Sunday, December 20, 2015


Think back to your own school days when Cassandra, (or was it Jack?) decided they didn’t want to be your friend any more or just changed friends without so much as a grin, then gave you grief.  You thought they were mean, and they probably were.  You cried a lot and decided to be mean back, because you didn’t know what else to do.

This has always happened, still does and always will.  Your parents may have dealt with it well and helped you through the crisis, or they didn’t handle it well and you learned through ‘the school of hard knocks’.

I’d like to offer you some suggestions when these crises happen to your child.


If you have developed a strong communication link with your child it will make the task easier as they will be honest with you and spill out the problem troubling them.  Listen to them with affirmative words, or at least grunts, without interrupting them.  Sometime during the session mention an experience you had and how you dealt with it.


If they have any true friends, (maybe they don’t go to the same school) ask her if she wants to invite a couple over to play.  This may take the focus off the tense situation at school and give her faith in other relationships.


Your child is probably feeling hurt, insecure and a bit angry in regards to the failed relationship.  Load affection on her.  Take her out and give her some happy times.  Maybe serve her favorite meal.  Reassure her that this situation will work itself out.  Acceptance and trust will build to a point where she will want to come and share her thoughts and emotions with you in the future.

Written by Brian Burgess, Forefront Families


We have heard a lot lately about random acts of kindness by adults, like paying for the groceries of the person behind you at the supermarket or taking an older person out for an afternoon drive.  We have extremely wealthy people giving away chunks of their fortunes to the needy and church folks going out into the community to help those in need.

It is equally important to teach our kids that giving unconditionally is something they can also be involved in.  To give someone else pleasure in a world that has become so self-centered, is a very strong value to instill into the whole family.  Here are some suggestions for kids to learn kindness:

1) Hold the door open for those behind you.

2) Say good morning to your teacher, principal, school officials and classmates.

3) Offer to let your classmate go first.

4) Ask if you can take your neighbor’s dog for a walk.

5) Invite someone new over for a play-date.

6) Collect dry products and canned goods for a food bank.

7) Volunteer to be a tutor or mentor in a school, especially if there is an area in
     which you can help another student.

8)  Give someone a compliment at least once every day.

9)  Color a picture, make something or send a treat to a senior center or nursing home.

10) Donate your unwanted toys and books to children in need.

11) Write a thank you note to your teacher, your coach, a firefighter, your mentor or
       someone who has influenced you in a positive way.

12)  Clean up the area around your school or a local park, picking up trash and
       putting it in the garbage can.  You can also help your teacher clean up the

13)  Be extra kind to your bus driver.  Say hello when you get on the bus and say
       thank you.

14)  Call your grandparent(s) or other special family members who you do not see

15) Set aside 10% of your allowance to give away to charities or church so that
       others will benefit.

16)  Write a note to your parent(s) or grandparent(s) and tell them why they are
        special to you.

17)  Help around the house without being asked to do so, such as cleaning your room,
       taking out the garbage or helping with the laundry.

18)  Going to a new school can be really scary so be friendly to any new students
        that may come to your class or grade.

19)  Organize the clothes you don’t wear anymore and donate them to a clothing
       drive or shelter.

20)  Smile.  Smiling is easy and happiness is contagious!

by Brian Burgess, Forefront Families


Have you ever pronounced a consequence on your child in anger and then realized it was completely inappropriate to the 'crime'?  Acting in anger and telling your child that they are grounded until they are 35 is just plain silly!!  On the one hand, it is impossible to enforce and on the other, who wants their child in the house making your life miserable for any length of time?  Drinking a cup of coffee or tea and a wander around the back yard to cool off will help you think straight before issuing a consequence. 

Yes, I can think of numerous times when I was a parent of younger children (that seems like 100 years ago!!) when my reaction in addressing my child’s misbehavior was something that I later regretted.  I have learned some valuable lessons that I want to pass on to you.



 PRO-ACTION: Kids deserve to know your expectations.  You explain what situation you are applying consequences to, then train your kids in the way you want them to behave.  You create either positive or negative consequences for their meeting or not meeting these expectations.  Achieving the very best from your kids will always come from praise for the positive rather than constantly berating them for the negatives.  Pro-action means you tell your kids clearly what the consequences will be for particular negative behaviors.  They make the decision to cross the line, and if they do, they already know what is coming.  That is playing fair with your kids.

REACTION: This is when you act without thinking which does not often bode well for either child or parent.   It often means that too harsh a consequence is issued which is unfair to the child.  It also means that a parent owes the child an apology for acting out of anger or frustration and not hearing the whole story before corrective action is applied.



A quick check of your own frustration or anger levels will tell you whether objectivity in a snap corrective decision can be achieved.  Give yourself and your child time to cool off.  It might mean sending the child to their room or talking the situation over with your spouse if a predetermined consequence has not been laid down.  It may be a time to reflect on whether you have made your expectations clear and/or whether you are displaying the behavior you are expecting of your child.

When you are ready to face your child try the following:

1) Tell him/her how you feel about his/her actions or lack of good judgment.

2) Tell them that it always pays to tell the truth, that trying to talk you out of the consequence
     is not going to work because it is important to learn to take responsibility for their own

3) Tell your child that even though you are disappointed you love them and trust they
     have learned the appropriate way to behave from here on.

4) Follow up with praise when they get it right.  Tell them they can always come to you
    to ask how to deal with situations they are unsure of.

5) Finally, apply the consequence when you are ready and as it is necessary.

Sometimes, especially at Middle or High School, a child may throw you a curve ball and do something out of character like skipping school.  You think, “But my child would never do that!”  It can happen to the best behaved children, especially if they are with a group of other kids egging them on.  When something like this happens, be prepared to wait a couple of days until all the facts are in and you have got over the shock.  Then act.

Written by Brian Burgess, Forefront Families


For many years the trend was all about spending a good quantity of time with your children.
Then a couple of decades ago it all changed to fit our busy life schedules. The catch-cry then
became, “It’s not the quantity of time that’s important. It’s the quality of time…a short period
of total focus on your child will suffice and they will be so invigorated by the special time, that
you’ll have contented kids. Not so in my experience.

For the last 18 years my wife and I have been running a parenting organization called Forefront Families (See the link below). We have found that kids need plenty of your time without distraction and the quality you put into it pays you big dividends.


 In a set of class lessons with 4th graders I asked the students, with their eyes closed, “How many of you would like your mother to spend more time with you?” 76% raised their hands. I asked how many wanted their fathers to spend more time with them. 68% said yes. You see, folks, just being in the same house or car is not ‘spending time’. The children stated that they want your undivided attention, doing something special and not costly with them. One parent, when asked by her daughter if she would please spend more time with her doing one-on-one activities, broke down and said words to the effect of, “I’m so sorry. I didn’t realize that it hurt you so much. I wish you had asked me earlier.” Now the mother and daughter are spending special times together.


Time is so short and we have our children only a brief time before they leave to make a life of
their own. Sometimes we can busy ourselves so much in our careers and endeavors, so that we
might give our families a good life, that we neglect to give what our kids want most, and that is
our TIME. One boy said that he would rather have his family live on the side of the road and
have time with each other than to live in a flash house with all the stuff. This statement blew
me away. Wow! Do you see how important it is to spend time with our children?

A business executive’s daughter was getting married. He had spent so little time with her that
he didn’t even know her bridesmaids’ names. Neither did he know his girl’s favorite color, but
he was very successful in his job. During the wedding his mind wouldn’t stop thinking about this
beautiful bride and how he didn’t really know her that well. His daughter had resigned herself
to never having a positive relationship with her dad, because he was hardly ever around. On
Monday, following the wedding, he called his aspiring employees together and talked to them
about the turmoil and regret, even shame, he had gone through over the weekend. “If any of
you want my job, just ask me. I have lost such valuable time and relationship with someone I
love dearly. I thought I was doing all this to give her and my other children a good life. It’s just
not worth it!”

by Brian Burgess, forefront Families

CAT'S IN THE CRADLE by Harry Chaplin

My child arrived just the other day
He came to the world in the usual way
But there were planes to catch, and bills to pay
He learned to walk while I was away
And he was talking 'fore I knew it, and as he grew
He'd say, "I'm gonna be like you, dad
You know I'm gonna be like you."

And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man in the moon
"When you coming home, dad?" "I don't know when
But we'll get together then
You know we'll have a good time then."

My son turned ten just the other day
He said, "Thanks for the ball, dad; come on, let's play
Can you teach me to throw?"
I said, "Not today, I got a lot to do."
He said, "That's okay."
And he walked away, but his smile never dimmed
And said, "I'm gonna be like him, yeah
You know I'm gonna be like him."

And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man in the moon
"When you coming home, dad?" "I don't know when
But we'll get together then
You know we'll have a good time then."

Well, he came from college just the other day
So much like a man, I just had to say
"Son, I'm proud of you. Can you sit for a while?"
He shook his head, and he said with a smile
"What I'd really like, dad, is to borrow the car keys
See you later; can I have them please?"

And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man in the moon
"When you coming home, son?" "I don't know when
But we'll get together then, dad
You know we'll have a good time then."

I've long since retired, and my son's moved away
I called him up just the other day
I said, "I'd like to see you if you don't mind."
He said, "I'd love to, dad, if I could find the time
You see, my new job's a hassle, and the kid's got the flu
But it's sure nice talking to you, dad
It's been sure nice talking to you."

And as I hung up the phone, it occurred to me
He'd grown up just like me
My boy was just like me

And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man in the moon
"When you coming home, son?" "I don't know when
But we'll get together then, dad
We're gonna have a good time then."