The Experience of Being a Girls’ House Parent
By Seth Ellzey
When asked about what it’s like to be house parents, Jenn and I often hear comments on how it must be difficult to work with teen girls. Big emotions, big tears and big tempers are often the images that people entertain in their minds when it comes to living with several girls, and those scenarios can certainly be spot on. However, we more often experience big laughter, big smiles and big joy, so I’d have to day that working with teen girls is a great experience!
Jenn and I strive to teach the girls real world responsibilities such as cooking, cleaning, house maintenance and lawn upkeep. We have come to find that while most adults believe that teenagers hate doing chores, they grow to love the sense of accomplishment when completing a big job and reaping the rewards that follow. While projects sometimes begin with rolled eyes and sighs, these attitudes often succumb to giggles, jokes and teamwork that make the experience enjoyable. At times, the young ladies will even ask to wash and clean the van when they have energy to burn!
We also desire to see the girls love and serve others in the Name of Christ. Jenn takes the girls to a local pregnancy center to volunteer by sorting and folding baby clothes and organizing other merchandise. This is an avenue in which they get to see their efforts benefit others and know that they are making a difference in the lives of those in their communities. As well, we have been very blessed by several ministries and churches in the area with the donations of meals, snack foods, clothing, and supplies. Our young ladies get to see the hands and feet of Christ in their lives through the love and support of many local believers, which is a great encouragement of God’s love for them.
Finally, we love to get into the Word of God daily, wherein the girls will often open up to ask questions and discuss practical issues concerning life and Godliness. The Bible intrigues, convicts, and challenges all of us, and Jenn and I enjoy being able to disciple the girls, trusting that the Gospel seed being planted will flourish in the hearts of those who receive it.
Being a house parent is a wonderful experience. Jenn and I often say that we have learned more in this ministry than we have taught, simply by seeing the Word come alive in these young ladies in ways that have exceeded our expectations in the best of ways. We could not ask for a more rewarding ministry to serve in!