teach your foster children …

October 24, 2011 at 12:39 am 47 comments

Today I was lying around and I was thinking about all the practical things I WISH I had learned from a family, that I did not… and how in some cases I am or was screwed because of it.  Perhaps, some of the things that I thought about may seem “simplistic” to you or you may feel that “children don’t really need to be taught that;” but remember the lives of foster children are very different than the lives of  children in stable families.  Foster kid’s lives are puzzles, made up of pieces of different families, different beliefs, different values, and different messages, that create a beautiful picture, but may not contain practical guidance or long term connection.

So foster parents, take this to heart…and be willing to “teach your children…”

1)  How to Cook

chicken breastWhen my dog Moonlight was really sick last year and before her condition got “under control,” her diet was supposed to consist of chicken, sweet potatoes, and boiled hamburger.  Foods that were very easy on the digestive system.  I had NEVER cooked chicken breasts or sweet potatoes until Moonlight got sick… I did not even know what a sweet potato was!  Luckily I had both access to the internet and some members of my blog crew who were excellent cooks and had dogs!  In fact, I learned from a member of my blog crew how to “boil” chicken breasts in a pot of water on the stove.  It was quicker, made it moist, and Moonlight liked it better.

I’m lucky I had the internet and my blog crew… otherwise I would have been lost.  Dogs don’t like overcooked chicken either and I kept overcooking and drying them out in the beginning.  It was costing me money, that I don’t have!!  I know part of cooking is “trial and error,” but just think how much easier it would have been if I had done some of the “trial and error” growing up. Cooking would not seem so intimidating now!

So, please teach “the basics” — so young adults have a clue how to cook healthy food.  Sometimes I see whole chickens or whole turkeys on sale for real cheap in the store, but I have NO IDEA how to cook one, and I fear ruining it (partly because of $$).


2)  Bodies, Birth Control, and Babies

These topics are sensitive, but if you have teens that are going to age-out, this is very important information for them to understand…


Many foster children have had unwanted (and possibly wanted) sexual experiences.  But many have no idea about theirUnloved_by_Josibean bodies.  Just because you have been forcefully fucked, doesn’t mean you understand what is supposed to happen in your body.  What is “normal” and what is not?  What your insides consist of?   Why things happen?  etc.   School health classes may teach it, but don’t count on your foster teen learning it.  Dissociating, zoning out, or purposely cutting the class might happen, because one of the components of PTSD is “avoidance” of things that remind you of the past.  Foster children may avoid being exposed to anything connected with their bodies.

I have no clue how my body really works or what is supposed to happen… I don’t know the purpose of certain events, nor how to assess my “bodily health.”  As I told you, when I was seeing the doctor for my thyroid, I could not answer questions about my menstrual cycle.  No clue.  I don’t ever remember being taught about “my body” in a HEALTHY way.  If Dr. S at the clinic didn’t bring up my health, I would not have a clue that something is wrong inside me.


Birth Control

Please teach your foster children about the types of birth control, where to get it, and how to use it.  Even if your personal religion or beliefs go against it or the system is against it…. do it.   If you are NOT adopting the foster child and NOT going to provide a safe home for life, the possibility of a teen aging-out and living on the streets is great.  Sex is everywhere on the streets.  Kids are easy prey because they need money, food, clothes, shelter, etc.  Birth control prevents babies.  It also prevents diseases that could kill.


Do you have any idea how many kids I met when I was living on the streets who had a baby or desperately wanted one?  ALOT.  You see… a baby is an instant family.  A baby is some human who loves you.  And kids on the streets have neither of those.  The desire to have someone that loves you is SO great… when you are unwanted and alone.  Even though kids would talk about how their babies were going to be loved and cared about more than they were, the reality is that you can’t properly care for a baby when you are poor and living on the streets.  The streets are no place for babies.  The streets are filled with illegal activities, improper nutrition, improper health care for mom and baby, improper shelter, improper clothes, etc.

Educate your foster children about what babies/children need; emotionally, financially, health wise, etc.  Educate about how hard it is to provide for a baby/child if you are not ready.  Educate them that having a baby does not make a family and if they are not prepared, the cycle of CPS continues.

And educate about birth control again… to prevent a “child” having a child.


3)  How to Drive a Car and Change a Flat Tire

The reality of living in the USA is that you mostly need a car to get around.  I live in a city and don’t, but it’s inconvenient not to drive. I never got my license in foster care.  No-one ever taught me how to drive until I was out of care and on my own.  I learned to drive from the guy I was renting a piece of shit trailer from…… after hooking him up with a bag of pot. (Recall my Maine blog)

Even if your state does not allow foster children to get licenses, they need to learn from someone.  Take your children to a park or on a backroad and teach them to drive.  Let them practice with someone that is somewhat vested in their development and is a responsible person.  I learned to drive from a pothead.  I learned the techniques, but not necessarily how to be “safe” behind the wheel, because he wasn’t really vested in me… he was smoking a fatty filled with some high quality weed I scored for him!  Teach safe driving skills and safe driving in different situations… you never know where the foster child will wind up.

Teach them how to change a tire and what to do when the tire blows!  I blew a tire once on a major freeway in a major city.  The pull of the jeep was fucking amazing.  Thankfully I was in the slow lane, so I got to the side of the road easily.  If I wasn’t in the slow lane, I don’t know what would have happened, because I never knew what to expect when a tire blew.  My piece of shit jeep had my pets in it, so it could have been a fucking disaster.  I had never changed a tire and had no clue what to do.  Luckily for me, as I stood on the side of this major freeway, a cop stopped.  He changed my tire for me (Thank you Officer Randy!) and told me I had to get a “real tire” because that spare was not real and should go <50 miles.  WHAT??   Why put a tire in a car that is only good for 50 miles?

If the cop had not come by, I would have been screwed.  I couldn’t have left my pets in the jeep to walk up the freeway.  Make sure your foster child can change it, you never know where they will be.


4)  How to Sew Clothes by Hand

I can’t afford alot of clothes.  When they get holes in areas where holes are not appropriate, I still need to wear them.  When buttons come off, I still need to wear my clothes.  My winter coat last year, lost 2 buttons.  I “sewed” them back on … and three days later, my buttons were MIA.  FUCK!

I tried to staple clothes once and I tried krazy clue once.  Both do NOT work.  I try to sew and it looks a mess.  I try to sew and it does not hold.  I don’t know how to start or end the process.  I can do the stitching, but it doesnt matter if the start and end are screwed up!  Nuff’ said….get it?


5)  How to Understand Money

Talk about money, about banking, and about credit cards.  When I opened my first bank account, I had no clue what I was agreeing too.  I just shook my head and signed the papers.  I still don’t understand the concept of interest…  Talk about bouncing checks, bank fees, and “gimics” credit cards use to screw you.  Talk about taxes, bill payment, loans, budgets, etc.  It may sound unimportant, but when you have no money and then you get some, without any one to talk to, it can disappear in the wrong places

Remember that credit card I got to pay for Moonlight’s treatment.  Well, I was paying the “minimal” amount monthly, THINKING that was enough to pay off the  “balance” related to the promotion of the card, which was if I pay the balance in time, I would not be charged interest.  Guess what?  NOT!   The minimal was just a minimum and had nothing to do with the promotion…thus I got a HUGE bill with the warning that if I did not pay it, all the interest would be added on.  I was fucking clueless.  I still am sort-of clueless how it works.

**More than 80% of parents believe they should be the ones to teach their kids about money.  Make sure you include your foster children in those lessons!


I wish I had been taught these things, or at least introduced to some of the ideas as I was growing up in foster care, because now I am trying to figure it out on my own and mostly screwing up.  While some readers may say, “we don’t teach our biokids those things,” the truth is that many biokids might be exposed to it in their stable home life OR they can pick up the phone and call with questions or email or stop by… Aged-out foster kids may have no-one to turn to when they are on their own.  Leave them with practical skills that could potentially make life a little easier… being alone is hard enough.



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What makes a good foster dad? … a reader asks Thanksgiving Tips for Foster Parents

47 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Crumble  |  October 24, 2011 at 12:55 am

    This is another monumental post – I am so glad you have this blog. These are fundamental things, and yet they are so easily overlooked.

    You have taught me so much. I do use what you say here with the teens in my life. And if I work in the system again, I will be a much, much better worker because of what I have learned from your blog.

  • 2. Jackie  |  October 24, 2011 at 12:58 am

    Wow, LT, what a great list! You are really smart and pragmatic. This is truly a gift to the foster parents who read your blog. 🙂

    By the way, I bet the “blog crew” would love to send you easy, good recipes to start cooking more. I’ve got some tasty ones– let us know, ok?

    Keep up the great writing! 8)

  • 3. Another Time  |  October 24, 2011 at 1:06 am

    Definitely important things to know. Advice on driving in icy conditions is good too as well as advice not to sign things without reading/asking what exactly it is. Learned that one the hard way!!

  • 4. ella  |  October 24, 2011 at 1:30 am

    Wow…lt, this is cool. Actually,i dont master them, too. My mom was too busy to teach me that. So, i just learned how to cook when i was a newlywed, because eating out is too expensive. I know it is very difficult, even today i still don’t know how to cook like other mom.but,taking a recipe book when you shop and ask about it to the seller or women in the shop is somehow helpful( don’t forget to choose the old smiling lady and put dumb face, it always works!)}. Don’t be afraid to try and learn. Actually, tomorrow i wil learn how to use microwave. We never have any before,and a friend have extra so she will drop it tomorrow.today, i also overcooked my chicken 😦 anyway, keep trying.
    Driving a car? I can’t drive, i am afraid of the idea of crashing. When i was 7, i saw my brother’s friend was ran over by a truck. Since then, i really hate the idea of driving or riding a car.
    Sewing? I can not, too.
    Birth control? Ijust saw ur pictures and i only knew some of them,i think i need to learn,too. Actually, sex is still taboo in our country.i just knew how babies made when i was like 14. Or it maybe because i was too naive :p but i do agree on sex and body education. Really important.

    About money and banking, trust me, we also find it difficult. I think bank,people really make it difficult to understand so they can trap us.that’s why we never use credit card, i also get confused with the term. And when we asked, bank people really make it more difficult to understand, but yes, smehow we are caught.we have lost lots of money in bank:(

    Your wrting today make me really think now.

  • 5. Splintered  |  October 24, 2011 at 1:37 am

    Crazy glue? Oh dear LT.

  • 6. ella  |  October 24, 2011 at 1:47 am

    Lt, hug hug and hug…i just realize that i only understand little,too.let’s keep learning and trying on these things. It must be hard for you. Can you find a youth group and tell them about your problems? I am sure they are happy to help. Be careful, too, not all of them are good. Make friends with ones you can really trust. If you want to share and tell me something, feel free to write me?

  • 7. caroline  |  October 24, 2011 at 1:54 am

    Important stuff LT. These are vital for all parents to teach, but highly important for foster parents to teach. Biochildren get tibits of information constantly while growing up, but foster children may not if they are moving homes. Good examples. I wish you had learned what you needed.

  • 8. Michy  |  October 24, 2011 at 2:38 am

    Many of these are things I had to learn myself too, but without the myriad other issues you’ve got going on. If there’s anything I can help you find on the internet to help teach you some of them, please feel free to ask (here or via email). Except maybe sewing, I suck at that too.There is REALLY no dumb question.

  • 9. Judy  |  October 24, 2011 at 4:18 am

    A great read for all parents. Reading this made me realize that my own parents never taught me much. Out of your list, the only thing I learned was how to sew from my mom. Too many parents expect that their job ends with feeding, clothing and sending their kids to school. It’s not enough to prepare a child for well adjusted adulthood.

  • 10. katiebillotte  |  October 24, 2011 at 5:24 am

    This blog actually made me call my mom and thank her. She did teach me all those things (well, my grandfather taught me to drive, but Mama arranged for it)–with varying degrees of success (I am not a great seamstress by any stretch of the imagination–I can mend a sock and get a button back on but that is about the extent of it and I am a very nervous driver, but that is more about personality than anything). Thank you for once again reminding me how blessed I am and inspiring me to share that blessing with others!

  • 11. lee1978  |  October 24, 2011 at 6:28 am

    Great post LT. I had home eck too but I was really awful at it! I still can’t sew except for an emergency button! 🙂 You have such good points here for foster kids, and all kids. I did have a thought about cooking the chicken. I bet when it would work out for you that you could offer to buy a chicken like that and have Jessie show you how to cook it on one of the times you eat over there.

  • 12. Melissa  |  October 24, 2011 at 6:59 am

    That is excellent advice, LT. Thanks for sharing it.

  • 13. talesofacrazypsychmajor  |  October 24, 2011 at 7:19 am

    Hey LT,
    When I sew a button I usually do my first loop through the button and tie a knot with both the needle end and the loose end. Then I sew the button like normal. When I’ve gone back and forth through the holes a bunch of times Then I make sure the needle end ties onto the beginning end again in a double or tripple knot.

  • 14. cherubmamma  |  October 24, 2011 at 7:29 am

    Fantastic post LT!!!

  • 15. Carm  |  October 24, 2011 at 8:47 am

    Thanks LT, great post. I don’t have any foster children or any experience within the system so I don’t comment very often. But this blog is truly eye opening and I appreciate you putting it out here.

    I took Home Economics as well in 7th grade. Honestly, I remember very little because I thought it was boring at the time. I would guess that most teens don’t retain much from that class. Most things I learned from phone calls home when I first moved out. Without that, I wouldn’t have learned anything. Even cookbooks/recipes assume that people already have the basics so that sucks. Have you considered another one of your “question to your audience” posts, maybe for easy recipes with some nutritional content? Just a thought.
    Also, I still can’t change a flat or sew at all.

  • 16. Nightaura  |  October 24, 2011 at 9:19 am

    Great post, LT. I try to teach our teens everything except sewing (I have no idea how to do it. One of my boys actually knew how to sew though!) and I also don’t teach them to drive. The risk is just too great for crashing my car. I was actually a driver’s ed instructor, so I know how to teach them and such. I do encourage them to take driver’s ed locally. Only one of them did. DCF pays for 1/2. They earn part of the other half (learning about money, budgeting, priorities) and we pay the rest. I try to get them to cook as well. I never knew about sweet potatoes until I started making them for our dog. Actually found out about using them for the dogs at the dog food store! Do you have a crock pot? When one of my boys moved out, I gave him one along with some recipes. Very simple 2-3 ingredient recipes with easy to find stuff. Don’t really have to measure either. Two of my favorites are meatballs, grape jelly and chili sauce (like hot dog chili). Get a can of chili sauce, a small bottle of grape jelly and meatballs (enough to be covered by the chili and jelly). Put in the crock pot, stir and cook for a couple hours on low. Really good on rice (another good cooking appliance is a rice cooker!) or you can put the meatballs on rolls and top with cheese.

    Other one is pulled pork. Get some boneless pork (I use what is called pork loin-but you can use other pork as long as it is boneless. you can also make this with chicken), a can of cola and a bottle of your favorite or the cheapest barbeque sauce. Dump all in the crock pot and cook on low about 10-12 hours (if the pork is frozen, put it on the night before when you go to bed and cook overnight). About 30 minutes before you want to eat (or longer if you want) use 2 forks and pull the pork apart (it should pull apart easily. If it doesn’t you can turn on high for another 45 minutes and check again). Use the forks to pull the pork into small pieces and then stir and cook 20-30 minutes on high. This is really good on Potato rolls, over rice, or just by itself. Yummy!

    I have a whole excel file of recipes, some harder than others. I would be happy to share with you or anyone else.

  • 17. Jules  |  October 24, 2011 at 9:41 am

    Another amazing post LT, I agree I was never taught to drive, and most of my other skills like cooking aren’t great either. I am on my own and I do everything for myself. I have been living on my own since i was 15, now I’m in my twentys, It’s hard when you have no one to turn to. I wish every foster parent out there read this blog maybe some of them would get a clue. truth is most people foster kids to get the cheque that comes with them, they don’t actually care about the child. no offence to you good foster parents on here. I know there are not all like that. but yeah most are..

  • 18. michelle v  |  October 24, 2011 at 10:06 am

    super informational post, LT. as i raise my kids i’m trying to prepare them for adulthood in these ways. even more important for kids who are going to have to grow up quicker dealing with tougher stuff.

    ♥ michelle

  • 19. jen  |  October 24, 2011 at 10:14 am

    Thanks LT! I hope this type of post means you are feeling better about yourself. It’s this type of thing that is so valuable for your readers. Foster parents don’t always think about this stuff. We just found out that the 14 year old we are adopting doesn’t know what a pad (sanitary napkin) is. They put her on depo shots so she wouldn’t get a period because she has poor hygiene. Apparently they never talked to her about her body and what a period is and how to deal with it. I was so angry! What the hell did they expect her to do if she aged out and couldn’t afford the shots?!

    She had no idea how her body works or how to cook. Her current foster mom has been teaching her how to shop (very important skill) but she doesn’t have an allowance. Now we have some specific things we need to make sure she knows – so thank you!

    You are a great person for doing this and the world would be darker without you in it. I hope you can remember that and keep the great tips coming!

    Would you be willing to do a post about puberty and starting periods? I’m not really sure how to handle this situation with a girl that hasn’t grown up with that being a safe and normal topic.

  • 20. Amanda  |  October 24, 2011 at 10:23 am

    I grew up with both of my parents and they never taught me those thing either, I hear you!

    And I am currently at my work right now, wearing expensive black dress pants that I had to hem bc they were too long, excpet I dont know how to sew, so I quickly stappled them shorter this morning.

    Ive learned EVERYTHING the hard way…

  • 21. Lika  |  October 24, 2011 at 11:31 am

    LT, this post was brilliant. I too was one of those people whose parents never taught her to how to cook, sew, drive, change a tire, or do anything of the stuff you mentioned above, but the thing is, I had an opportunity to learn those things. For the most part, I chose not to because I didn’t need to know how at the time and quite frankly, I still don’t need to know how, but if I ever do, it doesn’t matter if I’m 40 or 50, I can still call someone to show me. Even if my family doesn’t know how to do these things, they can help me find ways around them, and often they know people who can help. I think a lot of people who grew up with families take it for the granted that it’s not family they have, it’s a whole support network of church, family friends, neighbours, etc.

    You’re right, 18 is far too young to kick someone out with no support. I’m almost 32 and I still fall back on support. I didn’t realize how much I did, until I read your blog, and it astounds me how little foster care prepares kids for the real world and then sends them out to the world with no support. That’s not cool at all. They really should have given you the skills at least to survive on your own, if they weren’t going to give a support group that you could turn to after you aged out.

    Thanks for this list. Those are things I and so many take for granted. I hope the foster parents take this list to heart. I certainly will if I ever get around to working with children. You’ve given me so many practical advice and inspiration for ways I could help kids. Thank-you so much. You’re amazing.

  • 22. Krista  |  October 24, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    If you haven’t already linked it, LT, this post deserves to be on your Tips for Foster Parents page!

    If you can find a crock-pot at a thrift store, buy it! Even a new crock-pot is only about $15, so they’re not terribly expensive even when new. Crock-pots are wonderful to cook with and super-easy to use. You can make all sorts of soups, stews, and roasts in the crock-pot and it’s just about impossible to screw up making them.

    I found some links to easy recipes for people who don’t cook much or are beginners: http://www.cheapcooking.com/easy-recipes.htm



    I am so proud of you for doing everything you can to change the foster care system — you’re a huge influence on the foster/adoptive parents on your Blog Crew, and they are spreading the word too…one day, foster classes all over the country will be teaching the stuff that you are recommending. You are an amazing young lady, dearest.

  • 23. Foster Mom in Training  |  October 24, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    Thank you for sharing, LT. These are all important fundamentals that children need to learn. Not growing up in foster care, it’s easy to forget what I happened to learn as I grew up. Thank you for pointing out that I need to focus on these ideas with my foster children.

    I am a science teacher. If you have any questions about your development then feel free to message me. You’re also correct about teaching about birth control in the schools. For kids to participate in any kind of sexual education, they have to have a permission slip from home. Some schools don’t even discuss anything more than abstinence. Someone has to educate the children out there. I could actually lose my teaching license and get fired if I spoke with a student about birth control. :/

  • 24. KP  |  October 24, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    LT, I know you don’t think of yourself as being smart, but you are, in fact, so, so intelligent. It sounds like you fell through the cracks of the public educational system, so you may feel like you haven’t learned a lot of what people are “supposed” to learn in school – but posts like these make it obvious that you have a gift for communicating. You are a good writer, you are able to understand how your painful experiences can benefit others, and you are using an online platform (this blog) to make other people’s lives better.

    I went to college with a lot of “smart” people who don’t write as well as you do, don’t understand as much about the world, and aren’t nearly as good at teaching others as you are. I know that words on a screen from a random stranger may not mean a whole lot much, but for what it’s worth, I can tell that you’re pretty damn smart. 🙂

  • 25. butterflysblog  |  October 24, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    Sweet LT – Yet another thing I hadn’t thought of. You are so right – these really are things that everyone should grow up knowing. I never had a home economics class either, and I always wished I had. Also, if my tire blew out, I would have no idea what to do either. This is probably the kind of stuff that functional families teach their kids, but probably this should be part of standard school curriculums!!! Thank you for broadening my horizons yet again. You are awesome.
    – Butterfly

  • 26. Becca  |  October 24, 2011 at 2:56 pm

    excellent advice LT. These are things every parent should teach every child. I hope you are feeling better this week. Are treatments over? Take care of yourself,


  • 27. Kari  |  October 24, 2011 at 5:32 pm

    Excellent advice. You are very smart about a lot of things that matter very, very much. Thank you for sharing your wisdom, LT. ♥

  • 28. Another Voice  |  October 24, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    Great post! My 6 yr old foster son and I cooked an entire meal together the other day. I don’t know who had more fun! It was a blast and was great for bonding.

  • 29. MamatoMany  |  October 24, 2011 at 10:10 pm

    Awesome post!!!! Thank you!

  • 30. JMR  |  October 25, 2011 at 12:03 am

    Here’s the short story on credit and interest: if you borrow from a bank (credit card,etc) without a asset, they can repossess, you pay more; if you borrow at over 10%APR you pay exponentially more (or unreasonably more) because it’s compounded every month. credit card often charge 15%,18%, 21%, or 24% interest. Banks are only paying ~1% interest on deposits and mortgages are at ~3.5%, the lowest since the mid 1960s, so you can see borrowing for consumer debt is bad but buying a house may be cheap. Inflation long term is about 3%. To figure out how long it will take to double your money divide 72 by the interest rate. The consumer price index doubles every 24 years on average (i.e. in 24 years everything will be twice the price).
    Now go apply this.

    • 31. ella  |  October 26, 2011 at 1:28 am

      I am confused.

  • 32. Cesarea  |  October 25, 2011 at 2:07 am

    Valuable advice!

  • 33. Ross  |  October 25, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    I am so glad you are back LT!!!! You are an amazing person!

  • 34. melissa  |  October 25, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    LT, I’m not sure if you’d want to talk with me, but I can help you with some of those things… you can have someone to call if you want. I am a licensed therapeutic foster parent and have a 19YO just move back in (she’s not in FC anymore, but needed a place to live)… there ARE people who can/will help if you want. please email me, ok??

    1. for sewing, you need to make sure you knot the thread at the beginning and the end. take one long piece of thread, wind it through the needle until both ends are touching. then make a knot at the end. see if that helps your button problem. 🙂

    Melissa – heatonm @gmail .com (take the spaces out)

  • 35. James  |  October 25, 2011 at 10:56 pm

    Another great post that I have bookmarked……..this one makes 24 now that I have filed away. Thanks again LT, you really are making a difference.


  • 36. RW  |  October 26, 2011 at 2:59 am

    LT, when I was taught to sew, I was taught never to start or end with a knot because sometimes the knot breaks off or slips through the fabric, or the knot makes an annoying bump. Instead I was taught to make a stitch and then go over it 3 or 4 times. I think it’s easier than tying a knot, anyway.

    Making sewing look neat is basically a matter of practice. But you have to know how you are supposed to do it, and what it’s supposed to look like when you do it well. I bet you could find some good lessons on YouTube.

    Do you know about iron-on patches? Some are decorative, and some are just for repairs. Well, there is iron-on tape you can buy to make your own patches or to fasten fabric together, like if you need to hem something. One brand is called “stitch witchery” I think. Anyway, if you can borrow an iron, like by going over to KC’s house, it is a lot faster than sewing, and the directions are on the package.

    You can find lots of recipes and cooking lesson videos and explanations of what different foods are online, but you can also find them at the library in cookbooks, and they may have cooking DVDs. I taught myself a lot of cooking from the Better Homes and Gardens “Step by Step” cookbook. It has really detailed instructions with photos showing what they are talking about.

    It is not hard to cook a whole chicken, if you have an oven and a roasting pan. You have to make sure you roast it for the right amount of time at the right heat, so check with a recipe. Also check inside the chicken, as sometimes there is a little plastic bag there with some of the chicken’s internal organs. Don’t roast the plastic bag!

    Or you could just cook it in a pot of water like you do with the breasts,and make a chicken soup or stew. Add whatever vegetables and seasonings you like. When the meat is cooked, you will be able to pull the bones out pretty easily.

    This looks like a good place to start learning about chicken:

  • 37. Auburngal  |  October 26, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    Hi LT!

    I was not in the foster care system, but I also never learned a thing about cooking growing up. I can *definitely* relate to the whole “trial and error”cooking thing you were talking about! 😉

    Earlier this year I printed a ton of recipes off the internet, and one was for cooking a whole chicken in a slow cooker or crockpot (they are the same thing, just different names.) (You can get a slow cooker at Wal-Mart for about $15.)

    It is Sooooo easy and virtually impossible to mess up/over-cook! And soooo good (this recipe for 4 or 5 stars from 596 people!) And the best part it you can take all the leftover chicken on the bird, tear it up into little shreds, add some barbeque sauce, and you have an awesome second dinner!

    Here’s the recipe (You can add all the spices, some if they’re too expensive, or change them up completely. There is no “right way”. Also, I never actually put in the fridge overnight. It tastes great just putting the herbs on and throwing it right in the slow cooker. ):

    Whole Chicken Crock Pot Recipe
    By *Kathy* on July 09, 2002
    * Prep Time: 15 hrs
    * Total Time: 23 hrs
    * Servings: 4

    o 4 teaspoons salt ( per recipe reviews, 2 tsp is better)
    o 2 teaspoons paprika
    o 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    o 1 teaspoon onion powder
    o 1 teaspoon thyme
    o 1 teaspoon white pepper
    o 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
    o 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
    o 1 large roasting chickens ( with pop-up timer if possible)
    o 1 cup chopped onions (optional)


    1. In a small bowl, combine the spices.
    2. Remove any giblets from chicken and clean chicken.
    3. Rub spice mixture onto the chicken.
    4. Place in resealable plastic bag and refrigerate overnight. (I usually skip this step because I’m always in a hurry).
    5. When ready to cook, put chopped onion in bottom of crock pot.
    6. Add chicken. No liquid is needed, the chicken will make it’s own juices.
    7. Cook on low 4-8 hours.
    8. Note: I highly recommend a pop-up timer in the chicken because some crock pots cook faster/slower than others (my crock pot cooks this recipe in 4-5 hours).

    Enjoy, LT (and Moonlight, too)!!!

  • 38. Auburngal  |  October 26, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    Oops! I case you want to see the recipe or the recipe website I used for yourself, here it the URL: http://www.food.com/recipe/whole-chicken-crock-pot-recipe-33671

  • 39. Maritza  |  December 11, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    Thank you for this post! I hope you don’t mind my “pinning” it on Pinterest for a non-profit that I work for. The “pin” links directly to this site so all credit will remain yours.

  • 40. Nicki  |  January 3, 2013 at 4:09 pm

    I just came across your blog and this is a great post filled with practical, helpful hints for foster parents on how to help foster children become self-sufficient. I would like to share your blog with The Teen Toolbox social media followers. I will link directly to your site if you agree.

  • 41. K D Blakley  |  October 5, 2013 at 6:39 pm

    Wow – this is a great post on an important topic in a rare blog. I had never considered the plight of foster kids before – the disjointed upbringing is so prone to hit and miss training. Thanks for opening my eyes a bit. I want to read more, but it seems your blog has moved? Where can I find it now?

  • 42. Teach them things | Fostering Our Future  |  October 16, 2013 at 3:45 pm

    […] You can check her blog out here. […]

  • 43. Jess  |  November 22, 2014 at 12:02 am

    I can’t believe I finally found something like this. Thank you.

  • 44. Brenda Ursel  |  February 2, 2017 at 8:29 pm

    May I share you blog with foster/adoptive families? I so appreciate your insight and think it will be very helpful!

  • 45. Margie Dillow  |  March 9, 2017 at 12:55 pm

    Hello, I am using some things I found on your blog in a training for Foster Parents. Letting you be aware. I recognized the original post was in 2011. I wondered if you had anything you would like to add to your post?

    Margie Dillow

  • 46. Bethany Muiller  |  April 2, 2017 at 9:07 pm

    I am speaking with some potential foster/adopt parents soon. I am printing out some of your posts under tips for foster parents to give them. I will also give them a link to your blog. Thank you for your writing.

  • 47. ArynChris  |  July 2, 2017 at 4:35 am

    Speaking as a 30-year-old with no exposure to CPS or the foster system (except that one memorable time a bitch called CPS on my sister and the irate social worker gave my niece a firm lecture about being old enough to cook her own food and help around the house more)… A lot of these things you talk about, I didn’t learn, either.

    I learned the EXTREMELY useful skill of reading and understanding legalese, the not-often-needed skills of how to eat with the right utensils when at a restaurant that gives you more than one fork, and the never-needed-ever skill of writing beautifully and legibly in cursive. All because my dad came from poverty, got extremely lucky with a scholarship, and wanted to make sure his kids didn’t struggle with those things the way he did. We also learned a lot about landscaping grass and gardens, because he loved that stuff and all our “allowance” money had to be earned by doing housecleaning or landscape work.

    I’m the middle child, but my older brother went to college, so I was the first kid to leave home and live on my own, at 18. I enlisted in the military. The military has some crash courses during boot camp, and some more crash courses in job training school, about how to make a budget and how to use a fire extinguisher, in the same breath as how to identify types of chemical weapons and how to first aid a sucking chest wound… but for the most part, I didn’t know what I was doing. My parents expected me to learn that in school, not at home. I ended up in such a shitty financial situation that when someone told me the only way out was to marry a guy (because the military gives you extra money if you have an extra mouth to feed), I did exactly that. And when the military eventually kicked me out for having too many medical problems– because I got injured and didn’t know how to fight for myself– that relationship turned abusive. I ended up homeless for about 5 years, and it only ended because I froze up in the middle of the sidewalk one evening and the police took me took me to NAMI headquarters. They connected me with local services.

    But I still don’t know how to cook, unless it’s cookies. Dad taught us how to make cookies. But neither Mom nor Dad taught me how to cook chicken (they taught my brothers after they found out I was starving), or how to change a tire (they taught my brothers), or change oil (they figured we would always go to a mechanic), or hotwire a car if we lost our keys (they taught my brothers ON MY CAR and then neglected to teach me the same, ironically), or how to sew buttons (I try…), or fuck all about birth control.

    I didn’t even know their stance on sex before marriage, because despite being officially Christian, we had never, ever discussed religion or politics or ANYTHING that would require them to express a strong opinion. When I was 20 and about to give away my virginity (you can laugh, I laugh at it myself– but all honesty, my mom was abused by a family member and passed her fears of sex on to me, and age 20 was when I figured it out), I suddenly realized that their opinion on it mattered to me. So I phoned and asked. Only then did someone mention birth control– my dad suggested it. I found out years later that Mom was furious that I wasn’t waiting til marriage, and even more furious at Dad for telling me how to be safer instead of telling me to not do it at all. (Dad had it right– I was going to have sex anyway, and birth control was a very good preventative measure. I was in no position to take care of a baby.)

    The first time I saw a condom was in a military lecture hall. They showed huge photos of what healthy penises do and don’t look like, and demonstrated how to properly put a condom on a penis– AND TAKE IT OFF– using a banana. From all the wide eyes in that room, I was not the only ignorant recruit. That lecture is also the first time I had ever been told that women have power in the bedroom. That if the guy doesn’t pull out a condom, even for a blowjob, you INSIST. You put it on him yourself. You make it happen, and carry them around in YOUR wallet if you’re planning to have a good time. Nobody ever told me that was anything but the man’s decision.

    My parents thought I would learn all that in school.

    Just because people don’t teach it to their biokids doesn’t mean it’s optional. ALL kids need to be taught this stuff. ALL kids.


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