This is the first in a series of blogs addressing the topic, Helpers and Caretakers. These blogs correspond to six foster parent training classes that I am facilitating at San Bernardino Valley College on Tuesday and Friday mornings from 9 a. m. to Noon, starting October 19 and ending November 5, 2010. If you live nearby and want to attend the classes, email me.

Interestingly enough, I was informed that my politically incorrect because we are not to supposed to TAKE anything from the people we care for. We are CARE GIVERS.

I had a difficult time not sounding defensive as I tried to explain that my title is sort of tongue in cheek. Because I want us to become conscious in this class that probably what most of us do IS care taking and not care giving.

There is a wonderful web article that compares and contrasts caretaking and caregiving. Those of you who attend the class will get a copy of this article. Those of you who attend class here on the blog, check out the link.


In this article, Elizabeth Kufperman tells us that caretaking is a "hallmark of codependency" and originates in insecurity and our need to be in control. In other words, caretakers are probably control freaks! Caretakes like to HELP other people. Unfortunately, the people whom we help end up down a notch . Of course, it is not our intent to put them down in our attempts to help them, but that is what happens and that is why this topic is so important.


So what is wrong with helping? Helping tends to imply that the person or persons we are giving help to are HELPLESS. Think about it.

I know words, for some of you, are just words. But a word is very important. It conveys meaning and when we speak that word, it brings that meaning to life, into existence. For example, if I say, "you are really gorgeous," you begin to experience the "gorgeousness" inside you. If on the other hand, some one you think is so much prettier than yourself tells you that you are fat, you begin to experience yourself as a cow or the fattest person on the face of the earth, even if all the objective data speaks totally to the contrary.

So from this day forward, we will not talk about helping people. Instead, we will use the word SUPPORT. When I support you, I support your strengths. I support the part of you that can, in fact, and will, in fact, take care of yourself. I raise you up, so to speak, to be your best.

So yes, the word IS CARE GIVING. As a caregiver, we give the person we are supporting KINDNESS and LOVE. We do not presume to know what is best for them. We do not try to solve their problems. We continue to GIVE support to their inner strengths, their internal developmental process. We support their journey and where it will take them. We do not give up on them when they refuse our advice or direction, or our help. Even if we are giving care to an infant, we humbly recognize that there are forces within the infant that are far beyond any amount of care we can give. When the infant is inconsolable, unsoothable, we don’t back away. It is not about us. It is about their pain, and whatever life experiences have landed on them even at this early stage of the game.

As a caregiver, I catch myself when I realize I am trying to rescue or save rather than Give. It is difficult, if not impossible, to rescue and save without taking over the person’s life.

On the contrary, as a care giver, we GIVE AUTONOMY to the person we are supporting. And we TAKE no credit for their growth and development. We humbly acknowledge the growth and development and express gratitude that we got to be the instrument through which God’s direction and love flowed.

OKAY, so let’s take a moment to identify in our own personal lives, where we experience being taken care of. Make a list, A LONG LIST. What does it feel like to be taken care of?

THEN where in your life, are people giving you care? What is the difference?

THEN make a list of all the people in your life for whom you are a care TAKER. Note how you are taking CONTROL of their lives instead of giving them the gift of autonomy.

Let’s spend a little time talking about what we discovered?


Now that we have begun exploring the differences between care taking and care giving, let’s begin to explore yet another important question.


So what moved you to become a foster parent in the first place? Or what moved you to take in your grandchildren? Or what moved you to adopt your children?

You know the bottom line is this. It almost doesn’t matter what moved you or what your motivation is as long as you are AWARE and CONSCIOUS of your motivation.

I will never forget a foster parent telling me that the reason she is a foster parent is because she failed as a parent with her own children. They were actually taken away from her. At some point, she pulled her life together and healed her relationship with her children. They were adults by this time. But she was aware that she had missed raising her children and watching them grow. So she wanted to have the opportunity to experience being a mom.

Now, this reason to be a foster parent could be very problematic except that she is aware of it. She is also realistic and knows that her foster children are not going to be particularly appreciative of what she gives to them. She knows that they bring wounds to her foster home and raising them may be even more challenging than it was to raise her own children.

Armed with that awareness, her motivation actually becomes a very powerful force or energy in her fostering.

But what would happen if she wasn’t aware of her motivation? She would be constantly angry with the foster children for letting her down and making her one and only experience of being a Mom just an awful experience. Do you get that? It is very important to get this.


*Sometimes, folks just enjoy raising kids and when the empty nest syndrome hits, they fill the nest back up.

*Sometimes, folks experience a spiritual calling.

*Sometimes the police knock on your door at three in the morning and hand you your grandchildren and there you are! Instant family once again. And, of course, as much as you may be enjoying not raising children, you love your grandchildren and don’t want anyone else raising them.

*Maybe all of your life, you have been involved in day care, child development centers, or some form of caring for children. At some point, the house has too many empty rooms, so you get licensed and you can do the work you love right there in your own home.

*Sometimes, foster parents will tell me that their parents fostered and it just seems natural for them to be a foster parent as well.

*Some foster parents were foster children themselves and they want to give back.



Sometimes when children are angry with us, they accuse us of being a foster parent just for the money.

First of all, there is nothing wrong with doing it for the money. Secondly, unless you are independently wealthy, you sure in the heck can’t do it for free. How are you going to pay the bills? I would encourage you to tell a child, anytime he throws that at you, "Of course I do it for the money. How else am I going to be able to support us all?"

And why does the comment push your buttons? Why does it make you so angry? What is wrong with doing something you really like to do and get paid for it at the same time? That’s how it works for me as a therapist? I love being a therapist and a teacher. But I also LOVE getting paid for it. Everything I do, I do for the money. It is my only source of income. I do not have a "job" as such.

The bottom line is you could never get paid enough for what you do.

So does it make you angry because you want to keep it a secret that you enjoy getting some money for doing this work?

Perhaps you don’t value you your fostering. I mean a brain surgeon makes a ton of money. You, as a foster parent, are constantly impacting the growth and development of the brains of the foster children in your care. You too are a brain surgeon!! You deserve to be paid brain surgeon wages!! Yes you do! Well, why not?

What you do is not charity. It is hard work. You even come here to class to learn better skills. This is not a volunteer job.

So why do you think your buttons get pushed when they accuse of doing this just for the money?


I appreciate you being here because I get paid that way. I am doing this for the money!

See you Friday for part 2

More by this Author


    You know when you receive a flyer in the mail that your friendly neighborhood bank wants to help you or that the local branch of a megabank has a deal for you, you don’t, for a second, really believe that, do you?...


    For the stick in the mud, let’s-get-it-on-and-over-with type, (probably a guy!) spending any amount of time exploring this question could be hard and as boring and perhaps as frustrating as foreplay. So I...

Comments 8 comments

justom profile image

justom 5 years ago from 41042

I would encourage you to tell a child, anytime he throws that at you, "Of course I do it for the money. How else am I going to be able to support us all?" I never really thought about it that way. That seems like a terrible thing to say but it makes sense, it's the truth and that's always best. Nice work Vern, as always! Peace!! Tom

vrbmft profile image

vrbmft 5 years ago from Yucaipa, California Author

Hi Tom

Going to have to send you a certificate for taking the classes!!

Well, I encourage people to say that, because otherwise, they get all defensive and weird, and then the kids thinks, yep, they are doing it for the money!! And the reality is, we need money. It is not a nasty thing. And we want to teach them that yes, you make money, that is how you take care of yourself. Working for money is legitimate and honorable.



LensMan999 profile image

LensMan999 5 years ago from Trans-Neptunian region

I was first confused while reading but after thinking a lot I think u r totally right. What is in our mind we should tell to our child. And no need to worry for telling that I do this for money.

vrbmft profile image

vrbmft 5 years ago from Yucaipa, California Author

Well, it is one thing to be cruel about it, to say in essence, that I don't do this because I care about you, but yea, I do it just for the money. It is another thing to respond in a very caring and loving manner, "Yes, it takes money, and sometimes a lot of money, I can't do this for free." And if the child is old enough, you could also ask them what it means to them that I might be doing this for the money, why is that important to them whether or not I do this for money. So the question opens up many doors and windows for dialogue to ultimately come down to the bottom line, the child wants to know that they are cared about and loved. You will never get there if you get all defensive about it.

Anywho, thanks for reading and the comment.


G-Ma Johnson profile image

G-Ma Johnson 5 years ago from NW in the land of the Free

Very good you sparked many things in me...I am both a care taker and a care giver...I take care of my dementing mother's money and bills, and ...well everything..I am the eldest of her 4 girls/children and the others tried but it was too much for them...

so she was moved in with me.

I also did child care for like 35 years and yes for both the money as well as the love of children, a lot of the time I spent most of it to make them better children, educational games, puzzles, food etc.

Where my mom is now living in a Home I see what you are saying here every day. Some of the employed people are takers and some givers for sure!!!

Now to go read your next chapter...Thanks I needed to hear all this...:O) Hugs G-Ma

vrbmft profile image

vrbmft 5 years ago from Yucaipa, California Author

Hi G-Ma. Thanks for reading and commenting. Any kind of people serving occupation brings with it a lot of interesting stuff and as long as one stays conscious of it all, all will be okay!! Wow, so you have a TON of experience with the entire gamut. Well, that means you are a wonder filled person and I hope whatever time is left with your Mom can be somewhat pleasant, altho obviously it is difficult with the dimentia.

Take care. Hugs to you as well. fifty a day is good for the immune system.


Christina A profile image

Christina A 5 years ago from Australia

I am interested in the differences between foster care in America and in my country Australia. Carers in Australia receive a small reimbursement that barely covers living expenses, and only then if children don't have significant health issues etc. So money is not much of a motivation here. Also, I think that the costs of fostering emotionally and psychologically for carers is significant, outweighing any perceived financial benefit. Would you say it is like that in America too?

vrbmft profile image

vrbmft 5 years ago from Yucaipa, California Author

Hi, Christina.

I think it is similar in this country. When you are taking care of children who have special" needs of one sort or another, you can receive additional funds, but have to go to training to qualify for those extra funds. If you "played" it right, so to speak, and you really were dedicated to taking care of children full time, you could probably use the reimbursement to live on. It certainly supplements the income. Whatever the issues are around money, the key, as I said above, it to be CONSCIOUS of how the remibursement plays into your committment.

However, I get the sense, that perhaps Australia may be somewhat advanced in a lot of areas of caregiving and taking care of children and families, but I could be totally wrong.

Thanks for stopping by and reading and commenting.


    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.

    Click to Rate This Article