Saturday, April 11, 2015



This is an age-old acorn that everyone must have been asked as children. "What do you want to do when you grow up?" It really is fascinating to look back on our own childhood to see whether we had any aspirations and, if so, whether we actually fulfilled those dreams? It is a rather difficult question, because from childhood to the time we look for a career, myriads of new job options have been created while others may have disappeared.

When I was in high school, the majority of jobs offered to girls appeared to be nursing, teaching, banking, office-workers and sales assistants. For boys it was a wider range of jobs including, but not exclusively, teaching, banking, accounting, trade apprenticeships and office work. These days, because of the massive diversity in technology, the ‘world is our oyster’. In fact, many manual jobs have been taken over by robots replacing people manpower.

If you ask 5 year-old boys what they want to be when they grow up they will usually still want to be a fireman, policeman, racing car driver, digger driver, Bob the Builder, Superman, Spiderman or other terminator good guys. The children’s career choices at that age are directly influenced by the programs they see on TV. They act out their dreams through the use of action figures and toys they plead with their parents to buy in stores. It is all ‘brawn and bravery’! You don’t ever see the kids opting for a sedentary job, like sitting at a desk and doing office work. They see no excitement in that. Girls will usually still play with dolls and want to be a mommy, although these days their role models may be the likes of Strawberry Shortcake, Elsa or Anna (‘Frozen’ characters) or girl ‘terminator’-type action figures.


My real reason for writing this blog is to say that I cannot believe the number of teens I come across who have absolutely no blind clue what they want to do vocationally. It is all, "I wonder...."  It is pretty sad to say to a thirty-year-old, “What are you going to do when you grow up?” Honestly, it is just plain sad! These ‘kids’ have usually gone to college on mom and dad’s dime. After all, their parents have been putting the money aside for their education since the day they were born and, ‘by hokey’, they are going to college whether they are capable and/or willing to go, or not.


How can we help our kids find their way to a satisfying work life? Here are some suggestions:

a) Watch them from the time they are around 5 years old. See what kind of play they gravitate
     towards. Are they really adept with their hands? Do they like jigsaws, reading, physical
     activity, playing with Lego, drawing or coloring? Maybe they like making things out of
     nothing e.g. egg cartons, pieces of wool and glue. Do they like inventing things, or are they
     really into singing or trying to play a musical instrument? (Don't be tempted to buy them every
     instrument in the orchestra!).

b) Take them to various places that might interest them. Do they like camping, playing a
     particular sport, or going to the symphony? Some of these places of interest may not become
     their full-time vocation, but if they want to participate it will teach them about setting and
     reaching goals, perfecting skills, and learning how to deal with failure as well as success. It also
     teaches a child to be persistent and not give up.

c) When the children get to early high school, take them to a vocational counselor and get as many
     pamphlets and ideas for careers as possible. See if you can book some time for them to be able
     to visit a place of interest e.g. a legal office or court, a graphic design studio, a recording studio,
     a hospital or a building site. Also, try to find people who are in the vocations of interest and ask
     if they will talk with your son or daughter and answer any questions they may have.

d) Get your child to visit a university as well as go on-line and see what educational pathways would
     be necessary to fulfill their dream.


Allow time for your child to really explore options and be prepared for them to change their mind.
Whatever career they decide to follow you should expect your child to do the best they possibly can.
That means they do THEIR best and it may not end up being the top grade in the class. No matter
what job they go for, the boss is going to require excellent workmanship and great attitudes.

If you have any questions on this subject, do not hesitate to contact us at
and obtain more helpful advice on our website at www,

Written by Sally Burgess
Photograph compliments of Kristee Mays

Wednesday, April 8, 2015



A 50 year old man named Phil told the following story about how he learned the hard way to 'straighten up and fly right'.

Phil said he was bullied as a child.  Because he was picked on he developed the mentality of being a 'loser', so it seemed to him that getting negative attention was better than none.

As he grew older he learned how to 'needle' his father just to get a reaction.  Strange as it may seem, he was feeding off his father's fury.  On many occasions he was grounded as a high school student, but found a way of getting out of the house without his parents knowing.  One of his plans was to get the long ladder from the shed and place it under a vacant upstairs bedroom window at the back of the house, out of sight.  Then he would tell his parents he was going to bed early.  He would get out onto the roof and slide over to where the ladder was, get down and walk a couple of blocks to where his girlfriend was waiting in a car.  They would park and he would eventually come back home about 1:00 a.m.   When he got home he would go out and take the ladder down, put it back in the shed and then go to bed.  (He was confident he would never be found out because his father would never go upstairs because he didn't want to know what went on up there.  (Now, there's a big mistake!)  This escape system went on for some time until one night he forgot to take the ladder down and his Dad found it leaning up against the wall.  He said that, at the time, he was working during the school holidays on a building site.  His father strode through the building and found Phil outside smoking.  Now his father could enforce a double whammy!  He was grounded for the rest of the holidays.


One day, after yet another episode, Phil's father approached him and with his lip quivering and tears starting to flow he said, "Phillip, I just don't know what to do with you any more."  Phil said he was so shocked at seeing his father being so distraught that he fell into his fathers arms and they both sobbed.  Phil said to his father, "I will never cause you a problem again." He never did.  It took his father's tears to make him realize how selfish he had been and how his mean spirit had hurt the person he really loved the most.


Kids need:
1. To know and feel that they are loved and valued as individuals.
2. To know what the parental expectations are AND why they were drawn up.
3. Our interest, attention, encouragement and praise in their everyday lives.
4. Boundaries, consequences and consistent responses to their negative behavior.
5. To know the effect that their words and actions have on others - both positive and negative.
6. To know how to choose and maintain healthy, positive friendships.
7. To be confident enough to tell parents of worries and concerns they have.

Written by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families


The term, 'using our common sense' implies that we should know things without being told. I do not believe we develop common sense by osmosis, but rather, we have to learn common sense the same way as we learn anything.  Some of it comes through observation, but most of it is literally the result of being taught what to do and why we do it.  Our decisions are formulated from previous experience, what we already know, training and experimentation. It is called, making an 'educated' choice.

If you watch 'America's Funniest Home Videos' you will see that, in most cases, people have not thought through an action or activity, and some calamity occurs. It certainly appears that they have not learned 'common sense'!

Here are some examples:
My aunt decided she would get a better view of the ocean if she climbed on top of the toilet seat lid to look out through a high window.  Common sense would have alerted her to the fact that her body weight was far greater than the plastic lid was designed to hold.  As a result, she fell through the toilet seat, badly injuring her shins.  Her common sense was on the same vacation as she was!

The inexperienced fisherman who recently took a small sail boat out into the gulf for a week to catch fish, seriously lacked common sense when he did not supply authorities with a required 'float plan' prior to setting sail and was not experienced in handling his boat in rough seas.  He was extremely fortunate that he did use some ingenuity in being able to stay alive for 66 days until he was rescued.  He has now hopefully learned some common sense.

The boy who decided to jump off a roof, onto a trampoline which would then propel him into a pool did not think about what could go wrong but was egged on by his friends. His lack of common sense in considering the injuries he might incur, was completely clouded by his need to show off to his friends.

A child being shot by a loaded gun inside a house clearly shows that common sense was not in evidence in allowing a loaded gun to be anywhere within a child's reach.  In fact, having a loaded gun lying around, period, showed no common sense. 

Common sense is subjective.  It can be affected by many things.  For this reason we have laws, rules and policies in place to protect people e.g.  secure 4' fencing around pools helps prevent small children from falling in and drowning.  The speed limit is there to control speed and intersection lights to prevent people getting injured.  Gun licenses are required to ensure owners use them safely.

Children are not born with common sense!


1. We teach our kids 'cause and effect' from their earliest years. "The fire is hot."  "It feels hot
     when we go near it."  "Do not go near the fire because it could burn you."  "That hurts!"

2. We learn by others' mistakes by teaching our children what went wrong and why and how
     to use appropriate wisdom in those particular circumstances.

3. We demonstrate common sense through wise decision making in our every day lives.

4. We prepare our children for possible problems before they attempt to execute their plans.
     a) "Before you go camping check all your gear is working, take your phone, charge it
         when and if you can, tell us where you are going and for how long.  Always stay
         together.  Take enough food for twice the length of time you are out.  Take a first aid
     b) "You are going to Susie's party.  Will you know everyone there?  Will parents be
          there? What happens when people drink?  If you feel uncomfortable for any reason,
          call us and we will come and get you."

5. We set curfews and tell our kids why.  I had to be home by 11 p.m. on weekends and I knew
    that if I didn't get through the door by that time, my father would be out looking for me.
    Those were the days when we had no phones, so I felt safer knowing that he cared.

6. We list a general set of guidelines to help our children prepare for most occasions.  Ask yourself:
     a) Is this activity safe?  Has it been done safely before?  Am I endangering my life or the
         life of others?
     b) Do I have the correct information, working gear, means of communication, money, protection
          or supplies to fulfill this mission?
     c) Would my parents be happy about me doing this?
     d) Does anyone know where I am and who I am with? 
     e) Are there directions or rules that I must follow?  Am I breaking the law?

We do not want our kids to learn by trial and error. "You will know not to do that next time!" is not
a very useful tool to use.  Of course, we cannot predict and prepare our children for
every scenario, but we can prepare them for many situations.

Written by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families

Wednesday, April 1, 2015


I was listening to our local talk back radio host yesterday as I was driving and he was sparking comments about a recent study that has come out stating that we could be breeding narcissistic kids!

The findings, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, discovered that parents who "overvalue" their kids between the ages of 7 and 11 raised children who scored higher on tests of narcissism.  In other words, parents who described their offspring as "more special than other children" and as deserving "something extra in life" had kids who think they're God's gift to the world.

Wow!  That is quite an eye opener.  In the home I grew up in, I don't ever recall my parents being over exuberant about our abilities.  In fact, I know my father thought my head was quite big enough without him singing my praises!  From the days when children were to be 'seen and not heard' until now there has been a massive change in family dynamics.  We all appreciate that when a child is first born, all activities focus on the needs of the baby.  The problem is that in a number of families, the child remains the center of attention instead of learning to become part of the family.  They expect their needs and wants to come before anything or anyone else.  This is not the child's fault.  It is the parents' responsibility to make this change in the child's thinking.



1. By telling our child they are better than others we promote an elitist attitude.  There is
    a distinct difference between praising our kids for their efforts and achievements, and
    leading them to believe they have more personal value than others.
    Elitist attitudes can create:
    a) Snobbery.
    b) Racism.
    c) The belief that there are different laws or rules for different people.
    d) The lack of understanding about, or experiencing, boundaries and consequences for poor

2. When a child is told by parents they are the 'best' the satisfaction of achievement is stolen
     from them.  They either don't try because they believe they have already 'made it,' or, they
     wear themselves out trying to prove they are the best by comparing themselves with others
     when they are physically or emotionally unable to do so.

3. They do not learn to be part of a team.  Their attitude is one of selfishness.  The world will
    continue to revolve around them.  Their needs and wants are paramount.

4. Their integrity is suspect.  There will always be a suspicion that they are manipulating
    situations to benefit themselves over others.

5. They never learn how to deal with personal failure because they are led to believe they will
     never fail.  If anything goes wrong, it was never their fault and parents will bail them
     out of any negative situations to protect their reputation and that of their parents (who are
     very likely narcissistic as well!)


1. Appreciate that all kids are special, but not perfect.  They shine in some areas and need
     help in others.  Give each child equal value and offer the same respect, attention and
     encouragement.  Have no favorites.
2. Create high, but not impossible expectations.  Praise them for achieving and assist them
    where they are not making the grade.  Teach them to set and achieve goals so they are making
    personal improvement and not merely comparing themselves with others.
3. Teach them values such as honesty, respect, commitment, integrity and obedience.
4. Set boundaries and consequences for unacceptable behavior.

SOURCES: Brad Bushman, Ph.D, Professor, communication and psychology, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio; James Garbarino, Ph.D, Senior Faculty Fellow, Center for the Human Rights of Children at Loyola University, Chicago; March 9, 2015, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, online.
Written by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families