Dating in your home 

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..


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.


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. 

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.



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!!


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.

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.


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!!

One of my Witty Kids

I was talking with one of my former residents today and I would like to share his wit with you.

He was the first child to join my cottage when I moved to my current facility. He was way behind in school, had several emotional and behavioral issues and most people wrote him off as not having any chance as an adult.

He has since proven everybody wrong. Although he didn’t finish high school, he did pass his GED test on his first try. He went on to study welding at the local Junior College and earned an associate degree. He now works as a welder, and probably makes more money than I do. He is looking for his own apartment so he can move out of the college cottage and recently purchased his first vehicle.

He was showing me his new (to him) Jeep and I noticed he had his named spelled backward on his license plate frame. I didn’t know that he and several of his buddies had come up with nicknames by spelling their real names backward. Anyway I was trying to be funny, and asked him if this was some sort of satanic thing, writing his name backward like that.

He then asked me if I thought he was satanic or something? I was still trying to be funny and said something like, “well I don’t know. You do wear some pretty strange clothes sometimes.” I was totally caught off guard by his response and never expected his quick wit.

He said, “That would be like me looking at somebody wearing a NASCAR shirt and assuming he was an ignorant redneck.” I looked down at the #48 Jimmie Johnson T-shirt I was wearing and simply said, Touché’

PR Staff

I have to share this story because I find it humorous and hopefully you will also.

I was visiting with the maintenance person over by the main office today and asking him what he was up to. He said he was working with one of our development people, creating props for pictures they were going to take this afternoon for some PR materials. He was building one of those signs that have boards cut with points and names of places on them pointing in different directions on a pole.

The development person was going to write the places on the boards. She saw the boards and was trying to figure out how to write the names on them when she got quite perplexed and said, “You cut them all the same direction.” He said, “No, if you want them to go the other direction, you flip them over and start writing from the pointy side.” When she realized her blunder, she got real embarrassed and we all laughed, including her.

It was extra special for me, because I was having kind of a crappy morning and it brightened my day.



 We caught one of our boys sneaking a dip of snuff in the rest room the other night. Immediately he spit out what he had and went directly to the family couch and had a seat (He is familiar with the drill) while we tossed his room. We found a can in his room and finished up the search. We then went into my office to have a talk and discuss the ramifications of this new discovery.

A few minutes into our discussion, I noticed he was becoming very uncomfortable. Since this was not exactly the first time we had this little talk I figured something was going on. I then saw him swallow VERY hard. I knew then he had another dip in.

Instead of making him spit it out, I decided to have a little fun. I figured he had either a lot of courage to try and sneak a dip into my office or he just plum lost his mind. I started asking him how he was feeling and trying to get him to talk (Every question I asked caused him to swallow more tobacco juice in order to answer). After about ten minutes I noticed he was sweating and not looking very well. I then proceeded to go into how great men can overcome obstacles, the history of tobacco which somehow led into Valentine’s Day (?) and Nazi occupied France. This was a good twenty minute roll. By this time he was wiping tears out of his eyes.

He finally lost it when I grabbed my bible and asked him if he knew what Proverbs had to say on our discussion. He jumped for the trash can coughing and gagging.

He apologized, confessed and told me he had a dip in, and swore never to touch the stuff again (Which I doubt). Needless to say my yard should be looking good by the time he gets done raking next week. He is also very confused about France now.

Things Children Say!!

We live in Mississippi, just an hour away from the birthplace of Elvis, and only three hours from Graceland. His birthday was 4 days ago and we had several news stories about people throwing parties and such.

Our nine year old boy could NOT understand why they keep throwing birthday parties for somebody that is dead. Our six year old overheard the conversation and said, “Elvis ain’t dead, he just went home.” We all laughed.

Those that are “Men in Black” fans will get it.

Blood!!! Maundy Thursday


 We had service last night at the church on campus. One of the new boys who is seven became very interested in the communion part of the service. Being seven, as soon as he heard the communion cup was the blood of Christ he started getting real anxious. As we made our way up to the altar he started asking if he had to drink the blood.

Realizing he thought the cup was O negative hemoglobin, I tried to explain to him the best I could on our short walk to the altar that it was grape juice in the cup. After communion all he could talk about was how good the blood was. He then said Dracula probably just really liked grape juice and probably wasn’t that bad after all. We spent the remainder of the night trying to convince him he did not have grape juice in his veins.

Face Plant Why playing tag in a Cow pasture is not a good idea.


I took the boy’s camping Saturday night at the Lake on campus. At 10pm the boys wanted to play tag around the campsite, good idea I thought. About five minutes into it one of the boys tripped and landed face first into one of the biggest cow patties I have laid eyes on (No pun intended).

The kid hosed off his face before I was able to stop laughing and get the camera. I guess you had to be there….

Tried building Video Game Timer Posted as update in Tech Toys also


Today was Play Station timer build project day. Took some of the boys and went to the hard ware store. Forgot directions I printed off last night. Spent next hour with pre-teen boys trying to find the right timer/ box/ components. The store clerk helping us was about to lose his mind. I came home, figured it’s a no brainer and left directions on desk.

After assembling what I thought to be a design achievement just below that of the space shuttle and much fan fare, I gathered the family around and turned on the timer. With a puff of ozone and the pop of a breaker, there was dead silence until one of the boys said very quietly, “Does this mean we can’t watch TV?”

Sometime this week I will try to salvage what’s left of my manhood and actually follow the directions!


Ok. Round two.

Not only will I build this thing, but I will do so and incorporate a remote control somehow. Maybe lights, I like lights.

If anyone else wants to get involved in a build off, let me know. We can let the board decide who wins.

Any takers?

Visitor from Brazil Really cool day.


We had a great experience today. A man from Brazil that operates a group home stopped by our cottage today to check out our program. He had a translator with him and had to explain to the kids that when they were talking with him they would have to wait for the translator to repeat what they were saying in Portuguese to our guest.

The kids did an awesome job. They gave him a tour of the house and told him about the program. They even had a family conference while he was here. We could not have been prouder.

Our guest did something next that made my whole day. We had a boy that was not doing well and was sitting in a chair taking a well deserved time out. Our guest walked over to him, bent down, shook his hand, smiled at him and said something in Portuguese. The kid smiled back and had a great evening afterwards. There was just something about watching a House Parent from another culture do a totally random kind act for a kid. Language was not a barrier at that moment. It was just one of those tear jerker moments for me.

My wife shocked everyone when she came out and started talking to our visitor in Portuguese. I NEVER knew she talked Portuguese. I asked her later about it and she said it is close to Spanish and picked it up while she was living with missionaries in Honduras. Our guest was very surprised and they both enjoyed talking back and forth. I’m starting to think I married some kind of Government operative. It was kind of like finding out after being married for a year your wife is an Astronaut.

Interesting day. Time to go finish my John Clancy novel now

Capatalisim in Action I got hustled by a 7 year old


 The local fly population in our cottage finally hit an all time high so I decided to declare a bounty on each flies head. .5 cents per dead fly. I figured a day, max, I would have no flies left in the house after a bunch of money grubbing elementary kids were set lose to collect their bounty.

Our house is not that bad, so after paying a dollar to each kid (20 flies X 7 kids) I knew I was being hustled. Just behind our cottage is the dairy farm for our campus. One of the kids would distract my wife and I (not a hard job) and one of the other kids would run to the back door and open it. I found out later they were taking a bowl of leftovers from the fridge and setting it by the door to draw some more in.

I have to admit I was impressed by the teamwork and fore thought they put into the plan.



That’s pretty good… we have one boy we have to watch like a hawk because he will “Tom Sawyer” the younger boys into doing his chores or giving him toys, etc. For instance, one morning I made cinnamon rolls for breakfast, and I had left the dining room to get one of the toddlers up. I come back in and viola! He has multiple rolls on his plate. At my raised eyebrows, his protest was that “they gave them to me, honest”. The payment? One matchbox car per cinnamon roll…. of course the four and five year-old’s jumped at that!

NASCAR through the eyes of a 5 year old

You’ll probably have to be somewhat of a NASCAR fan to see the humor in this one, but we’ll give it a try. NASCAR is one of my worldly joys, my wife says I am obsessed but she is wrong quite often. Anyway we talk about it a lot and most of the kids in the cottage following in my footsteps to various degrees.

Our youngest child that is 5 is very creative in saying the names of some of the drivers for example:

  • She calls the driver of the #42 – Moya Toya
  • the #29 – Kevin Hartlin
  • and the #9 – Stacy Stain

What’s really funny is listening to her talk to my three year old grandson, who happens to be the 2nd largest NASCAR fan on campus helping her with her pronunciation, “Say – Kaayy SEEE (Kasey) Kahne” Which she will just before she says, Stacy Stain again.

Guess you had to be there.

Launchpads Bike Tour 07 I’m Back

It’s been a wild couple of weeks. Had some issues that I had to work through with a friend passing away and needed some me time to get re-focused and figure out where I was in terms of my own life.

SO- My wife headed to Upstate NY to visit her family with the baby and I took the old Honda out for a spin. By spin, I mean 1,500 miles. It started out to be a overnight camping trip and turned into me just riding everywhere and camping when I felt like it.

I had time to re-evaluate my own spiritual standing, and where I’m headed. The last five years has been a whirlwind and this was the time to refocus. After the first night my cell phone broke so I didn’t worry about talking to anyone or issues from work creeping in to the process.

I camped in the mountains and on the coast, I reflected on the past and how much that was binding me from moving forward and becoming what Christ really had in store for me. I also came to the realization that even without my bio family I am surrounded by family and friends that love, care and respect me. I had to take a week to understand that.

I guess the point is this- Take time for yourself. I was way overdue to get refocused on what I need to be doing. Every HP has a million things going on. Between school runs, paperwork, errands, house repair, bills, child behavior, staff meetings, church commitments when have you possibly had time to be you and really listen to what God is saying?

I thought a lot about this site and how many lives it impacts also. I have talked with many of you and have met many good friends. This has developed into a community. We have helped each other find employment in this ministry, compared notes and facilities and have helped others find good places. Together we have listened to gripes, moans and heartfelt moments. I am honored to be a part of this community.