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Chapter 1 – New House, New Rules – Kid Discussion

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“‘WHAT HAVE I TOLD YOU,’ thundered his uncle spraying spit over the table, ‘ABOUT SAYING THE ‘M’ WORD IN OUR HOUSE?'” – Chapter 1, Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets by J.K. Rowling.


 House Rules at the Dursleys

Harry Potter is back to his life at the Dursley’s home. We love celebrating birthdays at our family’s home. However, it seems in the Dursley home that if your last name is Potter, you might as well not have a birthday. Everyone was more interested in Uncle Vernon’s work meeting than in Harry’s birthday.

There was one moment when the family was sitting at the table eating that our family that was really funny. Can you guess which moment that was?

Harry asks Dudley to say the magic word before he passes Dudley the frying pan at the breakfast table. The Dursleys all freak out and Uncle Vernon violently reminds Harry that the word “magic,” is NOT to be used in their home. The whole time Harry was simply trying to get Dudley to say the word, “please.”

Comedy Leads to a Serious Conversation

This comical situation led to a conversation at our dinner table about the different rules that foster and adoptive kids have experienced from changing homes. I, Darren, grew up with my biological parents and we only moved one time during my childhood. In fact we only moved from one end of town to the other end. I have no idea what it is like to change homes constantly during childhood and with moving changing families and house rules.

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One of my sons immediately insisted, “There was nothing different (with house rules).”
I immediately questioned, “What about bedtimes and desserts at our house?
“Yeah. You guys (Margie and Darren) were more strict about our bedtimes than in other homes.” Another son piped in, “We also couldn’t eat as many desserts.”

One of our children refused to admit that our home was a different experience. However, our whole family would admit that this child had a difficult time at first in our home. In our home Margie and I have the rule that you eat what is put in front of you, and we always try new foods. Consequently, this means that we have various entrees for dinner as well as desserts. One of our sons loved ice cream and was upset when we changed his routine of receiving daily servings of ice cream.

While the other kids tried to come up with a situation or a rule that this child would admit bothered them, I thought of a situation that effected all the kids.

“What about sharing your toys?” I asked the crew, “You all seemed to have trouble with sharing toys in our house.”

Let me explain that in our home we told the kiddos as they moved into our home that there were a couple of things to know about unpacking their toys.

  1. Toys put away in common areas like the family room were available for everyone to play with.
  2. Toys and belongings put away in your own room are off limits to other people. It’s understood that those are objects that are special to you and items you don’t want damaged by someone else.

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It seems simple enough, right? It also keeps little kids away from your stuff.

My child initially placed all of their belongings in their room.  Not a problem, except that this child had more toys than room. However, the child managed to get all of the items put away in the bedroom in a relatively neat way. The next issue came though when this child began thinking that people were taking their toys and also believed that some of Margie and my toys were theirs. Suddenly, our household had a problem. My child would randomly take toys out of other kids’ hands and yell, “GIVE IT BACK. THAT’S MINE.” A crying child would then come to me and explain that the toy was in a common room. This child didn’t care and insisted the item was theirs and wanted things their way.

“Why was this rule such a big deal for you do you think?” I asked.

“Well, we weren’t used to sharing things with kids we didn’t know,” the child finally admitted, “I was used to having toys all in my room.”

“When you’re moving from house to house, it was hard because you didn’t know if your stuff would get lost or broken,” chimed another kid.

“When we move everything gets put in a trash bag – EVERYTHING,” exclaimed my child, “You think stuff got lost.”

I didn’t think about that fear. Again we had the rule so that people felt like their possessions were safe.

It’s Your Turn:

  1. Are you ever scared that people will forget your birthday?
  2. What is a rule you don’t like in your house?
  3. Why does your family have that rule?
  4. If you changed homes, what are some of the new rules?
  5. What were some of the rules at your previous home?
  6. What are rules you would like to change in your home? Why?

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Kids’ Discussions:

Ch. 01 | Ch. 02 | Ch. 03 | Ch. 04 | Ch. 05 | Ch. 06 | Ch. 07 | Ch. 08 | Ch. 09 | Ch. 10 | Ch. 11 | Ch. 12

Parent Discussions: 

Ch. 01 | Ch. 02 | Ch. 03 | Ch. 04

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Chapter 15 – Punishment Keeps Me Safe?! – Kids’ Discussion

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Have you ever been in so much trouble that it embarrassed you? Have ever been in so much that you just wanted to stay in your bedroom and you didn’t want to see anyone? Have you ever been in so much trouble that you didn’t want to see your friends because you knew they would laugh at you?

Harry and Hermione had that kind of shame in Chapter 15. They didn’t just have a few people that they disappointed, but they had almost the WHOLE school looking down on them. How do you think they felt? I bet they felt sick to their stomachs. My kids can relate to this level of trouble. It’s those times when you don’t think you’ll ever enjoy your most favorite thing again. Hermione didn’t want to show off her answers in class anymore and Harry wasn’t really having fun at Quidditch. I can tell when my kids are in this same place because they yell, “I’ll never… again.”

  • “I’ll never play the Wii again!”
  • “I’ll never play outside with my friends again!”
  • “I’ll never do crafts again!”

I really don’t like it when people feel this way. It makes me feel sad and depressed for them. However, all four of the Transfiguring Adoption kids pointed out that Harry and Hermione shouldn’t have been out of bed at night in the first place. They broke a rule. I mean they were trying to help Hagrid so that he wouldn’t get in trouble. My son quickly interjected that the kids could have gone to Dumbledore for help instead of breaking the rules. My son reckoned that Dumbledore would have worked something out so that Hagrid didn’t get in trouble too. After all, Dumbledore seems to be very good friends with Hagrid throughout the books.

There are reasons for the rules.

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Reasons the Fink kids came up for common rules:

  • Eating your dinner before you get dessert keeps you healthy and helps your body grow
  • Cleaning your room keeps bugs and dirt away; both could make you sick and not make for a comfortable place to live
  • Washing your hands after you use the toilet gets harmful germs off your body
  • Doing your homework helps you get smarter so that you can get a job that you are passionate about one day
  • Limiting electronics helps you to use your mind for other activities or forces you to do something active so that you get good exercise

Well, I wanted to know from my children how they thought sending the students into the Forbidden Forest at night was supposed to teach them not to wander the halls at night. My daughter informs me that the task is so scary that the kids will remember they shouldn’t wander the halls at night. Moreover my kids all tell me that the rule was in place for Harry’s own good. The halls weren’t safe at night, and the students needed to get sleep so they were ready for lessons in the morning.

I also suggested that Draco Malfoy might have had the right idea. He was trying to get out of the punishment. I mean who would have noticed if they didn’t go to meet Mr. Filch for their punishment task. One of our adopted kiddos stopped me quick from that thinking. They explained that Malfoy would have gotten expelled from school and that punishment is WAY worse. My child explained that they know that when they get in trouble they want to escape but they know that a person will get into worse trouble by trying to escape the consequence of their action.

Important Things I Heard:

  • There is always a REASON for a RULE
  • OBEYING a RULE almost always keeps us SAFE and HEALTHY
  • Adults punish you to HELP you LEARN to be a safe and healthy adult
  • ESCAPING the consequence of your action will make things WORSE

As a father, I want kids to know that we don’t look at punishment like Mr. Filch. I don’t get excited about getting to put someone in time-out or grounding someone. Like I said earlier, I actually get sad when I see one of my kids upset. However, as my kids pointed out to me, I want them to grow up to be the best adults they can be in life. I love them and want them to learn to do things that will make them the best. You know what’s funny? They want me to teach them also AND they know that I love them.

Now It’s Your Turn:

  1. Do you think Neville or Malfoy were more scared in the forest? Why?
  2. Would you be scared to meet a centaur?
  3. Are you embarrassed when you break a rule?
  4. Are you scared to get in trouble? Why?
  5. Why is lying about breaking the rule a bad idea?
  6. What happens after you finish your punishment?
  7. Students aren’t allowed in the Forbidden Forest. You see a badly hurt unicorn hobble from the school grounds into the forest. It will die if someone doesn’t help it. How do you save the unicorn?

Help Others:

Please take some time and tell us what your thoughts were about this chapter and discussion. The advice, questions and thoughts you have will help other kids and families.

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Kids’ Discussions:
Ch. 01
| Ch. 02Ch. 03 | Ch. 04 | Ch. 05 | Ch. 06 | Ch. 07 | Ch. 08 | Ch. 09 | Ch. 10 | Ch. 11 | Ch. 12 | Ch. 13 | Ch. 14 | Ch. 15 | Ch. 16 | Ch. 17

Parents’ Discussions:

Ch. 01 | Ch. 02 | Ch. 03 | Ch. 04 | Ch. 05 | Ch. 06 | Ch. 07 | Ch. 08 | Ch. 09 | Ch. 10 | Ch. 11 | Ch. 12 | Ch. 13 | Ch. 14 | Ch. 15 | Ch. 16 | Ch. 17