Monday, January 26, 2015


                "In 1946, Dr. Benjamin Spock first published his infamous book, “Common 
                 Sense Book of Baby and Child Care,” which was unlike any that came before 
                 it. Instead of stressing the importance of teaching self-denial and respect for 
                 authority, Spock discouraged directive training and emphasized accommodating 
                 children’s feelings and catering to their preferences. No longer did children 
                 learn they could endure Brussels sprouts and suffer through daily chores. Using 
                 Spock’s approach, parents began to feed self-indulgence instead of instilling self-
                 control – homes were becoming child-centered. As parents elevated children’s 
                'freedom of expression' and natural cravings, children became more outspoken, 
                 defiant and demanding of gratification. In fact, they came to view gratification as 
                 a right.
                    Read more on "HOW DR SPOCK DESTROYED AMERICA"  
In times prior to Spock's book, parents had been discouraged from showing affection to their children.  I am sure some will remember the sad picture of Prince Charles aged about 4 years old having to shake hands with his mother, the Queen, when she returned from a trip abroad.  During this period of time the saying, 'Big boys don't cry' was probably created.  Unfortunately, by swinging the pendulum completely the other way from what it was prior to World War 2, we have created a society where, if Dr. Spock's theory is adhered to, the child rules the home.

We, at Forefront Families LLC,  believe that a successful home is:
                                                          * Parent-directed.
                                                          * Family-orientated.
                                                          * Outward-focused.

We do not believe in a 'child-centered' home. When a baby comes along, the whole world naturally revolves around the baby and its needs in that home.  It can’t tell the parents what it wants, so it cries until its needs are answered.  In most cases the child becomes less and less needy and then will need to learn to fit in with the parents' plans. The child does not need to grow up believing that it is the center of the universe.

Before a couple have children they usually only have themselves and their own stuff to think about.   It seems that for the next 18 years the parents’ lives are filled with everything their kids want or need, and they think they will never regain those wonderful early years.


1) This is your home. You are the parent directors of all that goes on within.

2) As children get beyond the toddler stage, they need to learn that they are part of the family not the central feature!  Parents, you are part of the family, not mobile robots that hover to answer your children's every whim.  No, you need to work towards each family member becoming an equal part of the family operation and sharing the load.  It is vitally important that each member of the family is loved and cared for equally and given their moments to shine and be appreciated, and that includes YOU.

3) The older the kids grow, the more they need to understand the concept that life is not all about them.  Parents are not purely taxi drivers, restaurant chefs, laundry service proprietors, or money machines.

4) The home is total family orientated.  That means everyone in the family get's involved in doing things together as well as doing things for themselves.  Parents, you need to keep your own lives and interests intact.  When our children were young we both (at different times) completed our university qualifications.  We had full time jobs, had a dance band, ran a hobby farm and were very involved in church activities.  Our kids came with us to many functions and we attended their school or sports activities as we were able.

5) Healthy families are outwardly focused.  This means that they are not only interested in their own stuff, but they care about the community.  It is most important for parents to teach their kids to be aware of, AND respond to, the needs of others.  This might mean, as a family you sponsor a child from a third world country, or give up some Christmas money to buy a goat or cow for one of these needy families overseas.  (We know of families doing this.)  It might involve helping an elderly neighbor, carrying groceries, welcoming new folks to the neighborhood with some goodies, doing some baking to give away or volunteering time for Habitat for Humanity or some such organization.

Families who play and do things together remain committed to one another no matter how old they become.  These days, more than ever, the bond of the family is priceless.

Written by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families LLC


To truly love someone means to demonstrate a profound, tender, and passionate affection for them.  If we really love one another, we would have perfect family unity.  It is quite a stretch to think this could possibly occur with the everyday squabbles and fights we hear or are involved in on a regular basis.

I think that family 'love' has two layers.  The top or more superficial layer is where family members generally get along together and the home is relatively peaceful.  However, fights break out periodically, usually caused by one person wanting what another has or preceded by someone yelling, "That's not fair!"  Such squabbles are really just that and with some parental intervention they dissipate.  Deeper love shows when one child in a family is being bullied or threatened in some way by an outsider.  This happened with our kids.  My son and daughter would bicker and fight at home, but one day when John saw Katie being picked on in the playground, he was in the bully's face immediately, saying menacingly, "If you want to fight my sister, you fight with me!"

We often see the same kind of patriotism or affinity between countries.  New Zealanders (Kiwis) and Australians (Aussies) will make pot shot remarks about each other especially related to sport and accent variations.  Similarly with Americans and Canadians.  However, if war broke out both countries would band together to protect their shores, no matter how big the foe.

*  Love will not last if it is not returned.
*  Each of us needs to feel valued by significant others.
*  If we do not feel valued, then it is very difficult for us to give value to others.
*  As parents, we need to give equal value to each of our children or they will feel the disparity.
    Sometimes this is very difficult to do when one child requires special attention.  Somehow we
    have to create a balance and this is where all family members' selfless giving makes all the

1. Once a week or on a regular basis, in a circle or around the meal table, turn to the family member  
    on the right and say one thing you like about them e.g. "I liked the way you helped me with the 
    dishes."  "I like it when you help me with my homework."

2. Play team games where you have to work together to win the game.  This teaches them the
    value of cooperating with one another to get the best result.

3. As parents, demonstrate love for one another.  Tell each child you love them and add what it is
    you love about them - "I love the way you give me big squeezes."  "I love the way you share
    your toys."  "I love it that you are so gentle and kind to Sooty (the cat)."  "You are so good at art."
    "You always think of others first."  "You are such a good friend to your sister!"

4. Check the atmospheric tone of your home on a regular basis.  What percentage of time do you
    feel tension in the air?  Where is this tension stemming from most of the time?  Concentrate
    on that person or situation and get it dealt with as quickly as possible.  Parents are responsible for
    ensuring that there is a constant calm, peaceful and happy atmosphere within the family.

5. Teach your kids how to resolve conflict without fighting.  For example, give them simple steps:
    a) When you start feeling angry, stop and think about the situation.  Does this really matter?
    b) Encourage your kids to talk about it.  What does each want?  Is it a matter of taking turns?
    c) If they can't resolve the situation they should ask a parent how to deal with it.
    d) They should always apologize for unkind words or actions.
    e) They need to learn from the experience and put the correct method into practice next time.

The more we sow and demonstrate love and care to our children, the more likely they are to do the same for their brothers and sisters, friends, those around them and eventually to their own families.

Written by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families LLC

Friday, January 9, 2015


I was quite impressed by this list I saw on FaceBook and thought I would post it and include some comments of my own.

    (Not to be confused with instinctual behavior in point 4 below)
    For something to feel 'wrong', we need to have a sufficiently developed awareness and/or
    conscience to realize the fact.  Training and life experience will show us what circumstances to
    avoid.  Unless a child is told clearly that getting into a car with a man offering sweets is dangerous
    and not to do it, a child may think the situation is fine.  An important part of protecting our children
    is to talk through scenarios with them to prepare them to make wise decisions when they are on
    their own.  This includes one-on-one chats where kids feel safe to ask questions and seek advice.

    Many times we just need to think before we speak.  Sometimes we don't have that
    opportunity and find ourselves blurting out explanations that, in hindsight, were not exactly what
    happened.  In communication with others we are required to be truthful.  That means we do not
    exaggerate or mislead people.  We need to tell the tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing
    but the truth. 

    The essence of this point is that we should not try to please others in order to gain their favor
    or to feel valued by them.  Our self esteem needs to be such that we choose to rather than need
    to please others.  The motive of being a 'people pleaser' is a selfish one because we are trying
    to gain something for ourselves.  The choice to respond to others' needs is a selfless act because
    we are offering a more positive quality of life to them which results in no personal gain.

    Instincts are part of our DNA, therefore, something we are born with.  Animals and birds also
    have instincts.  How do particular species of birds know how and where to build their nests or
    animals know exactly what to do with their young when they have just given birth?  For humans,
    it is like having a sixth sense.  We just know that something is wrong, that we are being watched
    or in some danger.  Our instinct will make us run, scream or hide.  It is an automatic reaction.
    Some try to override their instinct that something is dangerous just to prove they are invincible
    e.g. My instincts tell me that I could kill myself if I try riding on the roof of a car going 50
    miles per hour - but I am going to do it anyway so I can prove I can cheat death! WRONG!

    I have heard it said that we should not put ourselves down because there are plenty of others
    doing it for us!  Whatever comes out of your mouth is the real you.  Whatever you say about
    yourself out loud will confirm the feeling you have about yourself inside.  If you speak
    positively, then you become more positive.  If you say enough times, "I can do this," then
    you will believe it.  It is vitally important that we monitor the balance between negative and
    positive things we say to our children.  There is a huge difference in the response of a child
    to the words, "You failed" and "Never mind.  Let's see what we can do to help you succeed
    next time."

    The first step is to actually have dreams.  I am astonished at the number of people who just
    lurch from one day to the next with no plan and therefore no control over their own lives.
    If parents do that, then kids will likely follow.  Dreams promote hope - something to look
    forward to.  We ALL need to dream and KEEP dreaming, no matter how old we are.  When
    kids see us voicing our dreams and then fulfilling them, they catch the excitement and want
    to do the same.  Never discourage your child from dreaming big, outlandish or small dreams.
    Respond by helping them create a plan to reach them.  People with aspirations followed by
    ACTutalizations are exciting to be around.  It is contagious.  People who have no dreams are
    boring and miserable because they are unfulfilled.

    This point is tied into both numbers 1 and 3 above.  We need to be clear in our minds about
    what is right and wrong and, once we understand this it is easier to say,  'No'.  When we
    become over-committed we need to feel OK about saying no to any more commitments.
    We should not become 'people pleasers' because we are afraid we will let them down or lose
    their favor.

    Many times we miss out on fantastic opportunities because we are afraid we will not be able
    to do that thing, or make fools of ourselves trying.  Every person in history has felt the fear
    of trying something new because it is unfamiliar territory.  When a situation contravenes our
    personal values, cultural or social beliefs or the law, we should know, and say, "NO".

    Look after yourself.  Understand there will be times you will make mistakes or fail.  Everyone
    does.  The value we place on ourselves should be high otherwise point 5 above comes into
    play.  (When we think and speak badly about ourselves we lose our sense of hope and
    happiness).  Keeping a strong support system of friends and family will encourage you and
    help you in times of sadness, discouragement or indecision.  In being kind to yourself, you
    are also teaching your children what it means to be kind to themselves, too.

     This is really hard to do, especially if you are a 'fixer' by nature.  I remember the saying, 'FIX
     what you can, and CAN what you can't.  If you find you can't let go or that others are trying to
     stop you letting go, then you need professional help.  When you succeed you will be better
     equipped to help your kids through this process when they feel defeated and out of control of
     situations.  There are currently two very popular songs on the radio on this subject.  They are,
     'Let it Go', from the movie 'Frozen'  and 'Shake it Off' by Taylor Swift.

      Some people seem to have a bulls eye on their backs or a big sign on their foreheads saying,
      'Hit Me'.  They drain the life out of you with their constant negativity and inability to dig
      themselves out of the many holes they keep falling into.  While it is very wearying being
      around these people it is also frustrating, especially when you endeavor to give them good
      advice and they don't or won't take it!  In this instance you have to point them towards
      professional help and not let them continually unload their verbal 'junk' all over you.
12. LOVE.
      Love is the most valuable gift of all.  Love overlooks our own and others' failings. 
      It sees the best and not the worst in ourselves and others.  It thinks of others' needs before
      self and goes out of its way to comfort and care in times of trouble.  LOVE FORGIVES.

When we consciously and regularly work on improving our own quality of life, we automatically add to the quality of our children's lives.   Not only do they learn by what we say, but even more so by what we do and how we respond to situations!  For that reason, we should constantly be trying to improve ourselves so the best possible outcome may be accomplished and passed on within our families.

Resource: (Healing Lights photo)
Additional comments by Sally Burgess
Forefront Families LLC


So, did your little Tommy or Jenni get a dog, turtle, bird, chicken or kitten for Christmas?

I bet they were excited.  I have always loved family pets.  They bring a unique richness to their owners and they are a wonderful way to teach kids to be gentle, loving and kind in their care of them.

However, there are many things to weigh up before buying a family pet.

   a)  Is it practical to have this pet?  (Is our lifestyle going to be an issue?)
   b)  Can we afford to buy it?
   c)  Can we afford to feed it?
   d)  Can we afford veterinary care and vaccinations?
   e)  Have we got enough room?
   f)   How much attention and exercise does THIS pet need?
   g)  Will our child/children take responsibility for it?
   h)  Who will look after it when we go on vacation?
   i)   Is this a pet all family members will appreciate?  (Some pets pervade the whole household
           e.g. dogs, while others are confined e.g. fish or turtles.)
   j)  Are we willing to commit ourselves to this pet for its entire life? (Some large hooked-
           beaked birds, for example may well outlive their owners!)
   k) When the kids get tired of looking after their pet, do I/we want to take responsibility for it?
   l)  When the kids leave home, will the pet go with them?  If not, then what?
   m) Could the pet be dangerous? (e.g. snakes, certain breeds of dogs)

I have a friend whose kids were always bringing home pets.  One son decided he wanted a python so he brought it home and put it in a big covered fish tank in his bedroom.  There it stayed, hibernating for long periods.  One night it woke from its long slumber and escaped from the fish tank to find water.  It slithered down the hallway into the bathroom where it wrapped itself around the bowl of the commode and stuck its head in for a long drink.  Along came father to make a late night bathroom stop.  Fortunately, he turned the light on.  One look at the snake and his hair stood on end!  He bolted into to his son’s room, dragged him out of bed and made him retrieve his pet.  Needless to say the snake went to a new home at the zoo the very next day!

An animal deserves to live a long and happy life just like its owner.   How can we make that happen?

1. Be objective in buying a pet.  Don't fall into the trap of a child bouncing up and
    down before you pleading to buy a cute kitten or puppy they just saw in a pet store.  Weigh up all
    the factors above and then go looking for the very one that will most suit your circumstances.
2. Be kind to your pet.  Ensure all family members treat the pet gently, and thoughtfully at all times.
3. Be responsible for daily care. Add the pet responsibilities to your family's daily routines.
4. Plan vacation time to include pet care.
5. Ensure the pet receives timely and adequate vet care.

Unfortunately, many pets end up at the Humane Society because kids have ‘outgrown’ them or they become an inconvenience and this may mean a tragic end for the pet.

If you and your children treat your pets with love and respect they will give you many years of joy and devotion.

Once you learn to respect and love pets, that training stays with you even into old age.

Written by Sally Burgess
Forefront Families LLC



One of the most difficult things in life is to say, "I'm sorry."  In fact, I found it so hard to say the word 'sorry' as a child that I made sure I didn't say or do hurtful things, (even though I thought them), just so I didn't have to say I was sorry.  It sure made me think before I spoke on many occasions.

Perhaps the reason it is so hard to say we are sorry is that, in doing so, we are admitting we are wrong, plain and simple.  It puts us in a position of vulnerability with the other person.  What will the recipient say in response?  They could say, "And, so you should be sorry," or, "I will never forget this."  If they do, you know the situation really hasn't been resolved and you don't feel any release from the situation.  However, if they say, "I am sorry, also," or, "I forgive you," then you can move on because the situation has been amicably settled.


What if we say, "I'm sorry," and keep repeating the same offense?  Does 'Sorry' mean anything then?  Obviously not, because the word 'sorry' requires significant behavioral change.

It is important that our kids hear us saying the words, "I'm sorry" to one another.  As we teach them to say they are sorry they also need to understand that 'I'm sorry' also means we will not repeat the same behavior.  With adults, we can expect immediate correction, but, with children we need to allow them time to understand the full concept of what 'sorry' means.  We must understand that they will make a few mistakes until they get it right.

                           The first to apologize is the bravest.

                                                             The first to forgive is the strongest.

                                                                                            The first to forget is the happiest.


We often hear about, or are involved in, random acts of kindness as adults, but how about in relation to kids?  My husband, Brian, was teaching elementary children recently about what it means to be kind and they discussed unexpected expressions of kindness.


1. It takes an unselfish mind set.  We are all born selfish.  Our natural instinct is to satisfy
    ourselves before anything or anyone else.  We have to realize first and foremost that the world
    does not revolve around us.

2. It takes training to become aware of others' needs.  Tunnel vision prevents lateral awareness.
    Sometimes we really have to force ourselves to look at other people and try to evaluate their
    circumstances.  What is their facial expression or demeanor telling us?  Do they look cold or
    hungry?  Do they seem lonely?

3. It takes physical action.  Now comes the hard part, the time to reach out and touch them in
    some way.  It can be as simple as a hug or offering some financial assistance.  'Paying it
    forward' is a tremendous blessing to both the giver and the receiver.


  1. Write Christmas cards to the elderly or to soldiers.
  2. Call your grandparents and thank them for their kindness and tell them you love them.
  3. Do kind deeds for your parents without being asked.
  4. Bake cookies and take them to new or sick neighbors.
  5. Offer to carry groceries for an elderly person.
  6. Befriend a new child in the neighborhood or at school.
  7. Say, 'Thank you' to a policeman for protecting the community.
  8. Offer to baby sit so a mother can go out for an hour or two to 'unwind'.
  9. Be helpful to your teacher(s) and greet them every morning.
10. Think about giving at least one compliment to somebody every day.
11. Back up a person who may being bullied by someone.
12. Set aside a few toys in good condition that you're not using and give them to a needy child.
13. Ask your parents if they will go with you to pick up trash in the park or on the roadside.
14. Be sure to invite another child who may not be playing to join in with your group.
15. If someone falls help them up.
16. Hold the door open for someone else, especially an adult.
17. Smile at someone.  It will causes others to smile.
18. If you finish early, ask your teacher if you could help another student who is struggling
      with a subject.
19. Ask your parents if you could help out at a homeless shelter or a food bank.
20. Always be positive and say kind things to everyone around you.

By role modeling kindness we demonstrate to our children the joy it brings to recipients.  Kindness soon becomes contagious.

Written by Sally and Brian Burgess
Forefront Families LLC

Wednesday, January 7, 2015


         Having a place to go – is a home. 

                              Having someone to love – is a family. 

                                                       Having both – is a blessing.

I saw this picture recently and thought it was a great message for families.  Even if we didn't write these great points on our stairs, it would be a great poster idea for the kids you make.

When a mistake is made we just go to the poster and say, "Yes, Susie, we all mistakes." But, what else do we do? We say we are sorry.  We give second chances.  We forgive.  We give hugs.  We love.  That is because we are family."

In saying all of that, we also need to look at our responsibilities as parents and ask ourselves, 'What could we have done to prevent this mistake from happening?'  Let's make sure Susie has the knowledge and skill next time to be able to make the right choice.'

Written by Sally Burgess
Forefront Families LLC