Meet Lyndon, a dedicated foster carer who has been making a positive impact to the lives of young people through foster care. Lyndon's journey into fostering was sparked by his close friends, Mitchell and Georgie, who themselves are experienced foster carers with Life Without Barriers. Witnessing their incredible dedication and the value they brought to the lives of the children in their care inspired Lyndon to embark on his own fostering journey.
Lyndon came across Life Without Barriers foster caring in 2021. As a single, male, he chose to be a respite carer due to the flexibility it offered, allowing him to balance his work and provide support when needed.
We sat down with Lyndon and asked him some questions about his foster journey.
What type of foster care works for you?
"I am a respite carer. As I live by myself and work full-time, I really appreciate the flexibility that it gives me to help out among all the other demands of life."
Lyndon focuses on providing care for teenagers. He finds great fulfilment in helping young people navigate their teenage years and supporting them in their personal growth and journey toward independence.
Why did you choose to support teenagers?
"Teenagers are at a really unique stage of life. There’s a lot of intensity of emotions, but there is also an excitement to your teenage years. I really love helping young people on those last few steps of their journey to the person they want to become." Lyndon said.
When a new young person enters Lyndon's care, he prioritises flexibility and adaptability. He understands the importance of allowing a young person to have choices and ownership over their experiences, ensuring they feel seen and heard.
Each experience is unique, and Lyndon embraces the unexpected beauty that comes with being a foster dad.
Are people ever surprised that you are a single foster carer?
"People are very surprised! I think as a society we make a lot of assumptions about people we meet, and I love informing strangers that despite appearances - I do have a really rich family life, even if it doesn’t subscribe to the model they would immediately recognise." Lyndon laughed.
"I usually find that they love hearing about what I do. I know a lot of people who really think about caring for children as being a very linear path, and I really like showing them that there are lots of other ways of building a family."
Do you have a certain routine when a young person arrives?
"I have been lucky in that the respite I have undertaken has been with a child I had spent a bit of time with previously, so I had a pretty good sense of what would be fun, which helped a lot." Shared Lyndon.
"My advice would be that flexibility is the most important thing: have options and go with the flow. A lot of adults have wonderful hearts and want everything to be perfect, but sometimes it’s better to embrace the chaos and find the surprising beauty out of it as it comes!"
Teenagers in out-of-home care require support on their path to independence. Lyndon believes in providing clear boundaries, offering small moments of trust to allow them to demonstrate their responsibility.
What do teenagers in out-of-home care need?
"One thing I will say is that questions only get you so far before it starts to feel like an interrogation! I think choices are always great. They make us feel seen. I always have a few thoughts on things we might be able to do, or eat, but let the young person have a bit of ownership over the process."
"Teenagers in out-of-home care need to feel that they are supported on the path for independence. They need clear boundaries, but they also need small moments of trust that allow them to prove their responsibility." Said Lyndon.
"And of course, sometimes they just need someone to pick them up again and brush them off when it doesn’t work out the way they planned."
How have you overcome challenges while being a foster carer?
"There are lots of challenges that come with being a foster carer, but I find that patience and well-timed communication are a huge and important part of the process.
"I have really close friends and family who I can talk to, and of course the professional support of Life Without Barriers.
"The worst thing I can do is stew, but sometimes it’s not even about finding a solution, it’s just about knowing that when you are struggling there are people around you who will listen, care and help."
"I heard a child psychologist say that most of the art of raising teenagers is not holding a grudge. Trauma-informed behaviours can sometimes be frightening and confusing, but I find them a lot easier to process by maintaining my own stability of mind and reminding myself that this moment isn’t the time to make what is happening all about me.
"Often in a trauma-based response, a child is trapped in a storm. If we can, it is so valuable to be the tree that they can cling to."
In his time as a foster carer, Lyndon has witnessed positive changes in the young person he cares for.
Do you have a favourite moment since becoming a carer?
"One of the great joys for me as a foster carer is being able to watch the young man I care for play football on the weekends. I have seen him go from 'most improved' in his first year, all the way to 'best and fairest'. I am so proud of him.
"Being a foster carer has given me so much joy. It is really special to be part of someone’s life journey and to care for and celebrate them. I have loved the network of people it has brought into my life, and of course, the new experiences and purpose it has given me.
"Driving lessons were probably my favourite time spent with the young man I care for. The day he got his licence was pretty special!"
As for what he would like others to know about foster care, Lyndon emphasises the wide range of options available. He encourages people to explore the different types of care and find what aligns with their own circumstances and preferences.
What would you like other people to know about being a foster carer?
"One of the things I love about being a carer, and which I think is really important for people to know, is that there are so many options. The training and assessment is always the same, but after that there are so many choices.
"Life Without Barriers regularly check-in with me about the possibilities of caring for someone new, and also ask about any changes I might have to my circumstances or ideas about what kind of carer I would like to be.
"So many people don’t realise you can dip your toes in the water without diving in!"
And finally, what attributes do you think carers should have?
"The clue’s in the name I think: carers need to care. Certainly, you should have some great strategies under your belt and an ability to find that tricky flow between consistency and flexibility, but honestly, if you like spending time with young people and supporting them, and you care about them, you are halfway there!"
Got more questions?
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