Sunday, March 23, 2014


Now, I am not advocating that you give up on immunization shots for a minute, but I think we are getting way too carried away with the antiseptic bottle.  

If we don't allow our kids some exposure to germs, they are much less likely to build up a good healthy natural immunity which costs absolutely nothing!

How on earth did we manage before the invention of that sweet smelling antiseptic hand cleanser?  It is now everywhere.  It is in our purses, at the supermarket cash register, in a handy dandy dispenser at the shopping cart stand, at the end of the corrridor at public toilets in malls JUST in case we forgot to wash our hands, or perhaps to make sure there is not a single germ left alive.

So, what does give us immunity?
1. A diet including fresh fruits and vegetables.
2. Plenty of rest, sleep and exercise.
3. Time outside in the sunshine.
4. Breast fed babies (especially in the first few weeks).
5. Keeping to recommended immunization shots and flu shots.
6. Hand washing after using the bathroom and before eating.
7. Natural exposure to everyday germs such as dirt, door handles, 'clean' surfaces.

Research has shown that children that are raised with pets have a greater immunity to germs.  Now, when you consider the dirt a pet may get on its fur/hair and the licking of family members by dogs, it certainly makes you wonder, but it is apparently true.

Sterilization of every surface in sight is getting really silly.  There's a danger of becoming OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) or exposing your kids to even more serious infections because they have had no chance to build up their immunity to those germs.  I urge you to spend less on the sanitizer and more on the list above.

Written by Sally Burgess 

Saturday, March 22, 2014


Have you felt like a 'guilty granny' (or Gramps)?  I have heard three 'guilty granny' scenarios in the last few days and thought I would share them, along with our response.  People who use their parents to mind their children might like to read this article, too.

1. "I have always tried to be available for my daughter's kids, but I am now beginning to feel guilty
    for wanting to have a life!  Am I being selfish for starting to feel like I am being taken for granted?

     Suggested response:
     You can explain to your son or daughter that you love your grandchildren and that you enjoy your
     freedom as well.  Tell them that you will not always be free because of other commitments.  Let
     them know they are free to ask, but that you will not always be free to help.  Add that they should
     organize back-up baby sitters so they won't be disappointed.  Ask them to give you at least a
     week's notice of their plans, unless it is an emergency.

2. A grandparent saw her son and four-year-old granddaughter in the street.  Here is how the
    conversation went. "Hey, Sammi, how would you like to stay with Granny tomorrow?
    (Big nod and grin from granddaughter).  What about it Gran?  We will drop Sammi off at
    8 a.m. for the day.  Thanks a lot!"  Granny was put on the spot in front of a child.  She hardly
    had time to think, let alone reflect on what she had planned for that day.

    Suggested response:
    Tell your son or daughter that it is completely unfair to get a grandchild's hope up about coming
    to stay with Granny for the day before checking it is OK with you.  It puts you in the position of
    being the 'bad guy' if you refuse.  You can even tell them if they do it again, you will refuse on

3. A young couple wanted to take a week off to go somewhere with friends.  They ask their
    seventy-year-old parents if they would look after the three and six-year-old grandkids for the week.

    Suggested response:
    This could well be an unrealistic request.  It may be that you feel unable to physically manage young
    children with lifting and carrying them, or getting their baby gear in and out of the car.  It may be that
    you have other things planned for that week and cannot manage both.  It may be that you feel the
    responsibility is too great or that, because of medication you are afraid you won't wake for them in
    the night.  You may not be able to manage the early mornings of getting them to preschool or school
    on time. 
    You may suggest the offer of help, but not take the children for the entire time.

    The important thing is to know your limitations and have a back-up plan if you don't think you can manage.

a) If you don't feel up to looking after little ones.
b) If you have other things planned and it is not convenient.
c) If you just don't feel like it, especially if you look after them quite often.
d) About being honest with your kids about your ability and availability.

You want grand parenting to be a great experience for them and for you.  Guilt or frustration is not going to create the best basis for a long, memorable and happy union between family members.

Written by Sally Burgess

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


How many times have we heard the old saying, "Do as I say, not as I do!"?  How many times do you hear others say, "You are just like your father!"  How often does that strike you as a very scary thought???

Kids learn by watching you AND by being trained.  Little eyes are watching our every move to see how things should be handled or understood.  I would venture to say that a lot more is picked up by observation than by telling.  Remember that actions speak much louder than words. 

We used to have some very vocal neighbors.  One day I heard the mother screaming out the window to her son, "How many (beep, beep) times have I told you to stop your (beep, beep) swearing? 

My New Zealand husband had to suspend a 13-year-old girl for her very rude and boisterous behavior toward a teacher in a Tennessee, USA school.  He called the student's mother to come and collect her daughter and in so doing the woman hung up on him.  While in the crowded front office Brian looked up to see the girl's mother enter.  He said to her, "Ma'am, I just want to tell you why..." She cut his conversation to say, "Shut up!"  Brian said, "Please don't talk like that in here."  The mother said, "Shut your British mouth up!"  Brian's reply left several people in a fit of laughter. "It's one thing to tell me to shut up, but don't call me British!" As she grabbed her daughter's elbow and led her towards the door Brian tried a last time to tell the mother what the suspension was for.  She again interrupted and said, "I thought I told you to shut up!"  Before she could get out the door Brian said, "Now I know exactly why your daughter is like she is!"  Nearly everyone in the office stood and clapped.  Isn't this true story so illustrative of the fact that our children will more than likely end up behaving and thinking like us?

We can train all we like, but if our actions do not model how we expect our children to act, our words fall on deaf ears.


1. Decide how we want our kids to behave.
2. Take a good look at our own behavior and note the difference in expectations.
3. Create a priority list of behavioral changes required.
4. Change ourselves first - one negative behavior at a time.
5. When we get it right, then work on that expectation for our kids.

Acknowledge and praise your kids for meeting your expectations.
Quietly reward yourselves for doing the same!

The picture above was taken of a 3 year old boy in Prague who was given a cigarette and lighter by his father who was standing behind him laughing.  Very sad!

Written by Sally Burgess

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


I have a strong-willed child.  She is 38 years old now, but that strong will is still there.  When she was tiny we were not sure how we were going to deal with her behavior.

Dr. James Dobson says that parents need to break the will of a child, but NOT break their spirit.  That means that we need to ensure the behavior meets our expectations yet avoid badgering and demoralizing the child to the point that they give up for fear of never being good enough.

We can spend a lot of time in a combative stance.  Will against will.  It does not make for a very positive environment when you feel you are always locking horns with your child.  Avoid constant nagging, because this is the attack we often use to get through to the child that is constantly wearing us down.  If you give up, as many parents do, then your child will lead and life will be hellish.  You have to ask yourself, "Who's in charge, you or the child?"  Our daughter has told people at several parenting seminars that if we hadn't been so consistent and shown that we were in charge, she would have taken the lead.  She gave up trying to win after realizing that she wasn't going to win.  There was a lot of love in the home, too, and our daughter knew we weren't tyrants.  Eventually, she realized that we were using tough love for her good.

1. We need to recognize the great qualities a child with a strong will has.
    a) Have a strong mind that will not easily be swayed by any ill wind that blows.
    b) Are focused.
    c) Often have strong opinions and work hard to support them.
    d) Don't tend to be followers because they want to lead.
    e) Usually have clear ideas and they set goals to achieve their dreams.
    f) Often turn out to be high achievers.  They don't give up when the work gets hard.
    g) Don't take 'No' for an answer.

  All of the above qualities are great when they are channeled into positive action and don't have their
  spirits broken.

2. When you have isolated the great qualities in your strong-willed child, start working on the one
    you feel is most important and allow plenty of time for this to be activated.  Then look at the
    second priority for your child and give it the the time needed to be established in their personal
    repertoire.  Keep working through the list until you are satisfied that your child's strong will is
    headed in the right direction.
3. Work out a positive rather than negative approach to steering this child into the 'awesome force'
    that they are so that you are creating a positive home environment. You will end up to be a very
    proud parent. Celebrate having a strong-willed child because they can be so awesome if handled

Written by Sally and Brian Burgess

Thursday, March 13, 2014


I came across this wonderful anecdote the other day.  Its simplicity and wisdom struck me as profound. 

I agree that the above statement is easy to say, but often very hard to do.  Yet, for our kids to grow into uncomplicated, optimistic, happy adults we need to teach them how to say they are sorry, ask for forgiveness, let negative thoughts go and move on.

To apologize is to recognize and admit that we have made a mistake.  Sometimes it means admitting our lack of good judgement even before anyone else realizes.  It may mean asking for permission rather than asking for forgiveness.  In other words, not attempting to get away with wrong doing and then, if necessary, saying we are sorry only when we are found out.  We demonstrate a true apology by not repeating the wrong.

Forgiveness means to accept someone's apology for a thoughtless or deliberate act that has hurt us. It may even involve an incident that led to the crippling or death of someone we love.  A lack of forgiveness hurts us and those around us.  It binds us.  It can screw us up.  It can lead to medical issues if we are so consumed with anger and an unwillingness to let it go.  Is it easy to forgive?  Not at all!  It is one of the hardest things a person is faced with, especially if it has tarnished their image or taken a loved one away from them.

There is an old country song that says, 'Forgiving you is easy, but forgetting takes the longest time'.  There are times when I wish I could forget the negatives as quickly as what I forget what I came into the next room to get.  What a blessing that would be!

We really do have to make a conscious effort not to dwell on a hurtful situation, but to keep going forward.  There is nothing wrong with telling the person that offended you how it felt and the effect that the grievance has had on you.  You may even say that it will take time to reestablish the quality of relationship and trust you had before.  However, if you are not actively trying to bridge the gap, or still talking to friends about it, then you are not really 'forgetting'.

We will never be free of hurt if we do not follow the quote above.  The best time to teach our kids these principles is as soon as they can understand what hurting someone else means.  When we tell them to say they are sorry, get them to repeat why they are sorry.  Then have them hug each other as an act of caring.  Remember, too, that they are looking at how we forgive and what we say after a hurtful lapse in a relationship to see how it is done.  If we cannot do it, then we cannot expect them to successfully forgive others.

The secret to being brave, strong and happy is acknowledging our weaknesses, repairing damage and learning from those experiences.

Written by Sally and Brian Burgess

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


Having come from a nursing background I was always taught that breast feeding gave the baby the greatest nourishment.  With that in mind, I resolved to do the 'right' thing by my babies.  It never occurred to me that anything could go sideways with my plan.  My first attempts to breast feed my baby had me reaching for a nipple shield which I used for the 10 days I was in the nursing home.  Convincing myself that I had to do it 'properly' I tried unsuccessfully to exclusively breast feed.  So dense was I that I felt, being a nurse and all, that I couldn't say, "Oh, to heck with it!  I will go back to the shield."  Instead I pumped and pumped to give my precious little boy as much of the 'real' milk as I could.  That lasted about six weeks and we moved to formula!  I felt like a failure!

My daughter tried desperately to breastfeed her infant and I watched with some trepidation as he seemed to shrink with each passing day.  He cried and cried and it was difficult to tell exactly what his problem was.  The obvious thing was that he needed nutriment, so my daughter supplemented breast feeding with formula feeding.  His weight gain was noticeable immediately.  She was eventually able to stop the formula and totally breastfeed.  She found it so much easier, especially during the night and the expense of formula no longer existed.

I have now come to the following conclusions:
a) Babies need enough nourishment to reach predicted weight gains and to sleep well between feeds.
b) Breast feeding for the shortest time is of great benefit to an infant because the first milk (colostrum)
    is high in protein, fat-soluble vitamins, minerals, and immunoglobulins. Immunoglobulins are
    antibodies that pass from the mother to her baby and providing passive immunity. 
c) If a mother cannot, or chooses not to, breast feed, then that is her choice.  She is not a failure  as
    a mother just because she feeds her baby formula.  YOU DO WHAT YOU NEED TO DO FOR


1. "Why aren't you breastfeeding?"
    There are so many reasons why a woman might be feeding her child formula, and some are
    very personal.  She could have adopted her child.  She could have had breast cancer.  She could
    be exclusively pumping because she was sexually assaulted as a teenager and breastfeeding gave
    her post-traumatic stress disorder.  Or, maybe she tried to breastfeed, and it just didn't work for
    her (meaning she also may be mourning the breastfeeding relationship she never had).

2. "I have a great lactation consultant. Would you like her number?"
    Nearly every mom I met in the first three months recommended a professional to me.  If I'd been
    asking for help, this would have been an entirely welcome response.  But I'd already paid for
    nine different lactation consultations, so the advice felt more like an accusation (the implication
    being I hadn't tried hard enough, and the 'right' person would have made my body work the way
    it was supposed to).

    And if I'd been one of the many women who didn't want to breastfeed in the first place, a question
    like this could make me feel like I couldn't tell you the truth about my choice.  Either way, it's
    probably best not to email your LC's info to the bottle-feeding mom in your playgroup unless she

3. "I'm so sorry..."
    When other new moms heard I wasn't breastfeeding, they'd express their condolences and ask
    what happened.  I appreciated their concern, but the pity made me feel as if I had something to
    be ashamed of.  Many women turn to formula because it's the best option for their family, and it
    can be a lifesaver in some situations.  It's important for moms to feel proud of nourishing their
    babies, regardless of how they do it.  If a bottle-feeding mom tells you she's hurting or regrets not
    nursing, feel free to express sympathy, but don't assume she's unhappy with her parenting choice.

4. "Don't you worry about your baby eating high fructose corn syrup (or GMOs or BPA)?"
     Here's the problem with this question.  There's no good way to answer it.  If a mom simply says
     "No" she sounds like she doesn't care about her baby's health.  If she launches into a long
     explanation of the research and reality behind these claims, she sounds defensive.  And if she
     actually does worry about these things, bringing it up just rubs salt in the wound.  There's a time
     and place to demand better formula quality and options (something we could all fight for together),
     but casual conversation is not that time.

5. "It must be so nice not to have to wake up for feedings
     (or be able to just leave or not have to be the only one to take care of your baby)."
     Just because a mom is bottle-feeding, it doesn't mean that she isn't getting up at night.  (My
     formula-fed babies ate two or three times a night, and I snuggled them at every feeding.)  And
     it doesn't mean she hands off her baby to someone else every chance she gets.  You probably
     don't mean to imply anything negative, but she might be feeling defensive about bonding because
     so much emphasis is put on attachment and breastfeeding.  Comments like these just feed into
     every myth and insecurity about formula-feeding.

6. "Breastfeeding moms really need support."
     That is absolutely true.  Breastfeeding is a learned skill, and it's vital to be surrounded by
     supportive, knowledgeable peers who can help you overcome hurdles.  It would be a huge step
     toward ending the breast vs. bottle battle if we could amend this frequently uttered statement to,
     "All moms need support."

     Practical support is one thing, and emotional support is another.  Many bottle-feeding parents don't
     have access to either until their babies are old enough to take to classes (typically around 8
     weeks).  Formula-feeding moms don't have the advantage of La Leche League meetings or
     lactation clinics at the local hospital, both places where new moms can form bonds with each
     other.  While we ensure that breastfeeding moms are getting the support they need to feed their
     babies, let's also make sure that other moms aren't being denied support simply because they
     ended up feeding their babies a different way.

Suzanne Barston 
Author, "Bottled Up: How the Way We Feed Babies Has Come to Define Motherhood, and Why It Shouldn't" (UC Press, 201

Tuesday, March 4, 2014


When I was a 'tween' I remember feeling very vulnerable.  My situation was accentuated by the fact that I not only moved to another town, I moved to another country.  I recall it clearly.  I knew no-one.  The only familiar faces were my father, brother and aunt.  I was in a new place and had to develop a who new set of friendships.

Having to start at a new school with kids you have never seen before is scary for anyone, but the need to feel 'part of the group' is particularly important at that age.  As kids get into school life, they begin to gauge their worth more on what their peers think of them than the value they have gleaned from their parents.  They are having to live up to a whole new set of expectations from a variety of other people in their lives.  Without maturity on their side, 'tweens' and teens may be tempted to do anything to be accepted, even when they know their actions might get them into trouble.

My husband worked for a number of years as a school administrator in Middle or Intermediate Schools.  He said it was 'hormone city'.  Kids were scrambling to work out their identity and personality, trying to be popular, and working out where they fitted on the pecking order.  They often looked to the 'cool' groups to determine clothing styles, hair treatment, music to listen to, what language to use and what technology they must have.

It is the age and stage where 'Nerds' and 'Geeks' are the objects of scorn, where it is not cool to be academically successful and where parents despair the low grades their intelligent child brings home on their report cards.  However, when parents have raised kids that have had love showered on them, where the parents have taught them to be responsible and mature, such teens and 'tweens' feel secure and do not get influenced to the same extent by their peers. 

At this age friends can easily turn on you.  It is an emotionally rocky climate, where kids find it very difficult to deal with being 'dumped'.  Kids can be spiteful and, without wisdom on their side, do not realize the devastation their hurtful words have on others.  Many times we have heard 'tweens' say, "You're not my friend anymore."
Kids fall in and out of friendships at the drop of a hat, but no matter how often this happens they feel the pain of rejection deeply.

It is very difficult for parents to watch their children go through these traumas and not want to 
just jump in and save them.  What can we do?  

1. If you know you are moving to a new location, discuss the changes with your child.  
2. Explain that making new friendships would be great, but they may also be a challenge.  
    "Other kids won't know you and you won't know them.  Perhaps you could invite them over 
    to our home so you can get to know potential friends."
3. Prepare your child for adolescence.  Explain puberty and how it changes kids' bodies, thinking 
    and actions.
4. Describe how 'tweens' and teens go through various stages of being influenced.  They may try 
    to bully, or allow themselves to be negatively influenced just to be accepted.  The ultimate is 
    that your teen/'tween' influences others positively.       
5. Explain that the characteristics of a true friend, is how to recognize one and how to be one.
6. Keep the lines of communication open at all cost.  You want your 'tween' or teen to want to 
    come to you for advice during this difficult time in their lives.

Written by Sally Burgess

Resource: Huffington Post :



                                                        A little boy on a mission of discovery!

What's in a name? Every mother has heard of the term  'terrible two's'   It is so engrained into our thinking that we dread its arrival in our precious little angels.  There must be some truth to it for the age of two years to have such a negative reputation.  Do I recall this phase in my children's lives?  Not really.  It is all a blur now as my kids are 40 and 38 years of age. 

So, what am I saying?  Have I had a bad case of memory loss?  No, although mothers do seem to have a built in 'forgettery'...otherwise, when we think of the pain of childbirth, many of us would not have had that second or subsequent child!  We all go through ages and stages of learning new things in our lives. 

It starts from the time children understand the terms, 'Yes' and 'No'.  The delighted look on a parent's face tells the child they just performed something fantastic.  The stern look and the word 'No' means they just went in the wrong direction! 

From two years of age and upward there is a very steep learning curve for the little mind to cope with.  There are boundaries to push to see how far they can go before the big hammer falls.  We do have to keep our toddlers safe so the words, 'No!' or 'Don't touch!' are heard frequently in the home.  Mobility peaks a child's curiosity.  The more mobile they become the more independent they can be and the adventures are endless.  Parents have to put on their running shoes and prepare for a challenging ride through the 2-5 year age range in particular.

So, how can we change our thinking from the 'terrible twos' to the 'terrific twos'?  Could we, just for a moment, think as a child thinks?  "There is a shiny thing over there.  I must go and stick my finger in and feel it."  "There is a soft furry thing moving over there.  I must go pull it."  "I don't want to be stuck in here.  I want to be free!"  It is all a matter of discovering new things.  For them it is finding out what is fun and what is not.  "What is it that I can discover today?"  Now that can be exhausting for the parent!

When my children were small, I don't think I anticipated what they were thinking quickly enough, so a sharp, 'No' was the first thing they heard.  I suggest we can head off many tantrums and negative behaviors if we remember they are learning new things.  Guiding them away from danger, redirecting their attention and praising their efforts may well change our dread of the 'terrible two's'.  I am not saying it is easy, especially if you have several other children requiring your attention.  However, because of the huge learning curve, a child at that age is probably learning more than they will ever learn in the same period of time.  For me, rather than it being a trial, I know I could have enjoyed it more if I had appreciated the fact that they were in an amazing age of discovery.

Written by Sally Burgess

Sunday, March 2, 2014


Hi all

Please join us on our monthly CHAT SESSION next Monday May 5th from 8pm-9pm U.S. (Central Standard Time) or Tuesday May 6th from 3pm-4pm New Zealand time.

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.

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.