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Effective Parenting Skills




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Dear Parents and Supporters:

Good morning and welcome to the latest edition of our parenting newsletter.  There is a strong likelihood that you heard or saw Mac Bledsoe in the past 60 days. Since the release of his new book in December (Parenting With Dignity), Mac has appeared on a number of television shows and done countless radio programs across the country. This media blitz has been in addition to Mac's grueling speaking schedule to parent organizations.

The book, "Parenting With Dignity", has been receiving rave reviews, and reorders from commercial book stores has been extraordinary. It seems that Mac's wisdom and common sense advice is something that rings true with parents everywhere.  If you haven't already done so, you can order your copy here.

Parents Workbook now in Spanish

If you haven't visited our website recently, you need to do so. Besides a new easy-to-use navigational structure, we've added a ton of new material. As an example, we now have the parent's workbook available in Spanish. You can view it online or as a downloadable MS Word document. This labor of love was created and donated to the foundation by our good friend, Emilio Gallegos.


No, we're not going to produce a RAP version of our parenting program, "RAP" is our acronym for "Refer A Parent". We're asking each of you to refer just one parent and introduce them to our program. We believe that every parent can benefit from being exposed to PWD, and we're asking you to help. There are a number of things you can do to help us:

  1. Forward this newsletter to your friends

  2. Sign-up a friend to receive this monthly newsletter

  3. Give a book to a family that needs it, buy it here.

  4. Donate a few tax-deductible dollars to our effort

DVDs Coming Soon

Many of you have contacted us recently about the availability of our parenting curriculum on DVD. Good news... the conversion from VHS to DVD is underway. The DVD version will also include a second language track in Spanish. We expect to have this available in the next 3-4 months. If you would like to be notified when we are ready to ship, please send us an email.

Thank you, and stay safe,

The Editor

PS: While it is fresh in your mind. . . (remember to RAP), will you please forward this newsletter to another parent in your address book and encourage them to subscribe to our free newsletter. Thanks, we really appreciate your help!




In This


Ask Mac

A regular feature of our newsletter. Mac responds to your concerns. Send questions to: Ask Mac



Ask Mac?

Dear Mac,

I browsed your website with great interest after I saw you on a local television show recently. I am interested in your comments as to how your approach has changed the way parenting is done, and why you believe this helps kids. As a social worker, I would also like to know how your parenting approach might help at risk families. I appreciate any comments you have on these questions.

Thank You - Mom in South Carolina

Dear Mom,

These are big questions and deserve big answers… but to give you a simple reply about how our program has changed the way parenting is done, I would simply say that it has caused people to try to develop a plan. The biggest problem we have found all across America is not that people no longer care (like so many people try to say) but rather that people are parenting by crisis management. There is not one single one of those parents who would get in their car and start driving without a plan for where they were going and what route they were going to take but they have taken on the task of parenting in just that manner. “We are going to have this kid and take off. We will decide what to do when we get there. We will deal with problems as they come up.”

This is what we see all too often as we travel the country. Parents wonder why they are in the pickle they are in and when you ask them how they got there they can’t tell you. Then when you ask them where they were trying to go they can’t seem to tell you.

Our program works in lots of diverse settings. First of all, we have plenty of tips for getting reluctant (at risk) parents into classes. Read our handout from Tape 10, the Facilitators tape. Next, the skills in the tapes are just people skills. Kids at risk get tons of help out of watching them. We have been very active in prisons. Many of the inmates watch them to improve their relationship with their kids and the first thing that changes is their own behavior! As a matter of fact most prisons are noticing that as the program gets going, many inmates without kids register to take the course because their cellmates are telling them of the positive changes in their own outlook.

Our society has the responsibility to teach our young people how to effectively, peacefully, and happily live in the world we have created for them. Genetic parenthood is not total qualification for ongoing custody and mistreatment of offspring. Now it gets dicey. Who decides when a parent is unfit? What standard is used to establish competence in parenting and who takes over when the biological family fails? Not easy questions and the answers are equally difficult. I believe that some of the Native American Tribes are coming to grips with this issue and I think that they are on the track to discovering some meaningful solutions. Their solution is for the tribe to take over where the family fails. I like their idea but it is hard to translate to modern America where there is no community identity like a tribal organization. It would be nice to think that we could get modern America to follow the lead of the Indians but that seems to be unfathomable to a society who has for centuries viewed the advanced culture of the Indians as somehow barbaric. It would be nice to be able to roll back the clock to the days of the early settlement of North America and to have had the two cultures meet peacefully and discover the ways of each other to adopt the best of both worlds. Nice to dream but we are in the real world.

So the next closest things that we have to the tribal structure are the local churches. I believe that churches pose the next best alternative to solving the dilemma of where do the kids go when the family breaks down. Why not the government, you ask. Well, I simply am a believer that government is too big and too encumbered to handle a task of this nature. Government will become too tied down by the problems of legislating morality. This is not an issue of Government. It is an issue of community. I think that if local churches can stay away from arguments of doctrine and stick to the welfare of the kids some answers could appear.

I know that parent education is a huge part of the puzzle because I believe that parental love is a very naturally occurring drive. All parents love their children. What happens is that through sloppy personal habits (drugs, alcohol, violence, hygiene, mean or ineffective interpersonal skills, promiscuous sexual practices, etc.) many families fail to guide their children and at some point the kids become a part of the growing dysfunctional lifestyle. The skills for effectively guiding kids are learnable! We need to get an army of volunteers to get people (parents) together in small groups and share the effective skills for raising kids who are capable of making good decisions for themselves. We are on a mission to do this. Our curriculum lends itself well to this method because it is structured for individuals to build those small groups to sit down and consider some workable and doable techniques. The course is also built around discussions of those techniques as they are applied in the community where they are being used.  


Mac Bledsoe
Mac and Barbara Bledsoe




Mac & Barbara Bledsoe


Back when I was a kid . . .
By Mac Bledsoe

  We must eliminate from our minds a few phrases when we are making decisions about how we will be raising our kids. They are the sayings like: "When I was a kid..." and "If I had done that when I was a kid, my dad would have..." or "Back when we were in school they used to..."

Now, this may sound odd to you coming on the heels of our last article where we took the stand that as a nation, we need to "recapture the sound of our kids among us just like we used to up at old Fairview Hall." There is an important distinction here. As parents we must never allow ourselves to fall into the trap of using "because it was done before," or "it has always been that way," or "that was the way my parents did it," as
the sole justification for our actions with our kids. It is imperative that we have a sound behavioral, moral, spiritual, ethical, or legal justifications for the actions we are teaching to or demanding of our children. We must be able to explain to our kids in a very logical way, why we are asking them to behave in a particular manner. In essence, we must not only decide: 1) WHAT it is that we want our kids to do but we must also decide, 2) WHY we want them to do it! "Because it was done to me," is never a good enough reason to repeat it with our children.

There have been a ton of mistakes made in the past and we are doomed to repeat them if we are not careful to think long and hard about the justification for duplicating those actions with our kids. Following are a couple examples to demonstrate what we are talking about.

Two historical events demonstrate the obvious problems with doing what has always been done before. Slavery was common in early America. We certainly would not advocate the continuation of that practice today simply because it was done before. Neither would we teach our children that women should
be second-class citizens in the United States even though they were not even legally recognized under the Constitution until the 19th Amendment was adopted in the early 20th century. Simply saying that women should not vote only because they never had in the past was a ludicrous idea.

Likewise, it is foolish for us to tell our children that they should wear certain types of clothing simply because that has been an appropriate style in the past. The same goes for hairstyles and many other standards and customs for behavior. Let's look at establishing dress codes for kids.

We are not proposing abandoning all standards of dress for young people but rather, we are saying that we ought to make the standards logical and explainable in a reasoned sort of way and not just on the "If I had dressed that way my Dad would have killed me," sort of an explanation.

We can have dress codes... but why do we have them is the critical question. Nobody, in their right mind would say that we scrap any sense of awareness of how our kids dress themselves. However, dressing in a certain way because a previous generation did is rather silly to impose upon our kids
(unless, of course, we would like to go back and begin dressing like our forefathers who wrote that Constitution did, simply because "that's the way they used to do it in this country.") Hey, let's get a few pictures of ourselves as teens and we can readily see that even we had some rather strange ways of dressing by today's standards.

The issue is "why?" Why are we asking our kids to dress in certain ways?

Here is a possible discussion:

"But Dad, why can't I dye my hair blue (wear spandex shorts to church, wear this provocative Jennifer Lopez top, use four letter words at the mall like the other kids, etc.)?"

"Well, my child, you probably could do that and in a perfect world it really wouldn't matter. But, we do not live in a perfect world. We live in a world that has a few flaws: one of them being that most people in this world make a ton of snap judgments based upon some rather narrow preconceived ideas. It is a fact that most of the people you meet will not be able to see beyond the blue hair (or loud dress, etc.) to get to know
you. Many of those same people are in a position to control the
circumstances of your life or pass judgments about you that have a huge impact upon your life. For the same reason that it would be a bad idea to wear a ball cap to a funeral, it is a bad idea to dye your hair blue... most people would interpret it wrongly. A ball cap at a funeral would be viewed by most as being extremely disrespectful of the person being honored by
the funeral. Blue hair would likewise be interpreted by most people as a sign of disrespect for others."

"But dad, that's just the point, I'm trying to show my individuality. I don't want to just be like everyone else."

"Great son, I am all in favor of you being a one-of-a-kind individual, but anyone can dye their hair. Why not distinguish yourself by being truly excellent at something? Or why not try to undo some terrible wrong done by society? Why not distinguish yourself by making the world a better place? I'd love to help you. What is the cause that you would like to choose? If the only way that you can come up with to make yourself different is dying your hair, I would be disappointed in you because you are such a unique person with so much to offer."

Let us, as parents, become their teachers and give them some good solid reasons to choose to adjust their behavior in positive and productive ways simply because it makes sense to them.




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