December 27, 2006

Messages of Love: Make It!

Make Something for a Child or with a Child!

It is very obvious that making something for a child is a way to show that you love that child because when you make something for someone it is tangible. When you make something with a child, you are giving that child the most cherished gift of love; TIME!

Both Dads and Moms Can Participate!

Make doll clothes or toy cars for your little ones. Dads can make stuff for dolls and moms can make stuff for cars. This act of making something does not have to be something that is cast in nature. Just making simple things often is the best for communicating love!
Make Things for them on Disappointing Days!

On a particularly disappointing day in the life of a young one, make the child’s favorite meal. It is easy to get things mixed up and make their favorite meal when something just happened that was great. Sure, I get the idea about rewarding positive action, but when the goal is to let a child know that they are loved unconditionally, nothing works better than making something for a child when something disappointing has happened! We take our kids out to dinner following a home run or making the honor roll and then when something disappointing happens we often sort of desert our kids. But that I when we need to show up! This does not mean that we must approve of what caused the disappointment. It just tells the child that we are on their side and will be there when things are tough.

With just a little bit of thought and care we can turn this around!

Think about this, your child comes home with a bad grade on a paper at school or has had some other really disappointing event happen. Sensing that this is a very though time for the child, you prepare tacos, the child’s favorite meal, for dinner. Following dinner you walk into the child’s room and simply say, “Hey, looks like something went bad at school today. How about letting me on your team to see if we can find a solution to the problem. I love you and want you to know that no matter what, I am on your side! The special dinner said, “I love you,” in a very tangible way so that the following conversation could be received!

The act of making the favorite food is proof positive that you are not the enemy and that you are available to help. The food just might be the confirmation of love that the child needs to allow you to help!
Parents Can Make Tapes for and with Kids!

There are so many ways to make things for children to just let them know that you love them. Parents can make tapes for them. As little ones, we can read their storybooks onto audiotapes for them so that they can listen to you reading to them while traveling or as they play in their rooms. We can sing songs onto tape for them. We can record them simply talking while they are young and let them listen to themselves a few years later as a clear demonstration to them of how much they have changed.

Making videotape works very well for communicating love to your children. Simply take videos of them playing or talking and then watch them together as they grow. It will show them how much they have grown and changed. “Edit” music onto the videotapes by purposely having a tape or CD playing in the background while you are shooting the video. The music will give them memories of their taste in music in the past, and by choosing the music carefully, parents can use the music to help create ideas in their children’s heads!
Music Need NOT Be a Negative Influence!

As children get older thoughtful parents can make tapes or CD’s of music for them to listen to while playing. In today’s world, so many parents become so angry about the quality of the music that is available for their children. However, families need not be victims of the recording industry! Technology can offer much more choice! With just a little bit of effort, we as parents can take an active role in the music our kids listen to, by simply recording music that our kids like but also music that meets with our own criterion of acceptability. Use those recordings to listen to while traveling in the car or while they play in the house. Tapes, CD's, Ipods, MP3 Players, and other modern technologies all offer great opportunities to teach children to actively choose what they listen to. And at the same time they will be receiving the message of love from their parents.

Just two days ago I watched as our son Drew and his wife Maura gave each of their four children their own personal CD player as a Christmas gift. With each player they gave each child a couple of CD’s that they had made from each child’s own personal music play list. You see, Drew and Maura have realized that music plays an important role in the lives of children and they also have realized that their children will listen to music... so as an act of love toward their children; they have begun the process of teaching their children to be discriminating in their choice of music. The CD’s that they have recorded with their children are carefully chosen selections of music that not only sound great to the kids but also the songs express ideas that they have discussed together with their children and that all have agreed are ideas that they would like to rule their worlds!

Check back soon for more ways to MAKE things for or with children as away of expressing love.

December 19, 2006

Climbers Missing on Mt. Hood

Missing Friends

It has now been over a week since three climbers were first reported missing on Oregon’s Mt Hood. I am writing this article to let all of you readers know that two of these climbers are very close to the hearts of all of us at Parenting with Dignity.

“Why would you be close to some guys climbing a mountain?” You ask.

Well, the answer is really pretty simple… two of those climbers were very supportive of our Parenting with Dignity Program long before they ever went onto that mountain! As a matter of fact, about four months ago, Brian Hall, one of the men on the mountain, contacted me on behalf of the Performance Playground, a facility where he was a Physical Trainer. The reason Brian contacted me was to inform me that their top-rated workout center in Dallas would like to do some fundraising for us because they had chosen us as one charity that they would like to support!

I was Flabbergasted!

Brian shocked me when he proposed a very unique fund-raising event. He said that the Performance Playground would like to start the first of a few fundraisers to help support our Parenting with Dignity Program! He was proposing that they would like to do an “Open House Evening” at their facility sometime around Thanksgiving to raise funds for our program! Brian proposed that they would be showcasing the paintings of a local artist in their facility. Her work would be displayed on the walls around the workout areas of the health club and it would be offered for sale. Half of the proceeds from the sale of her beautiful, original paintings would go directly to Parenting with Dignity!

Climbers on Mt. Hood
During that event, Brian shared his love of mountain climbing, hiking, and camping. We started setting up preliminary plans for him to come to Montana to enjoy our beautiful area. He also told me that evening that soon he and his friend were either going to climb Mt. McKinley in Alaska or Mt. Hood in Oregon as a training mission for attempting to climb Mt. Everest!
Brian e-mailed me on November 28th to tell me that they had decided on going to Mt. Hood. That was the last that I have heard from him!

This brings me to a second of the climbers lost on Mt. Hood, 48-year-old Kelly James, an Architect from the Dallas, Texas area. Kelly is the husband of the artist, Karen, whose paintings were being sold at Performance Playground to help Parenting with Dignity!

I think that it is obvious to anyone who has followed the tragedy of these climbers and their plight on Mt. Hood that these were men of action.

Well, within only two weeks of Brian contacting me, the event at the Performance Playhouse was a reality! They invited me to come to an open house at their “gnarly” and beautiful workout center for an evening with many of their staff and clients. Let me tell you, it was a very cheerful and upbeat affair!

At the party they had a wonderful catered meal and some wine for tasting. Then after visiting with many wonderful folks for about an hour and a half, I was introduced to the James family, Kelly and Karen, his wife the artist. We talked for over an hour. These people were so full of the love of life. Kelly shared with me his love of mountains and climbing and camping. We even discussed having them up to Montana for a visit as well as Brian.
Karen shared some of her creative thoughts about some of her paintings that were hanging around the room. It was a delightful evening with some great people.

Before I left the gathering, the attendees had raised over a thousand dollars in cash and checks to go toward the work of PWD! Later that week Brian called to let me know that the sale of paintings had raised considerably more money for PWD!

I told Brian that his call offering to help was one of the first of such calls we had ever received and that his generosity was kind of overwhelming. He told me that he would like to have me come and visit Performance Playground again over the Christmas Holidays to, as he put it, “Pick up another really big check!”

I knew that our program had found some very wonderful new friends as I saw the tears in both Brian’s and Kelly’s as they presented me the money raised that evening. They wished me well on my way out the door that evening.

Now, the friendship and support that they offered to us has taken on a real emotional twist of fate as I heard last week that those two amazing guys had become lost on Mt. Hood along with a dear friend. I have read and watched the reports for that past week with my heart in my throat!

Yesterday, I learned that Kelly had been found dead in an ice cave at the summit of the mountain. Current reports are saying that things are looking bleak for Brian and the third climber, Jerry “Nikko” Cook. It is hard for me to not believe that somehow Brian will come through this simply because of his overpowering positive attitude. Climbers have been known to live for weeks in ice caves in the past!

Offer a Small bit of Help!

Now let me tell you the reason for including all of this in this blog about parenting… and it is pretty simple. These men believed in what we are doing! They were unique in the fact that they did not just give lip service to the belief in what we are doing either; they dug in to offer real help. I would like to return the favor. I am personally going to send a donation to the rescue efforts for these men!
Please Make a Donation!

I would like to suggest that you do the same. A fund has been created for just that purpose. Ten dollar donations are suggested to be made to:

Mount Hood Rescue Fund at:
Dallas National Bank
2725 Turtle Creek Blvd.
Dallas TX 75219
Robert G. Ortega []

December 15, 2006

Messages of Love: Write It! (Part lll)

Writing Is Important!

There are some other very important things that happen when you write to your kids.

In one way, it shouts to them that you think about them even when you are not with them. If they are not physically present to see you write the first message, what those written words communicate is that you were thinking about them when they were someplace else. Do you think about unimportant people when they are not around? Yes! Repeated writing says that you think about your kids often, because they are important to you.

Write Frequently!

Write often, even if the writing is brief and spontaneous. Many times the best form of writing a parent can do is on pieces of paper that tell your kids where you were when you wrote. Write on pieces of paper from work. Pick up a piece of wrapping paper that identifies itself as being from work and write on the back of it. Tear off a piece of cardboard from a welding rod carton and write on a clean space on it. Write on office stationary, write on envelopes, and write on the back of invoice copies that have been discarded.

Writing Works with Teens!

One of the difficulties in talking to teenage children is that when you are ready to talk, they are just not ready to listen! Then, many times, when they need to hear what you have to say, you are not around! However, when you have written to them they can go get what you have written and read what you have to say when they need it. I know that has happened with our own two sons. I also know that has happened with many of the kids that I wrote to while teaching. Many of those former students have called or written to mention that they appreciated what I had written to them years ago; and, that reading it now, they finally understand what it was that I was saying to them back when I wrote it!

Writing Can Be Permanent!

Next, when you write to your kids it becomes permanent. It says the same thing today, that it says tomorrow, that it says next week, that it says next year, that is says ten years from now. What you write to your children will say the same thing as long as they keep what you wrote. We can insure that children keep what we write by modeling for them what to do with things that have been written to us. Let them see that when we receive special cards from them, we keep them in a special place. Let them see that we, as adults, occasionally go back to those cards and letters we have kept and read them. Help them to select a place where they keep special written messages. Get them a locking box or leather bound notebook or scrapbook. Show them how to keep the important things that have been written to them over the years. Model it for them! Save the important things that have been written to you and let them see that you keep what THEY write to you.

In doing this, you are allowing your writing to speak to your children over a long and extended period of time. Do you desire immortality in the lives of your children? Then write to them!

Increase the Odds in Your Favor!

When you have often written to your children about important ideas over an extended period of time, your ideas will have a much greater chance of becoming “the ideas that rule their world!”

Check back tomorrow for more tips on sending messages of love to your children.

December 14, 2006

Messages of Love: Write It! (Part ll)

Writing Is Magic!

Writing is magic; it says you thought about your kids while you were not with them. It is there in black and white and they cannot deny it. If you wrote to them and they were not with you at the time, you had to be thinking of them while you were not with them!
Write notes and put them in their lunch box.

Written Words Say, "This Is Significant!"

Write notes and letters and put them in their clothing drawers to be discovered at unexpected times.

Write notes on bathroom mirrors in lipstick! Make picture albums and write captions under and around the pictures. In doing that, you will direct their memories of past events; often helping them to see significance they might otherwise have missed.

Letters Say, "This is Important and Formal!"

Write letters to your children and mail those letters to them. Let them go to the mailbox and find a letter from Dad that has a postmark on it. The postmark is proof that you have gone to the trouble of going to the post office to send the letter to them. Sure they live in your house, but a letter says that this is unusual and important. It will get their attention in a way that some little talk in the kitchen simply won’t! By the manner of its’ delivery, a letter says, “This is important and it is something that I want you to know. I want you to know this with some formality.”

Writing Ensures Careful Wording!

And when you write, you can word your thoughts and ideas very carefully and precisely before it "gets all over the kids". I know that everyone has had the experience of saying something at a time of heated emotions that you didn’t really mean. Writing prevents that mistake from happening; when you write, it is possible to write it over and over until you get it just right. One of the most loving things that a parent can do for their children is to write exactly what they believe about honesty, integrity, compassion, courage, spirituality, love, family, etc. As an act of love, writing does not have to be "gushy stuff." Write to them about exactly what you believe about critical issues. Write to them about your beliefs about honesty. Write down your precise spiritual beliefs. Write to your children about your beliefs about freedom, America, and Democracy. Write to your children about what your family means to you. Write down bits of wisdom about life that are important for your kids to have for making big decisions and give those writings to your kids on a regular basis.

Write Nicely and Very Precisely

You can even write poetry for your kids. I said this to a class of parents we were working with in Walla Walla one night and a big dad in the back of the room raised his hand and said, “That is fine for you Bledsoe, but I can’t write poetry! I quit school in the eighth grade and I am a welder for a living. I simply can’t write poetry!”

I thought for a second and decided to risk a little bit of personal information about myself with the man. “Sir,” I said, “the only class I was ever kicked out of in high school was English! I only took one class in English while in college. I do not have a degree in English… I just teach it!”
“However, sir, here is a little tip on writing poetry to your kids for you, if you are willing to accept it. Get a little notebook or folded piece of paper and put it in your pocket along with a pen or pencil. Then go on down to the Hallmark Card Shop. Their cards are even categorized for the type of an occasion for you. Spend a little time there and read over some of the cards until you find one that sort of says what you want to say… then get out your pen and paper and copy it down!”

“You can do that?” he asked in a rather loud voice.

“Well, I don’t know if it is legal, but I have been down there a few times myself and I have never been arrested by The Plagiarism Police!”

“However, if you are worried about copyright law, just buy the card and give the author his due and go out into your old pickup and copy it down because I know what will happen to you. You will start writing the other person’s words and you will say ‘I wouldn’t say it quite like that’ and you will change it into words more to your liking. I also know that there is another thing that will happen to you. You will arrive at the end of the other fellow’s words and you will not feel like you are finished but now you kind of have a rhythm going and you will write another verse or two.”

“No author has ever had a totally original thought. Every author gets inspiration somewhere, take a risk and write nicely to fit special occasions."

Writing can open lines of communication between parents and children that might not happen in any other way. (Order my book today and get lots of other neat ideas about writing to your children.)

Tune in tomorrow for more on sending messages of love to your children.

December 13, 2006

Messages of Love: Write It!

Write Your Words!

Writing is a magic form of human communication. There are a number of very tangible reasons for writing being a unique and wonderful and very effective method of communicating.

First, when you write to some one it is rather permanent. It will last as long as the other person keeps what you have written. It says the same thing today that it says tomorrow, that it says next year, that it says ten years from now. If you write something to someone it will last. If you would like to have a degree of immortality with your children and with future generations just write to your kids. Write often, write from the heart, and be sure to touch on many subjects. When you write to kids it does not have to be mushy or “lovey-dovey.” Just write about things that are important to you; ethics and moral issues close to your heart. Write about values and spiritual issues.

A Wonderful Way to Teach Children.

Our grandfather, Albert McQueen (Mac) Bledsoe was a great example of this. He used to write regularly to all of us 18 grand children, and it seems, in retrospect, he was a little devious in his methods. You see, he would write his letters but in the margins he would write little sayings. It seems now, that he wrote the letters just so that he would then have the margins and an excuse to fill those margins with thoughts and ideas that he felt we would need in life.

The Great Lessons about Life... Written in the Margins!

He wrote little things like, “Never trust a man who is always well dressed!” (When you stop and think about that little gem, there is a real lesson of truth in it.) He even took me aside later and told me what he intended by that little pearl of wisdom. He said, “Young man, I am not telling you to distrust well dressed people. The controlling word in that sentence is always. If a man is always well dressed, he is either a phony or he is not doing much! If a man is really doing something of significance occasionally he is going to get a little sweaty and roll up his sleeves, get a little dirt on his hands, or grass stains on his knees.”

Grandad Put Thoughts on Paper so Now I Still Have Them!

In the margin of another letter he wrote “Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Now, I have discovered that Granddad was not the original author of that wonderful bit of wisdom (he was often pretty careless about citing sources of his wisdom); it was Eleanor Roosevelt who is given credit for that bit of wisdom and granddad was on the opposite side of the political spectrum from that great lady, but he still thought that was a bit of wisdom that I should have so he wrote it down and sent it to me.

Long-Lasting Influence and Guidance

He shared so many of those wonderful ideas with us Grandkids! By putting those ideas on paper, he has directed my actions for years even though he is no longer alive! I still read his teachings daily! Granddad's written words are still some of the critical ideas that rule my world. He is immortal because he is still alive in the wisdom and the words that he wrote.

You Can Have a Copy of Granddad's Wisdom!

Looking back, I am amazed to reflect upon what I did at about age ten; I began to write down Granddad’s sayings. I still have most of them. My only regret is that I didn’t save his letters so I would have his wisdom in his scrawley old handwriting. (If you would like to read many of my Granddad's sayings, the are compiled for you in the back of my book Parenting with Dignity, and if you order today, the book will arrive, autographed, in time for Christmas!)

To show the power of writing one need only go the book titled Make the Right Call that was co-written by our son Drew and a wonderful author by the name of David Brown ( In that book Drew thought that Granddad’s sayings were significant enough to put one at the bottom of each page of the book. Now, there are literally hundreds of thousands of kids and families who are benefiting from Granddad’s habit of writing about key ideas to his grandkids!

Check back tomorrow for more tips on sending messages of love to your children.

December 12, 2006

Messages of Love: Say the Words

Just Say it!

Kids should hear us saying, “I love you” to them! It should be the first thing that they hear every morning, and the last thing that they hear every night. They should hear it in the middle or at the end of arguments, on the phone, and at unexpected times. No matter what, you must say the words, "I love you!" If parents do not say the words, then it is very likely that all other attempts at expressing love will fail. Without the words, our kids just might miss the message completely!

Let me say it again! “I love you,” must be the first thing that our kids hear in the morning and the last thing that they hear before they go to sleep at night and they must hear those words repeatedly all day long! Our kids will not know that we love them just because they live in our homes. If we fail to tell them regularly that we unconditionally love them, they may miss the message when we send it in other very critical ways. While I was growing up, my Dad told me that he loved me in every other way, but... because he did not say the words I had missed the message until I was thirty-one. then he finally said the words.

Get the full Story!

In my book, Parenting with Dignity, and in our video curriculum, I reveal the full story of my father and how he finally said the words, “I love you!” to me. I would recommend that you get my book or the video curriculum to learn the full story (you can get either by Christmas with free postage), because I find that many people shared a similar experience with their parents! However, for the sake of this article, let it suffice to say that he communicated his love for me in every other way that I could name, but, because he did not say the words, I missed the rest of the message!

Do not take that risk with your children! Tell them that you love them today! And every day! In these words! “I love you!”

Two Additional Observations

It is also important to note two additional observations that are of real significance in this event with my dad.

1. It Is Never Too Late!

The first, it is that it is never to late to say “I love you!” My dad waited until I was thirty-six and he was fifty-eight to say those words to me but, when he finally did, it meant the whole world to me. He only lived six more years after that night when he first told me that he loved me, but I never saw that wonderful man ever again that he did not tell me that he loved me. Those were six of the best years of my life and certainly the best of the best years of my relationship with my dad.

2. Build a Relationship with Parents Too!

Next, it would have been a real crime if my amazing and loving father had gone to his grave never having heard the words “thank you” from his son! It is never to late for that either. Many people have told me that after hearing the amazing story about my dad and me that they finally realized what had been missing between them and their parents and hearing that story simply motivated them to build some emotional bridges of their own. If you are one of those people let me encourage you to take the necessary action to build the relationship with a parent. It is an effort well worth the giving.

December 11, 2006

10 Actions that Say, "I Love You!"

Kids spell love T-I-M-E!

Parents must give freely, and lovingly of their time.
If you are not willing to give some time to your children stop reading because this article will not apply to you!

What I have put together for you here is a list of ten ways to send a message of love to a child (or any person, for that matter.) In this article I have attempted to list ten behaviorally described actions that say, “I love you!” to a child. I would be foolish to say that this is in any way a complete list of the methods of expressing love. It is not and I know that, but this list sure is a great place to start.

In my next ten articles I will take each of these and amplify them for you. I would suggest that you print copies of this list and keep them handy around your house to refer to from time to time.

If you order either of my books or get a copy of the Parenting with Dignity Video Curriculum, you can learn even more details about communicating your love to your children. (If you order any of our PWD products this week, they will arrive by Christmas... with free shipping!)

There are many, many other ways of expressing love but, like I said, this is a good place to start. It is a nice list and each one describes an action… something that you can DO!

1. Say it. Actually say the words in many ways.
2. Write it. Put your thoughts and words on paper.
3. Make it. Create something for them or with them.
4. Play it. Play with them.
5. Use Eyes. Look at them and let them catch you.
6. Listen. Shut your mouth and open your ears.
7. Touch. Hug ‘em!
8. Control the emotional meaning of words. Define Mom, Dad, Family, etc. by your actions.
9. Shout down the haters. Do not let others be the only words your kids hear.
10. Teach it. Make a copy of this list and teach your children to express love.

Check back tomorrow to read about "Saying it!"

December 08, 2006

Send a Constant Message of Unconditional Love

There Is No Switch to Turn On "Quality Time"

There is a fallacy afoot in the world. It is the statement that, "We give quality time to our kids." Baloney! It is impossible to turn on quality time. We adults can't turn on quality time with each other and it is even more impossible to do it with our children. There is TIME, period! There is not a person alive who owns the switch for turning on quality time.
Science and research have told us very little about how mankind learns language. It is still quite a mystery just exactly how humans acquire language and how we are able to use it in such a universally powerful manner. However, there are a few things that we do know.

All Humans Speak a Language

First, all humans in every culture speak some sort of language. In France, people speak French. In China, people speak Chinese. In Japan, people speak Japanese. In Mexico, people speak Spanish. In The United States, people predominantly speak English. There are as many languages as there are cultures.

Second, it is even quite easy to identify a region of a country by the particular accent used by the people of one culture who live in different areas. “Y’all c’mon back and see us!” can distinguish a person as being from a Southern State, while “Paak your Caa!” can just as easily identify a person as being from a region in the Northeastern United States! Ending a sentence with “Hey,” can just as easily identify one as being from North Dakota, Wisconsin or a country known as Canada!

We All Speak the Language We are Exposed To!

But here is the final and most important thing that we know about the learning of language; acquisition of language is not genetically determined. Take a French child and raise her in a Japanese home and she will speak Japanese. Raise a Japanese child in a Chinese home and he will speak Chinese. Raise American twins in a Japanese home and they will both speak Japanese but separate them at birth and raise one in Japan and one in Mexico and you will find two kids that look identical but speak different languages; one speaking Japanese and the other speaking Spanish!
We speak the language that we are exposed to! Language is a learned behavior. We learn the language that we hear!

Love Is a Language

I will propose to you that Love is a language! If we are not exposed to it, we will not speak it! 29 years in the American Public Schools has taught me that there are many kids being raised in our country who do not speak the language of love. What I mean by this is that I found that telling a child of 15 that you care about him/her could often not be understood because the child does not speak that language. I might as well have told the child something in a foreign language because it is just as difficult for the child to understand.

If we wish to have our children speak the language of love, we must expose them to that language, daily!

Over the next few days I will be writing about some of the key methods that parents can use to send messages of love to their children.

Stay tuned!

December 06, 2006

The Old Ways (cont.)

Internet Safety

Dealing with Spam, Pornography and Annoying Pop-up Ads And Protecting Children from Predators and Other Online Dangers

In my last article I spoke about how it is often necessary to change our methods to fit modern times. One area of concern that is particular to our era is the use of the internet by our children. My ancestors had to protect their children from the perils of wild animal attacks and today we must protect our children from the dangers presented to them on the Internet. This article is aimed at helping your family deal with those perils and pitfalls of the Internet.

Internet Usage Can Be a Wonderful Thing!

Now, as many of you know, our Parenting with Dignity Foundation has embraced the Internet as one of our primary means of reaching and communicating with our constituents about our curriculum. You are reading our use of one of our “internet tools” that does wonderful things to help many families.

Oh, if it Were Just That Simple!

If only "good Stuff" was on the internet! But it is NOT just good stuff! As a matter of fact, what might be good to me might be bad to lots of others. Sorting out what you feel is "good" from what you feel is "bad" on the Internet is NOT at all simple for parents raising children in today’s world. Believe me, I have the utmost respect for all the positive aspects of the Internet. But, unfortunately, with all its’ positive potential and significant positive applications, the Internet can be a very dangerous place for youngsters - and an aggravating experience for many of the rest of us.

Common Problems

Ask anyone what bothers them the most about using the “Net” and someplace in their answer, you'll usually hear about frustrations with spam, chat rooms, sites like “My Space”, unsolicited pornography and pop-up ads. As parents, we MUST HAVE serious concerns about the problems surrounding "chat rooms", online predators, violent and hate mongering websites, and other Internet "attractions". I cannot hope to solve all of these issues in this article, but hopefully I can offer some suggestions that will help you gain some control of your family's “Internet experience”.

The Evolution of This Article

As a website owner whose email address is and has been available for all to access, I used to receive almost every spam e-mail that was sent every day! That “spam e-mail” used to be a terrible waste of our resources. I have received as many as 3,000+ unsolicited emails in one day! Sorting through that "pile of spam junkmail" used to sap hours from my days.

We Found a Solution!

After much research and trying countless different programs, we finally found something that really works. Knowing that you may have faced similar problems, I wanted to share this knowledge with you. Then it occurred to me that it would be helpful to also discuss some internet issues other than just spam with you. A little over a year ago, I asked our "resident geek" Tom Heatherington, our CEO, to compile some helpful information about Internet Management and Internet Safety. He did so magnificiently and you may benefit from his extensive work!

Warning Signs is a Website for Help!

He created an entire website that is attached to our Parenting with Dignity website that is called Warning Signs. You need to check this out! It is loaded with lots of direct help and hundreds of links to other sites that can offer even more help. Bookmark this link to Warning Signs!

Friends, take heart, there are things you can do to make the Internet less annoying for you and much, much safer for your children. You really can block unwanted spam and get rid of pop-ups. If you will just follow these links you will find some help:

Spam Blockers
SpamArrest (Gets our vote as the best spam blocker!)
Chat Rooms
Internet Addiction
Internet Safety Resources
(This might be the “best ever” compilation of Family Internet Safety Tools!)
Internet Predators
Blocking Porn
"Phishing" and "Pharming"

Pop-Up Ads

The Best Filter of Them All

Let me close by just saying that I believe that the best filter for protecting your children from the dangers of the internet lie in the ideas in their heads! That being said, it does not hurt to have some filters in place on your computer too.

Please guard yourself against the fallacy of thinking that this technology discussed in this article will be the only protection you family will ever need. Without a doubt, the best internet filter ever designed is the Idea: "I just do not go to those kinds of sites and I do not allow myself to read or look at any of that stuff!" Place that idea in the head of your children and the internet becomes a wonderful and helpful resource for your family.

December 05, 2006

The Old Ways Are Not Necessarily Wrong… There May Just Be A Better Way!

"Back when I was a kid..."

As we look at parenting techniques, it is important to never rely on the phrase, “When I was a kid, my parents would have…” Simply because something was done to you as a child is no reason to do that same thing to your children! Please do not think that I am saying that everything that our parents did with us was wrong. On the contrary, most of what our parents did with us was probably the best that they could do with what they knew at the time!

The point is that there might just be a BETTER WAY to approach some of these issues. In making this point I often like to help parents to realize that the challenges of raising children in our generation are not necessarily worse than they used to be… they may just be different. Too many parents have bought the idea that “there has never been a tougher time to raise children.” I disagree! However I do believe that this era presents its’ own new, unique, and difficult challenges.

Our family has, in our possession, a diary of our great, great, great, grandparents crossing the plains in a covered wagon. In the handwritten entry made on about the eighth or ninth day of the long trek across the western half of North America, they wrote of burying an eight-year-old daughter who died during the night, and then traveling eight or nine more miles that same day. I have to believe that was a rather difficult time to raise children too. The lessons needed to simply preserve life and the challenges of living were so different back then, that the parenting practices of that era would probably would not be particularly valuable if transferred from that generation to ours. Many of the skills those parents needed to teach to their kids as the family crossed to plains in their covered wagon would be most likely be worthless lessons for the children of today.

Conversely, the skills we need to teach our children today about drug-free living, and Internet safety would have been worthless to my ancestors as they were crossing the plains!

Now, I am in agreement that the lessons of honesty and integrity would be relevant to each generation of youngsters but even those wonderful lessons might require a different method of teaching.

Question Techniques

If we are willing to admit that some lessons might not apply to our children today, does it not stand to reason or just seem logical for parents to question some of the techniques parents used to use teach children as well? If we need to teach different skills could it not be possible that we need to teach some of those skills using some new and different techniques.

A Great Lesson

Also, there is a great lesson all parents need to learn no matter what age of their children or what the current parenting challenges may be. That valuable lessons it that “it is insanity to keep doing the same thing and expect a different result!”

The other day I was called by a distraught mother who was upset because her 6-year-old son was so unruly and wild in grocery stores and shopping malls. Her statement to me was, “I try to be consistent with him and I spank him every time he misbehaves! I just don’t know what to do. It is just not working!”

When I suggested to her that she practice the desired behavior at home before going on a shopping trip she said that might take too much time. I also suggested that she explain the rules to her son. Tell him that if he uses the practiced behavior then they will complete their shopping trip, but if he varies from the practiced behavior they will leave and go home.

To this the mother then said to me, “Well, if we just go home, won’t I be punishing myself? Why isn’t the spanking sufficient?” She actually was suggesting that she some how wanted to do exactly the same thing that had not worked for six years and she wanted me to tell how she could do that and expect it to work!

Try It! Who Knows, It Might Work!

When some one gives you a suggestion for a change in your parenting technique, do not insist on doing it the “Old Way”! If the new way is not a violation of your personal values and ethics, give it a try. You will never know if the new technique will work until you try it.

Usually the moment when parents actually start to see that the techniques taught in the Parenting with Dignity course is when they actually try them. When they actually go home and complete the assignment is when they see that there are some new ways of doing things the actually do work!

What Do You Know, a New Technique Worked!

By the way, that lady called back three days later just raving about how simple it was to practice for a little bit before going to the store! She said she could not believe how simple that was to do.

December 01, 2006

The Perfect Family Christmas Gift

A Gift for Your Family That Will Last Forever

If you knew that there was a very special Christmas present you could give to your family - that would keep on giving to every member of your family - every day - all year long - would that be of interest to you?

What if this special Christmas present was capable of bestowing additional benefits to every member of your family - every day - for a lifetime, would that be appealing to you?

And if this special Christmas present could help prevent family squabbles and lessen family crises, would this be a gift worthy of consideration?

You must be asking yourself… could such an extraordinary family Christmas present really exist?

What if you also discovered that this very special Christmas present could be yours for less than it costs to take most families out for dinner and a movie?

Well my friends… I am delighted to tell you that not only is such a remarkable gift available - but it can also open doors to communication that most families would not believe possible. This special family Christmas gift will be revealed when you unwrap a boxed set of 3 DVDs entitled, “Parenting With Dignity”.

There is no greater present to give your family than a proven method of resolving those challenges that are faced by every family in America.

Christmas is magic for many of us, but there is no magic in fine-tuning our parenting skills or creating a home where there is harmony, respect, and dignity. These things must be learned, they must be cultivated appropriately. But wait; there is even more to this perfect family Christmas present…

Imagine seeing your youngsters go to bed willingly and cheerfully each night and your toddlers become potty trained naturally and easily.

Discover how to motivate your children to eat healthily rather than becoming “picky” eaters.

Learn how to encourage your children to dress in a manner that is not offensive to you while allowing them to be accepted by their peers.

Build Foolproof Protection Against Drugs

Protect your children from the drugs that are ruining the lives of so many children, and safeguard them from making choices that could land them in juvenile court or worse!

Learn how to avoid the bickering and arguing that is so common in so many American homes.

Develop a filter in your children’s mind that will help protect them from all of the junk that is on the Internet.

Feel relaxed and confident when your children begin dating because you know they will behave appropriately and respectfully.

A Perfect Family Gift

Fortunately, there is a perfect family Christmas gift and it can help your family solve problems, get closer to each other and teach everyone how to make better choices and create a more loving family environment. There is a reason why Patenting With Dignity has become the preferred teaching choice of professional family counselors, schools, churches and many thousands of families around the world… it works.

This extraordinary family Christmas present is now even more incredible… If you order right away you will not only receive the 3 DVDs packed full of 10 hours of proven parenting advice, but you can choose one of the award-winning Parenting with Dignity books at no additional cost - AND – we will ship your order by Priority Mail – FREE!

Get it in time for Christmas – Get it just it in time!

November 29, 2006

What Parents Do For Kids!

A Wonderful Holiday Experience

Last year, Barbara and I had a wonderful experience that started our Christmas Holidays off on such a great note that I want to share it with you during this year’s Holiday Season. Following a late morning appointment we stopped for breakfast at a local restaurant. The most cheerful and smiling gentleman waited us on. While making the usual small talk, he mentioned that as soon as he got off work at the restaurant he was going to his primary job as a meat cutter at the local grocery store. The fellow looked about my age so I said, “Wow, two jobs? You must be putting a kid or two through college!”

His answer brought tears to our eyes! “I have seven kids… but only two still at home! Five are out on their own now, and supporting themselves. The two still at home are in college now. Won’t be too long before I won’t need to work two jobs!” And to me, the key was that he said all of this with that ever present big grin!

A Parent’s Sacrifice? Hardly!

I said, “Wow, what a sacrifice!”

In his answer we found an ace we could keep. He said, “It has not been a sacrifice at all, it has been worth every minute of the work. All of our kids are fantastic adults. One is a painter at the Chevrolet dealership in Whitefish, another has a construction business in Delaware, another is a teacher, another is a contractor, and the fifth is a Doctor! Oh that fifth one was amazing,” he said. “She had bad grades all through early days of school but then, one day in about the tenth grade, she just said she was going to become a doctor. She went to work, brought her grades up went to med school and now she IS a doctor! The last two are in college and it looks like we got lucky because all seven are going to turn out all right!”

No Luck Involved

“Sir, there is very little luck involved in how your kids turned out", I responded. “There was no accident in your home! The sacrifices you made on their behalf and the obvious work ethic you taught them is the reason that they turned out to be fine adults!”

This hardworking man, clearly, was a living lesson to his kids. Yes, he worked two jobs, but he did so gladly and cheerfully. Through his cheerful willingness to work hard in order to provide for them, he obviously had taught his kids to be their own miracles. None of them were raised to just sit and wait for luck, or good fortune to land on their doorstep. Each had been taught that they would become what they chose to become, and that each would get just about what they decided to work to achieve. It was interesting to us to observe that this loving father did not seem to place any more or less value or pride in the various professions of his kids. He was obviously, equally proud of the unique accomplishments of each child.

A lesson Taught by a Working Father

Another lesson he seemed to be teaching us was that parents must never give up on kids. Keep teaching them and eventually they will get the message. The daughter with the poorest track record in early school eventually went the furthest with formal education. As he put it, “I just never gave up on believing in her! I knew that someday she would find her dream!”

As he talked of his kids his eyes filled with tears and his permanent smile just got bigger. That father is a man who will probably go to his grave with little of material value to show for all of his long hours of work… but he will go to his grave a rich, rich man! He was important in the lives of his children. He delights in the really important things in life; his kids and his family!

So why do I share this experience about this simple, loving, hardworking man with you parents? Because his life is a living lesson to all of us; that loving, teaching, supporting, and believing in your kids is a wonderful way to find real meaning in life! I believe that parents who focus on the positives in their children while continuing to teach, teach, teach by word, deed, and example will find their days filled with a lot more joy and a lot less stress.

When it is all said and done, about the only footprint any of us will ever leave on the world will lie in what we have taught to our children.

November 28, 2006

Starting a Parenting with Dignity Class

(Another in Series of Letters from Concerned Parents (If you would like to submit a question for Mac to answer, please feel free to post your question at the bottom of the page!)

Why Would We Want to Start a PWD Class?

Dear Mac,

My wife and I recently purchased a set of the Parenting with Dignity, DVD curriculum and we love it. (We really loved the fact that we received a book for free with the order! the book really helps to refer to after watching he video.) The techniques are working with amazing success. We cannot believe the change in the climate in our family, and both of us feel so much calmer since we are actually approaching our three kids with a real plan. We are about halfway through the Assignment sheets and have just finished with Segment 5.

Our question for you is regarding the starting of a class. We love the curriculum but on your website you are continually trying to get parents to get together and watch the sessions as a group or class with other parents and we are not sure that we see that added value in going through the curriculum with other parents. Why should we put forth the effort to meet with others since the curriculum is working so well for us?

Father and Mother from West Virginia

A Simple Answer to A Common Question

Dear Father and Mother,

Your question is very perceptive and it is one that I receive almost weekly, so I will answer your question (and the questions of others) regarding the value of holding Parenting with Dignity classes!

It is really quite simple when you think about it; from the day your kids enter school at the common age of five they will spend more waking hours with the kids of other families than they spend with you! Those kids from other families are going to exert a very real and powerful force in the lives of your kids (this is commonly called "peer pressure"). You don’t say how old your kids are but if you have three it is probably pretty safe to assume that at least one of your kids is already of school age and maybe all of them are already in school.

Just like it says in our curriculum, “The ideas in the heads of you kids will rule their world! And it does not matter where those ideas come from”. In the American culture many of the ideas in kids heads come from the kids that they spend time with at school! If you are NOT willing to engage in discussions with the families of those kids and insist on doing “your own thing in your own home” with little or no interaction with the families of the kids that your kids go to school with and play with, then you are committing a fatal error. Those other kids and families will exert lots of pressure on you kids with some pretty dysfunctional ideas; and if you are unwilling to interact you must accept what you get! But peer pressure need not be a negative force!

This Will Sound Familiar!

It works like this: It is so much easier for you to teach something as simple as saying “please” and “thank-you” at your dinner table if, when your kids visit another family home and your kid says, “Hey gimme a biscuit,” and then someone at that table asks them to use “Please!” All of a sudden you are not so weird for demanding the same in your home.

Roll the camera ahead a few years and your daughter or son is on a date to the Prom. It is so much easier for your kid to practice appropriate dating behavior if the kid he or she is dating is practicing the same behavior!
It is so much more reasonable to expect your kid to say “no” to drugs if he or she has friends who are cool, and who are also saying “no” surrounding them! It is much easier to place productive and healthy ideas in your kids’ heads if the kids that they go to school with and hang out with have similar ideas in their heads!

“How do we get there?” you ask. Well it is really pretty simple; you have to get together with the parents of the kids that your kids play with, and go to school with. You need to sit down with the other parents and look each other in the eye and agree on some similar techniques and ideas.

At this point so many parents say, “But we will never agree with other parents on everything!” Granted, but, you know, I have now been in communities in every one of the fifty states, and let me tell you it is not nearly as hard as it may appear at first glance!

Not So Difficult to Find Agreement

If you put twenty adults in a room and ask them to form a list of the twenty biggest problems that they anticipate that their kids will face before they are twenty-one, almost every group will come up with the same list!

The key is to anticipate what your kids will face and to give them the guidance BEFORE they are in the situation. If a whole group of parents have agreed that they want their kids to know what to do in the event that drugs are offered, then they must develop those positive expectations in the heads of their kids! This works so much better if those same actions are in the heads of many of your kids friends and classmates!

A Stimulant for Discussion

Our classes are a great medium for stimulating those discussions in a very non-threatening way! If you will hold the classes with twelve other families then you will have twelve allies in placing productive and positive ideas in your kids heads!

I cannot encourage you strongly enough to set up a class with Parenting with Dignity solely for the purpose of engaging with other parents in building strategies for collectively creating the community to raise your kids. Believe me it works! (And the review of the curriculum will not hurt you either!)

In closing let me offer just one more side benefit to holding classes… you will learn more from the other people in the class than you learn from the curriculum! It is true. You will learn more from the ideas and experiences that the other parents bring to class than you will learn from the curriculum itself. The other families will bring in examples and situations typical to your community and your local culture!

Good luck and if you need help setting up your class just go to and print that page. It is a compilation of things we have learned about setting up successful classes.

Go for it and let me know if I can be of help in setting up your class.


Mac Bledsoe

November 27, 2006

Be an Effective Listener to Your Children

Listening is Fundamental to Being an Effective Parent

One of the keys to being an effective parent, especially a parent of teens, lies in being an effective listener. Today, I would like to offer to you six words or phrases to use whenever you find yourself listening to your children. These “listening words” let your children know that you are listening, they let them know you heard what they said, but the key is that these words are non-evaluative in nature.

So here are the six "listening words and phrases":

“I didn’t know you felt like that!”
“Tell me more!”

If you will just insert these words into pauses or spaces in the talk of a child, it will let them know that you are listening. It let’s the child know that you heard them but because these words indicate nothing of what you think, they allow the child to continue. Many times what children are doing when they are talking with you is thinking out loud. By listening and occasionally letting them know you are hearing them it will draw them out and encourage them to speak to you some more.

The Ultimate Goal

If your ultimate goal is to raise children who are capable of making good decisions for themselves, good listening is so important. While your children are thinking out loud they are actually getting experience in making decisions before they are actually in the live situation. Listening to your children allows them to try out some ideas before they actually use them. I know that it will sometimes take all you have to just offer one of the listening words and keep quiet but it will usually result in your children coming to you repeatedly to try out ideas before they actually use the ideas. Many times the conversation with you will be all that a child needs to make a good decision.

The big advantage to you is that by creating the atmosphere in your family where you are viewed as being a good listener, you will have an opportunity to speak in due time, and you might then speak at a time when your child might be more open to listening to you.

A Critical Question

We have also found that many times it helps if you, the parent will ask one simple question when one of your children is beginning to speak to you. Ask them, “Are you seeking my advice or do you just want me to listen?” We found that most of the time the child will opt for “just listen!”

The next time that one of your children comes to you and starts talking to you, try using those listening words and phrases in any pause. Ask your child if he/she wants you to offer advice or wants you to just to listen. If they tell you they just want you to listen then honor that request.

A final step in being a good listener is just repeating back what you have just heard. Repeat what your child says in your own words. Your child will correct you if you get it wrong.

Become a good listener. Then, if your child views you as a good listener, they will often listen to you when you have something to say later on!

November 24, 2006

Creating “Positive Peer Pressure”

Questions and Answers Are Only part of the Picture

I wish to thank those of you who submit questions to this column. Not only do you personally receive an answer to your own questions, but by asking your question, you also allow others to benefit because you may have just asked a question that helps many others as well. Many families can benefit from the question asked by one parent! However, I would like to point out that these questions and answers in this column represent only a small part of the value that the Parenting with Dignity Program has to offer to you and your family! Just think how wonderful it would be to be involved in the same process with weekly discussions about similar issues with other parents in your community !

Build a Strong Community to Raise Your Children

I cannot recommend strongly enough that you order a copy of the Parenting with Dignity Video Curriculum and/or a copy of either of my books, Parenting with Dignity or Parenting with Dignity the Early Years! By writing questions, many readers of this column can, and do, receive specific help with individual problems , however, this process may be of fleeting value because that small bit of advice may not help out the next time that another different problem arises! This process of question and answer keeps throwing parents back into the same loop... ask, answer; ask, answer; ask answer; and so on.

Develop a Complete Plan for raising Your Children

What the Parenting with Dignity Course does is to outline a complete plan for raising children in a highly effective and dignified manner. The program teaches you to be your own source of answers! My books do the same thing. In my books, I outline a complete plan for raising self-directed and fulfilled, happy children who are fully capable of making great decisions for themselves based upon a strong and complete foundation of values, morals, and ethics that you have taught to them! The video curriculum and the books teach you to create your own strategies tailored to your own family and your own problems.

Obviously, I will continue to offer specific advice via this column because it fills a need for so many parents and so many families. Even parents who have completed the course find this type of forum to be helpful. However, the point that I am attempting to make here is that in spite of receiving valuable help from these regular articles, the most broad and lasting value that you can receive from Parenting with Dignity lies in allowing yourself to go through the entire course with other parents. Going through each lesson and doing all of the assignments in conjunction with other families will bring the most value to your family!

Get the Maximum Value from Parenting with Dignity

The maximum value that families can receive from Parenting with Dignity comes from not just going through the class; the greatest value comes from forming a class and going through the curriculum with other parents in the neighborhood or community! When families go through the complete course together, they all benefit much more than they would by just going through the curriculum on their own.

Benefit from the Experiences of Others!

Just like in this column, many others may benefit from the question submitted by one parent. Most people tell us that they benefit as much from the discussions with other parents in their classes as they do from the curriculum itself!

A Very Simple Concept

But even more than benefiting from the questions of others, there is an even greater benefit that families receive from going through the curriculum together! This is not a difficult concept to understand. Please understand this: It is so much easier to teach your own children something if every other home that they visit is teaching a similar thing! It is so much easier to teach something as simple as saying “please” and “thank-you” at your own dinner table, if every home your child visits is teaching the same thing!

Likewise, it is so much easier to teach your children the advantages of drug-free living if your children are in constant contact with other children who have been taught a similar approach to life! Peer pressure is only negative if it pushes in a negative direction! Positive peer pressure can be a parent's biggest ally! Parenting with Dignity helps you to create this powerful positive force for your children.

Positive Peer Pressure

It is so much more natural to expect your children to behave in a desired manner if their friends are doing so too! Can it be more simple? It is just so much more reasonable to expect your child to behave in an appropriate manner while on a date to the Prom if he/she is dating a young person who has been taught similar dating behavior! Then just imagine that they are on a "double-date" with a couple more young people who have also been taught similar dating behavior; the peer pressure is now pushing them all toward doing the right thing!

Create a Positive Community for Raising Your Children

Put very simply, Parenting with Dignity will help you to build the positive community to raise your children! Parenting with Dignity will create positive peer pressure to "push" your children towards positive decisions and behavior! Please join the many other families who have started a Parenting with Dignity Course in their neighborhood. Order a copy of our DVD Curriculum and start a class today!

November 22, 2006

Dysfunction, Abuse, and Neglect

(Another in Series of Letters from Concerned Parents (If you would like to submit a question for Mac to answer, please feel free to post your question at the bottom of the page!)

(As an introduction to this letter, let me just tell you that I have since been in contact with this mother and she assured me that she was never considering any kind of stoppage in her efforts to be a great parent... she was just asking a theoretical question.)

A Question

Hi Mac,

I have a question. I was just noticing how most of the leaders of the world come from very hard/dysfunctional/abusive... childhoods. It kind of makes you think doesn't it? What I want to know is, with all the good parenting we give to our kids, are we really serving them well for their future? (Obviously, I'm not going to parent my children any less than my best because of this, I'm just curious).

I'm eager to hear your opinion.

Kind regards,
Wondering Mom

An Answer

Dear Mom,

I seldom receive questions of a general nature like this but I will try to answer your question as honestly as I can.

First, let me tell you that in my line of work, I find far more people who have been irreparably damaged by "hard/dysfunctional/abusive... childhoods" than I have found people who become leaders of the world from "hard/dysfunctional/abusive... childhoods"!

I would not disagree with you that there are many people who have difficult times in life, but who still go on to achieve very high levels of performance and leadership... However, I would contend that those who made it to the top did it in spite of their circumstance rather that because of them! In addition, I would contend that people who live successful lives after living through dysfunction and abuse, are definitely, the minority! Most people from that type of background live lives filled with anguish, failed dreams, misery, and self-doubt. Few have much in the way of positive self-esteem and even fewer live fulfilled lives.

"Are we doing our children a disservice by being a good parent?" I cannot believe that someone would consider that as a rational thought. I'm sure you don't. The thought of intentionally raising a child in dysfunction or abuse in order to help them is so ludicrous that I am surprised that I am even answering this question! I know that you are just asking in theory, but it still is a shocking question to me. However, the question does bring up some good ideas!

Well, in answer to your question, "I want to know, with all the good parenting we give to our kids, are we really serving them well for their future? " I must reply that it seems to me, that your picture of good parenting must be quite different from mine. I do NOT believe that good parenting just protects kids from life. I believe that truly effective parenting teaches kids to live life, all of it, good and bad alike. And good parenting teaches children to deal with tough times in a positive way. You seem to be equating good parenting with some kind of a soft life... but not me. Ask our kids if they lived in a soft home. I'm sure that the answer would be a resounding, "NO! We worked harder than most kids our age!"

Our curriculum is being used in over 52 prisons nationwide and I have visited most of those institutions. Those institutions a filled with people who were raised in homes of dysfunction and abuse! I did not meet many world leaders in those places! I have met thousands of inmates and the most universal characteristic of those, mostly miserable, incarcerated men is that almost every one came from a dysfunctional home!

An Easy Life?

I will say this in answering your question... anyone who reads my material and gets from what I am teaching that I believe that we ought to make life easy for kids has misinterpreted what I am trying to teach. In no way would I ever propose that parents ought to orchestrate an easy and unchallenging life for their children. On the contrary, I believe with all of my heart that children ought to be challenged by difficult decisions and tough and demanding work, whether it is at home, school, athletics, music, or where ever. Most of life’s great lessons are taught by overcoming obstacles.

Life’s Great Lessons

Doing your best for your children rarely implies that you are going to orchestrate success for them. Some of the most challenging and difficult situations teach the most to your children. Attempting to reach for something great and coming up short teaches some of the best lessons in life!

Dealing with Unfair People

When one of our sons would come home and tell me that a teacher was not fair, I didn’t go to the school and try to change the teacher. My advice to our children was to ask them to try to figure out what the teacher wanted them to do. Once they figured that out, I would ask them, "Is what the teacher is asking you to do a violation of any of your values, morals, or ethics? If not, then I would strongly advise you to do what the teacher wants you to do, to the best of your ability, or just accept what you get... but it is your choice! In life you will run into unfair people and you need to learn how to deal with them. Most of the time it works best to give your best effort no matter what. I'm here if you want to run your ideas by me. I will be watching with interest to see how you deal with this situation."

Help Children to Learn from Difficult Situations

The key for the effective parent is to be there for their children to help them learn from disappointments and tough times. Do NOT ever interpret what Parenting with Dignity is teaching to mean that parents ought to protect their children from tough situations! We do NOT teach that.

All we say is that we parents have the obligation to protect our children if an action or situation is illegal, immoral, or life threatening! I those situations, we as parents, ought to step in to prevent them from irreparably damaging themselves but the rest of the time we ought to let them learn from their actions and give the guidance in making good decisions for themselves. We ought to be teaching them the values, morals, ethics, and other rules that will help them to make good decisions. then we ought to be guiding them in how to use those ideas as the ones that they choose to rule their world. (See Lessons 7 & 8 in our Parenting with Dignity Curriculum or Chapters 10 and 11 in my book Parenting with Dignity.

Save Children from “Speeding Trucks”…
Let Them Take On Most of the Rest of Life’s Challenges!

Like I have said many times, the way I kept my actions straight in my head was to ask myself, "If my son was running for the street and there was a big truck coming that would kill him, would I act to stop him from running into the path of certain death? Well, of course I would prevent that from happening. But going outside in cool weather without a coat is not in any way like a speeding truck. Let him go outside and feel what it feels like without a coat and then let him learn to make adjustments in his own behavior.

I hope that what you are speaking of in your question is the way that so many parents, in the name of what they perceive to be "good parenting" deny their children the right to experience some of the results of their own bad decisions. Life can be a good instructor, but the tragedy is when kids make bad decisions and their parents are nowhere in the picture to help them learn HOW to make a better decision the next time.

We Must Act as Parents at Critical Times

Like I said, there are times when I believe that parents ought to be there to prevent children from even trying to learn from their mistakes. Some things that come to mind immediately would be drugs, sex, violence, breaking the law, or unsupervised use of the Internet. Some of the consequences of those behaviors are so dire and so long lasting and life changing that our children cannot be allowed to just experiment with those things in order to learn that there might be dire consequences! Our prisons are full of people who had that kind of parenting.

That being said, I believe that children should be challenged by difficult circumstances and situations. While they are being challenged, I believe that they need someone to act as their teacher and guide.

Most Great Leaders Overcome Difficult Situations...
Because of Great Teachers!

The one thing that separates the world's great leaders who arrived at their positions having come from hard/dysfunctional/abusive childhoods, and the criminals I have met who came from similar situations, is that every person I have met who became successful, in spite of their situation, can point to one or more good teachers in their lives!

I would suggest that you too do some research and find out about those great leaders form humble backgrounds! I believe that you will find, just as I have, that all of them had at least one or more great teachers who helped them to overcome their situation or circumstance.

Now I do not use "teacher" in this sense, as to mean just a schoolteachers. Many of those people count one or both parents as their great teachers. Others point to a pastor or a big brother or big sister. Maybe it was an aunt or an uncle. For me, I can point to some fantastic teachers that I have had in my life. The key elements in the lives of all successful people, were the great teachers in their lives who helped them to learn the important lessons in life! Are you choosing to be one of your children's great teachers? Or will your kids have to find their teacher someplace else?

Don’t Just Protect Your Children…
Teach Them!

With your children, I would never advise you to just protect them from life. What I am trying to advise you to do is to be their teacher; to help them learn life's important lessons, whether they be tough or easy!

When our son and his wife bought a little farm in Western New York, there was a 3-acre lake on their 34-acre property. One of their friends came to me to try to make me promise that I would see to it that our son built a locked fence around the lake to protect our four grandchildren. "Oh that water just scares me to death!" she said, through pleading tears.

You need to hear my answer to that lady... I said, "No, ma'm, you have it all wrong. Our son and daughter-in-law need to teach their kids to swim! Building a fence only protects them from that lake! What about all of the other water in the world? If they teach them to swim, then... no water, anywhere, poses much of a danger to them! They still might fall in, but they would know how to get themselves safely to shore and out of the water!" (Just to let you know, all of our grandchildren could swim, unaided, in the deep end of the pool for five minutes, by the age of two.)

That story is a great metaphor for raising children. We cannot protect them from all of the world... but we can teach them how to live in it safely and with fulfillment! That to me ought to be the goal of all effective parenting.

I hope that helps for you to understand how I feel about your question.


Mac Bledsoe

November 21, 2006

Helping Kids through Sexual Molestation and Other Trauma

(Another in Series of Letters from Concerned Parents (If you would like to submit a question for Mac to answer, please feel free to post your question at the bottom of the page!)

Dear Mac,

Hi, I have your Parenting with Dignity videos but I have a problem that your curriculum doesn't cover in detail. My son's father molested him when he was younger, and although my son and I are in counseling, are there any other suggestions you might have on ways to deal with such things as anger, comforting, feeling safe and issues of that nature.

Thank you,
Mom in Florida

Kids Dealing with Trauma Need LOVE

Dear Mom,

I would strongly suggest that you continue to seek counseling and that you make sure that the counselor is trained in this kind of trauma. I do not feel particularly qualified to offer advice on this issue of sexual molestation specifically, but I would encourage you to keep our "Ten Ways of Communicating Love" close at hand and use them daily.

Make a Plan to Express LOVE

I would suggest as strongly as I can that you lay out a plan of communicating your love to your son on a daily basis. Go to our handout in the Parent's Workbook and do the assignment that goes with lessons 5 & 6 in our curriculum. Your son needs you to do that for him! All kids need daily expressions of love but children who have been treated badly in any manner need to know that they are loved unconditionally more than most. Your son has been betrayed and he needs to be confirmed in the fact that he is loved.

Trauma Does NOT Need To Dominate His Thoughts

While your son has had a traumatic incident with his father, he is NOT doomed to let that be the dominant experience in his life. You must provide him with lots of experiences with the healthy and wonderful expressions of love to overcome this frightening event. To me, the problem with some counseling is that the process forces the traumatized person to relive... and relive... and relive the negative experience rather than focusing on building a lifetime of wonderful relationships and wonderful positive experiences.

Remember! The ideas in your son’s head will rule his world. If all he is ever helped to think about is the one negative experience – that terrible experience will rule his world. The flip-side of that is true also... if all he thinks about are the wonderful experiences he is having, daily, then those new experiences and ideas will rule his world instead of that one bad one!

I have met many people for whom this process of love overcoming trauma has worked miraculously. One of the amazing gifts we have all been given is that our minds can focus so completely on positive ideas that those wonderful ideas can force negative experiences completely into the background. We may never completely forget, but we certainly do not have to be consumed by traumatic experiences either. Your son can be taught to focus on all of his wonderful experiences by making sure that he has lots and lots of them!

An Act of Love Can Overcome a Terrible Trauma!

Just three days ago I was privileged to meet a young lady in Delaware who had been abused and deserted by her parents. All she could talk to me about was the wonderful life and guidance that had been provided to her by her foster parents. I have challenged her to write down a brief story of her life and send it to me. If she does, I will be sure to share her story with you in this column. As she stood there smiling at me, she was telling of how the love of her foster parents had overcome her early life of abuse and abandonment! Her life definitely was not dominated by her trauma of her early life! Listening to her story, I took great hope in knowing that the same could be true for children like your son! Golly, your son does not even have to go to a foster home to find someone to love him unconditionally... he has a Mom who loves him right there at home!

Good luck and keep letting your son know that you love him in every way that you can think of… DAILY!


Mac Bledsoe

November 20, 2006

Supporting Children’s Activities and Events

YMCA’s, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, 4H, FFA and Other Youth Organizations

My visit to Sussex Family YMCA in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware was extremely fulfilling and inspiring! It is so encouraging to visit an organization that supports wholesome atmospheres for children and families. It was fun to hear that those wonderful supporters of their YMCA not only met their goal for fundraising but they exceeded it by a good margin! This means that the staff will again be able to expand services to include more families!

It was so wonderful to see the recognition of their donors. Man, when the contributions of those wonderful people were announced there was not a dry eye in the house! I so admire people who contribute so selflessly to make their communities strong. My hat is off to all of them.

The Age of Most Donors Was Shocking

One thing hit me as I was watching the event unfold last Thursday evening and it kind of scared me because I have seen this same phenomenon in so many communities across America…

Most of the Donors Were Older Than Me!

So why is that a scary picture? Because I am now sixty years old… and if most of the donors are older than me, a serious question arises. “Who will support these organizations when our generation is gone?” Now don’t get me wrong, I do not view us as having one foot in the grave because most of us are still in the prime of our productive lives; but in ten to fifteen years most of us will be past the peak of our earning years and will no longer be able to contribute funds to support these agencies and activities.

We Must Recruit Our Replacements!

When we hold fundraising events we must invite younger generations! We do not need to have them attending just to give money because many have yet to have earned enough to afford large donations of funds. However, we need to be pay attention to the task of educating the younger generations about the fact that these wonderful family activities need their support and volunteer efforts.

America has been founded upon volunteer effort in our communities. My experience is telling me that we are not doing a very good job of educating the younger generations about this fact. Far too many of the next generation seem to be looking for Government to support all of the agencies that we hold dear. When that happens we will be in dire straits! It is not the responsibility of Government to support these organizations.
Every time that you attend a fund raiser, be sure to include one young person with you and teach those younger than you what it means to support the organizations that make your community strong!

November 16, 2006

Moral and Ethical Guidance

YMCAs, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, 4H, and FFA

Today I am in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware to speak at a fundraiser for their Sussex Family YMCA. I am honored to be doing this because the Director of this YMCA is a wonderful friend by the name of Terry Rasberry, who used to be the Director of the YMCA in Yakima, Washington, a town where we used to live and teach school. I am glad to be doing this because it is an opportunity to help sustain one of the most important institutions in America… a YMCA!

“Why would I make a grand statement like that?” you ask.

Well, let me ask you a question in return, “Would America be a better place if every American child was a member of a YMCA, 4H, FFA, or was a Boy Scout, or Girl Scout?” Well, let me tell you I ask that question of people all across America, and the answer is always a resounding, “YES!”

It is pretty simple really. All of those organizations have at their core, guidance in moral and ethical behavior. All of those organizations have the courage to stand for honesty, integrity, hard work, faith in God and country, and other important beliefs like fellowship and belief in family and friends! Each of those organizations set high standards for our children.

In my case, I was touched deeply by 4H, FFA, Boy Scouts, and most of all I was affected by my experiences at our local YMCA and at Y Camp. Those activities affected me deeply! In those organizations the values I was taught at home were reinforced very strongly. Those organizations were the community that raised this child!

But here is my concern; all of those wonderful organizations a dying out across America. The ones that are still doing their great work are struggling to stay afloat and meet their needs financially! I know that the “Y” here in Rehoboth Beach is a wonderful influence in this community simply because I know Terry Rasberry! I know what the “Y” was like in Yakima and without ever visiting this “Y”, I am certain this one is like the one Terry directed in Yakima. I certainly hope that they meet their funraising goals this year!

Wholesome Activities

During the time that I was in Yakima, I ran a program called Seizing Opportunities for the local Juvenile Court. For more that six years, almost every child that was involved with Juvenile Court was required to take the Seizing Opportunities Course. In that course I was trying to get kids to hold positive ideas in their heads about how and where they spent their time. I knew that I could send them to the “Y” for wholesome activities. In many cases Terry would make it possible for these kids and their families to join the “Y”. Many were “scholarshipped” by Terry. (I got the feeling that some were even funded out ot Terry's own pocket.) Those kids would begin hanging out at the “Y” for the Saturday Night Live program rather than out on the streets on weekend nights. The SNL program was simply a wholesome place for kids to go on weekend evenings where they could spend their time playing games, listening to music, swimming, and hanging out with their friends in a place where they were safe.

In addition to being safe they were in a place where they could seek guidance and counseling from a trained staff that they had grown to trust through the weekend activities that were so much fun. It was an atmosphere of moral and ethical guidance and it was a fun place!

Reinforcing What You Teach at Home

The “Y” changed so many kids in Yakima... but it was always struggling to keep its’ doors open because community support was hard to come by. Terry always found the money some way, and that “Y” was there for the kids of Yakima. But, in so many towns and cities I see those great organizations closing their doors simply because their communities did not support them.

I know what that is like because the "Y" in my hometown closed due to lack of funding when I was in 9th grade. I know personally how abandoned we kids felt when the "Y" closed it's doors. It had been a place where we all learned to swim, play sports, and most importantly where our "Gra-Y" and "Junior Hi-Y" groups met. At those meeting we had fun but more importantly, we discussed important issues of growing up with our great leader, Alden Esping. (Read about how those discussions changed my life in my book Parenting with Dignity.) It ripped our hearts out when our "Y" closed and Mr. Esping left town.

Support Those Organizations!

If there is a YMCA in your town, donate to them! If you cannot donate money, donate time. When a Girl Scout comes by yiour house selling cookies, buy ten boxes. You can give them away as gifts and each gift will help that organization stay viable. Go to your local Boy Scout leader and offer to scholarship one boy to Scout Camp. Attend a livestock sale for 4H or FFA and buy an animal to meet your families needs and support those organizations with your food dollars.

It Takes a Community to Raise a Child

It does take a community to raise a child. Help to build a strong community where you live. Help those organizations that reinforce what you are teaching at home!