I sincerely believe that it is far more beneficial and far less costly to help a child build confidence than it is to fix an adult who has little or none.

What is a friend?

Everyone wants to have friends.  Friendships are important.  Good friends help us learn and grow, they help us build confidence, they help us enjoy life.  When we are surrounded by people who care about us, we are able to navigate through life’s ups and downs and feel their love and support.

Children especially need friends to help them grow emotionally, socially and morally.  They need mainly people their own age, although children can become friends with those who are older or younger.  Many parents try to be a friend to their child, thinking they are being loving, but this will only stop a child from becoming independent and responsible.  Parents should be a parent, a mentor, a teacher, someone who is there to guide them, support them, discipline them and mostly love them.  Parents should be a good example to their children, helping them learn how to become a good friend to others and encouraging them to find positive friendships.  Without friendships, children may easily become depressed, lonely and lack ambition which can result in poor health, poor performance in school or work, failed marriages and difficulty coping as an adult.

What does it take to be a good friend?  It comes from a combination of teaching and experience.  Good friends are able to :

  • communicate their feelings in a positive way
  • understand the feelings of others
  • show empathy
  • be trustworthy
  • not gossip or spread false rumours
  • take responsibility for their own actions
  • solve problems and resolve conflicts
  • forgive easily and not hold grudges
  • distinguish right from wrong
  • make good choices
  • stand up for what they believe
  • withstand bullying and understand that bullies have their own issues to deal with
  • be loyal even when a friend is hurting physically or emotionally
  • get along with others even during difficult times
  • accept differences in people
  • own up to their mistakes and not blame others
  • have fun and enjoy life


If you want to have good friends, you have to be a good friend.  Be a good example to your children and teach them to be a good example to others.   Discourage them from having friends who continually hurt them through gossiping, excluding them, ignoring them or trying to get them to do things they know is wrong.  Even having 1 good friend is better than having 20 bad friends.  You are the biggest influence in your child’s life so make sure you are influencing them in a positive way.

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What kind of parent are you?

To Build (or Break) a Child's Spirit - by Rachel Macy StaffordThe way you parent your children mainly depends on what kind of environment you have been raised in.  Most parents will use the same methods of parenting used by their parents and grandparents even though they may have hated the way they were raised.  Every child wants to please their parents and they will try to model their behaviour.  They may even believe that this is the way normal parents behave if they  have never encountered a different approach.

There are basically 3 types of parents. The terms vary depending on what information you are reading, but I like to use the terms powerful, permissive and responsible.  Each one has a different impact on the child as to what kind of parent/child relationship they have and what type of parent they will become.  Think back to your own childhood and determine what kind of parent you were raised by.

  1. POWERFUL parents are those who make their children behave by controlling them with angry words or forceful actions and punishments.    They make most decisions for their child and allow them little freedom.  They use their size to intimidate their child and may ignore, harass or even physically abuse them.  Children of powerful parents behave out of fear rather than love and will eventually grow to resent their parents, often rebelling in some way.   They will grow up with insecurities and fears and will likely raise their children using anger and intimidation.
  2. PERMISSIVE parents are those who allow their children to do almost anything they want.  There are few or no rules and parenting is inconsistent.  They make things as easy as they can for the child, often doing things for them that the child could easily do themselves.  This robs the child of self-respect and self-esteem and invites rebellion.  Children of permissive parents often are confused and make poor choices because they have no guidelines to follow.
  3. RESPONSIBLE parents are those who convey love and show respect to their children and other people.  They provide their children with opportunities to make their own choices and hold them accountable.  They use consistent, loving discipline and lead by example.  They encourage, support and protect their child and help them develop good self-worth.  Children of responsible parents learn how become a responsible adult by watching and modelling the positive characteristics of their parent.

Powerful and Permissive parents have a negative affect on their children.  Most of these children will struggle in school, work and in their relationships.  They will likely become the same type of parent with their children or in some cases, they can go to the other extreme.  Children raised by powerful parents might become permissive parents because they don’t want their children to be controlled and will allow them complete freedom to do what they want, falsely believing this is showing love.  Children raised by permissive parents might become powerful parents because they believe that children need rules and may go way overboard in taking control, causing the parent/child relationship to suffer greatly.  Neither method works well.

The Responsible parent is the best method of parenting.   The parent works with the child to build a loving relationship.   Mistakes are made but lessons are learned and the child develops a positive perspective on life.

It is also extremely important that both parents use the same parenting method.  There needs to be continuous communication between the parents so they discuss and work out any problems.  When parents use different parenting methods or the parents are divided on any matter, parenting WILL fail.  Children are a lot smarter than we think they are.  They will divide and conquer every time.  Make sure you are working together as a team to raise your children in the best way possible.  And if you make a mistake?  Well, you are human and nobody is perfect.  Apologize, start over, do whatever it takes to keep those lines of communication open!

So what kind of parent are you?  And what kind of parent do you want your child to be?


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Looking for the right mate?

Have you found the right mate?  You know, the one who treats you the way you expect.  The one who brings home flowers and always remembers your birthday.  The one who showers you with attention and compliments you often.

Well, this kind of mate is hard to find.  When we are dating, we often put our best food forward and treat other people with kindness and respect.  We want them to see our good points and usually work very hard to impress them.  Then we get married and expect life to be great with this wonderful person that we have fallen in love with.

As the months and years go by, things change.   Work, kids, household chores, finances and other things start getting in the middle of our relationship and we stop treating each other the way we used to.  The love that drew us together is lost in the busyness of life.  Communication breaks down and when we do have a conversation, it ends up in an argument. Other things take priority and we start to wonder what we ever saw in this person.   We decide that the marriage is just not working out and start thinking about separation or divorce.  We even start looking around for ‘the right mate’.

Before a relationship even gets to this point, we should pay attention to the warning signs that something is wrong and try to determine what changes need to be made.  Instead of giving up and blaming your spouse for not living up to your expectations, look at how BOTH of you are acting.

  • What is your spouse doing that is different?
  • What are you doing that is different?
  • What are your expectations of each other?
  • Do you blame your spouse for all your problems or do you take responsibility for your own actions?
  • Are you working TOGETHER to make the marriage work or are you working independently looking for things that only make you happy?

Many problems in marriages are the result of unrealistic expectations.  We determine what we want the other person to do and when they don’t meet these expectations, we feel unloved and unappreciated.    Our selfish nature takes control and tells us that we don’t deserve to be treated this way.

If you want success in a marriage, it doesn’t necessarily come from finding the perfect mate.   You can look for your entire life and you will never find a perfect person.   We don’t have to find the right mate, we have to work hard to be the right mate.  If you leave your mate looking for someone who is better, you are wasting your time because there will be something wrong with everyone you meet.   We all have imperfections and flaws and when we love someone, we can learn to accept them.    We are all different and this is what makes life interesting and exciting.

If your spouse is abusive, then you should consider the situation carefully and make the appropriate choices.  However, if you are not communicating or spending a lot of time fighting or avoiding each other, then try to work on your problems TOGETHER.  You already know what you are dealing with and if you give up and find someone else, you’ll just have a new set of problems to deal with.

Marriage isn’t easy but many people give up way to easily on a relationship that could have worked out if both parties had just tried to meet each others needs instead of trying to find their own happiness.

So instead of looking for the right mate, ask yourself – Am I the right mate?

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Think nobody likes you? Wrong!

Never assume people won’t like you.  There are literally millions of people in the world who wish they could have a friend just like you.  Research shows that about 75% or more of the world’s population is lonely and would love to have someone reach out and talk to them.   Like you, they also believe that nobody could possibly like them or want to be their friend.

If you lack confidence and have low esteem, it can be difficult to even try to talk to other people.  Fear of rejection can hold you back from taking that first step and initiating a conversation with someone you don’t know.  It takes courage to approach people but it is well worth the risk as most people will respond in a positive way.   Look around and find someone who seems lonely, smile and say hello.  If you have time, start a conversation.  Be friendly, ask them some basic questions.   It might just brighten their day and lessen the load they are carrying.

Of course, there is the possibility that some people will ignore you or reject you because they may feel so bad about themselves and have closed themselves off to forming any friendships at all.   Their negative response shouldn’t stop you from continuing to try to connect with people.   And there will always be people who won’t want to be your friend because of personality conflicts, jealousy or other issues.   You can never hope to win everyone’s approval.

So if you think that nobody likes you, you are wrong!  If you believe this, then you probably don’t like yourself and you are sending out negative vibes that tell people not to like you!

  • Learn how to build your confidence so you can feel comfortable initiating a conversation.
  • Increase your esteem so you will feel good about yourself.
  • Discover your strengths and abilities.
  • Be thankful for everything you have.
  • Say positive statements or affirmations every day.
  • Show love and kindness to everyone you meet.

When you feel good about yourself and send out positive vibes to other people, they will feel comfortable and enjoy being in your presence.   If you want to have friends, you have to be a friend.

If you would like more information on building confidence and increasing your esteem, visit my website at

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Listen to your children and acknowledge their feelings

Youth today want to be heard.  They want to know that others understand them and that they have something important to offer in life.  They need their parents and other significant people around them to indicate their value by listening and acknowledging their feelings.  When they feel like someone is really listening to them and really cares about how they feel, they will experience love and grow into mature, responsible adults.

Parents want the best for their children but too often we believe that what we say to them is more important than what they say to us.  We tell them how to feel, how to act and how to think.  Then when they don’t listen or do things the way we think they should, we show our disapproval through correction and punishment.  This just tells them that their thinking is not right and they shouldn’t feel the way they do.  They will believe that something is wrong with them and their esteem will become greatly damaged.

It is important that we take the time to listen to our children and try to understand their feelings.  This doesn’t mean we have to approve of everything they say and do or allow them to do something that will harm them in any way.  We just have to let them know that it is okay to be different and build a close, trusting relationship with them by loving and supporting them.

Here are a couple of examples:

  • Your 6-year-old likes to climb up on the furniture and you are afraid they are going to get hurt so you keep warning him to stay down.  However, one day, he climbs on a chair and it tips over, throwing him on the floor and hurting his arm.  He cries out in pain and you say, “I don’t feel sorry for you.  I’ve told you to stay off the furniture.  Now go play and stop crying.”  What does this tell your child?  Does it tell him that you love him and don’t want him to get hurt?  No, it tells him that he is stupid and you don’t care about his feelings.  Instead, you should empathize by saying, “Oh no, you must have hurt your arm.”  Give your child a hug and then talk to him about why he shouldn’t climb on the furniture.   This will help build his confidence.
  • Your parents are coming to visit and you don’t have a guest bedroom, so you tell your teenage daughter that she will have to give up her room and sleep on the living room sofa.  Your daughter is very angry with you and becomes withdrawn.  What message have you given your daughter?  That you have total control over everything she owns and her feelings don’t matter at all.  Instead, you should talk about how difficult it is for her to share her room for a few days and tell her how sorry you are that you don’t have another option.  Then offer to help clean up her room and maybe sit and chat with a glass of hot chocolate.  This will show her the importance of doing something nice for another person.
  • You come home from work and find a big hole in your dining room window.  On the floor lies a baseball that looks a lot like one your 12-year-old son plays with.  You know that he walks home with some friends that like to meet and play baseball after school.  When your son walks in the door carrying his baseball bat, you confront him loudly with, “What did you do to our window?”  Your son was going to tell you what happened but your angry words communicated to him that you have already found him guilty and that you don’t trust him.  He yells back, “Nothing, I don’t know what you are talking about”, then goes into his room and shuts the door.  Your outburst has turned off any communication and tore down his esteem.  You should have calmly asked what happened and given him the chance to respond.   You don’t really know if he was guilty of doing the damage or it was one of his friends.

Many problems could be avoided by showing our children that we care about their thoughts and feelings.  If we keep open the lines of communication for all the small things in life, they will talk to us about the important things.  This also works in all our relationships, so make sure you are listening to people and acknowledging their feelings.  We all need to be heard and cared about!


Where does low esteem come from?

Studies have shown that low esteem generally is something that is developed from childhood.  Children learn from the people and things around them as they grow.  They interact with their parents, siblings, extended family, neighbours, friends and everyone around them, gathering information and generally copying what they see and hear.  If children grow up in a negative environment, which can include negative attitudes, abuse or neglect, they can develop a negative perspective about life.   Constant negativity conveys the message to children that they have little or no value and this will cause them to have low esteem.  If nothing changes in their environment, they will carry this with them throughout life.

It is important that we take the time to help our children build esteem so they can become responsible adults.   We can do this by:

  1. Becoming a positive role model ourselves.   Use positive self-talk and be confident in your own abilities.  Approach life with a positive perspective so your children will model your words and actions.
  2. Show love and respect to your children and everyone around you.   They will treat others the same way you treat them.
  3. Have reasonable expectations of your children and others.  Allow them to experience failure and support them when they fail.  Help them learn from their mistakes and encourage them to try again.
  4. Listen to your children.  Show them that you care about their thoughts and feelings.  Communicate to them that you are there when they need you.
  5. Set reasonable boundaries and allow your children to have some power over their lives.   Teach them how to make good choices and how to handle consequences when they make bad choices.

Children are not born with esteem.  It is something that they learn.  So make sure you teach them well and help them build good esteem.  The world constantly tries to tear down our esteem and makes us feel bad about ourselves.   Every day we are bombarded with messages telling us that we aren’t good enough.  By getting a strong sense of self before they are bombarded by society’s unrealistic expectations,  they will know that they ARE GOOD ENOUGH!

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What does it mean to be a good mom?

Parents love your children.   When they become adults and leave home for school, work or marriage, you will wish that you could turn back the clock.  Time is so precious and so are your children!

  • Spend time with them and show them how much you care about them.
  • Surround them with love and support.
  • Encourage them to always do the best they can.
  • Create special memories to hold in their hearts.
  • Help build their confidence
  • Listen to them and show them how valuable they are
  • Teach them solid moral values and guide them to make good decisions
  • Be a positive role model

Here is a video that shows what it means to be a good mom – not a perfect mom, just a good mom!


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Are you the perfect spouse?

Everyone wishes they had the perfect spouse.  Someone who could make them happy.  Someone who would cater to all their wishes.  Someone who was always there when they needed them.  Wouldn’t this just be the best thing that could happen!

Imagine the perfect wife:

  • she has a good character, always treating other people with kindness
  • she takes care of her husband’s needs and is never critical or complaining
  • she does the shopping and cooks wonderful meals
  • she keeps the house spotlessly clean and does the laundry
  • she spends lots of time caring for her family
  • she helps her children with their homework
  • she plans special occasions, weekend getaways and family vacations
  • she pays the bills and budgets the family finances
  • she takes care of her appearance, eats proper foods and exercises regularly to keep herself healthy and looking good
  • she is always learning new things and developing her talents
  • she is active in the community and the church
  • she is always in a positive mood and is pleasant to be around

It would be great if women could manage all these great character traits, but realistically it isn’t possible.  There is no such thing as a perfect wife yet some women will pursue this impossible goal until they become totally frustrated and depressed.

Now let’s imagine the perfect husband:

  • he makes lots of money so his family will never lack anything they need or want
  • he is strong and courageous, never fearing to do anything for his family
  • he fixes things around the house so everything is always in great shape
  • he sits and listens to his wife and children  when they are experiencing difficulties and is understanding of their situation
  • he spends lots of time with his family doing fun activities
  • he remembers special occasions with cards, gifts and surprises
  • he tells other people how proud he is of his family
  • he is gentle, kind, honest and loving towards everyone
  • he is a positive role model for his family

Of course we know that husbands couldn’t possibly fulfill all these requirements, yet some wives believe that they should and will continue to be disappointed in their husband’s behaviour.

We need to realize that people can’t be perfect.  There is no perfect spouse, no perfect child, no perfect parent, no perfect friend, no perfect anything in this imperfect world.  It doesn’t matter if society tells us that we can become the perfect person if we just eat the right food, get on the right diet, buy the right clothing and accumulate enough possessions.  Perfection is not possible!  Pursuing perfection will only result in frustration and failure!

Acceptance is the key word.  Learn to accept others for who they are instead of who we want them to be.  Learn to accept yourself for who you are instead of comparing yourself to others.  Lower your expectations and you will eliminate a lot of unnecessary stress in your life.




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What is love?

We all have different ideas of what love is.   Some of us can really feel love and share it with others.  Some of us only see love as another word that means nothing.  For anyone who has grown up surrounded by love that is openly and genuinely expressed, they will understand love to be a warm, caring connection to others.   For anyone who has grown up surrounded by some type of dysfunction or indifference, they may not understand what love really means.

Love can be understood as a feeling of affection for a family member or friend, a deep emotional attachment to a member of the opposite sex or the desire to do acts of kindness for another human being.   Love is often the fuel that keeps people together in tough times.

Everyone needs to feel loved and be able to give love to others.  Love is a powerful emotion and without love our lives are meaningless.    What is the true meaning of love?

  • love is patient and kind, showing goodness to others
  • love is not jealous of other people, it is pleased when others are honoured
  • love is not boastful or proud, it accepts what it has
  • love is not rude, it honours others by being considerate and courteous
  • love is not self-seeking. it is interested in assisting others
  • love is not easily angered, it is willing to endure insults and nasty comments
  • love keeps no record of wrongs, forgetting and forgiving what has been said or done
  • love does not delight in evil, taking part in things that are wrong, instead rejoices in the truth
  • love protects others by concealing or hiding the faults of others
  • love trusts and tries to believe the best
  • love hopes that all things will eventually work out for the best
  • love perseveres, it never gives up

These are tough standards to live up to but we should always try our best.  Remember, love is powerful and love never fails.  It just goes on and on for eternity.

Love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence. ~Erich Fromm

The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread. ~Mother Teresa

  • Love is a symbol of eternity. It wipes out all sense of time, destroying all memory of a beginning and all fear of an end. ~Author Unknown

Love one another and you will be happy. It’s as simple and as difficult as that. ~Michael Leunig

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What is the purpose of a family?

Family PortraitThe dictionary describes a family as:

  • a group of people who are related to each other
  • a person’s children
  • a group of related people including people who lived in the past

This certainly is a limited description, yet sadly, it perfectly describes a lot of families today.   We are often related to other people but this doesn’t mean that we live in the same house or even have good relationships.   We are so busy trying to find personal happiness and become independent that we fail to see how important our family really is.

Here is my description of a family.  A family should be:

  • a group of people who love and protect each other
  • a group of people who care for each other during good and bad times
  • a group people who are there when you need them
  • a group of people who set a positive example for each other
  • a group of people who help us learn about our emotions and how to deal with them in a positive way
  • a group of people who help us build good relationships
  • a group of people who can trust each other
  • a group of people who teach us the truth
  • a group of people who set healthy, safe boundaries
  • a group of people who communicate openly and honestly
  • a group of people who work together to solve problems

In my opinion, a family does not have to be related to each other by blood.  A family can be anyone who loves you and takes care of you.   Who is in your family?  Can you add anything to my description?

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