Consequences I need ideas for Consequences!!!

theknowles 

My wife and I are going into our third month of being houseparents for teenage girls. The girls that we have range from ages 14-18 and can be quite difficult. Here where we are we use a level system to hold them accountable for their actions. To give you an example level one girls are not allowed to have any of their own belongings and are required to wear uniforms on all outings, as well as many other consequences. Whereas the other levels (2-4) are allowed certain privileges. Our level ones have recently started to revolt and not care what level they and have no motivation to move up to the next level, and they feel like they can do what they want when they want to. I need some ideas or consequences in dealing with them. Anyone have any interesting things that work.


Seamus 

We use a similar level system it seems, but our level 1 does not seem to be quite a strict and we don’t have uniforms. This is coming from someone who doesn’t work where you are and I don’t know how much you can change things in your own home and what you have to run by your director and get approval for. I sounds as though level 1 seems very suffocating. My director (and I agree with him) feels that a kid has to have a light at the end of the tunnel. I understand that at level 2 you get privileges, but to a teenager (especially if they have ADD/ADHD) it’s hard to see how to get there. If you have no instant rewards for good behavior and they have to wait a week or 2 before moving up to the nest level, then is it really worth it to them? One thing I have learned is that even though they may still be on level 1, if they do something very well, then they need to be rewarded for that. For example, one of my boys got bumped down to level one a few weeks ago, and had no TV, computer, iPod, stereo, etc. However, one day, he had done very well at school and come home and did his homework and I let him play a game on the computer for 10 minutes. It was only 10 minutes, but it wet his tongue and made him want more. Therefore, the next day he worked even harder. However, if he were to slack off just a little, NO WAY.

I’m not in your home, so I don’t know what all is going on, but if a kid feels as though they can’t do anything right or even if they do they don’t get anything for it, then why do the right thing, you know? After all, it is kinda funny to see the hp get upset and frustrated – and I already have nothing, so what’s the big deal.

I would attempt to begin giving a little back and really rewarding the good behaviors (stay up 10 min later than the rest of the girls that night, 5 min of TV, change out of uniform for the night, etc.)

These are just suggestions, but again, I don’t know your campus, director, or how exactly things are done there. I may be way out in left field for you, but it sounds like they need to see a light at the end of the tunnel.


Launchpad 

I totally agree with Seamus. It sounds like the girls need to get a little of something to keep them motivated and moving forward.

Hopefully your program and facility is flexible enough to find something that they are interested in achieving in the short term. As crazy as it sounds, some kids could care less about achieving a facilities’ pre-set goals. Especially if the kid never had any say in what it is they would like to achieve.

Personally I would be motivated to get to the next level to get all my stuff back, but for some kids they have a hard time actually seeing themselves achieving a goal beyond the end of the day, let alone next week. It can lead, for some, to a feeling of hopelessness. I think finding out what each individual girl would like to be rewarded with and setting short term goals for them to achieve may work.


theknowles 

I just want to say thanks for the information. We know why we are here and it is not to punish the girls, and sometimes you get caught up in do this. I am glad for the info and that fact that I have never thought about why they didn’t care but it makes sense seeing as how most of our girls do have add adhd. I will surely take this and run with it, as much as I can. We are in a really good program and they allow us to make a lot of the decisions about rules( of course we do have a set book of guidelines). Thanks again for the feedback.

“The Safest Place is in the Center of God’s Will”


Karing4Kids 

Sometimes we have to do something to give the kids hope. If they dig themselves a hole it can be hard to get out of. We have to let them smell a little bit of success from time to time. We have to dangle the carrot in front of them sometimes so they want to go for it. Who knows when it will be the time that they turn their life around and continue to want to be on a higher level.


Coach4HIM 

If you have one or some who are misbehaving find out what they like to do. When they are not on level have the others do what they like to do and do not allow them to participate. This might mean that one of the houseparents stay back. For example we had a girl who really liked this part and to go down trails we made sure that when she was not on level that we went to the park. Another idea is movies. You can have show a movie like on the weekend and have the ones who are not on level to set in another room etc.
-Coach4HIM


MomforLife 

I had two young men that did not ‘care’ about rising up thru the ranks. Life’s experiences for them had convinced them that it did no good to advance, because someone or something would always beat them back down. Nothing seemed to motivate them…UNTIL… we discovered their passion. Sometimes it is hard to see a child’s passion when they are conditioned to express nothing, but we were blessed. When we went the extra mile to provide an outlet for their passion (for one it was individual guitar lessons with a really good instructor), we found these two young men responding to us with real emotion (mostly positive). HOWEVER, we could not use these lessons as reward or consequences… that would have just shut the boys down again. For the one child – the lessons cost money, we worked with others to give him opportunities to earn his lessons. We had to use opportunities not connected to our house or regular chores, he worked for other people on the facility grounds. We kept the requirements very low, so that the boys could not fail. Within one month, the boys began to do better in school and at home, and we were able to build some relationship bonds that were healthy…it felt like a miracle.


 bradykim 

You just can’t keep giving negative consequences to these kids. Are you changing or modifying the behavior just giving out consequences. If one of your Natural children was in trouble you could give very harsh and long consequences and it would change their behavior. With the children we care for we can’t keep piling it on. They have to have hope. If we take privileges away they usually can earn some back. These kids have been through so much, it makes me laugh when I hear someone say they are going to break them. Most of my guys have been beaten, some with lamp cords and who know what else. Yet we think we can break them by taking stuff from them. Some people are motivated by the positive and some by the negative, you have to know what will work for each child. We use a chip system, some will cry if we take a chip some do no care, yet will respond when they earn chips. We made a modified family teaching model with the chips. Family teaching is 4 to 1 ratio positive to negative we used Family teaching in a DJJ home with teens most gang members, I thought it worked well and they teach don’t pile it on, give them a chance to earn something back. You also need the teaching part, they need to be taught correct behavior and rewarded when the do it.

Our Rad daughter was giving us problems we used love and logic all she had was a mattress on the floor. She said you did everything you can do I’m still going to do what I want. F YOU and walked out the door and we did not see her for weeks. That taught me that you need not only consequence but give positive reinforcement and bait them back.


webmaster 

Every person I have ever known to live by the break-em philosophy is now doing something else for a living. Though the so called breaking of a child may work for the very few, it won’t work for the vast majority of children in placement. They have already been broken by their situation and have learned ways to cope and deal with it. They have to be taught that adults can be dependable, caring and respectful, that not every situation is bad.

I’ll be the first to admit that this is a very hard thing to do. It’s hard to be caring a respectful when you are being cussed at, yelled at, spit on, or disrespected, but it has to be done. Our daughter that we raised in placement and that chose us as her parents, put us through test after test after test to see if we would stick around and continue to care. We did and now she calls us mom and dad. But even if she had never decided to make us her parents, but only learned to be a productive member of society and how to treat others, it is worth it.


Craig Bridges 

The other problem with the break them philosophy (control) is it is usually external and only works while when the kids are in the “break them” environment. It is a combination biblically of truth & grace. How does God deal with us? He tells us what or how we should do things, tells us the consequence of both obedience & disobedience, allows us to make a choice & experience the consequence of our choices. What I love is his blessings, mercy, & grace far outweigh the penalties. Also he is always there with open arms, willing to forgive & give us the support & love we need to get back on track.
We need negative consequences when raising our children but they should not be the focus. We should go out of our way to give grace, build relationships, find hot buttons (blessings) and have open arms. I don’t know about everyone else but I need Jesus because as the webmaster said it is hard when time and time again you are being disrespected, disobeyed and everything else. Thank you heavenly Father for your example on how to be a house parent.

Secure your Network!!

Here is a funny story that has a point.

There once was an individual that worked at a children’s home. (NO, it’s not me) He decided we wanted to have a wireless network so he could work on his laptop anywhere in the house. He bought a router, plugged it in, and got everything hooked up and working. A knowledgeable person (Me), told him for months that he needed to secure his network to keep other people from using it, but of course he didn’t listen.

Anyway several people on campus and in the neighborhood have been using his Internet connection. In fact about a week ago, one our college kids came back for the weekend and brought her notebook computer with her. She and several other girls proceeded to access the Internet and view large quantities of inappropriate material. The housemom caught them and contacted administration. Needless to say, that individual came and asked me how to secure their network today.

Moral of the story is, if your going to have a wireless network make sure it is secure. Wireless devices are easy to get and can be used with any computer. A smart kid can get hold of a USB network device and use it to connect virtually any computer to your insecure wireless network without your knowledge, even the old donated desktop unit they use to play games on.

Securing a wireless network is real easy and is explained in the manual or quick-start guide you get with the router. Things to remember are:

  • Change the ssid. Anybody that knows anything about wireless routers, knows that the default ssid is “default”
  • Do not broadcast your ssid. Unless you own a business that offers wireless access, there is no reason to broadcast your ssid.
  • Encrypt your signal. The easiest way to keep somebody off your network is to require a key. This will also provide some protection to the personal data on your machine. There are so many insecure networks out there that a hacker will most likely leave your machine alone and move onto easier pickings if you require a key to log on.

Let’s not make it easy for our kids to get in trouble – secure that network!

Don’t believe everything you hear

dontlietokids.net 

A friend of mine heard he was going to get a young lady from another home and he was pretty uptight about it because he had been told that she was a trouble maker who manipulated a lot. I knew the young lady and told him that I believed she was a great kid and that I would love to have her in my home. He rolled his eyes at me and said a very important staff person told him she was trouble.

Well, that was months ago and so far the young lady is one of his best kids earning the highest level possible by being mature and responsible. My friend had to admit I was correct and that he was happy about that.

So, don’t believe everything you hear. You never know how a child might be in your care no matter how they may have behaved or been perceived in another home.


webmaster 

Again Adam and I agree. There are going to be kids you don’t like – PERIOD!! Regardless of what they do, even if they were to walk on water, you are not going to like them and will have a very hard time seeing the good in them. Yet will be able to spot every single flaw.

On the other hand there will be children you will bond with that will defy explanation, and will be able to bring out the best in them.

Be your own judge. Just because a situation didn’t work for a child or for you in the past, try to focus on the present and always try to be fair even with the kids that rub you wrong.


dontlietokids.net 

Right now, maybe for the FIRST time in 13 years I like every child in my house. There are some I feel closer to than others, but that honestly bothers me because I have some great kids and I would like to feel just as close to all of them as I do to others. Thankfully my wife seems to bond with those girls who seem distant or shy. I am much better with open kids who aren’t afraid to step up and be who they are. I thank God that my wife and I seem to be gifted completely differently in regard to reaching kids! Of course there are some we both equally click with, which is great too!


Launchpad

A lot of staff tend to cringe whenever a new kid is coming into the facility for the first time and they have a rap sheet or some adverse behaviors. Mention sexual issues about a incoming kid and you can hear a collective sigh.

I have one kid now that for whatever reason had a hard time in some of the houses before. He’s been a good kid for the most part, but not a week goes by that I don’t hear someone say they are glad they don’t have him, totally based off of behavior from a year ago.

To be honest I have had kids in the past that if they were to show up in the facility I would struggle with wiping the slate clean. I know it’s what we are called to do, but some history runs deep.

Christmas Traditions

One thing I have noticed about many of the children we have worked with is that they don’t have many traditions, especially during Christmas and the holiday season. It is important to have roots and traditions and I believe that is one of the more important things we can do for the children we care for.

We have always allowed the children to help decorate the house for Christmas. In fact, we have two Christmas Trees. One formal tree that we must have for Open House and a second tree we have in the family room that only the children decorate. They place all the decorations and where they place them is where they stay, even if there is a huge blank spot on the tree. We may offer suggestions on how to decorate it, but we allow them to do it their way. Funny thing about this tradition is that our home teenagers have enjoyed it much more than our birth children that are now teens. I wonder if they have so many traditions that tradition has less meaning to them.

My favorite tradition is on Christmas Eve:

  • We have a light supper, and then go to candlelight Church service.
  • Then we come home and watch a goofy Christmas movie and have eggnog milkshakes. Past movies have included: “Christmas Vacation”, “Elf”, “The Santa Clause”
  • Finally, before opening presents we load into the van and drive around town looking for the gaudiest Christmas display we can find to give our imaginary “Griswold Award” Usually by the end of the evening we have a winner and several runner up displays.

I would love to hear about what others have for traditions and what their children think of them.

Don’t Pencil Whip Your Fire Drills

webmaster

“Pencil whipping” is a term we used in the military which means to complete the paperwork on something without actually doing it. It was most often used for checks, drills and inspections that people didn’t want to do. I was much too uptight to do it very often but I have been known to do it.

Since becoming a houseparent I have discovered that fire drills and safety inspections are things that could very easily be blown off and pencil whipped. I assure you I will never, ever do it again. I have become aware of at least two fires recently at facilities. One was in staff quarters the other was in a cottage. Thankfully nobody was hurt in either fire.

In the cottage fire I have to commend the houseparents. All their smoke detectors had been recently checked and were working and they had practiced a fire drill just a week earlier. All the children and staff evacuated the cottage just like they had practiced and it went very smoothly. The fact that it happened at 12:30 AM and everyone was in bed makes the smooth evacuation even more impressive.

The fire started when the water heater malfunctioned and started a fire in the stack. It set off the smoke alarm in the laundry room and also one in the hall. The houseparent responded and was able to put the fire out with the cottage fire extinguisher (that also requires monthly checks. Look at the back of the tag) At the same time the housemom was insuring the evacuation went smoothly and accounted for all the children. Because of their quick action, damage was limited to the area around the water heater and some minor smoke damage throughout the house. Repairs are being made and they should be back in the cottage by next week, which I am sure they are very thankful for, because the temporary cottage is not nearly as convenient as the regular one.

Please do your safety checks, inspect your smoke detectors and fire extinguishers, and practice your fire drills. The life you save may be your own.


Launchpad 

AMEN.

Without incriminating myself, there have been times when I think all of us get comfortable and may let some of the mundane tasks slip and then try to catch up by bending the rules.

Having experienced a fire this past week really drives your message home.- Thanks!


momofmany 

I have a close friend who has 10 biological children. They practice fire drills regularly. One thing they did every couple of months was to blindfold the children (for the drill, of course). Next, dad would go outside the child’s bedroom window, and talk to them from there, having the child get out of the house with the blindfold on. Mom would stay inside to make sure the older children did not cheat and to encourage the younger children. This paid off big time. They had a fire sweep their house and everyone was safe. They felt the extra step of doing it blindfolded made a huge difference as it was dark when their actual fire happened and especially the younger ones were more prepared.

We are here to protect these kids. And true, the life we save may be our own.


Launchpad 

That is a really cool idea with the blindfolds. Will probably help the kids (and HP’s) look forward to the monthly drill! Not to mention making it second nature getting out of the house quickly and safely.

Sometimes it’s Best Just to Keep Your Mouth Shut

webmaster 

Thursday was our annual “Open House” at the facility I work at. It is the largest event of the year and takes a ton of work to get ready for. There are also things you have to do afterwards to get back to normal.

One job is to return the golf-carts, we use for transporting guests, back to the golf-cart shop. That was the job I wanted. I thought it to be more prestigious than the other jobs and more fun. I didn’t get that job. They called me to go and help return the dining hall to it’s usual condition; something I didn’t want to do.

However, I thought it best just to keep my mouth shut and do what I was asked to do. It took us a total of 36 minutes to set up. When we were done, we were free to do whatever. For me that was delivering angel tree gifts our church members had purchased so that some less fortunate children would have a better Christmas. My wife and I returned from that about the same time the golf-cart people finished their job. It took over two hours to return those carts.

It wasn’t hard to recognize which was the better job that morning and I was very glad I kept my mouth shut.


Housepop 

My reply has nothing to do with your original post but every time I look at this post heading it just reminds me of how often I need to do just that. Just keep my mouth shut, whether it is with staff that might get on my nerves or that over excited child that just wants to share a little to much joy or a girl that wants to express a feeling I don’t want to deal with at that very moment. Sometimes I just need to say to myself “KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT and do what you know God called you to do.” Be a dad, be a comfort, be caring, be a worker bee and just keep your mouth shut.


TexPop

I am frequently reminded that a closed mouth gathers no feet..
-TexPop

3 pieces of Technology I Can’t Live Without

I was driving one of my children to a specialist in Tupelo, a city about an hour from our facility and also the birth place of Elvis, and I realized I had three things with me I wouldn’t want to do without.

1. My Cell Phone: I remember being a houseparent when not everyone had cell phones. When we started as a houseparent only our administrator had a phone and he carried it around in a bag about the size of my current notebook computer. It was so discouraging in the old days to get back to the facility and find out there was not enough milk for breakfast the next morning and you had to turn around and drive 20 miles back to town to get some. Or to find out the kid you were supposed to pick up in 4 hours was already done and finished 5 minutes before you left town.

Our jobs became so much easier after we got our first cell phone. Needless to say, I was one of the first houseparents in the facility to get one. 10 years ago it saved us probably 400 miles a month worth of driving and today it saves us at least that much. I honestly can’t imagine being a houseparent today without one, especially considering how inexpensive they are and all the features they have now. I also figure there aren’t too many houseparents left that don’t have one.

2. My GPS Navigator: The price of the technology has finally come down enough to afford it, and as usual I am one of the first ones on campus to have one. Last month I bought a “Magellan Maestro 3100” on sale for $199 and I have to tell you it is one of the best electronic investments I have made.

A couple of days after I bought it, we had to take a group of kids to camp in North Carolina from our facility in Columbus, Mississippi. It directed me right through Atlanta and right up to the front gate of the camp in Hendersonville, NC. Afterward it directed us to our motel in a part of Greenville, SC that we had never been to, and back home with no incident. Today it directed me to the front door of that specialist, again with no problems.

The only downside I have at all with it, is that is looses some accuracy when you are out in the country. It was off by almost a mile in directing me to our church and a quarter mile to our house. Both are out on long country roads. I have found the more populated the area, the more accurate the navigator.

I will definitely dread driving to new places a whole lot less now that I have traded in my wife for a navigator that is much more accurate and doesn’t yell at me. I’m sure it will also help our relationship when we travel together, because we won’t be arguing over being lost or where my next turn is.

3. My Satellite Radio: Again I was the first on campus to have one and I can tell you I will never not have one again. It has been such a blessing to me with all the time I spend driving in the van. I am able to listen to my favorite music (without listening to commercials), or my other favorite pastime NASCAR radio.

The other great thing is when you travel you never have to change Cd’s or look for radio stations. When we traveled to North Carolina, we never had to change the station except to switch back to the NASCAR channel. It costs about $14 a month to have, but I would have spent that much on Cd’s each month anyway.

There you have it, three things I will always have with me when I am on the road, which I am a lot.


Launchpad 

I love the satellite radio. It’s the only time I get to check up on news or talk radio.

If you have a cell phone but can’t afford the gps units check out TeleNav. A few cell carriers are offering it now for download. It gives audible and screen turn by turn directions. You can mark waypoints and even tell your current speed. It costs about $10. a month. I like it because I can always take it with me.

The only problem I have had with it has been in the city. A lot of times it will be off a block or two. Sometimes it will tell me a business is on the left side when it is actually on the right. Basically it gets me in the vicinity. I really wish I would have had a GPS when I was driving a truck .

As far as the old bag phones? I remember when they first came out- my step-father would drive to the top of the mountain to be able to use his. (Thanks for the memories webdaddy!)

A Valuable Lesson!!!

Most everyone knows that we have birth children to go with all our home children. Our son is about to turn 17 and this last year has been a trying experience. It is one thing when you have to deal with difficult behavior when you are caring for other people’s children, but it adds a whole new dimension when it is your own birth child. (Don’t misunderstand, it’s not get you placed in a group home bad behavior, but it is definitely stuff we hoped we wouldn’t have to deal with)

Anyway my wife takes things very personal sometimes and the other day she was asking me, why I thought he hated us and wanted to make things so difficult on us. I wasn’t sure how to answer it, and really didn’t think there was a good answer for her, but I started thinking about the many conversations we have had with him recently and remembered something he said. He told us something like, ” I know you think I don’t want to be around you at all, but I really just want to hang out with my friends.”

That got me to thinking about his overall behavior in general, and I think that statement can be applied to his entire life at the moment. It’s not that he don’t like us and wants to defy everything we say, it is that THE ONLY THING HE CARES ABOUT IS WHAT HE WANTS!

He doesn’t want to hurt us by hanging out with people we don’t approve of, our feelings are not even a consideration, because it is about what he wants. He doesn’t care that we think he should save some of his paycheck for the future, he only cares about what he can spend it on now. He doesn’t care that we think education is important and that you should put as much effort as you can into, he only cares about the work he doesn’t want to do.

The realization of this is very empowering. It allows you to recognize and deal with bad behavior without taking it personal, because it’s not about you. It’s totally about them; what they want and think is important. This same realization can apply to the work we do as houseparents. There always seems to be this one (or possibly two) kid(s) that seems to be out to get you or drive you nuts with their behavior. But if you realize it’s not about you, it should make it easier to deal with their behavior and to come up with reasonable expectations and consequences.

If only I can remember that the next time I’m dealing with my son, after he’s done something I am not real pleased with.

Fishing Group Home Style Making my life easier

Launchpad 

 Being that I originate far above the Mason Dixon Line in the heart of Yankee territory I have had to struggle a little with this whole Southern Bass fishing thing. For one, my roots (and heart) remain steadfastly a fly fisherman- dry flies at that. But I gave in and geared up for Bass fishing.

Problem is taking the kids fishing. Every one of us that has spent a day on the water with several kids knows you spend 98% of the time fixing lines and setting bait. I started getting real annoyed with the needle nose pliers in the front pocket and having to hunt down the tackle box for hooks. So, using some Yankee ingenuity I went out this time with my vest instead of the box.

Not exactly southern etiquette but it worked great. Best part is my vest is designed for fishing streams. everything is tied down and set on retractable cords. Which means I never wonder where I laid my knife down.

So here is my basic set up on my vest.

1. Forceps- Works way better than the old needle nose, especially on pan fish and Bass. They are worthless on Catfish though.

2. Mag Light.

3. Hooks- On the front of the vest is a fuzz patch you can stick various hooks on. You need a hook, rip it off, tie it on. No more trips to the box trying to find some between kids.

4. Worm box- Simple tin box that you can snap on. Works awesome with little kids if your the one baiting all the time.

5. Line snip/ Finger nail clipper.- Quick and easy to cut the line, less dramatic than the Bowie knife.

6. Snaps- quick hook replacement, especially if your fishing ones with leaders already attached.

7. Hat with spinners attached- Just makes people think you know what what your doing.

8. Knife- Along with everything else, TIED DOWN.

9. Sinkers- I use the ones that come in a red container with a spin top because the container is easy to tie down.

10. Leatherman tool- Works great for on the spot repairs for the reel or hooks.

Non- Vest Items

Any kid I take out that I have to do most of the work with gets a closed faced reel- no discussion. I know one HP that will only get open faced reels for his kids. I think he is either bored or clinically insane.

If I’m out to slaughter pan fish, I carry brass salmon egg hooks in a old plastic snuff can.

gracecountry62 

I think I will take my kids to captain D’s lol, I probably would fall out the boat if I was in one trying to fish or lose my bait ever time I cast the line out .


webmaster

I like the whole fishing vest Idea. Seems like something I would have thought up, were I not a hater of fly fishing. Just never got it. I don’t understand how you can catch fish with your line stuck in a tree all the time.

I can’t say that I am a master of southern bass fishing either. In fact my boat is currently for sale, so I won’t be tempted to torture myself again.

I have decided to stick with cane-pole fishing with the kids on the private ponds that people invite us to or the seafood department at the local Kroger Supermarket.

Maybe someday I will be able to go home (permanently) and fish for Walleye and Northern Pike again. That I know how to do.


Launchpad

Now there’s an idea! I haven’t thought of using a cane pole in years. I need to invest in some for next week, the kids will probably have more fun with that than the Zebco reels.

As for the Pike, I have always wanted to catch one, but every time I was someplace to fish for them I never got a bite

Dating in your home

dontlietokids.net 

Do you allow your kids to bring their boyfriends or girlfriends into your home? I’ve met many house parents who are proud that a member of the opposite sex has NEVER entered their home.

This puzzles me. Have we never been teenagers before? Have we forgotten what dating was like? The house parents who don’t allow bf/gf to visit in their home always talk about raging hormones and such, but that’s exactly why I do allow my girls boyfriends to visit.

Now don’t get me wrong, I make them stay in a public place. I check on them frequently, and I always get to know the boy, telling them my expectations. I get involved with my girls relationships offering advice and opinion as much as possible.

Look, if you never allow your kids to date, if they can’t bring home this person they THINK they love, what do you think they will do? So often they will end up in the bushes somewhere. What’s more scary still is that you can set up a “Romeo and Juliet” relationship where the kids think “it’s us against the world” and then you’re asking for even bigger trouble.

I suggest the following.

1) Get to know the person your child likes.

2) Invite them over, talk to them, lay down ground rules.

3) Let the bf/gf know that you are involved in your kids lives and that can be good or bad for them, it’s up to them.

4) Talk frequently to your kids about why you do what you do and what you expect from them in return.

5) Supervise, interact, and walk around like a warden when the visits happen. I am very relational with my kids, but when their boyfriends visit I don’t care if I act like a prison guard (lol). I care about my kids too much to allow anything to happen, but I also care to much to ban bf’s from my house because I KNOW the result of that approach.

At least think about it..


webmaster 

This may surprise some people considering the history I have with Adam but I 100% agree with him on this one.

In addition I would like to add that I feel much better when my son’s girlfriend is here than when he is out with her, because when they are here I know nothing inappropriate is happening. Same goes for kids I’ve had in the past and also in the future when our daughter and other children become old enough to be immune to cooties.


Launchpad 

I know sooner or later I will be dealing with this issue. At present I have no kids that are at the dating stage, but we are getting close. It’s kinda one of those things Iv’e taken for granted. I really don’t even know our policy on it- but will be finding out shortly after seeing this post.

What are the guidelines set in the house? Sitting on the couch together or different seats?

What are the limits of personal display of affection?

How do you handle (or do you) off campus dates, for example movies?

Just the nature of what we do, supervision has to be a constant. I am very curious as to how to effectively balance the supervision and personal space with teens that are at the next level of developing a healthy relationship with the opposite gender. I believe a lot of facilities choose to not even allow a dating relationship to happen because of the above mentioned concerns and the unmentioned but obvious sexual concerns.


dontlietokids.net 

I let our girls sit with their boyfriends. I must be able to see their head and hands at all times.

I try and make other kids sit in the same room with them when at all possible. I often try and have double dates in the home, not just ONE couple in a room by themselves.

PDA can be no more than one arm around a shoulder or a head (high) on a shoulder. That’s it.

Off campus dates are granted based on trust, level of student (we have levels where I work that kids earn by behavior and attitude), and their willingness to allow me to know about their relationship and talk to me and or my wife about it.


Launchpad 

Thanks!

I do like the level achievement systems. It really gives kids something to work towards and a little easier on staff discussions as to which kids qualify to do what without all the drama a treatment team can muster. Kind of makes me long for the ole’ Boys Town Achievement levels.

Cool topic- Looking forward to going back on shift and finding out where we stand on the dating issue.


Called2workwith youth
Have any of you had to deal with the kids that put on a real good facade of being good and trustworthy and all that, just to get on the highest level. Then once they do and get the privilege of going in town on a date, they get caught having sex and get dropped. That seemed to happen a lot at the place we worked at.

I agree teens should be allowed to date, but there should definitely be supervision.

Being a Good Birth Parent Won’t Make You a Good Houseparent!

As, I believe, the successful parent of two birth children I have to say that being a successful parent does not insure that you will be a successful houseparent.

I have spoke with many people that were interviewing to be first time houseparents tell me how being successful as parents of birth children will help them to be great houseparents only to come to me about three months later and confess how wrong they were. That parenting other people’s children is very different from parenting your own.

Unless you have successfully parented birth children that have been abused and/or neglected, lived in extreme poverty, been raised in a family where crime was not only condoned but encouraged, or had behavioral disorders you are probably going to have to learn a whole new set of parenting skills.

Additionally, the children you care for will not have the same relationship with you that your birth children have. Their blood bond will not be with you but with the abusive, neglectful or dysfunctional family they are not currently living with yet in most cases will continue to love.

Not that your previous parenting skills will be worthless either, they will be very useful in other areas of household management like scheduling, working with schools, etc. What I am referring to is how you will need new skills to deal with the many new behaviors that you probably never had to deal with raising your birth children.

The only solution is training. Either through your facility or on your own, but being a good houseparent takes training. Most facilities provide initial training that is very important. Pay attention and participate. You will also want to attend any additional training that they provide and if they provide reimbursement for outside training I would take advantage of all that time would allow for.

If your facility does not provide training or only minimal training and you want to continue to stay there, you need to get the training on your own. There are several books I can recommend: No Such Thing As a Bad Kid!: Understanding and Responding to the Challenging behavior of Troubled Children and Youth — By: Charles D. Appelstein and Respecting Residential Work with Children -By: James R. Harris Jr., M.A. are two very good books to start with. There are also several others that I have read and reviewed on my site. Buy them from me or from somebody else, but please don’t fall into the I don’t need any extra training trap. There are also usually several opportunities to attend seminars in the community. You can find them through local colleges, schools and family service organizations.

If you are thinking about becoming a houseparent and want to get a head start on training you might want to sign up for foster parent training either through your local family services department or through a private agency. Before my wife and I became houseparents we were foster parents and the training we received during that certification process has been invaluable throughout our houseparenting career.

Training and experience will make you a good houseparent!!


Launchpad 

My in-laws retired a few months ago and decided to become houseparents. They raised a great family that lives for the Lord, now they are going thru quite a change up in how these kids behave differently from their own! I’m calling them tonight to have them read this it will definitely help them feel much better. Thanks!!!


Coach4HIM 
I agree with you about the training and experience but, I think it also takes some natural ability (talent) and also patience, and a good spiritual life.

Better Potatoes

Homemade French Fries

With the economy and our financial situation the way it has been, we try everything we can to save a little money. One of those things is using more homemade items including french fries. We enjoy the flavor, but homemade fries always tend to be a little mushy, not crispy like the store bought ones.

Here is a little trick I recently learned to make homemade french fries so much better.

Cook the fries like normal until they are fully cooked and float. Remove them from the grease and let them drain and cool on a pan covered in paper towels. By the time you have cook all your fries the first ones will have cooled completely. Take your cool fries, place them back in the oil and cook them until they are a golden brown. Cooking them the second times makes them crispy and they don’t get the dark brown color that trying to cook them crispy in one frying causes.

They are much better!!!!!

 Make Potatoes Better

Here is a little trick I learned to make good mashed potatoes for a large group.

We don’t really like instant potatoes, but peeling enough potatoes for the entire house is very time consuming and considering how much potatoes cost these days expensive.

You can however peel about 4 or 5 potatoes, cut them up and boil them like you would for normal homemade mashed potatoes. After they are done cooking drain off most of the water into another pan or glass bowl. Mash the potatoes with a potato masher in the water left in the pan. You will end up with a very runny potato slurry. Add instant mashed potatoes until you get the consistency that you want. And walla, homemade tasting mashed potatoes without spending an hour peeling potatoes.

If you make them too thick or need a larger batch, you can use the water you set aside to thin them or use the water plus additional flakes to increase the size of you batch. You can also add some butter and a little milk to make them even more like homemade.

A Trip to the Store!

Today we made a trip to that really big nationwide discount department store. That normally would be no big deal and is something that houseparents all over the country do on a regular basis; however we decided to take all the children with us while we did our shopping. The children in our cottage range in age from 4 to 11 so you can only imagine what it was like with their whole focus on trying to get us to buy stuff they wanted and visit the departments they find most enjoyable.

Thinking back to my early days of houseparenting is wasn’t any more fun to do the trip with teenagers. I remember walking into the store with our kids and the first words you hear over the PA system is something like, “All departments on zone defense” which meant, “Here come the group home kids, make sure they don’t shoplift.” The easy thing to do would be to just leave the kids at home with your spouse and avoid all the hassles of taking them to a public place. That is the choice we usually make, but I have to ask, “If you never take your kids out into public, how will they ever learn how to behave in public?”

Our kids weren’t perfect but they are one step closer to knowing that you can go to the store without getting everything you ask for, that you are expected to behave in public places, and that things don’t just come from the kitchen or supply room. In a few weeks we will recover from this trip and do it again so that they can learn even more.

We should all remember that the easiest way of doing things isn’t always the best way, especially when it deprives the children in our care an opportunity to learn.


 rachel

That is awesome advice! The easy way is not always the best way.

Here is a little praise report about the whole grocery shopping with kids thing…

We have six teenage girls in our home. My husband and I do all the shopping for the facility we work at (there are only two bunkhouses to shop for right now though). We usually shop during the school day. Well, since school has been out, we have been taking the girls shopping with us every week.

The first week – nightmare!! Two girls got into a LOUD argument with each other, one girl was lost for a while, two girls run down the aisles screaming “mommy, daddy”, and one girl is found laying on her stomach on the ground trying to find spare change under the coke machines!!!! My husband was mortified – vowed to never step foot into Walmart with this group of Neanderthals again.

Well, he did not stick to his promise and we returned the next week. We wore bags over our heads so that we could not be recognized – but things went much better this go round.

In the following weeks, we began to divide the shopping list. Each girl is assigned a shopping partner, and they are given a portion of the list. The girls go and get the assigned items, and then we meet back at the front. I check their carts and we check out. Throughout the experience, we all communicate with walkie talkies.

I now love to shop with the girls. They make things sooo much easier on us. Sometimes, my husband and I will even sit in the snack bar for a “Walmart date” while the girls do the shopping! I am sad that school has started and we will have to go back to shopping without them.

Moral of the story – don’t take the easy way out with your kids. Put in the time and effort up front, then sit back and reap the rewards!!

You know you’re a House Parent when……

1. Someone is always correcting you after referring to your personal car as “The Van”.

2. On respite your cell phone/ PDA/ personal anxiety alarm go off reminding you it’s time for meds.

3. You have at least one therapist on speed dial.

4. You can name at least six psychotropic meds in three seconds.

5. While trying to do #4 you hit yourself in the head trying to think of what the blue pill is called.

6. On a romantic date all you and your spouse talk about is how the kids would act here…

7. #6 takes place at a McDonalds.

8. The house parent network is your home page.

9. Grocery shopping looks like a UN food shipment to a small country.

10. You actually know who Father Flannigan was and believe he was either a Saint or at the very least a drinking man.

11. Your 5 year olds pretend to pack their bags and walk around the house pretending to go on “belief”(relief).

12. You’re standing around with a group of Houseparents and when a kid walks by and says “hey Pop”, six of you turn and respond.

13. When your first day of relief/respite begins with a three hour nap!!

14. You begin to wonder if a kid is trying to send a Morse code message after they slam a door for the fifth time.

15. You consider coffee and mountain dew a food group.

16. When you think home security, you think of keeping people in, not out.

17. The paint ball guns seemed like a good idea at the time……

18. The house van looks like it barely survived a tour in Iraq.

19. You believe ALL brass instruments are some kind of sick joke by the public school system.

20. You are amazed that God has trusted you, of all people, with so much. (Seriously).

21. Whether on duty or off you count heads to make sure you have everyone in the vehicle before you turn the key in the ignition.

22. Always check what station is on the radio before you turn the sound up.

23. You get more excited about a mini-van with a TV set and two automatic cargo doors than a sports car.

24. You wonder if the key chain hanging from your belt caused the hernia

25. You consider summer vacation a combat tour.

 6. When you cook, you automatically get out the big pots & pans calculating how much is enough for 8 to 12 hungry people

27. When you are on relief and are out in a restaurant, you see a big van parked there & wonder what houseparents were brave enough to bring their group out to eat

28. On a school day, you start waking up at 4 AM to figure out if you need to get up yet & turn the ovens on to preheat

29) You keep a note pad by your bed so you can write down consequences as they come to you in your dreams. (or nightmares)

 30. When your 6 year old daughter tells you she wants to call her social worker and can’t wait till she go home with her real mom and dad.

 31. When you go out in public, you always see someone who looks just like “so & so”, could be their little brother or sister!

32. Then you start reminiscing with the stories about “so & so” that make you laugh now but didn’t really make you laugh when they actually happened!

 33. You cook 3 pounds of spaghetti noodles or 2 dozen pork chops and then remember you are on relief!!!

This one NOT so humorous, in fact is somewhat sad, but a reality none the less.

34. When you get the ACT score report for one of your kids, see a 21, and think Great Score!!!

The lowest score I have seen is a 12, the average score I see is a 15-17, rarely do I see them above 20. Considering all the challenges our kids face: missed school, abuse, neglect, etc., 21 really is a great score.

 35. While on relief you could buy any toothpaste you wish, but still buy the cheapest stuff because it has become your favorite!

This could apply to many other products.

Sunday Cottage Routine

TexPop

Today is Sunday and it’s been a good day. God is good. I got to wondering what routines other places have on Sundays. I’ll describe ours first:

I get up early and have a little quiet time then some more casual reading. After about an hour one of our 8 boys usually gets up and comes into the living room for some early morning chatter. Around 8:00 my wife gets up and we begin breakfast. At 8:30 I wake the rest of the boys up for breakfast and we then get ready for Sunday School which begins at 9:45. Afterwards, we meet up with the boys in the church sanctuary in a pre-selected area and sit together for the worship service.

After lunch at the cottage the boys go their separate ways in various groups for touch football outside, bike riding, or even naps. All in all they are a good group of guys.  At 5:30 I call them in to get cleaned up for our on-campus chapel service from 5:00 to 6:00. After chapel, we walk back to the cottage for dinner and evening chores. They then might watch a little TV if their grades allow it, or a few of them may get together for board games or cards. In-Room time/showers and lights-out begin at 8:30pm for the youngest and all are finally down and out by 10:00pm.

Yes – I left out the occasional wrestling match that got out of hand, the kid that got upset because he thought something at football was unfair, the kid that had to be rounded up for chores, etc. But that’s all normal stuff. My wife and I are able to enjoy our evening together after all is quiet. We work as Relief Houseparents so when we move to other cottages the kids aren’t always this compliant, but the routine is basically the same. -TexPop

——————————————————————————–

webmaster

Our Sunday routine is this:

I wake up at 7:00 AM – shower and start breakfast.

My wife wakes up at 7:40 – showers and wakes up children

We eat breakfast around 8:00 am and leave for Sunday School at 9:00 am

Return from Church at about Noon.

We will either eat Lunch in the Dining Hall at 12:30 if they are serving or I will serve something that has been cooking in the oven or crock pot while we were at Church.

The afternoon is pretty much spent with the children playing or watching the NASCAR race with me, except during the months of December and January, when we watch football.

My wife and the older kids leave for Kids Church and Youth Group at about 5:15 pm and I stay with the preschooler’s. They eat at Church so I only have to feed the little ones.

She returns at about 7:15 and everyone gets ready for bed with the little ones in bed by 8:00. The rest of us watch TV (Cold Case, Sunday Night Football, etc.) or work on next week’s Sunday School lessons. Both my wife and I teach Sunday School. All are in bed by 10:00 and then my wife and I get about 30 minutes of alone time, before we go to sleep.

That’s about it.

——————————————————————————–

TexPop

I assume you have a house of boys? What are the age ranges?

——————————————————————————–

webmaster

We actually have a co-ed cottage with 7 home children. The youngest is 4 and the oldest is 11. We also have a birth daughter that is 13 and a birth son that is 16.

I can’t wait until the home children get older, I have had enough little kids to last a lifetime.

——————————————————————————–

TexPop

I realized there are people reading these posts that are interested in becoming houseparents and might be interested in what to expect in a typical day. I would have loved to have known these little things before I started.

My wife and I are about to take over a cottage of little boys – eight of them from 5yrs to 11. We’re excited about the change from the High Schoolers we’ve had for the last 8 months. I know it’ll be more physically demanding, but we’re ready to be out of the older girl’s constant “drama” for a while 

——————————————————————————–

bakergirl

Y’alls Sunday routine comes close to what the houseparents we met said. We got to meet and interact with several homes when we interviewed. We are looking at a job with 6 boys age 10-18. Could anyone give me the – and + of this group? We’ve felt called to boys so it seemed right. We were very impressed with the atmosphere of the homes. The kids were typically naughty but not downright aggressive or threatening. We are told the boys we would have are basic care. In tx that means the kids can’t have had trouble with the law, right? Thanks for this post, it was enlightening.

——————————————————————————–

Launchpad

Our routine is really laid back on Sundays. Our church is only about 5 minutes away so we get to sleep in until 9am. Breakfast at 9:20 and Sunday school at 10am.

We usually start the Crock pot the night before so lunch is ready when we come back from church.

Most Sundays we go for a hike or fish for a few hours at a lake on campus. Then we head back to church at 6:00pm.

We are watching CSI by 8pm. Bed at 9.

Normally the kids with no privs will set at the table and read on Sundays while the rest of the group goes and has fun.