Thursday, September 17, 2015



Post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental health condition that is triggered when a person witnesses a psychologically traumatic event, such as war, a natural disaster, or any situation that invokes feelings of helplessness or intense fear. Severe anxiety, flashbacks, uncontrollable thoughts and nightmares are common symptoms of the illness. These symptoms can worsen and last for years.

Daniel G Amen MD states
"In recent years, the media has raised our social awareness about PTSD because it has affected so many soldiers returning from combat. But did you know that studies show that violent homes have the same effect on a child’s brain as combat does on soldiers?

It’s true!

Growing up in a chaotic, aggressive environment causes the same brain changes in children as what soldiers experience in war. It can actually change your brain, perhaps for the rest of your life. While emotional trauma in childhood can follow you into adulthood, it doesn’t have to.

It all starts with looking at your brain to determine its health. On brain SPECT scans, the pattern of PTSD typically reveals over-activity in multiple areas of the brain—often referred to as the "diamond plus pattern." This high activity tends to keep the brain on overdrive, increasing anxiety, irritability and interfering with sleep." - read more (source below)

This information is disturbing.  I never equated the effects of a warring home on a child to be so similar to a combative war zone, but when you consider the effects of extreme anxiety, helplessness and the inability to escape from a physically or emotionally violent home, it becomes all too clear.

Parents and those close to children from violent homes need to be aware this toxic environment WILL CREATE IN THEM a feeling of extreme anxiety, insecurity and entrapment.  They watch parental breakdown in technicolor.  There is no place of safety and no-one they can truly trust.

There are many sources of professional help available.  Parents, do not expose yourselves or your children to physical or emotional distress.

Get help as soon as possible to save yourselves and your children from short and/or long term traumatic distress.

Sources: Source: 

Comments by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families

Wednesday, September 16, 2015


There are a number of advantages in letting kids play in the dirt.  It exposes kids to different textures.  It provides an opportunity for kids to use their imaginations, to create roads, move dirt, build bridges, create little river-ways and other things.  It also gives kids the opportunity to learn about growing things - how to plant, how to tend and protect plants and how to enjoy the flowers and veggies they grow.

Another great advantage of playing in dirt is the natural immunity it creates.  I find the huge push to eradicate 99.9% of germs by companies pushing disinfectants absolutely ridiculous.  They are so intent on selling their product that they advocate the 'necessary' disinfection of all surfaces, including hands, at every opportunity.  How do you think our bodies build up immunity against germs if we are not naturally exposed to them?

There is something therapeutic about putting your hands or feet in the soil; to be in touch with the very thing that creates growth.  It is a 'grounding' experience.  You may recall the reaction of babies when they place their bare feet on the grass, in sand or in the dirt.  It is an unusual sensation  because most of the time their feet are covered.  It really is a point of discovery, of awareness as to how different objects and surfaces feel.

We were walking along the shoreline in New Zealand one day and saw a little girl in a pretty pink top and pants playing in a mud puddle.  It wasn't long before her clothes were covered in mud, but she was unaware of any of that.  She was having a great time.  Her parents didn't go and pull her away, they just let her experience the moment.  Good for them.

Written by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families.




What men say to their daughters now matters for years to come. Tara Hedman asks them to choose their words carefully.

I’m spending the morning waiting for my car in the repair shop. Four men in flannel (I missed the flannel memo) and I sit around smelling tires and inhaling exhaust fumes while an enchanting little fairy is in constant motion around her daddy. She climbs on him, giggles, turns around, and then she’s back to twirling on the tile.  She’s bouncing and spinning around in her pink frilly skirt. Her black cable knit tights are sagging around her tiny knees, and her puffy coat makes her arms stand out further than is natural. To top off the ensemble is a shiny crystal tiara. It’s been tacked down to her head with what appears to be about 60 haphazard bobby pins.

She’s probably four years old. So little, so vulnerable. She doesn’t seem concerned about it as she sings about teapots and ladybugs in her black Mary Janes. I feel myself tear up as I watch her. I tear up as I watch him watch her. She could not possibly know at four what impact this man, his character, or his words will have on her for years to come. And, maybe he doesn’t know either.

So, to all the daddies with little girls who aren’t old enough yet to ask for what they need from you, here is what we wish you knew:

1. How you love me IS how I will love myself.
2. Ask how I am feeling and listen to my answer. I need to know you value me before
    I can understand my true value.
3. I learn how I should be treated by how you treat my mom, whether you are married to
    her or not.
4. If you are angry with me, I feel it even if I don’t understand it, so talk to me.
5. Every time you show grace to me or someone else, I learn to trust God a little more.
6. I need to experience your nurturing physical strength, so I learn to trust the physicality
    of men.
7. Please don’t talk about sex like a teenage boy, or I think it’s something dirty.
8. When your tone is gentle, I understand what you are saying much better.
9. How you talk about female bodies when you’re ‘just joking’ is what I believe about
    my own.
10. How you handle my heart is how I will allow it to be handled by others.
11. If you encourage me to find what brings joy, I will always seek it.
12. If you teach me what safe feels like when I’m with you, I will know better how to guard
      myself from men who are not.
13. Teach me a love of art, science, and nature, and I will learn that intellect matters more
      than dress size.
14. Let me say exactly what I want even if it’s wrong or silly, because I need to know having
      a strong voice is acceptable to you.
15. When I get older, if you seem afraid of my changing body, I will believe something is
      wrong with it.
16. If you understand contentment for yourself, so will I.
17. When I ask you to let go, please remain available; I will always come back and need you
      if you do.
18. If you demonstrate tenderness, I learn to embrace my own vulnerability rather than fear it.
19. When you let me help fix the car and paint the house, I will believe I can do anything a
      boy can do.
20. When you protect my femininity, I learn everything about me is worthy of protecting.
21. How you treat our dog when you think I’m not watching tells me more about you than
      does just about anything else.
22. Don’t let money be everything, or I learn not to respect it or you.
23. Hug, hold, and kiss me in all the ways a daddy does that are right and good and pure. I
      need it so much to understand healthy touch.
24. Please don’t lie, because I believe what you say.
25. Don’t avoid hard conversations, because it makes me believe I’m not worth fighting for.

It’s pretty simple, really. Little girls just love their daddies. They each think their daddy hung the moon. Once in a while when you look at your little gal twirling in her frilly skirt, remember she’ll be grown one day. What do you want her to know about men, life, herself, love? What you do and say now matters for a lifetime. Daddies, never underestimate the impact of your words or deeds on your daughters, no matter their age.

—Photo Steven Snodgrass /Flickr
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Posted by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families



Through most of our active adult lives we don't really think much about time being more precious than money. After all, we do have the responsibility of providing a roof, clothing and food for ourselves and our families. Then we get caught up in the trap of 'upward mobility' in buying bigger homes in better locations to ensure we have garnered enough money for retirement. So, now we are not only providing for our family needs, but stretching our resources to accommodate our wants to such an extent that we have to use up the spare time we do have to service our financial commitments.


We tend to measure our success by the material things we accumulate rather than the quality of relationship which comes by spending time with our loved ones. In the greater scheme of things,
what really makes us happiest? Is it stuff or is it people? Is it a throw away toy or is it precious memories of spending time with others?


  1. We create an overall game plan and prioritize our time.
  2. We schedule time for work, spouse and individual children.
  3. We create vacation time that does not necessarily involve expense.
  4. We model what we want our kids to value most.
  5. We stick to the plan.


  1. We teach our kids why 'stuff' is far less important than time spent. 
  2. We are sewing seeds of wisdom, knowledge and expertise into their lives.
  3. We have the opportunity to find out their gifts and talents and help them set goals.
  4. It is a chance for parents to observe sadness or concern in their children.
  5. Spending time with our children gives them a strong feeling of value.
    Spending time with our families gives us the rest that we all need and also keeps us in perspective of what really matters. Money is one thing, but TIME is the greatest gift we can give ourselves and our families.

    Written by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families