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