Sunday, January 15, 2006

House Rules

We have a set of house rules. We sat "Josie" down her first night here, handed her a copy, allowed her to read them and then went through them point by point. It's going to be a family ritual, each time a new child comes into the playing field...first night will be rules night. That way they'll know all the precise reasons why they're spending half their time here grounded.

I'd like feedback on what anybody has to say about them. Too harsh? Too wimpy? Sound off and discuss amongst yourselves. Any good ideas will be incorporated into future versions.


I. Everyone in this house will show respect for everyone else.
A. Treat the house well. It's your home, but it's also ours.
B. You WILL be kind to the animals. They're family too.
C. No going into other people's rooms without being invited.
D. No closed doors with more than one person in a bedroom unless they are roommates.
E. No taking or using other people's belongings without permission.
F. Always speak well or not at all of others in the house.
G. No wearing each others' clothes.
II. [The Wife] and Dan must ALWAYS know where you are and with whom.
A. If plans change, you will call us and let us know.
B. No overnight visits with friends for the first month.
C. No getting picked up for an overnight visit at a friend's house. We drive you there.
D. Your friends' parents will be called to coordinate things.
III. Household
A. You will keep your room and belongings in reasonable order.
B. You will have some assigned chores on a daily and weekly basis.
C. You will pick up after yourself.
IV. Phone
A. Phone time will be limited on a case-by-case basis.
B. We do not have long-distance service. You will need a phone card to place long-distance calls.
V. Computer and TV use
A. No computers or televisions in bedrooms.
B. We reserve the right to dictate how and for what computers and TVs may be used.
C. Amount of TV/computer use will be limited on a case-by-case basis.
D. Internet access will be monitored and only available in the main living area with supervision.
E. Video games may be brought in if you have them, but time spent with them will be limited as needed.
VI. Friends
A. Unless you're grounded, friends are welcome in the house so long as they follow the rules.
B. No friends when Dan and [The Wife] are gone except with prior permission.
VII. Music/movies
A. We reserve the right to confiscate CDs and movies that we find obscene until you leave the house.
B. Music/TV volume will be kept reasonably low.
VIII. Community participation
A. You will attend a church. You may go to your own church if you have one, or you will come with us.
B. Everyone will participate in an extracurricular activity. We don't care if it's the school play, a sport, band or whatever, but there will be at least one.
C. We volunteer at the Pope County Humane Society. You may be asked to help, especially if we need to finish taking care of the animals quickly.
IX. Miscellaneous
A. We can accept you, but not your pets. No pets will be brought from home...we have enough already.
B. Homework always comes before playing.
C. Not everyone is an A student, but everyone will try their best.
D. There will be a curfew. It will vary with your age and how you show responsibility.
E. You will be provided good food. If you don't like what's served, complaints will not win you friends. Peanut butter sandwiches will always be available as an alternative.

What you can expect from us:
1) You will get our attention. We do foster care because we want to help you.
2) We will take your part in any confrontation with teachers, law, disputes with your parents, and so forth as long as we believe you are in the right.
3) You will always have adequate food, clothing, and a safe living environment.
4) You will have regular recreational time to use as you see fit.
5) We will provide a structured schedule and well-understood rules to live by.
6) You will receive all the moral support you let us give you. We will go to games, concerts, and so forth to see you participate.
7) We will help you with homework as needed to the best of our ability. Everything from basic reading to trigonometry.
8) You will never be mocked or made fun of with a mean spirit.
9) As long as you live here, you are our family. In addition to the responsibilities above, that may mean going with us on vacation, to the lake, and so forth.
10) We will keep any promises we make to you. We don't make them if we can't keep them.


At 11:24 AM , Blogger Heather said...

I think your rules are great - not too harsh or wimpy. I especially like the no TV or Internet in the bedroom, and the one on being part of the family, going to the lake, etc. Too many kids these days are allowed to choose whether they participate in those sorts of family activities. Many teenagers will do anything to NOT spend time with the family, when that is precisely what they need, even if they don't realize it.

I've been enjoying reading your blog lately. I've always been interested in foster care, and may do it someday, so I'm interested to pick up info from the trenches.

At 1:01 PM , Blogger Steph said...

Your rules are very good and fair.
Can I borrow a few?...we need to update ours to apply to changing times. We have a state inspection in the next week or so, so I need to update some of our paperwork.

At 10:19 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

These Rules are excellent! Straightforward and to the point.

At 5:46 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Y'know, I only just read this post and what's more, I only just came by your blog, but can I ask a question about how you enforce rules with kids in your home? I understand completely the reasoning behind each one, except the church one - I assume it's to get kids to be involved in community and/or thinking about morality etc, but: is it only Christian churches? If kids are non-religious and find more meaning in, for example, a volunteer organisation, or a group that's focused on racial issues, or something like that, is this acceptable as well? If the kid's spirituality is all about making sure everyone has equal rights, do you think their Amnesty meetings (outside their 'other' extra-curricular activity) is an acceptable way to meet this need, or does it need to be Christ-centred? Is a church in the more traditional setting of a couple of people gathering and talking about their spirituality acceptable?
I'm planning on fostering (not immediately, but in the future), and although I wouldn't start up such a rule in the first place, it's the only one that confuses me so I thought I'd ask about it in order to figure out a little more where 'wiggle-room' would be provided in rules and how clearly a rule would actually need to be defined.

At 2:12 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are an asshole for these god forsaken rules. They are kids and should be able to act like kids not be forced to do shit. You all are the reason most kids in foster care end up shooting their damn foster parents.

At 1:02 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ummmmmmm.....Really? You cannot be serious! This is like a Bible of House Rules and it is ridiculous. I am a parent and kids needs rules....BUT, this is ridiculous. Imagine if someone handed you this looooong list and told you they were the rules. You would go crazy in your head before you even read them! I'm sure you guys do a great job with the kids but I would hate to be a child in your home. Are you raising robots or humans?

At 4:02 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was in Foster Care for a month (family troubles), and trust me, some of these kids NEED these rules laid out like this. Otherwise they will find loop hole after loophole after loophole. Nice list.

At 11:41 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

These comments are great I might use some of the in my house. They are a good example of real discipline I think that they are fair and firm.

At 6:17 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello! I see that you're not updating or fostering anymore, but for anyone who found this on a google search...

I like that there are rules, and I especially like that you have a section on "What you can expect from us". May I suggest for anyone looking to implement these~ perhaps to frame these in a positive light? Instead of saying "No this" and "You can't do that", instead focus on what is allowed, and let the negatives get implied.

For example:
I.,C. Invitations are needed before entering other people's rooms.
I.,E. You need the owner's permission to take or use their things.

V.,A. Computers and TVs are to be used in public areas only, not bedrooms.

VI.A, Friends are welcome...follow the rules... exception, when you're grounded.

etc., so you can save your "No"s for the important ones (ie., I'd keep the wording on VI.,B. "No friends when Dan and [The Wife] are gone except with prior permission.")

I mention this bc my friend who grew up in abusive homes said she was never taught what _was_ allowed, and only punished after she did something that broke rules she wasn't aware of. You've covered the second part of that, but maybe teach more by framing 'what IS allowed'.

Good luck to us all!

At 5:26 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

These rules are very stupid kids will be kids don't treat then like workers they want to be in a comfortable living environment feeling like home a Foster child will never feel like home in you put all of this on them

At 8:55 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a foster parent in Iowa, it is against regulations to force a child to go to church. If the biological family has religious wishes, they must be followed but if the bio-parent or child does not go to church, you as a foster parent are not allowed to require.

At 2:18 PM , Anonymous Ali said...

Just found your blog and I'm binge-reading through it start to then to the most recent! I realize you wrote this years ago. I think it's a great set of rules and probably rules that foster kids really need. Upon entering a new home they should know what to expect and what ia expected of them.
The only one i do not agree with at all is forcing religion on a child. I do realize you and The Wife follow your religion and that is your right. But no one should be forced to follow someone else's beliefs. Morality does not come from a book or a preacher. It comes from the heart, through experience and through example.
I'm very interested to see if your rules change over the years as I read on. Very interesting blog so far!

At 12:12 AM , Blogger Unknown said...

I have just started fostering a teenaged girl, so I googled house rules for fostering to get some ideas of boundaries, behaviours and consequences. I must say although your rules mostly appear fair and reasonable, there are too many written down which may overwhelm and frighten an already scared and vulnerable child. I disagree totally about enforcing a religion on a child, I would upkeep any religious following only if the child was already following one. Also I think that sitting a child down on the first night with this long list would start things off on the wrong foot as it could create fear, resentment, mistrust and anxiety from the get go. I would let the child settle in for at least a week before formally setting down rules, only doing it earlier if circumstances with the child's behaviour or expectations dictated otherwise. I would use positive language instead of "you will" "you won't" and I would ask for the child's input as to what they believe is good behaviour, what they think is fair and what the consequences should be for rule breaking. I also think each child should be treated on an individual basis based on age and circumstance rather than a sweeping one rule fits all. I have no objection to trusting an older teen to have a TVs in their room unless proved otherwise, unless they were spending too much time up there alone. I would not insist on extra curriculum activities, especially if the child is very shy, lacks social skills or has had to start a new school. Surely this could emotionally damage an already disturbed child? Rather I would encourage this gradually and even join something together.

At 8:05 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for the the guide. It does help as we start writing our house rule that are required by the state before we can even host a child. The social workers also know your house rules and Family, so to place wisely! What if your child is wanting to go to church but you are not? Same problem. Are you going to take him or her, probably not. We all have different beliefs and styles on how to raise, bring up or guide a child, not all are wrong just different! If you are going in to fostering a child you need guidelines and rules to help a child! Remember these kids are coming torn, hurt, confused and each child comes with levels of challenges unique to them. So the rules take away some of the challenges to a point and can create more as well. May the Force be with you! God Bless!


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