Arrived home last night to an interesting array of issues, none of them major -- just the day to day stuff of parenting teens.
Today I may actually head to the coffee shop for a couple hours so that they don't think I"m dead. After going 2-3 times a week for years, I haven't been in 2 weeks... I love going there, but the past couple weeks I've either stayed home on purpose or I've been on the road.... I'm sure they miss me. ;-)
Something has occurred to me lately that I've been using as I am working with my new case load of families and that is how little kids/teens really know what they are doing or what they want. Especially those who have been in the system for a long time become very manipulative and will change their story to please whoever they are talking to. ANd for some reason the system is all about listening to them.
Many teens in the foster care system have a ball with the ways in which they manipulate the people around them. They have teams of people who are getting paid to help them, and they often see it as an opportunity to see what they can get. Thus they repeat information incorrectly and set people up to work against each other. They become masters of manipulation.
One of the things that I have been saying lately is that we almost need to ignore the specifics of what the kids say. Now, I'm not saying that we don't listen to the words, but honoring their requests or acquiescing to their demands probably isn't wise. Most teenagers, for example, don't want to be adopted, but they have no plan for after they age out of foster care. Do we listen to them and say, "oh, ok, no big deal. Just stay where you are?"
These are questions I've asked for years. Yes, independent living programs and those kinds of arrangements are good for some kids, but most kids would do much much better in homes.