It can be a challenging and yet rewarding experience to become foster parent to a teenager. When you open up your heart and home to a foster teen needing a family you give yourself an opportunity to provide the most precious gifts anyone can offer: the gifts of care, compassion and love.
Foster children often find it difficult to trust others due to the nature of their circumstances, and this can particularly be the case for teenagers who may have been in and out of foster care for most of their lives. Nevertheless, caring for a foster child is not much different from caring for your own child. As with all teenagers, a foster teen needs to know you will always be there for them no matter what.
It is to be expected that your foster teen will have difficulties getting used to a new home and family. A foster child’s idea of family is usually formed by dysfunction and affected by what has been learned by previous experiences. Even if you have the best intentions you may find your teen foster child may be suspicious and unwilling to open up.
Not only should you listen to your foster teen but keep an open mind and hear what he has to say. Foster parents should be prepared to talk to their foster teen about anything but stay away from giving unwanted advice. Most of the time foster teens just want someone to listen to them.
You need to work at establishing a trusting relationship with your foster teen by being reliable and consistent. Show how much you care by keeping your promises and sticking by your words. If you promise to take your foster child somewhere after school don’t change your mind at the last minute.
Share your everyday family activities together. This will help to make your foster teen feel a sense of value and belonging. If you have other children encourage them to interact with your foster teen just the way they would with a good friend or sibling.
Just as you need to discipline your own teen, so you should discipline your foster teen. Explain your house rules and what your expectations are. All teens need rules and will test the boundaries at times, so you need to clearly explain the consequences for breaking the rules. Let your foster child know that you trust her to respect your boundaries.
Parenting a teenaged foster child isn’t easy, but being a parent of any kind is never easy. However, it’s incredibly rewarding and we believe you won’t regret a moment that you spend being a blessing to these children in need. If you’re thinking of becoming a foster parent, particularly to teens, we want to talk to you. Contact us today.