Yeah, so if you’re a foster parent and you’re dealing with a troubled teen, the advice is the same as frankly any teen. The key is this: consistent encouragement and consistent consequences.
As a parent, you have to be equal parts tough and tender. Sometimes your kid just needs some encouragement, a hug, and these types of things. And sometimes your kid needs to know that there is a boundary and that they need to learn boundaries and discipline and these sorts of things in your home.
And oftentimes, us as parents we have no problem with the consistent encouragement. But sometimes the consistent consequences and being firm is a challenge, because we love our kids, we don’t want to see them hurt, we don’t want to see them suffer.
But the real key here is, particularly if you’re the parent of a teenager, let’s say they’re 15 years old, you’ve got 3 years until they’re out of your home. So the truth is, either you are going to teach them consequences or life is going to teach them consequences. And the good thing about you is you love your kid, care about your kid. Life, not always so much.
So consistent encouragement and consistent consequences are key.
Now specifically if you are a foster parent, I think it is really important that you have another set of foster parents in your life that you are meeting with on at least a once-a-month basis. This could be a set of foster parents locally. This could be a set of foster parents across the country via Skype.
Why is this a big deal? This is a big deal because if you want a particular result in your life, the best way to do that is by emulating somebody who has achieved said result. So when you talk with these foster parents, you’ll be able to talk through the ups and the downs, the joys and the frustrations. And you’ll get a very important thing, which is perspective.
Because sometimes you’re going to be thinking – and this is a lie – I’m not making a difference. This isn’t working. They’re not listening to me. This is so frustrating. Why are we even bothering? We should give up.
And I assure you, that successful foster parent, that foster parent who has been through it, is going to hear your situation and say, “that happened to us. You’re right on track. This is just part of the process.”
So having that consistent encouragement, consistent consequences. And then having someone who can help and encourage you as a foster parent is key.