What is a House Parent? by Jay Rau

Jay Rau is known to be very dedicated and caring in helping the men and women who are in recovery at Sober Living by the Sea. In this blog entry, Jay discusses the purpose of a House Parent at our recovery residences and shares some of his experience.

What is a House Parent at Sober Living by the Sea?

A house parent at Sober Living by the Sea is basically the manager of the house where our clients live. We have male staff overseeing males and female staff overseeing females for obvious reasons. But I believe there is much more to it than simply managing or overseeing the clients in our houses.

To define “House Parent,” let’s start with the first word: house.

A house is a dwelling or structure where families live. We have up to six clients in a house and it is much like a family. The group of addicts and alcoholics who look out for and help each other out become like family to one another. Often, clients will develop a bond and become friends for life. This family needs a head of the household or parent.

We can define parent in many ways, but the best would probably be teacher. In addition to teacher you could probably add spiritual advisor, counselor, coach and even a friend. Our house parents at Sober Living by the Sea should fall under all of the above categories.

My Experience as a Sober Living House Parent

When I was a house parent I did a lot of teaching. Many of the young clients had never had to make their bed, clean up after themselves, or turn on a dishwasher.   I have taught all of the above and much more. I’ve also spent many hours talking about spirituality and what keeps me sober. The most important thing that I have ever done was simply listen to them. When clients are having a bad day or are lonely from being away from home the best thing we can do for them is simply listen and validate their feelings. I would do what ever I could to make them feel comfortable, safe and in good company. Isn’t that what a parent does?

 The most important thing that I have ever done was simply listen to them.

We do have to drug test the clients to make sure that they are not under the influence of drugs or alcohol. But we should always do it with dignity and respect. We also have to be an authority figure and even say the word “no” sometimes. The word “no” is not so bad if said properly. I always explain the reason why I’m saying no and explain the rule and why the rule is in place. Things go so much smoother this way.

Of course in all of life’s situations the Golden Rule is always good to live by. The house parent is no different and should live by this rule as well. A parent no matter what always loves those they are looking after. So a house parent too should center themselves and focus on their heart and make sure that is where they are coming from and not the ego. We can’t go wrong coming from our God space.

– Jay Rau

Jay Rau is a Certified Addictions Specialist (CAS) who loves working with the clients at our treatment facility in Newport Beach. Jay facilitates lectures and specialize in criminal thinking errors and positive thinking techniques.