Fostering children of any age is as challenging as it’s rewarding, but fostering teenagers can be particularly difficult.

Teenagers need just as much love, support, and stability as any other child. Unfortunately, teenagers have an unfair reputation for being moody, volatile, and even abusive.

It’s thanks to this reputation that many foster parents might feel put off by the very idea of letting foster teenagers into their homes.

Yet spend a bit of time talking to those who have fostered teenagers. You’ll find that, whilst fostering teenagers can present its own set of unique challenges, it can also present its own set of uniquely rewarding experiences.

This post on Fostering teenagers, on the Foster Parents Anywhere blog, is fantastic. What the post lacks in paragraph breaks, it more than makes up for in sound advice and useful insight.

The blogger, Kristen McGraw, has four teenagers living in her home, aged between 15 and 19. “What is it that scares us away from offering our home to a teenager?” she asks, before discussing some of the reservations that were raised at an orientation meeting she attended.

“Teenagers fascinate me,” she says. “I used to be afraid of my kids growing up and turning into awful teenagers. But now that I am living with them, it is not the nightmare I imagined.”

She then goes on to discuss some of the unique benefits that come from fostering teenagers:

  • Unlike small children, teenagers can talk to you and tell you exactly how they’re feeling
  • Teenagers can help out around the house
  • Teenagers form their own opinions about right and wrong, and are not afraid to speak up for themselves
  • Teenagers have a strong sense of their own character, and are more than willing to stick up for themselves

Whilst this strong will can be invigorating, Kristen admits that it makes it difficult to discipline teenagers. They’re too old for “time-out”, after all!

The trick, she says, is to “find out what the teenager care about, and what matters most to them.”

This information can be used to motivate teenagers. Kristen mentions how one of her charges valued, above all, his mobile phone. She discovered that, through contacting the mobile service provider, she could have his phone temporarily deactivated at a moment’s notice.

“From that moment on,” she says, “I was able to motivate him in the direction I wanted him to go.”

In summing up her experience in fostering teenagers, Kristen has this to say: “The potential to help a teenager learn to make good choices, and gradually take control of their own lives, is huge.

“Teenagers are a challenge, but the reward for successfully parenting a teen is worth it.”

If, after reading Kristen’s blog, you’re still not sold on fostering teenagers, there’s a wealth of other information out there:

If you have any more questions about fostering teenagers or becoming a foster carer, feel free to get in touch, and we’ll be delighted to hear from you.