Debunking Common Misconceptions About Teens in Foster Care.
Children face all types of unknown on a day to day basis. One of the biggest transitions that a child goes through, is becoming a teenager. I think everyone can openly say they have their opinions on teenagers, whether its how they should talk, how they should act, or what they should or shouldn't do, teenagers are always under a microscope.
One of the biggest support systems a teenager can have is a structured family. They require someone to look up to, show them positivity, and how to love. Most of the time, the thought of fostering a teenager can raise some concerns for a potential foster parent. There are all sorts of misconceptions and assumptions when it comes to teens in foster care and I have created this post to dive into a few of the key ones to discuss and set the record straight.
Teens that have been placed in foster care are there for a reason. They must have some serious issues or have done something unimaginable for their family to give them up.
In the majority of teenage foster cases, the teen has been in foster care for quite some time. It is not typically based on something the teen has done. More often than not, the youth has been in the system since they were an infant. The case and cause for placing youth in the system often times has to do with the actions and choices of their parents. Whether it is substance abuse, violent environment, or an overall neglect from the parents, this is the case the vast majority of the time. A lot of times teens in foster care are thought of as "trouble makers" or "instigators", while in reality, them being in the foster care system has simply nothing to do with their actions or choices.
If they are a teenager, they are old enough to have their own opinions, go about there own ways, and act how they want to act. I will have absolutely no positive influence on them, their mind is made up.
This could not be further from reality. Teenagers may come across as if they know everything or that they are unteachable, when in reality, teens in foster care are desperate for a role model in their life to show them right from wrong, how to form relationships, and how to make decisions for themselves. Teenagers need love. This age range for them is such a traumatic time of changes, both physically and mentally, and having someone by their side to positively guide them is a crucial step in forming their identity. We must teach them how to think, not what to think.
Teenagers in foster care come with a lot of baggage. Their emotional scars might be too much for me to handle and I don't think I can help them like I want to.
Any child, whether in the system or not, develops emotional scars and will unfortunately endure traumatic experiences. This is inevitable. If you are passionate about making a difference in a youths life, you will be provided with all of the support you need. Here at Essential Foundation, we offer 24/7 support to our foster parents including counseling, mediation, and conflict resolution. If you feel led to become a foster parent, do not let this misconception stop you. As adults, we are capable of making an impact in a teenagers life in ways we didn't even realize. Love, guidance, and safety are key to leading a youth in the direction of success. The rest will come naturally.
Fostering any age range can be frightening. All of the unknowns and what if's can certainly add up and lead you to confusion. However, children are the world greatest resource. They require the love and attention that only parental figures can provide for them. The bond between a child and a parent is like no other. It is a special relationship that certainly will come with a little time, but is also a relationship worth fighting for. If you feel led to start your journey, or even to just get some more information on fostering, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are always ready to guide you through this beautiful chapter.