Monday, December 30, 2013



Boys don't cry.  Man up!  Stop being a baby!  You're acting like a girl!  Stop being a sissy!  Boys are tough, but girls are cry babies.  Stop being a girl's blouse!

I wonder where all these emotive sayings came from?  Are boys not allowed to show their tender emotions?  In fact, are they allowed to HAVE tender emotions?

Looking back over the centuries, I think our expectations of the roles of male and female have changed for the better.  We have gone from the caveman with a club over his shoulder going out to kill to feed the family, to father going out to work all day while the 'little woman' stayed home.  She did all the housework, caring for her children and waiting on her husband when he came home from a hard day in the mines or at the office.  Then came the 2nd World War when many women had to go to work to support the war effort.  After that came more a mixing of gender roles.  Along came Barbie and Ken and later action figures for boys.  That took a bit of getting used to!  How many fathers can you remember saying, "My boy is not playing with dolls!!!"

As time has gone by the roles of men have definitely morphed.  These days we have a number of stay at home fathers.  It may be that Mom can earn more money than Dad so he opts to stay home with the kids.  It may be that he has lost his job, so acts as caregiver or even home-schools his kids.  Wow!  That is indeed a change in gender role, and many mothers are happy about it.

So, does the cultural merging of gender roles allow men to show their feelings?  I think there has been a slackening off of the macho, tough exterior we expect of men.

However, I cannot say the same for young boys growing up.  Why do men discourage their boys from showing a soft side?  Possibly it is because they are preparing their sons to have to take that same age-old responsibility and be the protector, the solid, unshakable rock and leader in their families.  Fathers appear to be proud of their sons when they play hard-out sports like football and wrestling, but what is their reaction when their son wants to be a dancer?  Remember the movie 'Billy Elliott'? 

If we don't acknowledge that our boys have a tender side, and say the injurious statements to them like, "Stop being such a baby!"  Their only recourse then is to stuff their feelings down inside to smolder.  They are likely then to continue the same pattern with their own sons, often finding it difficult to show tenderness to their wives.

Listen up!  We all have feelings.  God made us that way on purpose.  Girls have had the opportunity to wear their hearts on their sleeves over the centuries.  Because of it men have labeled women as being 'emotional' suggesting a trait of weakness.  Men have stuffed their feelings down in an attempt to show they are tough and can handle any mountain that comes their way.  The British call it being stoic or having the 'stiff upper lip'.

It is not a sign of weakness to admit we don't know what to do and to ask for help.  It is not a sign of weakness to show our emotions.  Boys and men should cry, should hug one another, should discuss how they feel and bring out their issues with guy friends.  Girls and women have being doing it since time began and they seem to be wired to do so.  Over a cup of tea or coffee and over the social networks women and girls bare their souls to one another, comfort each other, laugh and cry together - and go on.  Men tend to 'suck it all up', internalize it, stew on it and rarely deal with it.  Mix that with a hefty dose of testosterone and loneliness and it may come out as violence to self or others.  Societies where males are encouraged to show tender emotions men seem to be better adjusted and suffer less emotional disorders.  I'm so glad to see changes in the way men are expressing their emotions, even on the football field!

Please encourage our boys and men to do the same.

Written by Sally Burgess

Saturday, December 28, 2013


We had a question from a young mother recently. She was concerned that her 5 year old son had broken a friend's toy:

"Yesterday, James was playing at our neighbor's house before Christmas dinner and broke his toy gun by mistake... just not thinking his actions through, no bad intentions. When I heard about it I immediately texted the mom and offered to replace the toy gun, to which she replied, "Don't worry about it, it was just a cheap toy."

 If one of James' friends broke one of his toys, I wouldn't expect that child to replace it. I would tell James that it was his responsibility, that he made the decision to let the other kid play with his toy and that accidents happen. On the other hand, if I loaned something of mine to another adult and they broke it, there are some things I would tell them to not worry about, but there are some things I would expect them to replace or at least pay for.

I feel like I want James to use his money to replace the gun. He currently has enough, but he's been saving up for a specific toy. Should I listen to the mom and not worry about replacing it, or should I make James replace the toy? One option I thought of was I would pay for half of the toy gun, so it wouldn't take as much of James' saved money. We could also help him do lots of extra chores during Christmas break to quickly make more money, and hopefully buy the toy he has been saving up for. 

I keep going back and forth and could use some guidance."

Thanks very much, Jennifer
This is our response to such a scenario:

Talk the situation through with with your child.     

a) If he seems remorseful and didn't break the gun in anger, out of spite or through 
    sheer recklessness, then it was an accident and explain that accidents do happen. 
    He does need to say he is very sorry that it happened. In this case his savings should 
    stay intact. He could possibly offer his friend one of his toys or do a chore for the 
    neighbor if you felt it was appropriate, but if it was an accident, such an action is 
    up to you.  

b) If he did not tell anyone about breaking his friend's toy gun and someone had to get 
    him to admit he did it, then that is a different story. He needs to know it is better to 
    be honest and say exactly what happened, apologize and also make amends. Explain 
    that if he tries to hide doing wrong he will lose friends. To made amends, he needs to 
    use his own money to replace the gun, or do some chores for you so he earns the 
    money to replace the broken toy. 

c) Talk to him in general about being careful with toys or personal possessions 
    belonging to someone else. 

 If a child within a family breaks a sibling's toy, similar advice is advised. It is also a good
 idea to try and identify the cause e.g. 
1) Is the child jealous of the toys another child is getting?
2) Is this child becoming angry because he/she feels they are not getting enough 
3) Are the children spoiled with too many toys and are not respectful of them?  
4) Was it an accident? 

Deal with the root cause as soon as possible to restore harmony in the home.

By talking these situations through, it teaches your kids the right response when accidents happen. This should also teach him how to react in a forthcoming incident if a friend comes to your place and accidentally breaks something of his.

Written by Brian and Sally Burgess

Monday, December 23, 2013


We went to the home of some friends who were grandparents some years ago and it was just a few days before Christmas.  When we walked into the living room, there stood a huge and beautifully decorated tree.  Under the tree and literally covering about 4ft in circumference on the floor, were piles upon piles of gifts.  We couldn't believe it.  We were totally speechless.  We wondered what kids could do with just so much stuff in 3 months let alone one magical day.

OK, so we can't stop grandparents and significant others' compulsive urge to go crazy with gift-giving at Christmas time, but how can we cope and manage the huge influx of toys? 

Here are some suggestions:

Before Christmas
Sit down with your kids and decide which of their old toys they are willing to give away and which they wish to keep.  Have your children go with you to give their old toys to some organization or to give to some play group as their act of giving.  This will help them understand and enjoy the gift of giving.

Put old toys the kids want to keep into a 'time capsule' where, every three months, they can swap them out.  Decide on and keep to x number of toys out at a time.

On Christmas Day
Put some gifts in their bedrooms to open for when they first wake up.  (When they finally get to sleep after the anticipation of Santa coming, they always program their internal clocks to awake at some ungodly hour.  We all did it).  Just make sure the gifts you leave in their room are noiseless and do not need your instructions to get them going!

If you have numerous gifts from different sources, instead of giving all the presents out at once, how about letting your kids open some in the morning, some after lunch time and the remainder in the early evening.  This way they will get to enjoy each gift more than just tearing the paper, taking one glance at them and then reaching for another. 

Teach your kids to read any accompanying cards or tags that are on the gifts before opening the presents.  If they are too young to read you could do this until they are able to do it for themselves, thus establishing a tradition of respect and gratitude.

General toy management suggestions:
Only make available a certain number of toys at any given time so you don't lose sight of the beds in your children's rooms. 

Show your kids how to look after their toys.  They need to know how to care for fragile toys and how to maintain mechanical or technological toys.

If you see your child mistreating a gift, put it away for some time and only reintroduce it when the child agrees to care for it appropriately.  For example, if they leave a bicycle out in the front yard where it could be stolen or they leave a skateboard in a place where someone could trip over it and injure themselves, remove it and tell your child why they must show more care and consideration.  This will teach them to be responsible for their possessions.

Provide storage space or bins where all of their current toys can be kept in an orderly fashion and teach your kids from a very early age how to pick up and store them.  Once you have order established it needs to be your kids' role, not yours, to keep their rooms and play areas tidy and to put all their toys away.

Written by Sally and Brian Burgess

Thursday, December 19, 2013



I never had an imaginary friend myself, but my cousin Lizzie did.  In fact, she had two; ‘Little Bill’ and ‘Jail’. Lizzie was an only child with older parents and I suspect that 'Little Bill' and 'Jail' kept her company by taking the place of siblings she never had.

Imaginary friends come in all sizes and can be casual visitors, constant companions, human or otherwise.  Perhaps 'Thumberlina' or the seven dwarfs started off as imaginary friends and became children’s stories?

Invisible friends can be good company for preschoolers in particular, and once they develop a wider social network than home, their 'friend' may quite naturally disappear.

Imaginary friends become useful indicators to parents on what their kids are thinking and feeling and may well be worth looking into.

Your child may tell you that his friend is:
  • Frightened of the dark.
  • Feels lonely or sad.
  • Feels guilty for telling lies.
  • Has been hiding things or sneaking food out of the fridge.
  • Doesn’t want to go to summer camp.
  • Hates carrots.
  • Wet your child's bed.
  • Hit someone at school. 
If the child starts acting in a perturbed manner, then it is certainly worth looking into.  Alex, my niece’s 4 year-old, has an imaginary friend named ‘Sydney’.  As Alex is the 5th of 7 children he certainly isn’t short on playmates. However, 'Sydney’ appears to be a dark friend who tells Alex to do naughty things all the time.  Maybe Alex feels as though he is not getting enough personal attention.
Parenting expert Amin Brott sets out the following rules for imaginary friends.  I have added some examples.
  • Don’t let the imaginary friend be your child’s only companion. 
  • Don’t let your child use their 'friend' as a crutch to blame for wrongdoing. 
  • Treat your child’s imaginary friend with respect.  Don’t dismiss the friend as a
  • Don't tell your child that 'Brewster' just left for China and isn’t coming back.
  • Don’t use their 'friend' to manipulate your child e.g. “Brewster isn’t scared
     of having a shot so you shouldn’t be either.”
Imaginary friends are a fun and healthy way for small children to extend their imagination.  In almost all instances these 'friends' become fond childhood memories once children expand their friendships and develop busy lives.  It is not healthy to continue to avoid the reality of life – to live in fantasy.  If you think your child may be in this category, then get expert help.  Otherwise, just go with the flow and enjoy your children and their imaginary friends.

Written by Sally Burgess

Monday, December 16, 2013


I have just seen a very interesting talk about the way advertizing is, and has for years been, creating a very skinny 'norm' in women.  Remember 'Twiggy'?  She was a painfully thin English model.  I am also concerned that tween and teenage girls are also being so subtly dictated to by similar advertizing.

Nashille playwrite Scott Crain made the following comment this comment on Face Book:

"Ads sell more than products...they sell concepts of normalcy."

While my heart breaks for this topic in regards to ladies, there are greater implications here that are no less troubling.  It's more than just the dehumanization of women.  It's the dehumanization of humans.

It's one thing to covet a world that someone else lives in; and yes, terrible things are stored up for those who refuse to be happy.  But we're beginning to covet a world that NO ONE lives in, and that's much scarier.  It's consciously deciding to live for a while in unreality, and the human mind isn't built to sustain that.  It leads to obsessiveness.  To mania.  To dark green ugly diseases.  We're doing it with our song lyrics.  With our Face Book posts.  With our Christian films.  We're throwing an Instagram blemish-smoothing filter on the world, which is effective in "fixing" a flawed photograph.

But what are we going to do about mirrors?"

The mirror does say it all, but why shouldn't we be satisfied with what it portrays?  When it comes to my health, I say 'yes' to making necessary changes I see in my mirror.  However, I think that parents need to have a long and hard look at their kids' attitudes towards image, for image sake.

Written by Sally Burgess


As I look at Christmas gift ideas being advertized this year I cannot help but become increasingly concerned.  There are so many different kinds of technological 'toys' being offered that I fear kids are becoming even less likely to participate in physical play than ever before.

How can we get our kids up and outdoors, enjoying both physical activity and face-to-face communication with others?  How can we create a balance between sedentary or restful play and hard-out exercise like running, riding, climbing and hiking?

Evaluate -
1.  Observe your children's activities in general.  How much time do they spend:
     a) Sitting watching TV or movies?
     b) Playing games on the Internet or Ipad?
     c) Talking on the phone to friends?
     d) Reading books or researching information on the Internet?
     e) Doing physical exercise - e.g playing outdoor sports?
     f) Spending time outside in imaginative play, alone or with friends?
     g) Talking face-to-face with friends and family?

2.  Take a good look at what your kids are asking for, for Christmas.  Is there a natural
     balance between tech and physical games or toys?

Action -
1.  Work out a weekly program that is divided into sedentary as well as active play.
     e.g. Create time for family games and energetic outdoor activities.  Nominate time
     for quiet play or reading.
2.  Spend time finding out what your kids' interests really are and how you can help
     make their dreams come true.
3.  Encourage healthy friendships where kids benefit from each others' interaction and
     not be negatively influenced.
4.  Allow xxxx time for passive TV/Movie watching and technological games.
5.  Make sure your kids get fewer rather than greater numbers of tech. games and activities.

Written by Sally Burgess

Sunday, December 8, 2013


I saw this list of tips on Face Book and was encouraged by the source person to share it with as many as possible.  I thought this info would be very important for parents and for parents to pass on to their kids.

1. The elbow is the strongest point on your body. If you are close enough to the
    attacker then use it!  Suggestion:  Dig the attacker really hard in the ribs or stomach.
    Using your elbow makes it hard for them to grab your wrist and hopefully he will already
    be gasping for air!

2. If a robber asks for your wallet and/or purse, DO NOT HAND IT TO THEM.  Toss it
    away from you.  Chances are that they are more interested in your wallet and/or purse
    than you, and will go for the wallet/purse.  RUN LIKE MAD IN THE OTHER

3. If you are ever thrown into the trunk of a car, kick out the back tail lights and stick
    your arm out the hole and start waving like crazy.  The driver won't see you, but
    everybody else will.  This has saved lives.

4. Don't just sit in your car with your door unlocked at the end of a shopping trip.
    A predator could be watching you, and this is the perfect opportunity for him to get
    in on the passenger side, put a gun to your head, and tell you where to go.  AS SOON AS
    If someone is in the car with a gun to your head DO NOT DRIVE OFF!  Repeat: DO
    NOT DRIVE OFF! Instead put your foot down hard on the accelerator and speed into
    anything, wrecking the car.  Your Air Bag will save you.  If the attacker is in the back seat
    they will get the worst of it.  As soon as the car crashes bail out and run.  It is better than
    having them find your body in a remote location.

5. Getting into your car in a parking lot, or parking garage: 
    a) If possible get an escort out to your car or walk out with some family group.
    b) Be aware: look around you, look into your car, at the passenger side floor, and
         in the back seat.
    c) If you are parked next to a big van, enter your car from the passenger door.
         Most serial killers attack their victims by pulling them into their vans while the
         women are attempting to get into their cars.
    d) Look at the car parked on the driver's side of your vehicle, and the passenger
         side.  If a male is sitting alone in the seat nearest your car you may want to walk
         back into the mall, or work, and get a guard/policeman to walk you back out.
         IT IS ALWAYS BETTER TO BE SAFE THAN SORRY. (Better to appear paranoid
         than dead.)

6. ALWAYS take the elevator instead of the stairs.  Stairwells are easy target areas,
    especially at night.

7. If a predator has a gun and you are not under his control, ALWAYS RUN!  The
    predator will only hit you (a running target) 4 in 100 times; and even then, it most
    likely WILL NOT be a vital organ.  RUN, preferably in a zig-zag pattern!

8. As women, we are always trying to be sympathetic: STOP!  It may get you raped, or
    killed.  Ted Bundy, the serial killer, was a good-looking, well-educated man, who
    ALWAYS played on the sympathies of unsuspecting women.  He walked with a cane,
    or a limp, and often asked 'for help' into his vehicle or with his vehicle, which is
    when he abducted his next victim.

9. Crying baby scam: If you hear a crying baby outside at night, DO NOT open the
    door!  It could be a baby's cry recorded used to coax women out of their homes
    thinking that someone dropped off a baby.

10. Water scam:  If you wake up in the middle of the night to hear all your taps outside
    running or what you think is a burst pipe, DO NOT GO OUT TO INVESTIGATE!  These
    people turn on all your outside taps full blast so that you will go out to investigate
    and then attack.

11. One from me:  Never go jogging in isolated places alone.  Never jog with earphones on.
    You cannot hear someone coming up behind who may attack you.

Think and be safe before exposing yourself to danger.

Source: From the FB site of the 'Stronger Longer Weight Loss Group'.  Some comments
             added by me for clarification.

Edited by Sally Burgess

Friday, December 6, 2013


My uncle always used to say, "If you don't eat dirt you'll die," and I have come to agree with him.  I am not talking about digging spoonfuls out of the garden and swallowing them, although I have seen a guy demonstrating that very thing to make his point about the valuable properties of dirt in our diet!

No, I am talking about the obsession of sanitizing our hands and all surfaces in sight for fear of being exposed to germs.  Do you know that this is a huge advertizing gimmick to compel 'good' parents to protect their kids against all germs - well at least 99.9%, so the advertizing says. This is ridiculous!  It doesn't even make sense.  How will our bodies ever build up immunity if we are constantly shielding them?  Medical research is showing that because so many people are using disinfectants out of an obsession to be germ free, bacteria are mutating so much that there are now some infections that antibiotics won't cure.  That's alarming!

40 years ago my Doctor told a group of us pregnant women to make sure we passed our babies around to everyone, even those with colds.  He stated that exposure to coughing and sneezing was an advantage.  He was a total believer in early exposure to germs.  He also said that our babies would be more protected from getting sick if we were breast feeding them at the same time.

May I suggest that you stop constantly wiping down all surfaces and sanitizing your children's hands.  Sure, they should wash their hands after using the bathroom and before they eat, but let them get in the dirt.  They love it and it is good for them.

Note:  The picture above was taken with permission at a beach in New Zealand.  We had just arrived in the country and planned to walk along the beach front.  We saw this little girl, completely oblivious to the world, playing in the muddy water.  Her parents were sitting nearby laughing at how much fun she was having.  They didn't care that she might be ruining that pretty little pink outfit she had on.  They realized the value in exploring the texture of mud and just having fun.  Good for them and good for her!

Written by Sally Burgess

Sunday, December 1, 2013

DON'T FORGET OUR NEW Chat Room Session on Monday Dec. 2nd (USA time)!!!

Hi all.

With such a great response last month, we are excited to continue our monthly Chat Room Session to provide on-the-spot advice and conversation about issues that we are all facing as parents. It will give you the opportunity to join the conversation and ask the questions you've been dying to get answers to. We will begin these monthly sessions at 8pm-9pm U.S. Central Standard Time or 3-4pm Auckland, New Zealand time.

It's as easy as going to our website at and clicking on the "Chat" tab at the top of the page and then clicking on "Join the conversation".

Just join by choosing one of the following options.

Joining as a "Guest" allows you to choose your name and be anonymous if you want to.

We can't wait to connect with our readers and support you in your parental journey.

***Please note that if we have a lot of questions and we can't get to your question within the hour, we will be happy to answer your questions via email. Or you can choose to join in the next week.


Last week our daughter Kristee made a great point.  She said, "Why do we have to die before our friends and family say what wonderful individuals we were when we were alive?  Why can't we have our eulogies before we die so we can appreciate what people say about us?" To make that point she started telling all her friends and family on Facebook what they meant to her.  The response was an avalanche of 44 friends and family who wrote beautiful 'eulogies' back or 'LIKED' what she said. It was quite amazing really.

Over Thanksgiving dinner we had the opportunity to express our thanks for our many blessings.  It has also encouraged us to appreciate the people who enrich our lives.  Were you the recipient of appreciation this Thanksgiving?  Didn't it feel good?  I bet you will never forget those words of praise.

It often feels awkward to tell someone what you love about them.  The important thing is to do it.  When you declare your gratitude or praise someone, it gives them a great sense of worth.  Face to face communication allows you not only to say what you want, but also to reach out and hug that person as your endorsement.  Everyone loves affection.

You can also write your feelings down on a card and send or give it to that other person.  I have many cards of love from my children and also some from friends or from work.  I never threw them away.  They are in my 'brag' file and whenever I feel a need to, I visit those words of love - it is the gift that keeps giving.

How can we teach our children to express their love and appreciation toward others?
Here are some suggestions.

a) Train your children to be positive in their everyday conversation, rather than being critical and 
     making hurtful comments.
b) Make it a habit (say once a month) where the family sits around the table, and one by one say
     something positive about the person to their right.  (Get them to look that person in the eye
     when they speak).  Do not allow any negatives.  One month you could have the positive
     statements and the next month each person could say what they are grateful for.  By doing
     this you will enhance family life, your children will grow up being grateful adults and you and
     your children will always know they are loved.
c) Make supporting one another's interests and successes, a family thing.  Celebrate achievements
    together.  Parent to parent, parents towards kids, kids to one another and kids to parents.
d) Get kids to write notes of love and appreciation to external family and friends.
e) When friends and family visit your home or your family visits theirs, teach your kids to greet
    them with a smile and tell them you are pleased to see them.  It should be an expectation that kids
    are included in greeting others, rather than them being ignored by adults, or their being allowed to
    ignore visitors.

By encouraging family members to express their love and appreciation, they will continue this very
important ingredient in giving others value.
Written by Sally and Brian Burgess