Parenting With Dignity Website


Parenting Newsletter

May 2003

Effective Parenting Skills




Get the book . . . . Parenting With Dignity - click here.

Dear Parents and Supporters:

Hello again, and welcome to the May edition of our parenting newsletter. The big news this past month was Mac's appearance on ABC's John Stossel show which aired Monday, 4/14/03. Although this was a rebroadcast of a 20/20 segment from last year, we heard from many of you who appreciated seeing the show (again or for the first time). Thanks, we always appreciate hearing from you.

Summer is right around the corner and along with the warmer weather another important change is in the air; the routine of school as a daily activity is about to come to an end. In this month's article, Mac shares some creative ways to get in touch with your kids. Read it below...



Book report

While Mac is traveling around the nation doing Parenting with Dignity work and time permits, he will visit local book stores, introduce himself and offer to sign books in inventory. While speaking in New York last month, he stopped by a local Barnes & Noble bookstore and found an unexpected welcome from a store manager. She not only recognized the title Parenting with Dignity but she had read the book! And... not only had she read the book, but she also had bought five extra copies of Parenting with Dignity for her adult age children for them to use in raising her Grandchildren! It was extremely pleasing to find that even a lady who reads many, many books had singled out this one for passing on to her family.

The book, "Parenting With Dignity", continues to do very well. It seems that most parents really do want to know how to do the best by their children. If you haven't already gotten your copy of his wisdom and common sense, you can order your copy here.

A Special Request

From classrooms to prisons, in town hall meetings and over the public airwaves, we are striving to reach as many people as possible. Many of the families and organizations we visit can't afford the cost of our videos let alone pay the travel expenses for Mac to visit their communities.

The secret to the popularity and success of the Parenting With Dignity program has been a result of grass roots involvement by people like you. We don't advertise on TV or buy ads in magazines. We believe there is a better way to increase our effectiveness. Learn more of how we accomplish this and how you can make a difference by becoming an patron of PWD.

Remember to "RAP"

For the benefit of our new subscribers, RAP is our acronym for "Refer A Parent". We're asking your help in making PWD available to every parent. If you would refer just one parent and introduce them to our program you can help us make our world better for kids. There are a number of ways you can help us do this:

  1. Forward this newsletter to your friends who are parents

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

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

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

Thank you, and stay safe,

The Editor

PS: While it is fresh in your mind. . . (remember to RAP), do it now!  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 was introduced to you and "Parenting With Dignity" by the recent 20/20 episode. I was watching it from a hospital room where my 11 week old infant was being treated for RSV. Actually my husband and I watched it "together". He at home and me at the hospital. We felt like that was our life being portrayed on the screen. We have a 3 boys: almost 4 years, 16 months and 2 months. I'm sure you can guess which one we are struggling with at the present time. The four year old.

I don't think that our son is acting any worse than any other 4 year old, it's the way we are handling it that has me so worried. My husband and I tend to yell a lot, like the parents on 20/20. We try (and succeed sometimes) to reward positive behavior, talk calmly to him and tell him what is expected of him. However, there are lots of times where the yelling ends up winning. What would you suggest we do to keep the yelling at a minimum. Our biggest struggle is our son doesn't listen very well. He continues to do the same things wrong, i.e. pushing his brother, getting out of bed at night. What should we do for discipline?

Frustrated mom in Texas

Dear Mom,

I was in your shoes for the first 8 years of my teaching career and then a master teacher by the name of Lola Whitner taught me something that I have never forgotten. I used to yell all the time while trying to teach. She on the other hand never raised her voice and was always polite to kids and yet she had better order and attention in her classroom than I did… and she was tiny and 66 years old. So I asked her one day how she controlled her temper so well and kept herself so calm. Here is what she taught me. She said, “Mac, can you ever control your temper when you are stressing with the kids?”

I replied, “Well, yes sometimes!”

Now here is the part that changed me forever… she then said, “Well, if you can control it sometimes then you have proven that it is within your ability to control your temper; so when you don’t control it, it is your CHOICE not to! Why don’t you choose to control your temper ALL OF THE TIME?”

Since that day I never again lost my temper or shouted in class! Believe it. That is what happened. Have a plan that you will control your temper and your yelling and you WILL control it. Sounds too simple to be true, but that is what worked for Lola and it worked for me. Remember, your kids learn more from your backside than they do from your front side. They will learn more from how you act than from what you say.

Here was a revelation that occurred to me once I decided to control my anger. Usually when I was yelling at kids it was due to a lack self-control – and more to the point it was due to a lack of a positive plan! I was attempting to hold them to a higher standard than I lived by myself. I was asking my students to control themselves and their behavior and I was allowing myself to act out of control to get them to do it! Man, that was embarrassing. It really helped me to control myself when I set the same standard of self-control for myself that I set for kids.

If you follow sports at all take a look at our son Drew who now plays quarterback for the Buffalo Bills. He has received so many compliments for the way he handled things a year ago while playing for the New England Patriots and people continually ask us, “How does he show such character and self-control?”

The short answer to how Drew developed is that he has a very clear plan! He is very clear about what is important in his life and he has a very clear behaviorally described list of the morals and values he has chosen to rule his world. He looks at his code of ethics daily and then makes his decisions based upon those principles.

Now for a little more definitive answer; I believe that the best way to understand the complex mechanism Drew has adopted for defining his well developed moral and ethical self, I would suggest that you get a set of our videotaped Parenting with Dignity curriculum and go through the steps we used in teaching our sons, Drew and Adam, how to pick the ideas that would rule their world and then how they structured those ideas into the ones which they use to make the big decisions in their lives.

To help you get started, I have included some links to some key pages on our website to guide you on a tour of our curriculum. I sincerely believe that our curriculum will help you to understand the entire teaching method and process of selecting the Ideas that rule the world of kids! Please pay close attention to the order page and get a set of the tapes. This is not about increasing our tape sales or making money. (We do not make a cent on our tapes. They are priced at exactly what it costs us to duplicate, print, wrap and ship them.) This is about getting the word out to you and other parents like you… and you can help us. Once you have watched them, put them to use in your community. I think we would be lots better off in this country if more kids were being taught how to make good decisions!!!


Mac Bledsoe
Mac and Barbara Bledsoe




Mac & Barbara Bledsoe

Play with your kids
By Mac Bledsoe

  During summertime, family life becomes more chaotic and less routine. However, summer presents a wonderful new opportunity for parents who choose to grasp it! As I travel the nation putting on parenting events there is one very common question that keeps being asked… "How do you talk to kids, especially to teenagers?"

Well, let me tell you, I do not believe that there is a simple answer to that question because there are just about as many answers as there are kids! There is one thing that I do know to be the truth about being able to carry on a conversation with a young person; it is almost impossible to talk with a child with whom you do not already have a relationship! It is virtually impossible to discuss important issues with a child who views you as a stranger. Summer gives us an opportunity to build relationships with our kids.

Along those lines, I am convinced that the best way to build a relationship with a child is through the medium of play. A wonderful side effect of playing with kids is that playing is fun for adults too… it is an excuse to extend childhood! Like my grandfather used to say, "You can only be young once but you can make immaturity last a lifetime!"

Play does not have to be complicated nor organized. Look for opportunities to play with your kids daily. On a hot day, pick up some water balloons on the way home from work and start a water balloon fight. Get squirt guns to cool a hot summer evening. Start the barbeque and create your own gourmet burgers. While the barbeque is warming up and the burgers are cooking, start a neighborhood game of baseball in the street using a homemade ball made with a wadded up wet sock (that way no windows get broken.)

Stop by the local Good Will or used sporting goods shop and pick up an old set of used golf clubs. Pick up some Whiffle Balls and then when you get home set up a golf course around your yard or around the neighborhood by stapling or taping paper plates to various trees, light poles, fence posts, corners of buildings, and other usable landmarks. Write the numbers one through nine on the paper plates. You now have a new golf course. To play you start at plate #9 and hit your ball toward the landmark labeled #1. To score on a hole your ball must be hit to within a club length of the object. Count your "strokes" just like in golf. The person with the lowest total strokes after 9 holes is the winner. This game can be a blast when played in a forest, in a yard or it six or seven back yards that join. Enlist the neighbors to play with you. Set "tee times" and develop handicaps. The possibilities are endless. Post scores, make up impromptu leader boards and develop your course ground rules. Follow the lead of the kids.

Create a neighborhood newspaper on your computer. Put kids in charge of publishing it and have them interview neighbors about upcoming events in their respective families.

Get out the video camera and make a music video. Pick a song to use as the theme and then shoot footage to make a statement that matches what the song says. Let your hair down and get into it with your kids. Let them shoot you in everyday life and put music to what they have shot. You might really learn something about the way that the kids see you and your family life.

Get the ingredients for making ice cream sundaes and break them out as an evening family activity. Set the ingredients up in the garage or on the porch and let your kids invite a bunch of their friends over to join in. Sit around in lawn chairs and enjoy the company as you eat the treats.

Set up a Badminton court in the back yard and leave it set up throughout the summer. In free moments challenge your kids to a game. Create new games and set up courts and fields. Take some chalk and create a shuffle board game on the sidewalk using sticks as your implements and slide plastic coffee can lids as your pucks.

Set up a Horseshoe game in the back yard. Get a dartboard and set it up on the back porch or in the kitchen. Start building a big puzzle and leave it set up in the living room; work on it during spare time. Play Cribbage, Gin Rummy, Chess or Checkers. Play tennis, swim, hike, ride bikes, take a walk in a park, go fishing, get creative and find ways to play with your kids.

What will happen when you establish a spirit of play with your kids is that you will find that it will become easier and easier to talk with them. When people are in the act of playing it is almost impossible to be silent. The natural talk that surrounds play will break the ice. Once the talk becomes natural it becomes much easier to talk about important topics. When play becomes a regular part of life in your family then, when feel you have something that you really need to talk to your kids about it will not seem so odd or forced. You will have established a communication channel via the interaction of playing with your kids! In the meantime you will have had a delightful time laughing and playing with someone you love… your kids!





Time out . . .

A Sunday school teacher was discussing the Ten Commandments with her five and six year olds. After explaining the commandment to "honor thy Father and thy Mother," she asked, "Is there a Commandment that teaches us how to treat our brothers and sisters?"

Without missing a beat one little boy (the oldest of a family) answered, "Thou shall not kill."


A three-year-old went with his dad to see a litter of kittens. Upon returning home, he breathlessly informed his mother that there were two boy kittens and two girl kittens.

"How did you know?" his mother asked.

"Daddy picked them up and looked underneath," he replied. "I think it's printed on the bottom."




Make A Difference

Support Parenting With Dignity

Most people are astounded to learn that PWD is staffed by only two full-time people. We have part-time volunteers who help with everything from accounting to answering the telephone, and we outsource many of other tasks in order to stretch our dollars. Our full-time staff answers all postal mail and email, follows-up with the multitude of phone calls about Mac's schedule, video orders, charitable requests, parents having problems and day to day bill processing. 

In addition, the staff administers our video inventory and is coordinating the upcoming Spanish translation DVD currently in production. Add to this the daily routine tasks it takes to manage any business or office and you get an idea of how "lean and mean" PWD is in relation to most non-profit organizations. Like your family, we make do with less because there just isn't enough money to accomplish all that we want to do (or are asked to do).

We take great pride in doing more with less, and that will always remain our priority. However, we also realize that we must extend our reach and broaden our influence. That is why we are converting the entire PWD curriculum to Spanish, and why Mac is visiting more schools, churches and even prisons. We want to help more people.

As important as these goals are, they can only be accomplished if good people like you agree to help us. As funny as it sounds, if every person who received this newsletter donated just $4, we could afford to hire another full-time person. Unfortunately, things don't work that way and the vast majority of readers will not take any action.

That is why we are asking you to consider donating a few tax-free dollars to our efforts. The ultimate success of our mission is more important than our discomfort in asking you for help. Every dollar gets us closer to realizing our purpose!  If your lend a hand we can and will build a better world for kids!

Won't you please help?

Together we can change the world by making sure that our children know how to make good decisions. This takes money and commitment. We are more committed than ever, but we need your assistance. Won't you please consider making a donation to PWD? Just click on the icon below.

Help us help America's Kids

Or, send your tax-deductible check to:

The Drew Bledsoe Foundation
730 Capistrano Drive
Kalispell, MT 59901



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