Friday, June 8, 2018


 How often have you felt totally inadequate by not being able to achieve in areas that others do?

When I was young there were some studies and activities I knew I was good at but some definitely not. Unfortunately, as we all know, some skills are given more credit by the school system and by society than others, for example math and science as opposed to art, metal or woodwork, cooking, sewing and/or music.  

We know there are some occupations that require a massive amount of learning, resulting in huge salaries and a great deal of prestige.  We are thankful for their skill when we need it.  However, if a surgeon's car breaks down in the middle of a snow storm, who will he call?  Who will he be eternally grateful to see show up to deal with his issue? The guy driving the tow truck and the guy who knows how to fix his Bentley.
My husband just retired from the school system after 52 years since he started teaching.  As the years have gone by he has become increasingly frustrated by the fact that manual skills such as woodwork, metal work, cooking and motor mechanics have been taken out of the syllabus and PE, music and art are in rotation, giving children less time in these classes.  They are not seen as having enough value in society to warrant spending so much time in them.  What is the result?  There is now a shortage of manual skills in the workplace.

There is a serious message here about how our children feel about themselves.  

We need to:
  • Give value to all skills.
  • Expose our kids to all kinds of activities to see where they shine.
  • Ensure they are following their dreams and not yours.
  • Appreciate and encourage differences between family members.
  • Ensure they have every opportunity to be the very best they can be in whatever is 'their thing'.
In saying all of the above, we do need to ensure our kids be proficient enough in all basic skills e.g. math, writing and social sciences to get by in the world they live in. 

Never allow yourself or your kids to feel inferior because you/they 'failed' something. If they need to have that skill, get them extra help.  Give yourself and your kids a big thumbs up for what you do excel in and compliment all those you know in their area of expertise.  It gives them and their specialty more value.

So what if a fish can't climb a tree?  It just needs to find the right environment and it's off.

Written by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families

Wednesday, May 16, 2018


                                 Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one.

                                                              ~ Charles J. Sykes author of Rules for Life

This is the eleventh blog Sally or I will write based on a series of 11 life rules for teens written by Charles Sykes and referred to by Bill Gates, the Microsoft billionaire.  

What is a nerd? The dictionary says a ‘nerd’ is …’a foolish, inept, or unattractive person; a person who is single-minded or accomplished in scientific or technical pursuits but socially inept; or a stupid, irritating, ineffectual person.‘ Clearly a ‘nerd’ does not fit into the mold that society deems normal but why should they become a target just because they are different? From the beginning of time, it seems people are picked on because they are not like everyone else.


 Our society does not value education as highly as many other countries do. In the case of the scholarly student, an intelligent child who may have poor social skills, other students can be so cruel to them. The ‘nerd‘ has often not found it easy relating to others or been interested in the more social and physical recreational pursuits. When coupled with our set of values that say you have value if you are good-looking, athletic, moneyed, and social a ‘nerd’ may stand out like a sore thumb.

I would suggest that envy may not be the basis of harassment as some people would declare. Our kids often see ‘nerds’ as targets for ridicule rather than people to be jealous of. In my 40 plus years of being a teacher and school administrator I have seen ‘nerds’ being picked on and so many able children deliberately not trying for high grades because they don’t want to be mocked by their peers.

I am sure we can all think of times past when we have been singled out, have felt desperately lonely or have ‘died an inner death’ from not being accepted. Kids want friends beyond all else and what their friends think often dictates how they act – all in the name of acceptance.


We need to teach our children to celebrate differences, and not try to push everyone around them into some imaginary mold. Over the last few years we have been horrified by school shootings. Kids just explode with a torrent of aggression for no apparent reason. It has been found that they have usually been harboring resentment over some injustice in their lives and the results are unspeakable.

If we hear our child ridiculing another child, then this must stop. Don’t let them start being mean-mouthed. Teach them about respect and what respect looks like. For example, being respectful means being kind and saying only kind things about others including our brothers and sisters.

Everyone has value and everyone needs to know they have value. God doesn’t make ‘junk’. He has got a specific purpose for everyone He has created. Include ‘nerds’ in your friendships so kids can see that you are demonstrating specifically what you believe and want them to do.

Learning to tolerate and appreciate other’s differences will help significantly in the workplace. As Bill Gates said, “They might be your boss one day!” “Oh, blessed revenge!” they might say.

Comments written by Sally and Brian Burgess, Forefront Families


                            'Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to 
                                                leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.'

                                                                                  ~ Charles J. Sykes author of Rules for Life

This is the tenth blog Sally or I have written based on a series of 11 life rules for teens written by Charles Sykes and referred to by Bill Gates, the Microsoft billionaire. 

It is difficult to conceive the difference that has occurred over the last 70 years in our society. 70 years ago people were so involved in the act of making ends meet and providing a good life for the family that they didn’t have time to sit and relax in coffee shops. Nor did they have the amount of time to put into leisure pursuits as we do today. My grandfather worked in a coal mine and in those days there seemed to be far more hard physical work done than now where so much of our work is automated.

Think of the Walton family and how they gathered around the radio in the evenings under candlelight. I still remember doing the same thing at our house in New Zealand. We did not initially have electricity and had to see by lantern light at night. What a great quality of life we had back then though! We made our own fun, created our own games, made rope swings tied to tree branches and, most importantly, we spent time talking to one another. As kids we had fantastic imaginations.


So what has happened to people’s imaginations today? I can tell you what has happened. Our misguided choices have robbed us of personal conversation, of vivid imaginations and we suffer from the near-disappearance of our own family values. Television and the movies have created the new norm for our society. Our personal moral and ethical codes have been shot to pieces by the sheer volume of the ‘anything goes’ messaging that spews off the screen. Parents have a real battle on their hands trying to instill and keep strong family values when kids’ TV and movie heroes are saying the opposite. Kids get the idea that all the junk they see on TV IS REAL LIFE. They become numbed to the horrors of tragedy and the verbal and emotional abuse they see on the screen. With both parents working, the TV becomes the babysitter that is too often not monitored.


With such a huge paradigm shift through the years, teens may get the idea that work revolves around their own lives rather than the other way round. You have heard of the saying, “ I work to live, rather than live to work?” In the old days there was barely any time given for workers to eat their lunch let alone stop for coffee breaks. These days most businesses have their own coffee makers and it is normal to head for the coffee machine first thing in the morning and also at regular intervals during the day. I am constantly amazed at the waste of time I see in the workplace as people stand around chattering instead of keeping to their delegated breaks.


I can’t help but think that the credit card has also been the undoing of our society today. As long as they have somewhere to get money from, people will do what they want rather than what is necessary to stay out of debt - e.g. the 40-hour week. Borrowing money for vehicles, computers, and clothing has become the norm. Everyone lives off their card and kids often live off their parents.

This was never the real world although I am afraid to say it has become so. Teens need to learn to become accountable for their own ethical, moral and financial lives and we, as parents, are charged with the responsibility of training our teens to do so. We need to stand against what is being dictated by the TV and movies so our kids have a richer experience and will pass these values onto their children.


We need to protect their imaginations by ensuring they play together instead of ogling the box or playing with hand-held devices. Restrict their cell phone access and encourage them to spend face-to-face time with their friends. Show them the value in an honest day’s work for honest pay.

Children learn reality and develop their work ethic by observing us and listening to our teachings about life. It should not come from the unreal view of life portrayed by television. Let’s raise our kids to reach the potential and purpose God implanted in them even before they were born. There is no place for young adults who approach their life and work with mediocrity.

Comments written by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families

Tuesday, February 20, 2018


Life is not divided into semesters. You don't get summers off and very few employers are 
interested in helping you FIND YOURSELF. Do that on your own time.

                                                                ~ Charles J. Sykes author of Rules for Life

This is the ninth blog Sally or I have written based on a series of 11 life rules for teens written by Charles Sykes and referred to by Bill Gates, the Microsoft billionaire. 

I am intrigued with the current trend where teens finishing high school or college want to ‘take a year off to do their own thing or find themselves’. I don’t understand this mentality at all. On reflection, in ‘our day’ we paid our own college tuition and the minute college was over, we couldn’t wait to get to work to recoup our funds. Granted, back then, jobs were a lot easier to find than they are now, but we HAD to find work. Nobody ever dreamed of taking time off just for a breather.

So, from whence does the notion of ‘taking time off for a rest’ come? There is something to be said for having to pay your own way. Here in the United States many parents start their kids’ college funds almost from the time the children are born. Since fees are so high now, many parents consider it is necessary to be saving for their children’s college expenses from those early times! Right now there is an advertisement on TV by Gerber baby foods. They have a college fund program running beginning at infancy.

When children have been in school for upwards of twenty years, their parents have usually been taking care of their kids’ physical and financial needs to the point where the young person is not having to develop any responsibility. They get the idea that there is a money tree out there that just keeps giving. The kids are shielded from the tough realities of life. They haven’t had to work, so they are not mature enough to realize that no work means no money.

Then there are those young people who refuse to work at anything they are not passionate about. They would rather do nothing than toil away at something that didn’t suit them. Where does this mentality come from? I suggest it comes from early parent training or lack thereof. When kids take no part in household chores or are allowed to avoid the chores they don’t like, they get the idea they can do the same thing throughout life. When parents bail kids out of trouble or financial difficulty, the kids think their boss will protect and spoil them just like their parents have done.

There is something to be said for the ‘school of hard knocks’. For every action, or lack thereof, there is a consequence. Making wise choices brings positive responses. Making poor choices, being picky, not studying and expecting to be rescued all the time will eventually leave a young person sitting on the bench.

We, as parents, must train our kids to take responsibility for their choices from their earliest years. We need to show them what hard work yields. They need to know that a forty-hour week is a normal expectation and that taking time off (apart from vacation time) should only come about when they have the money to cover it.

The more time teens have on their hands, the more likely they are to become introspective – to start feeling sorry for themselves – to feel dissatisfied with life and start whining and saying, “It’s not fair.” Studying and working hard yields job satisfaction and often a higher income in the long run.

It is not the school or employer’s job to turn our children into responsible, productive members of adult society. It is our responsibility and it starts from their pre-school years.

Comments by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families


Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life HAS NOT. In some schools they have abolished failing grades and they'll give you as MANY TIMES as you want to get the right answer. This doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.
                                                                                    ~ Charles J. Sykes author of Rules for Life

This is the eighth blog Sally or I will write based on a series of 11 life rules for teens written by Charles Sykes and referred to by Bill Gates, the Microsoft billionaire.

What a shock it was to discover this very thing in our school system when we moved to America nearly 18 years ago. I was employed to set up an alternative school for students who had committed zero tolerance infringements so they could continue their education for a year, but not in the regular public schools. Extra credit questions, Summer school, an after-school makeup for students having too many absences or tardies. I wasn’t used to this. In every other country I know of, if you fail you fail and you get over it.

Our two children went immediately to College on their arrival. A few weeks into his study I asked our son how he had done that day. His reply floored us. “I got 110 out of one hundred.” I asked him how he could possibly get 110. He told us that he had ‘aced’ the main test and that there was an extra credit question worth 10% as well, and he had aced that. We sort of snickered at this incredulous situation. I then began to learn that failure here was a ‘No, no!’

“We can’t afford to let children fail. It might hurt their self-esteem!” Self-esteem has been so overrated! How precious are we to think we can, or should, shield our children from failure. The brightest and biggest Biblical characters all failed miserably at some time through their lives. Most of the world’s renowned leaders, inventors and entrepreneurs failed many times in their lives before becoming great. In New Zealand, when I was in High School, the last three years had national exams set by the Department of Education. Only 50% were allowed to pass to keep the standards high. They scaled the results up or down to attain this percentage. My two brothers and I worked very hard, but we all failed one of those sets of exams and had to do the whole year over again. It hurt at the time, but we got over it. We all ended up with degrees and have all been school principals!

Life is not like we experience in our school systems here. Life is tough and you usually have only one shot at things. So why do we give our kids false hope and not prepare them for the real world? We have become far too soft and pamper our children. Many employers tell me that the young people they hire today are poorly equipped for employment and they give up so easily. They are not used to high expectations. Focus is pitiful. Poor work ethic is rife and we wonder why our economy is in such poor shape (apart from the political reasons!).

Let us, as parents, raise our kids to be equipped for reality, not fantasy. Teach what it means to fail and how to recover from the experience. Look up stories on the Internet about the lives of Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Winston Churchill and J.K. Rowling. You will find they all failed many times before achieving greatness. At the same time demonstrate tenacity, focus and courage in your own life. These three character qualities and a positive work ethic are learned when your children see them operate in your life.

Failure is an opportunity to learn from our mistakes. You only fail if you quit trying to reach your vision or goal. We owe it to our children to demonstrate that hard work, being smart and making wise choices will equip us to succeed in life. The Apostle Paul puts it this way in Philippians 4:13-14 “Brothers and sisters, I know that I have not yet reached the goal, but there is one thing I always do. Forgetting the past and straining toward what is ahead, I keep trying to reach the goal and get the prize for which God has called me through Christ to the life above.”

Comments by Brian Burgess, Forefront Families

Friday, February 16, 2018


'Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got
that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about
how cool you thought you are. So before you save the rain forest from the
parasites of your parent's generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.'
                                                               ~ Charles J. Sykes author of Rules for Life

This is the seventh blog Sally or I have written based on a series of 11 life rules written by Charles Sykes and referred to by Bill Gates, the Microsoft billionaire. 

If you have the most amazing teenagers that you are so proud of share this with them so you can have a good laugh together. If you can relate to this rule because your children are like Bill Gates’ description above then share this article with them and discuss how things need to change.

We parents can become very boring due to the responsibilities of life and routines we become accustomed to. When we are raising children our lives are so motivated by our kids’ needs that we spend nearly half our lives pandering to their every whim and fancy. That’s if you have allowed your children to be the center of their universe. What do you usually get at the end of that? …entitled kids who believe they should get everything they want and for you to wait on them hand and foot. They go on to believe that you will let them come and stay at home for free if they lose their job or make no effort to secure one.

In their adulthood they believe the Government owes them a living and that bosses are sucking everybody dry. It never crosses their mind that taxpayers are paying for them to be lazy and that bosses have taken many risks. They have gone to a lot of expense to ensure others can make a living from their business.

When you finally get tired of the parasite that is living within your walls, you try toughening up, but it’s often too late. You have become a monster in their eyes. “How could you be so cold as to tell me that I have to have employment within another month? I thought you loved me?” So, the emotional blackmail is applied and at this point many parents give in.

The problem is that parents like this should have taught responsibility to their toddlers. Children who are allowed to be the center of the universe grow to believe that they don’t have to do anything and things will just come to them. I have met so many enabling parents who admit that they have done this. One lady even said to me that she believed she needed to let kids be kids and that they would have plenty of work to do in the future, so for now, nothing. Oh, dear! What a harvest of whining, disrespect and trips to the Principal’s Office there’ll be in the future! As for the pain that she will have to endure, she will have to wear that one. Her kids will disrespect her and all other authority they encounter. I have seen it happen so many times. The parent says, “Where did I go wrong?”

Young person, your parents are not your slaves. Their job is to shape you to fit into the adult world and the work environment so that you can make a great living and contribute to society. You should be shaped to make a difference in the world. You are cool when you know how to cook, wash your clothes, know how to iron them, keep your room and the house clean and tidy, mow the lawns and do things even without being asked. Now, that is super cool!

If you find your parents boring thank them for all they have done for you and encourage them to have times for themselves. Relieve them of stress by not causing any, and be the young person that others look at and say, “I wish my kids were like you!”

Comments by Brian Burgess, Forefront Families


              'If you mess up, it's not your parents' fault, so don't whine about your mistakes,
                                                                     learn from them.'

                                                                      ~ Charles J. Sykes author of Rules for Life

This is the sixth blog Sally or I have written based on a series of 11 life rules written by Charles Sykes and referred to by Bill Gates, the Microsoft billionaire.

This message addresses the need to take responsibility for our own actions. Lack of accountability is one of the worst traits in our society today. The first thought in many people’s mind when something goes wrong is, “That wasn’t my fault”, or “Who is responsible for this terrible thing that has happened to me?” The scenario can be almost anything. Here are some of the most common blame game responses. “I can’t help the way I am. My parents were the same.” “If the City had fixed this hole in the road I would not have stepped into it and sprained my ankle.” “I didn’t pass the test because the teacher didn’t tell me what was in the exam.” “The Devil made me do it!”


We are encouraged by advertisements on TV to sue drug and other companies for our misfortune. We are encouraged to go bankrupt rather than see the lack of wisdom that often gets us there. Many times we find ourselves saying, “It is the Government’s fault, the school’s fault, the company’s fault, the church’s fault or the club’s fault.” Don’t we realize that by blaming an entity we are accusing nobody in particular – just ‘them’? A school, a church, or a club is made up of individuals, none of whom have the right to make an executive decision on issues. Throwing the blame at a faceless group is a futile attempt to shrug off our responsibilities. Wouldn’t it be more useful to join a committee and actively try to make changes that would benefit the community?


Sadly, the sense of personal entitlement is taking over. Our thoughts tend to be all about ourselves and not about those who are also suffering as a result of our poor judgments.

When I break something in a store, do I take it to the counter and offer to pay for it? When my child’s teacher tells me that my child is disrespectful to authority, do I take responsibility for his behavior or blame the school for not teaching him good manners? We cannot expect our children to take responsibility for his actions if we do not.


Our strongest core family values need to include honesty and accountability. We can teach our children to take responsibility for their own actions by making clear our expectations and applying consequences for unacceptable behavior. They need to know that blaming someone else is not the appropriate response. It may be that someone else was at fault, but it is important to discuss the situation to see if there was anything your child could have done that would have resulted in a different outcome. Discussing situations after the event is a valuable way of helping our kids make wise decisions to prevent negative stuff happening in the future.

We all make mistakes, but it is a wise person who learns from them, thus avoiding repeats of the same scenario.

 Rules for Life are written by Charles J. Sykes
Comments by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families

Saturday, February 3, 2018


          'Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your Grandparents had a different
word for burger flipping -- they called it opportunity.'
                                                                ~ Charles J. Sykes author of Rules for Life

This is the fifth blog Sally or I will write based on a series of 11 life rules written by Charles Sykes and referred to by Bill Gates, the Microsoft billionaire. 

This rule is similar to the sentiment in rule number three which indicates that you will NOT automatically fall out of College into a $60,000 plus salaried job. You have to work up to it.


In today’s economic climate there is no room for a negative attitude about performing tasks for less pay than we might have got in an earlier job or think we are worth. My husband had a pay reduction of $61.00 per day this year, but he kept the job because we have to live! Even if we have to do menial tasks for a season of time we should be prepared to do that so we can eke out a living.

I have known people who flatly refuse to work any job that is not to their liking or at their level of expertise. Listen. Answer the question, “Do I want to go hungry, or do I want to swallow my pride and do what it takes to feed myself and/or my family. Yes or no? No buts! You would think the answer was obvious. We find this situation over and over again. After advising unemployed friends to just go and find ‘something’, they would rather moan and groan and cast themselves on the Government or rely on friends and family to prop them up.

Where do kids get such a negative attitude towards ‘flipping burgers’? I suggest that the root is the sense of entitlement that is fed to them from several sources. Kids who have been given much and have not been expected to pull their weight doing chores around the home develop the attitude that they are the center of the universe and that menial tasks are for other people…anyone else but them. They have never had to worry about any food supply or other resources so they have no sense of satisfaction in working towards achievement. They think success just mysteriously arrives in their lap.


If we are told from childhood that we are part of the strongest and greatest nation on earth, then it is very easy to fall into the trap of thinking we are invincible, that our ‘walls’ cannot be penetrated, and that we are totally protected. Wrong! Bad things happen to even the best people, so we need to teach our children strategies for managing threatening or stressful situations that are beyond our control. These might be situations such as not being able to get the job we want, losing a job, having to wait for what we want, coping with competition and coping with failure.

We need to encourage our children to see simple tasks as an opportunity to learn different skills and to appreciate how the little things make a big difference to individuals as well as to the society around us. Imagine no burgers?


We need to teach our kids that menial tasks that don’t pay well are still very worthwhile. We also need to show them that working for no money at all can be very satisfying. There is nothing wrong with being ambitious and teaching our kids to work hard for high salaries. It is just not a realistic expectation for many in the current economic climate.

There is a very important value in understanding that it is not always about us. It’s not about what we want and how quickly we can get it. We need to be happy doing the little things because we will not always be in control of every situation.

We need to teach our kids to land on their feet, but more importantly to STAY on their feet no matter what it takes. Self-sufficiency needs to take the place of the term ‘entitlement’ in our society today. The Government or others don’t owe us anything for lying around on pity-party blankets.

 Rules for Life are written by Charles J. Sykes
Comments written by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families



                        'If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss!
                                                                           ~ Charles J. Sykes author of Rules for Life

This is the fourth blog Sally or I have written based on a series of 11 life rules written by Charles Sykes and referred to by Bill Gates, the Microsoft billionaire.

I’ve heard so many complaints by students over the years about their teacher being too tough and expecting too much. This statement usually comes from students whose parents have been too weak on them. The parents have not only rescued them from trouble in the community or at school, but they have rarely expected them to do any chores or take on any responsibilities.


One day a parent said to me that she didn’t want her child to do any chores or take on responsibilities yet because they would have more than enough to do when they became an adult. What a fatally flawed argument! A major parental role is to shape a child to take on their responsibilities in the real world. A child’s work ethic will come from seeing their parents working hard around home and by children sharing the workload as team members in the family.

We need to be tough on our children and hold them to a high standard. Children want to please their parents and will do anything to get that positive response. “Well done! You did a great job! Thank you.” Your child and their future bosses will thank you. I had a humbling yet incredibly pleasant experience when I went to pick up my son from his work. He introduced me to his boss who then said, “Mr. Burgess, I’m so pleased to meet you. You and your wife must have done a lot of things right because your son is incredible. We just love having him here.” It almost brought me to tears and I have never forgotten this praise. We were tough on our kids, but we demonstrated a lot of love, too. I have had similar experiences with bosses and work colleagues where our daughter has worked.


I’m not telling you this for any aggrandizement, but simply to say that what I have explained to you about preparing our children for the real world is based on my experience as a parent and as a teacher and school administrator. No boss wants to hear from your child, “Well, I was in Special Education classes or I was abused when I was a child. That’s why I am not doing my job to your standards. I’ll have to get my mom to come and have a talk with you.” You cannot go to your child’s place of work and blast the boss because he is being too tough.

The solution to this is: When your children are very young teach them respect for all forms of authority. It starts with them respecting you. Give them respect and train them to respect others, respect the earth and especially to respect God. When they see us being respectful in relationships they will model on that. If they do not observe us being respectful, that’s how they will act. If our children see us being lazy, not completing tasks and being lax with them they will think their boss is being over-tough on them if he/she expects any more than that. Bye-bye job!


We have all heard the phrase, “There is no freedom without responsibility.” If our child displays a very responsible attitude they will probably be given more freedom at home and within their job because they can be trusted. If they have to be ‘stood over’ regularly to get any sort of work out of them the boss is going to be saying things our child may not like to hear. This is usually interpreted as being too tough. So few people today seem to want to take responsibility for their actions. It’s always somebody else’s fault. In summary, it is our duty as a parent to ensure our children are adequately equipped for the real world well before they go to work.

 Rules for Life are written by Charles J. Sykes
Comments written by Brian Burgess, Forefront Families

Saturday, January 13, 2018


'You will NOT make $60,000 a year right out of high school. You won't be a
vice-president with a car phone until you earn both!'

                                                         ~ Charles J. Sykes author of Rules for Life 

This is the third blog Sally or I have written based on a series of 11 life rules written by Charles Sykes and referred to by Bill Gates, the Microsoft billionaire. 

Wow! That socks a punch, doesn’t it? What is it that leads young people to imagine they are going to immediately land a great job with dollars to match? Do they think that because of the amount of money their parents spent, or the sum of the student loans they were burdened down with to become qualified, it is their right? Are students being misled by colleges, which charge such inflated fees, to believe that there is a fantastic job just waiting for them out in the big wide world? WRONG! Even ‘doctors and lawyers and such’ don’t earn big money when they first graduate. They have to work long hours and work their way up to that great salary.

We have a young 23 year-old friend with a Masters Degree in Biochemistry seeking a job in statistical research in the health field. She finished with a GPA of 4.0 and she cannot find a job. Instead of sitting at home moping about it, she is doing a statistical data job while she keeps looking.

I think that many young graduates have not been appropriately prepared for the real world by their parents. It is not the school’s job to teach them that all is not fair in the working world. That is the parents’ responsibility. Perhaps our values have concentrated more on ‘our rights’ than on ‘earning the right’! 


1. The appropriate knowledge or qualifications.
2. The appropriate experience.
Acquiring the experience is very frustrating when you can’t get a job in the first place! However, there are a number if things parents can do to prepare teens for getting good, well-paying jobs.


A very important early exercise, that can begin as early as elementary school, is to encourage your child to think about careers they may like to explore. Take them to such places of employment to check them out. In fact, expose them to as many jobs as you can. Introduce them to people you may know in those fields so they become familiar with possibilities as well as requirements. In doing so, your child will more likely seek the kind of knowledge and skills for that vocation rather than waste your money on general qualifications that will not entice an employer to choose them at the interview.


 As they are thinking of vocations walk them through an employment scenario. Have them pretend they are an employer in a job area of interest. Get them to write down what this prospective employee would need to know and do. Include physical aspects, knowledge base and value expectations. Then ask your teen if he/she would get the job with their current knowledge/skill set? If not, what do they need to do to prepare more thoroughly for a successful interview?

When I was looking for jobs years ago when jobs were more abundant, I succeeded in everything I applied for. In the current work climate, this rarely happens. We can significantly enhance our teens’ chances by helping them explore their options early, getting them into voluntary work for the sake of ‘experience’ and teaching them crucial values such as honesty, loyalty, obeying authority and respect.

Good preparation will have your children feeling confident and willing to earn their way into satisfying jobs.

 Rules for Life are written by Charles J Sykes
Comments by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families


'The world won't care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to
accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.'
                                                              ~ Charles J. Sykes author of Rules for Life

Following the Vietnam War the hippy movement was at its zenith. Free love, peace and ‘yo bro’ were shouted out and put into practice. Dr. Spock had previously introduced very liberal parenting and schools adopted airy-fairy subjects and feel-good philosophies.
We are reaping the negative results of all this today. Self-esteem became everything and people became so ‘precious’ making our country the most highly- offendable nation on earth. Suing became rampant and being ‘politically correct’, so as not to make anybody feel uncomfortable, has made us afraid to speak out what we believe is the truth. After all, we might be called ‘hateful’ if we don’t agree with the crowd or a particular faction in our society.


It is important for our kids to feel good about themselves, but not for mediocre effort, and we do this. Sally belongs to a national organization that has a major competition every year. Hundreds of people pit their talent against one another. Instead of a first, second and third placement in each category they find a way of giving a trophy to just about everyone who participates. The awards ceremony takes around six hours! It is ridiculous and, despite Sally’s protests at this indulgent behavior, they continue to do it.

Why is this so silly? You may not feel it is silly, but that’s because you were raised in this indulgent culture. It makes everybody feel as if they have done a good enough job. Believe me. I have sat through several of these competitions and there is no way many of these people should be rewarded for their performance. I believe it is often the same with sports’ team prize giving events.
In our schools it is the same. A’s and B’s are handed out liberally like Prozac. Kids get to believe that their performance is good enough, when it’s not. At home we often praise kids for performance of chores or behavior when it is based on low expectations. Parents and teachers are not doing our kids a favor by letting them feel good about their accomplishments if the standard is below par. The real world expects far more.


Employers are finding that young employees are ill equipped for the working world in that they expect high remuneration for little effort, are often unreliable, move on if the boss expects ‘too much’ and they are often disrespectful. Parents, it is our job to shape our children to meet the expectations required in adult life and in employment. The schools are there to reinforce what we, as parents teach our children, not to do the job for us.


We need to hold back on praising our kids. I am a huge believer in praise, so I am not void of feelings. It is better to regularly encourage our kids and be honest with them. If what we asked them to do is not of a high standard yet, tell them you are pleased with their effort so far, but this or that still needs to happen. When they do achieve that higher standard then lay on the praise. If you praise before it is due, a ceiling has been set and a child will feel that no more effort than that is required.


When your children conform to your boundaries and standards then praise them. Children feel great when they are pleasing you. Set them tasks that, when finished, are an accomplishment born out of hard work, great attitude and tenacity. Here you are developing a positive work ethic that also has to be seen in your performance. You are fitting them for the real world. I thank my parents that this is exactly what they did for me, and it has had its major payoffs. Hard work and accomplishments make us feel good. We will never find our purpose or reach our potential through mediocre performance and hapless ‘feel good philosophies’. 
Written by Sally and Brian Burgess, Forefront Families

Friday, January 5, 2018


                                                          ‘Life's not fair. Get used to it'.

                                                                                ~ Charles J. Sykes author of Rules for Life
This is the first blog Sally and I have written based on a series of 11 life rules written by Charles Sykes and referred to by Bill Gates, the Microsoft billionaire. We have read extensively and have lived a long time, but neither of us have ever seen or discovered that life is fair. Nowhere, not even in the Bible. In fact, in the New Testament it tells us, “In this life you will have troubles.”


People without a strong faith and those unfamiliar with the Bible often say, “If God is a God of love, then why do babies die or good people get cancer, while those who do wrong live on unscathed? Plainly, it’s a result of original sin. Bad things do happen to good people. You can read about it in the first few chapters of Genesis. Then you might say, “That’s not fair!” You’re right. It’s not fair. But that is life, so let’s understand it and move on.

We often hear our kids saying that things are ‘not fair’, usually in relation to having to do some work around the house, or not being able to do something another sibling has been allowed to do. We said it as children. You said it. It’s going to be said again.


You don’t have to wait until the next time you hear the expression, “That’s not fair!” echoing through your house. Instead, in an appropriate moment when your children are in a receptive mode, have a discussion about fairness. Use words that are appropriate to your children’s ages and understanding. Start by answering their questions by saying, “You think it is not fair that you have to do chores around the house when your friends don’t have to do anything.”


Here is an answer: “We are teaching you that in the real world nobody is going to do everything for you. Life has its fun times and its work times. It’s mainly work, so get used to it. It is unfair that your friends’ parents are not preparing their children for real life! Nobody is going to want the person they marry to be lazy, or unable to do some of the chores that are necessary to run a good home. It’s not fair that one person has to do far more work than the other because that person was not properly trained by their parents.”


You say, “It’s not fair that we have to do so many chores.” An answer: It’s not fair that parents have to do most of the work around the house as well as work to keep us all fed, safe and comfortable. We know that the work has to be done to run a smooth home and provide the love, support and environment that will help you in your development. When we all share the load, you learn new tasks and we have more time to do fun things together.


You may say, “It’s not fair that some people don’t have to study hard to get good grades at school while others have to.” An answer: “We are all born with different levels of intelligence and opportunity. What we expect of you is to do the very best you can with what you have been given. That’s all. You cannot do any better than your best and that is all we expect of you.”


You may say, “It’s not fair that some people have got more money, nicer homes, flasher cars and are able to travel more than us.” An answer: “These things come from getting the best education possible, working very hard, making wise choices, taking risks and seeing opportunities around you. There are some people that are fortunate enough to be helped in life by being given financial help from their hard-working parents or by receiving an inheritance. However, most of us don’t have that opportunity, so it means working hard. That’s why we are training you to be skilled in many things that will make your life better.”


You may say, “It is not fair that some people will be going to Heaven and the others to Hell.“ An answer: “God loves us all, but He has given us a choice either to follow the way He showed us through Jesus, or to ignore Him. If we live our own way and not accept the gift of life He offers, then we have made our choice and have to accept the consequences.”

 Rules for life written by Charles J Sykes
Comments by Sally and Brian Burgess, Forefront Families


~ Charles J. Sykes author of Rules for Life

Bill Gates is obviously one of the world’s most financially successful individuals, ever. He is also wise and endorsed Charles Sykes' ‘Rules for Life’ to help young people face the real world of adult work life and responsibility.

For these rules to be effective throughout life, parents need to begin to address each one with their children from an early age.

The headings below are the titles for each rule and the following 11 blogs expand on each theme.

We suggest that you consider each rule and decide, as parents, how you will best prepare your children to respond to each one.  We will also provide helpful suggestions on each rule over the following BLOGS. 

                                               RULES FOR LIFE

                                                                  Rule 1:
                                                 Life is not fair -- get used to it!

                                                                  Rule 2
The world won't care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to
accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.

Rule 3
You will NOT make $60,000 a year right out of high school. You won't be a
vice-president with a car phone until you earn both.

Rule 4
If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss!

Rule 5:  
Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your Grandparents had a different
word for burger flipping -- they called it opportunity.

Rule 6: 
If you mess up, it's not your parents' fault, so don't whine about your mistakes,
learn from them.

Rule 7: 
Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got
that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about
how cool you thought you are. So before you save the rain forest from the
parasites of your parent's generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.

Rule 8: 
Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life HAS NOT. 
In some schools they have abolished failing grades and they'll give you as 
MANY TIMES as you want to get the right answer. This doesn't bear the 
lightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.

Rule 9
 Life is not divided into semesters. You don't get summers off and very few
employers are interested in helping you FIND YOURSELF.
Do that on your own time.

Rule 10
Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the 
coffee shop and go to jobs.

Rule 11:  
Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one.