Parenting With Dignity Website


Monthly Newsletter

April 2004

Effective Parenting Skills



Dear parents and supporters:

Hello and welcome to our April newsletter.  We received a lot of positive feedback about the "Internet Tips for Parents" we featured in our last newsletter.  Thanks to all of you who took the time to comment.  If you missed it, click here to read.

If you have been a subscriber for a while, you probably know that Mac and Barbara reside in the Flathead Valley of NW Montana. A friend of the family who was familiar with their PWD seminars decided to put together a parenting event here in their backyard. Their friend Cindy, organized a group of parents, educators and concerned individuals and created an organization called "Parents Committed to Kids".

Their purpose is to help families of the Flathead Valley improve their parenting skills and bring about positive change through this education. Their first event was held on Monday, March 8th.  WOW, we couldn't believe the final result. . . more than 3,000 people packed a local arena to attend this event.

In the days ahead, we plan to post this organization's "plan" online so that you can see how these dedicated people accomplished this remarkable feat.  How they mobilized the community, local businesses and dozens of rural schools is an amazing account of enthusiasm and perseverance. To see the highlights, click here.

Thank you and stay safe,

The Editor

PS:  Do you know a Spanish speaking family, community or school?  Please refer them to our new website,







PWD on DVD - learn more!As a reminder, Parenting With Dignity is now available on DVD.  All 10 Parenting With Dignity® segments are on 3 DVDs.  They have a Spanish language track too - and come packaged in a sturdy plastic box!  We have created a page that answers your questions about our new DVDs, including cost, FAQs, and more.  To learn about PWD on DVD, follow this link

As far as the content of the lessons, there is no difference between VHS and DVD. The DVDs and the VHS videos are the same.  Nevertheless, there are many reasons for choosing DVD over VHS. The DVDs offer:

- the ability to jump to any chapter or menu topic
- the Spanish translation track
- superior picture and sound quality
- are smaller to store and transport
- don't wear out (or break down) as tape will do
- the price is the same (no DVD premium pricing)

VHS / DVD Trade-in Offer

After hearing from so many of you asking if we would consider a trade-in program, we decided it was the right thing to do.  PLUS... we'll accept your old VHS tapes in any condition.  For a limited time only, we are offering the opportunity for owners of Parenting With Dignity VHS videos to trade-in those old tapes and receive a $40 credit toward the purchase of new DVDs.  Click here to learn more about this offer!



In This


Ask Mac

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



Ask Mac?

Usually, when I write an "Ask Mac" column I begin with the letter from the parent and then I give an answer. However, sometimes it is the parent who is dispensing the wisdom as in this case in this newsletter! So in this column you will be hearing the wisdom of a young mother by the name of Tracy Leedberg from Belrica, Massachusetts.

We first met Tracy about six years ago when she came to a conference that our Foundation sponsored back there in Framingham, Massachusetts. She came to the event and has been hosting Parenting with Dignity classes ever since! She even put together a conference in her community of Belrica and at her invitation, I spent an entire day in that great community.

Since that time Tracy has done a great deal for her community and she has also been extremely helpful to us over the years as she has shared what she has done to improve the lives of children there in her own community and in her great family.

Last week Barbara and I went back to the New England area and visited some communities in Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. One of the communities we visited was Burlington, Massachusetts. When I went to the Internet to download a map of Burlington to use when the time came to drive there, I realized that we were very close to Belrica, So, I called Tracy to let her know we were in her area and see if we could get together. Low and behold she had already seen our website calendar and was thinking of driving up to Kittery, Maine to attend our Parenting with Dignity presentation up there!

As it finally turned out, it was most convenient for Tracy to come and visit with us in Burlington. Wow, was it ever good to see her that night. I believe that it had been almost four years since we had crossed paths in person. We had a chance to catch up and hear about some of the tings she had been doing with her Parenting with Dignity classes and her own great family (I was a little disappointed that her husband was unable to attend because I had enjoyed his company on some earlier meetings but he was being the dutiful father that night and attending one of their daughter's events!)

In the process of the evening I became tied up signing books and talking with many of the wonderful folks from Burlington and the surrounding area but Barbara had some extra time to visit with Tracy. When the evening was complete and we were driving home to our motel for the night, Barbara couldn't wait to get in the car to share with me the great idea that Tracy had shared with her!

When we arrived home, an e-mail from Tracy was waiting for me, sharing her great idea in her own words. I contacted Tracy to seek permission to share her letter to me with all of you! She gave it so here it is.

Please remember that nobody has the ultimate "corner on the market" of knowledge about effectively raising children. I do not claim to have ever had an original thought. It usually seems like I have gotten everything I know from somebody! You are no different from me, or Tracy Leedberg; please use Tracy as an example. Create great ideas of your own, try them out and if they work please share them with the world. If you would like to use this Parenting with Dignity newsletter, just send your ideas to me and I will share them with the world! If not, then write your own book! But share your ideas so that others can benefit from your ideas.

Now, here is Tracy's great idea in her own words:

Hi Mac,

I was talking to Barbara at the Burlington event & I wanted to send you a great idea to pass along to everyone.  Because my oldest, Caitlyn, is approaching those teen years, I decided last year that it was important to create time for the two of us to have some 1-on-1 time that would allow for important discussions in a non-threatening environment on a regular basis. She has a lot of required reading for school and we both love books, so this seemed like the perfect starting point. Here is what we have started:

About once a month, she and I read the same book. After we have both read the book, we schedule time to go out to dinner together to have a "Book-Talk Dinner." There are many benefits to this new routine. I get to find out what books really speak to her and what she feels she has learned. These books have talked about everything from peer pressure, disabilities, history, political responsibility, family, and friendships. She loves the special time and so do I.

Many of the books have some sort of project or report to go with them and I can be involved in that with her (which allows more 1-on-1 time). I get to choose every 4th or 5th book, so I can offer important lessons and/or skills without it feeling like a lecture to either of us. We talk about how we might write certain scenes differently (and why). We discuss what would we do if we were in the shoes of the characters? This is really just a discussion about our values, beliefs, and experiences.

After reading one of the books about a girl who did a documentary for the local cable access channel, we went for a tour of our local channel studio and Caitlyn was inspired. So we signed up and have taken a few classes together and she went to a camp to learn how to operate the equipment, and make I-movies, etc.

Recently, we added a new twist. There is a do-it-yourself pottery place in town, so, recently during dinner we talked about which part of the book was our favorite and why. Then we went to the pottery place and painted tiles depicting the scene we loved! We plan to do this each time from now on. We will hang the tiles over our bookcases in the playroom as a reminder of our "date" and what was important to each of us that time.

Parents don't have to add all of the extra activities, but the "Book-Talk Dinners" are beneficial in so many ways. Caitlyn is learning a lot about me as a person. As a parent I am learning a whole lot about my daughter; what she is facing, what she is thinking about; her opinions, her passions, and her friends. It means so much to Caitlyn that I take an active interest in her world and this is such a simple way to accomplish it. We approach so many issues without requiring me to bring up the topics or wait until some kind of a crisis! She is getting "ideas to rule her world" from all kinds of people and I am able to give constant input without having to seem like I am trying to push any agenda. (I may even be learning as much as she is!)

This simple process is really working to keep the doors of communication open!

Take Care,

Tracy Leedberg

Hey, this is Mac again!

Isn't it amazing what just a little thought will do for you as a parent? Just imagine into the future; what amazing memories the tiles Tracy and Caitlyn made will call to mind for both Mom and Daughter. Imagine the discussions that you can have with your children over the books that you can share. Look at the spin off benefits of what Tracy has created in her family. Love of books, reading for a purpose, mutual respect between parent and child, purposeful discussions of ideas of real consequence, dignity for both mother and daughter, and on an on.

It would not surprise me to find that Tracy and Caitlyn are having "Book-Talk Dinners" forty of fifty years from now! What a great tradition that would be… think about it with grandkids included. The possibilities are endless.

Good luck with your own "Book-Talk Dinners"

With thanks to Tracy Leedberg,


Mac Bledsoe
Mac and Barbara Bledsoe




Mac & Barbara Bledsoe

You can't fake being there

By Mac and Barbara Bledsoe


In the lives of our kids it is often easy to become caught up in the hustle and bustle of daily life and forget to "show up" in our kid's lives. It is common, in the hurry of the day to speak much more cheerfully to the person serving coffee at the Quick-Stop on the way to work than to those in our family that we love. With summer upon us and a busier schedule for all it never hurts to stop and develop a plan for SOWING THAT WE CARE, and not just assuming that others know it.

Here is a list of ways that we can show our love for our children: (and remember that spouses can benefit from the same loving actions!)

  1. Notice them... get caught staring at them-even throw in a wink.
  2. Answer their questions with full attention at eye level.
  3. Create traditions and fight for them.
  4. Laugh at their jokes.
  5. Include them in your jokes. (If that makes you uncomfortable, Maybe you ought to change the jokes you tell.)
  6. Smile a lot
  7. Acknowledge them with a heartfelt "Good morning!" and a "Hi!" when you see them.
  8. Discuss their dreams (nightmares included.)
  9. Be relaxed in their presence. Just sit with them.
  10. Say their names.
  11. Contribute to their collections.
  12. Hide surprises for them to find.
  13. Kneel, squat, sit so that you are at their eye level.
  14. Go and find them at unexpected times.
  15. Play outside together.
  16. Surprise them.
  17. Remember their birthdays and other significant days in their lives. ("This was the day that you took your first step, trip to the doctor, etc.)
  18. Ask them about themselves.
  19. When they ask your advice give them options.
  20. Listen to the answers.
  21. Stay with them when they are afraid.
  22. Notice when they are absent.
  23. Follow them when they lead.
  24. Play with them... Adults can start the water balloon fight!
  25. Expect their best... and accept that it is not perfection.
  26. Be available.
  27. Do what they like to do.
  28. Share their excitement.
  29. Be honest.
  30. Be sincere.
  31. Include them in conversations.
  32. Brag about them when they don't think you know they are listening.
  33. Call them from work.
  34. Eat meals together.
  35. Plan discussion topics for dinner and announce them ahead of time.
  36. Tell them what your expectations are for their behavior.
  37. Practice the behaviors with them before they are in the situation.
  38. Introduce them to adults and tell the adult something of significance about them.
  39. Help to see mistakes as learning opportunities and not failures.
  40. Tape record messages to them.
  41. Tape record them.
  42. Video tape them just being themselves... like during one of those dinner conversations.
  43. Write them letters and send them in the mail.
  44. Go places together... take them along on errands.
  45. Build something together.
  46. Give them jobs at home that require thought and planning.
  47. Welcome their suggestions and use them.
  48. Make decisions together.
  49. When you make decisions for them include them in your thought processes.
  50. Help them to take stands on moral and ethical issues and then stand with them.
  51. Hug them.
  52. Set boundaries but help them to understand the reasons for them.
  53. Believe what they say.
  54. Tackle new tasks together.
  55. Cheer for their accomplishments.
  56. Encourage them to help others and recognize them when they do.
  57. Create a safe environment for them.
  58. Share secrets.
  59. Laugh
  60. Stop and enjoy time together. Even a minute at the bathroom sink.
  61. Be consistent but flexible.
  62. Praise loudly, criticize softly.
  63. Let them act their age.
  64. Tell them about yourself.
  65. Tell them what you believe and why you believe it.
  66. Help them to become an expert at something.
  67. Laugh.
  68. Ask their opinion about things.
  69. Show that you are excited to see them.
  70. Let them tell you how they feel.
  71. Display their artwork around the house... nicely framed.
  72. Thank them!
  73. Smile at them constantly.
  74. Keep promises... even small ones. In there eyes they are all the same size.
  75. Laugh
  76. Find a common interest.
  77. Let them pick the music and listen to it with them.
  78. Apologize when you've done something wrong.
  79. Hold hands.
  80. Take a walk.
  81. Read aloud together.
  82. Read moral literature and help them understand it.
  83. Use your ears more than your mouth.
  84. Show up at events.
  85. Learn from them and let them know what you learned.
  86. Tell them how terrific they are.
  87. Always suggest a better behavior when they have chosen an inappropriate one.
  88. Laugh.
  89. Be nice.
  90. Look them in the eye when you talk to them.
  91. Give them space when they need it.
  92. Use the car as interaction time.
  93. Tell them how much you like being with them.
  94. Develop a "secret word" for your family.
  95. Meet their friends.
  96. Meet their friends parents.
  97. Admit it when you make a mistake.
  98. Be honest
  99. Give them a private nickname and don't use it in front of others. (let them do the same with you.)
  100. Above all laugh, Laugh, LAUGH, and laugh some more.

Print this list and pick one each day to use.

You can plan to show your love for your kids. Make a list of your own. Find lists elsewhere of ways of showing love and care. We found many of these in YMCA handouts, church bulletins, childcare brochures, and other places.

Remember that you can fake like you care but you can't fake being there. The common element to each item on the above list is time.

Kids spell love "t-i-m-e!"





Time out . . .

Words to ponder

Some mistakes are too much fun to only make once.

Don't cry because it's over; smile because it happened.

Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat them.

Drive carefully. It's not only cars that can be recalled by their maker.

If you can't be kind, at least have the decency to be vague.

If you lend someone $20, and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.

It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others.

Never put both feet in your mouth at the same time, because then you don't have a leg to stand on.

The early worm gets eaten by the bird, so sleep late.

When everything's coming your way, you're in the wrong lane.

Birthdays are good for you; the more you have, the longer you live.

We could learn a lot from crayons: some are sharp, some are pretty, some are dull, some have weird names, and all are different colors but they all have to learn to live in the same box.

A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour.

Happiness comes through doors you didn't even know you left open.

You may be only one person in the world, but you may also be the world to one person.




Make a

Invest in YOUR Family

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

Margaret Mead, anthropologist

Friends, the meaning in the quote above is something to which we have always subscribed; that people like you and I can change the world - one family at a time. That is why we created this Foundation, to help make the world a better place for our children, and it all begins with you - parents.

We would like to make a suggestion that could have huge implications to you, your family and our foundation.  We are asking you to invest in your family and purchase a set of our DVDs. . . . and just possibly change the world.

Invest in your family, and our Foundation. If you already have our VHS videos, get the new DVDs and donate your VHS tapes to a local school, church or a family who would benefit from watching them.  Together. . .

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 work. This takes your commitment.

Will you please help us help more kids?

Your tax-exempt donation can be made
securely online via Network For Good.

Do it today while it is fresh in your mind.
Network For Good - Click Here

Or, send your tax-deductible check to:

The Drew Bledsoe Foundation
730 Capistrano Drive
Kalispell, MT 59901




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God bless America and her kids!


With Dignity



Drew Bledsoe

730 Capistrano Drive
Kalispell, MT 59901
(406) 752-8035