What do you do with/to a teenager who is not respectful, not gracious for anything, seems unable to love or show emotion, unless it is to a girl or his skateboarding buddies, doesn’t listen and makes you feel like your home is a hotel to him. Before you think of a reply, here’s the kicker, what if that teenager was your Foster Child and you already had 3 young kids of your own?
Believe me, we never planned on being Foster Parents. With 3 kids under the age of 5, plus hosting International Students, it was simply not in our immediate plans. Or any other plan for that matter. Heck, we still had our day jobs too, so no way! No how!
Fast forward to present, we are now foster parent to a 14-year-old boy. (Yes, A TEENAGER! The fuel for my blogs about teenagers). Not just any teenager but one with scars that just wouldn’t heal. He is also happens to be my cousin, so the decision to save him from going to a group home was the right thing to do. Right? Come on, I want a unanimous agreement on this. I can hear some of you saying, ‘no, you had enough on your plate.’ Well fine! Why didn’t you tell me that sooner?
My wife and I thought that by surrounding him with love and providing a positive home atmosphere, he would become the person we thought he had the potential to become. Seven months later, we haven’t seen much evidence of this. I am at my wit’s end. How long do you continue to love someone without getting anything back? Especially at the risk of sacrificing your own family? The accounting Law of diminishing returns comes to mind.
To help him understand the importance of family, we scheduled a day when he has to stay at home and hang with us. No skateboarding with his buddies. His response when we told him about this was, ‘Why am I being grounded?’ He has two chores which is vacuuming on Saturdays and putting the garbage out on garbage day. He’s also expected to chip in with dish washing once or twice a week. (basically putting them in the dishwasher). Should he be called upon to do anything outside of these chores, he would get visibly upset and pout through the ‘terrible’ ordeal.
Sometimes I wonder if I’m expecting too much and need to loosen up a bit. Then I realized that doing so is one of the main reasons for the rampant youth problems we have in our city. Give a kid an inch and he’ll take a mile. It’s my house, my rules. Agree? I think I deserve to choose what behavior I will tolerate under my roof.
When we first took him , I thought, ‘If he acts up, we can always send him back.’ I don’t think like that any longer as I made the decision to treat him exactly as if he was my son. But how long is it until your ‘son’ just cannot be your son anymore?
We have exhausted the list of applicable punishments. (ground, no electronics, etc.).
- Is Foster Parenting For You? (craiger.org)
- The Ups And Downs Of Fostering Kids (andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com)