Parenting Newsletter

October 2005

Effective Parenting Skills - BIG News








Dear parents and supporters:

Hello again and welcome to our October 2005 newsletter.  Before you ask.... yes, it has been far too long since our last newsletter and no, we didn't forget about you.  Quite the contrary, we have been totally immersed in projects that should make your future PWD experience even more rewarding.  Here's some of what's new...

Crass commercials?

We've been "Googleized".  The ads you see at left and lightly sprinkled throughout our website are a recent addition - and unfortunately, a matter of economic necessity.  Until recently, we preferred not to use advertising on our site. However, this has been a devastating year for many small, non-profit organizations in that the tsunami disaster and U.S. hurricanes, etc. have received so much focus - and rightly so.  But this drop in donations is forcing us to look at viable options that provide funding to help us accomplish our mission. 

The good news about Google's program is that they should only display ads that correlate to the subject matter of the page. If you are reading about parenting issues, the advertising will compliment, not detract.

A new look for PWD

If you haven't visited our website recently, please take the website tour.  We have been working on a completely new look with easier navigation and a host of new features.  As one example, are you familiar with...


An acronym for "Real Simple Syndication", RSS allows us to distribute Mac's articles to a wider audience in a number of different ways.  If you use a service such as My Yahoo! or My MSN, you can automatically add our feed to your start page, just by clicking a button

Add to My Yahoo!      Add to My MSN

If these buttons don't work in your browser, or to learn more about this new RSS feature, please go hereIn addition, if you have a parenting related website and want to include Mac's articles on your site automatically (and free), our feed is available here.  (This is a great idea to add fresh content to your site). 

PDA Capability

I know, you're asking "what's with all these acronyms"?  PDA stands for "Personal Digital Assistant", but these days it encompasses many devices from cell phones to personal organizers and even MP3 players.  Due to the increasing popularity of such devices, we have begun to make our website PDA friendly.  To many of you this is of little importance, but if you are a PDA user, go here to learn more.

PWD in softcover

Were you aware that Mac's book, Parenting With Dignity, is now available in softcover?  Did you know that it now sells for a reduced price, is personally autographed by Mac, and we pay the shipping?

Parenting With Dignity

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!

PWD books & DVDs make wonderful gifts for every parent on your holiday list!

The Early Years

As you have read, we have been quite busy around here trying to keep pace with our ever-changing world.  Our "to-do" list doesn't seem to get any shorter, but we're trying to make sure that your experience with PWD is always a meaningful one.  If you have questions about any of the technology items we mentioned above, please feel free to contact our webmaster.

Thank you and best wishes,

Tom Heatherington
CEO, CTO and Editor

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. 




PWD on DVD - learn more!







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

Click here to order for immediate delivery!



In This


Ask Mac

Send your questions to:
Ask Mac



Ask Mac?

Dear Mac:

I want to thank you for being a speaker at the Young Mom's Group here at our First Methodist Church today.

One of the things I found to be a great tribute to you and your methods about helping parents in raising children is that you don't talk about your personal religious beliefs. I respect that you are a Christian, but you don't need to and didn't preach that to us today. With the advice of our friends, chosen church, and family we can all make the best decisions for WHAT to teach in our own families. What we really do need is help with HOW to teach what we have chosen to teach.

I told my husband the story you told about the woman with the problem with her child jumping on the couch and your response. I admit there have been times that the same question may have been asked by myself. My husband loved your answer in response to that question and I have to admit so do I.
I look forward to reading you book, Parenting with Dignity.

Thank you again for being our speaker today,

Mother of "couch-jumpers" ages 8 and 4!


Dear Mom,

Thanks for you nice words. It is always nice to know that some parents understand some of our reasoning in setting up our curriculum in the manner that we have chosen. I simply feel that it is neither our duty nor our right to push our religious beliefs on parents who come to us for advice on parenting issues. I believe that religious beliefs are, and should be, private for every family.

It pleases me to hear that you shared something that you learned with your husband! That demonstrates a very important thought. Dads need to be involved too!

To follow up on that idea and an idea I shared with your group today, I cannot suggest strongly enough that some of the families in your Young Mom's Group should get together and form a class for the purpose of going through the Parenting with Dignity Curriculum! Six members of your group bought copies of the DVD curriculum today. I will challenge you to see if one of those people would be willing to use their DVD's to conduct the class.

In order to run a class there is a whole chapter of our Parent's Workbook on our website that gives hundreds of hints for running an effective class. Just go to our website and look for the handout for Tape 10. (Or just click on this link:

On the DVD's the Tape 10 segment also is dedicated to helping to put on a class. Watch it before beginning class. Once you have watched the Tape 10 segment and read the Tape 10 handout it is not even necessary to watch the sessions before conducting the class! Please let me know if you feel that you need further help in getting a class started.

It is really a pretty simple concept… it is easier to teach something to your children if their friends have been taught something similar.

Another key to making your classes benefit your families is that the classes involve the Dads! Our curriculum is set up to make it OK for dads to attend. Every class session starts with a little bit of football! Most of the course work is taught by an old football coach in jeans... me! (We men are really pretty simple... give us a little football and another guy in jeans and we can join in!)

I must give credit where credit is due; it was my wife Barbara who was the one to say that I should do the majority of the presenting in our curriculum because it made it all right for men to be there.


Mac Bledsoe
Mac and Barbara Bledsoe




Mac & Barbara Bledsoe


By Mac and Barbara Bledsoe


When I first began to teach parenting skills, I named my curriculum Self-Esteem Programs. I learned very quickly that using that title was a mistake! It turned out that using the words "Self-Esteem" caused more problems than it was worth. People had so many different definitions, connotations, misconceptions, and preconceived ideas of what was meant by the simple terms of self-esteem, self-image, self-concept, and self-worth that I was saddled more with the task of defining and clarifying terms than with teaching some effective parenting skills. Not only did I have to redefine the terms but I also had to overcome negative emotional reactions to those words. Many thought I meant total permissiveness. Many thought I meant that parents ought to try to alter outcomes for children so their children never experienced disappointment. Many thought I meant that we must stop evaluating the performance of children and throw "atta boys" at them instead.

In particular, there were large numbers of parents who held negative thoughts and misconceptions of what was meant by the term self-esteem. The minute I used the term, so many parents believed I was a person who advocated being soft, permissive, or undemanding with children. That is the furthest thing from the truth, but once they formed that opinion of me it was difficult for them to even hear the parenting information.

So, from the very early days of developing our Parenting with Dignity program, I simply stopped using those words. I have found other ways and other words to convey the same concepts to parents. It has worked very well because I seldom have anyone forming opinions of my parenting information before they have heard it!

That being said, last week I was fortunate to meet some great people in the Dallas, Texas, area who have developed a wonderful program that is built around a concept of self-esteem that I feel is truly worth discussing. Right now please avoid jumping to any conclusions based upon your preconceived ideas of the intended meaning of those volatile words. Please read on.

Since my very first days of working with children, it has been my belief that way too many people associated self-esteem with accomplishment or performance. All too many parents seemed to believe that they could alter their children's self-esteem by altering outcomes for them. In other words, many parents and educators seemed to believe that they could protect or build self-esteem by taking down scoreboards and using codes instead of letter grades or percentage scores for grading student work. Some even mistakenly thought that it meant that no students would ever fail a subject in school. Their opinion seemed to be that if they could alter the outcomes for kids, then they could help all kids to have positive self-esteem! My experience in teaching taught me something very different.

What I was observing in my classrooms was that some of the most self-assured and self-confident kids often were those who were not academically accomplishing at a high level. On the contrary, some of my students who were doing the most extraordinary academic work were those who seemed to have the toughest time thinking well of themselves. As a matter of fact, often it seemed that over-achieving kids were driven to achieve by a low self-esteem!

It seemed that kids with a healthy self-esteem were able to "feel good about themselves" in spite of their achievement and kids with bad feelings about themselves could not achieve enough to right the ship and "feel good about themselves."

This phenomenon seemed to hold true with adults as well. Many adults seemed to be on a fruitless chase for the better job, the better house, the better car, the next promotion as if grasping the next "better" acquisition would finally create inner happiness… but it never seemed to be enough!

On the other hand, as I met more and more adults in my professional and private life, lots of them seemed to live happy and fulfilled lives with few notable accomplishments and little in the way of material wealth. Their sense of self-worth seemed to be tied to something more internal than external.

As I searched for an explanation for this observation, I realized that there were also many people with both great accomplishments and great material wealth who were very satisfied with their lives and who seemed to hold a high regard for their own self-worth.

Further searching found that just as many people who had not accomplished much nor amassed much of anything in the way of material wealth were unhappy and held a debilitating and low sense of self-esteem.

Self-esteem seemed to somehow not be connected to accomplishment! People seemed to be able to form their self -concept independent of accomplishment, material wealth, and level of performance.

The question then became, "Well, what is it that creates or forms a person's self-image?" There had to be something that shaped a person's sense of self-value. This search led to the formation of Rule #4 in our Parenting with Dignity program. "It doesn't matter what you say, it is what they say to themselves that counts!" The key ingredient in what a child feels or thinks about him/herself is what they say about themselves to themselves!

Further study led me to deduce that the key ingredient in a child being able to think well of self was love, unconditional love! Children, who were confirmed in the belief that they were loved unconditionally, were children who were able to think well of themselves, almost totally independent of accomplishment or material wealth. That led to the formation of Rule #5 in our curriculum, which is, "Send them a constant and continual message of unconditional love!" Anyone who has heard me speak on this topic will know that I feel our Rule #5 is the most powerful tool available to parents in their search for ways to raise independent, self-fulfilled, and self-reliant children.

Now, let's get back to my meeting with the great folks in the Dallas, Texas, area who have built the program for building self-esteem to children. The Children's Center for Self-Esteem is headed by the creator, Dr. Glenn Wilkerson. Their program is titled ARK (Adults Relating to Kids). These folks have come to some conclusions about self-esteem that are very similar to those that I hold, namely that self-esteem is not very closely connected to accomplishment or performance. I will not go into much detail about their program (You can read about their program by going to their website: and I highly recommend that you do.) other than to say that their research has found that what I have believed for so long stands up to scientific study!  They make the distinction that there are two components to a person’s over-all self-concept: self- worth (which is fueled by performance) and self-esteem (which is fueled by unconditional love).  Their conclusion is that self-concept is made of one third performance or accomplishment and two-thirds from unconditional love!

What does this say to us as parents? It says the same thing I have been saying for years and believe even more strongly today. The effective parent is not the one who insures success in performance related endeavors for their children. The effective parent is the one who provides a constant dose of unconditional love! It echoes precisely what is repeatedly expressed in our Parenting with Dignity program… the most effective tool at the disposal of parents lies in their ability to express love to their children! (Please check out the ARK program for some great parenting ideas.)

To parents of young athletes it says, "Your kids are going to have lots of coaches, but you are the only parents they will ever have. Let the coaches coach and you be the parent who is constantly there to offer the unconditional love; in spite of the score."

To parents of students it says, "Your kids are going to have lots of teachers. Let the teachers teach, be there to support the teachers in every way that you can; but above all, be there with constant doses of love in spite of the level of the child's achievement."

Love does not mean permissiveness! Love does set boundaries. Love can be expressed in holding high expectations but above all it must be unconditional and not tied to performance. Children have families and homes as an arena to practice skills, attitudes and performance. The key is, they are practicing. Some times they will reach the pinnacle of their own expectations and yours. Sometimes they will fall short, and perhaps very short. They will be disappointed without your heaping on your disappointment too. What they need to know always is that you love them through success and disappointment and are always on their team to teach them how to turn a disappointing behavior, grade, or score into something more positive.

Love is not just a word you say; it is something that you do!
You can fake like you care but you can't fake being there.
Love is a participation sport!

And remember the time you feel least able to tell kids that you love them is usually the precise moment their hearts are most open to receive your message of unconditional love!

Express your love for your children.





Time out . . .

Sometimes the
greatest gift of
love can be a
little laughter!

A true friend

One Spring afternoon, I came home to find two little girls on the steps of my building. Both were crying hard, shedding big tears. Thinking they might be hurt, I dropped my briefcase and quickly went over to them. "Are you all right?" I asked.

Still sobbing, one held up her doll. "My baby's arm came off," she said.

I took the doll and its disjointed arm. After a little effort and luck, the doll was again whole.

"Thank you." came a whisper.

Next looking into the tearful eyes of her friend, I asked, "and what's the matter with you, young lady?"

She wiped her cheeks. "I was helping her cry," she said. 

A new friend

A pastor is walking down the street one day when he notices a very small boy trying to press a doorbell on a house across the street. However, the boy is very small and the doorbell is too high for him to reach.

After watching the boys efforts for some time, the pastor moves closer to the boy's position. He steps smartly across the street, walks up behind the little fellow and, placing his hand kindly on the child's shoulder leans over and gives the doorbell a solid ring.

Crouching down to the child's level, the pastor smiles benevolently and asks, "And now what, my little man?" To which the boy replies, "Now we run!"




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




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God bless America and her kids!


With Dignity




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