Saturday, February 23, 2013


It is amazing the amount of pressure kids can be put under regarding their performance.  Take sports for example.  I have become quite alarmed at the sight of some parents who run up and down the sideline bellowing instructions to their kids and belittling them when they 'drop the ball'.  I am sitting there thinking, "Come on for goodness sake, it is only a game!"  You would think their lives depended on whether their kids were in the winning team or not. 

What are these parents thinking?  Are they afraid they will be shamed by their own kids for not being THE best?  Are they living their lives vicariously through their kids?  Perhaps they were not successful in that particular activity and are going to 'make darn sure' their child makes up for it.  Could it be that their own parents gave them a clear message that if you don't win you are a loser!  How sad is that?

Not every person in the race can be the winner.  Not every child in the class can get the top grade. I think everyone would agree that the best way to improve performance in our children is to encourage them to better their own perfomance rather than measure themselves against others.  You cannot control others' performances, but you can improve your own.  We must also be careful not to set the bar so high that a child can't possibly reach it, therefore feeling a constant failure.

Do kids always have to do their best?  No, I would say not.  There are some activities that should be just for fun.  We cannot be fabulous at everything.  We need our kids to enjoy life, not have to constantly be in competition with others or themselves.

Our actions are always a response to the values we hold.  It is when our kids demonstrate honesty, obedience, respect, forgiveness, loyalty, commitment, integrity and trustworthiness that the negative pressure towards their own performance lessens.  They begin to understand their strengths, talents and giftings.  They develop the mindset to decide what is important and what is not.  They will not be negatively affected by others' disappointment of them.  They know when doing their best is necessary and they know what to do to change results. 

Sure, it is gratifying to be 'THE' best, but with less pressure we can achieve even greater things than we ever thought possible.  Now that is really exciting!

Monday, February 18, 2013


      They say, 'It is better to give than receive', but when you are a kid that doesn't sound like much fun.  After all, what can be more exciting than receiving gifts for birthdays and Christmas?  It takes quite a big brain shift for kids to consider GIVING as fun.  It isn't their fault.  From the moment of their birth they are given things and as time goes by they get right into the expectancy of stuff continuing to flow their way.
       It wasn't until I had my own money, that I realized how much fun it was to give someone a surprise gift.  The process of picking just the right thing, wrapping it up and then watching the recipient's face when they opened it was a real thrill for me.  I got the bug and started cooking up surprises, treasure hunts etc just for the fun of it.  Sometimes when I am out shopping I see something and buy it just because I think a friend would like it.  Sometimes, I just take someone out to lunch or a coffee for an hour.
       As you are aware, we consider a successful family as one that is parent-directed, family-orientated and outwardly-focused. Sneaky acts of kindness come into the 'outwardly-focused' category. They don't have to involve money.  Our kids should be encouraged to do something thoughtful for someone else as part of their everyday lives. It has an enormous effect on the one who receives the kind gesture or gift.

Here is a suggestion:
Choose one day a month for each person in the family to perform an act of kindness towards someone in the family.  Sarah makes brother Jonnie's bed because he hasn't done it yet.  Travis sets the table for Sue because she is still doing her homework.  Cameron helps Mrs. Jones load her shopping into the car.  Dad mows the neighbor's yard while they are on vacation.  Jane uses her pocket money to give a needy child shoes.  Jason gives some of his toys to the local play center.

It is fun being sneaky when it comes to surprising someone by doing a good deed.  It gets our kids out of the 'gimme, gimme' mentality and into a selfless mode of being kind 'just because' and of proactive observance and response to people's needs.

Another suggestion:
Nominate regular times of family-wide acts of kindness.  During family meetings you can all decide on one organized family endeavor per month.  Make some cookies and take them to a sick neighbor.  Adopt a struggling family for Christmas.  Support a child through an organization such as Compassion International, volunteer on a local Habitat for Humanity project.  Offer to watch a friend's kids for the weekend so they can have a break.

Once your family has got into the happy habit of performing sneaky acts of kindness, it should become a self-regulated pattern of behavior.  It will become unnecessary to set days of the month to do these things.  You have instilled a great quality into your children and your family will stand out as a valuable model for others to follow.

By Sally Burgess


We are all afraid when it comes to any kind of emergency or catastrophe.  We sound scared.  We are scared and it takes us all of our energy to work through it.  Our children feel our fear and we often don't realize just how much they need assurance that they will be OK.  They look to us to be their protectors and heroes and don't know what to do when they see us upset or losing our usual cool demeanor.

I know it is very difficult when in the middle of some major crisis to be calm around your kids.  I have been there a number of times and I was so engrossed in the problem that I can't say I really shielded my kids from it. 

There are several important things to remember.  Take time to explain to your children a LITTLE of what is happening if it is appropriate, and assure them that you will all get through it.  It is vital that you shield them as far as possible from the stress you are feeling, and when there is good news, to make sure they know it.

By Sally Burgess

Friday, February 15, 2013


HELP! This parenting gig is tougher than I ever imagined it to be! It would really help if we got some instructions that came with the baby. After all, when we buy a product that requires some assembly they always send a set of instructions. When we want to get our driver's license we have to study a manual before taking the test. When we want to fix our car we look at the manual that came with it so we know what we're doing. Just last night I looked up how to change the in-cabin air filter on my car. When I took it in for its 30,000 mile check they found that a mouse had made its home in the filter and I need to check it again.

So many times I've heard parents say, "I wish our kids came with a manual!" I could have done with one in my earlier parenting days. I did find very useful information in books written by Dr. James Dobson, 'Dare to Discipline' and 'The Strong Willed Child'. However, I kept hearing, "If only they came with manuals!" So I decided one day, to write a book to share the expertise I had gained through study and working with troubled kids and their families most of my career. Guess what I called it. Yes, 'Kids Don't Come With Manuals'.

I was wary in writing it because Dr. Benjamin Spock had written what he deemed to be THE manual for raising kids back in the 1950s and he helped screw up a couple of generations of families with his super liberal message. It was all about having a child-centered family structure where basically the tail wagged the dog!

In my book I never set out to create a manual, but I do address many of the important issues facing parents today. I give parents information that will help them raise extraordinary kids. I address the subject of establishing a set of values that becomes the framework on which you build your family.

Chapters include:
  • You can raise extraordinary kids
  • Overcoming obstacles and dealing with failure
  • Giving and receiving love and affection
  • Who's raising our kids?
  • It's all about choices
  • The well-managed family
  • From selfishness to responsibility
  • Developing a good work ethic

I haven't given all the chapter headings here, but there is so much in it to help you create a very positive home environment where your kids love to be, where they see you as their hero and where they love to bring their friends. Who wouldn't want that?

'Kids Don't Come With Manuals' is down to earth, practical, not filled with 'gobbledegook' and has many pages of practical suggestions to help you be an even better parent. The book can be bought from this site and you will find it in our Product section. Get your copy today.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

RULES FOR LIFE - by Bill Gates

Bill Gates is obviously one the world's most successful individuals ever!  He is also very wise and created the following "Rules for Life" to cause young people to face the real world of work, life and responsibility.

RULE 1:  Life is not fair - get used to it.

RULE 2: The world won't care about your self esteem.  The world WILL expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.

RULE 3: You will NOT make $60,000 a year right out of high school.  You will NOT be vice-president with a car phone until you earn both.

RULE 4: If you think your teacher was tough, wait till you get a boss!

RULE 5: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity.  Your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping - They called it 'opportunity'.

RULE 6: If you mess up, it is NOT your parents' fault, so don't whine about your mistakes.  Learn from them.

RULE 7: Before you were born your parents weren't as boring as they are now.  They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you think you are.  So, before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parents' generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.

RULE 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life HAS NOT.  In some schools they have abolished failing grades and they will give you as MANY times as you want to get the right answer.  This does not bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.

RULE 9: Life is not divided into semesters.  You don't get summers off, and very few employers are interested in you FINDING YOURSELF.  Do that in your own time.

RULE 10: TV is not real life.  In real life people have to actually leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.

RULE 11: Be nice to nerds.  Chances are you will be working for one.

Thursday, February 7, 2013


On one of our trips home to New Zealand, we made a bee-line for the beach.  As we headed along the concrete walkway towards the water, we came across a toddler playing in a mud puddle.  I mean, she wasn't just gingerly playing around the edges.  She was loving it, standing there in her little pink top and pants in the middle of that puddle.  Her little curly head was down and her tail up as she squelched the mud through her fingers, totally oblivious to anything happening around her.

We couldn't help but stop, smile and ask her parents if we could take a picture.  What a great sight it was!  Her parents were sitting at a table nearby just watching her and laughing.  They didn't care that she was getting dirty.  They just let her go for it.

Wouldn't we have loved to have done that as kids?  Mud can wash away, but experiences stay in our minds forever.

Monday, February 4, 2013


 Seems like a simple question, but the answer can be complicated. We are all raised differently and experience varying levels of attention from our families. So let me lay it out this way:

All kids need the same amount of attention. All kids require a lot of attention. It just depends how much attention you have to give based on your priorities and/or responsibilities. I can already hear many of you saying, "Well, my kid has special needs and I have to tend to him all day long", or "My kid is a bit of a loner and doesn't really need that much attention from me."  Let me re-emphasize that ALL kids need the same amount of attention. 

Some kids get a disproportionate amount of attention and some kids don't get enough. Multiple child homes often give one kid more attention than another for various reasons, such as behavioral issues or medical needs. A middle child is often left out or looked over, sparking the term 'middle child syndrome'. Some even favor one child over another because they perform better and seem to show more passion and drive than the other. I am here to tell you that the amount of attention you pay your children, whether it is too much or not enough, directly affects their behavior. 

What if our kids are asking for more attention than we can give? We are working parents, sports enthusiasts, music lovers, hobbyists, PTA moms, taxi drivers to our kids events, careerists and are involved in many other activities. It's so hard to balance our own lives with being a parent and making sure the needs of our children are met. Guess what! Our children see our distractions and spend much of their time trying to get our attention. If they don't get it, they will do whatever it takes to make us take notice, even if it means doing something awful. 

So how much is enough attention? You'll know by the way your child behaves in general. If you have a child that throws tantrums, hits a sibling, destroys things, screams or yells, then they may not be getting enough. If they have an attitude, become quiet and withdrawn, act spoiled and demanding, or are narcissistic, they are likely getting too much attention. Here are some examples of parent types. Maybe you can relate to one or more of them:

The Unengaged Parent - this parent is usually busy with work, keeping things tidy, doing extracurricular activities, spending time on electronic devices (i.e. TV, phones, gaming systems) and don't have much eye contact or conversation with their kids during the day.

The Tiger Mom or Tiger Parents - there is a name for a mother (typically in the Asian community) that refers to a parent who is solely driven by success for their children. From a very young age the kids are put into music lessons, early education classes. They watch no  television, have no social activities and expectations are extremely high that the child becomes a success at school and in future business. There is a lot of discipline involved and the parents are overly involved in their child's life.

The Over-Compensating Parent - these parents are often victims of neglect or hardship and want better for their children than what they had. They are often spoiling their kids with lots of toys because they never had any. Or they don't discipline their kids at all because they themselves were abused. Because of this, the children are often victims of a different type of neglect. No structure or rules leave them trying to push boundaries as far as they will go until the law steps in.

These are just a few of the different styles of parenting out there. Maybe you relate to them or maybe you have a pretty level form of parenting with happy children. I suspect the latter may be less likely since you are reading this blog. But even if you do relate to the above examples, it's not too late to change it. Your kids will spend the rest of their lives trying to get attention from you and the people that are closest to them. Even if they don't respect you or have become estranged from you or seem like they don't care, they do everything they do to get praise from you. When your child comes home from school with a B instead of a C on their report card, don't lecture them on how they should have gotten an A (Tiger Moms), or glance up from your computer and say, "That's nice, Dear", and then go back to what you were doing (Unengaged Parent). Your child is so excited about their achievement and they just want to hear that you are proud of them and receive congratulations. When they see the attention they get from doing better, they will continue to strive even harder. No matter how simple the activity or issue is, laugh with your child, cry with your child, get excited with your child. That is how they learn confidence in you and in others. If you don't show them attention, they will look for it somewhere else. If you show too much negative attention, they will shy away from speaking to you at all for fear of disappointing you. If you keep giving them the things they want all the time instead of allowing them the privilege of earning it, they will take advantage of you and others. 

Fathers, show your daughters how a man should treat a woman so that they look for the right men later on in life. Be an example in how you treat your wife. Girls often marry men like their fathers.

Mothers, show your sons how to wash clothes, cook, clean and be a man of integrity. Your future daughter-in-law will thank you profusely!

Spend at least 15-30 minutes in the morning, and afternoon doing nothing but playing on the floor with your kids. Don't answer the phone or have the TV on or get distracted with household chores. Give them undivided attention and you will notice a dramatic difference in their behavior. If you're a mother of boys, don't be afraid to wrestle with them on the floor and make forts out of blankets and build tracks for their cars. And if you are a mother of girls, have a tea party with them, play barbies and do dress ups, and let them finger paint or cook with you. When we play with our kids they feel important to you and they feel loved and respected. They are less likely to demand constant attention all day long if they get a solid block of time with you. If, once that time is up, they demand more, then tell them that you will play with them once you have finished what you are working on. 

They also need to learn to respect your time, too. This also allows them to learn to play on their own. Maybe you could give them a challenge or a project to do. If they know you will be proud of their efforts, they will gladly do it. If you have multiple kids, allot times during the day to spend with each of them so that they get your sole attention and aren't sharing it with a sibling. Have one-on-one dates with your kids. These are priceless memories that your children will never forget. And don't forget to make time for your spouse. They are often neglected and need your attention, too. There are only so many hours in a day and so many days in a week. You can certainly find 30 minutes or an hour in your 24 hour day to spend with your kids, and you can find a couple of hours a week to spend with your spouse. 

You can do it! I believe in you! Try these things and let me know if you notice any changes in your kids. And please give feedback on this as everyone's experiences vary so drastically.

by Kristee Mays

Friday, February 1, 2013


If you are like me and had a bustling career, or a real passion for something, and spent years doing that only to have it all come to a screeching halt because of parenthood, don't be discouraged. It is only for a short time that you will feel this way. Children take an incredible amount of care in their first few years. And if you have multiple children, those years can stretch on.

So, are you destined to be a stay-at-home mom or a career woman forever? Well, possibly? It just depends what is important to you. Maybe you found freedom and relief in being a homemaker. Maybe you realized just how much you were meant to be a mother. Or, maybe you long for the days you got to do the things you are most passionate about. I will tell you this. Your child or children sense if you are happy and fulfilled or not. They can read it in your body language and in your attitude towards them. If momma's not happy, nobody's happy!!! If we revolve everything we do around our children (i.e. taking them to all their practices, school, doctors appointments, friends' houses, extracurricular activities), we are not allowing our kids to look up to us as gifted individuals who can inspire them.

I remember loving the fact that my parents had a band when I was a kid. Going to their band practices and concerts was a thrill. They were, and still are, so inspiring to me. I have learned so much about passion and determination from them. I wouldn't be the person I am
today without seeing that. I'm really glad they didn't revolve their lives around me. I am determined to be that kind of role model for my kids.

If we don't continue doing what we love, then our kids are only getting part of us as parents. They are getting the part that is tired and unfulfilled (assuming you are not fulfilled in being a homemaker, though many are). What they need is the part
that gets excited to get up everyday; that has drive and determination to achieve dreams. We don't do our kids any favors by sacrificing every single thing we love onto the parenting altar. Sure, you will have to make sacrifices to ensure that your kids have what they need. That includes not only shelter, clothing, food and security, but love, laughter, enthusiasm, passion, perseverance and the achievement of well earned goals.

Finding time for you as well as your children will mean working out a routine that you can all live with. Routines teach your kids how to plan to fit in things they love, just like you do. It's a lot easier to get excited about life when someone is leading the way. Let's show our kids that growing up is an exciting thing and that it gets harder, but also more fulfilling.

by Kristee Mays