Sometimes it’s Best Just to Keep Your Mouth Shut


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.


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.


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

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.


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!)

Other Houseparents


I think I have finally come to understand what our moderator was talking about when I first began to haunt this sight. He mentioned that it seems like hps within the same agency have a hard time being friends. There is only one other hp couple where we work and frankly, they seem perfect. I feel like we will never measure up to them. I know they have been doing this a long time but it feels so frustrating, especially since we are their relief. At first, I believed them and our director that it would take time for the kids to treat us the way they treat them but its been months.

It’s just that I constantly feel tired and stressed out while on duty and they just don’t! I sleep the first half of our time off just to recoup. I can see why relief get burned out so easily. I feel lucky that they have been so good to us, they share their stuff and are not critical or territorial but strangely, that just makes me feel less competent (in other words how will I be that unselfish with our relief in the future). We are STILL waiting to get our home set up. Its been months since we should have had our own kids yet here we sit. Maybe it will be better once we feel settled in.

Anyway, is anyone else relief out there?



My wife and I did relief for a year and it is the hardest job there is. I am so thankful for people that can do it, because I am one that can’t.

My advice to you about your feelings of inferiority is “don’t try to compare yourself to others” just be the best houseparents you can be. As far as building relationships with the children, being relief staff doesn’t help things and when you are only there part of the time it could take much longer than if you were primary houseparents.

Also when you compare yourself to longtime experienced houseparents think about how long they have been doing it, and how many personal meltdowns you haven’t seen over the years. I have been a houseparent for over 10 years and many days question my ability, however others have shared differing opinions, and even consider me competent.

As far as stress goes, I have learned that we can alleviate a good portion of it just by lightening up a little, we don’t always have to be so serious.



We were relief for almost four years. The more you can observe the regular houseparents in operation the better you will know how to operate and know what works with each kid. I hope you had the opportunity to do this before you had them on your own….if not…go with them on outings…even if it is on your own time. Also….make sure that you aren’t more rigorous with the rules than the regular houseparents are. …otherwise ….you are going to take the heat.

Take the time to watch and encourage the kids as they play…..even play with them…and help them to find things to do that are fun. It is amazing how much kids love an audience…they love to show off their skills.

If you see that a kid does something over and over that really annoys another kid, help them both with it….talk with each one. Usually…no kid wants to be offensive…so establish signals that you can use to warn the offending kid….when the other kid sees that you are working with it…it gives them hope and there is less chance of murder. Notwithstanding, you have to have an understanding with the kid that is being annoyed that you will not tolerate fighting or cruel language….and they need to warn the offender…..and if all else fails…..come to you when they are being annoyed.

By the way…..we never left the home that our first two days at home weren’t spent sleeping in front of the TV set on the sofa. After all… is eight teenagers and subteens who are smart, active and creative….and a lot of their experience with adults is often one of inconsistency and imbalance and injustice.

There will be times when each one of the kids honestly seeks your help. Watch for it, and give it to them……and give them a hug. When you see a special aspect of their character that stands out…..tell them about it……encourage them. Give them a nickname that’s just between you and them. If they need courage, tell them that you believe in them. When you have a really bad day….tell them….”I’d rather be with you when we’re having a bad day than not be with you at all.”….and mean it.

Leave your bedroom door open at night so you can hear when a kid is having breathing problems or when they are crying…and go to them and give them relief. It may be the first time anyone ever did.



I had a supervisor that had been a houseparent for eight years prior to me taking his position in his house and him becoming my supervisor. The problem was I constantly felt I needed to copy my style after him. Him and his wife were more or less legends on the ranch, had been extremely successful in handling all of the residents PLUS three of their own kids. It drove me insane they were so good.

I still hold him and his wife in the highest regard for the ministry they did and continue to do now. But I have matured to the point I realize that everyone has their own style. Are they better HP’s than my wife and I? I guarantee it. They can out HP us any day of the week. They have also been doing this for, like, ten years. My wife and I are pushing four years.

My problem was I compared myself to another couple with years more of experience. While it’s good to look to those couples and learn from them and strive for the qualities you admire in them, it is insane to compare your success to theirs. I wasn’t there to see all the storms they weathered and the many, many, many mistakes they made to become the great HP’s they are now. The unfortunate thing is if it wasn’t for my fear of measuring up to them, I may have learned much more from them and furthered my skills as an effective HP. But you know what they say about hind sight…

Get a good relationship going with the couple you are talking about if possible. You may be surprised they are not rockin as steady as you think. They may just be able to weather the abuse a little better in their old age 

As for relief work- You guys are the hardest working people in the child care field. Most HP’s take for granted the nomadic lifestyle you live. It is always harder to find a good relief couple than a primary HP couple. I will also tell you the best HP’s come out of the relief ranks, they have proven they can take it and come back for more. You are a rising star!




Thanks guys! I can’t tell you how much your replies helped. Its relatively easy to remember that our experience vs. their experience can’t compare but when you are in the thick of it-its tough. Especially when your director is only used to them for the last few years (its been the only home our director has over seen). It makes us a little jumpy bc we think our dir expects us to be that good.

Thank y’all so much for the encouragement!!!




Just remember, Gods is preparing you for the children he wants YOU to take care of. You “training” and experience will be perfect for what he has in mind! Try not to compare yourself to other HP’s, but rather learn what methods and practices work for you and what doesn’t. the Relief position puts you in a great position to do that. My wife and I worked relief our first year too.

Living by the Bell


My kids and I had to fill in at the dining hall today (we normally wash vehicles) setting up for dinner and cleaning up afterwards so I had to ring the bell to call everybody to come and eat. We have an old train bell mounted on a tower outside our dining hall we ring whenever we have a meal in the dining hall or whenever we have a cookout in the area next to the dining hall. We also ring it occasionally for certain other gatherings but not often.

We ring the bell 15 minutes before the meal starts to let everyone know to get ready and wash-up, and then ring the bell again 5 minutes before the meal for everyone to come in. The point of all of this is to ask:

Does anybody else have a bell or similar system for corporate gatherings? 



We have several bells here. (Must be a Presbyterian thing)

The Campus chapel rings hourly, we have one at the football field which I’m sure gets rung at some point, and one in front of the Dining Hall. I have never heard the one in front of the Dining hall get rung. I’m sure one of our kids will eventually take care of that. 

I love hearing the church on campus ring.



We have a chapel bell here that rings every 1/4 hour and plays songs at the begining and end if every day. No real way of corporate calling exists, but I think it’s funny when the office workers send out an email asking everyone to come to the commissary to pick up prepared food that had just been donated – and nobody shows up. Sometimes they forget we’re houseparents, not office staff! 



We have the same thing that happens here. We have a new Director that is totally into E-mail, for a while he was sending 10+ emails a day, and then he realized we don’t check our E-mail that often and started using the telephone much more often. I don’t mind E-mail that much but we have some houseparents that are not into it at all, my issue is having to show everybody how to use it because I am the facility computer guru. 



I had a supervisor in MD that only sent out paper memos. The guy was personally responsible for the destruction of a few acres of trees a week.

Anyway, Back to the bells- Anyone see that episode on Dirty Jobs where they made bells the old way?



A Presbyterian thing huh? We work for a Presbyterian agency and on one campus there is a dinner bell. Weird

Names How Are You Addressed


How do your kids address you? If you’ve been called different things at various facilities, what has seemed to be most comfortable for the kids and to you? ie. by first name, Mr/Mrs. So-and-so, etc. I think it must be a fine line between comfort and familiarity and respect. Any insight on this would be appreciated. Also, did you choose, or did your facility inform you?



All the facilities we have been at have left it open for us. We prefer Mr. or Mrs. And first name.



Ours calls us Mr. and Mrs. with first name attached. It is/was our choice. With our biological children still home, I did not think it was fair to them (this is our first job as houseparents) to let others call us mom or dad. This may change over time.



Wow…I had completely forgotten that was the new trend (“new” according to my parents) in the States. Which is weird because the kids at my old Child Care facility called me that.

The only thing I had been able to come up with was from my childhood in South Africa. There you call everyone “Auntie so-and-so” or “Uncle so-and-so”. Although the shortened it with my mom and just called her Auntie B. Pretty much anyone who is not like a teacher, or stranger, or not actually related to you. Like, at church I called everyone more than 10 years older than me Auntie and Uncle. Even my parents would call the people older than them Auntie and Uncle. It was just polite.

I’ve stopped since living in the states, but people I met in the USA during visits in my childhood are still Uncle and Auntie to me. You can usually tell when in my life I met a person based on that. Sometimes I find myself at a loss about common practices because my own childhood doesn’t apply.



We have worked in a long term residential foster care home for the last 8 years. We have been in our current cottage for 5 years this month, minus a 9 month sabbatical. Some of the children in our cottage have been with us since before they were 2 years old; don’t even remember their birth parents. Additionally, they will probably be with us until they graduate from school. We are the only parents they know, and those children call us mom and dad.

We have a girl that we claim as a daughter that we raised since she was fourteen. She calls us Mr. Mike or Ms Marje. When she refers to us to other she says, “This is my mom and Dad”

We have some children that are more comfortable calling us Mr. Mike or Ms Marje and we are OK with that.

At the home we worked at in Wyoming the just called us by our first names. Things are much less formal in the western culture and it is totally acceptable to address adults by their first name. Additionally, the children we worked with there were in placement short term. The longest we had in placement when we were there was 22 months. We were encouraged not to allow any of the children address us as mom and dad.

At the home we worked at in Texas the children were not allowed to call us Mom or Dad. They all called us Mr. Mike or Ms Marje.



I use to correct kids that tried going the “Mom and Dad” route. My supervisor helped me see the other side of the issue. I use to believe that a kid would have serious transitional issues if they moved and saw me as Dad.

Now I see a kid that does that needs to call someone Dad. I really respect any HP that will allow them to do that. My supervisor helped me to see that a kid will have transitional issues no matter what they call you. It’s the relationship itself that is important. (Thanks Craig!)



At our facility here in Texas our “titles” are “Mom” and “Pop” followed by last names for specificity if there is more than one of us present. I’ve had kids tell me that they are a little uncomfortable with the Mom title at first, but none have ever seemed to have a problem with “Pop”. In fact, sometimes they will slip and call me Dad….I love it when that happens. 



I love that mom and pop followed by your name idea – very cute! We go by Mr. Billy and Ms. Rachel (chosen by facility). Some kids choose to call us mom and dad, and that’s fine with us!



Our present facility prefers that my wife and I are called Mom and Pop and if in a group of other houseparents our last name is added. We work with middle school age girls and it is harder for them to get used to calling my wife mom then calling me pop but they get used to in no time. At our previous home it was Mr. and Ms and then our first names which for me was harder to get used to. The first children’s home we worked in was less formal and our first names were used. For me I guess I like Pop the best but we do teach the girls the we have first names and my wife and I don’t address each other as mom and pop. It is easier for them to see us as real people if they understand we have real names too. The only thing I don’t like about being called pop is when administrative staff call me pop instead of by my name as if I have no identity beyond my job title.

What to search for?


Ok, question number 2. As we search for a position, what am I looking for in an organization? What kind of questions do I ask? Also, how do you as houseparents not come to the place of burnout? I am making a huge move with my family to another state possibly, and I do not want to get burned out of this job. Just searching for some Godly Wisdom on this area



I have never replied before, I am the webmasters wife, but we have been houseparents for almost 10 years and as for your question about burning out. There is no easy answer because I believe this is a calling from God and when things get hard, and they will, he will give you the strength. My best advice is to pray a lot and have other people also pray. This is a life altering move and there are a lot of tough days but if this is what God has asked you to do you will lead you path and he will always make that clear to you even on the days when it looks dark. God has always blessed us, protected our birth children and given us children that we would not be the same people without. We work in a facility that is 1000’s of miles away from our extended family and yet he has sent us wonderful Godly people to fill that void. I guess what I am trying to say is give this to God and he will not let you down. 



I am not a houseparent yet (my husband and I start on January 2), so I don’t really have an expert opinion. But I do know that these questions you are struggling with were on the forefront of our minds as well. We have been especially worried about the burnout issue. We are giving up careers, and we don’t want to just be houseparents for one year and then start new careers all over again. Our pastor said something during his sermon recently that really helped us feel confident to take this plunge…

God will never ask you to do something that does not require you to have full faith in Him.

That fact really resonated with us. Houseparenting takes a lot of faith, and it does not really make sense to the natural mind. Working 24 hours a day, with someone else’s kids, for very little pay – those aren’t qualities that we would normally look for in a job. But, throughout the Bible, God is constantly asking people to have faith and follow His direction in situations that make no sense to the natural mind. And in all of those Bible stories that we know so well (Noah and the Ark for just one example), God provides above and beyond the human expectation.

There is a reason that God wants us in houseparenting, and what God ordains, He sustains.

I hope that some of this helps. It’s all stuff that we already know, but sometimes it just helps to hear it again before taking such a huge leap of faith. I know it has helped us! God bless you!



Thank you all for your responses. I am taking one step at a time. We believe with all of our hearts that God is calling us to be Houseparents. It is a big leap of faith, and I am glad there is this forum to help us in our decision process. The Lord brings into our lives forerunners that can help us in our ministry. To show us what to do and not to do. This is all new to us, so we will take any advice we can get. Thanks again.

Also please pray for God’s direction as we are fasting and praying for these next 3 days for this decision.



Hey there! DH and I just secured our job so I remember these questions keenly. Here is what spoke to us about organizations (the one we almost got hired at and then found out later they had a bad rep for houseparents, and the one we accepted the job at)

In interview:

Do they want you to communicate with other houseparents? I’m talking more than meeting for lunch, are you allowed to hang out with a family and do activities (go to church, eat dinner) If you are allowed limited contact or no contact with houseparents- that’s a big red flag! Facilities that take care of their houseparents will be eager for you to see how happy their staff is! And don’t be afraid to ask either, a facility may not offer but once you ask to spend a day with them, will allow it.

Do they admit their problems? Do they let you know up front that some kids might be violent? (our facility admitted it could be a problem and provides non-violent restraint training but it has only had a few instances) Or do they deny it will ever be a problem and look at you like you are crazy? Denying problems that you know have to be an issue with troubled kids is a big red flag.

Do they let you check out the grounds and homes? We received a tour but were not allowed into the homes at one place and found out later that probably meant BIG red flag. Our current facility let us spend the night in a home.

Do they let you share your faith? One place that called themselves Christian would not allow hps to talk about God, just take the kids to the church on campus. I would have had a real problem with that since faith is the only way dh and I can handle this job.

Lastly, do you feel a connection with the people at the facility? DH and I didn’t know that would happen since we didn’t feel it the first place we interviewed at. Once we found the place God led us to, there was a huge difference, a feeling of rightness. A LOT of prayer went into our search and decision.

It sounds like you guys are approaching this exactly the way it should be- as a ministry.

Oops- forgot the burnout question. Our current facility (the main campus) has several hps that have been there 18 years. That spoke volumes to us. Then, the branch-off campus where we will be working has had the same hps, same director for five years and that’s as long as it has been running. You could see that the hps and the director liked and cared about each other (the hps were in on the interview). I think finding out the average time of turnover helps. The national average is 6 months. The place that had a bad rep w/hps had a 3 year rate so sometimes the statistics can lie.

Good luck and prayers!

Frustration (Taking Behaviors Personally)

Wow, what a week. I thought that I could not become anymore frustrated about some of the girls in my house, and then Friday arrived. My wife and I have been doing this for 3 months, and I was loving it until this week. I am feeling completely squashed by one of the girls, I will call her “Drama Queen”.

 Drama Queen and I have about the same personality, except for the fact that she does not care what she says or when she says it, and I am having a really hard time holding back. Yesterday it seemed as though I was put down so much by her that she just knew that it was getting to me, and it did about 8 o’clock. I let her have it and then felt totally terrible about how I reacted. I am really feeling frustrated about the situation and feel helpless. I have been spending time in God’s Word and trying to seek his guidance. Lately I feel like there is a wall up between me and God, and I know that it is me and my attitude. I just need a way to release the resentment.

They say that you cannot take what they say and do personally, but it is extremely hard for me because I am the person that feels I need everyone to like me. Monday we are planning on going home to see our families and I know that it will help to see some people whom I know love me and care about me “I cannot wait”. I know that there are many of you out there that have been doing this for quite some time, and if you can offer any advice I am all for it. 

I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I have said something stupid and/ or inappropriate to a kid. I remember one teen boy that told my wife he hoped our unborn daughter would die and fall out. The rest of my interaction with him looked more like a conversation between Tony Soprano and somebody he was getting ready to shoot. That was the last big blow up I had.

We work in a highly emotional environment. Most of these kids could not handle foster placement because of emotional and behavioral issues, so they get placed with us in group homes. In reality almost all group homes are “behavior Modification” facilities, whether they think they are or not. We try to teach and empower these kids to make better decisions and create healthy relationships.

My patience and reactions have gotten better over time. There’s a lot to be said for experience and the fact that after being called a B***h for the millionth time it actually starts to become hysterical and you find yourself teaching to the behaviors, not reacting out of anger or frustration. But it still happens- at least to me.

I think everyone has a certain boundary that is not to be crossed. When you have a 14 year old not only cross that line, but doing with a sneer and taunting you, it’s only natural to imagine you spanking them out by the wood pile. Just don’t do it.

All the rules and regulations that are in place are there because we are only human. The child care industry is in a much better place now than it was as little as 20 years ago when de-escalation at some places consisted of a leather belt or wooden paddle and a good swinging arm.

As for the wall between you and God- I find myself there often. I start feeling like that when I don’t have a solution as to how to deal with a kid or I feel like I’m making no difference at all. I pray, jump on the motorcycle for a few miles and go talk to some of the guys I trust here and unload on them. It helps- at least for me. 

It is one thing to be offended by a resident… is another to watch one undermine your credibility with the other residents and feel powerless. You may be running into a former houseparent’s neglect. For some it is easier to let a strong anti-leader run the house and reward them with special privileges in return for conditional allegiance. That results in losing credibility with the whole house anyway, and leaves a “lord of the flies” survival of the fittest…. game player mentality. That will work ….although pitifully at best…..for “keeping” kids, but it won’t work for redeeming them.

Take the kid aside and get real with them. If putting you down continues…just remember…you probably aren’t the only one being put down. Make her pay consequences for putting anybody down. Find out if you have offended her….if she has a legitimate beef, ask forgiveness and fix it. …..but don’t let it continue. You have to have control of the house…otherwise…the whole house suffers…and the children have no security under your leadership.

You ultimately have to have the support and the confidence of the director. Sometimes kids do better with one houseparent over another. Sometimes they do better in another type of setting. The director can make changes if they are needed. If they don’t want to be bothered when a destructive situation can’t be resolved at the house level….which should be rare…’s time to move on.

From A Rookie: What Would You Do?

We are in our very first turn serving as relief. Five days after coming in, we discovered that one girl, MR 19 yr-old, has had ringworm for 3 weeks already. She left her medicine at home 2 weeks ago on a visit. When she told the houseparents, they said, “Well, what are you going to do about that?”, and they have not purchased more for her yet (they’ve been “treating” it with toothpaste). All this time, she’s been helping set the table, using the phone, computer – and working at a retirement home, serving meals to the residents there. We spoke with the Exec. Director, but nothing more has been done or said.

I would first discuss it with the houseparents and see what they say. Stories are often times very different between what they say and what the residents say. Get their side and see if y’all (The staff at your facility) can somehow get the medicine from home or get a replacement from the Dr. It needs to be treated although it is not overly contagious.

It’s always best to first work with the other houseparents before taking other steps. A lot of issue can be resolved there.

Hope this helps.

Getting the houseparents side before passing judgment will go along way in keeping everyone happy. The youth may very well be telling the truth, yet working together as a team for a solution is the best way to go. Once the supervisor gets involved feelings can get hurt and a bad spirit can come between houseparents.

From experience, we have always had the best results with issues when we and relief houseparents can work things out ourselves, we approach it as we are always learning and we can learn something from every situation we are in or have gotten ourselves in.

Finally starting a home-questions on younger kids

Well, the day has finally come. We are beginning visits with a boy that may become our first kid. We’ve been doing relief while waiting for our house to be finished and now its finally done. We were trained for teenagers and cut our teeth on them too. Now it looks like we will be starting our home with a 5 year old. Although I’m used to little kids, its different when you are hping them. Any advice?

What do you do when a 5 year old tantrums in the store? I assume you take them to the car until they either calm down or you have to leave but what if they are flailing uncontrollably? Its just so different with teens. The worst thing our girls ever did was beg for favorite food! I know I got spoiled doing relief for our relatively stable girls (although it didn’t feel like I was being spoiled at the time) 

What about attachment issues? My little goddaughter started calling me mommy when I kept her for very long so this worries me a little.

Does your facility run TCI, CPI, TFM or another program?

Are there any written guidelines in regard the children’s consequences/ behaviors?

I know a lot of others here will disagree with me, but as far as attachment goes- It’s a good thing. If they want to call you mom and the facility does not mind- I say go for it. Sometimes they need that. The attachment is what makes them feel like there is someone that loves them.

As for tantrums in public places? Get ready for it. I’ve had more dirty looks at the mall from people who thought I should be spanking my six year old who is cursing while I’m leading him out to the van for a time out than I care to think about.

A good program, clear and well established boundaries and lots of patience will help when dealing with the younger kids. Actually I’ve worked mostly with teens, but now that I’m in a elementary cottage I enjoy them more. It’s more work, but it seems like we have more genuine moments with them. I also don’t have to worry about them running an underground tobacco smuggling operation. 

What do you do when a 5 year old tantrums in the store? I assume you take them to the car until they either calm down or you have to leave but what if they are flailing uncontrollably? Its just so different with teens. The worst thing our girls ever did was beg for favorite food! I know I got spoiled doing relief for our relatively stable girls (although it didn’t feel like I was being spoiled at the time)

You are correct about going to the car. Lead them out by the hand if they will let you or pick them up and carry them out. If they are too big to carry and have tantrum issues you don’t take them to the store until you have had sufficient time to work with them in other situations to reduce or hopefully alleviate their tantrums. Make sure that as you lead them or carry them from the store that you don’t strike them, shake them or grab them in a way that can appear abusive (hair, ears, collars, etc.) and remain calm.

What about attachment issues? My little goddaughter started calling me mommy when I kept her for very long so this worries me a little.

The children I work with are very long term kids that could spend their entire childhood with us. Some of them call us mom and dad and we may be the only mom or dad they ever know. We do however have many discussions with them about birth mom & dad and foster mom & dad; that we are here to care for them and love them because their birth parents are not able to.

Our facility allows us and the children to do this, but I know of several facilities that don’t allow the children to call you mom and dad. When we were foster parents, our state regulations prohibited the children calling us mom and dad. You need to find out what your facility’s policy is and follow it. There are some ways to avoid the mom and dad name issue and still be personal. We have had older couples that had the children call them mamaw and papaw. We have a housemom that goes by Aunt Becky. I have known several housedads that go by pop or pops.

wow, ok. Thanks for the replies, that helps a lot. I was worried about picking them up but that makes the most sense. My director even said to let them tantrum on the floor but I was worried about them destroying things. I think I like the idea of waiting to take them to the store until we’ve spent time together and tested out other outings. We were going to start with an open area such as a park, then work slowly up to grocery stores and restaurants. You know, McDonalds before Lubys kind of a deal.

The first pre-placement visit went well. I’m really confused about the family situation. I can’t tell what is “wrong” with this kid. I’m sure there will be a brief honeymoon period but that doesn’t last as long with little kids as with teens right?

Launchpad, I think I really enjoy working with the little ones too. They are so honest. They just talk to you. Its very obvious what the sensitive issues are…they aren’t afraid to talk (if they are comfortable with you). This kid adored my husband. It was so funny because he wanted to be with both of us at the same time. If dh wandered off to do something, it only took a few minutes before he asked where dh was. I can tell that if we take him, he is going to break my heart. Since we have been doing relief, I’ve been able to keep the relationship on a relational but definitely more of an aunt and uncle level. A little one living with us all the time will definitely change that.

Change of topic- what do y’all think about taking elementary age kids off of meds for add/adhd for the summer? I’ve heard theories that since they don’t have to do schoolwork in summer, they should be off of them.

We almost always take our kids off of ADD medications during the summer, with Doctor’s permission of course. They don’t need to concentrate as much, and hyperness doesn’t bother us that much. School starts in 4 weeks and we have a child that is trying meds for the first time. He is the most hyper child I have ever met, it will interesting to see how they work. We got the Rx today and will start him right away to see how the meds affect him. The first day of school is not the time to try new meds if you don’t have to; there are too many things that can go wrong. 

The first pre-placement visit went well. I’m really confused about the family situation. I can’t tell what is “wrong” with this kid…….. I can tell that if we take him, he is going to break my heart. Since we have been doing relief, I’ve been able to keep the relationship on a relational but definitely more of an aunt and uncle level. A little one living with us all the time will definitely change that.

My wife and I have a house of little boys, now 6yrs – 12yrs old. Prior to taking this cottage, we relieved in teen boy and girls cottages. We’ve found that most of the time what’s “wrong” with the little kids are that those caring for him are totally incapable of doing it (i.e. jail, drugs, health, etc.) These little guys just need love and structure. We’ve traded the self-sufficiency and “attitudes” of teenagers for the hugs and tears of little ones. Yes, it is more physical work – laundry, dressing, baths, cleaning – but they’ve got our hearts and it’s a pleasure and honor to be the ones who get to teach them all the basics of life.

The heartbreaks are different too. Like when they go on “Home visit” and come back to the cottage not understanding why they can’t be with their family and then cry themselves to sleep because they miss their mom. But, I’ve gotten to teach them how to ride bikes, tie their shoes, make their beds, catch a ball, and pray to God. HOW COOL IS THAT?!!

We wouldn’t have it any other way!


Haven’t posted for a while. My wife and I are still in the process of becoming HPs. We recently visited a terrific Christian facility and spent time with three cottages, including overnight. My/our question is. How do you as houseparents not show favoritism to some kids more than others?. As a parent of three I love and treat my kids all the same, but as a HP I would think it would harder to do this. Darrel

It is difficult. There are kids that you WILL NOT get along with and others that pull at your heart and you feel you could make them your own. For me, this is where my faith comes into effect. God has a way of humbling you when you begin to treat one in a way that you wouldn’t treat another.

My director gave me this advice. You have to recognize that one kid could get preferential treatment. When you have openly recognized this you work hard at not doing it. To do this ask yourself before you do something with or for that child – Would I do this for the child that I don’t get along with? If I do this for little Bobby, what am I going to do for Joe?

This is a battle that EVERY hp deals with. If they say they don’t – They’re lying. It is an everyday battle for hp’s. You have to wake up in the morning and pray that God will give you patience and understanding for the difficult kids. That he would help you find a common ground with them and that He will help give you a spirit of humility and the love for each child in your care that he has.

No one does it perfect! But, the longer you are a hp, the more you learn. You will learn how to work at finding common ground with a child.

Also, having a director that is observant is a HUGE plus. If your director can see that you are giving unfair treatment, then they can step in and let you know. Try not to take this as criticism, but as an observation. Let your director know if a child is hard to connect with. Let the director in on the situation and they really can help.

OK, I’m not a HP, but I’ve worked with kids in Scouts, Children’s Ministry, Youth Ministry, raised my own two as well as my wife’s two children (my step-daughters). So, although I hesitate to chime in, here I go anyway.

Is there a difference between truly showing favoritism and the perception of showing favoritism. What I mean is, suppose Johnny at age 8 just eats up attention from a parent (or HP); he loves to sit next to you while watching TV or eating dinner, wants you to tuck him in at night and so on… Pushing him away might be hurtful for him. Now little Bobby (who is now 11 years old) has always had a “tough guy” exterior. You’ve always gotten along with him, but he did not crave that kind of attention and it simply did not interest him if you tried to show that kind of attention. I’ve been in similar situations where I was accused of showing favoritism when in reality; I was simply allowing a child like Johnny to follow me around because he wanted to be near me.

Another example of perceived favoritism might be the case, as was sited by another member of these forums, where a child in your home is the only one with no place to go for a holiday. So, he goes with you for the holiday. Some of the other children may perceive that as favoritism. I’ve even worked with some adults who would see that as being favoritism. I’m not saying it is but there are those who in the face of all the facts would say it is.

So, since my wife and I are looking into the possibility of doing this in a couple of years, I would like to add to the open question.

My question is do you ever struggle with the perception of favoritism when in fact underlying it all there really was not favoritism?

If so, were you accused of favoritism by the other children, or by adults?

Or am I wrong in my assumption that cases like the examples above are only perceived favoritism?

No, it definitely exists. We have 2 boys in our home right now. One is 15 yrs old and definitely does not want hugs, or any kind of physical touch right now. The other is 6 yrs old and CRAVES it. We do morning hugs, during the day hugs, come home from school hugs. We hold him in our laps. We tuck him in at night, and because he gets scared easily at night, I stay in his room and pet his head until he falls asleep.

This has been questioned by several people as whether or not we are showing him favoritism or “more love.” We just have to do our best to provide what the older does need. We are open to hugs with him and let him know this. I play football and basketball with him. My wife takes him to starbucks for coffee. We try to spend 1-on-1 time after the younger goes to bed. It can certainly be perceived as favoritism, but you just have to know your kids and believe in what is best for them.

I have always thought that favoritism was not nearly as big of an issue as anti-favoritism.

Anti-favoritism is what you show toward that kid or kids that you don’t connect with or rub you the wrong way. You could even say that you don’t like. You really have to check your attitude when you deal with them and make sure you don’t let your feelings dictate your behavior.

My wife and I do pretty good with this because it seems we always have a different child that we have difficulty with so we are able to keep each other in check. If you don’t have a spouse to keep you in check, listen to your supervisors and coworkers, because you can do it and be completely blind to it.

Thanks for all the replies. The Home we visited actually was in the process of switching a couple of kids between homes. Administration said they sometimes do this because of personality differences with the kid and the Houseparent.

I first saw this subject and really didn’t have time to answer… goes…..I believe “favoritism” is natural. Even God said that King David was “a man after my own heart”. I’m not jealous of David. But it shows me that we naturally will “favor” those who please us. I think the key is fairness. We are to treat each other the way we want to be treated. That’s fairness. We are tasked with the parental role of guiding and growing the children in our care. Proper behavior earns privileges. That’s fairness. Some of those privileges may mean being treated more “favorably” in certain trustworthy situations.

The real difficulty comes when you have to treat – with equal fairness – those kids who may not be so loveable (snot running from his nose and shoes always untied) and those who are blessed with natural cuteness. In this business they both have needs or they wouldn’t be here. Meeting their needs with the unconditional love of Christ while maintaining fairness is what works for my little guys.

As for the comment above, I have seen “personality differences” cause a child to be relocated to another cottage. It’s usually a shortcoming in the houseparent that caused the problem.

I’m sure there’s more that can be said, but that’s all for now.

Do you have a pet peeve behavior?

I was just wondering what every-one’s pet peeve behavior was?

Mine is LYING – it absolutely drives me nuts, yet I can’t even count how many times I get lied to in a week. It seems in most cases when somebody says something to me I have to assume that it is a lie until I prove it’s NOT.

I hope you’re referring to the children and their families at your facility and not your co-workers.

I can’t tell you how many times in my life I’ve gotten burned because of my assumption that what other adults tell me is the truth! As a houseparent, however, I’ve dealt with more lies than ever before and I’m learning to distrust more than before…….I think that’s sad…..

That being said – my wife and I tolerate zero (0) lies from our boys. We have a standard consequence for lying and it’s enough to get their attention. They know that we will apply it across the board regardless of the level of the lie. It helps a LOT!

Jesus said: “I am the way, the TRUTH, and the life.” -TexPop

I was referring to the children’s behavior, though I wouldn’t be surprised to find out some adults have told me whoppers.

I agree with you that being around lying makes a person less trusting in general, I am pretty sure it has with me.

I think we are pretty good about being consistent with consequences for lying, but we have a couple of children that continue to do it regardless of the consequences. It just becomes real frustrating.

I, too, agree lying is the worst. I know I was lied to at least a zillion times over the weekend, uh oh I think I am now lying too. My husband and I talked about it today, and these kids have come from folks who have lied to them all their life, you learn what you live. Hopefully, all of us houseparents will be able to help these kids. I think that is why I really like Don’t Lies’ name. It says it all, and sometimes the truth is so hard.

I have to agree with lying is the worst peeve for me.

The students know up front that lying is by far one of the worst thing you can do to me. I know that this is something the children have acquired from their home life. Beside the standard consequence, I give a long boring speech and I use examples in my own life where lying has affected both myself and my family. I show them how it hurts others and themselves. The Boy Who Cried Wolf is a classic example for them.

You have the classic student who has lied in the past, then, when he/she is punished for something they can swear up and down they are telling the truth. After some time later, come to find out they lied again.
While I agree that lying is terrible, and I do give consequences for it, what drives me up and over the wall is being unappreciative!  I absolutely cannot tolerate children who are ungrateful. Look, they don’t have to like me, they don’t have to like our home, or even the organization, but if you can’t appreciate all that’s done for you, I will have a serious problem with that child.

Ungratefulness is a tough one and it does bother me, but I guess I have just come to expect it and hope that in a few years most kids will see the light and appreciate what we did for them. Lying seems to just continue to erode a relationship. My 17 YO birth-son has an issue with lying and it is seriously hurting our relationship.


Rolling eyes, talking under breath, one fingered salutes and oh mans!!!!

Being unappreciative is HUGE for me, but there is one other one that just drives me nuts. You know that one kid that you stayed up with until 11:30 with last night working on geometry or algebra or whatever. You finally got it done and then guess what – yup, they just didn’t turn it in. Yeah, that burns me like nothing else. THE WORK IS DONE – JUST TURN IT IN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Ok – I took a breather. Sorry, that has just happened a couple too many times – and definitely not all with the same kid. Anyways, just my thoughts.
lol-I hate that too! I have had many kids that do that. When they turn it in they lose points but discover it would have even been an A if they had turned it in on time as well. It’s worse if administration shift some kind of blame on you for a child having low grades and you know that’s the problem, I mean how can you MAKE a kid turn something in on time? You can make sure he or she does it, and does it well, but you can’t sit in class and force them to turn it in!

Stealing!!! This is the toughest one for me because it affects everyone. We’ve had only a few kids who had a habit of taking things from other kids in the past. It’s horrible for the other kids who are having their stuff taken and know that it’s someone who they live with and it’s super frustrating for me because I feel so helpless. We’ve always been able to get to the bottom of the situation, but not without some serious damage to the morale of the house. Since lying typically goes with the stealing, that would be right up there at the top of my pet peeve list, too!

……..”one fingered salutes”………..hahaha!!!!….you’ve got some “corkers,” there….. Launchpad !!!!…..LOL!!!!!

Sounds like a skateboarder for sure….

My biggeset pet peeve-

House Parents that think there is some kind of campus competition as to who is the best HP. They tend not to play well with others. 

How about when your director promises things that your home will absolutely get for Christmas, so let’s not buy them during the year, even though there is money in the budget for them, and then none of them get donated. Yeah, and then you find out that your director is leaving and you will be having a new boss, so really you feel as though that director didn’t really care anyways – yeah, that’s a pet peeve.


I have a serious co-worker problem. We recently started working with a new case-manager for our girls and she really has it in for me. I don’t believe I have done anything to deserve her bad treatment. She looks for any little thing (and I do mean any) to tell our supervisor about me. For example, we have a cafeteria here and so the only meals we cook are breakfast and we do Sunday night supper in house. I cook and usually have 2 girls help so I can teach them something about cooking. We do not have a set time for this supper, just when I get ready and its convenient. So one night the girls were asking when supper was and the next day I get a call from our supervisor asking me about the girls not knowing when supper was!! And it has gotten a lot worse since then. I have tried talking to her and it hasn’t made a bit of difference. I have worked here for 10 years and my reputation as a housemom is solid, but I was recently told by another co-worker that she is telling the supervisor everything and my supervisor is developing a bad opinion of me. I am at my wits end!! I am seriously depressed about this and I have no idea where to go from here. Nothing I say to her is going to change this. I have to work with her every day. She is frequently over to the cottage and I know she’s not going to change. I can’t trust her so I say nothing to her and I’m afraid it will affect the girls. It has added a lot of stress to my already stressful life. I am ready to call it quits.  Please , Help!!! 

I have always believed the reason turnover is so high in any youth ministry, whether it is at a church or group home is because of adults and coworkers. Every adult has their own interpretation of what a parent should be and how a house should run. When you have people that are passionate about the ministry they do and strong opinions of how it should be done, tempers will flare. Having a standard program across campus that is fair and consistent will help keep most tempers from running hot.

And then there is the flip side. There truly are some insane individuals that make a living out of being incompetent child care providers. Actually every occupation has its bad apples. The only way to survive the incompetent fools that haunt the ranks is to marginalize those individuals as much as possible and go about your ministry.

I have a serious co-worker problem. We recently started working with a new case-manager for our girls and she really has it in for me. I don’t believe I have done anything to deserve her bad treatment. She looks for any little thing (and I do mean any) to tell our supervisor about me. For example, we have a cafeteria here and so the only meals we cook are breakfast and we do Sunday night supper in house. I cook and usually have 2 girls help so I can teach them something about cooking. We do not have a set time for this supper, just when I get ready and its convenient. So one night the girls were asking when supper was and the next day I get a call from our supervisor asking me about the girls not knowing when supper was!!

Without knowing more about the specifics, there are three ways to go on this:
(1) This case manger is a witch.

(2) You may have a problem accepting professional feedback.

(3) It may be an issue of both 1 and 2.

To give you a real life example-
When we worked in Georgia I loved working outside doing yard work and cutting wood. I was very dedicated to the ranch and wanted to help any way that I could. However- I would finish up with working on whatever project I was doing, throw the gas can in the garage and go pick the boys up from school.

The boys would sneak out to the garage and huff gas because I almost always forgot I did not lock up the cans. After being told by my supervisor in very clear language during a visit one day that I needed to get my act together and start being more attentive in my actions, I became very upset. After all, I was doing a great service to the ranch by doing extra things around the place (So I thought). The truth is, he was right- I was wrong, and not thinking like a professional HP that can accept the fact I was wrong and needed to tighten up my game. Looking back on it now, I should have at the very least been written up if not fired for the repeated incidents. Thankfully I just got a butt chewing from him and my wife walked around for the next month calling me an idiot every time I even looked at a lawn mower.

Having a flexible schedule in no way compares to my negligence as a HP, but the case manager may be trying to give you feed back in being more consistent with your schedule. OR; If there is no set time for dinner in your house, the rest of your facility is running on that same principle and your case manager is only getting on your butt, it is possible she may belong to the incompetent fools group mentioned above.

I have tried talking to her and it hasn’t made a bit of difference. I have worked here for 10 years and my reputation as a housemom is solid, but I was recently told by another co-worker that she is telling the supervisor everything and my supervisor is developing a bad opinion of me.

After ten years of ministry in a field where people start thinking of a career change after the first six months is amazing. You are truly a rare gem and called to serve. Sit down with the supervisor and have an open and honest discussion about how you feel and what your side of the story is. If they are not willing to have a serious sit down and talk with you about issues that are clearly hindering you from enjoying life, you are at the wrong facility. Get out and get out now. With ten years worth of HP experience and using your network, you will find a place that will value and cherish you.

As for the co-worker- You have more to fear from her than you probably do the case manager. If this co-worker works the admin side of the house is telling you any business or conversations of that nature going on in the office they are at the very least unprofessional. If it’s another HP that is telling you this, ask yourself where they are getting the info? What possible reason would they have to tell you your supervisor has a bad opinion of you? 

We all know HP’s that struggle in some areas. But of what use is it to walk up to them and say, “Hey Marsha, everyone’s talking about how much you suck”. This is just not cool or acceptable on any level of professional or personal development. Be very careful with that individual or any others that keep the rumor mills working overtime.

 Nothing I say to her is going to change this. I have to work with her every day. She is frequently over to the cottage and I know she not going to change. I can’t trust her so I say nothing to her and I’m afraid it will affect the girls.

One of the great things about being professional is that you don’t have to be nice, just- professional. If what this case manager is doing is adversely affecting the girls, you have a responsibility to let this case manager know in a tactful way that she is off her rocker. If the problem persists you go to the next one in the chain of command. Keep in mind you will also receive feedback from most if not all individuals you talk with. How you react and how well you control your emotions and respond with professional courtesy will reflect greatly on which side of the argument they lean towards. If the case manager is a loon, give it time, she will eventually do herself in. As long as you are in control of your speech, and body language, most people will listen; and at least be able to identify in part with your cause.

If after all that and no one seems to care or show any interest in resolving the issue, is it really some place you want to be? I view my time on earth as short and the mission God has given all of us as very large. I don’t have time to be wasting on petty games that some people in this field play. Our mission is as real as it gets and we are the front line troops. I have ran across some horrible therapists, case workers, supervisors and psychologists. But most I have worked with have been the greatest human beings I have ever met. The reason most people I work with are a joy is because I refuse to deal with anything less. If the facility I work at now becomes a cesspool of futility and poor leadership, I’m out of here and going to a place the Lord has made ready for being serious about taking care of kids. I won’t even lose sleep over it. 

It has added a lot of stress to my already stressful life. I am ready to call it quits.  Please , Help!!!

I know how to solve this one!!!

Get yourself a motorcycle and ride on over to South Carolina. We will all go out for Mexican and get tattoos. At the very least you will be a lot more intimidating to your case manager. Kinda unlikely she will mess with you if she thinks you belong to some kinda House Parent motorcycle gang. 

conniejean – The first thing that popped into my head when I read your post was Matthew 5:44 where Jesus said: “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Launchpad has provided a well thought-out response that deals with most of the person to person dynamics. But I wanted to be sure and include a scriptural consideration also. This one may be the most difficult of them all.

Launchpad – can’t we think of something tougher-sounding than the “House Parent motorcycle gang”? I just can’t see that in a tatoo!! 


How about DPU (Dysfunctional Parental Units).

We could have a picture of a kid with a bloody nose and black eye for our colors. That will have to scare somebody! (Like my boss).

Thank you so much for the feed back…I really appreciate the support. And the thing about the motorcycle and tattoo cracked me up…I LOL’d. I also needed the reminder to love her. I have spent time in prayer asking God to help me have a sweet spirit about this. I don’t want to become bitter and hateful because of this. I have always been one to try my hardest to accept feedback from others. We don’t have to have a set time for Sunday suppers so it was ok that the girls didn’t know exactly when it would be. I guess I just wish that she had come to me first, ya know? Just pray that I do what God would have me do in this situation. And I would love to come eat Mexican food and get a big tattoo LOL. We have a great little Mexican place here and its the best place in town to eat. Every time we go we see people from here eating there! Well anyway, thanks again!!

Between a rock and a hard spot

I’m hoping for some advice and Godly wisdom to help us handle a situation we are facing. I know many times houseparents do not talk because we do not want to focus on the negative. I believe in being positive, yet when you are between a rock and a hard spot I believe that houseparents can help each other with tough issues we face.

We are relief houseparents for a couple that are in trouble, If it were not for God, prayer and good people encouraging us, we would have resigned. We know kids will pit adults against each other and houseparents against houseparents that is why we wait to have evidence or proof before acting.

We were informed that the houseparents were arguing in front of the kids and the husband has been yelling at his wife about how to discipline youth while all the youth listening . Then, the husband yelled at his wife in front of us one day, this made us very uncomfortable. Later the husband came to me and said they were having problems and apologized to us and it would not happen again. He still continues to yell at his wife and they yell back and forth at each other. It has come out in staff meetings that this husband calls his wife the B word on a regular basis and was spoken to about his actions.

We have seen the house go from clean and neat to dirty and unkept, chores not getting done, then it seems we get nabbed by our supervisor and ask to get the house in order, this just t weeks the kids to no end. It has become a standard practice when we see him coming we just grab the buckets and brooms and go to it.

My idea of a fun first day is not cleaning up a house that I did not get the privileged to help mess up, nor have our group hate us for wanting to not live in a slum house.

As relief houseparents our stay is short, and we move on to other houses, which seem to be running smoother, cleaner, and more enjoyable kids.

My wife says when school starts things will be better between them, I say if this was happening before, it is not going to get better, only worse. I believe what God say “He that finds a wife finds a good thing”. Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loves the church.

Thanks for listening!!

This is an area where administration really needs to take action and deal with what is going on in the cottage. I would make an appointment to discuss it with your supervisor. Encourage them to spend time in the cottage, visit with the children, etc. Even if their (the children) are different, interviewing enough of them will get the facts out. They are usually very willing to discuss things about what the staff are doing.

If admin doesn’t do anything there is not a lot more that you can do. You can either stick it out, expecting that changes will be made in the future, which very well may happen. Once things start going bad, they usually escalate to the point that either the staff leaves or admin finally lets them go. Or you can start looking for something different. Maybe take a house that becomes available at your current facility as regular houseparents, or start sending out resumes.

I know that the absolute most difficult part of being a houseparent is working with other adults, and dealing with the differences in personalities, beliefs, communication styles, perspectives, short comings, etc. Sometimes it takes a lot of tolerance on a daily basis just to stay at it. I truly hope things work out for you.

Advice on Interviews and Being Rejected

by Launchpad
Interviews are kinda like a first date. By the end of the night you have a pretty good idea if you want to have a second date or run away- fast.

I have to admit that I hate waiting by the phone for the much anticipated call back. So much of your life and future rides on that call and if you’re like my wife and I, we definitely build ourselves up and think positively that they will offer the position. So when the call comes in that we didn’t make the cut, it feels like someone just kicked you in the stomach.

I guess it would be nice to have them explain what it was that made them turn you down, but it’s not the norm. Besides that, you may have a hard time getting an honest, clear answer as to why they turned you down. Most people have a hard time giving effective feedback. In other words, no one likes feeling like a jerk.

Here’s how I approach an interview.

1. Never, ever, ever bash your former facility. Even if you were working for Satan himself, find a neutral way to explain your time there. Obviously you left for some reason, just don’t go out of your way to make the former facility look like the bad guy, or else YOU WILL look like the bad guy.

For example, my first facility was tough. Notice I said “Tough”, not “The miserable S.O.B’s will surely burn in a fiery pit”. I try to let the interviewers know that the kids we worked with were coming out of psychiatric units and were very aggressive and behaviorally challenged. Notice I said “Aggressive” not “The children were miserable and out of control”.

All of this may seem like common sense, but I have seen and heard of many interviews where couples were very angry with a former facility and described the kids and facility as being horrible.

2. Never “Vent” during an interview. No matter how well you think things are going, pouring your heartaches and issues out never works out well and makes you look like an emotional wreck. Leave the sob stories for your Pastor, Counselor or Bartender.

3. When they ask what your wife’s weakness is, don’t say “Compassion”. (This actually happened with a couple I recommended for an interview here).

4. When they ask what your husband’s weakness is do not say “Responsibility”. (Same couple as noted in #3).

5. Do not walk in with a list of demands. You are kinda on their turf. You can either play by their rules or you can take your ball and go home.

6. Dress like you want the job. Everyone knows that we are House Parents, sweat pants and flip flops are part of the uniform on most days. But when you walk into the office looking like you just came off a fishing trip with your buddies it says that you have no respect for any authority or leadership. Get the slacks out, dust off your suit that you only wear for marrying and burying, and walk in there like you mean business.

7. Be human. It’s ok to be yourself and have a sense of humor. The more comfortable you are, and seem, the better your chances are. Stay away from the one liner jokes like “A priest walks into a bar…..”

8. The interview is a two way street. You are checking them out as much as they are checking you out. It’s totally like a blind date. Some interviews may seem like a gorgeous woman, others will be like a fat, hairy guy with plumbers crack. In both cases you still remain polite, but you want to see the woman again not me, err, the fat, hairy guy with belt adjustment issues.

9. Apply to multiple facilities that are of interest to you. You are not married to a facility because you applied there and are anxiously awaiting a phone call like some 16 year old prom date wannabe. Play the field and throw out a few resumes, see who bites. The worse that will happen is they, or you, will say “No thanks”.

10. Never compromise your moral integrity. If a facility believes and practices abortion or some other issue you have problems with, do not compromise your values for the job. It will never work out, and will make you feel like a cheap, dirty person. It’s just not worth it.

And lastly, always remember you are expendable. All facilities expect turn over and they get it. While working the front lines is a ministry you need to always keep in mind that you are absolutely replaceable should you become a little to full of yourself. I have seen a lot of couples come and go because they begin to feel like they know better than everyone else and choose to play by their own rules. Fortunately I have a wife who does a great job at bursting my bubble and keeping me humble every-time I start feeling like I’m Mr. Residential Child Care Guy.

Up rooted to a new place far from home following our calling


We have uprooted and left all we know behind to follow our calling as house parents in a Christian group home in the east coast. I am finding out now that all Christians are not the same. we are progressive Christians and we are not only being treated different but our belongings are being rummaged thru on our days off and when we take a trip on our days off they rummage thru the house we stay in during those days. i would not mind if they inspected our belongings up front i would not even be against random drug testing after all we are working with children but going into our private things behind our backs and also accusing us of things without questioning us has me paranoid. We have no money saved yet so if we are ousted or if the invading continues I’m afraid I will speak up and we will be out in the street in a place we know no one or have anyone to help us. Please don’t get me wrong I love being a houseparent we can’t think of anything else that would give us so much joy and sense of purpose but the insecurity and feeling outcast is making me feel lost and alone can anyone please help !!!


I would suggest that you begin to look at other job options (this site has a good listing of programs, many of them Christian.) and once you have some options confront your current agency. If it is not resolved to your satisfaction move on. That way you will not be dealing with them from a position of weakness.
But do remember that if they are really Christians then they will probably want to work things out and the actions of a few might not reflect the agencies overall attitude.


I have seen much evil perpetrated in the name of “Christianity”. I’ve met more “busy bodies” and simply “nosy” people that believe their “faith” justifies all they do. What you are experiencing is not just wrong it is most likely illegal.

Although your financial situation is limiting options there are still many available. More than one agency advertising on this board has paid up front or reimbursed the cost of interviewing as well as relocation expenses. We recently turned down a position we were offered after they flew us in for the interviews and did offer relocation expenses. PM me if interested in the lead.

Take a stand and confront them. They need you much more than you need them. Should they “terminate” you should be eligible for unemployment which may be more than your being paid and you might have other options available o recover your relocation expenses.