many teens are bypassed every year for the chance to be placed in a long-lasting home environment where they can become part of a family, which results in them constantly moving from home to home or having to live in group or institutional situations until they age out of the system at 18. Unfortunately, this leads to a depressingly high number when it comes to aging out statistics.
Teens Have More Emotions and a Different Perspective on Their Situation
Teens in general have more complicated emotions than children. Add in the trauma from the abusive and troublesome experiences many teens in foster care have had, and you can only imagine those emotions would be heightened. They usually have more memories, both good and bad, about the time spent with their birth parents, which come with feelings of anger and disappointment and a deeper knowledge about why they’re in their current situation. Foster parents that take the time to understand this will be much more successful in their journey to provide a home for a teen placed in their care.
Teens Require Help Preparing For the Future
As any parent knows, the kind of parenting that is required changes with each new chapter of a child’s life. The same holds true for foster parents. As pre-teens start heading into the years that will actually prepare them to be an adult, there are many life skills that must be taught at home. For fostered teenagers, these lessons will need to come from their foster parents so they can navigate the road that lies ahead of them with favor and come out on top. This support and preparation is what will give teens the opportunity to make a “normal” life for themselves and not let past experiences define their future.
Teens Need a Real Life Role Model
Besides providing the love, stability and support mentioned above, one of the most important things a foster parent can give a teenager is a role model to look up to. This will help to remind them that there are people in this world who care enough to do good things and have a positive impact. Throughout the teenage years is when role models can leave the biggest impression and be an inspiration even in difficult times.
Fostering teenagers may not be a walk in the park at all times, but what teenager doesn’t cause at least a little angst in their parent’s lives? However, being empathetic, offering guidance and instilling confidence will go a long way in making a real difference in the lives of teens in foster care.