Monday, July 29, 2013


  • Not everyone is a born leader.  Some have a natural aptitude to lead, while others prefer to follow.
  • All kids can learn important leadership qualities even if they are not born leaders.
  • Children need to be protected from being easily led down a negative path.
  • Strong-willed children can become great leaders when their will is trained in a positive direction.

1.  Leaders know what they want.
2.  Leaders are tenacious in their efforts to succeed.
3.  Leaders often see the bigger picture rather than worry about the nuts and bolts to fulfill the overall
4.  Leaders become competent in what interests them most.
5.  Leaders are great communicators - they need to be able to give clear instructions for others
     to follow.
6.  Leaders are not always sensitive to the emotional needs of others.  Their mission often comes first.


Parents and caregivers:
  • Observe and identify their children's personalities.
  • Encourage competency in skills that are becoming evident, allowing practice to get it right.
  • Provide consistent positive role modeling.
  • Teach kids right from wrong from their earliest years.  
  • Train children in strong family values, including discussing why and how they affect our decisions.
  • Give kids responsibility so they learn not only skills, but accountability.
  • Explain consequences for potential decisions and work through mistakes for better outcomes.

 Written by Sally Burgess

Friday, July 26, 2013


 I'm going to be bold enough to say that children, especially boys, need fathers. I believe that this was how families were designed. Now I might have a ton of bricks dropped on my head by people who believe that a family can be any shape or form it wants to take, especially in the 20th century! That's the way it is now in our western societies. Just because it is happening doesn't say it is right or ideal.

Mothers are nurturers by nature and children know that. It is mothers who usually stay with their children throughout their lives through thick and thin and the reason the justice system has traditionally awarded them custody in divorce situations. My observation from working with families for nearly 50 years is that we are heading in the wrong direction. In many of our families a boy may get to high school before he ever has a male teacher. If there is no significant male at home to model on it can affect his development.

Mothers generally do an amazing job of raising their children, so often on their own. I never saw a fight start at school because someone said, "Your Daddy...!"But I intervened in dozens of fights where someone said, "Your Mama...! Why is this? Mamas are precious to their children because they were always there for them.

Where were the Dads? Not just Dads, but Dads active in their children's lives. Some statistics show that over half the families in the USA are single parent ones...usually with a mother leading.

Ideally, what should a father provide?
  • A positive leadership model.
  • Love and support for his wife.
  • Great modeling for their relationship with a woman.
  • Affirmation. A major role a Dad plays is to regularly say, "Well done son/girl. I'm proud of you."
  • Setting boundaries and consequences.
  • Reinforcing discipline.
Come on Dads. Let's step it up and fulfill our role and duties! We don't need 'deadbeat dad' attached to
our name!

Written by Brian Burgess

Monday, July 22, 2013


I was always excited to get back to school after vacation. I missed my friends and couldn’t wait to hear and share all the things that happened since we last saw each other.

For many children going to school can be scary. It may be:
  • Fear of starting school - separation from parents or caregivers.
  • Fear of a new school - not knowing anyone.
  • Fear of the new teacher  - unknown expectations, routines or failure.
  • Fear of meeting their parents expectations.
  • Fear of previous experiences - such as bullies.
  • Fear of crowds.
  • Fear of not being popular - being called a geek or a nerd.
  • Fear of being ostracized - being in some way different from the other kids.
  • Fear of peer pressure.
  • Fear for general safety - considering recent tragedies.

Before they start school:
a) At least a week before school starts, make sure they have all their stationery, school clothing and a
     weekly home routine worked out.
b) Discuss your expectations of them. Don’t just expect them to follow a new home schedule. When
     they know why they need to keep to a routine they are more likely to comply. The timetable should
     include their time to get up, times for meals, time for homework, time for play, time for chores and
     time for bed. There should be a time set for relaxation when they first get home from school, but no
     TV as this tends to suck them into a program they won’t want to stop watching.
c) A week before school starts ensure they start going to bed early and wake up earlier to get them
     used to ‘the reality of a school year’.
d) It is a good idea to talk about what they might expect when they get to school. 

Once at school:
a) If it is a new school and a young child it would be very wise for you, as parent, to take your child
     to the classroom.
b) Once your child has started school, watch carefully to make sure they are settled and happy. They
     have much to contend with in those first few weeks. They are finding their place in the class,
     learning new material, getting used to a new teacher and new friends.
c) Your liaison with the school is very important. Ensure you attend all parent teacher appointments.
     It is disappointing to see how quickly parent attendance at school functions diminishes through the
     grades. For the sake of your child:
  • Maintain a close relationship with the school right through their educational development. Email their teacher regularly regarding your child’s academic progress and behavior. 
  • Take a keen interest in what your child is learning. 
  • Plan to volunteer in the classroom one day per semester. 
  • Help your child research their subjects and ensure they finish their homework. Don’t do it for them!  
  • Ensure they don’t procrastinate on starting assignments and ensure they finish vacation projects.
Encourage your kids always:
The most important thing of all is to encourage your children with their efforts at school. There is only
one person who can be ‘top of the class’. Their best effort is the most you can expect. Celebrate their
achievements whatever they are. And support them through their disappointments.

Success at school will set your child up for the rest of his/her life. Take it seriously.

Written by Sally Burgess

Friday, July 19, 2013



Recognize the value of their hands
Our hands are one of the most significant parts of our body. Imagine how you would survive if you suddenly had no hands. You couldn’t dress, eat or clean your own teeth unless someone helped you. In every aspect of our daily lives we seem to be using our hands to touch, grasp, push, pull or steady something. We use our hands to create, to give comfort and to protect. Our hands help us to express ourselves. My husband couldn’t talk if he had to sit on his hands!

Bless their hands
When my children were very small, I used to hold their little hands in mine and then I would speak to them - I mean actually speak to their hands. I would say, “What beautiful, beautiful hands these are. I wonder what these hands are going to achieve for you and for God in your lifetime?” Then I would scrunch their hands up into a little ball within my hands and kiss each one. Even as they got older, I would gather their hands into mine and talk to their hands. It would always be the same question, “What great things these hands can achieve. What will it be?”

Train their hands
We need to train our children to use their hands in a positive way – all the time. Our actions will always speak louder than words, and sometimes a gentle touch or hug means more than anything else. When we hold and caress our children, they learn what being comforted feels like and will usually want to do the same to others as they grow up. We can teach our kids how to put their hands to creative use by being creative ourselves.

Guide their hands towards kindness
Hands are not just appendages that work without thought to hold things. They are the instruments of care, love, giving and protection. We need to guard our children against using their hands to hurt, take or destroy. We have all heard the saying, 'Idle hands are the devil’s tools.' Honestly, I think that if we really understood that our minds, mouths, hands and feet are the proactive force that influences our choices, we would feel we had more control on the outcomes of our lives.

Monday, July 15, 2013


As we grow older it seems that there is less and less respect in the world.  Along with lack of respect there seems to be a general lack of healthy fear.  I do not think we should be frightened of our parents or of those in authority, but respect for others and the understanding of consequences should stop and make us think about our responses.

What does respect mean?
  • To give high admiration or esteem to someone. 
  • To hold high regard for authority, position, possessions and living things. 
  • To show courteousness. 
How do we instill respect in our kids?
  • Demonstrate respect for one another as parents - as per the points above.
  • Show respect for our children -  by listening to them, training them and demonstrating love without indulgence.
  • Teaching our children how to respect themselves, their family, their friends and those in authority.    
       A very useful suggestion would be to describe what respect will look like in your home e.g.
          a) We speak kindly to one another at all times.  We do not shout our fight.  We listen and do not
               interrupt while others are talking.
          b) We do as our parents and those in authority tell us quickly and without complaining.
          c) We take good care of our own property and stuff we borrow from others.
          d) We are kind to animals.

When do we start training our kids about respect?

We can start from the time they are toddlers and we need to continue our training right up till the time
they leave home.  It is an ongoing process.

Parental respect is lost when we disappoint our kids by being poor examples.  If we shout at one
another, speak disparaging words to them, break our promises or ignore them, they have little to
respect in us.

How do we regain our kids' respect?

We need to recognize and admit when we make mistakes.  We have to learn to say we are sorry
for critical words spoken in haste, or if we have administered inappropriate or inconsistent
disciplinary measures. 

If we can identify what being respected feels like to us, then we will know what our kids need.  If
they respect us, we can be fairly confident that they will also respect others in our absence.

Written by Sally Burgess

Thursday, July 11, 2013


While most of us feel we have done a pretty darn good job of managing our kids, considering all the variables, I think we would all agree that SOMETIMES we mess up!  We know we are not always fair, not always consistent, and certainly not always rational.  Sometimes we do not make the right decisions and are just plain wrong in responses we make to our kids.

In what situations do we make mistakes?
1. We make assumptions about a behavioral situation without seeking the facts.
2. We issue a punishment on the fly and our response depends on our level of frustration at the time.
3. We expect our kids to read our minds when we haven't made our expectations clear.
4. We try to live out our unfulfilled dreams through our kids.
5. We do not listen to our children.

So, how can we right our wrongs?
1. With behavioral issues, we need to watch for the signs so we have control over potential situations
    before 'blowing our stack' and regretting our actions.
2. We need to talk to our kids about our expectations and provide a safe place to practice or make
3. We need to talk together as parents about what our responses will be in given situations - and stand
    by one another.  This requires consistency.
4. When our responses have been inappropriate we need to apologize to our children and reiterate our
     expectations.  The next step is to tell them clearly how we will respond to negative behaviors
     from then on.
5. Our kids always respond to praise and encouragement rather than constantly being barraged with
6. We need to let our kids follow their own dreams and encourage them to reach their potential, not

Written by:
Sally Burgess,  Forefront Families LLC

Sunday, July 7, 2013


One night I was watching the TV sitcom ‘Frasier’. Every now and again his teen-age son (who lived with Frasier’s divorced wife in another State) would appear in an episode. In this particular story, Frasier was looking forward to a great week with his son and had planned all sorts of ‘exciting’ activities they could do together, such as museum tours. However, when he opened the front door he got the shock of his life. There stood a totally unrecognizable person dressed in Gothic attire, complete with black spiky hair and ring in his nose!

What would you do in that situation? What would any self-respecting parent do? What did Frasier do? Freak out, of course! To give Frasier his due, he hardly ever saw his son so, in his mind, Hugo was still that little innocent cherub-faced boy of old. Most of us do get warning signs and we should therefore be prepared.

Here is how to get a clue:

*  What were you like as a teen? Wind you head back to your teen years. What were you
    doing? As you look at old photos you will probably laugh at the ‘silly’ fashions of the day
    and wonder what on earth you were thinking! What were your parents’ responses to your
*  Check out the trends. You see the teen fashions every day on the street, in magazines
    and on TV. You shake your head in amazement at what could possibly be cool about
    showing your underpants and holding your sagging pants up at the crotch. Now you know
    the possibilities.
*  Check out their friends. If you see your kids’ friends are doing some shock-able stuff, then
    talk to your kids about it. Tell them what your expectations are regarding acceptable
    behavior or clothing - and why!

*  Prepare yourselves. Talk over the ‘what ifs’ with your spouse or a trusted friend. What will
    your response be to given scenarios?
*  Decide what really matters and what doesn’t. Make up some guidelines and make sure
    you start talking to your kids about them when kids are 8 or 9 years old. Does this trend
    violate your family values – e.g. Create unsafe situations by showing off too much body?
    Is this action disrespectful?
*  Talk to your kids early about peer pressure and fashion trends. Tell them about why you
    have rules about some teen activities and the danger involved in each e.g. drinking and
    driving, sexual promiscuity, smoking, inappropriate dress, going out at night alone and
    mixing with kids who get into trouble.
*  Praise the good and set consequences for the unacceptable.

Kids usually do bizarre or ‘out of character' things to get a reaction. Don’t give them one. DON’T REACT. Practice your poker face. Keep your voice low and controlled.

Tell your child for example:
a) Your top is too revealing and you know that boys could think you are enticing them on purpose. 

     Go and change.
b) The origin of sagging pants is .... Are you wanting to give that message? Go and put a belt on and 

     pull your pants up. You will not be able to go out until you do.
c) John, why is a policeman bringing you home at 11 p.m? You said you were at a supervised party 

    with Billy. You smell as if you have been drinking. You know our rules about underage drinking 
    and you also know our expectations about being truthful. Tomorrow we will discuss the consequences
    for your irresponsibility.

Written by Sally Burgess

Friday, July 5, 2013


When you think back on your childhood vacations what comes most quickly to mind?

Personally, I recall the times my friend Margaret and her family would allow me to go with them to their rented beach house in Northland, New Zealand.  I only ever remember the sun shining brightly and the escapades we got up to together.  Over 50 years later, I still look back on those times and long for the carefree days we experienced.

My kids remember the amazing beach vacations we had as well, those times when we took a tent or pop-up camper and just 'roughed it'. 

There is one great thing about vacations.  The best memories often come from those that didn't actually cost anything - or at least, very little.  Why are they so successful?
  • You don't have the stress of the cost that is often involved - e.g. going to Disneyland.
  • You don't have to plan your vacation to death - e.g. every moment away doesn't HAVE to count.
  • You get to spend quality time with each of your children.
  • You get to be a kid again yourself and that is a real tonic to both you and your kids.
  • You learn to be inventive in your activities...without all the mod cons that tend to spoil initiative.  You could make a cart, make your own fishing pole, cook potatoes in their skins over an open fire, make s'mores, make your own rope swing, go rock-hopping, or build a hut out of whatever you can find.
  • You meet a whole new group of friends.  Sometimes you can meet up with those same people every year whether you go back to the same place or you meet up in different places together.
  • You have the time to do absolutely NOTHING.  You might take a stack of books to read, games to play, puzzles to figure out etc...all those things you never allow yourself time to do at home.
  • Everyone has a holiday so you can later come home and relax before the pressures of life come on you again.
Vacations shouldn't have to make you poor, or wear you out.  Keep it simple, folks, and use the time to bond and create positive family memories.  They last a life-time!

Sally and Brian Burgess