A local respite carer, who was drawn to fostering teens after their own "timorous teenage years", has opened up about why they love their role despite the stand-offs and challenges along the way.
The fosterer, who wanted to remain anonymous to protect the identity of the teen in their care, is sharing their experience in the hope of encouraging more islanders to try fostering an older child following Foster Care Fortnight earlier this month.
According to Children's Minister Senator Sam Mézec, teens are one of the groups that "particularly require support, specifically from the ages of 12 to 17 years old", so carers for this age group are in high demand.
“Looking after teenagers under any other circumstance, can come with its own challenges, but these are usually more than outweighed by the benefits—both to the teenager and to the foster carer,” he said.
One respite carer - whose role involves stepping in to look after a child to provide their family with a rest break - completely agrees with the sentiment, and explained why in this special edition of Express's 'five things I love' feature...
I am a respite carer for a teenager, meaning I help support both the teenager and family.
Through that, we have become like two shared households and I have gained a great relationship with the whole family. I like that and we support each other.
Pictured: "We have become like two shared households."
The family really support me in my role too as no one knows my teen better than their family so we work as an adjacent family with the same objective.
By teaching my teenager how to cope with their emotions through healthy coping mechanisms it has really made me see my own life journey and recognise my own growth and the fact I get to pass on that knowledge to someone special to help them better process their emotions is priceless.
Pictured: The respite carer describes passing on their knowledge as "priceless".
It makes every obstacle life threw at me worth it to be in a position to mentor and guide another. Even if the teenager isn't ready to practice healthy coping mechanisms at that time the seed had been planted for when they are ready to heal.
When my teenager confides in me with a real problem and you see their vulnerability you know that they are placing so much trust in you.
When you can help break down their issue to help them see a safe resolution and just guide them into problem solving and teaching them resilience, it is an honour.
Pictured: It is an "honour" to have a teen open up about their problems, this carer says.
When they feel better and slump back into the couch you can almost feel the weight lifted from their shoulders as they approach the "issue" from a different angle. That is a win that feels very good.
It isn't all rainbows and butterflies there can be a serious power struggle between being their friend and their carer.
There can be real stand-offs.
Pictured: It's not all rainbows and butterflies - there can be conflict, but there's always a way forward if you "hang in there".
This is where a good relationship with birth family can really help as they know the behaviour patterns of the teenager and how best to approach a stand-off.
Also to have a good relationship with the teenagers social worker as well as your own as they can help you address the stand-off in a healthy way. A lot of the time these conflicts dilute themselves with good humour, but it's important to hang in there they are often pushing boundaries to see how far they can go or if you will leave them.
The absolute best thing about fostering a teenager is every win and success that they achieve you see it as a win too and really can celebrate that with them. Not everyone is an academic, but that doesn't mean you can't go on and achieve true greatness and success in life.
Pictured: Celebrating successes together is very special.
When they get a win and you can see their own worth and self-belief rise within them, there is no better sense of achievement and accomplishment, especially when you can help them to see that they can define all the odds and be truly great!
I wish I had known that at that age so I really just try to be who I needed at their age.
Learn more about fostering and adoption in Jersey by clicking here.
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