Thursday, June 14, 2012

Advice for Foster Care Alumni When Working With Teens

Nine times out of ten, when I volunteer my time as a foster care alumna to reach out to teens and young adults of today, they are incredibly receptive.

But not always.

And why on earth should I expect them to be?


I still remember being that 14 year-old in an all-girls group home, pissed off and bored out of my mind, and not hesitating to "smart off" to staff members. I was in pain, and sometimes it felt better if the people around me felt some of the hurt, too.


I also remember that, at age 15 and 16, I "tested" the very staff members that I respected the most - because I wanted to see if they would still care..

So, after a challenging experience on Monday, I've been mulling it over and have come to the following conclusion as a Life Lesson:

Always remember who you are, and where you came from -- it keeps you humble and makes you strong. And hopefully, it will also give you compassion and patience for others... Because you once were where they are now -- and really, at that time, did you need one more person to judge you? 


Maybe what you really needed at that time was someone who was willing to: 

  • Look below the surface 
  • See beyond the tough shell you created in order to protect yourself 
  • Ignore the smart-aleck remarks that came so easily and freely at the time 
  • And, just for once, UNCONDITIONALLY love you

I am willing to live up to this charge, with no illusions that doing so will always be fun...

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Comments:
I agree Lisa! Unconditional is what it requires to get below the surface of youth today. Its a word social workers don't like to use because they already feel overworked, under paid and underappreciated! What does it take for us to have a system where social workers can actually be intentional about the services they provide?! By the Way I am honored that you have me as a fellow blogger :-) You're an inspiration and very very talented.
 
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