Reflect back on your teenage years. What moments stand out as your favorites? When did you finally feel like an adult; when did you get your first taste of independence? Maybe it was your first job, getting your driver’s license, going to prom, getting accepted into college, or maybe it was making your first purchase on your own debit card. These “favorite moments” not only felt empowering and positive, but they also taught you life skills and started to prepare you for adulthood.
Tag: Transitional Age Youth
Lottie didn’t have a typical childhood. Growing up with her dad who lived with a medical condition that left him physically challenged meant that Lottie had to carry more of the caregiving duties because he wasn’t able. Everything in Lottie's life took a backseat to her dad's condition and needs, including school and her own social development. Eventually her dad’s condition worsened and he was moved into a full-time care facility. Without any family, Lottie was placed into foster care at the age of 14.
As someone who has worked in the field of social work for a LONG time, I’ve encountered my fair share of amazing--amazing kids, stories, people. FCNI foster parent Maureen Nettles has to be very near the top of this “amazing” list. As a foster parent for somewhere near 25 years, she is the epitome of an individual living out her true calling--her mission, if you will.
The increasing focus on transition age youth (TAY), ages 16–24, is important and necessary. TAY are navigating the developmental years of growing out of childhood and into adulthood. Brain development in TAY is incomplete, leading to limitations in decision making, impulsivity, risk taking, and emotion regulation. These years are important for individuation and development of an autonomous self. These are individuals on whom we should all be focused to be able to provide support, care, and direction as they navigate early adulthood.
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, originally attributed to the Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu, which states, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Walking a thousand miles sounds impossible to me. Would I get lost, walk in circles, be in a lot of pain? Attempting to push fears aside, I start to think of what a personal accomplishment it would be to walk so many miles. Then I think of how walking all of those steps might benefit me--physically, emotionally and spiritually. So I then brainstorm how I might accomplish this impossible task. Ten miles a day for 100 days or two miles a day for 500 days? I start to think of all the opportunities that might cross my path on this walk; all the people I might meet, the sights I could see and the things I would miss if just sped past in car. Pretty soon, a concept that started out as impossible, starts to look more and more plausible.