FCYU130 cover image See all stories from issue #130, Fall 2017

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ISBN: 9781935552185
Help Foster Youth Make Up for a Missing Mom
Represent staff

Nobody shapes us as much as our mother does. Children deprived of their mothers can be withdrawn, afraid to take risks, or angry if nobody else steps in. If their mother was abusive or neglectful, they may go through life trying to re-create similar relationships with boyfriends or girlfriends in an unconscious effort to make it come out better this time. Children who are abandoned at a young age are likelier to have children themselves while they’re still in their teens. All those responses are touched on in this issue.

The writers of these stories had mothers who beat them, went to jail, disappeared, or died. By reading their stories, other teens who’ve lost their moms will know they’re not alone, and staff and foster parents may get a better grasp of the enormity of the loss many of their charges face.

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But these stories also detail exactly how the writers grew around the loss in healthy ways, like a tree that wraps around and absorbs a metal fence. Elvia Victorio saw her beloved mother murdered, and lost all her momentum toward graduating high school. “Without my mother, everything seemed impossible,” she writes.

In the rest of the story, Elvia breaks down every step of her recovery. Her path from darkness to a bright future is beautifully told. We have highlighted her steps in sidebars to help youth, workers, and foster parents better understand their own experiences. Even if readers never suffered anything as traumatic as Elvia did, they can learn coping strategies from Elvia’s experiences in therapy and her choices about which friends to confide in.

Throughout this issue, we highlight teachable moments for staff and foster parents to discuss with teens. We also include two lessons on p. 31 to help staff lead youth into deeper self-exploration via the stories. Our stories are an excellent way—better than talk therapy for some—to get young people to process what they’ve been through and strategize where they want to go. Reading what the writer went through can lead naturally to discussing one’s own struggles and solutions. The stories also highlight exactly how caring adults can support a motherless child. Whether you’re a teen or an adult close to a teen, we hope these stories are helpful to you.

We want to hear from you! Email us at representmail.org to share your response to a story, or let us know how you use these stories with your teens.

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