Hello experienced houseparents! More questions from a prospective….

Lyssiej

Hello!

I hate to do this to everyone again, since I see a lot of newbies are on here in various stages, but I have a few more specific questions about houseparenting that I was hoping to ask the seasoned veterans….

1. What was your “aha moment” that made you want to get into this line of work? (Does not apply if you have something in a blog or on a “testimony” section — I’ve read it!)

2. You’ve all undoubtedly been surrounded by people quitting/burning out for years — What would you say is the one trait, decision or circumstance that has MOST influenced you to stick with it? Or do you see something consistent with people who burn out?

 

3. DH is a very soft-spoken, contemplative kind of guy. He has good boundaries, but hasn’t worked a ton with kids (He’s a chef, whereas I’m a teacher…..). Kids tend to open up to him and he’s one of those people everyone ends up telling their life story to, but his his biggest fear is that we would be getting in over our heads. Do you guys know any successful houseparents where one of them has that kind of personality? Is there a particular model that works better with that personality?

4. I don’t know if this is allowed, and if it’s not DON’T DO IT, but can you PM me your lists of top 5 reputable facilities?

Going from what I’ve read all over this website and this forum, I think we would be looking for:

1. Basic care facilities that are

2. Christian and

3. Offer lots of training before you start and

4. Use a gentle-ish model with a specific plan for consequences

Does that sound about right for outside parameters?

 

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webmaster

1. N/A – You have already read it.

2. I have been around people that have burned out and quit, a lot of days I think about doing the very same thing. However, on the flip side I have also seen people that have been houseparents for years that probably should quit, and I am not sure why they continue. I think the thing that keeps me going is the delusion that what I am doing makes a difference. Fortunately, I occasionally see things that feed my delusion; I’m sure you have read some of my writings and have an idea what I am talking about.

3. Being soft-spoken and contemplative is not a bad thing, and every person that decides to be a houseparent is getting in over their heads. You either learn how to swim or drown. There is no way to be fully prepared to become a houseparent, not even if they came up with a 4 year college degree in houseparenting. You can learn skills that will make things so much easier for you, but I guarantee that at some point very early in your career you will feel overwhelmed. I have been doing it for over ten years and often feel overwhelmed, like tonight. The trick is have the fortitude to stick it out, and the next time it gets easier.

4. It is allowed and I encourage people to do it, I just don’t want it done publicly on the boards.

Your guidelines for a facility look fine, and I hope you find the one that is right for you. I would like to add that when my birth children are grown, we may very well look for a position in a B-mod facility. I enjoyed working B-mod, but I also enjoy the cat and mouse aspect of things. I always hated seeing a kid take a fall, but I have to admit I enjoyed playing the game. You can build relationships with children, even at a B-mod facility, and in all honesty any real change that takes place with a child in a facility like that is a direct result of the relationships the staff have with the children. Some people do really well in B-mod.

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Launchpad

QUOTE

1. What was your “aha moment” that made you want to get into this line of work? (Does not apply if you have something in a blog or on a “testimony” section — I’ve read it!)

I had worked as a youth pastor in St. Louis and thought there had to be a more rewarding way to serve kids besides pizza parties and sleep overs and concerts.

QUOTE

2. You’ve all undoubtedly been surrounded by people quitting/burning out for years — What would you say is the one trait, decision or circumstance that has MOST influenced you to stick with it? Or do you see something consistent with people who burn out?

 

I have to say the single most important decision to stay in this ministry would be God has opened this door and I accepted the invitation. I will serve until that door is shut. The encouragement that keeps me going, even after some rough nights with the kids, is that I know I am doing all I can to make a positive difference in their lives.

QUOTE

3. DH is a very soft-spoken, contemplative kind of guy. He has good boundaries, but hasn’t worked a ton with kids (He’s a chef, whereas I’m a teacher…..). Kids tend to open up to him and he’s one of those people everyone ends up telling their life story to, but his biggest fear is that we would be getting in over our heads. Do you guys know any successful houseparents where one of them has that kind of personality? Is there a particular model that works better with that personality?

IMO the best attitude is calmness. I have come to a point where I have seen that staying calm and in control at all times is the best answer in every situation. I can also tell you I wish I would have discovered that method four years ago! As far as a model? Teaching Family Model is the one for me. I am definitely a believer after seeing this program in action. There is less stress on everyone, more calm, and more freedom for staff and kids. The Boys Town model is also awesome if the facility runs the program the way it is meant to be. Those are really the only set programs I have worked with, but there are many great programs out there.

Bottom line- Intimidation of someone else by elevated voice tone or body posture is never ok unless your a Drill Sargent or trying to establish yourself in a prison setting 

QUOTE

4. I don’t know if this is allowed, and if it’s not DON’T DO IT, but can you PM me your lists of top 5 reputable facilities?

I’ll send you a PM of facilities that I know some people at who really enjoy where they are at. Again much about these facilities are personal preferences.

QUOTE

Going from what I’ve read all over this website and this forum, I think we would be looking for:

1. Basic care facilities that are

2. Christian and

3. Offer lots of training before you start and

4. Use a gentle-ish model with a specific plan for consequences

Does that sound about right for outside parameters?

Sounds like ya got it! 

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Lyssiej

Wow, you guys! Thanks so much for all of your insight! DH read it and is feeling a little more confident that we may be okay for this. We agreed to think/pray about it until January (he’s a very process-oriented person), so we have time. In the meantime, we’re going to look into foster parenting classes and ask if we can volunteer at a Christian children’s home near where we live, just to get a feel. And I got No Such Thing as a Bad kid from the library yesterday! I’ll be frequenting these boards while we’re looking into all of this.

Launchpad — It was funny to see you write that you wanted something that would help more than being a youth pastor. It’s almost exactly what I told my husband about being an elementary music teacher. It’s just getting really frustrating to not be able to help more directly. I love music, but I’m thinking a kid who’s in total chaos at home doesn’t desperately need to know how many beats a half note gets….

Bottom line, we’re scared and we want to carefully discern God’s will here. It’s really intimidating, but as my favorite quote from Corrie Ten Boom says, “The safest place in the world is in the center of God’s will.” My biggest fear in life is losing track of that call.

Thanks again, and keep the wisdom coming!

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rachel

I wanted to share my “aha moment” with you because I think you will relate to it. I was a first grade teacher, and I loved it for the most part. But I was starting to realize that I really enjoyed teaching character, morals, manners, etc. I didn’t really enjoy teaching academics! I also thought so many times that I could be much more effective if I could go home with these kids – rather than sending them into chaos and turmoil at 3:00 every afternoon. So, houseparenting really is alot like teaching – but it’s the really good part of teaching, with a stronger and more meaningful connection with the kids.

My husband owned his own restaurant before we became houseparents. (Is our story sounding a little familiar to you?)  He is also the type that people feel very comfortable talking to, and he is very patient and calm. When we first started (January 2, 2007), I did most of the disciplining. As a teacher, I was used to being bossy! He kind of laid back and stuck to the lighter situations with our girls. But now (and it’s only been four months) he is much more comfortable dishing out the punishments when needed.

It is ALWAYS better to stay cool and calm with the kids. If you raise your voice or become angry, then the kids will just yell louder than you and become much angrier than you. It’s like they try to make you yell at them so that they have the right to scream at you. Sounds like your husband would be really good at deescalating these types of situations – its a good thing to be soft-spoken!

Houseparenting is hard – and I am certainly no expert. But, I really love it and I feel like God has provided me with the skills I need to be good at it. I feel confident and challenged at the same time. If this is the path that God wants you to take, then He will equip you as he has us. It really sounds like we have alot in common! 

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Housepop

House parenting is not for everyone nor should everyone do it but with God’s help you can. I think first and foremost you need to understand that for all the teaching you may do about making good choices and how much you tell a child about God you may not get to be the one to see the results and THAT HAS TO BE OK. I look at house parenting as a twofold job, First I believe I am called to plant God’s seed of love, grace, compassion, and joy and since our true boss is the son of a Jewish carpenter I believe I should help each child fill his tool box with new tools to make better choices, work harder, and be a better person not because I said so or they might get a reward for it but because that is what God would want of them. And the REALLY IMPORTANT thing to remember is that when that seed grows or when they use those tools may not happen while they are with you and that really is ok. The important thing is, you did what God called you to do and the rest will happen in God’s time and in God’s way. Houseparenting is not a results visible kind of job most days. Yes sometimes you get to see it and sometimes you get to experience it and for that moment it is like touching a piece of heaven, so wrap that moment up in your memories and save it for all of those days that you want to chuck it all and go to work at Walmart. My Wife and I have been houseparenting for 10 years now and it definitely is not what I planned to do with my life. We were on career paths that were lucrative and enjoyable but not kingdom related at all. We let God have the reigns of our life and this has been the most fun and entertaining journey I have had the privileged to be a part of. Kids really do say the darndest things and love in the most amazing ways. And the one thing I live for more than anything else is that one day in heaven when a little voice says thank you because if not for you I would not be here to see this.

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Lyssiej

That is so encouraging and inspiring!

I talked again with DH and he’s not feeling the call just yet. My theory is that when God speaks, He’ll speak to both, so I’ll wait. DH said he wants to wait a year and see where we’re at. We’re both praying hard, though.

I’m going to an informational meeting about foster parenting today, thinking that maybe that’s what God is speaking to me about now. DH is a lot more open to that, so maybe that’s “the tug.” We’ll see.

I definitely see (and actually, DH sees) houseparenting in our future. Speaking of planting seeds, you guys have planted that one. I think God meant for us to start thinking about it now so we’re ready to get the call when it comes. Of course, I’ll wait for that call, but you guys have been so helpful. Thank you and I’ll keep checking back in!

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rachel

Very well said Housepop – brought a tear to my eye!! You are definitely right on about the fact that we must be okay with not seeing the results of our work. It’s all in God’s time.

Lyssiej my DH was definitely harder to convince about this job than I was (yet another similiarity between us). I think that being a man, he was concerned about the decrease in pay. He wanted to be the big tough manly provider and all. I knew that it wasn’t a true calling unless we both felt certain. You wouldn’t believe all the things that God did to help our faith. He did everything that we needed to make us feel comfortable about taking the plunge. Just a few things God did for us – got the agency to offer us $10,000 more dollars a year than they did at first, got all of our family to be supportive, found a replacement teacher immediately for my job, made my boss and coworkers totally supportive of a teacher leaving in the middle of the school year, Dh mom sent us a check (totally random) for $5000, unexpected Christmas bonus at work for $500, cell phone bill reduced by $120 a month, and the list goes on. I guess my point is just to praise God that He is a big enough God to bring us to our comfort level in his calling. He didn’t have to do that, but He did. After all of these pieces fell into place, my DH and I knew without a doubt that this is the job that God has called us to do. I will be praying that God will give you guys the same clear cut guidance that He gave us – what a blessing that kind of guidance is!! In the meantime, enjoy every minute of teaching half notes and recorder songs that you can – if you do become a houseparent, you will miss those sweet babies, trust me! (But it’s worth it.) 

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bakergirl

Lyssie and rachel: I too have a introspective husband. It takes him awhile to answer a question, to make a big decision. However, for us, we knew what could happen with hping for 2 yrs. The idea was presented before we graduated from college. Then after 2 yrs, we suddenly knew it was time to apply. It was amazing how God worked. Lyssie, our aha moment was very clear. We were at the dinner table, talking, and suddenly I realized that dh hated his job and some other things all clicked at once and I just blurted out “I think God’s telling me its time to apply”. The kicker was that it didn’t scare him or take him long to agree. We got up and went and prayed and he immediately felt a calm about it. And here we are, five months later, loving it. I have to say, there are big challenges. The agency you work for and director you get are crucial. I’ve heard horror stories but so far dh and I have been very blessed.

Sometimes, I get so frustrated I cry. But I would never quit. If your dh is praying about it and doesn’t feel called, I would be waiting too. Both of you have to be in this. Blessings!

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dmitchell_00

We are foster parents and love it and that is why we are looking into becoming HP. I think it is great place to start. I was reading your post about being in God’s will, Have you read the book The Dream Giver by Bruce Wilkinson. It is amazing you should check it out. The main theme is are you “just” living your life or are you living your dream. I feel like for now I am living my life and God has a dream out there and kids like this are part of that dream. We are in the beginning stages of trying to figure out which place we belong. Good luck to you and you DH.

When to Quit?

webmaster

We post a lot about being called to be a houseparent, and I totally agree with that. I would like to change the discussion a little bit and try to get everyone’s opinion on something else.

How will we know when we are not called to do it anymore? It can’t be when things are difficult because we always say you have to persevere when things are difficult or look for another facility if it is too bad. It can’t be when all the kids are grown or completed the program, because there are always new kids.

It can’t be when you stop caring about kids, because if that happens you have bigger issues than whether or not to quit being a houseparent.

I am looking for serious answers. There are days I absolutely want to throw up my hands in defeat and say forget it. But, then I remember my advice to others that you have to persevere through the bad days to get to the not so bad days and the occasional good or great day.

What do you think??

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gracecountry62

Well I can honestly say we have been there at times wanting to give up. and well we did a few times but I realize it was done out of anger and it was always when I was not thinking clearly , especially when issues came up and boy Satan knows when to hit at the right time my wife and i regret listening to folks and making decisions out of an angry mind as well as when I am not having a clear mind during a crisis, but no more we are going on strong and when i feel the pressure I go off by myself and pray and just lock myself away. Then I return with a stronger look at whatever I may be doing at the present time. Then I can see clearly to do the right thing.

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Launchpad

I think it is one of those things that will be made clear to you if it is a God thing. If you’re really hard of hearing he may even slam the door on you to make it clear. 

I don’t know if it is even a question that can be answered unless you are at that point or beyond. It’s easy to get frustrated and begin to think God has called you elsewhere. I don’t think you can know until the time comes.

I think if this ministry became too much for my family I would move on. If I also found myself or my wife coming close to abusing a kid because of stress or burn out it may be time for a Bahamavention

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Housepop

I guess I kind of believe that just as I knew with total strong conviction that house parenting is what God wanted me to do. If it were HIS time for me to stop I would have that same conviction. In the first few years that my wife and I house parented I used to wonder how long I would do this but after 10 years and I am now age 53 I now assume that I will retire as a houseparent. My thoughts and dreams aren’t about what job I would do next but what I will do when I am retired and I really believe that the thought process that brought me there was from God and not me. Of course I still have one question about retiring. What does that word mean anyway. Do I just get tired again? I am so confused. 

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bakergirl

Housepop- “getting tired again” HA! Actually you couldn’t get tired “again” if its houseparenting. I’m always tired!!! I’ve noticed (and dh too) that I need far more sleep when on duty than off. Guess its a coping mechanism.

I also think that God will simply let you know when its time to go. We feel called to this as a career and it would take a lot for us to just quit. It would have to be a clear calling from God to another ministry.

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gracecountry62

We have talked to a lot of House Parents are really going through a tough time at this point. There seems to be a great attack on HP’s in the Ministry to children I have noticed through the head lines that there is a great increase in Abuse with children. Satan has made an attempt to attack HP’s in many areas especially in their Marriages, there has been a severe attack on us all. Do not give up we are going through some trying times right now but God is faithful to see all of us through these difficult times. Do not lose the vision and call God has put upon your hearts we are all the kids have and we are their refuge through God alone. God Speed to all of you.

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RANCHERICK

Our first time around we lasted just over 6 months. It was due to a variety of factors, so we thought at the time, but in hindsight it was really only one particular thing that was the underlying factor that made everything else seem amplified and uncontrollable. So we left, took 3+ years off, and now we are returning. To the same place too. And it helps now knowing what God had brought us through, and what houseparenting is like, that we are looking forward to rejoining the ranks and being HP’s again…

 

We thought God was telling us to leave, but it was really our flesh. We have had more of a rollercoaster ride since exiting the HP’s position that when we were actually Houseparenting! We believe we stepped out of God’s will for our lives at that time… He has graciously allowed us to step back in so to speak, and we couldn’t be more excited!

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helpingtroubledkids

I am replying to this topic, since I believe my wife and I are on the verge of leaving our cottage. We haven’t even been here 2 yrs. and yet it seems as though we have lost what we set to accomplish. I have to admit we haven’t been putting God first. On our days off it seems we want to relax and rest. On the few Sundays we have off (one every 3 weeks) we don’t attend church like we use to since its a day we have off to rest.

We live in a cottage with teenage girls and its drama day in and day out. They love us to our face, hate us when our back is turned is the saying between my wife and I. We have 3 children of our own ranging from 10-5 yrs old. and we have to think of the best interest of them as well as ourselves. We are far from the rest of our family to come here to do this ministry. Often, the children say they miss their grandparents.

Maybe I am asking for prayer for us to make the right decision for ourselves and our family. I enjoy being able to see my children come off the bus and have some time with them as I never did before, but the politics and drama of HP life can really get to a person. Thank you for the stories and information on these forums.

God Bless all of you and the difficult ministry you do.

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TexPop

My wife has been in Ministry longer than I have and she’s said it’s time to leave when she begins to feel that her work has been completed. I’ve spent many years in the secular job market and almost always left one job for a better position elsewhere ($$). Houseparenting is one job where the entire family is affected by this decision – to a MUCH greater extent than any other I’ve experienced. So, short of a moral issue perpetrated by my employer, I’d want to spend many many hours in prayer before making such a decision. I can’t imagine leaving the kids we have now. Maybe when/if the time comes the Lord will make it obvious – ’cause I’m a pretty hard-headed doofus sometimes.

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webmaster

MomforLife – Just wanted to say thank you for your service. I have always believed that for most people houseparenting is just for a season. The length of the seasons vary greatly by individual, sounds like yours was five years. If we could get more people just to do it for a couple of years, it would go a long way to reducing the staffing crisis’ in most facilities. Again thanks, I am sure you will be blessed in whatever you do and feel free to come around the community from time to time.

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Launchpad

QUOTE (webmaster @ Aug 2 2008, 11:23 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>

If we could get more people just to do it for a couple of years, it would go a long way to reducing the staffing crisis’ in most facilities.

AMEN!!!

I would also like to add that I hope you stick around the board here. Your insight and experience can help many, many couples when they have no where else to turn. I also believe that once your a House Parent, your always a House Parent. God cuts most of us from a different cloth and gives most of us a heart for ministering to kids and families long after the paychecks stop coming, it’s just who we are.

Heck, look at Glidenhi- Long after him and his wife have retired from the business, he’s still ministering to kids. Granted he’s the oldest punk rock skater I know, but he can’t get away from the calling. He has helped me with advice on quite a few occasions. Kinda nice to have a few old hands around. 

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MomforLife

Our former HP friends are telling us to take 6 months or so off… but I think we would go crazy after 3-4 weeks. My husband is high energy and I like to feel needed. We are both project oriented. I are praying for very clear direction from God.

We have an interview this Tuesday (tomorrow, 8/5) with TexPop’s facility. It is 2-1/2 hours away from our moms, which is only 1/2 hour longer than our original desire, but 5 hours closer than we are now. It is a HP Relief situation in basic care, which is probably perfect for us after 5 years of HP in ‘high level’ care.

My 75 yr old Mom is so excited about us moving closer that she bought us airfare for the interview and shipped me 2 new outfits for “interview” clothing – she knows I live in jeans! This was a sacrifice for her as she lives on a limited, fixed income. I hate to tell her that the clothes are too large (not that I’m small, I’m just not as big as she thinks)!