Friday, September 26, 2014


Stand back and take a good look at your kids and their activities.

Now, for those over 40 years of age, think back to what you were doing as kids.  What is the most noticeable difference between then and now?

Way back in the day when I was a very little kid, TV hadn’t yet been invented!  Imagine that!
We made our own fun playing with our friends, riding bikes and horses, making huts,  swimming at the beach or in the creek, climbing trees and catching, cooking and eating eels.  Every Sunday afternoon we went with our parents to visit our relations.  We communicated with one another face to face.  We always sat round the table and ate home-cooked meals and had plenty of lively discussions as we ate.  We had to share bedrooms.  There was only one car per family and, because relations and friends seemed to spend more time with each other, we were a closely knit community.

OK, now take a giant leap forward to 2014.

What do we commonly see?  Kids amusing themselves in a much more sedentary and silent manner.  They have handheld games, sit in front of their computers or TV playing games and texting or talking to their friends on cell phones.  Meals, often not home-cooked, are eaten in front of TV, in relays, with little opportunity for family conversation.  Work patterns and pace of life have created a huge gap in face-to-face conversation.  Parents often bring work home and have little or no time for their kids or they are doing two jobs to try and make ends meet.  Kids tend to become physically isolated from each other and from their parents because their bedrooms have become their own ‘play stations’ equipped with their own TV, computer and phone.  Physical contact is not necessary in order to communicate.  Both kids and parents have slipped into separate worlds.

How can we bridge the gap?

1. Take a long, hard look at your family dynamics.  What is everyone preoccupied with?  Make
    time every day when technology is put away and you can talk, parents included.
2. Create things in common e.g. family activities to develop a sense of belonging and security.
3. Give time to each family member so they feel cared for, needed, loved and appreciated.
4. Bring life’s experiences, maturity and wisdom into our conversations.  Our kids need to know
    how we deal with stuff and that they can do the same.
5. Value input from children.  They are wise beyond their years many times.

The techno trap is just as much a problem with adults as it is with children.  Be the ones to
show the example.  Stop!  PUT IT AWAY.  Eyeball them.  Give one another the benefit of your attention.  The gap will soon disappear when we encourage face-to-face conversation.

Written by Sally Burgess
Forefront Families LLC


There is a tribe in Africa that has a very beautiful custom.  When one of the members makes a mistake, the entire
tribe surrounds him/her and for two days, they speak of the great things that member has done. 

It is their belief that humans are good at heart and that we all seek security, love, peace and happiness.  However, in this pursuit, we sometimes make mistakes and when that happens, the tribe unites to reconnect that member with his/her real nature.  

This tribe's greeting is "SAWUBONO, or I value you.  I respect you.  You are important to me."  
The reply is SIKHONA or "so I exist for you."

What a wonderful way of dealing with wrong choices we make in life!  Wouldn't we all love to be acknowledged as an essentially great person who just made a wrong decision?  So often we are shown no mercy by others who make equally as many mistakes themselves.  Preferably, with effective parenting, we can learn how to make wise choices, but we must be allowed to learn by our mistakes.  Many people become emotionally paralyzed because they are so fearful of ever trying a particular activity again.  How different it feels when an understanding boss, parent or friend will say, "Let me help you through this so you will know how to do this successfully next time."

Can we be that person?

Comment by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families LLC

Source: Found on Facebook with the following acknowledgement underneath: 

Read more in Spanish

Thank you Renato Accioly for sharing and thank you Kenneth James DuPlooy for sharing your knowledge about the Ndebele people - with Kenny J Miyagi, Jose Monteiro, David Kalikiano Perry and Renato Accioly

Monday, September 15, 2014


It is always disturbing to read, see or experience the result of uncontrolled anger.  As the story of the Blade Runner unravels on TV we see how an incredibly successful athlete, hero worshiped by so many, has a major anger issue that has resulted in the death of another person.  We read regularly about professional sportsmen who lose their tempers and assault others.  Where does it all stem from?

Everybody in the entire universe gets angry.  It is a legitimate emotion just as are laughter, excitement and sadness.  When we become angry at injustice, it spurs us to do something to make conditions better for ourselves and/or for others.  As parents, we can very easily become angry when we feel our child is being unfairly treated or bullied.  That is a natural protective emotion.  It is the way we respond to our anger that makes the difference. 

When I see a person, such as the Blade Runner, in the dock awaiting sentence, I can't help thinking, 'How could this situation have been averted'?  This guy has inspired the whole world by his courage and success, yet has a history of uncontrolled anger from childhood.  What could the parents have done to ensure their child had learned how to control his anger?'

Here are some questions we may ask ourselves:

1. Do I control my own anger?
2. Do my kids see me 'losing it'?
3. Do I forgive others and move on?
4. Do I ask my kids' forgiveness when I have treated them unfairly? 
5. Do I respond quickly and effectively when my child has anger issues?
6. Is my home a peaceful place?

Here are some questions we may ask regarding our children:

1. Are my kids afraid of me?
2. Are my kids still throwing tantrums at school age?
3. Do my kids get so frustrated by me that they get to the point where
     they just boil over?
4. Do my kids know how to forgive and not hold grudges?
5. Do my kids manage their anger so that it dissolves quickly?
6. Are communication lines such that my kids feel safe to share their
     feelings with me?

It is imperative that we learn how to channel our own anger in a positive way.  It is also imperative that our children also learn how to manage their anger.  Their first role model is you and me.  There is no shame in getting professional help for ourselves and for our kids.

Sadly, jails are full of angry people who have not been shown, or have not learned, how to positively channel their anger from their early years.

Written by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families  LLC

Sunday, September 7, 2014



I had a great experience this week. The public elementary school where I do part-time counseling had a Grandparents' Day for the second year in a row. Last year around 600 visitors came to be with their grandchildren. This year around 700 grandparents came, and they came not only from our State, but from distant States, too. We had to split the occasion into 2 different sessions to accommodate the numbers.

On arrival they were ushered into the gym where the students led everyone with the National Anthem followed by the Pledge of Allegiance. A guest speaker challenged grandparents and children alike to be team workers and for grandparents to give their grandies time and great memories. They were then dispatched to the classrooms where coffee and doughnuts were served as the teachers and children interacted. You should have seen the smile on the grandparents' faces when they left.

Why am I telling you this? Our school was a Reward School for the 4th year in a row, meaning it was in the top 5% in the State Assessments and it was the top school in reading. Why? Parent involvement. Whenever we have a school event just about every parent turns up.

Currently, Finland has the best education system in the world. When asked why, one of the answers given was parent involvement. Become fully involved in your child's education prior to school, during the school years and at home. Parent involvement is the answer to school and personal success.

Written by:
Brian Burgess
Forefront Families LLC

Saturday, September 6, 2014


 It is has been often stated that a person is judged successful if they are either one or more of the following:

     a) Good looking
     b) Wealthy
     c) Athletic
     d) Intelligent

Being good looking is something we have little control over.  We also know that when we get to know a person, outward beauty may be only skin deep.  Inner beauty, or the lack of it, should be what defines the person.

Wealth may be inherited or it may be of a person's own making.  If a person is wise with his/her wealth then we can say they are successful in business, in their investment choices or wise in their spending.

Receiving excellent grades could indicate that a person was genetically fortunate or that by hard work and dedication reached their goals.  How many people have we known that have found study a cakewalk without the hard work and we 'hate' that about them?

Being a great athlete is certainly something to be admired.  You can't simply be gifted.  You have to put in the hard grind of becoming ultimately fit along with having the capability of being a quick thinker within the game/sport.

I have to say that, unfortunately, all of the attributes above in some way indicate success in our society.  But, are these people fundamentally happy?  Happiness not guaranteed.  Could they be relying on their abilities or activities to make them so?  Possibly.

Could happiness in itself be an indicator of success?  I think so.  When we are happy within ourselves we feel peace and contentment.  Confidence comes when we know we have done our best, but that doesn't mean we are always the winner or the best.  Happiness, contentment and resulting satisfaction come from doing our best and enjoying the rest, not being pretentious or hiding behind innate or genetic gifts to prove our worth. 

Should we try to be the very best we can be?  Should we try hard to reach our potential?  Absolutely!  But, when it comes down to it we cannot afford to rely on looks, wealth, intelligence and athleticism to be our only measure of success.  All these things can be taken away from us in an instant or over time.  The true person is who we are when all these props have gone.

What really stands the test of time are our inner qualities - integrity, loyalty, honesty, trustworthiness, respectfulness, forgiveness, obedience and charity.  When others see the joy and peace these attributes bring to us they may well redefine their  definition of success.  It doesn't have to rely on prowess, or being gifted.  Anyone can be successful with the right mindset.

Long lasting 'success' is a legacy that can be passed down through the generations and we, the parents, can initiate and maintain that within our families.

Written by Sally Burgess
Forefront Families LLC