Becky and Stuart

Becky and Stuart, both in their forties, live in Gloucester and have been fostering for Gloucestershire County Council since 2016. Here, Becky describes the highs and lows of a house full of teens.

"When I said I wanted to foster teenagers most people, including my husband, thought I was crazy. We already had two of our own so what difference was an extra one, I thought? That one turned into three and we now have five teenagers living with us.

I was then convinced, since I was at home more, that a dog would be a good idea. The cute photos and puppy dog eyes from the children wore me down and we ended up with three St Bernard dogs! Proof that you can foster with dogs, who are like therapy for all of us.

Fostering teenagers is not for the faint hearted. I have cried, been driven to despair and survived on very little sleep. They will argue, make silly mistakes, frequently choose the wrong option and challenge and push until they nearly break you. But they are teenagers - that is what they do whether they are in foster care or not. The advantage with fostering is that you are not alone. We have an amazing fostering social worker, local support groups and loads of training. There is also usually a friendly foster carer who has been through or is going through the same challenges and can stand by you and work with you.

Fortunately, what we gain from these young people far outweighs the struggles. One silly mistake is shadowed by the three amazing choices they have made in the same day. I have learnt so much and there are far more times that I smile rather than cry. The pride I feel for even the smallest achievement is what keeps me going. There is nothing more rewarding than to share their success as young adults. My family is bigger, I’m more resilient and if my house were bigger, I would have more!

Fostering teenagers is so important. They think they know everything but they don’t; they don’t speak your language but they still need you to listen; they might be bigger than you but they still need a hug.

So yes, I may be crazy, busy, and tired but I wouldn’t change it."

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