Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Foster Teens and Sex

I have said in various contexts that it is important to remember when you do foster care for teenagers that you are parenting someone who is somehow "finished."

I can't find the words to say what I want to say without saying something that is obviously false.

Let's see ... the younger a child is when he or she comes to you, the more influence you are able to have over the development of their character and values.

That's better.

Sixteen is an age when young people are supposed to be separating themselves emotionally from their parents. They are often beginning the process of reflecting upon the values they have been taught and deciding for themselves what they believe. Gaining their trust and respect to the point where they will include you in this process is a wonderful thing. Still that is not the same thing as teaching my values.

I can have rules, of course. I do have rules. The agency imposes some rules upon me, things like "people can go into other people's bedroom by invitation only and then the door must stay open" and "no one has sex in this house except mom and dad and then always with the door closed."

But having and enforcing rules is not the same thing as teaching values.

What is lately becoming clear to me is that parenting a teen who has been sexual active from before they met you, is a very different thing from parenting a teen who is very much in the process of deciding for himself when he will become sexually active.

I'm just sayin'.

1 comment:

  1. Hmmmm, i sense a back story here! LOL Seriously though I have raised one child to age 23, I am woefully unprepared for this. My eldest doesn't have these type of interests (except in the watching of America's next top model) and has never had anything close to a girl friend. Or a boy friend for that matter. My next oldest is 12 and standing on the thresh hold of teen years. Wow. Deep breath now Lee!


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