What is the Parenting With Dignity®
Our program is presented as a 9 hour parenting
course offered on DVD or VHS video with
a FREE accompanying parent's workbook.
The premise of our program is based upon one central idea:
"WHETHER YOU APPROVE OR NOT, YOUR CHILDREN WILL MAKE
THE BIG DECISIONS
IN THEIR LIVES; SO, OUR ONLY HOPE
IS TO TEACH THEM TO MAKE GOOD
The course is intended to
be viewed by parents over a nine week period of time (to see
the individual lessons, click here).
It consists of approximately nine hours of taped
classes, and we feel strongly that they
produce the best results when viewed in small groups.
Each tape is designed to be viewed in sequence, although if viewed alone,
every lesson will teach the viewer
new skills which can be used
immediately in dealing with children. Also, included
in the package is a Facilitator's tape which contains many suggestions for
attracting class members, and setting up and conducting classes! To order the
videos, click here.
Where does the phrase "Parenting With Dignity" come from?
When I (Mac Bledsoe) was in the Army there was an amazing lady who worked for me in the
office that I was assigned to manage. I'll call her Patricia to keep her identity
private, but Patricia kept me sane while I was in the insanity of the Army and
the Viet Nam war. She also taught me a ton while I was there. (She remains a
friend today and she is still teaching me.) One day she was out in the reception
center greeting soldiers with her usual cheerful attitude and she was treating
everyone with the same respect and dignity... rank, age, color or position never
made any difference to Patricia . She treated everyone with dignity and
integrity. I could see her through the window in my office. She had arrived at
her usual time, ten minutes early. After about an hour on the job one of the
Privates who worked with her came in and said, "Lt. Bledsoe, did you see what
happened to Patricia last night?"
"No," I replied.
He just dropped the Newspaper on my desk and left. On the front page of the
paper was a picture of Patricia's home... and there was a ten-foot cross burning
in her front yard! It was a time of great racial strife in our country, back in
1969, and the Ku Klux Klan was very evident in our area at that time because of
government enforced school integration. I don't remember all of the particulars
but the cross burning had to do with a marriage that was to happen in Patricia's
family which didn't meet with the KKK's approval or something like that.
Patricia is black and I think that one of her relatives was marrying a person
who appeared to be of lighter skin or something of equally insane nature. The
fact was, Patricia had suffered a terrible and frightening indignity the night
I looked out my window and there was Patricia , calm and cheerful, as ever, even
though it was common knowledge that the Sergeant seated two desks from Patricia
was a high-ranking officer in the local KKK. I was dumbfounded and confused so I
went and called Patricia into my office. I pointed at the paper on my desk and
said, "I just learned about what happened at your house last night, and Patricia
you have to help me because I don't understand something. How can you be on time
to work and cheerful, respectful, and kind to everyone after something so
terrible has happened to you?"
She reached across my desk in that amazing and instructive manner of hers,
patted my hand, and said, "Oh, Lt. Bledsoe, that is easy. In our family we are
respectful and dignified, not necessarily because the people around us are
acting respectable nor dignified... we act that way because we are!"
Gulp! My life was changed forever! Patricia had just proposed a concept to me
that was a standard from me to strive to reach for the rest of my life! In all
situations I get to choose the manner in which I deal with other people. Their
actions do not dictate my response, I do. When we began to develop our parenting
curriculum I felt that it was only fitting to title it Parenting with Dignity
because in our way of looking at it, parenting requires the kind of same
self-control. The parent must be dignified in the response to the child even
though the child may be acting rather undignified, lying there in the entrance
to the super market kicking and screaming!
does your experience in raising
Drew make you authorities
capable of speaking about effective parenting?
The answer to that is simple, it does not! Just
because Drew is a good football player does in no way qualify us to speak
authoritatively about parenting skills. Shoot, we made most of the mistakes we
learned from with Drew! Our kids were easy children to raise but in the process
of raising Drew and Adam we did a ton of reading and paying attention. We were
fortunate to both be schoolteachers and we paid attention to what the kids in
our classes taught us. The resources we used in the creation of our curriculum
were the children in our classes. We worked hard to use tactics that worked and
we paid attention to the results. Certainly we have read extensively and have
attended countless workshops, and conferences but our chief source of
information came from our work in the real world with real kids, real parents,
and real problems. Believe me, I am as aware as anyone that in some circles some
people discount any conclusion about human interaction that is not backed up by
extensive clinical and laboratory research. However, we tend to put much more
stock in the practical and time-tested skills that we have actually used in real
life situations. We have studied the tactics of effective work with kids for
longer that most researchers at colleges, universities, and research institutes.
We have worked with literally thousands of subjects over a combined 46 years of
teaching. Our observations do count for something.
Forgive me for this but I really do not much
care what the world of academia thinks of what we teach in our Parenting with
Dignity Program. I am only concerned about what the people we are attempting to
help can understand and use. Unfortunately, much of the information which is
"supported by solid empirical findings showing their effectiveness" are locked
away, in educational, psychological, and medical journals rather than in the
homes of the people who need them. I have 29 years of experience in the public
school classrooms. My wife, Barbara, has 17 years of experience. What we have
designed for parents is a set of skills that we found to work with kids. We make
no pretence that what we know about what works was gained through "empirical
research." It does not have to come from a lab or clinical research to work for
us or to work for parents.
This program does not pretend to be "rocket
science or brain surgery!" The name for our program is a case in point. We call
it Parenting with Dignity because we learned a very simple principle from an
amazing lady in Virginia. She was the victim of hatred and
terror perpetrated by the Ku Klux Klan when they burned a cross in her front
yard but she still showed up for work on time and still treated everyone with
kindness, respect, and dignity. When I asked her to explain how she could be so
constant in her calm care for others even in light of the nastiness and racial
prejudice she experienced on the previous evening. She responded very simply,
and cheerfully, "Oh, that's simple, Mac. In our family we treat people with
respect, kindness, and dignity, not because others happen to treat us with
respect, kindness, and dignity. We treat them that way because WE are
respectful, kind, and dignified!"
simple statement of an obvious truth about human interaction seemed to stand on
its own simple validity. We did not feel that it required empirical research to
be used by us and other parents in dealing with our kids. We used
her simply stated truth to say to ourselves, "We will
treat children with respect, kindness, and dignity, and we will do it not
necessarily because they are acting that way but rather because we are." This
concept has served countless thousands of parents we have worked with to control
their anger or frustration with their children and be the adult in the situation
and continue to treat their children with dignity. Simple but true!
We also found out by personal experience that
we could drastically increase the chances of getting a child or room full of
children to do what we were trying to get them to do if we could actually tell
them what it was! We found out that the chances of getting the children to what
we were instructing them to do were significantly increased if we could explain
the desired action in behavioral terms that they could understand. We had found
that in working with students it was a constant temptation to tell kids to stop
doing what they were doing without telling them what to do in place of their
inappropriate behavior. Again, this fundamental fact did not seem to be in need
of some researcher to verify it with empirical findings. Explaining the desired
action precisely increases the likelihood of compliance. Simple, yes. Also, very
useful advice. So many people experience failure as parents simply because they
failed to explain their desired behavior effectively to their children. Teaching
those parents how to explain desired actions to their children brings changes in
I'm certain that my brief explanation will most
likely not change many minds and it is not my intention to do so. I do, however,
hope that my explanation will help you to at least understand our point of view.
In the formation of our curriculum and our foundation we simply made the
decision that it would take more time and definitely more money to do the
research than it would take to do the work. We are very confident that we have
created a set of tools that sincerely do provide help to parents in a way that
empirical research has failed to provide help.
We, like many others, have seen many techniques
used in child welfare programs, parent-training programs, and in schools that
were not very functional. However, a bigger problem that we encountered with
much more frequency than the use of ineffective techniques was the failure to
use any techniques. The biggest failure of people to parent their children
effectively was the lack of any conscious plan. We have tried to provide an
effective plan based upon solid logic and tried and true principles. We did not
accept anything simply because it had been used before. We have challenged many
traditional parenting techniques (see our entire Tape 9 The Reasons That
Punishment Doesn't Work) but we have simply attempted to evaluate all techniques
for the degree to which we were able to use the techniques in real situations to
effect change of a positive nature.
It is possible to learn a great deal by
observing simple learning situations and drawing some conclusions about how
learning takes place. Take learning to ride a bicycle for example: we can learn
a great deal from that learning process if we pay some attention.
- How many people learned how to ride a bike
by watching their parents ride a bike? None.
- How many people learned how to ride a bike
by listening to parents talk about it? None.
- How many people learned to ride a bike by
being sent to their room for failure on their first attempt to ride one? None.
Now, how many people learned how to ride a bike
when someone actually put them on a seat, put the handlebars in their hands, and
gave them a shove. Everyone! Some were provided training wheels, some were not
but all learned when they got to ride. No empirical research was needed for us
here. Simply put, we learned that, in teaching something to a child, the results
had almost nothing to do with what we did and had everything to do with what the
child did. That has proven to be a very, very helpful concept for many parents
to understand. It changes the thinking of parents who try to tell themselves
that they have tried everything. Now they know that they have just tried some
things that didn't work with their kids in the situation they were in. They must
"get the kid back on the seat and get the handlebars back in the child's hands."
The parents must keep trying to find other techniques that will work. This again
is a very valuable idea or technique for parents to have in their repertoire of
skills. Again, little research necessary.
Finally, I will say our experience through 23
years of speaking to people about the topic of effective parenting has taught us
that talking about research and the results of research is not very
communicative. Few people want to hear about statistics and research studies.
People want to know about the things that we have actually tried in real
situations with real children. We have learned to communicate with parents in
the same way that we learned to teach kids. We have paid attention to what works
and what they tell us. It is for that reason that we use mostly anecdotal
support rather than citing the results of research and statistics.
Have you written any books on
Yes, two books are now available. Mac's first book, "Parenting With Dignity", is a sincere and
compelling approach to teaching parents how to instill a sense of responsible
decision making in their kids.
In this book, you will discover a simple premise of the Parenting
with Dignity philosophy, and...
See why John Stossel of ABC's 20/20 says
this is a must read.
"The Early Years"
newest parenting book...available in soft cover. Learn the five
rules for resolving the most common challenges with children two to six. The
perfect companion to Mac's other book and videos below.
Order your copies here and Mac Bledsoe will
personally sign them FREE - (makes a
great gift for every parent). Shop ahead for upcoming births,
birthdays, and the holidays.
Since Drew Bledsoe, a wealthy celebrity, sponsors the foundation, why do you
have a non-profit foundation to raise money?
That is a very good question
and one that we hear often. Drew and his wife Maura, committed to this cause five
years ago with a donation of $1,000,000.00, intended
to last six years. Now in our fifth year, they have given
this foundation almost twice that that amount.
Although they are as committed as ever to this
cause, we have grown beyond their
solitary means of supporting this program.
Please help us to prove that Americans will
support a cause like this. The long-term
success of this program is
based on grass roots
efforts from people like you. We believe
that is the best way for us to build a solid
We need your help. Please donate a few dollars to
our foundation's efforts.
us help America's Kids. Won't you please donate
a few dollars today?
Do you make money
from the sale of your videos?
money we charge for our set of ten videos and the workbook, barely covers the
cost of production. When you add processing, storage, and other internal costs,
we actually lose money on every sale. We want to keep the price of our videos
accessible to as many people as possible, so we do not look at this as a profit