For a lot of foster parents, fostering a teen seems difficult. Teens, in general, have a reputation for bad behavior and other issues- but this is not to say that teens don’t need or deserve love. When it comes to taking a placement for a teen, unfortunately, a lot of people let their fear get the best of them. Because of this, there are so many teens that are left without good foster homes and can suffer because of it. What exactly is it that stops so many people from providing foster care for a teen?
The biggest stereotype about teens in foster care is that they have bad behavioral issues. While this can be true in some cases, it’s important to understand their background. In reality, many of the teens in foster care have been through several toxic home environments and maybe have even gone through several foster home placements that didn’t work out. Because of this, they can feel distraught, angry or hopeless, which may lead them to act out towards any possible foster parents.
Because they have more of an understanding of their situation than younger kids do, they can begin to lose trust in the system and unfortunately, other adults. However, what these kids really need is a family who can guide them- and provide love, structure, and safety so that they can begin to heal. Unfortunately, because there aren’t a lot of families that are open to taking teens, a lot of the older kids end up in group homes where they aren’t provided the same type of targeted care or family-oriented environment. For those that are lucky enough to find a foster home, just a little love and support can change the course of their life forever.
Unfortunately, there is a belief that because these kids are older and have been in the system for so long, that it may be too late to make a meaningful, positive impact on their lives. This could not be further from the truth. As older kids, they naturally have more of an understanding of the world and their individuality. Think back to when you were a teen- it’s likely that you would consider those years as some of the most influential in your life, considering all the lessons and mistakes you made that shaped you into who you are. As these older kids get closer to aging out of the system at 18, it becomes more and more crucial that they have love and a solid support system. That will help them dramatically as they begin to transition into adulthood and living life out in the real world.
Just by offering them a place to stay, you can make a huge impact on the life of a teen in foster care. While there may be different struggles and obstacles that come with fostering an older teen, the difference you would be making in their lives far outweigh any possible adjustments. If you’ve thought about fostering a teen, we urge you to start praying about it, and start moving forward!