Dear Foster Parent: What Your Teenage Foster Child Wants You to Know
I won’t say it directly but I really do need the structure of your home. I will complain about the household rules and my curfew. But deep down I get that your being “strict” with me means that you care about me and that you want to keep me safe. I’ll complain that you are treating me like a baby. But I do need someone to protect me and that’s what you are doing when you set limits with me.
I’m totally tuned in to what is going on around me. I may look as if I have checked out. I may say that I don’t care about what goes on in your home. But I take in everything. I have learned to act as if I don’t care. In fact, I notice everything around me including those many times when you are the parent I need. Pretending I don’t care protects me. Your caring for me helps me be more open about what I need.
The routine you provide is incredibly important to me. I may never have had the chance to be a regular kid in a family. Before I came to live with you I may have lived in some chaotic places. I may not have had regular mealtimes, clean clothes when I needed them or a safe place to sleep. What seems like ordinary life for you may be extraordinary for me. Being in a home where life is predictable helps me become less “on guard” and more able to be part of a family.
I think about my birth family a lot. Even though I may not talk about them I am thinking about them. I wonder how they are doing and if they are thinking of me. I worry about my brothers and sisters. Sometimes I feel guilty about living with you. And, I am especially aware of how you talk about them. It helps me to know that it’s ok with you for me to love and miss them.
I may never, ever, say it but I do know that you care for me. It shows in everything you do for me including the things I don’t like. So, keep on “keeping on.” Your not giving up on me is so important to me. So, even though you may never hear the words from me, “thanks.”
Written by Diane Kindler