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!!


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!!!

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.

How far would you go? Professional Development


Even if your facility does not require it, would you consider investing (out of your pocket) for courses that would directly relate to child care?

Example 1: CPR is pretty much a basic requirement. Not much out of pocket and many facilities pay for it.

Example 2: CDL bus driver. Even if your facility does not have a bus, would you consider going thru the time and expense of acquiring a CDL for professional development and as a resume builder?

Other examples would be Web design/ IT classes, Juvenile Justice degree, etc…



The vast majority of my childcare training, I have acquired on my own at my own expense, mostly through books and online classes. Of the three facilities I have worked at only one had any type of formal preservice training and in-service training has been spotty at all of them. The best training I have ever received was the 40 hours of foster parent classes over 10 weeks I took in Montana before I ever even knew what a houseparent was. I still rely on that training today 12 years later.

The only training I have received consistently from any facility is CPR training. I had one facility that paid for me to complete lifeguard training and my current facility will also, however I have become too FAT and out of shape to consider that at the moment. It would seem that all these computer skills I learned are not real great for my health.

My wife wants me to finish my degree and become an administrator, but my desire is to become a full time webmaster someday.

I used to have a CDL Bus license, but finally let it expire the last time I renewed my license. I never actually drove a vehicle that required it once I became a houseparent, and hate driving vehicles that require one in the first place. This way I will never be tempted to work some place that wants me to be a bus driver.

I would really love to be able to attend seminars and conferences, but that is very difficult with the schedule we work. We only get 60 regular days off a year and it seems I spend most of those, recuperating, spending time with my wife and birth children, or working on my house and website.

There is a place online at that has several good online courses. They are directed at foster parents, but the vast majority of their topics would easily cross over to houseparents.



I am currently going through classes online, at my own expense as well. I have always worked somewhere that would at least reimburse me for classes, but I don’t think it is going to happen here. I am going to try for a double major, something I can use here and something that will help if we ever move. Maybe Psychology or Social Work and either Business or something like that. 



I’ve been wanting to do the online courses. Who do you go thru? I’ve checked into University of Maryland, I’m just hoping to find something a little cheaper.



Ashworth College is one that i went through



Right now I am going through our community college here in MS. I was actually surprised that it is pretty expensive compared to other Community Colleges I went to. 

I am looking into some other online colleges for the winter session that starts around September. It is one of those things that I am doing some research on to find the right one. Also I really can’t make up my mind what I want to do when I grow up.

Coping Mechanisms What do you use?

I just finished reading a post by bakergirl and she mentioned the issue of coping mechanism.

This is a stressful job, no matter how you spin it. We all have to do something to blow off steam. So here is my list.

  • I shoot stuff. Seriously. I have a shooting range close by and I love spending $15 bucks on a box of rounds and pump them into the hillside. It sounds psycho in this day and age but hey, it’s reaffirming in a manly way.
  • Fishing- The closest trout is probably 200 miles of here, but I am starting to develop a fondness for Bass and Catfish. But just to make it clear to everyone, especially the webmaster, I still feel trout are a far superior species. 
  • Eating- I’m not proud of this one, but I’m listing all the coping mechanisms, even the vices. I figure this coping skill has probably added about 60 pounds to my physique. This is one area I would love to change.
  • Music- I play guitar and write songs. I will be playing in Columbia, SC Starting in June. My acoustic tribute to Motley Crue is killer. (Kidding). This is probably the one outlet I have that keeps me sane. I live out the rock star fantasy in a coffee house, make no money at it whatsoever and wish I could play as good as the people before and after me. If your waiting for the CD, Don’t hold your breath.

That about does it. Now that I look back at the list it makes me realize I need to get off my rump and climb a mountain or something.

Your turn……….

I have thought about it and besides the obvious prayer and meditation I enjoy:

NASCAR- Watching Races, reading websites, talking to others about it, and listening to my Sirius radio about it. 

Working on and learning about websites (Mine and the one I do for the Home I work at) I am down to just the two so it is much more therapeutic to work on them. I don’t feel as pressured. I’m not real great at all the super technical stuff with websites but I enjoy tinkering with them and writing stuff.

Working on my house, except installing tile flooring, I don’t think I will ever do that again. My knees ached for days after that.

Talking with, spending time with and doing other things with my wife. (This one should be closer to the top, but I thought I would save the best for last. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.)

I eat, but I am getting much better at resisting that one. I just wish I would have done it 70 pounds ago.

Right now I am working on VBS stuff for my Church. Making decorations and planning crafts and stuff have been a lot of fun.

That’s about it. 

Number 1 with a bullet has to be eating and I wish I could say it is all about salads and healthy foods but not even close.

Number 2 is non stop reading, I have several favorite fiction authors and I read any time I am sitting still.

Number 3 is sports, I have 2 NFL teams I follow, 2 NBA teams, and 2 or 3 college teams that I follow and I mean checking on daily internet sports spots info and rumor for any and all of the teams I follow. 

Number 4 right now is planning a 3 week vacation that is coming up here in about 3 weeks that we will be driving up north and seeing family and I have so over planed the route we are driving and picked out camping spots that we will stay at. I have redone it 2 or 3 times just for the fun of it. Little nutty huh. 

And of course Number 5 which in reality is number 1 is spending free time with my wife. Mothers day we will be at the beach with a pik nik lunch enjoying the South Florida sunshine. 

Here’s my list in no particular order (that would take too much thought and I might not like the result)

  • Landscaping around the cottage (If $Fines$ are used as a consequence, the money goes to cottage beautification)
  • Reading (I usually have at least 2 books going)
  • Shooting (at the range, of course)
  • Riding my Harley (’83 FLH Shovelhead/Dresser)
  • Going for a walk
  • Playing with my 3 month old son

I was real close to going the Harley route about a month ago. I decided with the baby almost due I would have a hard time spending the extra cash on a “Me” purchase. One of my buddies here just got a Softtail Classic. I have to admit I’m a little jealous.

I’m almost afraid if I got on bike I’d never be home, which would not go over real well with my wife while we are on respite. 

My coping mechanisms…

-camping (relaxing, peaceful, and I never run into anyone I know!)
-reading (Christian fiction suspense – Ted Dekker, Frank Peretti, etc.)
-shopping (not really a good coping mechanism when you are living on a houseparent’s budget!!)
-taking showers (this is the best escape when I am on duty – a fifteen minute break without hearing “Ms. Rachel” in that loud whiney voice – heavenly!)

webmaster – take a break man! half your coping mechanisms involve work! Working on your house, working on websites, and working on VBS – I got tired just reading your list of ways to relax! I guess that’s why you are the king of houseparents and not me!! 

I’m almost afraid if I got on bike I’d never be home, which would not go over real well with my wife while we are on respite.

I don’t get to ride it as much as I’d like – or as much as I used to. I’ve been riding street bikes since 1978 (wow! that’s a long time!) and I got my Harley from my dad who purchased it new in ’83. I’ve also got a big Honda that me and mama can more easily ride together. My 3 month old has really put a crimp in the riding opportunities, but I don’t regret that at all!

  • -Video Games (Some think I’m too old-bah on them)
  • -Driving my Crossfire (sometimes too fast I’ll admit)
  • -The internet
  • -Working out with my Bow Flex and Slam Man
  • -Reading (mostly the bible and theology books)

Wow, I thought I was the only one who ate for stress relief. DH and I have gained so much weight 
Here are mine, in no particular order

  • Eating out, especially when on duty (for lunch) or when just coming off duty (we finally had to create a budget just to control this)
  • Eating in general (do you think the agency would pay for a stomach stapling as a hazard of the job?)
  • Reading, anything, everything
  • Web surfing while listening to Dave Ramsey online
  • Shopping (rachel I had to stop once we went on a budget but it felt so freeing to be away from the kids for awhile)
  • watching tv after the kids are in bed (this is not a good habit as it makes me tired for the next day) particularly CSI
  • playing with/petting our cat

If you build it, They will come


We found our first position though a site advertised in a Social Worker publication. We later came across this site and found that they advertise her as well.
Our 2nd position was found because of an ad they had posted here. We had also subscribed to Mike’s list at the time and accomplished 7 interviews before making a decision. All but one with companies on Mike’s list or ads here.

Our current position is one for which we were actively recruited. By going to trainings outside the agency we met others doing what we do and began to “network”. Someone found out about us from one of their employees and we were contacted and ended up finding a program a bit better than the one we left.

As with ANY job, with House Parenting, the time and money you invest in additional training, seminars, etc makes you a more marketable commodity. You teach it to the kids so practice some of it and invest in your future as well.

Don’t sit around whining or waiting for someone else to do it for you.

A LOT of agencies will hire any warm set of bodies that can pass a background check. Some tend to prefer those who know NOTHING that they can control and manipulate easier.

But with any of the more structured and financially successful agencies (usually exhibited by growth) they are a bit more selective and your educational background will find you the better paid positions.

There are many inexpensive seminars. I paid $25 for a 4 hour course Tuesday in Behavior Management and $20 for a 4 hour course today in “Safely Driving a Passenger Van” (Insurance companies want to see this kind of stuff).

Many churches and Civic Organizations offer free training and parenting classes as well. They can all be used to build your resume.

An excellent source of training is Foster Parenting Classes. I’ve found 3 agencies that will let us sit in on classes because we are “thinking” of becoming Foster Parents”. When your kids leave you that is where they sometimes go so it’s nice knowing how they are prepared.

Yes it takes time.

Yes it takes a small investment sometimes on your part

But it also pays off financially if that is important to you.
If you are young or have 0 experience it can mean the difference between a minimum wage or voluntary “missionary” position vs a $12.50 an hour Child Care Worker position or even a $60K plus overhead and full benefits kind of job.

It also pays off in areas where you can do the most good sometimes. We work with VERY difficult kids. Kids that would have been institutionalized a few years ago and are so in other states. The training has certainly helped us feel more comfortable in assisting them with their needs and helping them solve their problems.


Great Advice, thank you.

I think people get into houseparenting and end up in what we call “an Island named student home”

We find it difficult to even get together with fellow houseparents here, let alone others from different facilities.

But, this is a definite must, not just to keep your training up, and yourself more marketable…but to keep yourself sane.