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