Parenting Newsletter

March 2006

Effective Parenting Skills - PWD






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Dear parents and supporters:

Hello again and welcome to our March 2006 newsletter.  This month, Mac has written a compelling new article about drugs and our children - and how we as parents must be more proactive.  When our kids are young we worry about them falling down the stairs or crossing the street, but they soon learn and outgrow those "worry phases".  Not so with drugs or alcohol, as we are inundated with those messages every day. No one gets to outgrow this phase. 

We don't have to tell you what a curse drugs are on our society.  However, few people offer sensible suggestions on how to better prepare our kids to resist the relentless assault on their resolve - something they will receive from "friends" and the media EVERY day. I think you'll like reading Mac's article below.

Because drugs and alcohol are part of modern life, it was the motivation behind developing PWD's Warning Signs website.  We don't offer medical or psychological advice, or tell you what to do if you have a drug concern in your family.  What we offer is a place to START - to get information and help without rummaging through thousands of web searches.  Please take a moment and visit Warning Signs - someone may thank you later.  Also, if you have a website, we would really appreciate you helping us spread the word by adding a link to our sites.

Thank you and best regards,

Tom Heatherington
Editor, VP, CTO, 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. 



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In This


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Dear Mac:

We've been using your tapes to improve our parenting skills. We have one son, age 9, (he has been diagnosed with ADD 3 years ago) and in "deciding what we want" (tape 4) we're a bit stumped on how to approach this common problem a different way to get the idea in his head. We have a constant battle in the morning to: get up, get dressed, etc. to meet the bus on time.

In the evening, again, another battle to do homework, shower, brush teeth, etc. Can you help us to understand how to use your ideas in this situation. An example here could really be helpful to us.

Thank you. Dedicated Parents


Dear Dedicated Parents (of a Bright Child),

Wow, it sounds like you are really on the right track!

First, I wish to caution you about the title of ADD. While this is a valid problem in the lives of some kids, I am very scared of using that distinction because for so many all that the label means to so many people is an excuse to let the wearer of the label live down to a lower level of expectations! That is the worst thing that could ever happen to your son.

Here is what I did to try to prevent this form happening to me when someone assigned me a student with the label ADD: I immediately tried to look at the kid and repeat this statement, "Someone just brought me a very, very intelligent person! I must raise my expectations for this person. This person can do many tasks at once and quite possibly do them better if he has many tasks to do!"

Mostly what happens to these kids is that we attempt to "dumb them down" to function like the rest of us mortals who can only do one thing at a time.

Mostly what those kids need is to be recognized for their unique abilities and challenged to use them! They usually need two or three challenging tasks to attack at once.

It changed my mental picture of the student! Try looking at your son and repeating those words to yourselves, with his name in the statement. You will notice a rather significant shift in your mental attitude.

Now we have that out of the way let me suggest some specific strategies to fit your specific questions.

1.Getting up, dressed, and to the bus on time... A common problem! (And this is a common problem for many adults I might add.)

First, and foremost, the biggest problem I encounter while working with parents lies in the fact that they are working without a plan of action.

They are crisis managing and waiting until the problem arises before they actually do anything! First you must identify specifically what it is that you want him to do. Then you must figure out a way to express these expectations to him in a way that he can understand. You must also be able to convince him of the fact that his life will improve if he does as you request!

So, start the night before. (When there is no crisis.) Have him lay out his clothes (assuming getting dressed for school on his own is one of the things that you have selected that you want him to do) the night before. Lay out his school supplies also. Get it all laid out and he now has a pretty good idea of what is going to happen in the morning. (Rule #1)

Next, while still working with him the night before, have him repeat back to you the plan for the morning. (Rules #3 & #4) You are now getting him to say it for himself with another repetition! Also, by repeating this request for behavior you are insuring that it has been heard. If he has to say it back to you, there is no possibility that he has not heard you, because "selective hearing" is a very human characteristic and especially common for those bright kids who often find something else to think about while you are talking to them.

(For evidence of "selective hearing"; one of you wait until the other is engrossed in a particularly engaging and favorite TV show and then make a simple request for the one watching the show to do something when the show is over. Then when the show is over, check to see if it is done! Now you both know, in a little bit more first hand way, what daily life is like for your son!)

Once you given him the precise request for his plan for getting dressed in the morning have him repeat back to you what is going to happen in the morning. Then, leave it alone. He has a plan and now it is up to him to get it done. I will suggest that another action that you might take would be for you, Todd, to lay your clothes out in the same location the night before with the plan of getting up in the morning with your son and going into the room where both of your clothes are and getting dressed with your son. In this case you are applying rule #3 as you are repeating the request for his action but you are saying it in a different way! Kids learn more from our actions that they do our words. Watching you get dressed will model the behavior for him. An addition to this technique is that you will be also applying rule #5 which is the message of love being sent by doing something with your son that lets him know that you love him. (there is an additional benefit in getting dressed together for you too... You will find it to be a very natural way of spending time with your son. Many parents who have tried this technique of getting dressed together have found this to be one of the most enjoyable times of day!)

2. With regard to evening schedules, apply the same techniques outlined up above. With this time of day I sincerely believe that the most effective part of the series of actions that you will take is to sit down with him when he is doing his homework, sit down and do some work with him or read a book in the same room while he is studying. While you are doing this do not nag. Start the study session by getting him to tell you what he is going to do during this time and then just be there with him. At the start have him study in short bursts. Ten minutes of focused study with a minute of listening to his favorite song. As time goes by have him extend the time of focused study.

Take a run at this and get back to me if you need further help, but get creative. He is your kid and you know him and love him, therefore you will create techniques that will work better than the ones that I have created because you know him!

Look forward to hearing back from you.


Mac Bledsoe
Mac and Barbara Bledsoe




Mac & Barbara Bledsoe

Raising Kids in Today's Confusing Drug Culture

By Mac and Barbara Bledsoe


As I travel the country speaking with parents all across America, I often ask them to make a list of the twenty biggest and most challenging problems their children will face before they reach the age of 21.  It is not too surprising to me that virtually all American parents list "DRUGS" in their top five. As a matter of fact, most parents list it as the most important decision their children will have to make!  And yet I find that very few parents have done much teaching of their children about what to do when the decision about drugs does come up!

In the Parenting with Dignity Curriculum we try to refrain from moralizing with parents about WHAT parents should teach their children. We try to confine our advice to parents to HOW they can be effective in teaching their children.

When it comes to drugs there seems to be no difference among parents. As a matter of fact, I have not yet met a parent who says they want their children to be drug abusers or drug addicts. I have now visited 51 prisons and even in prisons where many of the inmates are serving time for drug-related crimes, parents still universally say that they want their children to live drug-free lives.

So why is it that so many young people in America are getting hooked on drugs if no parents want that to happen? I believe the answer is really quite simple; kids are getting hooked on drugs simply because parents are not teaching their kids what to do before they are in the situation!

Most adults are deluded into thinking the fact that they don't want their kids involved with drugs will somehow protect their children… and I won't. Most American parents are deluded into thinking that they can protect their kids from drugs and the truth is that they cannot! Their kids must be taught to protect themselves! It is just that simple.

In almost every talk I deliver to parents all across America I try to impress upon parents that their "children will make ALL of the big decisions in their lives; especially the decision about whether or not to participate in taking drugs!" When I make that statement many if not most parents look at me like I am crazy. I cannot count the number of times that people have raised their hands and said to me something like what a lady said in a parenting seminar a few years ago.

She jumped up and said, "That will never happen in my family. The decision about drugs is too big a decision for my kids to make! You don't know about me and you don't know about my family! I am going to be there for my kids! For your information, I am a reformed crack cocaine addict and I am going to protect my kids!"

"Really," I replied. "May I ask you a couple of questions?"

"Fire away, you can ask any questions that you want, but I am firm in my conviction that I am going to protect my kids. I will not let them make that decision!"

"How old are your kids?" I then asked.

"Well, they are nine and twelve!" she replied angrily! "Why?"

"Because I don't see any kids that age in the room, where are your kids right now?"

"Well, they are out on the playground with the other kids!" she said with her hands on her hips in disgust!

"Oops!" I replied. "But for sure you were with them at school today all day long, right?" And both were somehow in the same room all day, correct?"

"Of course I was not with them at school today. I am a single parent and I have to work hard to support my family! I cannot spend the whole day at school!" she replied, seeming to become more angry by the minute. "Why would you ask such a silly question?"

""Well, I have read that in a huge survey done with over three million drug addicts in America, that when questioned 73% of them said that they got their first drug fix at school! So if you are going to be there for them it just seems logical that you would need to be at school to make that decision for them at least three fourths of the time!"

"But don't take my word for it or the information gathered by that study. I have never done drugs so I am a poor person to ask. You are the self-proclaimed authority in the room; you tell us that you are addicted to crack cocaine… where were you when you received your first drug?"

The angry lady thought for a moment and then in a much quieter and less angry voice she said, "I was in front of my locker!"

"Oh, and where was that locker?" I further queried.

"At the junior high."

"The same junior high where your oldest child attends?"

"Yes," she replied! "At the same junior high!"

"And I am told that in the past few years, the availability of drugs has more that doubled. Also, I am told that the average age at which the normal American child must face the decision about taking drugs has dropped to below 12 years-of-age! I am told that now the average age at which American children face the decision of whether to use drugs is now 11.8 years-of-age!"

"I hate to tell you this," I said, "but unless you are committed to being with your children every possible moment, they will make that decision!"

"Even if you are with them most of the time," I continued, "the person offering the drugs to them will make sure that they offer during a moment when you are not paying attention! My gosh, you even tell us that you were an addict… when you started did you do it in front of your parents?"

"No, I hid it from them very successfully for about six years!" the lady said hanging her head.

"Did your parents want you to become and addict?" I asked.

"Of course not!" she snapped.

"So you hid it from them and made the decision for yourself, is that correct?"


"Your children will do the same thing! They will make that decision! And what they will use to make that decision is what you have taught them about making big decisions like that! Unless you have not taught them, then they will use whatever information that comes their way."

"When you made the decision, what had your parents taught you?"

"Almost nothing," she said. "We never discussed it at home. My parents just assumed that I would make a good decision because we had strict family rules and a strict curfew. They never even brought it up."

"Wow, how well did that strategy work with you?" I asked. "It seems to me that their strategy led to you making a bad decision for yourself. What have you taught your kids to do when they are offered drugs?" I asked.

"Well, I haven't actually instructed them in what to do," she replied, "because I thought I could protect them from ever being offered!"

"Oops!' I replied.

Our children need to be taught exactly what to do and what say when drugs are offered! Here a few steps:

  1. Say the word NO! Practice saying the word "NO" at home!

  2. Have other ways to say "NO!" I don't do that!" Hold up your hand in a nonverbal sign for no! A tool parents can use at home when discussing many decisions whether it is hitting a sibling, lying, failing to do chores, is "In our family we . . . . . " Specifically, to this topic, "In our family we do not use illegal substances."

  3. Be emphatic! Say, "No means NO! What do you not understand about that? I don't do drugs!"

  4. Name the illegal activity. "That is minor in possession of a controlled substance!"

  5. Name the penalty for the crime. "Are you aware that the amount that you have is considered a felony! A felony is a crime for which the punishment is at least a year in a state or federal prison!"

  6. Suggest an alternative activity. "Hey, let's go over to my house and get the video camera and make our own music video!"

  7. Have a way out of the situation. Teach them a secret word for your family. Then if they are ever in a situation where they are uncomfortable, have them call your number and act like they are ordering Pizza. Have them mention your secret word and that will be your sign to go and get them out of the situation. Nobody will be any the wiser because you always have to give the address to the pizza delivery truck!

  8. Role play making decisions at home before the big decision. Talking is only one way of communicating with your children and often it is the least effective. Role play: create the back seat of a car, have them pass around a "joint" and practice the ensuing conversations which will include "Are you a chicken?" "Everyone is doing it." "You won't be an addict." Then have your children use 1-7 above. Teenagers will balk at this activity but the only way to arm your kids with the ability to pull from their brains the tools to make good decisions is by ensuring those tools are in their brains in the first place. Role playing does this.

Our children are going to make all of the big decisions in their lives, so…
we must teach them how to make those decisions!

For More information on helping children to make good decisions about staying Drug-Free please visit our Warning Signs pages of our Parenting with Dignity website.

Here are links:

To our website: 
And to Warning signs: 





Time out . . .

Technology perils...

Many of us rely on technology to run our lives, but all of us can identify with this modern rendition of a comic classic.  Enjoy!


ABBOTT:   Super Duper computer store. Can I help you?

COSTELLO:   Thanks. I'm setting up an office in my den and I'm thinking about buying a computer.

ABBOTT:    Mac?

COSTELLO:    No, the name's Lou.

ABBOTT:    Your computer?

COSTELLO:    I don't own a computer. I want to buy one.

ABBOTT:    Mac?

COSTELLO:    I told you, my name's Lou.

ABBOTT:    What about Windows?

COSTELLO:    Why? Will it get stuffy in here?

ABBOTT:    Do you want a computer with Windows?

COSTELLO:    I don't know. What will I see when I look at the windows?

ABBOTT:    Wallpaper.

COSTELLO:    Never mind the windows. I need a computer and software.

ABBOTT:    Software for Windows?

COSTELLO:    No. On the computer! I need something I can use to write proposals, track expenses and run my business. What do you have?

ABBOTT:    Office.

COSTELLO:    Yeah, for my office. Can you recommend anything?

ABBOTT:    I just did.

COSTELLO:    You just did what?

ABBOTT:    Recommend something.

COSTELLO:    You recommended something?

ABBOTT:    Yes.

COSTELLO:    For my office?

ABBOTT:    Yes.

COSTELLO:    OK, what did you recommend for my office?

ABBOTT:    Office.

COSTELLO:    Yes, for my office!

ABBOTT:    I recommend Office with Windows.

COSTELLO:    I already have an office with windows! OK, let's just say I'm sitting at my computer and I want to type a proposal. What do I need?

ABBOTT:    Word.

COSTELLO:    What word?

ABBOTT:    Word in Office

COSTELLO:    The only word in office is office.

ABBOTT:    The Word in Office for Windows.

COSTELLO: Which word in office for windows?

ABBOTT:    The Word you get when you click the blue "W".

COSTELLO:    I'm going to click your blue "w" if you don't start with some straight answers. OK, forget that. Can I watch movies on the Internet?

ABBOTT:    Yes, you want Real One.

COSTELLO: Maybe a real one, maybe a cartoon. What I watch is none of your business. Just tell me what I need!

ABBOTT:    Real One.

COSTELLO:    If it's a long movie, I also want to watch reels 2, 3 and 4. Can I watch them?

ABBOTT:    Of course.

COSTELLO:    Great! With what?

ABBOTT:    Real One.

COSTELLO:    OK, I'm at my computer and I want to watch a movie. What do I do?

ABBOTT:    You click the blue "1".

COSTELLO:    I click the blue one what?

ABBOTT:    The blue "1".

COSTELLO:    Is that different from the blue "W?"

ABBOTT:    The blue " 1" is Real One and the blue "W" is Word.

COSTELLO:    What word?

ABBOTT:    The Word in Office for Windows.

COSTELLO:    But there are three words in "office for windows"!

ABBOTT:    No, just one. But it's the most popular Word in the world.

COSTELLO:    It is?

ABBOTT:    Yes, but to be fair, there aren't many other Words left. It pretty much wiped out all the other Words out there.

COSTELLO:    And that word is real one?

ABBOTT:    Real One has nothing to do with Word. Real One isn't even part of Office.

COSTELLO:    STOP! Don't start that again. What about financial bookkeeping? You have anything I can track my money with?

ABBOTT:    Money.

COSTELLO:    That's right. What do you have?

ABBOTT:    Money.

COSTELLO:    I need money to track my money?

ABBOTT:    It comes bundled with your computer.

COSTELLO:    What's bundled with my computer?

ABBOTT:    Money.

COSTELLO:    Money comes with my computer?

ABBOTT:    Yes. No extra charge.

COSTELLO:    I get a bundle of money with my computer? How much?

ABBOTT:    One copy.

COSTELLO:    Isn't it illegal to copy money?

ABBOTT:    Microsoft gave us a license to copy Money.

COSTELLO:    T hey can give you a license to copy money?

ABBOTT:    Why not? THEY OWN IT!

(A few days later) ...........

ABBOTT:    Super Duper computer store. Can I help you?

COSTELLO:    How do I turn my computer off?

ABBOTT:    Click on "START".......




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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. . .

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