Parenting With Dignity - a resource where parents learn new effective parenting skills.  HOME Sponsored by The Drew Bledsoe Foundation - see What's New See the Five Rules of Parenting and the ideas in your head will rule your world! The Foundation contacts parents through existing youth activities and agencies including Juvenile Court Services. Drew Bledsoe's dream with this foundation is to address some of the problems which kids are facing, at their source. This foundation provides a source of information for parents, giving them the tools necessary to create an encouraging, and loving home for their children Information for kids, teens, children of all ages. From proper parenting skills to substance abuse and gang activity. Mac & Barbara Bledsoe are the creators of the Parenting With Dignity curriculum. Drew Bledsoe (Quarterback for the New England Patriots). SPONSORS  


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Effective Parenting Skills



Dear parents, supporters and facilitators:

Welcome to the May 2000 issue of the Parenting With Dignity newsletter. Summer Is Coming!!

As summer vacation and the end of the school term approaches you will see some new behaviors from your middle schooler. Some of it is predictable: excitement, anticipation, planning for the free time. However, if you are seeing unexplained negative behaviors, it could be apprehension about the change in routine. Remember that when you ask your middle school student why they are behaving in some unacceptable way and they say "I don't know" usually they don't really know so you may get to spend some one-on-one time, the kind mentioned last month in the newsletter on listening. Be sure their input is included in plans for their summer days especially if both parents are working outside the home. Who will be the adult in charge every day? How much time will they have to spend with friends and how will transportation be arranged? What will be the expectation for the chores they will do? Will they have the opportunity to make some money?

I always learn wonderful useful things from my friends who are parents. One friend pays her children well for tasks performed at home. She says she winds up giving them money anyway so she prefers they work for it. For you as the parents this is a double edged sword because if you expect the job to be done to your adult expectations, you must TEACH every step of the way. Teaching is not just saying the words; teaching means showing and explaining; teaching is being present not yelling from the other room. I preferred to do tasks WITH my sons as the task then got done to my expectation and we had a lot of talk time.

SHORT HINT: Write the following on post-its and put them every place in your home--on your mirror, inside cupboard doors, on the garage door, etc. I LAUGH WITH MY CHILD EVERY DAY!!

Thank you, and enjoy this edition,

Barbara Bledsoe

PS: Please do us a BIG favor? While it is fresh in your mind, will you please forward this newsletter to every parent in your address book and encourage them to subscribe to our free newsletter. Thanks, we really appreciate your help!


In This




Blockbuster VideoTM will ultimately discontinue VHS and offer DVDs only.


The DVD vs. VHS Burning Question

We are preparing to reorder inventory of our parenting video program. One of the questions we need to answer is how many people would choose DVD over the VHS format? We recently learned that Blockbuster Video will ultimately drop VHS and offer DVDs exclusively. Please help us ascertain how many of our users would prefer DVD over VHS format. (No personal information is collected)

DVD Access
Do you own or plan to buy a DVD
I own a DVD player today
I plan to buy one in 3 months
I plan to buy one this year
I have no DVD plans

(One Vote per Day)


Ask Mac Bledsoe your parenting question.

Ask Mac is a new feature of our newsletter. Send your questions to: Ask Mac



 Ask Mac?

Hello Mac.

My wife and I ordered and received your tapes the other day. What an eye opener. We watched the first tape and realized we were reinforcing the wrong "script". Our son's biggest problems are at school - he has a very hard time sitting still and listening when the teacher is talking. I am a teacher like you and can understand his teachers frustrations. After watching the first tape and half of the second tape (we are going to restart the second one because it seems really important!)

My wife and I talked about how we would address our son, age 5, when these things happen. We were definitely attacking the person and not the behavior. So we started right away this morning about telling him exactly what we expected of him - and we said it a couple of different ways. My question is this - and I'm sure this is addressed in future tapes - but if he comes home today with another bad report from the teacher, we already know to criticize the behavior and to point out his positives to make the negative out of balance, but should we still punish him?

Our punishment is taking away things he enjoys - TV, games, music, basically freedom outside of his room. But we heard your example of taking away the athletes right to play a sport because he was failing a class - which sounds a lot like what we are doing with Anthony.

Since we have not watched all the tapes yet, do you have a recommendation until we can get to the rest of the program?

(from Erie, PA.)


Dear Mom & Dad,

I don't know about you but I still have a tough time sitting still and listening! Especially to someone talking about something I'm not connected to. You will get a kick out of the anecdote about the lady who has trouble with her 9 year old who will not sit still in church later in the course.

Tape 2 in our Parenting With Dignity curriculum is the "HOW to do it page!"  The 5 rules taught in this segment of our curriculum are the core of our techniques for working with children. I taught for 8 years with those 5 rules taped to my desk so that I could remember them in times of crisis!

I would advocate punishment if I thought it worked but it doesn't. Punishment will teach your son to hate school and punishment will teach him to not share with you but punishment will not teach him to behave! He might behave for a short time to avoid the punishment but the minute the punishment is not eminent he will return to the behavior you punished him for.

The key here is to get on your son's team so that he sees you as his advocate he can come to for the help he needs in figuring out this tough situation. Focus totally on the behavior in question and tell him, "Hey, son, I'm on your team. Our house is the place you bring problems like this. We love you no matter what! Now, let's sit down a work out a plan for reducing the number of times that the teacher has to send home a report about your sitting still!" Once he sees you as the one to seek help from it becomes so much easier.

Next, get the teacher to see that you are there to help her (sounds like you already have done this). Then tell the teacher that you want to quantify the problem. have her make a weekly chart which your son carries back and forth that lists the number of times each day that she has to speak to your son about his inappropriate behavior. (This process lets her know that you are not
ignoring the annoying behavior.)

Now here is the key, ask her to note the number of times during the day that she notices him doing the right thing! Now you can help your son to see and develop the positive feeling of success in controlling his behavior. Nobody ever changes completely the first time they try! Now you can quantify success in increments. Focus on the successes and his feelings of success that he is making progress. Make the positive action become self-rewarding and it will continue to rule his world. "Anthony, doesn't it feel great to know that your teacher recognizes your progress. It really feels good to do what is expected doesn't it?"

Another thing will happen. His teacher will begin to focus on the success also. We both know because we are teachers, that it is very possible to see an annoying behavior in a kid and pretty soon that is all that we see even though the kid is improving. Help your son's teacher to see the improvement and she will really begin to see your son as one of her successes rather
than one of her problems. (Believe me it works... you are describing the exact situation with one of our sons!)

How would you like it if I came over to your place and took away the car because your junk closet is a mess? There is no connection. What do you want your home to be? A place where "they" are against you too? We tried to make our home a place our kids could come to for help! We told our kids, "Bring your problems home to us, we are the ones who will love you no matter what! If you need help, you can come to us. We are on your side. If you have a problem we are the ones who will never judge you. We will try to help you to figure out how to fix the problem! Even if we can't fix it, at least we will love you anyway!"

You are going to appreciate the rest of the series... especially tapes 5 & 6 where we talk about loving your kids! When you have finished the tapes, please start a class for others in your community. It is so much easier to raise your children if they are being raised in a community of other kids being raised with dignity also!


Mac Bledsoe
Mac and Barbara Bledsoe




Mac & Barbara Bledsoe


What if they dont...?
By Mac and Barbara Bledsoe


Reasons to Ask Kids to Limit or Adjust Their Behavior

So often when people ask us for help with their children's behavior they include the phrase "What if they don't…. ?" It seems so many parents want to jump to the consequences of failure before even considering the concept of structuring a situation of success. In a nutshell, they seem to be more worried about reacting to what their kids have done wrong rather than working in a preventative process of teaching, before their children are in crisis.

In this article we will attempt to focus on giving your children some solid reasons to adjust their behavior in a positive manner before problems arise.

  1. RESPECT FOR AUTHORITY - "Do it because society says so in formal ways." Start at the earliest of ages teaching your children that a civilized world will always have rules and laws. Teach them these rules and laws are not an annoyance; they are an aid to us all and especially to them. Rules and laws protect our rights, privileges, property, and even our lives. Explain to them the chaos that would result from a society without stop signs, property laws, and rights to privacy, opportunity, expression, and freedom from injury. (NOTE: it is almost impossible to teach respect for laws, and rules if your children watch you violate those same rules and laws! You cannot speed and then demand that your children drive the speed limit.)

  2. APPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR - "Do it because society says so, in less formal ways." You won't be fined or sent to jail for violating any of these rules but many times they may be just as important to obey. These rules fall under the category of manners, or social customs, but they often are the standards by which your children's character is judged. Teach your children that they can act any way they choose, but other people retain the right to their own response. And point out that these rules make most people's responses very predictable. "You can cut your hair in a Mohawk and dye it orange if you wish, but remember that many people will then discount you as a meaningless person. It may not be right for them to do so, but it is very predictable." The same goes for conduct in a public place… loud and boisterous behavior will, very predictably, be viewed as immature and will be criticized by most adults. Wearing a baseball cap at a funeral will be judged by most as being a sign of disrespect to the deceased. If you insist upon wearing one to make yourself more comfortable, then you predictably will be called a disrespectful person.

  3. HELP - "I can't do this without your help!" Many times a simple request for help will work wonders as a limit upon a child's behavior. Think about it . . . when you ask your kid for help you are sending very important messages. First, you are saying, "You are a very capable person. Look, I'm giving you an important task to do!" Next, you are saying, "You are a trusted person because this job requires that I trust you." Then, you are saying, "I need you, and my life would be extremely difficult without you and therefore I have come to you, of all the people I know, to ask for help." Finally, you are saying, "A family is a place where we all participate simply because we need each other!" Don't be surprised if your child starts to turn to you in times of stress and need soon after you have modeled that behavior for him or her.

  4. PEACE - "Do this simply because it will make your life much more peaceful and simple." Sometimes things that may seem very basic to us must be explained in detail to our children. For example, "Did you know that people who smile meet more happy people? So, if you would like to spend more time around laughing and happy people, then you need to smile, a lot!" Point out the many instances in life where cheerful people are given preferential treatment. Make it a policy to reward cheerful behavior in the home as early as possible. Let them experience, at the earliest age, their cheerful attitude gets much more attention and results. Make your home a peaceful place by practicing what you preach. Model cheerful and polite requests for compliance rather than shouting angry demands and watch their behavior match yours. (Children learn far more from our actions than from our words. "Do as I say, not as I do," may sound nice but it seldom works.)

  5. PRACTICALITY - "This job needs doing... by you." One of the most hirable skills in today's world is the ability to see a job that needs doing, to be able to figure out a way to do it efficiently... and then to DO IT. Give this ability to your children by giving them jobs to do (simple at first) and then getting out of their way and letting them do the whole job, start to finish. As they complete the job let the satisfaction of completing it be the payoff. It will not even be necessary for you to offer lavish praise. A simple statement from you like, "Nicely done, you did that complete job without any help. Doesn't it feel great to do things on your own? It buys you a big bunch of respect and it buys lots of freedom to do things on your own because others do not feel the need to check up on you."

  6. DECISION MAKING - "You have a choice to make; what are you going to do?" This should be started as early as possible. "Which pair of socks do you want to wear?" Then hand them bigger and bigger decisions like, "Here's the map. Which route do you think we should we take?" Next time ask, "Now that you have picked the road to travel what time should we leave?" Later seek their advice on tough personnel issues you bring home from work. Then give them $50.00 and ask them to buy five days worth of groceries with it. Follow with bigger and bigger jobs and bigger and bigger decisions that go with them. Continually ask for their opinion about issues that surround you in life. We learn to make decisions by making them. It's the same example you heard earlier, "Put them back on the bike!" When they make a bad decision, don't punish them. Tell them you admire their courage for making the decision in the first place, then ask, "What did you learn from that decision? What are you going to do next? How do you think that will work?"

  7. LEARNING "What can you learn from this? Life is one big lesson." Learning can be the goal for any adjustment in a child's behavior. When your goal is learning, the strategy often is obvious.

Remember, very little is ever learned when anger is involved, either on your part or on the child's part. When learning is the goal, anger should never play a role. If either you or the child has become angry, it is probably best to wait until the anger has passed.

"Here is how the world works, and it will help you greatly if you understand this." Often, taking the time to teach is the longest and most difficult way to change your child's behavior, but it winds up being the best way because it results in lasting behavior change. While driving in the car it is quicker and easier to simply separate quarreling children. However, in the long run, separating them really winds up teaching behavior the exact opposite from the logical goal. Separating them teaches them that when people disagree, the desired response is to separate. (No wonder we have such high divorce rates!). It is more logical to approach two fighting kids with a goal of teaching them some effective ways to deal with quarrels and disagreements. Teach them by role-playing. It takes planning, thought, time, patience, and lots of care to teach skills of compromise and negotiation but these skills last a lifetime!

If you, as the parent, choose to make learning your goal, it may take longer to bring about the desired behavior change at age four. However, when you do take the time, at age four, to teach some skills, then at age fifteen you no longer have to deal with fighting because what you taught at age four is still working. Your child learned it! At this point, remember you can never assume that a child has learned any skill until they use it in the appropriate context to bring about positive change for themselves. "Saying something" rarely defines teaching. So often we hear parents say, "I told him a hundred times. I don't know what's wrong, but he's not doing it!"

Telling does not constitute teaching. If teaching is the goal, then a change in your child's behavior must be the measure of the your success. If you use one strategy to teach a concept or behavior and the child does not change, keep the anger out and remember three key words: THAT DIDN'T WORK! Then, try again with another repetition or a completely new method; but don't give up. You may not succeed on the first few tries but one thing is guaranteed... if you stop trying to teach, you will fail. Too many parents are willing to say, "I have tried everything," after a few failures instead of simply saying, "Oops, I just found another way to teach this that didn't work, so I had better look around for another way!"





Keep your sense of humor

A mother took her three-year-old daughter to church for the first time. The church lights were lowered, and then the choir came down the aisle, carrying lighted candles. All was quiet until the little one started to sing in a loud voice, "Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday to you..."

* * * *

Finding one of her students making faces at others on the playground, Ms. Smith stopped to gently reprove the child. Smiling sweetly, the Sunday School teacher said, "Bobby, when I was a child, I was told that if I made ugly faces, it would freeze and I would stay like that."

Bobby looked up and replied, "Well, Ms. Smith, you can't say you weren't warned."




 New? gets new look!

As most of you know, our son Drew is now playing for the Buffalo Bills. To reflect this exciting move, we just finished a complete renovation of his site, If you haven't already, please drop by for a visit and see the new look. We hope you'll agree that this is a great site if you're a Drew Bledsoe or Buffalo Bills fan.

SPECIAL ALERT: See the last official piece of artwork signed by Drew as a New England Patriot. A signed and numbered limited edition, signed by Drew and the artist, Ray Simon. See this special edition!!!



Don't buy ANYTHING online...

until you visit  Now you can help support Parenting With Dignity™ by shopping online via our links. We are affiliates of the companies listed on these pages and receive a commission on any sales generated from our links. Whether you need a new computer or a tennis ball, a good book or to book a trip, click from our page and donate to our foundation.



Make A Difference

Will you please help?

Sept. 11th. produced an outpouring of sympathy and charitable giving, the likes of which the world has never experienced. Americans are a giving people, we are the largest contributors to charitable endeavors on the planet.

As a result of this horrible attack on America, most of us opened our hearts and wallets and gave unselfishly to the Red Cross and many other new and established charities who pledged to help the victims of this disaster.

Today, our country is struggling to regain some semblance of normalcy. We realize that life must go on and the job of raising our children is the most important task we will ever have.

We can change the world by making sure that our children know how to make good decisions. To do this, we must teach parents effective parenting skills that really work. This takes money and commitment. We at the Drew Bledsoe Foundation are more committed than ever, but we need your help. Won't you please consider making a cash donation to our cause?

Help us help America's Kids




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May 2002