Don’t believe everything you hear

dontlietokids.net 

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

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

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


webmaster 

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

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

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


dontlietokids.net 

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


Launchpad

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

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

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

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’

When You’re off…..

momofmany

When you’re off duty for respite how does your house run? The same, better or worse. We just took time off with new relief people and our kids ran our house, and not in a good way. Any tips on how you handle this?

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TexPop

I’ve dealt with this too. It makes it almost more stressful to go off-duty than staying on. In our situation, our off-duty apartment is attached to the cottage – so we’re always here.

We’ve made a cottage handbook, specifically for the Relief Houseparents, which includes our rules and practices as well as a handbook on the kids so the Relief knows what to expect from each child. This also includes things like daily cottage routines and generally-used consequences. On our very first meeting with the Relief we reviewed this handbook at length.

If the problems observed don’t pertain to the health and well being of the kids then I wait until our “changeover meeting” to discuss it with the relief Houseparents. Make a list with specifics and review them in your meeting. There may be a need for a “shadowing” period so the Relief can understand what you mean. All in all, it will depend on the attitude and receptiveness of the Relief. I would definitely be prepared to raise the issue with the campus administrator if problems persist. This is another good reason to document specific examples.

Also, I tell the kids that I will continue to hold them responsible for following the well-known rules of the cottage – even though I may be off-duty.

-TexPop

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momofmany

The guys know we hold them accountable, it just seems this time they went wild. I don’t know what it was. The notes from the people covering were not good, which I have taken up with my supervisor. I know I am a control freak, and that does not help, but the house was a wreck, the kids were horrible. Everyone on campus knew what my kids had done and that we were off. I think that coming back on was the most frustrated I had been. Our apartment attaches to the house, but we had made a quick trip out of town. It has been hard just trying to get them back on track.

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Launchpad

Awesome tip with the cottage handbook Texpop!

If there has been serious problems with respite I have talked with the respite to find out what’s going on, (Maybe the kids are giving them an extra hard tim) try to resolve the issue and if that does not work, it’s time to take it up the chain with the supervisor for satisfaction.

I’m also a bit of a control freak so I’ve had to learn to just live with some stuff and recognize some people have different expectations. Just cause the cereal bowls ended up in the wrong cabinet does not mean I need to get ugly on the relief.

Kids (even your most trustworthy kid) will hustle any adult that is not with them full time. Kinda like substitute teacher day in school. A cottage handbook like Texpop is talking about should reduce much of the drama.

I use to really hate going on respite because it seemed like we had to start over from scratch every time we came back on. Anytime there is a flux in the schedule it sends a lot of kids into a tail spin. Unfortunately in this setting it is not possible for a facility to keep the same HP’s in the house 24- 7, 365 days a year without a break. So the house spinning up is going to be reality no matter what we do. The only thing we can do is try to minimize the spinning as much as possible. Set rules and very, well defined boundaries that are strictly followed by the respite help a great deal. If the respite is not willing to do that- It will be bad for everyone.

 I have only worked with one lady that was absolutely horrible at being respite. Kids allowance came up missing and groceries would just vanish. She did not last long. Most of the respite couples I worked with were awesome. Glad I don’t live that life!

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webmaster

Relief is a necessary evil of residential childcare, which by the way I am very much enjoying at the moment, and will always cause some disruption with the children and staff when it happens. I used to be really uptight about everything being perfect with the kids and relief staff but have come to realize it’s not going to be.

I do however very much agree with Texpop that holding the children responsible for their behavior whether or not you are there goes a long way in helping the situation. Our kids know that if they try to manipulate the relief staff and do things they are not supposed to we will give them consequences on top of whatever relief staff gave them.

It’s also much better when you have consistent relief staff. Our kids don’t try to get over on regular relief staff near as much as they do, when we have vacation relief staff covering the cottage. I think familiarity with the children is one of the top stabilizing factors with the children. When relief staff knows the children and what the rules are things seem to go better.

You also have to consider the frequency that there seems to be chaos. Even with good relief staff, fair and consistent rules, and great relationships between the kids and staff, there are going to be those times when the kids seem to just flip out and that’s when you hammer them when you get back. Our kids seem to do it about once a year. If it’s happening every relief then there is probably a problem with staff (either you or relief), or the program.

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bakergirl

Our kids love testing relief. They will pull stuff that doesn’t even sound like them. It’s pretty sad. I just consistently tell them “we know what you did” and give consequences. I think it will eventually settle down when the relief has been here for awhile.

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Seamus

I know that everyone has complaints about relief – including myself – and how the house is messy when you come back and the kids are a struggle, but think about it from the kids perspective as well. When we are at the home, the kids feel safe, protected, and structured. Each of these is the EXACT OPPOSITE of the life that they have come from. Each of these kids have been abandoned, abused, left, ripped out of homes and thrown into new ones. They finally start letting their defenses down with us because we have provided a safe and structured home environment for them. They can learn to be the “responsible” kids that we see each day. Well, when we up and leave every month or two weeks or whatever our schedule is, it is just like when mom left or dad left or those foster parents they were with for two days that they were never able to trust and build a relationship with. OF COURSE all those old behaviors – that we don’t see anymore – start coming out again. It’s their way to cope – they are putting their defenses back up. This is especially true if the relief is inconsistent or constantly changing. Don’t get me wrong, I’m NOT excusing the behavior AT ALL. We do give consequences when we come back for things that might have happened, but ‘s sometimes good to think of it from the kids perspective as well.

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glidenhi

Well I guess I feel mostly for the kids, cause they are the ones that have multiple bosses. They are the ones that have to switch gears if there isn’t consistency. Have you ever worked in the business world and had two bosses who do things differently? I have…and it’s the pits!

 I believe the secret to a wholesome household…be it a regular family or a group family….is unity among those that run the house. It is rare. Just like a wife and husband are one in marriage and better present a united front to the children; houseparents….all of the houseparents…had better be married in purpose and understand each other and come up with a compromise/unified plan that works for the household. The main houseparents should have an outline of each child’s character traits and strengths and weaknesses and a plan for building/redeeming each child with progress reporting. All other houseparents should add to and maintain the outline/plan/progress. Part of the completion of any stay at the house should be an update to the plan and a meeting in the changeover to assure that the plan is still unified and on track. If that takes meeting in the office on the morning of the changeover, then so be it.

Too often, I saw no plan and no unity and no coordination going on. I saw a lot of turf protection and keeping of secrets, though. I saw kids that were being punished for bad behavior with no explanation of how they could repair the confidence of the houseparents. They weren’t given satisfactory encouragement when they demonstrated the type of behavior that would lead to their redemption. As a result, kids that already had little hope of being well thought of would despair quickly. I believe that a clear visible path to redemption with help and encouragement along the way is the only thing that will bring hope and results. In my opinion, duplication of punishment by houseparents just destroys credibility for the other houseparents.

I’ve seen what happens when kids have to make changeover under those circumstances…..after being full of life and joy, …..about an hour before the changeover, ….they would all go quietly into the living room and sit down and become silent. As you would go in to bid them goodbye, they would be as stiff as a board and not even respond. How could you not have compassion for them.

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JonNDeb

At times we hate to get off. we only ask to have off one weekend out of the month. As we like to stay on duty. and in our home. as that is what it is and every time we leave it is like leaving our home, bed, stuff… etc. The Kids will always try to play the houseparents for the weekend. Getting away with anything and everything. We have just gotten a family who fills in when we are away once a month we have started to trust and enjoy and fill better with leaving and knowing that the house will not be burned down when we get back. We still have a few days when we get back getting the kids back on track but things are getting better.

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missy

Sometimes I wish I had not even taken off because it takes DAYS to get the house back to “normal”. Please pray for our new respite; there fruit isn’t producing a good crop.

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Karing4Kids

It’s pretty much a given fact that it’s going to happen. Sometimes the kids do things just to see how we react. Usually after a couple of days things return to normal and then you can start worrying about the next time your going to be off. I’ve worked with good relief and also with the bad. I’ve found that if you try not to make too big of a deal out of it the kids seem to do better. Try to find something good that the relief did and praise them for that. Don’t let the kids know your feelings or they will play them like a cheap banjo! Hang in there and try enjoy your time off. If you’re worrying while you’re gone then you’re not really getting the rest that you need. 

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missy

It really isn’t the kids, it’s the house. Everything is moved, including our stuff on the computer being deleted. Our ministry only allows Christian music, which our boys love & our respite is listening to 80’s heavy metal & even told our kids that’s what we had the radio on but, they knew better. 30 minutes after we leave the petty cash is spent on food that they, not the kids, like. They also live close by & I don’t think they even go to church. They have stated they would never be full time houseparents but are respite for 2 homes with 12 + days off a month. Please pray for all of us.

What makes a facility “Christian”

momofmany

What makes a facility “Christian”????? Ours has a chapel, but it is used for storage. Since I have been here, it has NEVER been used for any type of service.

Is it the people – would that be your supervisor, admin, other houseparents, or whom? Most don’t act Christian, though I try not to judge as I am far from perfect. They don’t ask blessings before meals or at functions. Nothing that they do would make you think – WOW what a Godly person.

So I guess my thought is… Do you work at a “Christian” facility, and if so, what practices are in place that show this is a place that God is truly a part of? And, IMO, it has to be more than just in their mission statement. 

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bakergirl

I’ve wondered the same. We’ve interviewed at places that called themselves Christian but houseparents couldn’t talk about God. We just interviewed at a place that I felt was Christian. The hiring manager talked about how you get through the tough parts with faith, etc. When we hung out with families, the parents seemed much like our friends from church. Of course, we were there for only 2 days but I still felt a kind of presence, you know? Of course if we get the job I may have something different to say but so far, I feel like God is really pulling us toward this place.

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TexPop

I was thinking of all the things we do here at my place of employment that would probably occur at most “Christian” facilities. Then I realized – if you are a Christian and have to ask about whether a facility is a Christian one after you’ve visited and been interviewed – then it’s probably not.

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momofmany

I agree fully with what you say. However, when we visited we were not told that the chapel was used for storage. It is that, and many, many other things we have learned over the past few months. I think I was mainly asking that question as while looking through the facilities hiring – some state they are Christian, as does mine. I knew this was where God wanted my husband and I, yet now, I question WHY?

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TexPop

I understand what you mean. My wife and I have had that same thought while looking at that list – wondering how much restriction there might be to our sharing our faith or attending the church of our choice, etc……I don’t know that it’s possible to tell from their listings. I do know that a facility’s reputation should be known by the clergy of your faith if it’s a place they may have considered referring people to during the course of their own ministry. This “reputation” was what we used to guide us toward certain facilities when we were first considering this ministry.

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TexPop

Having worked in the secular job world for many years I can only tell you that you may never know the reason why God has placed you where you are. You can only remain obedient and upright and let the Holy Spirit take care of the “why”.

Not preachin, just testifyin’ – TexPop

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dontlietokids.net

I have a dream of opening up a REAL “Christian” home. I am 36 and am in the process of making some sound investments in hopes (and prayer) that they work out well enabling me to fully finance the home asking no one for any money at all. If you would, please pray for this endevour.

I have more detailed plans if anyone is interested send me a private message.

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webmaster

I think the bigger question, and this is one to ask yourself when you are looking for a position, is – what makes you a Christian? After you answer that find a facility that has the doctrines you believe in and/or can live with.

When you interview you need to ask questions, and be direct, about the beliefs and philosophies of the facility. I have interviewed at facilities that considered themselves evangelical Christian and allowed witnessing, devotions, and all the other stuff, yet felt that abortion and other alternative lifestyles were acceptable. I am thankful I found that out during the interview, because of my beliefs I would have not been able to stay there.

I had a friend that worked at a facility that claimed to be Christian with a chapel that they used every Sunday for service, yet had no problem hiring an atheist that was allowed to share his doctrines with the children.

I currently work for an independent facility of Presbyterian heritage. Here we have houseparents that range from what I consider Extreme Calvinist Presbyterians to very liberal Christians that attend Presbyterian Church. I am somewhere in the middle on the more conservative side. We all see Christianity somewhat differently, yet we are able to agree on enough essentials to work together.

I am certain that if or when we look for another position someday, we will all be looking for different things in a new facility, and I believe there are enough facilities out there that we all would be able to find it.

That is why I say, “Know what to believe and don’t compromise”. Some Christians find it easier to work at a secular facility, because they don’t have to hold it to the same standards as a Christian Facility.

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Craig Bridges

I believe what makes a facility Christian is when the leadership starting with the board, ED, supervisors and all other admin staff are committed to a foundation that Christ is the center in all that they do, a clear vision not just on paper but in all they do. An admin staff that states before all else these young people need to know a God who loves them, a God who has a plan for them, a God who knows them, forgives them and can heal them, a God that they can find true adoption from and an everlasting identity in. A God they can call Lord, Savior, Friend, Provider, Counselor. We need to stop catering to the world and LIVE OUT GOD’S LOVE. If admin would support house parents with that vision and allow them the tools to model God’s awesome love I believe we would see victory, over comers, more than conquers. This is not to say that we don’t need therapeutic services such as education programs, counseling, etc. But if we lay the foundation of Christ and discipleship and that always remains the center in all that we do, WOW! What a place that would be.

Then you can find house parents who are like minded and with the right SUPPORT can carry out that vision.

Not a Real Family?

webmaster

In order to be effective at this job (long term residential care) you have to get emotionally involved with the children you care for, yet it almost always leads to getting your feelings hurt. Let me explain.

We have been in the same cottage for almost 6 years and most of the kids in the cottage have been here for several years and came at a young age. Some of them are getting to the age that they are really starting to fantasize about the relationship with their birth parents and believe that the solution to their happiness is to be back with them. They are starting to identify with the culture of their birth parents and rebel against our values. Most don’t even remember living with their birth parents so they create their own memories.

Some can’t even recognize their birth parents. We have a set of twins that just turned 6, they were two when they came and don’t even know what their mother looks like. This Christmas she made contact for the first time by sending them Christmas gifts. Now all they talk about is going to live with their “Real Mom”.

My wife really got her feelings hurt by this.

The question I have is this. Do any of you struggle with this? And if so, besides lots of prayer, are there things you do that help you feel better about it.

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Seamus

I think that all of know that to these kids “mom” is always going to be “mom” and “dad” is always going to be “dad.” It doesn’t matter what the parents have done these kids will always love them and talk about living with them again. However, when we are the ones with them every day and night. We feed them, love them, raise them, teach them, and nurture them, we can’t seem to understand why.

Our facility does not take emergency placements. The kids come for a pre-placement visit and they decide if this is where they want to be and we decide if the child will work in our home. Therefore, we often have contact with the parents or guardians of these kids. We encourage contact with the hope that with therapy this family can be civil at some point with each other. This is difficult because it does not allow the children to really attach onto us as “parents.”

In your situation it must be unbearable to have someone contact the kids after 4 years of nothing. You are right though, prayer is the best thing that can be done. Also, I would suggest that you remember your ultimate mission in this job is not to turn yourself into these children’s parent, but to raise them in a way that gives them a chance to have a successful life unlike the one they came from.

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Craig Bridges

This is a great topic and one that doesn’t have any clear cut answers. It is hard to help kids identify with their parents while at the same time breaking behaviors and cycles from those very same people all the while trying to incorporate them into your family. Developing healthy bonds can be very confusing for these kids and even more true when they hit the crazy teens years.

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For my children

I am in a facility that runs like a real home, our kids go to private school (my husband has taught part=time and coached at this school). We have a lot of input on their care and lives. All of my kids do not have family contact, because they are not around. One of my older boys, we have had for 7 years got married in Oct. on campus. It was beautiful. We had 200 guests and it was on campus under one of our oak trees. (We have 24 acres and only two houses on the property). It was so awesome to see on their invitations the name of our agency, he was proud of his home. My husband and I were the parent figures. Yes even with these amazing bonds there still is times you feel that hurt. But I have found the joys and blessings have surpassed those little disappointments. I think real biological parents also have those twinges at times. My husband and I have been richly blessed.

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rachel

Oh the “real” mom and dad stuff really bugs me sometimes! I know it shouldn’t – we are here for these kids, not for our own feelings. But I especially hate it when they get mad and say “you’re not even my real mom!”. Hey now, aren’t I the one who holds back their hair when they puke, the one who attends all their school plays, the one who’s bedroom door they knock on at midnight when it’s thundering outside?? Man, it sure can be irritating sometimes!

All that said, when I feel myself getting frustrated about this whole “real mom” thing, my wonderful husband lovingly reminds me that we will always be second best, and that is okay. No matter how awful their “real” parents are (and believe me they are awful), our girls have this undying loyalty and admiration for their biological parents. We just always need to remember that that is the way it is. And because of that, we should be especially thankful for those precious family moments we have with these kids – when they introduce you as mom to their friends, when they slip their hand into yours during praise and worship at church, when they remind you (even though you do it every night) to tuck them into bed before they fall asleep.

When you look at the whole picture, I know we are all blessed beyond measure by these kids!!

Please burst my bubble or Rain on my Parade… Whichever

louisville parents

My wife and are excited about some aspects of this job. I will list them and then you can feel free to point out the ones that seem too optimistic.

1) Now I am working 4 jobs and attending seminary. My wife takes care of our daughter and manages to put in 10-15hrs a week teaching kids remedial reading and math. We are looking forward to working together and having a single focus in our life and ministry.

2) My wife and I have always been frugal. We have never been in debt and have always saved a large portion of our income. We don’t know what we will be spending our paychecks on when our home, meals, insurance and gasoline are covered.

3) We are hoping to make a significant and noticeable difference in the lives of the children we care for. We’ve seen the website videos of kids and young adults saying how their lives have been totally changed by the work of the facility and the HPs.

4) Right now I work most every Saturday and Sunday. My wife and I have never had full days off and are really looking forward to connecting with each other during these days. One location offers two days off each week and another 1 day off per week and 1 weekend per month. Is this realistic? Will we really have these days off?

I’d really appreciate your perspective on these things. We want to go in with our eyes wide open.

It would also be really great to hear your worst misconceptions of the job.

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Launchpad

You guys definitely are in better financial shape than most people going into the job.

As for the time off, I have been a soldier, a truck driver, worked in a factory and did a short stint as a youth pastor. In all of those jobs I worked a lot of overtime, but not near as much as I work now. The difference now though is my wife and I work as a team. We spend most of our time together, not separate. When our daughter arrives (1 month!!!) she will have mom and dad there, together, all the time.

There is down time. After getting the kids to school you can have some breathing room. A lot of facilities will try to say that will be part of your down time also- They are only half right. There are still Dr. Appointments, paperwork, staff meetings general house care stuff, shopping and food prep that needs to be done. Most people I see that stay content doing this job seem to be able to budget their time wisely. You can go back to sleep until noon when the kids are in school, but you will pay for it later when you are trying to throw dinner together at the last moment. Your week can seem impossible if you don’t schedule it.

One really cool aspect of this job I learned from a former supervisor. His son is a excellent wrestler, his dad is at almost every event. He helps train his son and is very involved in all of his children’s lives. Because of being a HP he has been able to be a dad who is there for his kids almost 24/7. When he is on duty, his time is split between his kids and the other kids, but the bottom line is he is there.

The respite time is a big factor. Everyone has their own likes and dislikes. Some people prefer working 30 days straight and only having a weekend off. I have learned that’s not for me. You have to find your comfort zone and find what works best for you, your family and the children your serving. If your losing your cool after three weeks of being on duty and start losing the professional, ministry focus- you may need to re figure your situation. We ain’t doing anyone any good if we are screaming fools. 

As for you actually getting a week end off you need to talk with them and find out exactly what they mean. A weekend off can mean you go off at 10pm on Friday when the respite shows up, and need to back on at 10pm on Sunday after respite has reconfigured your living room and changed all the house rules 

One day off can also mean your off after the kids go to school and back after they are in bed.

As for making a noticeable difference? The fruits of our labor may not be visible until they turn thirty. There are victories but I have gone to bed some nights wondering if I make a difference at all. You have to be content with the fact you are doing the best you can and know you are following Gods call. I think most of the burn out in this job is from poor management of ourselves and/ or the facility. I really don’t think it’s the kids that run most of us out. 

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Launchpad

Actually here is a better example. Diary of a Houseparent

Very good example. Worth a read for everyone!!!

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TexPop

Oh, that’s just funny! Similar to our first cottage assignment, but still funny! 

For a little perspective, I’ve also been present when some of the kids accepted Christ as their savior. Way cool! There’s good and bad in everything. Finding a well-run campus with a good support structure is very important. Talk to the current HPs on staff. Visit the cottages. Visit the kids. -TexPop

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webmaster

I have basically raised my children in residential childcare. Being a houseparent at the facilities I have worked at has made it easy to spend time with them. Additionally they have always been good about letting us off for special activities. I rarely hear about houseparents that have a difficult find time with their children, the hardest thing is being able to balance the demands of your birth children with the demands of the home children. Some children have a difficult time sharing Mom and Dad.

I very much enjoy spending time with my wife, we have been married for over 18 years, but sometimes I just want to do something by myself or doing manly men things, and it seems hard to be able to do that, because I feel bad about leaving her with 9 children for more than an hour or two. My alone time is left to the couple of hours I spend at the office each day while the kids are in school.

Being frugal surely helps, You can save your money for a rainy day or to buy a house later on. If you are like most you will end up spending some of your money on your kids, the occasional pizza or sundae are hard to pass up.

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rachel

My husband and I are making less money that we ever have. But, we have more money that we ever have – our spending has decreased significantly! (We also know that God has been blessing us!) Do keep in mind that you will spend some money while you are working – pizza nights, ice cream runs, birthday presents, etc. It’s easy to get carried away and spend lots of money on the kids (and be prepared that they will rarely appreciate it the way you expect them to), but just be careful to stay thrifty. The good news about spending on the kids – they love even the smallest things (dollar movie theatre, McDonalds 99 cent menu, a coke or candy bar, etc.)

My husband worked 3 jobs and I worked 2 before we came here. (Not quite as busy as you were!) While we are still putting in the same amount of hours (well more hours actually), it is very nice to just have one focus as you said.

Be sure and talk to the current houseparents at the facilities you are considering to find out if they really do get their days off. We discussed this issue very frankly with our director, and he let us know that time off is something he takes very seriously. We always get the days off that we are scheduled for.

As for making a “significant and noticeable change” in the kids – be careful about your expectations. You have to remember the number of years of poor lifestyle / bad parenting that have damaged these kids. It took time for them to form their bad habits, and it will take time to change those bad habits. I try to look at it from the perspective of planting a seed. We may never see it start to sprout, but it’s there in the soil. We as houseparents have to be sure that we aren’t looking at the kids behavior to see whether or not we are being effective. (Otherwise we would constantly be frustrated!!!) If we plant a strong seed, then we are being effective. I have to remind myself that I am not in this job to be made to feel like some hero that has just swooped in and changed the world for these kids. It’s not about whether or not I feel good and accomplished, it’s about planting a seed. I may not get many opportunities to be a gardener, but I am happy to just be a planter. (FYI- I am mostly preaching to myself right now!! )

This is a wonderful career field and I hope your family just loves it as much as we do!! Adorable family by the way!!!

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louisville parents

Rachel,

Thanks for your post. That was very encouraging. All of you: launchpad, admin, texaspop etc have been very helpful these last couple days. My wife is changing her outlook on this line of work. Today she said that she is excited about this opportunity. This is a huge shift in her thinking.

About three weeks ago we received an application from a facility. I had it filled out two days later. My wife is still working on hers and many days she would get overwhelmed just answering the questions. I began reading her stories from houseparent.net out loud. They were funny, entertaining, and real. A couple days ago she began reading things from hp.net and this forum herself. Yesterday and today she made more progress on her application than she had in 3 weeks. Thanks to you all.

My wife Laura was very skeptical about the photos and videos on the facility websites and knew that it couldn’t be as good as it sounds. What she did find comforting were the real stories and frustrations that you all have written. Your stories have truth, humor, pain, life, love and joy. Thank you for sharing. We’re in!*

*At least we’re in for some interviews and campus visits.

Teaching Family Model Any feedback?

Launchpad

I have been looking into the Family Teaching Model and getting ready to do training on it next week. I have been very impressed with what I have seen and read so far. The residents behavior and the communication between Admin, residents and staff have been nothing short of amazing. Again- from what I have seen so far.

Does anyone have a working knowledge of the Family Teaching Model? What are the comparisons, if known, in regards to CPI and/ or TCI?

Advantages/ Disadvantages of the FTM?

I’m looking for your honest opinion, so feel free to let the good, the bad and the ugly roll.

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webmaster

Would like to help you on this, but I don’t have the personal knowledge to give an opinion. None of the three facilities I have worked for used it. My wife used a morphed version of it in a facility she worked at during our sabbatical, that was not a good experience.

But to be fair, it wasn’t a true version of the FTM.

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teacher

I am currently at a facility that utilizes the Teaching Family Model, and I love it. I could not imagine being a houseparent without it. It allows for consistency. The kids know what consequences (good or bad) that follow their actions. It also allows HPs to show the kids how their actions will help them or stop them from reaching their goals. The TFM is also very user friendly. I give it two thumbs up!

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Launchpad

Thank you! We start training Monday, but so far from what I have seen in some of the other cottages I have been absolutely amazed. It is a better system and support structure than what I have seen before. I have also noticed a lot of (positive) dialogue between the staff.

 Some areas remind of the Boys Town model and the specific skills seem to be the same. This system seems to function a little more smoothly than what I worked before on the Boys Town model. (In fairness to Boys Town we probably were not running the program 100% at the facility I was with).

I take it we are at the same facility? (Your profile has you in SC) If so I hope we have meet or soon will. I really feel blessed being here. 

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Housepop

My wife and I used the Boys Town Model in the first children’s home we worked in and it was very good for keeping things consistent and clear. Like you said the boys we worked with always knew what the consequence would be and what to expect if they stepped out of line. It gave us the basis and skills to go on to other houseparent positions and do well when they did not have a program that was as good or as organized. As the webmaster always says though it is not the program it is the people. You still have to have the skills and the gifts to make it work and also I believe the call of God to continue. I think you will like it and gain much from it. 

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Housepop

In the teaching family model you use is there a skill for positive attitude? If so I would love to have that please. All help would be appreciated. Thanks so much.

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Launchpad

I had a response from someone that has not worked or seen the program in action. Their concern was that the program would be “Clinical” and very restrictive on the kids freedom. The kids here have way more freedom and responsibility than the other two facilities I have been with. It seems the kids here can be just that- kids. The responsibility they have for their own actions is amazing. The FT’s I have seen in action displayed the utmost in professionalism.

I am very impressed (So Far).

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foshgirl

Can someone explain exactly what this is? All I can find online (even on the TFM website) is a vague description of how it reinforces good behaviors or something like that. Can you explain in basic practical terms how this system differs from any other? Or a sample situation/conversation in which you would use it and how?

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Launchpad

Sorry for such a delay in responding. I was hoping someone with much more experience and background in the Teaching Family Model would be able to respond… I guess not 

So gathering from my extensive week long training and actually working with the kids for all of three days; here goes it.

FTM focuses on the behavior of the child. Not just the negative but the positive. It is a point based system where the child is responsible for the outcome of their week.

The difference I have seen (so far) in this program and the other two programs I have worked in the past has been very drastic. Everyone is evaluated. From the kids all the way up to the administration is evaluated and receives feedback from everyone else. The kids evaluate the Family Teachers and so on.

The kids have self government and are invested in the program. It is a B- Mod program but from what I have seen so far the kids have WAY more freedom than any facility I have seen to date. I believe the difference is in this program is the boundaries are extremely clear to not only the kids but the Family Teachers as well. There is a much higher accountability of Family teachers. All communication with the kids is done in a calm manner, very professionally.

I wish I could say that I was one those HP’s that had a calm easy temperament all the time with all of the kids I have worked with in the past. After going thru the FTM training I found myself wishing I had some of the skills the program mandates you use with program. For example, working a solid month straight at the boys ranch I would find myself using no rationals when trying to correct a kid. There were times when I would want a kid to behave in a certain way just because I said so. Another example- If a kid rolled his eyes at my last facility, most of the time I would let it go, I have to save the consequences for the big stuff. With a point system the kid is invested in I can address the eye rolling and correct the tiny behaviors before the kid gets all worked up and has a bigger issue.

The kids also don’t get buried alive in consequences. There have been quite a few times in the past I would really turn the screws down tight on a kid because of their behavior. Looking back on it now, I probably did more to escalate the kid rather than help make a change in their behavior. From my own personal experience a facility without a program and specific guidelines is just a act of frustration for the HP and the kids. instead of creating a least restrictive environment, they are creating more restriction.

Communication on every level is done very professionally. I guess when everyone is being evaluated by everyone else, using courtesy, tact and professionalism is just part of everyday business.

So far I am impressed. I am also being challenged. I have found a program and facility where the HP is considered a professional. I am required to learn and develop new ways of ministering to those in my charge. I am expected to receive feedback in professional evaluations and learn from them. I work with competent Family Teachers who see this as a profession and ministry, not a glorified baby sitter.

This is my view of the FTM program to date. I have worked with alot of other HP’s in other programs that were every bit as committed to the kids and the HP profession as a whole. Matter of fact my heart is still in Georgia at my last facility with alot of people that I hold in the highest regard. I am just very happy to have the opportunity to see another program, feel challenged to develop myself and to be considered a professional. 

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Launchpad

QUOTE

In the teaching family model you use is there a skill for positive attitude? If so I would love to have that please. All help would be appreciated. Thanks so much.

Acepting Feedback

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dontlietokids.net

Wow….the children “rate” the staff?! While that wouldn’t bother me, I know of very few House Parents who could/would tolerate that!

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Launchpad

Yeah I wasn’t real stoked about it at first, but I have actually came to like the idea. You have to keep in mind some kids are going to have issue with a HP, but if you your seeing consistent complaints about being an abusive jerk from all the kids, chances are you just might be. At the very least it gives the powers that be a heads up. It also sends a very strong message to the kids that their opinions matter and actually count for something.

I really think that HP’s that have issue with a regular evaluation from others is just afraid to be held accountable for their own actions and probably extremely insecure. Same goes for admin. When you have a 360 degree eval and the people under you that you never really thought of acting like a professional with can make you think twice. 

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dontlietokids.net

Oh it wouldn’t bother me, but most HP’s I know would hate the idea.

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webmaster

 I try to be fair, and have been more than happy (kinda) to apologize when I am wrong.

I’m not perfect, but I think I wouldn’t want to be a houseparent if I thought I had to fear what the children would say about me in an evaluation.

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sunbeam

We do not have a point system. From others I have talked with they were not really pleased with always making a child work on a card or board.

I do agree with the praise. All our kids here before coming here is negativity.

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Launchpad

I agree with grace and sunbeam. Honestly my struggle now is praise. The program seems like it is built on it. If you think its easy giving praise try it for a day. Every single time one of your kids has a behavior problem try giving them praise first for something they are doing right, followed by emphatic statement, followed by a rational and then a consequence.

That much praise seems good on paper, but try it. Most of us do not operate that way. It is starting to seem more natural, but I still feel corny giving constant praise. But hey, I can’t argue with results. The kids on this campus are functioning on much higher behavior and academic level than what I ever imagined.

How much work do you do with your Church??

webmaster

We work at a residential foster care facility and attend a fairly small church (less than 100 members). We help out with children’s ministries because the children from our facility make up 90% of all the children in the church.

Today we were supposed to attend a big meeting at the church for a new children’s ministry the church is starting this fall, but we had a conflicting engagement that we had to attend as a PR event with the home. When I tried to explain that to the pastor, I am not sure he truly understood that what we do with the children and with the facility comes first. He talks a lot about people being involved in ministry, but I am not sure he fully considers what we do ministry.

I think I am going to have to have a meeting with him, and try to explain it better.

Anyway the point of all this rambling is to ask. How much do y’all get involved with your Churches? & Do you find it difficult to balance what your local church expects from you with what you are required to do

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TexPop

The local church we attend, both as a cottage and belong to personally, has financially supported our facility for years. The pastors have been invited to speak to our H/Ps during chapel many times and have visited our cottages. This interaction has built a good understanding of what we do here. The ministries of our church that we are involved in understand when we have a conflict due to our responsibilities with our kids.

I think I understand the situation you described. I would advise inviting your church leadership to come spend an evening with you and your kids.

-TexPop

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momof10

Since we have chapel on the campus we can’t really get too involved in our own church. Sometimes we do take the boys to our own church but then they still have to go to chapel.

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Launchpad

The church we attend off campus has no clue as to what we do. My wife and I get borderline harassment calls about playing music for service and every church project/ open position/ committee. They are in awe when we say no way- our schedule is way to packed and busy to take on any new projects. I don’t even feel guilty anymore.

The problem is most do not consider what we do as “Real Ministry”. They just have no clue. They see us as full time baby-sitters.

I’m not sure that perception can be easily solved. To really understand the lifestyle you have to live it. An outsider looking in just can’t possibly relate. Kinda like when I loaded the Uhaul for the first facility and thought I would save the world. 

Anyway- My perception of this ministry has definitely changed, for the better- not worse. After a year or two any misconceptions or fairy tales about being an HP fade away. I definitely believe this is the greatest ministry on earth. My pastor just can’t relate.

On the flip side, my father in law was a pastor for twenty some odd years. He retired and became an HP to lead a less stressful life . After a year he is now going back into the pastorate after living the HP life. He has whole new appreciation for what we do.

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missy

My husband is a pastor & we are full time houseparents to 6 boys & we have 1 boy & 1 girl of our own. We love doing both but sometimes I don’t think people understand how much we have to do & they don’t understand when we say no to invitations to go out between services. We are exhausted alot on Sundays & want to relax. When I was asked to teach AWANA, I had NO problems saying NO. (I hope God doesn’t want me to though because then I would have to.) I don’t think people understand what is normal according to the boys & that a fist hitting a wall is something that just sometimes happens. You deal with it & just keep loving them. Also, after taking 10 people out on Sat. the money for eating out is tight.

Other Houseparents

bakergirl

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?

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webmaster

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.

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glidenhi

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…..it 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.

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Launchpad

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!

GOD BLESS YOU!!!!!!

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bakergirl

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!!!

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TexPop

Bakergirl,

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.

Hello experienced houseparents! More questions from a prospective….

Lyssiej

Hello!

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

1. Basic care facilities that are

2. Christian and

3. Offer lots of training before you start and

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

Does that sound about right for outside parameters?

 

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webmaster

1. N/A – You have already read it.

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

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

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

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

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Launchpad

QUOTE

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

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

QUOTE

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

 

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

QUOTE

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

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

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

QUOTE

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

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

QUOTE

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

1. Basic care facilities that are

2. Christian and

3. Offer lots of training before you start and

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

Does that sound about right for outside parameters?

Sounds like ya got it! 

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Lyssiej

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

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

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

Thanks again, and keep the wisdom coming!

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rachel

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

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

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

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

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Housepop

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

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Lyssiej

That is so encouraging and inspiring!

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

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

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

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rachel

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

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

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bakergirl

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

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

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dmitchell_00

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

If you were starting a new place from scratch….

Called2workwith youth

If you were starting a new facility tomorrow, what kind of policies, practices would you put into effect?

What kind of facilities (gym, pool) would you consider essential for a group home campus?

What administration “issues” would you like to avoid?

What things would you want to emphasize that are not emphasized now (i.e. nutrition)?

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Launchpad

Awesome topic-

I’d start by saying that if you are looking to start a home, make sure you either have people that are extremely committed to the project or you have a couple of million burning a hole in your pocket. I recently quit a project of trying to open a home with a local church. Everyone lost interest as soon as it was time to start getting down to work and making it happen (Fund raising, research, contacting local government resources, etc…) I feel like I wasted the biggest part of a year trying to get it off the ground for a church that was in “love” with the idea of having a children’s home on its property but not wanting to get their hands dirty.

Anyway- IF I were to open my own home, here’s how I would do it;

1. Every kid would have their own room. If I had lots of money, every kid would have their own bathroom in that room. (Cuts down on sexual issues, gives kids their own space).

2. A pool and gym are great to have, but not critical. Again if I were Daddy Warbucks, olympic size swimming pool and one of them olympic training style gyms with an ice rink. A concession stand that sold pretzels would also be nice.

3. Administration would be made up of a grizzeled bunch of veteran House Parents. Old and broken from years of abuse by other facilities and children. I would then turn them loose with my Gold Visa card and tell them to turn this place into a House Parent Utopia. The kinda place they always dreamed of being able to minister to children at. Anyone that applied for an administration position without first having been a House Parent would be laughed out of the building, possibly beaten.

4. Every Friday would be BBQ night. (My first facility was “Vegetarian”). Ironically this would also be the night I encourage my wife to go see a movie so I can eat all the fat, greasy hamburger I want to.

5. There would be a program. It would be a version of the Family Teaching Model, just not as anal. The program will emphasize family living in ALL aspects.

6. Instead of off duty housing or having a respite couple come into the house, I would have a respite house the kids would go to when the primary’s are on respite. Kinda like going to Aunts house for the kids. This is by far the most effective and peaceful respite transition I have ever seen.

7. I would have an Independence Living Program for kids that are transitioning between High School and College/ Tech School.

8. I would encourage the cottages to have pets. After all, they are kids living in “Family Style” setting, not a bubble.

9. I would have a private school on site.

10. The maintenance crew would be made up of former HP’s as well. Kids would help with all general maintenance, From wiring to drywall.

11. I WOULD HIRE A REC DIRECTOR that worked very hard on organizing activities and sports.

12. I would have a computer network technician. He would do his job, back up the network like a good boy should and keep everything in working order. If he failed to make me happy he would disappear.

13. I would have a church on campus, non-denominational

14. All of this would be located somewhere in the South Pacific, preferably the island of Oahu.

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missy

I would like a private hot tub for each set of houseparents & date nights for the houseparents! 

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Called2workwith youth

While some might see your response as facetious, I think it is a good idea. Maybe a Jacuzzi tub (large bath tub with jets).

One thing I have noticed in my time as a houseparent, as well as researching facilities for employment, is that houseparents are taken for granted and expected to live a life just above that of a homeless person. There seems to be a prevailing attitude of “it’s all about the kids”, so we’ll spend resources on things for the kids, but the houseparents have to do without. What is missed so often, is that when houseparents have to live in undesirable living quarters, or deal with an exhausting schedule, etc. etc. then there is usually a lot of turnover, and they are constantly stressed out and tired. And guess what?! That affects the kids in a negative way.

I agree that it is all about the kids and we do this because we feel called to make a difference in their lives. However, it is hard to be effective in that regard if you have to deal with a lot of other issues.

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Called2workwith youth

1. Every kid would have their own room. If I had lots of money, every kid would have their own bathroom in that room. (Cuts down on sexual issues, gives kids their own space).

While I like that idea, I don’t know if it would be practical. Maybe have one or two single rooms and two or three doubles (total of 6-7 kids), with the single(s) being an incentive as they would go to the oldest kids with the best behavior. If we want to make this as family-like as possible, that is reality for most large families. I understand the other side of it though, as sometimes a sloppy kid can make it hard for a kid who is trying to do right (in regards to room care).

2. A pool and gym are great to have, but not critical. Again if I were Daddy Warbucks, olympic size swimming pool and one of them Olympic training style gyms with an ice rink. A concession stand that sold pretzels would also be nice.

Let’s not forget Italian shave ice and nachos. Seriously, though a pool and gym aren’t necessities, I think some kind of recreation facilities are important. Perhaps with a good Rec director, you wouldn’t need the pool and gym.

3. Administration would be made up of a grizzled bunch of veteran House Parents. Old and broken from years of abuse by other facilities and children. I would then turn them loose with my Gold Visa card and tell them to turn this place into a House Parent Utopia. The kinda place they always dreamed of being able to minister to children at. Anyone that applied for an administration position without first having been a House Parent would be laughed out of the building, possibly beaten.

Completely agree with you here. I don’t care what kind of education credentials a person has, if they have not lived with kids and dealt with admin issues from the side of houseparents, they are not qualified to be an administrator over houseparents, IMO. It makes about as much sense as giving a 23 year old DHS worker fresh out of college total authority over a teenager in the foster care system (don’t get me started on that). I don’t know about the beating part (there might be a hidden camera somewhere  ), but if I were doing the hiring, that individual wouldn’t even get an interview.

4. Every Friday would be BBQ night. (My first facility was “Vegetarian”). Ironically this would also be the night I encourage my wife to go see a movie so I can eat all the fat, greasy hamburger I want to.

I just don’t get the whole vegetarian thing. It makes no sense in regards to nutrition (no meat that is, meat in moderation is good nutrition. Someday I’ll post my cancer story and you’ll understand where I’m coming from there). And the whole “meat is murder” thing just baffles me. While I would not be at all opposed to a BBQ night, I would have an emphasis on nutrition. [Once again, wait for my forthcoming cancer story, and you’ll understand. I might post it later today as I am starting to get worked up about it. Just a little tease…7 1/2 years ago when I went off medical treatment, I was given a death sentence (was told my life expectancy would be months, maybe weeks). 7 1/2 years later (and an alternative treatment program that emphasizes nutrition) and I am alive and well and cancer free.]

5. There would be a program. It would be a version of the Family Teaching Model, just not as anal. The program will emphasize family living in ALL aspects.

When working with these youth, you definitely need some kind of program. At the same time, there needs to be a lot of latitude and room for individual (couples) styles. You go to any normal neighborhood, and there is variance from home to home in parenting styles. To expect 10 different couples to parent exactly the same way is just ludicrous. There does need to be a certain consistency from home to home though. For instance, you couldn’t have a consequence for sneaking cigarettes be a level drop in one home and an early bed time that night in another home.

6. Instead of off duty housing or having a respite couple come into the house, I would have a respite house the kids would go to when the primaries are on respite. Kinda like going to Aunts house for the kids. This is by far the most effective and peaceful respite transition I have ever seen.

This is an excellent idea and one I had never thought of. If you think about, if you could make this work logistically, this would allow the houseparent apartment to be much smaller, as they would have the whole house completely to themselves when their off time comes. I have not worked as a houseparent at a facility where you have to pack up your belongings and go to another place every time you are off, nor would I ever work for a place like that. I can’t even imagine having to do that for more than a month or two. You could even have a special lodge on campus where the kids could spend a long weekend (kind of like a camp getaway or retreat).

7. I would have an Independence Living Program for kids that are transitioning between High School and College/ Tech School.

I think the vast majority of places now have these programs. Although, I would like to incorporate it more into the regular home program. Maybe each house would have a couple private rooms that are on a different wing than the other bedrooms. Like my wife has said, most of us (in normal families), transitioned through the college and post HS years still at home (or with the ability to come back home if problems arose). I believe most group home kids fail after HS because they go from having a family environment and accountability and support, to being in an IL program with very little accountability and parental support. Where is it written that when teens graduate from HS they are instantly endowed with all the wisdom and tools needed to make it on their own?

8. I would encourage the cottages to have pets. After all, they are kids living in “Family Style” setting, not a bubble.

Agree again. There have been numerous studies that show that people with pets live longer and are generally healthier. And pets can be very therapeutic. Our golden retriever (the best dog in the world) did something amazing once. One of our girls was sitting at the kitchen table sharing a hurtful experience. She was crying and obviously hurting as she was sharing this. Our dog walked over to her, put his head in her lap, and looked up at her like, “I’m here for you” (this was not something he did on a regular basis – putting his head on people’s laps).

9. I would have a private school on site.

Definitely. Don’t get me started on public schools.

10. The maintenance crew would be made up of former HP’s as well. Kids would help with all general maintenance, from wiring to drywall.

I don’t know if this would be practical, but I would definitely want people who understood the ministry and saw their job as more than just a job. Maybe some kind of work experience with youth, especially at-risk. Like experience in juvenile justice, high school, youth ministry, etc.

11. I WOULD HIRE A REC DIRECTOR that worked very hard on organizing activities and sports.

Another excellent point. My wife has a Master’s in this field (as well as experience). We worked at a place that had a couple of rec directors, but they had no education or experience in this field (take a guess at how effective they were). I think something that is often missed, is that old, old saying “idol hands are the devil’s workshop”. Basically, I believe what Father Flanigan said in the movie Boys Town (the old one, 1938, with Spencer Tracy and Mickey Rooney. If you’ve never seen, rent it and watch it). There is no such thing as a bad boy (or girl). Young people need to be kept busy most of the time. Boys especially need to be kept physically busy. If they don’t have something constructive to do, they will find something to do, and it will often be mischievous. It is very hard for houseparents who are dealing with the day to day work of feeding, administering meds, checking chores, paperwork, etc. etc.  etc., to come up with and organize activities. I think a quality, QUALIFIED, Rec director would be very valuable.

12. I would have a computer network technician. He would do his job, back up the network like a good boy should and keep everything in working order. If he failed to make me happy he would disappear.

Definitely necessary. Just make sure to have one who understands youth (especially at-risk) and is very careful about how much he teaches and to which kids. We had some teen boys who became quite accomplished hackers. One got in trouble one time for hacking into a teachers computer and controlling it remotely while she was on her computer. He did it more or less as a joke (and to show he could), but he could use that knowledge to do a lot of harm.

13. I would have a church on campus, non-denominational

This is one that requires a lot of deliberation and prayer. I would definitely want Christian staff and a Christian philosophy. And it would ABSOLUTELY be non-denominational. The longer I have been a Christian, the more I despise denominations. I think there are positives and negatives to having an on-campus chapel. But then again there are pitfalls to having each couple take their kids to a different church. And do you consider making church optional? Maybe requiring private reflection/prayer time if they choose not to go? I know, that can cause a lot of issues. At the same time, forcing teenagers to go to church can just drive them further and further from God. I think it is a difficult issue. One thing I am sure of, it would not be a program or ministry of any church or denomination.

14. All of this would be located somewhere in the South Pacific, preferably the island of Oahu.

Wouldn’t that be nice. 

For me personally, it would be a region that has four seasons, and definitely not in a hot/humid climate (like the southeast).

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Called2workwith youth

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Launchpad

Yep, I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it either.

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webmaster

I’m not sure I would ever want the pressure of starting my own facility. That’s just a stressor I don’t think I could handle.

Though taking government money would solve a lot of financial issues it could also cause issues. The home we started in is now closed because the county attorney decided not to use local facilities when dealing with youth in that community. He preferred sending them to the state school. He wouldn’t even use it as a transitional program after they finished the state program, they just went back into the community. The social workers wouldn’t use it for therapeutic foster care, because there was a big push to put all kids with foster families. Then they would get in trouble and end up in the state school. The Facility didn’t have a donor base so they eventually used up their reserve money and had to close. It also puts a lot of pressure on the program to follow state philosophies. A lot of the religious training is not allowed if it is Christian, though they seem OK with spiritual training from other cultures. You also have to follow Equal Opportunity Employment which means you couldn’t disqualify an applicant based upon their spiritual beliefs, etc. which means you would have people working for you that hold beliefs contrary to yours and your vision for the facility.

Taking only private money puts on a whole new set of issues. Designated money for one. Declines in giving during recessions. Having to meet the expectations of the donors, etc.

I agree with a lot of what has been previously said on this topic except for a few things. I don’t like the concept of a completely self contained campus where school, church, recreation all take place separate from the general public. I think it shelters the children way to much and they don’t get an opportunity to interact with the rest of society. They need to learn how to live in society and be a part of society and that can’t happen if they never leave campus. I also think it causes a fear in the community of the kids from the home and in some cases the home itself and may think of it as a cult or commune. Though an on campus Rec Facility, or School or Church would be cool with me.

I agree that administrators should have experience as houseparents or at the very least several years experience as associate type administrators before they become in charge of an entire program. I have worked for two directors that got their first day of Residential Childcare experience the day they became my campus director. The one almost drove me from childcare permanently! Hence another problem with private religious facilities, administrators often come from the clergy and though they may be great pastors – they are not childcare professionals.

I like the idea of the kids leaving for relief, Tennessee Baptist does it that way. However I don’t think it would matter how it was done. It is still going to be a bad experience for staff and kids because it is always a change from the normal routine.

I also think there needs to be some sort of program, but I also believe there has to be a way to get off of it for the kids in very long term facilities. We have kids that spend virtually their entire childhood at our facility, and I would hate to think of them having to be on a point system the whole time they are here. It wouldn’t be very family like in anyway, except for maybe one of those freak families that appear on “Wife Swap” or something.

I think Independent Living is one of the most neglected programs in the entire country. Even facilities that have them, many times neglect many aspects of it. Although I also think many parents in today’s society also fail miserably at it, hence the indulger, enabler or helicopter parent. I would want independent living to be the corner stone of my program. In fact if I was to ever start my own program it would be an independent living program for kids that age out of other programs.

Recreation facilities would be nice, but every community usually has some pretty good stuff to help with recreation. Parks, pools, the “Y”, etc. While I think it is good to keep kids busy, having tons of on campus recreation stuff tends to create over stimulated children that sometimes lack imagination, creativity and the ability to play and entertain themselves. I have experienced this a lot with some of the children I have worked with. Yet it is also a result of our current society and the advent of video games, cable/satellite television, and the computer.

I think nutrition is important, especially considering the weight issues I have battled my entire life, and it drives me nuts to watch houseparents that will let children eat whatever they want, regardless of what it is. Like Ice Cream and Macaroni and Cheese for supper. We eat corporately at a dining facility on campus several times a week and I just don’t get it. Having been here almost 10 years I have seen houseparents let young children eat whatever they want and then harass and nag them everyday because they are fat teens. On the other hand that whole Vegan/Vegetarian thing I don’t get either. BTW: Update on the Houseparent Bulge – my current total weight loss is 61 pounds and I am wearing large shirts as opposed to the XXX I was getting ready to buy when I changed my lifestyle to go with the 10 inches I have so far lost off my waist. I like BBQ night, just leave out the sugar!!!

As far as pets go: I am personally opposed to them, mostly because of the irresponsibility I have seen other people do involving pets. Like letting them piss and crap all over the house, leaving them chained up in the back yard, chew up furniture and scrape down doors, etc. I realize they can be very therapeutic and for some a joy to have, but for me I don’t like the hassle, it makes it very difficult to be able to travel, and there are too many irresponsible people. I just don’t think it is worth the hassle. Having said that, to keep harmony in my family I have agreed to allow my wife get a small dog next (2009) September. I am also hoping the facility outlaws pets between now and then because of all the abuses to the pet policy, but that probably won’t happen and I will be stuck caring for a Yorkie that I didn’t want in the first place.

As far as maintenance people with houseparent experience – where do I send my resume?!!!!!

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MomforLife

1) The Administrators would definitely have been HPs (for more than 2 years)

2) The children would live in family style homes …

a) I actually like dorm style, single bedrooms, big closets, large bathrooms at the end of the hall with privacy stalls on the showers and toilets. One shower/toilet per 2-3 kids. Private bathrooms are okay, but a lot to keep clean, bathrooms between rooms invite nighttime trouble/parties.

b ) The common areas (Kitchen, dining, living room) would be huge, especially the kitchen with multiple ovens, large pot capable cook tops, dual refrigerators, etc…

c) The HP bedroom would be private, but have appropriate alarm system to alert them to trouble.

d) The HP office should overlook the common areas (big window).

e) The HP bathroom would be every woman’s dream… can we pamper the House Moms a little more!

f) The House Dads should have a heat/air-conditioned work shed for tinkering.

I’m sure I could think of more!

3) The schedule should be structured but with flexibility built in. The children should work (maintenance, computer repairs, wood shop, etc…) with mentors (one on one at least once a week). Kids need some free time, but too much free time (video games etc) creates a bored child and trouble begins. Working at something meaningful builds self-worth and a work ethic that could get them through college and a successful career and home life.

4) Kids that don’t get to go home to families should have special host families and special dates.

5) On site school – my preference, with lots of tutoring, and school uniforms

6) There should be a special ‘nurse’ for our sick children (both for the child and the House Parents who still have many others to care for)

7) HPs should be involved in scheduling any Appointments, so that their time is respected

8) There should be plenty of budget for ‘family’ fun times, both structured (movies, movies, etc… and unstructured – camping and watching the stars and lightning bugs).

9) Nutrition should be VERY important. I too believe that our children are over medicated and under nourished. Fresh vegetables and fruits are expensive initially but in the long run cheaper than health care. HPs and Administrators should spend more time learning about good nutrition (forget the food pyramid and NSLP!). Regular exercise is important also, but it should be fun for the kids.

10) If you are in town – then the YMCA or local parks are great – if you are more than 30 minutes out, then you need your own rec director and facilities.

11) Staff need to socialize – this should be a community that takes care of each other and plays together – it would be a great experience for the kids to learn what neighborhoods used to be like (at least in the South).

12) The administrators should listening carefully to the HPs that live with the children 24/7. If the HPs say they have a problem, then they are really saying ‘we have already tried all we know, and it’s not working’. The children deserve to live in a peaceful environment, and if another child is disrupting that environment without an response, then it is not a good fit between the child and the Hps, or the child and the facility. Counselors should be available to HPs as well as the children.

13) Independent Living is an absolute must. I’ve seen too many kids leave at 18 with no understanding of how to live on their own, buy groceries, cook for one, pay bills, deal with utilities, insurance, etc…

14) The administrators should take care of the HPs, so that the HPs can take care of the children (what they were hired to do). The HP facilities need to be sufficient in size and comfort, the children’s home needs to be sufficient in size and comfort and amenities, maintenance should be performed regularly and emergencies asap, the administrators need to make sure that someone is always on call and available quickly to assist with problems/emergencies – one phone call should do it all. The homes should feel secure to the children and the adults. If I was an male Administrator, at least once a quarter, I would pamper my House Moms and take my House Dads to lunch and drop by to say hi and play with the kids occasionally. If I was a female Administrator, I would take my Moms for a manicure/pedicure and/or lunch and have another male staffer take Dad to lunch. Extra budget for a special dinner on Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Birthdays. Everyone needs to feel appreciated.

Well I guess I have dreamt enough.

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glidenhi

Kids would be allowed to go barefoot as much as they want.

Kids would be allowed to put their bare feet on the sofas while watching tv.

Kids would be encouraged to bring friends from school and church over to the campus and houseparents would be good hosts and monitor activity.

Kids wouldn’t be punished by taking their personal property away from them.

Houseparents wouldn’t consider their job done when they find consequences for bad action….they would work out a plan of redemption and monitor progress and guide the offender’s progress and give encouragement and hope.

Houseparents would be the type of people that appreciate every person…..both Christian and nonchristian….for the beautiful creation they are, and have an ability to find things to encourage every person for the gifts they have been given and give hope.

Establishing an emotional commitment to the kids would be considered normal, and when a kid needs a hug they would get it and it would be ok to tell a kid that you love them.

Houseparents that tend to abdicate the management of the house to the most powerful and ruthless kid would be fired.

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MomforLife

Kids would be allowed to go barefoot as much as they want. Kids would be allowed to put their bare feet on the sofas while watching tv. Kids would be encouraged to bring friends from school and church over to the campus and houseparents would be good hosts and monitor activity. Kids wouldn’t be punished by taking their personal property away from them.

Spoken like a man that loved kids and wants them to experience childhood. I agree, except that I have collected PSPs and gameboys for the night when they were abused – i.e., someone played PSP all night instead of sleeping – letting the kids check them back out for use during the daytime.”

Houseparents wouldn’t consider their job done when they find consequences for bad action….they would work out a plan of redemption and monitor progress and guide the offender’s progress and give encouragement and hope.

The Lion King has a great example of parenting – Dad rescues the wayward children, scolds the son explaining the responsibility that he should have shown and the consequences that he could have experienced – in other words, voicing his disappointment; then when the discipline cycle has ended, he gathers his son up and reminds him that he is precious and loved.

Houseparents would be the type of people that appreciate every person…..both Christian and nonchristian….for the beautiful creation they are, and have an ability to find things to encourage every person for the gifts they have been given and give hope.

Not just house parents (although they have a unique position to observe many walks of life – believers need to remember that the God, who loved us enough to provide salvation from ourselves, desires to offer that love and salvation to everyone – we need to look at everyone, especially the parents and the children that we serve, as children of God, whether they know it or not. Looking at someone through glasses that miror our own mistakes, helps us to be more loving towards others – in a small part, it might be like looking through the eyes of God and it changes our perspective immensely.

 

Establishing an emotional commitment to the kids would be considered normal, and when a kid needs a hug they would get it and it would be ok to tell a kid that you love them.

Can we truly be houseparents if we don’t commit to love, protect, cherish and serve our kids? Aren’t these the qualities that we are supposed to MODEL for them?

Houseparents that tend to abdicate the management of the house to the most powerful and ruthless kid would be fired.

That is not (house) parenting – it’s why so many of our children end up at ‘at-risk’ teen facilities, because the adults forgot to be the leaders in their home. We cannot provide security for our children if we abdicate our authority and responsibility as adults.

Sorry for the mini sermon – it’s easy for me to climb on a soap box — but then I catch my reflection in the mirror

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Called2workwith youth

Excellent points. Too often we focus on the negatives. I remember a trainer we had talking about a quote he had posted in his office, “Catch me doing something right”. Very profound. In childcare, we get caught up in always trying to catch them doing something wrong, that we don’t put enough attention on pointing out and praising the right things they do.

Also, I am very passionate about the concept of getting to the core of “each child was created by God, in His image, and endowed with unique talents and gifts.”

It is OUR job (not the kids’) to help them see that and find those talents they were blessed with and use them. I believe a lot of kids act out because they feel they have no purpose (further compounded by the lie of evolution). If we can help them find their talents and purpose and start to work toward that, the behaviors will diminish (I understand this is just part of the solution, but it is an oft-missed part of the plan in dealing with these kids’ behaviors).

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MomforLife

It is OUR job (not the kids’) to help them see that and find those talents they were blessed with and use them. I believe a lot of kids act out because they feel they have no purpose (further compounded by the lie of evolution). If we can help them find their talents and purpose and start to work toward that, the behaviors will diminish (I understand this is just part of the solution, but it is an oft-missed part of the plan in dealing with these kids’ behaviors).

Case in point. We have had a young man for 2 years, who many would just see as overweight, lazy, unmotivated, unresponsive, etc. He came to us at 14 from a very chaotic background – too many moves between two many relatives. We could tell he was very intelligent, but he didn’t want to put any effort into anything (including relationships).

A year ago someone donated an electric guitar to our house and one night I heard this young man picking at it, making some pretty good sounds. We were able to find a guitar center in town and received permission to take him off site for lessons.

After 2 months of guitar lessons with a very invested instructor, this young man was/is demonstrating purpose and self-worth. We have seen his grades improve (student of the month in April) and his attitude is much more optimistic. It needs to become my daily prayer (to quote a song: Open the eyes of my heart, Lord) – let me see the needs of these children, the way to their hearts, and the key(s) to give them hope.

PS – It turns out that he is indeed very gifted. His instructor says he is a natural and could be a great blues guitarist. Praise God for people like this guitar instructor willing to work and invest over and above his paid time for this young man.

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dontlietokids.net

QUOTE

In childcare, we get caught up in always trying to catch them doing something wrong, that we don’t put enough attention on pointing out and praising the right things they do.

 

From my experience that’s because too many leaders (trainers, admin, etc.) believe all children are evil little jerks out to do wrong any and every chance they get and until they PROVE they are not like this they are going to be treated as if they are. Then, anytime they are “caught” or “discovered” doing or having done something wrong those people feel justified. They ONLY way those kind of adults would ever not be that way would be if a child was perfect. We know that’s never going to happen so as such, those adults will ALWAYS be the way they are.

Were You Popular?

webmaster

I spend so much time watching teen shows with the kids about status in school it got me to think about the kind of people that become houseparents. Most of the people I know I don’t think would have been one of the popular kids in school. So I decided to test my Hypothesis.

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Launchpad

I would never want to go thru the Middle/ High School years again. I still wake up in a cold sweat from gym class nightmares. 

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Seamus

I went to a fairly small school (total pop. in high school was about 400), so everyone kind of knew everyone else. I was a band nerd, but played football and basketball. I never went and hung out all the time with the kids in the “homecoming queen/king” status, but I did talk with them at school. However, if I went to high school right now, I would definately be a nerd. The kids in our home think so anyways. It’s kind of funny how things change over time.

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glidenhi

I was just a kid trying to survive with a few close friends in a large school (class of 800). I fought a lot. Rarely won cause I was always the youngest in the class, but at least they would leave me alone after that. Never went to the bathroom in the three years I was in high school because of the stuff that went on in the bathrooms. Most of my friends were military brats….most of the local kids were bums. My friends left town and became professionals. The local rich kids inherited the city…..the rest work for them.

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missy

I was not popular in school but I sure am now. Especialy with a certain group of boys, they are ALWAYS calling out my name & looking for me & asking me to go “out” with them & fighting over whose turn it is to go!

I hate you all!!!! (Not Really) HP relationships.

Launchpad

I had a great time last night. Several of the guys here have a bible study/ prayer meeting every Monday night which is awesome. After the meeting I stayed up till 3 am with a fellow HP and talked. Part of our conversation led to places we worked and people we knew.

A common trend throughout the ranks is the lack of respect we really have for each other. How often do you hear a kind word about the respite couple or the relief? Most of what we say is how bad the house looks when we come back on duty and how many rules were changed while we were gone. It’s not often we hear about how awesome another couple is. What we hear, and talk about is the less desirable traits and habits a couple has.

Why do we do this? Is it jealousy, contempt, double standards or just plain and simple sin? I’m just as guilty as everyone else when it comes to judging those around me. I pray I’m finally aware of it and can make a change. I also pray I never take for granted AGAIN what most of us have given up to follow a calling.

I’m blessed that the couple we work with are close friends. Staying up till 3am shooting the breeze makes me realize how lucky I really am.

Does anyone else have personality issues at their facilities?

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glidenhi

I think most of the problems we have observed could have been resolved if all of the houseparents within a house worked as a team and worked together on a plan for each child. This should be facilitated and encouraged by the director. If the houseparents within the house don’t get along, the kids are the first to detect it, and it is bad for them. The worst thing is for there to be a turf battle going on, and for the kids to pay for their allegiance to one couple over the other. Any houseparent that discredits another to the kids is disrupting their own household and really discrediting themselves. Envy and strife is just what these kids need…after all they’ve been through. If relief houseparents are really not doing the job, they should be history. If they are having some successes that the regular houseparents aren’t, maybe someone should be asking some questions….not getting jealous.

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dontlietokids.net

Here’s what I’ve discovered. Relational staff seem very accepting of other styles, even very strict unrelational styles. Sure, they may not like a style that isn’t relational, and maybe they wish others were like them, but over all they are pretty accepting of all styles. Those who are not relational seldom accept those who are, they tend to gossip about them, put them down, and assume kids who behave well for them do so because of the “lack of structure”.

 

Many facilities don’t help this attitude because they so often teach “consistency=discipline” which isn’t true at all. Yes, our discipline should be consistent but so should our love for the kids as well and our desire to be there for them, listen to them, etc. but this is so, so, so seldom taught as being as important as discipline. Because of this the strict, very structured staff tend not to respect those who are not strict and very structured. The relational staff normally support everyone because, well, because they are RELATIONAL.

 

Until facilities begin to teach relationship building as strongly as they do discipline and structure the tension between the two different types of staff will never, ever go away. Sad, but true. Let’s look at one example.

How often have you heard in training of new staff

“Go in hard! It’s easier to back off then it is to get more strict!”

I have heard that 10 trillion times.

Ok, so how often have you heard this in training of new staff

“Try and build relationships with your kids, get to know them, understand them, find their issues and concerns out by talking with them.”

I’ve not heard that very often, especially when compared to the “go in hard” statement.

THERE IS YOUR PROBLEM.

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webmaster

We seem to have definite clicks on our campus and it usually divides up between old and new houseparents. I personally tend to be more of a loner, because I am not very comfortable in social situations. I tend to say stupid things that get me into trouble. Fortunately for me, kids are much more forgiving in that respect, that is probably why I relate better to them.

Most of our socialization takes place on the porch in the evening after supper while we watch our children play. During the summer we do it at least one a week, not as often in the winter.

I think houseparents can be some of the most judgmental people there are and make “Church Lady” seem mild, but I also think there are some houseparents that really should look for a different line of work and wish houseparenting was much more competitive to weed out those people. However, I am not sure that will ever happen because, most people don’t see being a houseparent as a profession and the financial rewards aren’t enough to draw many people.

Turn Over

ThomFam

I am wondering as to why the heavy turnover. It sounds as though the typical person starting out as a house parent is out of the field in less than a year. I am sure things like lack of training and facilities not taking care of their people. I am sure people go into the field with rose colored glasses on as well. Here is my question, aside from what I mentioned, why is there such high turnover? I am concerned for myself and my family. If we were to accept a position at the facility I am interested in we have to move half way across the country to a state I have never lived in. I am willing to do this, but it would not be good to find my family “Stuck” in a faraway place. Any help you can provide in enlightening me as to the high turnover I would appreciate it.

Also ideas for me to prepare myself and my family for the long haul would be great.

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Housepop

The answers to your question vary greatly. But not enough people truly research what it is they are getting into. These aren’t regular kids. They are kids that have been damaged by adults that don’t know how to parent or who selfishly think that their needs come before the child’s, or adults who are involved in drugs and alcohol. you have kids that have been preyed on by sexual deviants. These are often kids that have been thrown away and really just want to be loved but don’t know how to love back. They have food issues from not having enough food in the house when they were hungry and the list goes on and on. Many different issues and many different kids. And then there are the gang kids that found family and don’t want to give it up or change because it is way too hard to do things any differently. These are often kids that are so used to pain (emotional and physical) that it becomes comfortable and not to feel it hurts worse. This is just a small list of some of the things you will see and experience and many adults that want to change a life and love a kid don’t take in to account that it is not an easy job. NOW having said that even with the insanity of the kids you have staff and faculties that are just as confused as how to help them and try so many different methods and have so many different theories that it certainly adds to the challenging job we do. But if you are truly called by God to do this job none of the craziness truly matters because if you walk with him you will make it past the national average and truly love what you do. There are many people who visit this board that can share stores that will make you cry and laugh at the same time. But it truly is one of the greatest jobs you can ever do, the difference is that you can’t do it alone and I don’t mean your spouse of other staff which are important but you have to have a very good relationship with God the father and lean on him each and every day.

I hope I haven’t rambled to much or babbled on incoherently but truly pray about this endeavor before you take it on. My wife and I have been house parents for almost 12 years in 3 different facilities and yes it is truly one of the hardest things you will ever do but without a doubt one with the greatest rewards. I can’t wait for that day in heaven when I hear a small voice say thank you because if not for you I wouldn’t be here. Then every sleepless night and being called names that most people have never heard will be so worth it.

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ThomFam

Thanks for your heart felt reply. I have been praying God would remind me the work is His, it is mine to simply obey. I can see this line of work being frustrating to those who are performance oriented. My guess is you often do not see the results you would like to. I hope that I can still show them love, kindness, and grace in spite of what they have done or how they act. It is what Jesus has done for me, I hope to pass it on to these kids.

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webmaster

I agree with Housepop, most people don’t fully consider what they are getting in to, or do it for the wrong reason. I can honestly tell you that after 12 plus years as a houseparent, there is only one good reason to be a houseparent – to help kids. There may be different reasons for wanting to help kids, called by God, service to community, etc, but unless you want to help and do what is best for the children you serve, you will come up with countless reasons to quit.

I also think people lack persistence. This job is VERY, VERY hard and stressful. You have to deal with situations, people and cultures you are not used to dealing with and you have to learn new skills. Being a newbie makes it that much harder, but once you get experience and learn how to react to situations, learn how to work with social workers, judges, psychiatrists, therapists, etc., learn how to work with parents and families that think it is ok to lie, cheat, steal, use drugs, etc., learn how to make a decent meal out of your limited grocery resources, learn how to get to all the different places you have to go, things get easier!! You have to be persistent to work through the tough times at first, to get to the not as tough times later.

You can be performance oriented and do this because I am very much so, you just have to be very careful to use the right scale for measuring. You have to say things like, “Johnny only stole 25 things today, last week he was stealing 30 a day – that’s progress.” “Suzie is now passing two classes, last year she failed them all.” “Johnny is now just calling me an a$$hole, last week he called me a F–king a$$hole.” However, I think most people are unable to do that, and quit because they don’t see enough progress and to be perfectly honest, there are many days I want to also.

I on the other hand don’t believe that being a houseparent is meant to be a lifelong career for most, and I mean MOST people. I honestly don’t see me doing it another 12 plus years. I just wish more people would commit to doing it for a season, whether it be 2 year, 5 years or 10 years. Look at it as a mission. How many missionaries do you know that go on a mission for a lifetime? Most do it for a season and then do something else to recuperate for their next mission. I think houseparenting should be looked at the same way.

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Launchpad

I agree 100% with all the above. This is truly a love/ hate situation and you have no chance of making it long unless you either walk with Christ or are clinically insane.

I love what I do very much; I’ve also never done as much cussing, spitting and loathing about any other occupation as I have about Houseparenting. Emotions get very raw when you start pulling 16 hour days, the kids hate you, admin is crawling down your back about a missing receipt and although you are with your wife 24 hours a day, you haven’t had a conversation that didn’t revolve around a kid in three weeks.

It’s definitely a lifestyle, and I can’t think of any other way I’d rather serve Christ than what I’m doing now. You’ll know after a year if it’s your calling, which is why most couples move on after a year.

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MomforLife

Be prepared to learn more about yourself than you ever wanted to. Being a houseparent exposes all your weaknesses, but your strengths as well. In my opinion you cannot do this ‘job’ without the understanding that only God is in control and only God can provide the strength and resources needed to stay focused, sane and find peace during the mayhem.

Be wise from the beginning to recognize your own needs, if your health deteriorates (and many do because of stress and diet) then you will find it hard to continue in this ministry. I am in the later category now. We moved to a new facility in September and the stress of the move and learning to be a ‘relief’ houseparent has been detrimental to my health.

Being a relief houseparent is more difficult that I imagined. If you don’t have a great relationship with your houseparents, it’s a very stressful arrangement. You expect the kids to test and try your knowledge, but you don’t expect to be in an adversarial relationship with the adults…it undermines your effectiveness with the kids, adds stress you don’t need and makes your relationship with management stressful as well. I’ve been to the ‘quitting’ stage at least 3 times in 4 months due the lack of a good relationship with a set of houseparents. As a full-time houseparent in a former facility with horrible management…I only got to this stage once year!!! An old boss of mine that I deeply respected once said “if you give a man a responsibility, you must also give him the authority to make it work.” This is so true … regular and relief houseparents must have a mutual goal of supporting one another so that they can provide the best care for their kids. Good, kind, supportive communication is imperative to providing long-term consistently healthy environments for our kids.

I don’t mean to sound negative. I cannot imagine my life without this work. I believe it is the most important ministry … if our children have no hope, our world, our future has no hope. Every time I think about quitting, I ask myself “and do what with my life?”… my answer is always the same…this is what I am meant to do.

I do ask for prayers for my health. Recent tests have revealed liver problems that now require more tests. I hate tests. I don’t know what my future holds, but I know who holds my future.

Favoritism?

katfan57
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


Seamus
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.


Doug
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?


Seamus
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.


webmaster
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.


katfan57
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.


TexPop
I first saw this subject and really didn’t have time to answer…..here 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.