Wednesday, December 7, 2016


You have often heard the saying, 'Nothing is impossible if you put your mind to it'.  That really got me thinking the other night when I couldn't sleep.  For one thing, it was my mind buzzing that was stopping me sleeping!


Yes, I would have to say almost anything IS possible - with conditions.  Some things we have complete control over and some things we don't.  Things are achievable when we are physically and/or intellectually capable and some are not.  Immediately, I think of the miraculous achievements of people like Wilma Rudolph and Dr. Glen Cunningham who had, at one time, been crippled and yet with enormous effort, won Olympic athletic medals.  Yes, there will always be those outstanding stories.


1. The will - the 'what' and the 'why?' - made up of vision, belief or confidence in one's ability
    and determination not to give up.
2. The means - the 'how' e.g. goals, plan, support (financial, emotional), equipment, time and
    physical and/or emotional fitness.
3. The opportunity - the 'when' - the vehicle to be able to attain a goal e.g the event, climate,
    circumstances, location e.g. the rock face, calm seas, the classes offered to fulfill required
    educational qualifications to become a 'specialist'.


There are some goals we can have complete control over e.g. the courses are there, the exams set, then you pass or you don't pass.  But sometimes we cannot control the results e.g. we enter a singing competition, go for a job or run a race.  We have no control over the mindset of those judging us or who else will be in the race.  All we can do is our best and see what happens.  This is where determination comes in.


If we have set goals, we need to also include contingencies such as the subjectivity of those in control of results.  You can work at making it more and more impossible to be excluded from winning.  When I entered The Country Music Entertainer of The Year, I knew it would be a long haul.  I studied my judging sheets carefully and worked on the negatives.  I made sure the songs I entered with were strong (showing the best of my voice) and I didn't give up until I won, even though I knew that the results were influenced by subjectivity.


We do not want to set ourselves or our children up to fail.  We cannot allow ourselves to try and live our unrequited dreams out though our children.  We need to choose our own dreams to follow.  If we or our children try out some activity and we are just not reaching our goals, then there is no shame in trying something similar or completely different, until we find the right fit.

The greatest shame is to look back on a life of missed opportunities, the feeling of exhilaration in our successes - be they big or small.  Make sure you find your mission or dream and explore all the possibilities.  My friend Jim climbing the rock face in the picture, has been heavily into physical challenge  for many years.  He has also introduced his children to similar sports.  What a great role model he has been, and if any of his kids had not wanted to be involved in such a physical sport I know he would have helped them explore their own aspirations.

Written by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families
Photo supplied by Jim Giordano

Friday, November 11, 2016


It has been indeed alarming to see and hear the backlash occurring because of the choice of leadership in our country this week.  This blog is not the place to discuss personal preference with the leadership itself, but it is most disturbing to witness the violence on the streets and the reaction of students now that the opportunity for the first woman President for the USA has not materialized. Some students are so distraught that they are begging their professors to allow them to go to a crying room, or skip or postpone mid-term exams because they are far too upset to think straight.

NEW YORK POST: Liberal college students, devastated over the results of the election, have been begging their teachers to cancel classes and midterm exams — and one Yale professor happily obliged on Wednesday.

A friend on Face Book made these remarks:

              “When I first read about this yesterday, I was greatly disturbed. The students’
               Professor is doing his students a complete disservice in not allowing them to
               learn how to function in the wake of disappointment and further encouraging
               their entitlement mentality. In the real world we have bad news every day and
               we have to learn how to work through that news. If the students were properly
               prepared for the exam, and this being real life, it would make no difference.

               College grades are good, but even more important is navigating life. The best
               grades in the world won’t matter if you perform poorly on a job (due to some
               major disappointment). I’m concerned that students who are being thus
               mollycoddled, may never meet their highest potential in life.”
   Karen Wevick

We need to teach our kids to act responsibly despite what is happening around them.  I am not talking about a personal tragedy, but rather, general national or territorial disturbances.  It is not appropriate to create a riot or break the law to protest decisions.  Peaceful demonstrations are one thing, but causing damage to property, injury or even death to prove a point is not the way to handle it.

We need to show our kids how to work through disappointments, injustices and disagreements.  They will mirror whatever we do.  They need to learn from us that everything is not always going to go our way.  Bullying behavior, violence and hate speech solves nothing.  We need to stop and think hard before lashing out against a situation.

Written by Sally Burgess with comment by Karen Wevick


‘Fatherlessness’ has caused repercussions in our society that we did not anticipate twenty years ago. While many marriages have always broken down, divorce and reconstituted marriage is almost pandemic in its proportions. Mothers have born the brunt of raising children alone and have generally done a great job. However, the lack of fathers in homes has led to a generation where a percentage of adolescents are running wild in the community, some even killing each other. Father modeling is just not available to many youths who so desperately need a positive example to exemplify what ‘being a man’ and ‘being a father’ is all about.


Many mothers have overindulged their sons, partially as an over-compensation for not having a father around. Sons are not expected to pick up after them selves, to cook, or to do other household chores. This is hardly fair on the woman they eventually marry who certainly doesn’t want to be the man’s mother figure and do for him what he has expected his mother to do.

Further to this, even fathers in good marriages have not always had effective modeling from their fathers and we men tend to pass down to our children what we know and have experienced. Many baby boomers’ parents were influenced by child psychologist, John B. Watson. He was influential after World War 1 and right up to the post WW2 era. His philosophy was one of austerity and lack of affection by parents towards their children. To him it was sufficient for a parent to shake their child’s hand in the morning and to give them a peck on the forehead in the evening while in their bed “lest they drown in mother love.”


Spock came forward with his unmitigated child-centered philosophy and the western civilization swallowed it hook, line and sinker. It was so refreshingly different and empowered parents to have a relationship with their children they felt they could never have before. Stemming from the indulgence of the Dr. Spock (not Star Wars!) era many baby boomer fathers are the result of our parents’ pendulum swing to the opposite extreme. From authoritarianism to indulgence. From a position of parent centered to child centered family management. From being seen but not heard, to children having input into family life. From being the child in a family to being in charge.


The hippy era with its ‘free love, drugs and rock ‘n roll’ is seen by many as the result of the ‘anything goes’ culture that arose out of the Spock epoch. The so-called X and Y generations have suffered the fate of that indulgent era as parents, especially fathers, enter marriage with so few skills to successfully manage their families.

If this seems all gloom and doom let me say that there are men who have risen to become the responsible adult models their children need. This does not just happen. It takes skill and practice. Fathers, our example so often leads to our boys becoming great fathers. This will likely become generational.

The leadership of fathers does indeed shape our nation.

There are many resources available to help men in their fathering role. If you do not feel you are in parental control of your family, then seek help.

Written by Brian Burgess, Forefront Families


I think every parent struggles with letting their child go, especially mothers. It is not just once, but many times through the years we find ourselves wanting to hold onto our precious children. It starts from when we first leave them with a sitter to the time they walk up the aisle.  I vividly recall my 3 year-old son’s first day at Kindergarten. I was so worried that he would be traumatized by me leaving him with complete strangers, I could not pluck up the courage to walk away. My mind was made up for me when the caregivers told me to ‘just go’!

Then there was the first day of school where I thought he would be lonely and frightened and the first game of football where I worried he might get hurt. There was the first time he failed, the first girlfriend and finally the day he married. I suffered some of the same personal trauma with my daughter, although I was a little more prepared for those feelings of ‘loss’ the second time around.


Obviously, we mothers never believe anyone can care for our little Johnnie/Susan the way we can. We know their needs, their moods and we sense when they are starting to become anxious. We have a natural instinct to care for and protect our little ones at all cost. If I am really honest, I think I enjoyed being the answer to my child’s every need. I liked to be needed, to be the first one my kids turned to when they wanted to be comforted or needed anything.

As they enter the school system others begin to assume authority in our kids’ lives. We are no longer their only source of help, care, comfort and protection. Beyond our immediate sphere of influence we cannot always be there to protect them. This becomes disconcerting for a mother, especially when tales come home from school and we only hear one side of the story. Many a time, I offered to go down to the school waving my imaginary purple umbrella and sort out some offender. That threat became a joke because my kids would always howl, “No, Mom! PLEASE don’t come to school.” What? I was no longer viewed by my own kids as their champion, their only solver of all problems?

I was beginning to realize I needed an attitude adjustment. It wasn’t that my children no longer needed me. It was the fact that they were growing older and were beginning to face the world and solve problems without me, finding other sources of help, e.g. their football coach, their teacher, their friends and maybe even their friends’ parents. 


 The first thing we need to be assured of is that they will make wise choices and clearly recognize that there are both positive or negative consequences for each action taken or word spoken. Home is a safe place to practice becoming independent. The danger is in constantly anticipating their problems and answering them without giving kids a chance to fly on their own while they are still in the safetly of home.

Once we recognize that our role has changed we need to re-establish a life of our own and not rely on our children to fulfill our needs. They should have ceased being the center of the universe as preschoolers. All through our kids’ growing up my husband and I were working on our interests as well as caring for them. We had a dance band. We had a small farm. We studied at University. We had full time jobs and we were fully engaged in numerous church activities. By our children living in a constantly revolving and stimulating home environment, we taught them how to set and achieve goals, to problem solve, deal with failures and most of all how to live and enjoy life.

There is no denying the internal turmoil we have when we see our child give their heart to another. I defy any mother to tell me she did not shed a tear on her child’s wedding day. Yet, that special love a child has for his/her parents will always be there as long as we have not smothered them from the beginning, to the point that they wanted to ‘escape’.

Our kids need to know they go with our blessing and that we will always be that ‘go to’ person when their other trusted resources don’t have the answer. Our adult children have become our best friends. I hope yours are or will be, too. 

LETTING GO (sung by Suzy Bogguss)
Written by: Doug Crider and Matt Rollings

She'll take the painting in the hallway,  The one she did in jr. high
And that old lamp up in the attic,  She'll need some light to study by.
She's had 18 years to get ready for this day
She should be past the tears, she cries some anyway

Oh, oh letting go
There's nothing in the way now,
Oh letting go, there's room enough to fly
And even though, she's spent her whole life waiting,
It's never easy letting go.

Mother sits down at the table, So many things she'd like to do
Spend more time out in the garden, Now she can get those books read too.
She's had 18 years to get ready for this day
She should be past the tears, she cries some anyway.

Oh oh letting go
There's nothing in the way now,
Oh letting go, there's room enough to fly
And even though, she's spent her whole life waiting,
It's never easy letting go.

Blog written by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families


What incredible values to adopt in our families.

Sally Burgess, Forefront Families.

Thursday, September 22, 2016


To me, a hug is a sure sign of acceptance, of reassurance, of comfort, of care and in many cases, of love on the part of the person giving the hug.

To some, to open one’s arms to another is a sign of vulnerability on their part.

To a very few, it feels like an intrusion into their personal space. You can tell that when they back away and stiffen as you try to put your arms around them. I am not sure what has created such a reaction, but I can say it seems very sad. They are missing out. Missing out on what?


When a person feels the arms of another around them they are letting their guard down in order to feel the warmth, and to experience the love and care of that person.  I don’t think we can ever underestimate the value of a hug.   We, who experience frequent hugs, don’t always realize how fortunate we are.  People who lose their partners or friends have told me that the greatest thing they miss is human touch.
Research states that hugs cure depression, boost the immune system, reduce stress, induce sleep, and invigorate and rejuvenate the mind and body.  It is commonly said that it takes four hugs a day to survive, eight hugs a day to maintain a strong emotional level, and twelve hugs a day to grow.

I saw a great clip on “YouTube” showing a guy named Juan Mann walking down Pitt Street in Sydney, Australia, with a big sign saying, “Free hugs”.  Initially, nobody would go near him, but then a little old lady tapped him on the arm and asked for a hug because her dog had died that day and it was the anniversary of her daughter’s death.  One hug started an avalanche, one guy actually hurling himself at the hugger. Then the police banned Juan from hugging without $250,000 insurance in case he hurt someone.  He raked in the required 10,000 protester signatures and was allowed to continue.   He even hugged a policeman.


If hugs are so beneficial to our well-being, then why do we not proactively pursue hugging one another?   It has been said that most adults love to hug babies and animals, but some hesitate to hug another adult because they fear rejection.  Physical touch of any kind has been banned in some schools.  My husband, Brian, has been working with children all of his work life and these days he is not supposed to comfort a child except to talk to them (but he often ‘forgets’!).  He says many kids run up and hug him and, although he doesn’t discourage it, he cannot overtly respond.


Kids are crying out for assurance through human touch, especially from their parents.  When they have been disciplined they need to be assured by parental touch (such as a hug) that the parent is seeking behavioral change and is not rejecting the child.


It takes an effort.  It requires our acceptance of others.  If you haven’t been a hugger, then here are some starter suggestions:
  • Look at people as you walk down the street, and as you catch their eye, smile at them. 
  • When you see a need, ask if you can help.  
  • Say a kind word. 
  • Say, “Thank you.” 
  • Say you are sorry. 
All of these things validate the other person. When you see other people's responses, then you will feel more confident to actually reach out and touch or hug another person. In some instances it is a good idea to ask permission to hug before making a move.

Hug your kids and encourage them to be huggers, also.  Hug your friends and tell them how much you love and appreciate them.  You may even be bold like Juan Mann and hug strangers.  You will never know how this simple act of giving someone else value can change their perspective on life.

Reference: Free Hugs video Juan Mann: Check it out.

Written by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families


I saw this posted on Face Book the other day and thought it was well worth discussing.

                  "The more chances you give someone the less respect they will have for
                    you.  They will begin to ignore the standards you have set because they
                     know another chance will be given.  They are not afraid to lose you
                    because they know no matter what you do they will not walk away from
                     you.  They get comfortable relying on your forgiveness.  
                               Never let a person get comfortable disrespecting you."  


There in the second sentence is the key to gaining respect.  If there are no standards or expectations there is likely no consequences for actions.  If there are no consequences given there is little or no point of measurement for acceptable and unacceptable behavior.


When we set standards we must teach our kids and allow them to make mistakes until they get it right.  The key here is to determine when they have learned by their mistakes and when to stop giving second chances without consequences.

N.B. They need to know what the consequences are beforehand and there should be no backing off issuing them.  Having done so, the parent then talks to the child about the situation and how to deal with it successfully in future.


You will gain your child's respect when you respond appropriately to both positive AND negative behaviors.  Kids love to be praised for doing a good job.  It means you have observed and are pleased with their actions.  Kids also want to hear you say, 'NO' sometimes.  They need to know they have crossed the line and that you are not prepared to overlook it without a consequence.  It says to them that you care about them.  I doubt any child will believe the age old saying, "This hurts me more than it hurts you", when you issue a corrective action, but they should know where they stand with you.  You have expectations and they really do want to know they are meeting and exceeding those requirements.

Kids will walk all over weak parents which is, of course, disrespectful.  It can easily be observed in the classroom.  One teacher will have children eating out of their hand, as it were, while in another classroom the kids are running wild.  Where does most learning take place?  In the well-controlled classroom.  Where is there excitement in achievement?  In the controlled environment.


When our kids learn that respect develops from:
     a. Obeying set standards
     b. Understanding how negative actions affect others
     c. Admitting and asking forgiveness for mistakes made (and learning from those mistakes)
     d. Having a positive, thoughtful and thankful attitude towards others
they WILL succeed in school, in work and in family life.  When they are respectful, they will also gain respect from others.

Success comes through a combination of support and love from parents, as well as a controlled, respectful and loving environment.  This allows our kids to explore their giftings and to excel in what they love to do.  This is our son and daughter-in-law proudly posing with our grandson, 10 year-old Jaedon, who just won a very prestigious 2016 schools regional speech competition.  This involved winning the school competition, then the district's schools competition and finally the city-wide competition (city population 1.6 million).

Written by:  Sally Burgess, Forefront Families

Thursday, September 15, 2016


                 "Ever since my child was a toddler she has been hard to manage.  I am afraid that 
                  when she gets to 7 or 8 years-old I won't be able to control her at all.  What is 
                  wrong with her? Where did I go wrong?"

STEP 1:  Rule out physical challenges.  Could your child have hearing or sight impairment?
                Could they be on the autism spectrum?  Could they be in pain?

STEP 2 Investigate emotional challenges?  Does each child get an equal amount of positive
                attention as their siblings do.  Being the middle child in a family or a child with a        
                disability sometimes requires the parent to give more attention.  Maybe this is a single  
                parent home where time is limited?  Is this child part of a blended family that may be   
                fretting over the loss of the absent parent or being picked on by step-siblings.

STEP 3:  Is it in the genes?   Is the child simply strong-willed in comparison to your other
                children?  If this is so, then a strong will does NOT excuse inappropriate, negative 

STEP 4Do their issues stem from you?

                a) Have you established clear expectations, boundaries and consequences for negative
                    behaviors?  Have you explained and trained your kids to meet these expectations?
                b) Are you consistent?  Do you apply consequences one day and not the next.  Do you
                    model the kind of behavior you expect from your child or is there one rule for
                    them and another for you? 

               c) Are you fair in your parenting approach?  Do you praise when they reach and/or
                   exceed your expectations?  Do you forgive and forget or do you constantly
                   remind your child of their failings e.g. "I knew I couldn't trust you to do it right after
                   the mess you made of it last time."  Do you compare or favor one child
                   over another, or treat one child more kindly than another?  Do you make promises
                   you can't or won't keep?  Do you over-react out of anger rather than allowing yourself
                   to cool down and become objective in your response?  Do you praise more than
                   admonish your child?

There is no getting away from the fact that parenting is a hard and sometimes thankless job.  However, when you provide a caring and loving home environment; value each child for their differences rather than try and push them into the same mold; when you spend time with each child and make an 'all out' effort to understand how they tick, what they like, how they roll and are consistent in your parenting practices, you will garner their respect, love and the positive behavior you are looking for.

Written by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families

Tuesday, August 16, 2016


We are living in a volatile world where determination to overpower others at any cost is ever present.  This affects us all.  We are constantly facing decisions about who and what is right after considering all sides and evaluating all information we can muster.  If this is stressful for us, how much more are our attitudes affecting our children?

We have found it impossible to discuss politics with some of our friends.  They are so vehement in their convictions that exploding opinions makes having a meaningful conversation on the subject impossible.  Children in these homes are soaking up their parents' attitudes and the way they are expressing them.  Highly opinionated parents tend to produce highly opinionated kids.  Instead of allowing their children to work out what is right and wrong when they come to an age of really understanding the issues, the parents are modelling intolerance.

1. We need to accept that other people think differently than we do and that their beliefs have
     value to them.
2. We need to think seriously about how we came to believe what we do, and not just because our
    parents or significant others held those opinions e.g. "I am voting for X party because our family
    has always done so."  We need to have rational reasons for our beliefs and share these with our
    children as they reach their teens.
3. We need to allow our kids to ask questions and even disagree with us, without us becoming
    defensive.  We need to listen and therefore give value to our children's ideas and inquiries.
4. We need to seriously evaluate our opinions and attitudes and be graceful in admitting when we
    are wrong.
5. We need to be respectful of others even if we strongly disagree with their beliefs.


Terrible atrocities have occurred throughout the world when one group of people rises in power to overcome another e.g. the mass killing of Jews during World War 2 and other ethnic cleansing in more modern times. Admittedly, it takes a huge heart to forgive others in these circumstances, yet it happens over and over again.  I have been sincerely touched when I hear a parent forgiving a perpetrator for murdering their child or other family member.  Hatred is destructive.  It causes a person to constantly smolder over the offense rather than letting it go by forgiving.  When a person says, "I will never forgive you," they imagine they have a lifelong hold over that person.  What actually happens, is they have imprisoned themselves.


It is often very difficult to admit you were wrong and to utter the words, "I am sorry."  It is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength of character.  We need our children to hear the words, "I am sorry" from us at times.  It is important that our children learn to apologize also.  The real test of asking forgiveness, is in not repeating the same action again.

By being forgiving and teaching our children this value, we do indeed positively influence the future.

Written by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families


We were deeply saddened recently to hear about the drowning death of a good friend who had gone with his young family overseas to do missionary work. John and Sue had only been there for a year when John was caught in a rip off the coast while swimming. I can’t begin to imagine what a shock it was to lose a dear husband and father of two boys. He was only 54 years of age.


It might be death through accident or illness, departure from the home through divorce or military service, incarceration or a job away from home. How do kids deal with the complete loss of a parent or an absent parent over a sustained period of time? What changes family dynamics with the departure of a parent?

According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, a person requires the following to be met for physical, emotional piece of mind and maturity. Without the basics being met there is very little hope of the higher needs being fully actualized. Each level relies on the one below.

1. Physiological needs - food, water, shelter, warmth and rest.

2. Security and safety.

3. The sense of belonging and love - intimate relationships and friends.

4. Esteem needs - prestige and the feeling of accomplishment.

5. Self actualization - achieving one’s full potential, including creative activities.


When a parent dies there comes with it the immediate fear of how the family will manage. If it is the financial provider who has departed, then the threat of coping begins at level one. When only one parent is left to fulfill the roles of both mother and father, added to the grief process, the family will initially need outside support to keep the family physically and emotionally afloat. If this is a single parent home and that parent is no longer there, the children become extremely fearful of what will become of them and will require much support, supervision and assurance that they will survive this catastrophe and hopefully remain together.


There are several important points I wish to make regarding the children.

Point 1: The oldest child of a bereft family should not be expected to take over the ‘father’ or ‘mother’ role now their parent is gone. They are in the grieving process themselves and do not need to hear, “You have to step up and be the father (mother) of the house now!” There is no way they can be expected to take over this role, being totally ill-equipped to have such a responsibility or burden put on their shoulders. After all, they are still children, trying to make sense of the world and their place in it especially now a parent is gone. Instead, if it is possible to find an adult male relative or friend to support the remaining parent, that is a much better solution. Often grieving children need expert counseling to help them adjust to life without their beloved parent.

Point 2: Now there is only one parent to run the home, the child should never be used as the parental support system. A child cannot cope, understand or be expected to solve adult issues. Find adult support systems and get professional help to better manage the situation and to help the children sift through their emotions and adjust to the family changes.
Point 3: Grieving children need to be able to express anger, anxiety and/or deep sorrow. They may be holding back for fear of upsetting their grieving parent. Journaling their emotions might also help them to crystalize their thoughts.

Children need love and assurance during this transition in their lives. It is important not to change too much too soon in rebuilding family life. If the departure came out of a toxic relationship, then professional help will be required to assist the family make the family environment peaceful again. The loss of a parent for any reason is a tragedy and children's emotions must be a priority, even if friends or family step into the breech for a short time until the family regains some semblance of order.

Extra resource: Julie Hayslett, Nashville, TN shared her thoughts on this subject also.

Written by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families


I saw this incredible little story on Face Book recently and it was so inspiring I thought it well worth sharing.



My brother-in-law had it noted on his High School Report Card that he would not amount to anything academically.  He could have given up at that stage but, instead, he completed University studies and went on to become Assistant Principal and Principal of schools.

I came across an old teacher of mine from High School.  When I told her I had just completed a Diploma of Nursing Studies and was on my way to a Bachelors degree her retort was, "But you weren't academic material!" My immediate thought was, "That's what you think! I must admit I wasn't so sure how I would go at University study when I ventured out, but I even surprised myself!

I am sure many of you have had similar experiences.  How important it is to instill in our children that one person's negative opinion (often said without thought or when they are disheartened, frustrated, angry or jealous themselves) is not necessarily anything like reality.

If you notice your kids becoming despondent, find out what has happened, take that negativity and deal with it immediately.  One idea is to write that comment or situation down on a piece of paper and burn it as a symbol of dismissal.  Then immediately put a plan in place to help them prove to themselves that they can do 'it'.  Create achievable goals.  Encourage successes and put down failures as something to learn from.  Yes, call failure what it is.  We all do fail.  We need to teach our kids to get up and keep going.

Really stoke your kids up on the dreams they might have, help them discover their strengths, find heroes to reach up to and just go for it.  Meryl did it and so can any one of us!

Written by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families

Saturday, August 13, 2016


Are you losing it?  Losing what, you may ask – my hair, my mind, the plot? 

Are you losing control of yourself and/or your family? Specifically, are you losing your temper with your children? 

Do you let yourself get so angry and frustrated with them that you find yourself ranting, raving, yelling, or threatening them with unrealistic or impossible punishments?

Nobody likes being yelled at.  Why?  Because it is disrespectful and frightening.
Nobody likes being physically attacked.  Why?  Because it hurts both body and pride.
Nobody likes inconsistent expectations.  Why?  Because it creates a feeling of distrust and insecurity.
Nobody likes living or working in a constantly tense, stressed, negative atmosphere.  Why?  
             Because it is bad for one’s emotional and physical health. 
So, why do we find ourselves losing it with our children?  There are two possible reasons. 

Firstly, are we role modeling on our own parents’ poor family management skills where screaming and yelling parents incited screaming, yelling kids?  Was it an effective disciplinary tool then?  So, how can it work successfully now? 

Secondly, are we inconsistent in our expectations and have we explained those expectations to our children?  Do we reward expected behaviors and created consequences for non-compliance?  Do we
undermine our spouse/partner by creating good guy/bad guy style parenting?


  1. Create a management plan that both parents agree on and will adhere to. 
  2. Ensure your kids know your expectations, your boundaries and consequences.
  3. Have fun with your kids.  Give them time.  All work and no play creates frustration.
  4. Always look for the positives in your kids
  5. Be aware of your red buttons and deal with them - go to anger management classes if necessary.
  6. Stand together (be consistent) as positive parents who will stand by one each others' decisions.
  7. Be willing to apologize to your kids for losing your temper.
  8. Teach your kids how to resolve conflict in a respectful manner.
  9. Monitor your own and your kids' moods and create time to express and deal with concerns.

Written by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families

Wednesday, June 8, 2016


I can't help but feel that our kids are fast losing the concept of imaginative play.  Children seem to be involved in way too many passive activities with handheld games and video/TV watching.  These things can so easily take over our kids' minds.  It seems to me that they rarely have to think for themselves any more.  They are too busy watching all the action instead of being busy creating it!

When we think of the many things we did as kids it's a wonder we're still alive.  We would stay outside, often well away from home, and our parents often had no clue where we were.  I understand that we couldn't safely do that now.  The world has changed so much.  If the weather was fine our parents would send us outside.  As long as we were home before dark our parents were happy that we were playing and using our imaginations.  We didn't have the competing technology that children have today.  Yes, we do have to think about safety since there seems to be so much more awareness of 'stranger danger' then we ever knew as kids.  However, we do not need to allow our kids to be babysat by social media either.  

Your children can play in the backyard, building play huts and running under the sprinklers when it is sunny, making tunnels out of plastic pipes to run their cars down, or do artistic activities inside.  You can involve them in helping you make little carts to run down slopes outside.  They can make shapes out of clay or mud.  You can show them how to make and decorate cupcakes which they can eat later. If they are involved in the creation as well as enjoying the end product, it will teach them that if they persevere there is a reward.

Taking your kids to the library will allow them to explore the kids' books that are available.  Some will read stories that require their imaginations to run wild.  Or, they can find books on how to make things that they can create at home, maybe with your help.

A visit to a hobby store is an excellent way of firing your kids' imaginations.  As they wander the aisles they can start creating things in their minds, such things as drawing a picture and sticking glitter, grasses, beads, seeds, feathers and such on it.  Maybe the art can be framed and hung on the wall to be enjoyed by the family or be given away as a gift. 

When our daughter was only 4 years-old she was looking for something to do so I can remember vividly giving her an egg carton, string, aluminum foil, yarn/wool, felt tipped pens, some glue and a cotton reel.  She disappeared for some time and came back to show off her handiwork.  She had made an alligator.  Soon we discovered she had a real creative flare, particularly in art.  This oil pastel drawing below is a sample of her work as an adult.

Whether indoors or outdoors we need to be encouraging our kids to run with their imaginations.  You just never know where it will lead them as adults.

Link to Kristee's artwork:

Written by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families

Monday, June 6, 2016



           How many have heard, said or believe the following sentiment regarding the reason they 
           work so hard?

                    "I have always worked my butt off in my career for my family and I know it has 
                     meant personal sacrifice. It has robbed me of lasting friendships and time with 
                     my family.  I don't do it because I enjoy working long hours. So, why do I do it?
                     I work like a dog to earn the most most money I can to make sure my family live 
                     a comfortable life and to make their dreams come true. I do it because I love them 
                     and I believe it is my responsibility as the breadwinner to provide for my family.
                     I know they don't see much of me, but they will thank me one day!"
Top of Form
Unfortunately, the above concept is a blind trap. When relationships suffer because we say we want to give our family a great life, that might be in the future, but what about the NOW? Many marriages fail because families rarely see the breadwinner - the Dad/Mom. It can end up with the kids not really knowing this stranger who calls him/herself the provider.


1. To bring in enough money to meet household needs rather than wants.
2. To provide physical presence rather than give presents in absentia.
3. To be a role model who is there to lead the family by creating and acting out 
    strong family values.
4. To be available to provide guidance, encouragement and discipline when necessary.
5. To teach kids how to make wise choices and discern when they are troubled or
    need help.  
6. To build a positive home environment.
7. To lovingly support one's spouse/partner.

                                                         IN SUMMARY,
                                             YOUR FAMILY NEEDS...YOU!

Written by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families

Saturday, June 4, 2016


One of the funniest things I ever saw was when I went to watch my 30 year old brother play soccer.  There was an adult guy on the team who was known as a real Mommy's boy and at one point in the game he must have hit his nose because it started to bleed.  A team member on the sideline who couldn't play in that game because of an injury noticed and shouted, "Oh look, the golden boy's leaking."  He didn't see the incensed mother striding up behind him till the last second as 'golden boy's mother' started pounding him on the head with her umbrella and her purse.  It was just like slapstick comedy watching it happen.  Hilarious!

What really isn't funny, is watching parents of young children running up and down the sideline, screaming at their kids to 'run', 'tackle' or 'pound the opposition into the turf'.  Sometimes they yell at the referee, and other times they berate their kids when they come off the field for not winning the game.

My husband was an Assistant Principal at a high school in Nashville, TN, and had the responsibility for sport in the school.  He had warned a couple of dads in the gym a couple of nights about yelling disparaging words at their sons and the referee during their basketball games.  When it happened another night he asked them to leave and not come back for a couple of weeks until they could obey the directive to quit that behavior.  They objected, but they were subjected to an ejection.

Come on people, it is only a game!  Of course winning is the objective, but only one side can win.  Kids should not be made to feel bad because their team didn't beat the other one.

Encourage your kids to feel the joy of playing.  They need to learn to be gracious losers.  They will not learn this great value if it is not being modeled by parents.  'Button it' unless you can say something positive.

Written by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families


 This was such a moving story I thought it would be valuable to share it. 

"Dear Woman in Target-

I've heard it before, you know. That I "spoil that baby". You were convinced that she'd never
learn to be "independent". I smiled at you, kissed her head, and continued my shopping.

If you only knew what I know.
  • If you only knew how she spent the first ten months of her life utterly alone inside a sterile metal crib, with nothing to comfort her other than sucking her fingers.
  • If you only knew what her face looked like the moment her orphanage caregiver handed her to me to cradle for the very first time--fleeting moments of serenity co-mingled with sheer terror. No one had ever held her that way before, and she had no idea what she was supposed to do.
  • If you only knew that she would lay in her crib after waking and never cry--because up until now, no one would respond.
  • If you only knew that anxiety was a standard part of her day, along with banging her head on her crib rails and rocking herself for sensory input and comfort.
  • If you only knew that that baby in the carrier is heart-breakingly "independent" --and how we will spend minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years trying to override the part of her brain that screams "trauma" and "not safe".

If you only knew what I know.
  • If you only knew that that baby now whimpers when she's put down instead of when she is picked up.
  • If you only knew that that baby "sings" at the top of her lungs in the mornings and after her nap, because she knows that her chatter will bring someone to lift her out of her crib and change her diaper.
  • If you only knew that that baby rocks to sleep in her Mama's or her Papa's arms instead of rocking herself.
  • If you only knew that that baby made everyone cry the day she reached out for comfort, totally unprompted.

If you only knew what I know.
  • "Spoiling that baby" is the most important job I will ever have, and it is a privilege. I will carry her for a little while longer--or as long as she'll let me--because she is learning that she is safe.  That she belongs. That she is loved.
If you only knew...



Sometimes we think that little ones will not understand a story so there seems little point in reading it to them.


  1. It is a perfect opportunity for bonding through close contact.
  2. If they don't understand the words, they still hear as well as see expression in your voice
    and on your face, along with seeing the pictures.
  3. When you encourage them to repeat words after you, they learn to articulate more clearly.
  4. You have the opportunity to explain what words mean as you read. This extends their vocabulary.
  5. As they understand the words, you are helping them develop their imagination.
  6.  They learn all sorts of valuable information.
  7. As they get older they gather interest in particular areas and learn to research subjects 
    of interest on their own.
  8. You are helping them develop an appreciation for books.
  9. Let them see you read for pleasure thus modeling what you want them to do.
10. Take them regularly to your library and make it a fun experience. Take books out.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016


As I read this advice the other day, I was made acutely aware of how valuable it is to be prepared for all adversities. I also realized that the actions I would likely have taken, are in fact the worst things to do!!!

Every parent should talk to their kids in simple terms about what to do in the case of emergencies, so let's talk about home invasions. No, we don't want to scare our kids witless, but we do need to teach them some simple and important actions that could save their lives, or yours, one day.  So, please read this and pass it on.


  1. Put in a home security system AND use it! Place security labels in full view.  Show all family
      members where the panic button is on the security system control pad.
  2. Buy equipment such as a rope ladder to escape from an upstairs window and teach your kids how
      to use them. The ladder can be used in case of fire or invasion.
  3. Ensure you have locks/slide bolts on internal doors e.g. bedrooms, inside closets.
  4. Always keep house and car keys in the same place.  Keep phones and car keys together.
  5. Ensure you have strong doors with solid side panels in your home.
  6. Always keep windows locked shut at night and if open, that they all have security latches.
  7. Keep all valuables locked in a hidden safe.  Do not talk about valuables you own to strangers.
  8. Do not broadcast on social media e.g. Face Book that you are going on vacation.
  9. If you have a bad feeling about a possible break-in, inform the police so they can create a greater
      presence in your neighborhood.
10. Create or join your 'neighborhood watch' and display signage around the street and your home.


1. Create a contingency plan for various scenarios of how and when a break-in may occur e.g.
    what to do if you are upstairs, what to do if there are other children in the house - who is
    responsible for what.
2. Practice these scenarios.  You can make it a game.  Any time, just say, I think someone is
    breaking into the house (hold your arm up as the signal that this is just a rehearsal).
3. Practice how to call 911 without actually doing it.  Tell them how to speak clearly and be able
    to state their name and address and what is happening in your house at the present time.


1. Don't make a sound.  Do not shout that you have a gun or that you have just called the police
    because you are giving your position away.
2. Do not launch an attack on your own. Trying to be gallant could get yourself and others killed.
    Shooting at the invader/s or attacking them with weapons such as a baseball bat or a taser will
    certainly incite retaliation which may not have been initially intended. Also, when the police
    arrive, they may not know who the perpetrator is or who the victim is.
3. Lock yourself in your room or in a closet and dial 911. Quietly give your name and address,
    the situation you are in, your location in the home and how many others are currently
    staying at your address.
4. Tell the operator if you hear more than one person speaking and if weapons are mentioned.
5. Do as the 911 operator tells you to do. Stay on the line with the operator as they may be able
    to tell you what to do. They will also know that if you are safe. 


If you have locked yourself in a bedroom and there is a window to climb out where you cannot
be seen, then do so as quickly and quietly as possible. Tell the operator your position so the police will not mistake you for an escaping burglar.


1. If it is possible to gather family members in the same place, lock or barricade yourselves in
    the room and tell the operator where you are in the house and how many are with you.
    If other family members are hiding in other areas of the house, then tell the operator that also.
2. If you have your car keys press the panic button so the security alarm goes off in your car. This
    will alert the neighbors.
3. Stay in your hiding place until you hear the police knock on the door and tell you it is safe to
    come out. The operator will tell you when the police have entered your house.




Just because someone may have grown to be over 5ft tall, it doesn't mean there is a mature brain in their head!  Physical maturity and emotional maturity can be vastly different things.


1. They feel they are accountable for their actions.
     a) They do the right thing whether anyone is looking or not.
     b) Own up to their mistakes.
     c) Endure the consequences of their mistakes without blaming anyone else.

2. They do what they say they will do.
3. They are committed and faithful.

4. They tell the truth.
5. They respect the law, all those who have authority over them, their peers and those less fortunate.

6. They are positive role models to those around them


1. We act as positive role models and, if we feel we fall short, we get help to become what we
    want our kids to be.

2.  We give them responsibility at an early age e.g. giving them chores, getting them to look
     after their own toys, watching out for their siblings, following through with parent requests and
     commitments. We gradually increase the responsibility we give them so they learn the positive
     reactions to making the right choices in life.
3. We teach them how to make good choices and walk them through their mistakes until a positive
    conclusion is reached.

4. We praise them for positive behavior rather than browbeat them when they have made a mistake.

5. We do not continually fish them out of trouble.  Sheltering them shields them from feeling the
    consequences of their actions and gives them a superior, 'entitled' attitude which does not
    lead to a happy and fulfilled life.

Written by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families


We often hear stories of children that feel they are the cause of their parents' split.  They carry
that burden for many years until they realize otherwise - if they do at all.

     Mike’s world came crashing down when his wife decided to leave the family. He was father
to three children aged 14, 12 and 10 years old, and a physician in a very busy city ER. He  was so
busy at work, he had not spent time cultivating friendships in his off-duty time and therefore, when
his marriage broke up, he had no-one to talk to about his troubles. He wore out his work colleagues whenever he could bale them up and their sympathy was running out on him. Without anyone else
to confide in, Mike started using his children as his sounding board for pent-up frustrations. They got to hear it all: what he thought of his wife’s decision, what he thought of her as a person, how their marriage had been until their break-up and so on – and on, and on.

     What is wrong with this picture? Mike was talking to the wrong ears. He was talking about the mother they loved dearly. He was forgetting that they were grieving because they had lost their mother as well. He was talking about stuff the kids had no way of processing or dealing with. It would be like giving a lamb chop to a newborn baby !!!! Mike was putting huge amounts of stress on his children. They hated to hear him badmouthing their mother, and they also hated seeing their father in such grief and turmoil.

Mike's kids may have thought they were to blame for the break-up in some way. They may have thought they had to do something to try and stick their mother and father back together again so everything would be all right. They may have thought they needed to tell their Dad something, anything that would soothe his troubled mind. Whatever his reasoning – which I consider was totally lacking - he was telling the wrong people.

Mike's kids didn’t know what to do. He should have been seeking professional help.

What parents need to understand is this. Discussing marriage problems with one’s children is totally inappropriate because:

1) Children become party to inappropriate information they are often unable to objectively process,
    let alone have an answer to.

2) Kids are a captive audience and are less able to excuse themselves when they feel uncomfortable
     about the content of the conversation.

3) Negative things are being said about their beloved other parent.

4) They become burdened and overwhelmed by the stress of something they can do nothing about.

Parents need to shield their children from such parental tensions. They should instead seek out
adults, and where necessary, professional counseling to assist them. If children need to be brought into such discussions, then the conversation should be age-appropriate and in small enough doses that the child can assimilate it.

A parent’s responsibility is to provide a peaceful, safe and loving home for themselves and their children. A very effective way of ensuring a positive environment exists in your home is to create a set of strong family values which describes what peacefulness, safety and respect for one another looks like. If such an environment seems to be unattainable, then, for the sake of everyone, professional help should be sought and children shielded from the storm.

Written by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families