Thursday, November 6, 2014


It is the hardest thing in the world sometimes to have your kids listen and do as you ask them THE FIRST TIME.
Is it impossible?  No!

Why don't my kids listen to me?

  • They are concentrating on something else and, therefore, are not aware you are talking to them.
  • They know that you will ask many times before you really mean business.
  • They have a hearing difficulty.
  • They choose not to do as you say which is straight disobedience.
  • Know that you will only carry out a threat occasionally, so they hope you will give up and do it yourself.

How do I train my kids to LISTEN and OBEY? 

a) Check and see what they are doing, and, if they are absorbed, wait till they have finished what they
    are doing before you ask them to do something.
b) Tell them that in 10 minutes they must stop what they are doing and clean up/put their toys away
    or whatever.
c) Once you know you have their attention, tell them that you will ask only once and if they do not
    do as you ask there will be a consequence.  Tell them what that consequence will be.  Carry it out.
d) If you think they may have a genuine hearing problem, get their ears checked.

DO NOT PLEAD.    This gives the impression that they have an option when they don't.
DO NOT NAG.        This tells them they have as much time as they want to do as you say.
DO NOT SHOUT.    This only tells them that they can shout also when they want something.
                                  Allowing yourself to get angry only leads to regret.  You cannot take back
                                  words spoken in anger.
BE CONSISTENT.   Your kids feel secure when you say what you mean and mean what you say!
                                  They want to know your response will be the same every time.  Both parents'
                                  expectations need to be the same.

Written by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families LLC


We often feel defeated in our parenting efforts, particularly when it comes to our teens.  We do the very best we know how, but sometimes our kids just don’t turn out as we hoped and prayed they would.  If we were only given a second, third and fourth chance to ‘do it right’!  However, in the process of raising our kids things can go wrong. Often hurtful things are said, blame is thrown around and sometimes we even feel that bridges with our children have been irrevocably burned.

When it comes down to it, what we want is a ‘win/win’ situation where we, as well as our teens, are satisfied with each other's performance.  I heard a great talk the other night on how to achieve the ‘win/win’ situation without compromise.

Our speakers explained that both sides CAN win when they ask each other, “What will make this a win situation for you?”  Then act on it.  I heard a great illustration on this subject once.  Two kids were fighting over an orange.   Their mother got so sick of them arguing that she took the orange off them without asking what they each wanted. One wanted the orange, and the other the peel.  There was a ‘win/win’ sitting right there, but neither asked the question, “What will make this a win for you?”

As kids reach their teens they hit a period when muscles are flexed and heads are butted.  While we expect our teens to use their brains, we are often not willing to give up control.  While our family's instilled values should remain the same, the application we set for our small children needs to be adjusted somewhat as our kids reach their teens. 


  • Much parent/teen conflict would be avoided if we were to keep a healthy communication going with our kids.  Yes, they will be influenced by their peers, but if we train them to follow our expectations, give them boundaries along with explaining the reasons why we set these, we are much more likely to gain their cooperation and retain their respect.
  • Teens do not want parents as friends.  They want them to be parents, to be there to give them sound advice, to guide them through rough times, help them make wise choices, rather than constantly chastise them for poor decisions.
  • Kids want parents to be appropriate role models and to prepare them for all the possible scenarios they may face through their teen and adult years.  I tell parents that their kids have bunches of grapes in their heads. Each grape has the answer to a decision they need to make.  If we do not place the information they need inside each of those ‘grapes’ prior to a ‘particular circumstance, children will default to whatever their peers are doing or whatever feels good at the time.
  • Kids want your unconditional love and care, your training and advice, your trust, your protection and your leadership.  They do not want broken fences and burned bridges.


What to do:

If you feel there is a rift in your relationship with your teen, it is never too late to mend the fence.  Even if you feel your child is at fault, YOU make the first move to reestablish a healthy relationship.  Approach them with an open and forgiving mindset.   Ask them what would make a ‘win’ situation for them in your relationship.  Explain what will make a ‘win’ for you.  You need each other.  Your future grandchildren will need you in their lives.

Written by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families LLC


Recently I watched a sit-com. The scenario was as follows:

A divorced mother was saving up to pay for an overseas school trip her younger daughter wanted to go on.  At the same time her elder daughter confessed to skipping university classes during the year and wanted to go to summer school to catch up.  The mother had a fit because she had paid for the College classes her older daughter skipped and was now in a quandary about how she was going to get the money together for both her children to fulfill their wishes.

In my mind it was a ‘no-brainer’, but guess what happened?  Mother gave the older daughter the money to finish her classes and the younger daughter missed out on the trip!

What is wrong with this picture?  What was that mother thinking?  Daughter number one had been personally irresponsible as well as disrespectful in regards to her mother’s money and trust.  She should have been told to save up for her own summer school tuition.  Instead, she happily took the money that was meant for her sister without thinking twice about the fact that she was preventing her going on the trip.

Why do we rescue our kids? 

Is it because:
  • We have the misguided belief that our children are perfect and therefore right?  
  • We are afraid that our kids' behavior reflects on our ability to parent effectively?
  • We believe that we are being unfairly treated or discriminated against for some reason?
  • We want to shield our kids from the consequences of their making poor decisions?
  • Our parents rescued us and we are just following their poor role modeling?

My husband is astonished at how many parents come to the school and make excuses for their children’s behavior. They will back up their children’s lies even when the evidence is there on school security cameras.

 How does our rescuing affect our kids?

When parents rant at teachers in front of their children in support of their behavior it is really saying, “This is how you deal with anyone who upsets you, especially authority figures." Our society is filled with individuals who say,  "It wasn’t my fault!”
Rescuing teaches kids not to face responsibility for their own actions.
Shielding kids constantly does not prepare them for the real world.  They have to learn to be respectful, truthful and accountable or they will constantly find excuses to continue to behave selfishly.  They need to learn that just because something doesn't suit them, they can't just quit.  They also need to understand and appreciate how their behavior affects others.

 It is hard being a parent and watching our children learn hard lessons.  However, we are not doing them any favors if we keep shielding them from the harsh realities of life.

How do we stop rescuing our kids?

In the immortal words of Bob Newhart, "JUST STOP IT!"

  • Give your kids clear behavioral expectations.
  • Praise them for meeting those expectations.
  • Tell them the consequences of not conforming to your expectations.
  • Follow through with the consequences.
  • Believe the teachers when they say your child is not behaving appropriately at school.

Written by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families LLC


Our lives today are being driven by aggressive advertizing.  We just get that new gadget, toy or hand held device and within 5 minutes there is a newer model, thus making us feel dissatisfied with the 'old' one.  We can't afford the expense, but we are sucked into the idea that we must keep up.  What to do, what to do?

What happened to being grateful for a few things?  As soon as parents start a sentence with, "Well in our day....", our kids roll their eyes, groan and say, "Yes, well this is our day and I want the latest xxxxx."  At what point can we say we are content?  What does contentment look like?  Can we be content while striving to reach our goals in life? Is contentment a choice?  How can we teach our kids to be content?

What does 'being content' mean?

Contentment means ‘to be happy and satisfied with one’s situation’, or to ‘accept and be at peace with the way things are'.  So simple, yet often very difficult to achieve, especially during hard economic times!

A contented person is peaceful and calm.  They do not complain about what they haven't got, but rather, make the most of what they do have.  They have a positive outlook on life and make the most of negative situations.  Their security is based on being satisfied with whom they are rather than measure their 'worth' on what they possess.

Does being content mean that we can’t be competitive or strive to meet goals?  No!  There is nothing wrong with being driven to achieve.  When we set short as well as long term goals with rewards for meeting each step, then we don't become dissatisfied with our lack of performance or progress.  Our satisfaction comes from meeting each step. It is only when we compare ourselves and our possessions with others that we feel discontent.

Contentment is a choice.

It is having the ‘attitude of gratitude’.  You choose to be happy, frustrated, angry or envious.  When you
look at your friends you tend to be drawn to the ones who are content and will find yourself wishing
you could be like them.

     The old hymn, “It is well with my soul”, has been buzzing through my mind today and I looked up
     the story behind it.  Horatio Spafford, a wealthy Chicago Lawyer, lost a son to Scarlet Fever, then
     lost all his investment properties in the great Chicago fire.  Distressed, he decided to take his wife
     and four daughters to England for a break but, at the last minute, was unable to travel with them.
     The boat went down sparing only his wife.  He caught the next vessel to be with her and as they
     passed the mark where his children had perished he wrote the words to that famous hymn. What a
     truly amazing example of being content!  He deliberately chose not to go to the depths of despair,
     but to declare through the words of these lyrics, that his soul was at peace.

 How do I teach my kids to be content?

It is very difficult when the latest designer clothing, toys and gimmicks are being thrown at our kids
from wherever they look.

Here are some suggestions:

a) Simplify your own lifestyle by giving away or selling what you don’t really need.  Encourage
    your kids to do the same.  There is a tremendous thrill in giving.
b) Give your kids a certain amount of pocket money and let them decide what to invest their
    money in.
c) Cut down kids' TV viewing and encourage imaginary play using old boxes, sheets and by
    making a play hut outside.  Spend time with your kids doing things that don't cost money
    e.g. going to the beach, taking a hike, playing, bicycling, going for a picnic or exploring.
d) Focus on blessing others rather than gathering more and more stuff at home.  One idea is to
    sponsor a child from a third world country to make your kids aware of how much a little
    makes these children happy.

Contentment is an important family value to pursue.   It promotes happiness and peace.  It discourages fear, insecurity, constant striving and frustration.  It’s worth spending the time and effort to experience the peace that comes with contentment.

Written by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families LLC