Wednesday, December 10, 2014


There is probably nothing more annoying than being around people who sulk.  Yes, it is true.  Sulking is not just a child behavior, we see it everywhere.  I must admit that I have sulked a time or two when I couldn’t get what I wanted.  And that is about the root of the problem, right there.  People often resort to sulking because things are NOT going their way. Yes, I, I, I; me, me, me!)

Never a grumpier person could you meet than a sulker.  Their face is completely devoid of expression or they are scowling.  They refuse to speak to whomever ‘crossed’ them and they suck the life out of the atmosphere by their frosty silence, thus causing discomfort all around them.  Silence can be just as controlling and powerful as shouting or physical attack.

From an objective point of view, all that negativism is using up a powerful lot of energy.   Research shows that it takes many, many more muscles to create a scowl than it does to smile.  It is worth observing people walking along the street sometimes to see how many glum faces there are around.

1.  Look at ourselves and ask the burning question.  Do we sulk?  If we do then we have to
     consider a more effective way of dealing with our negative feelings so we can teach our
     kids to do the same.  We can’t always have a win/win outcome.  Things are not always
     going to go our way and if they are, then they are certainly not going someone's way.
     When it comes down to it, does it really matter in the long run who wins?  We don’t always
     have to be right.

2. We need to look carefully at our kids' general behavior.  Do they always want the biggest and
    best toy, the biggest slice of cake, or to be first in the line for ice cream?  Of course they do.  It
    is natural.  However not everyone can have the biggest and best.  Children need to learn to take
    turns, to share and to do things that will please others rather than be self-serving all the time.

3. Is sulking an unusual behavior for this child?   If so, then perhaps there is something going on
    that really needs to be addressed.  Are they troubled or afraid?  It is important to explore
    possible causes, rather than just jump on the exhibiting behavior.

4. Ask the child directly why they are sulking.  If they won’t say and you are confident there
    is nothing sinister going on then you can say that a grumpy face is not going to get them what
    they want.  Explain your behavioral expectations and boundaries for their behavior.  If it
    continues you can remove them from the room until they are willing to express themselves
    respectfully. You can choose to ignore the sour face, but praise them when they do behave as
    you expect.

It is a very important lesson to learn that it is not all about ‘me’.  Jesus was right when He made it clear that we are here to serve others and not just our own needs.  We all need to learn how to channel our frustration effectively without reverting to pouting, grumbling or throwing a tantrum.  Sulking is
not acceptable at any age.

Written by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families LLC


It is very exciting to welcome a new baby into the home.  Older brothers and sisters have been waiting in anticipation as they see their mother's figure change shape and see the baby scans.  They have no idea how that new little member of the family will alter their lives for ever.

Many siblings are very comfortable with a new baby in the home.  If they have been included in baby discussions, have had some input into buying baby clothes, or helped to decorate the nursery and/or helping choose a name than they feel they have some stake in the life of their new brother or sister.

Things don't always go as planned, though.  Single children can easily become jealous of the time taken away from them by their mother.  There is a great deal of literature out there to assist you with older children being eased into sharing their parents with a new baby.

When I saw this photo of a friend's grandchildren I was touched by it and also with the words included alongside the picture.  "Our big boy can't get enough of our little boy.  Touching, cuddling and leaning on him."  This family has three children.  These two are the oldest and youngest and there is a little girl in between.  Obviously the four year old boy in the picture feels very comfortable with two younger siblings.  How does this happen? 

It is a fragile time for all concerned when the new baby arrives.  Here are some suggestions  that may ensure the whole family bonds quickly.  
1. Encourage older siblings to hold the baby when they want to - especially as soon after the
    baby is born.

2. Let the older kids help look after baby where possible e.g. dress, bath, feed and rock the baby.
    Let them push the stroller, sing, chat and read to baby.  It is good that they develop some  
    responsibility towards their new sibling, but not so great that it becomes a burden to them.

3. Let them know how much you appreciate their love and care towards their new sister/brother.

4. Include the older ones in cuddle times with baby so they don't feel left out.

5. Even though it is difficult, ensure that older children get some one-on-one time with you.  
    Dad would be a great help in observing your older kids' behavior, and keeping up a healthy 
    dialogue with them so they can express their feelings about the new addition.

Written by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families LLC


We have often been asked about the difference between our New Zealand and American Christmas.  Well, the season is about as different as chalk from cheese, actually.

When we lived in New Zealand and received Christmas cards depicting piles of snow, we never really thought about it because of the whole Santa and North Pole thing.  However, the reality struck hard when we moved up here to the USA, and felt the bitter cold and at times struggled through snow on Christmas Day.  You see, in New Zealand and Australia, Christmas marks the beginning of the summer break.  It is hot down there.  It is very hard to imagine, but when you have lived in the opposite season all your life, you don't even think about it.

We notice that here in the USA, people tend to go all out with festive decorations.  Not only is there a Christmas tree in the living room, but often in other rooms in the house also.  My friend, Nancy, has no less than 12 decorated trees throughout her home.  Up here people also add many other decorations inside the house such as nut crackers, tinsel streamers and festive center table decorations.  Perhaps, because of the cold weather, being indoors to enjoy the decorations makes it worthwhile taking the trouble to create a festive home interior.  Houses and lawns often get decked out with all manner of lights and objects such as reindeer, snowmen and the nativity scene.  Some people even decorate themselves by wearing bells on their ears and on their socks.  Christmas sweaters adorn many a woman with festive scenes on the front.  Many people here wear red during the days leading up to Christmas and on Christmas day.

'Down under' as we call the South Pacific, we do not tend to be so decoratively-minded for a number of reasons.  This may be somewhat dictated to by our weather.  It doesn't get dark until later at night so lights all over the outside of the house do not show up in the early evening.  Perhaps because of our more conservative culture or maybe the hot weather, we are not inclined to decorate ourselves in Christmas attire. 

In the USA it might be turkey, ham, or pork roast, cranberry chutney, congealed salad, cooked green bean salad, cornbread, chocolate pie, and coconut cake depending on where you live.  Note these are all basically winter foods.  In New Zealand and Australia, we are more inclined to eat lamb roast or chops, ham or chicken, baked vegetables and cold salads.  We might even eat a completely cold meal at the beach.  Many families have an outside meal for Christmas based around their BBQ.  You know ("Shrimp on the Barbie"and all that!)  Because our countries were settled mainly by Great Britain, we often eat boiled Christmas pudding with custard and whipped cream which is a winter dessert, but we are just as likely to eat Pavlova (see below) which is whipped egg whites made into a meringue, cooked and stacked with fruit and whipped cream.  This is an any time of the year dessert, but very popular at Christmas.

                                          Pavlova (meringue with fruit and whipped cream)

After our Christmas lunch we often go to the beach to have a swim.  In the USA people have Christmas Day off, but then go back to work until New Year's Day when they have one day off and then straight back into the work year.  That was a real shock to us because between Christmas and New Year, in New Zealand and Australia, we pretty much shut down for 10 days.  We always have the day after Christmas (Boxing Day) off and also the day after New Year as statutory holidays.  Because it is summer and the kids are out of school until the beginning of February, many families take this as their holiday time away.  Some families have Christmas Day at the beach or will certainly leave for their holidays on Boxing Day.

Christmas traditions are hemispheres apart.  It has taken us 20 years to get used to 'Christmas' coming and going with barely enough time to catch a breath, especially as it is very soon after the Thanksgiving celebrations.  Christmas is one day here compared to at least 10 days of fun in the sun.  You ask about the difference?  Yes, we all celebrate with the same fervor, but our cultures and our weather dictate the difference.

                      This is my brother Jon's home in Australia.  He doesn't care about the
                    summer season, he just likes expressing his creativity at Christmas time!

Written by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families LLC