When it comes to teens in foster care, the statistics can be sobering:
- Only 58% of teenagers in foster care live with a family
- Over 20,000 “age out” of the system without being adopted or reunited with family
When you begin your journey as a foster parent to a teenager, there is a lot that you need to learn before your first foster teen arrives. These are three tips for fostering teenagers that will help you and your foster teen get off on the right foot as they adjust to their new environment.
Focus on Responsibility but Don’t Overstep
It’s important to provide some structure for your foster teen and emphasize responsibility. However, it is also important to not overstep certain boundaries. Your foster teen will likely have a different relationship with responsibility than you or the other children in your household, if there are any. Your foster teen may have different routines and expectations than you and your family, especially when it comes to meals and bedtime. Acknowledge these differences and give your foster teen the freedom to make some of these decisions for themself, especially in the beginning.
Help Your Foster Teen Settle In
Moving to a new foster home can be a big adjustment for a foster teen. They may feel like everyone is against them and expects the worst from them. Give your teen time to adjust to the change and don’t be discouraged if they do not immediately mesh as well with your family as you initially hoped.
You can also do things for your foster teen to help them feel valued and at home in your space, such as:
- Learning their favorite snacks and food
- Taking them shopping for school outfits
- Giving them access to a bike, TV, or other forms of entertainment
Small gestures may go a long way in helping your foster teen trust you, and these actions may help make the adjustment process easier.
Give Your Foster Teen Privacy
While you may feel the need to get very involved in your foster teen’s life, they may want you to respect their privacy. There is no need to micromanage your foster teen or ask intrusive or overly personal questions when getting to know them. Instead, ask them about their hobbies and the things they enjoy. Treating your foster teen with respect will invite that same treatment in return, so focus on getting your foster teen to feel comfortable and safe in your home.
If you would like more information about parenting teens in foster care, contact Generational Child Care.
Generational Child Care serves foster children from birth up until 21 years old and places them in safe, supportive homes. We also offer assistance, including licensing and training, for prospective foster parents. Call Generational Child Care today: 478-477-1289