Tuesday, February 25, 2014


The Winter Games are over.  What an incredible amount of talent all gathered there at Sochi, Russia!  From the beginning to the end we saw triumphs and tears.  We witnessed proud parents, friends and countrymen, screaming, waving banners while jumping up and down in the stands.  The spectacular scenery and opening and closing ceremonies left us breathless.  What an amazing experience for people all over the world to gather and celebrate the incredible skill of those athletes!  All I can say is, "Wow!  I can't wait for the summer Games!"

Some kids play sport for fun while others show particular skill and pursue their sport well into their 20s and 30s or until their bodies say, 'enough already!'  Whatever we pursue to excellence, there are going to be triumphs and tears, successes and failures.  It is a huge learning curve for kids to be able to pick themselves up, shake off the disappointment and try again, but harder.  It is imperative that parents support their kids positively through these up and downs.  We will all fail many times in our lives and it takes strength and maturity to be able to overcome shame and frustration, and keep trying till we reach our goal.

One of the key factors in helping kids reach their goals is the role parents play in their early years.

It is important to:
  • Recognize the potential in our kids and nurture and support them throughout.
  • Let our kids pursue their sporting dream, not yours. 
  • Gently steer them towards something else when what they are pursuing is not their forte.

These are some words wisely spoken by Lipscomb University TN Athletic Director, Philip Hutcheson on guidelines for parents who watch their kids play sport. (Posted on 2/21/14 in an elementary school's note to parents).

1. At any sporting event there are 4 roles. Fan, player, coach and official.  You can ONLY BE ONE.
2. The most dreaded part of a team's loss for your child is the ride home.
3. Never give your child pointers immediately following the game.
4. Don't tell you child they played well if they didn't.  They know you are not being truthful.
5. 75% of children playing sport quit by the time they are 13 years' old because it's no longer fun.
6. The most important six words you can say to your child - win or lose -

                                                           "I LOVE TO WATCH YOU PLAY!"

Written by Sally Burgess 

Monday, February 24, 2014


On speaking with a young mother recently, she told me she was having a problem making a stand with her children on certain behavioral issues.  She makes a rule and her husband won't back her up.  This lack of support makes her feel like the ogre while he remains 'Mister Nice Guy'.  She feels powerless when it comes to insisting on certain levels of behavior.  Marriage can be stressful in itself but adding children to the mix also adds strain.

Through our blogs we place a great deal of emphasis upon the importance of strong family values and being in agreement on matters pertaining to the child-rearing practices and discipline procedures you will adopt.  There needs to be a set of principles, standards, expectations or a code of ethics which forms the framework upon which you base your beliefs and behavior.  Your beliefs and your actions define you.  Every parent would be proud to know they exhibited a 'stand out' family in the community. 

How to reach agreement when it comes to raising great kids.
1. Ultimately, young unmarried couples should talk about beliefs and disciplinary practices before 
    they marry.  I am astonished at how few couples really talk about such important matters and it's 
    only after their first child becomes a toddler and they begin to discipline, they find themselves at 
    odds over their ideas in child rearing.

2. If you are already married and have children, and there is disagreement with how you are handling 
    the kids, it's never too late, although it would have been better if it had been established earlier.  

    I make the following suggestions:

    a) Sit down together with pens and paper and each write down what you want your family to 
        look like and be known for e.g. They are honest.  They are successful in work and school.  
        They help others.  They support each other.  They are kind to others.  They are good sports.  
        They keep their word etc.
    b) Next, each one write down life values that are important to you. i.e. honesty, trustworthiness, 
        respect, responsibility, caring about others, obedience and so on.
    c) Each person place the values in priority order of importance to you.
    d) Compare notes and work out which are most important to both of you. You have now obtained 
        Note:  It is OK that you have different opinions and priorities.  Just come to an agreement on 
        what you can both live with.

3. You can now consider the beliefs and exhibiting behaviors you both want your family to be known 

4. TOGETHER, set behavioral expectations and consequences and agree to support each other in 
    their application.  It is important that when you teach each value, you need to also explain what 
    that value will look like e.g. Honesty means we tell the truth, we don't steal stuff, and we own up
    when we do something wrong.  Respect means that we will care about others, use manners, obey 
    those in authority and look after our belongings and those of others.  Responsibility means working 
    as a team around the home, sharing the chores and generally taking care of business.

5. Train your kids to meet those expectations and tell them you stand together so there will be no 
    playing one parent off against the other!

6. Evaluate the process and congratulate one another as you see peace and harmony develop 
    between you as a couple, and amongst the kids.  When you have attained a positive home 
    environment and everyone is cooperating you will wonder why you didn't do this long ago!  

7. When there are differing view points that cannot be resolved, then the marriage is likely to 
    be a short one or an unhappy one at best, unless you act. Get professional help before the rot 
    sets in.

Go for it!  Create that 'stand out' family now!  You can do it!  We all can do it!

If you have any questions on this subject, I would be pleased to hear from you in the comments section below.

Written by Sally Burgess

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


  1. I WILL put my family first above work, golf and other stuff.

  2. I WILL be a positive role model for my kids.

  3. I WILL be the leader in our home, not the kids.

  4. I WILL learn from my neighbors' and friends' well-behaved kids.

  5. I WILL be a parent rather than a friend, confidante, enabler or permissive indulger to my kids.
  6. I WILL believe the teacher or other authoritative figure when they tell me that my child has
                 been misbehaving and I will investigate and deal with the issue promptly and

  7. I WILL give my kids QUALITY and QUANTITY time rather than a bunch of stuff that will  
                  not replace ME.

  8. I WILL resist the temptation to buy my kids 'every instrument in the orchestra' just because
                  they want me to!

  9. I WILL NOT continue shopping in the supermarket while my kid screams the place down.

10. I WILL NOT give my kids the idea, or allow them to think, that they are the center of our
                  home and the wider universe.

11. I WILL NOT plead, nag, brow-beat, put-down or ignore my kids.  I understand that if I do
                  they will likely become a pain to me, the school, the community and THEN pass
                  the same behavior on to their kids.

12. I WILL NOT be tempted to take my work on vacation.  I will take a break and concentrate
                 fully on my family.
13. I WILL do everything in my power to help my kids realize their dreams - not mine!

Written by Sally and Brian Burgess

Sunday, February 16, 2014


Every parent has been in a situation (or many) where they end up in a stand-off with their kids.  It
can happen at any age, but especially as kids become tweens and teens.  There are a number of
reasons why this happens.

1. You may have a strong-willed child who challenges you from the moment they are told they
    cannot do something!
2. Once children are at school, we the parents, no longer have exclusive influence over their lives.
    They mix with other kids and authority figures who have different expectations, beliefs and
    values than ours.  This causes them to question the values they have been taught at home.  They
    can become disrespectful, disagreeable and disobedient. 
3. In their mid teens, kids are starting to want to adopt their own values (although they may not
    recognize it as such).  The fact that they challenge our expectations is all part of establishing their
    own path in life.  Of course, the repercussions of some of their decisions will cause them to realize
    the reason parents put boundaries in place was for their own protection.  Sometimes they may have
    to learn the hard way, by learning to be accountable and taking the consequences for their own

NOTE: You are responsible for their actions until they are 18 years old and you need to be in charge.

1. You have more control over your emotions than a child has, so when you see it coming, count to 
    30 before responding to your child's challenge. 
2. Keep your voice down. Never shout because anger is so highly emotive that you may regret the 
    things you say.
3. Give your child a chance to express their issue.
4. Stay calm and do not interrupt.  You may find there has been a misunderstanding and that the 
    situation can be resolved quickly and easily.
5. When your child has stated their case, then explain the reason why you do not want them to do the 
    thing they want to do e.g.  We do not want you to go to John's party if his parents are not present 
    because there is no adult in charge.  John may have unwanted people crashing the party.  Some of 
    his friends may bring alcohol and he doesn't want to seem like a prude telling them they can't drink. 
    If the situation 'turns into custard', John will not want to call the police on his friends or have to 
    admit to his parents that the situation got out of hand.  If you want to go to John's party, his parents
    must be present, there must be no alcohol there and you must agree to call us to come and get you 
    if our expectations are not met. 
6. Have your child agree that your expectations are reasonable and that they will do as you require.
7. If they have been disrespectful, require that they apologize to you.

NOTE: If you have an 18 year-old or older who constantly challenges your authority and your family values, it is time they left home and found their own way.  Do not jeopardize the harmony in your home because you can't let go of your 'beloved' child.  You can!

  • Spend time with your kids so you really understand how they tick.   
  • Kids want you to be their parents and to lead them.  You can't be their friend one minute and correcting them the next.  It doesn't work.  You can become their friends when they have left home.
  • Explain your expectations and train them to follow these.  Teach them why your values are there and what the consequences are for failing to keep them.
  • Allow them to make mistakes, but with an explanation of how to make better decisions the next time.
  • Don't protect them from consequences.  They will never become accountable for their own actions if they don't feel the 'pain' of non-compliance.
  • Monitor the tone of your home and find the root of discontent quickly.

Written by Sally Burgess 


Tuesday, February 11, 2014


We take our parenting responsibility seriously, at least most do, but how far is too far?  How little is too little?  Some believe you can never protect your kids too much.  I disagree.  We do need to keep them safe and they do need to feel secure.  So where is the balance?  When are we smothering them and when are we exposing them
to the real world?

A. Letting kids learn the hard way

What happens when we let our kids learn the hard way, by allowing them to learn from their own mistakes?  Many kids would say that when parents don't train them, state their expectations and give them boundaries, they think their parents don't love them and don't care.  Without guidance and good role modeling, what is there to strive for? Is this healthy?

What happens when these kids leave home?  They may be somewhat street smart, but without any training on how to communicate respectfully, work with others or obey authority, they are likely to find it very difficult to successfully meet goals or be accountable. 

B. Dictating their every move

What happens when parents constantly tell kids what to do and make the boundaries so tight the kids are unable make choices?  The parents say, "Jump!" and the kids say, "How high?"  By parents being so controlling, kids never get a chance to make their own choices.  They are always waiting to be told what to do.  Is this healthy?

From my observation, these 'hothouse' kids have absolutely no idea how to live without their parents controlling them all the time.  When they leave home they are easily influenced by those with stronger personalities.  They have no decision-making skills, so they go wild without parental influence hovering over them.

Home is the training ground - a soft place to land

Home is the place where parents train their kids about how to best manage their lives.  It should be a place where it is safe to falter and fail.  It is a place to celebrate successes and overcome failures.

1. Train your children.  Allow them to practice and expect that they may make some mistakes before
    they get it right.
2. Don't jump all over them for doing the wrong thing, but talk through their failure and let them feel the
    consequences of their actions.
3. Avoid bailing them out all the time because they will expect that you will always step in to rescue
    them, even as adults!  Kids do need to learn to be accountable for their actions.

Written by Sally Burgess


Mitch's world came crashing down the day his wife left him and their three children aged 14, 12 and 10 years.  A busy physician, Mitch had little down-time and therefore few real friends.  So, facing this crisis meant he didn't really have anyone to talk to.  Whenever there was a slow moment at work he would wear his co-workers out talking on and on about his failed marriage until they could take no more and began avoiding him.  The only ones who could not walk away from him were his children.

What happens when you unload on a child?

   1. They can't get away.  They feel that they have to listen.
   2. You are berating the other parent they love.  It really hurts their feelings and
       they have no power to make you stop.
   3. It is possible that both parents have been making negative comments about
       each other to the children, so they have been getting a double whammy!
   4. You are trying to force your kids to take sides.
   5. They are too young to process adult issues and they may become stressed because they
       don't know who to help, or how to help.  The fact is they they are incapable
       of helping.
   6. Unhappiness between parents makes kids fearful and insecure.
   7. Kids often feel they are personally responsible for their parents' issues and
       unless they are told otherwise, this misconception really burdens them.

Successful ways of dealing with grief concerning adult issues

   1. Find trusted adults/friends to talk to and leave your children completely out of the
   2. Seek professional help if necessary.
   3. If there is to be a parental break up, then the children should be told
       tactfully and by both parents if possible.  Kids don't need to know all
       the details but they do need to be assured that:
          a) You will both remain part of their lives, and that one will not disappear.
          b) You have made arrangements for them to see both of you regularly.
          c) That they will or will not be remaining in the same house. They need
              to know exactly who is going where and for how long.
   4. Get professional counseling for your children.  They often won't tell you
       how they really feel because they don't want to cause you any more worry
       and they feel they can't tell you how much they love and miss their absent

How do you keep a peaceful, harmonious home?

It is the parents' responsibility to provide a peaceful, safe and loving home for themselves
and their children.  Effective ways would be to:

     Create strong family values that are agreed on by both parents.  Values might include
     such traits as respectfulness, honesty, forgiveness and commitment.

    Alleviate tension. When tension arises, it is vital to deal with it quickly so bad feelings
    are not left to fester.  If issues cannot be solved, then seek professional help to preserve
    the relationship.

    Monitor the mood of the home.  A chilly atmosphere or one where parents
    and/or kids are arguing constantly needs addressing.  Find the cause and sort it out
    before it gets to the point of no return.

Nothing beats living in a caring and loving environment.

Written by Sally Burgess



Tuesday, February 4, 2014


Some of the greatest influences in my development have been the people in my life who raised my confidence by pushing me beyond what I thought I was capable of achieving.

We hear voices

From the time we are born we hear voices from every direction.  Some voices encourage us to dream big, never give up, tell us we 'can do it; and congratulate us when we succeed.  Other voices tell us to be cautious - to think of the worst that could happen, that we might get hurt, fail or make a fool of ourselves.  Then there are the destructive voices that tell us we 'can't do it', that we will never amount to anything, that we are an embarrassment or that we are just showing off if we try to better ourselves.

Voices matter

Obviously the voices that are encouraging are the most valuable.  We gain confidence when we are praised for doing right or trying our best, rather than berated for doing wrong or 'failing' .  It is vital that we instill confidence into our children from the time they are babies so they feel valued and loved from the very beginning.  Value creates confidence.

We don't realize how much we limit the initiative of our kids when we discourage them from attempting new things under the guise of protecting them from e.g. disappointment or hurt.  Yes, they need to take care, but with our guidance or with expert help, they can learn how to make wise choices in what they attempt to do or be.

We need to hear encouraging voices

No matter how old we are we crave to hear precious words of encouragement and sometimes we need stronger words to galvanize into positive action e.g to try again.

We need to watch our kids' attitudes and actions to make sure discouraging words from us, or others of influence, are not hindering them from becoming all that they can be.

We need to be that positive voice

When you think back on your childhood, who, in your life encouraged you beyond your own perceived ability?  A school teacher? A coach? A Bible Class teacher? A friend? A parent or grandparent?  How did they encourage you? 

Every human being on the planet is influenced by what others think of them.  Positivism towards us creates value and therefore confidence, where negativism creates insecurity and therefore doubt. If a child's confidence is not developed at a very early age they will naturally be cautious and makes it much harder to build on an insecure foundation later.

The stronger the positive belief system in a person's mind is, the less they need to rely on what others think. Our positive 'memory bank' is derived from the encouragement and support we get from those of influence in our lives.  We need to keep it full.

Written by Sally Burgess

Monday, February 3, 2014


We had a great chat session last night. We spoke to a concerned grandparent about how to deal with the news that you have a child with Autism. We provided links to some great resources for parents to read and watch. 

Here are the links we shared in case you are in a similar situation.


Carly's Voice: Breaking Through Autism

Louder Than Words: A Mother's Journey in Healing Autism

'Look me in the eye' - (My life with Asberger's) written by John Elder Robison 

'How to talk to an autistic kid' - written by Daniel Stefanski (an autistic kid)


Temple Gratin - a severely autistic woman who became a university lecturer and designed 'Herringbone' Cow Sheds as a method of more effectively putting cows through the milking procedure.

Documentary: The Woman Who Thinks Like a Cow - part 1


Hi all.

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 the session 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 www.forefrontfamilies.org 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.