Parenting Newsletter

December 2005

Effective Parenting Skills - PWD






No better gift for any parent!

More than  a gift. This year give parents on your gift list more than just another present.


Dear parents and supporters:

Hello again and welcome to our December 2005 newsletter.  On behalf of everyone here at PWD, I would like to wish all of you a very Happy Holiday season and hope you and yours have a prosperous and safe New Year.  Additionally, I'd like to thank everyone who supported our efforts by buying our books and DVDs, and especially those of you who generously donated money to help fund our foundation.  You simply have no idea ho much that helps and how badly we need your support.

As you wrap up your holiday chores, take a few moments to remember that many of our families have members in the military who will not be joining them this year.  American soldiers are risking their lives all over the globe defending the freedoms that many of us take for granted. It's time to say thank you. During Thank a Soldier Week (December 19-25), is encouraging Americans to stop for a moment and give thanks to the men and women risking everything for us. Thank a Soldier

While Mac Bledsoe has done this month what he does every month - create an outstanding article, I will take a moment to shamelessly promote his outstanding books and DVDs as being the perfect holiday gift for every parent on your list.  It is an overused term, but this really is a gift that keeps on giving... possibly for generations.

PWD Books and DVDs will fit under the tree!

Mac's first book, Parenting With Dignity, is now available in softcover and, sells for a reduced price, and all books are personally signed by Mac, and we pay the shipping.

The perfect gift for any parent!

If you order either book (or both books), PARENTING WITH DIGNITY and THE EARLY YEARS, you'll get FREE shipping - AND... Mac Bledsoe will sign your book FREE - A must for every parent. Order today!

There is no better gift for every parent on your holiday list!

The Early Years - a perfect gift!

Thank you and best wishes,

Tom Heatherington
The Editor, VP, CEO, Head Tinkerer

PS:  If you know of someone who would benefit from Mac's books or video course, be sure to sign them up for this newsletter, or forward this to them now. 





No better gift for any parent!




For the benefit of our new subscribers, we'd like you to know that Parenting With Dignity is 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:

Click here to order for immediate delivery!



In This


Ask Mac

Send your questions to:
Ask Mac



Ask Mac?

Dear Mac:

Christmas has become so over-commercialized and we are worried that our family cannot avoid being tainted by the material nature of the holidays. We have three kids ages seven, six, and four and we are worried that with all of the advertising about shopping, shopping, buying gifts, wish lists for Santa, and more shopping, our kids will become so obsessed by all of the materialism that they will lose the joy held in the real meaning of Christmas.

How can we combat something that is so completely all encompassing and invasive in our society? The materialism is everywhere and we are afraid that our kids will think we are Scrooges if we try to limit our family's participation in all of the hoopla.

My wife and I have discussed limiting the gifts we give in our family to one per child or placing a dollar limit on the gifts exchanged in our family but that really seems to be almost as bad because the message is still about material value. Can you help us? We know that Christmas does not have to be this way.


Dad "the Santa of Our House"


Dear "Santa Dad",

I believe that there is hope for you and your family! Christmas can be one of the best times of year for teaching children that happiness is an attitude of choice. What a great time for teaching your children that in their family, each member gets to decide how to celebrate any special day.

Follow along as I try to give you some suggestions for taking control of the meaning of Christmas in your own home.

First, you do not say anything about your personal religion so I will refrain from pushing any one religious belief. That being said, if you are Christian, this holiday has some very specific significance. If you are having a difficult time trying to establish the true meaning of this particular holiday (or any other holiday for that matter) consult your Priest or Minister in your church or place of worship, and seek guidance for scripture references that tell the story of how Christmas all began with the birth of Jesus Christ. It might even be fun to invite your Pastor or Priest to your house for dinner or for a brief desert and ask if he/she would be willing to lead a brief devotional or discussion about the true meaning of Christmas. I am sure that most religious leaders would be flattered and honored to do this with your family.

If your family is not Christian, then your dilemma might be a bit more challenging because this celebration is not based in your faith. This does not mean that you cannot discuss the origin of the holiday. Then you could lead your children in a discussion of the tradition of giving to others. I have a number of non-Christian friends who celebrate this holiday by exchanging gifts, and decorating a tree. A nice tradition for your family might be to invite a Christian family over for a get-together one night during the season so that they could explain what Christmas means to them. Then agree with that family to have them over during Chanukah (or some other Holiday of religious significance to your family) another week, where your family will share the meaning and significance of your celebration. (This process could be devoted to any other religious celebration.)

Now let's deal with the very real and almost overwhelming pressure of the materialistic nature of Christmas in our society. I genuinely agree with you that the pressures of all of the marketing of this season could create a difficult situation for any parents regardless of your religious preference. The message is everywhere. You cannot drive down the street without being bombarded with adds about the perfect gift. Turn on the radio and it is more of the same. Go to the grocery store and it is, "Buy this for the Holidays!" everywhere. Turn on the television and every add is chanting the same mantra, "Buy this for a loved one!" At school I am sure that your children are continually involved in discussions with classmates of their wish lists for Santa. Well-meaning Grandmas and Grandpas are asking them, "Well, what do you want for Christmas?"

I agree that his can become overwhelming for children, and, I believe that you and your wife are right to be a bit worried. However this is not hopeless. Like I always say, the ideas in your head will rule your world, and the ideas in the heads of your children will rule their world! So take control of the idea that will rule the world of your family.

Here is a way that we chose to develop an idea in all of the heads in our family. One year when our children were in their early years in school, we too were worried, just as you are, about the spiraling material nature of Christmas. Just like you, we were worried about the effect all of this materialism was having on our children. Then we stumbled upon one of the best ideas kind of by chance.

Barbara was a teacher at a middle school and I was a teacher at the high school at the time and in both of our schools there were campaigns going on to collect food and gifts for the needy. At Walla Walla High School where I was teaching, each homeroom, if they chose to, could adopt a local needy family, and collect food and gifts for them. It was all very confidential. Our students were not allowed to know the name of the family for whom they were collecting gifts but at our school it had become quite competitive with home rooms all trying to outdo each other with how much they could collect for "their family".

My homeroom had collected boxes and boxes of food. One day they took up a collection and purchased a turkey for the family to cook on Christmas. A list was circulated of the ages and sizes of the children in "our family". The students in my homeroom shopped for these children. They had decided that even though this was a family in need of clothes and food, that they would make sure that each of the children would also receive at least two toys as gifts, in addition to the food and clothing we were collecting.

Finally, about three days before Christmas all of the packages were assembled in my classroom and all of the food was boxed and ready for the Good Will people to pick it up and deliver it to "our family" the next day.

That night Barbara and I were delivered a wonderful gift for our family! That night in our little town of Walla Walla, Washington, it snowed almost two feet! School was cancelled for the last two days before the Christmas break and we were not able to go to school. However, the snow presented one small problem for all of the gifts for the needy families.

In my classroom at school were all of the gifts for "our family" and among the gifts were a frozen turkey and some perishable fruits and vegetables for their Christmas dinner sitting in an ice chest. They would not keep forever. I called the Good Will office to see if they could still pick up our gifts for delivery to our family and they informed me that they were in a real fix… all of their trucks had gone out that morning and all were stuck in the two feet of snow! There was no way that they could pick up our gifts for a couple of days.

Therein lay the blessing for our family but none of us realized it yet. I asked Good Will if they could give me the address for the family so we could deliver the gifts ourselves. Their reply was, "Oh, could you possibly do that? That would be such a help to us!" And they gladly game me the address.

Our family was blessed that snowy evening. We all loaded into the pickup and went down to the school and carried all of our gifts out to the truck. The generosity of my homeroom filled the bed of our pickup to overflowing. We made our way through the snow to the home of the family where the gifts were to be delivered.

It was nearly dark in the house when our family went up to knock on the door. I will never forget that night. A husband and wife came to the door and I announced to them that we had some Christmas gifts for them from a local high school class. I asked if we could bring them in. They were so shocked that they could not answer for a moment. Then with their permission, our whole family began to carry the gifts into their house. The mother could not contain herself. She just burst into tears. The father pulled me aside and told me that this was a miracle for his family because he had been laid off and they were not going to have a Christmas this year! All of their money had to go for rent, heat, and what little food they could afford.

However the real miracle that night might have been what was happening in our family! Certainly the family receiving the gifts from the generous kids in my class was a miracle for them that year and I would not discount that. However, in our family the idea that would rule our world forever was forming in our hearts! We were all experiencing the real and honest joy that comes from giving! We were all experiencing what joy comes from giving to others. In this case we were just the lucky messengers for all of my students but it changed all of us forever.

Since that time our family has always adopted another family at Christmas. We do just like my homeroom did that year. We seek out the address of a needy family in our community, collect gifts for them and deliver them anonymously through a school, church, or the Good Will. The picture of those grateful children, that sobbing mother, and the words of gratitude from that father in that house in Walla Walla, that snowy night years ago are all burned into our minds and hearts forever.

Now that our two sons have their own families they have continued the tradition with their young families. They now adopt a family at Christmas too. Their children have an idea in their heads that will rule their world and will always combat the bombardment of Material Christmas! Their children will always know that Christmas is a time when their family gathers and collects gifts for someone less fortunate than themselves. Their hearts will always be full of the feeling of giving to others at this wonderful time of year. What a gift they are giving to their children.

Just imagine what Christmas would be like in this world if every family would gather together at one time of year and give a gift from the heart to another family. For families of affluence, they could give gifts of food, clothing, and toys. For families of less material wealth they could give the gift of a song or the gift of appreciation for the gift that they have been given.

The materialism of Christmas can only be defeated by a better idea! At this time of year, teach your family what it means to really know the joy of giving to others. Adopt a family and let your three kids select gifts for those less fortunate than them. This way the materialism of Christmas will not overwhelm them but rather build in them a stronger sense of community and care for their fellow man


Mac Bledsoe
Mac and Barbara Bledsoe




Mac & Barbara Bledsoe

Love is a Language

By Mac and Barbara Bledsoe

  We know very little about how it is that we humans learn language. We do, however, recognize some common landmarks in the development of speech. We all arrive in the world capable of making sounds. At the very earliest stages, it is mostly crying or random noises. Then all humans arrive at a stage, called echolalia, when we begin to repeat sounds. "Bah! Bah… Bah Bah." Or "Da! Da, Da, Da."

Then, one magical day, all humans begin to speak. One day we form our first word! Then vocabulary development takes off at an exponential rate. Sometimes vocabulary will double twice during a day.

For some of us this magical landmark will be delayed and the magic will begin months later than the norm while some may begin to form words as early as six months. A few of us may have severe problems in this complex process. Some sounds may be difficult for us to form or a loss of hearing or a deformity in our physical development will prevent us from even beginning to speak in a normal way but with the advances in teaching techniques and huge gains in awareness and sensitivity to children with disabilities, few humans remain mute. But enough of this… almost all humans become proficient at language!

The key thing I would like you to notice is that all humans learn a language… and the particular language we learn is not genetically determined. We all speak the language we are exposed to! Kids in France speak French! Kids in Japan speak Japanese. But, raise the French child in the Japanese family and within a year the child will speak Japanese. Raise the Japanese child in a French home and within a year the child will speak French. Raise both children in my home and they will speak English. As a matter of fact, the children raised in my home will speak a particular dialect of English.

The children raised in my home will speak the language I speak in their presence! They will learn not just random vocabulary but very complex principles of language like subject/verb agreement, verb tense, voice inflection, facial expression, gestures and much more. By age four, most humans are speaking in complete sentences with subjects, verbs, and lots of modifiers.

"So what is the point?" you ask. Just this: I am here today to propose to you that love is a language! Kids will speak this language only if it is spoken in their presence. If we want our children to grow up being capable of sending and receiving love, we must speak this language regularly in their presence and regularly to them!

I will also propose to you that speaking the language of love is critical in the normal development of all humans. As my experience takes me across America and into contact with a wider and wider cross section of people, I become ever more convinced that most of the problems facing children today can be traced to a failure to speak the language of love in the home!

This is not rocket science. Look at what kids are saying to us with drugs… "If I could just take a pill or drink something, maybe this empty feeling inside me will go away."

Or take a close look at gangs… what are kids shouting at us with this behavior? "I want somebody on my side no matter what. I want to belong somewhere."

Or take a look at promiscuous sex… what are young people saying with this behavior? "If I can just please this person, maybe I can fill this void in my life and feel loved."

The solution to these and many more problems facing the children of our society is really quite simple. We adults must teach our children the language of love! They can only learn this language by exposure to it. We cannot have them read a book and learn it. We cannot sit them in a class of thirty with one teacher and expect them to learn it. They must learn it by being around us while we are speaking the language of love.


There is no shortcut to teaching kids about love. We, the adult generation of this world, must give our time to our children. We must play with them. We must talk with them, not to them. We must hold them. We must take the time to teach them to be kind and understanding of other by being that way ourselves. We must write to them and see to it that they observe us writing to others about important things. When they come to us with problems, we must stop what we are doing, and listen to them intently and if we do not understand them, we must ask them to explain.

Please do not misunderstand what I am saying to you when I say we must turn off the television and the computer and spend real interactive time with our children. I am not one of the fanatics who believe that television is evil. Much good can come from a medium that allows masses of people to experience what they never could on their own, but anything can be overdone. Sure, we live in the technological "information age" but that has not given us the permission to ignore our children; we must interact with them because it is our duty to let them know we love them!

Again, do not get me wrong; I am not the next Dr. Spock who is out there saying we must coddle our children’s fragile psyches! All I am saying is that as an adult generation we must live up to our obligation of communicating our love to our children. Be as firm as you choose to be but love them… and that cannot be taught with a five minute lecture and a swat on the behind. Love involves time. I cannot be bought and it cannot be abbreviated. Love requires that we adults spend time with our children.

This Christmas Season would be a great time to start on your project of giving the gift of time and love to your children. Decorate less but do it together and talk. Wrap gifts together and delight in messy corners and bows and talk about the joy and the laughter and memories of the recipients that will come with giving. Make cookies together and have a simplified dinner with lots of talk and then get on the floor and play the Christmas games with the kids. Set up 3 or 4 card tables so all the puzzles and games are out for different generations to interact with one another. Use the biggest box to collect wrapping paper and "shoot baskets" into it after gift unwrapping. Set a one-hour-a-day limit for when the computer can be used. Turn the cell phone(s) off when you walk in the door from work. Let the answering machine do its’ thing and turn off the phone. You will delight in the vacation from the stress of constant calls. Only watch TV if there is a holiday program that lifts your spirits and causes your kids to want to snuggle up on the couch with you or if they are older, with a blanket and hot chocolate and you in the nearby chair. This holiday season can be a season of change and interaction with your children if the focus is on sending a message of love. Kids don't care about all the trappings of the holidays that exhaust our energy and our patience. They care about the time we spent talking with them.

Wrap up some time and give it to your children for Christmas!





Time out . . .

Holiday thoughts...

At the risk of being politically incorrect (in some circles) and mentioning the words Christmas and worse yet, Santa Claus, we couldn't resist passing along these cute jokes.

Mall Santas

The Santa Claus at the mall was very surprised when a young lady about 20 years old walked up and sat on his lap. Santa doesn't usually take requests from adults, but she smiled very nicely at him, so he asked her, "What do you want for Christmas?"

"Something for my mother, please," said the young lady.

"Something for your mother? Well, that's very thoughtful of you," smiled Santa. "What do you want me to bring her?"

Without blinking she replied, "A son-in-law!"

While working as a mall Santa, I had many children ask for electric trains. "If you get a train," I would tell each one, "you know your dad is going to want to play with it too. Is that okay?"

The usual answer was a quick yes, but after I asked one boy this question, he became very quiet. Trying to move the conversation along, I asked what else he would like Santa to bring him.

He promptly replied, "Another train."

Christmas is just plain weird. What other time of the year do you sit in front of a dead tree in your living room eating candy and snacks out of your socks?

And did you know...

The first Animal Crackers were not made for eating... they were made as Christmas tree decorations!

In the Thomas Nast cartoon that first depicted Santa Claus with a sleigh and reindeer, he was delivering Christmas gifts to soldiers fighting in the U. S. Civil War. The cartoon, entitled "Santa Claus in Camp," appeared in Harper's Weekly on January 3, 1863.




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:

Parenting With Dignity
730 Capistrano Drive
Kalispell, MT 59901




Comments about our Newsletter - contact our webmaster

Subscribe a friend to PWD!
Subscribe to the "Parenting with Dignity" Newsletter.
Please pass this along to other parents in your address book
and recommend they subscribe to our newsletter. Thanks.


God bless America and her kids!


With Dignity




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