I discovered this website last night when God laid upon my heart the possibility of being a house parent. This whole idea is new to me, as I had not even considered it until yesterday. I’m hoping that some of you can help me sort some things out. (I apologize that this will be a long posting)
First of all, let me say that I am a 21 year old college senior. I am unmarried and do not see that condition changing anytime soon. (I have read that there are some positions for single houseparents, correct?)
My degree is in Public Relations/Speech Communications but have increasingly realized that I do not desire a fast-paced, deadline-centered lifestyle. I am confident that God has called me to be a wife and a mother, but it seems He intends to bring that about sometime in the future.
I am now faced with the decision of what I am to do with my life until which time God changes things. While a professional career has always been my assumed goal in life (and one that I wanted at one time) I do not want that any more. Over the past year or so, God has given me a passion for children from broken homes, or no home at all. I am about to become a Big in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. (My interview is Monday, wish me luck!)
Yesterday I was asking God for his guidance and out of nowhere the thought came to me “why not find work at a children’s home?” I began researching and found that there is a children’s home in the city I will move to upon graduation.
My mind has not quite wrapped around this possibility yet, but I can see myself as doing this and loving it. I asked my friends if they could see me working in this capacity and they said they certainly could. I know, of course, that it would be the most challenging, emotionally draining thing I could ever do. But what an incredible opportunity! It breaks my heart that there are children in this world that have never known love or caring. (My maternal instinct kicked in about 10 years before all of my friends…I’m a bit of a freak in my circles)
I am not sure if I have any specific questions. For the most part, I would just appreciate any input on this occupation and you opinion on whether it might be an option for me even though I’ve never had specific training in childcare-related issues.
Also, the children’s home that I mentioned earlier is currently advertising for a youth counselor. Although the position will certainly be filled by the time I graduate, would anyone be able to tell me what that would entail? Once again, do you need a certain degree or any other mandatory education to do something of that nature?
First of all let me say that working in this field will probably be the most frustrating/rewarding thing you ever do. Many will tell you that you are too young to do this however there are becoming more and more positions available for young singles. more and more facilities are moving away from married live in couples and going to shift work or single teams (Usually in the more therapeutic facilities).
Most facilities prefer that you have a degree or experience in human services but will in most cases accept somebody willing to learn. If you are looking for reading material in the mean time there are some good books to read, several of which I have reviews for on the main website.
One thing you may want to do is some volunteer work at a facility or an internship. This will give you some good experience and give you a chance to see what it is like in a children’s home. It will either confirm for you that you want to do it or will totally scare you away. In the second case it is better to find out in a volunteer situation than a live in situation where kids will be hurt by your leaving.
I hope this answers some of your questions I am sure others will have much more to say.
You are doing an important thing in listening to God and His call on your life.
Some agencies may tell you that you are too young or need more experience, but not all places will tell you that.
I personally started out over 3 years ago right out of college at the age of 21 and I was also single. I worked directly in the house alongside houseparents (sometimes married and sometimes 2 single people), more as a big sister role to the kids. The facility that I worked for was great in training new staff, which was important as I had a lot to learn and grow in my childcare skills. I worked more in a therapeutic residential setting for troubled teenagers rather than abuse/neglect situations.
Through the ministry, I met my future husband and we were married a year and a half ago and now we are houseparents at a different facility.
From my own experience, I think it is definitely easier to be a houseparent assistant or relief, or whatever other term the facility uses when you are single. The dynamic of working closely with another single person as “houseparents” can be a little strange, but I know people that make it work and are amazing at what they do.
Every facility is different in its education requirements. Some require degrees and some don’t. I personally have a degree in Social Work, and my husband does not have a degree.
God Bless you and Guide you as you pursue Him and His plans.
Thank you for all responses. I am both excited and somewhat apprehensive about this possibility, but am trying to keep an open mind towards whatever God has in store for me. There are two facilities in the city I will be living in a year from now, one a home for children of both sexes, while another is strictly for girls 12-17 — both are run by the same organization. I plan to visit there during Christmas break and see whether there would be an opportunity for me to serve.
My hope is to volunteer or work as an assistant until I have the necessary experience and knowledge to make a firm decision.
Would anyone recommend calling them and asking in advance whether they have requirements, etc., or just waiting until I can talk to them face to face?
It’s a real blessing when we discern what God has put in our heart. Consider yourself blessed because most people stumble around for years, not knowing.
One of my favorite Bible verses is 2 Corinthians 5:7 Walk by faith and not by sight.
If you have faith in the calling, keep putting one foot in front of the other. Let nothing distract you from the calling. By sight financial problems, emotional problems, relationship problems will try to steal your joy in finding God’s Will and to prevent you from carrying it out.
We have to know the Will of God for our life. To do this, we need to know God, have a relationship with Him. How do we do this? Through not only reading His Word, but also, memorizing it! Keeping it in our heart for when we need it, when doubt and confusion comes along pecking at our heals.
Also, ask God for the gift of discernment…there are many gifts listed in the Bible and one of them is discernment. This will help so much in working with children.
When you have time, please let us know how your life is unfolding in beauty and in service to God. Time is short, stay busy for Him!
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
Lean not on your own understanding
In all your ways acknowledge Him
He will make your paths straight!
Found in Proverbs…do you know where? Giggle giggle.
Proverbs 3:5 &6 Ironically, I read those verses in my devotions this morning. I wonder if God is trying to make a point? haha. The next verse I also have underlined, verse 7: “Do not be wise in your own eyes.” I am trying so hard to not run into this, foolishly thinking that I know what is best or that I know exactly what God’s will is for me.
I appreciate the encouraging words from everyone. I found the email address of someone who works at the children’s home I am interested in. (Oh, the glory of the World Wide Web) and am composing an email to her. I’m not quite sure what to say….I want to tell her that I may not be the most qualified person she’ll ever meet, but she couldn’t find anyone who would be more devoted….but I suppose I should save my passionate soliloquy for a face-to-face meeting. Right, I just need to make contact.
So wish me luck. I am travelling to Kentucky over Christmas break to visit family, and hope to have an opportunity to visit the facility and talk to some people there.
I too have recently stumbled upon this idea as a career. I thought I was the only wierd single senior in college who found at the last minute a potential career that seems to be directly from God. The replies on this post have been encouraging to me as well.
Keep me updated on your search, I am interested in how this process will work for someone else in my position.
So nice to hear that I’m not alone. I had kind of a shaky weekend concerning this search, as for a moment I thought that maybe God was trying to tell me it was all a mistake and this wasn’t a career for me. You see, my roommate has a lot of issues that most of us work through in our teenage years and things kind of came to a head this weekend. I was almost at a breaking point where I just couldn’t DEAL with anymore.
I told my best friend that this must be God putting a hold on this, until she reminded me that the part that was most frustrating me is that my roommate is in her late 20s. I can handle immaturity in people who are supposed to be immature, but in someone who is almost 6 years older than me?
Anyway, it all turned out ok. I had a nice long vent talk with my mother and I’m feeling better about the situation and can be sensitive and patient again. Plus, I’ve talked her into going to see a counselor, so that’s good.
So, I haven’t abandoned it. It scared me for a bit though….I’ve been so sure that this is what God is calling me to, and it was bad to think maybe I was wrong.
This weekend I’m participating in an outreach to a local girl’s shelter. I’m excited about it.
I hope your week goes well!
p.s. on a side note, isn’t senior year awful? Maybe it’s just because I know I’m almost done, but I have absolutely NO motivation to do anything.
Like I said in my last post, I was sort of wondering whether my active imagination made up my “calling” from God. I began to think (perhaps prompted by Satan) that maybe I couldn’t hack it. Maybe I was just fooling myself, or trying to avoid a “professional” job. Maybe I would just be awful at it!
Well, God is amazing. Last night I was struggling and a friend came in. Now, although she is a good friend, she is also very truthful and blunt and always tells me the truth whether I like it or not. I don’t even know how we got on the subject but she said something to the effect of, “Rachel, you are MADE to work with kids…I thought so before, but when I saw you meet my sisters (ages 11 and 14) I was sure. The way you talked to them and the way they responded; I’ve never seen them attach themselves to anyone so quickly.”
It blessed me so much to hear that. I truly love kids, and especially am burdened for pre-teen, teenage girls since I remember vividly what a hard age that is (Thank God that once the teenage years are over they are OVER for good). To hear someone else who had never before seen me around children tell me that she noticed IMMEDIATELY that I had a rapport with them was such a blessing.
Now, I’m not viewing everything through tinted glasses. I realize that working in a normal facility will be very different than meeting the two young sisters of a friend. But it still served to affirm my belief that I am somehow called to work with young people.
God consistently serves to strengthen me for His purpose. Praise God!
Today I met with 10 girls from a residential facility near my school. They came onto campus, and three of us students had lunch with them, talked with them and showed them around the campus.
It was hard. Some of the girls looked blank, others were obviously in pain and were desperate for someone to talk to them and show attention to them. Most of them, however, portrayed themselves as “just fine.” One of them, in particular, had an amazingly well done facade—everything was ok. She was ok, the facility was ok, life was great—despite the fact that I’m pretty sure she was pregnant. Every once in awhile I thought I saw the scared young 16 year old and my heart went out to her.
Sometimes I didn’t know what to say. What do they need to hear? I just tried to talk to them during the little time we had, show some interest and try to express to them that there are people who care for them. One of the girls seemed starved for attention and I sat with her for a few minutes during one of our stops and talked with her about what she’s going to do when she’s released tomorrow. She got this huge grin on her face and talked about seeing her dogs again, and playing with her nephew.
Several of them, though, seemed to humor me…they answered my questions and were friendly, but didn’t really show much interest.
Those few hours made me want even more to be involved in a ministry of that sort. As soon as I got back I emailed the director of the facility I’ve been talking about, asking her about volunteer opportunities.
Anyway, just wanted to share
Hi again Rachael,
Profs are teaching in sociology class that the ‘young adulthood’ nowadays can begin in the early 40’s. When you come across people your age who seem ‘immature’ remember that each has their own life experiences. I’ve found that many students in college don’t know what ‘real life’ is because they’ve been provided for by parents, scholarships or grants. As you know, book smarts doesn’t equal life smarts.
Remember what I wrote to you about knowing the Will of God in your life. We must read and memorize His Word to be able to do this. Sometimes God will speak to us through a friends wisdom, but that wisdom is always preceded by you hearing from God first…in His Word, through waiting to hear from Him after prayer and through the gift of discernment.