Hi, my name is Chrissy,
I have a daughter Elizabeth she is currently 8 years old. We would love to share with you our experiences with fostering teenagers.
I have over the years fostered many teenagers. Five to be exact. No I am not a machine, nor am I oblivious to the challenges everyone faces when parenting/raising or fostering a teenager. My experience have been varied and I would like to share with you the positives to taking on a teenager.
Many shy away from taking a teenager into their home and here are some of the reasons why…
- We have all heard the stories from many in the Fostering community that their young person is always missing from placement. They never return or never home on time.
- We hear stories about how they address us and their environment.
- Using the house like a hotel.
All sound familiar?
Well let me shed some light on the positives. My first teenager was very distant. Had a life of her own before coming into my care. She had her own set of friends. Went to school independently. Was accountable for herself. She followed her own set of rules and made her own boundaries. She did what she wanted and went where she pleased.
After coming into my care and loving in my home. I am sure she was overwhelmed with the rules and safer caring policy. I am sure that this all seemed alien to her. I am sure that all of a sudden she has to follow rules, boundaries and had to make sure she informed me of her whereabouts. Theses things were non negotiable (keeping in with the placement agreement and safer caring policy set out by the agency and Local authority) I am confident that this provoked feelings inside her we could never understand.
Not only did this YP not ask for this situation but now she has to follow rules from a stranger and claims that it’s to keep her safe. Something she has been doing herself for many years.
I first was met with this challenge within the first year of fostering. I can tell you that it isn’t much fun when you have never been faced with a teenager before. But I embraced all that was available to me. Went on as many courses as I could. Gained confidence in my abilities. Then applied this to my young person.
To my amazement and joy, with every day that passed life got easier for myself and my young person. We established a great relationship of mutual respect and trust. We lived separate but joined lives, and in time we became close. She trusted I was there to help guide and care for her. She trusted to come to me. She trusted that even if she made mistakes, we would be able together to resolve them.
We did make positive steps. We worked together in making agreements about home times. We worked together with house chores.
We shared stories together and went for meals. We shared in liked interests and explored new ones together.
I helped her emotional development, through communication and role modelling. Slowly but surely I saw what can only be described as a metamorphosis. It was beautiful to watch her grow and blossom. I saw with my own eyes her mature.
My YP taught me a lot about the here and now. The world of teenagers. Allowed me access to how they view the world today, and how much it differs from when I was a teenager. She gave me much more than I expected.
I am grateful for that early experience and will hold that close to my heart as I will all my placements.
I guess I wanted to say that there is so much more to teenagers than meets the eye. Don’t see it as a challenge but a chance to grow.
If you’d like to find out more about fostering then get in touch on 0208 347 8741 or download our guide here