Make a Gentleman of Your Son

Isn’t it swell when guys have good manners?  I haven’t stopped believing that boys can be real gentlemen.  The world gives a contrary message, but I don’t buy it.  Parents just need to be intentional about formation.  What does that look like?  Here, for your consideration, are some ways we’ve worked it into daily life at the McDonald home.

  1. First up, Dad models what it is to be an attentive man- how a man treats his wife is watched and imitated by his little men. Example, example, example, has the most impact.
  2.  Between brothers and sisters, there is an expectation of respectful exchange.  There is discouragement of the popular message that siblings are a pain to each other.  Children don’t discount their brothers and sisters naturally.  It is an attitude that is encouraged, with stereotypical statements that reinforce disrespect.  The “annoying” little sister, or “pest” brother, doesn’t have to exist in the home.  Instead, young gentlemen and ladies stick up for those they love.  No verbal put-downs.
  3.  Boys learn to open doors for Mommy and his sister(s).  They step up to the plate early on, starting even at three or four years old.
  4. Young fellows are asked to let a lady of any age enter a room first.  A show of the hand, gently motioning  the lady forward is something a caring young man can be shown.
  5. The example of assisting girls and ladies with carrying parcels, bags, or whatever, is something they can grow in as they grow in strength.
  6. Offering a lady a chair is becoming more of a rarity.  Lets show our boys the value of this courtesy.
  7. Offering a lady his hand or arm in escort, be it when trekking through snow, across the wet or slippery pavement, up an incline, or wherever there is call, is noble and chivalrous.  Let your son(s) be “knights” in the modern way. 🙂
  8. Learning to have polite conversation and using appropriate words, even when upset, is a cultivated skill and grace.
  9. Looking another in the eye is important.  It sometimes takes practice.
  10. Learning how to shake another man’s hand with good firmness, and to make self-introduction is one mark of a gentleman.

Knowing social graces such as ordering meal with politeness, how to push a lady’s chair in, and pouring a glass of water (or such) is very helpful.  Learning the basics of ballroom dance is a bonus. 🙂 Our boys can practice pushing a lady’s chair in and good table manners.  Helping a gal with her coat, or the many little ways to honour the opposite sex will give a young man a greater appreciation of how special is the gift of grandmothers, mothers, daughters, and sisters.  It all takes a little work, but over time can be accomplished.  This gives great pride to a young man to have these things under his belt.  It builds confidence and ease in social situations. Don’t underestimate how polished our children can become.

Of course a real gentleman is sincere and cares for those around him.  Being a man of God isn’t just about the externals.  What is fostered interiorly shines through on the outside.

In all this, it isn’t only about what a young man is, but very much also about what a young lady is.  My next article will be about the very thing – Make a Lady of Your Daughter.

🙂  It is fun, beautiful, and brings greater attachment, respect, peace, and joy to the home – let us all lift standards a bit and enjoy the results!

I welcome feedback or communication at :

God bless you.



How to be Confident in Parenting

I often tell parents to be confident.  Trust that as God has called them to the task of being mother and father, He has equipped them.  It isn’t always easy to believe that you have what it takes to be a good parent.  What interferes?

Here is an incomplete list of reasons:

Perfectionism.  We can get pretty uptight worrying we don’t do everything just so.  Perfectionism robs us and our children of enjoying success.  A decision to give our best efforts and leave it at that, brings freedom.  We reach high, put our energy into what we do, and then accept the results.  God fills in the gaps and short-comings.  We learn the most when we fail – imperfection is necessary to true growth.  Rest assured.

Comparing.  Comparing hurts confidence.  We will always find someone else who seems to be doing a better job at parenting than we are.  It isn’t fair to compare anybody (yourself included), because each soul is unique to God.  Be the gift you are – do not insult the Holy One by looking elsewhere for your security.  Comparing often leads to negativity – while we compare, we lose sight of what goes well in our homes.  We miss all the good in what we do.  No more comparing.

Focusing on What you Cannot Control.  There is a lot of interference in a day.  It can bog us down as parents, taking away our confidence.  Give attention to what you can really control and let the other stuff go.  Zero in on being present in the moment with your child(ren).  Choose with intentionality how you will respond to the mess-ups.  When things go wrong, it doesn’t mean you have to be a mess.  Keep your focus.

Lack of Knowing.  Do you know who you are?  Survey yourself.  What do you believe?  What actions come out of those beliefs?  Have you anchored to your beliefs?  On paper, write statements of truth – boundaries, goals, reasons for your parenting choices, and the decisions that come out your convictions.  Husband and wife do well in looking at “identity”.  Who are we as individuals and as a family?  Make universal statements.  “In our family we believe ______________________”.   “These are our reasons for __________________”.   Plant your feet.  Be who you are.  If you face questions from others, be prepared to confidently share that “this is the best thing for our family.  I know you can respect that.”

As I said, this is an incomplete list of what interferes with our ability to be confident, but hopefully it gives you some zip and encouragement to forge ahead.

I had a great time speaking at AHEA and talking with so many about parenting.  You are good moms and dads and your vocation as parents is a gift to the world.  I thank you for your noble and beautiful marriages, your openness to life, and the profound love you have for your children.

By the way, it isn’t what they call you, it is who you answer to!

I’ve been asked about one-to-one help.  Of course, I am at your service!  What kind of fee?  I leave it to donation.  Email me if you wish to meet.

In the Lord and attaching hearts to home,







The Importance of Unity, Mom and Dad

Children need one message from Mom and Dad.  When it comes to attachment, children are healthiest when they see and understand Mother and Father as one.  A primary attachment is exactly that – in the singular.  When children are placed in a position where they must choose opposing or differing messages from their parents, they are put in the situation of embracing one message and rejecting the other.  This is most unsettling for the child.  It can create internal chaos, confusion, and insecurity, especially when there is a consistent pattern of disagreement and contradiction.

Pretty blunt eh?

As parents we have all made the mistake of presenting inconsistency in our message.  One says, “No, you cannot stay up later.”  The other says, “Come on, he’ll be fine, let him watch the game with me.”    One says, “You can go out and play once your chore is done.”  The other says, “Give her a break.  Her friend is waiting.”  One gives in, the other is undermined.  Mom says no, Dad says yes.  Dad says no, Mom says yes.

What happens to the child?  They will choose to attach in a greater way to one parent and lesser to the other.  Their loyalty will be given in a primary way to one and secondarily to the other.  The child will take their cues from one and lesser so from the other.  The temptation to play one parent off the other becomes a reality.

We are designed to attach, to have a numero uno love bond with both Mom and Dad.  When there is unity of purpose, message, in discipline, and in decisions – the child is free.  Contentment, clarity of expectations, peaceful understanding, and security are rendered to the child when Mom and Dad speak and act as one.

Do not misunderstand me.  I am not referring to healthy differences of opinion being expressed in front of children.  Children must learn what respectful disagreement looks like.  I speak here of parenting – when Mom and Dad give direction, act in authority, provide guidance, or come to a decision,  these must be done in unity.

If you think you’ve got an unhealthy pattern going on in your home, know you are not stuck and changes can be made.  Children heal quickly and are very resilient.  There are good ways of bringing attachment back to health.  God always gives fresh starts.

If you would like more information on this topic, are looking to heal the wounds of division, or have a comment, please email me at


Authentic Praise for Our Children vs. Ambiguous Praise

I remember my father saying, “Therese, I can count on you.  When you say you’ll do something, you follow through.”  I’ve never forgotten these positive comments.  I believed him and I was renewed with a desire never to let him down because of what he said to me that day.

He praised me and it was real.  The message was specific.  Those words moved me to future action, penetrated deeply, and prompted me to rise to his perception of me.  I wanted (and want) to be the person who can be counted on and will follow through on my commitments.  Real and specific.

Other types of praise just don’t do the same thing at all.  The “good job!”, or “that’s the way”, or “I’m proud of you”, can give a boost, but there just isn’t enough there to root into.  A child may be encouraged, but the idea of having something to lock onto for life is absent.  We’re looking for something authentic and sincere – a standard, a choice made, and virtue, a sacrifice made, or a goal achieved.

“I’ve noticed that when I call you, you come right away.  When you can’t come right away, it is always for a good reason and you communicate that to me. Thank you, Jim.”   What message has Jim received?  It is the kind he’ll store and cherish and what to live up to.

“Julia, when you felt shy in the group the other day, I couldn’t help but notice how you worked up your courage to say hi to Anne.  You were brave and I know you must have made her feel good too.”

“I’ve noticed you having more patience lately.  Today I know you felt annoyed with Rob, but you chose to have self-control by saying, This isn’t worth getting upset over. I think I’ll read for awhile. You seem to be doing that sort of thing more often.  This is very mature behaviour. ”

This kind of praise is powerful in a child’s life.  It truly can be life-changing as the child absorbs the praise and sees the truth in their choices.

Do not exaggerate, keep sincere and be accurate.

When there is cause to correct.  Your child will trust you and be more likely to respond optimistically to that correction as you’ve been genuine with  your words.

I’ve appreciated the comments of those following the blog.  Keep your emails coming.  It is nice building community!

I’m looking forward to presenting my talk this Saturday on organizing your home and organizing your life, 2 – 4PM in Mundare at Chesterton House (the Old Mundare Hospital).  Email me your rsvp:  Child-minding is available upon request.

Attaching Hearts to Home,




Three Things to Do When Your Child Argues for Screen Time.

Parents bring freedom when they are confident in their guidance.  A child naturally wants boundaries, even if they complain about them.

A parent knows when a child is overindulging in screen time.  They know when there is too much “computer” going on, too much gaming, too many videos or movies, or too much T.V. and way too much time thinking about the next time they get it.  Mom and Dad get to the point when they are tired of their child’s deal-making, coaxing, pleading, negotiating, and even reward-bent cooperation.

Sometimes for peace-sake, and for greater compliance and performance, a parent will set up rewards and punishment around screen access.  This creates a new cycle of entitlement and conflict.  What can be done?

Allow me to focus on three effective ways of restoring sanity around screen time:

  1. Replace screen time with family time.  Create activities such as reading aloud, board gaming, camping, swimming, walking, singing, dancing…whatever brings joy or should bring joy to your family.  Make it happen.  At first there may be resistance, especially if there is a struggle with screen addiction.  Still, make it happen.   If parents are overly tied to their devices, this may take some concerted effort and discipline.  Be sure to schedule specific times for alternative activities to better guarantee it will happen with regularity.  The fruits of one-to-one , relational, time together, building the love-bond is marvellous!  Do make it happen. 🙂
  2. Screen time is a gift.  Make it a random gift.  Instead of guaranteeing computer time, for example,Saturday afternoon 1 – 3PM), don’t make any arrangements with children.  They should not earn or gain screen time of their own accord.  This creates a false attachment and anticipation of screen time.  Choose instead to surprise your child randomly with a gift of screen time.  “Alan, I’m giving you a gift this morning. Why don’t you take 1/2 hour on your favourite game?  I’ve made some popcorn too!” This creates great appreciation rather than an attitude of entitlement.  Treat screen time as similar to when you make a favourite dessert or when surprise your child with a trip to the park.  Experiencing screen opportunities as unpredictable and out-of-the blue, will enable your child to forget about it and lessen focus on access to it.
  3. Inform yourself and your child with the facts of screen time usage.  Learn about how it rewires the human brain and produces responses that are comparable to drug usage.  Share with your children the impact on health, fitness, focus, ambition, initiative, faith, etc. helps them understand and buy into a balanced life style.   Take time to educate even wee ones.  Make choices meaningful and connect them to real life.  How do we foster good self-discipline?  Why is it important to make good use of time?  How are we affected by the intrusion of screen time?  Have the discussions.  When we are real about life choices, we are more likely to be more intentional about how we make our way through our day.

You are in charge, you are the anchor, you are the source of good formation in your children and the one to set boundaries that lead to joy, a peaceful home, and freedom to live life more fully.  Unplug and make your phone, your laptop, your tablet, your TV, your screens, your slaves.  Be the master.

If you need help with this in your home.  I do offer help to families facing screen attraction/addiction.  If attachment has been affected by technology in your home and you want to restore it, I offer my service to you at:

All my services are by donation.

In Christ,





Therese Talk Coming Up – Organizing Your Home, Organizing Your Life.

Would you like to join me in Mundare at Chesterton House (Old Mundare Hospital) for a talk on organizing, March 25th , 2 – 4PM.  Clutter depressing you?  Feeling buried by your schedule?  Does your day eat you up, leaving you feeling like you’re yanked this way and that?  Paperwork?  Over-committed? No time for people that matter?  Feel like you are wasting your time and accomplishing too little?  Are you looking for solutions; forging a new path of good organization and prioritizing ?  Are you depressed by your lack of planning and order?  Please come and look at making a practical, fresh start!  rsvp:

Therese Talks – Time to Catch Up Again

Since putting more effort into Attaching Hearts to Home, I’ve begun to receive calls and emails requesting more information on what talks I have to offer and how a person can host a presentation in their home.

Allow me to highlight a few topics available to you (more to come in future posts):

Restoring Attachment and Healing Relationships (Identifying Attachment Problems) – There is a lot  in our world that competes with attachment between parent and child (and person to person).  Damaged attachment is at the root of much.  It manifests as non-cooperation, resentment, emotional distance, and rebellion.  In this talk I reveal the signs of damaged attachment, what leads to it, and ways to heal it.

Men, not Permanent Boys – How do we raise boys to become men?  How do we shuck modern trends that create lasting immaturity and instead create a climate of true masculinity?  In this talk, I’ll share the things to avoid in male formation, how to deal with computer game addiction, and how to grow virtue in our boys and young men.

The Classics – How to Choose out Books for the Home – Reading aloud and discussion is at the heart of a solid education.  I’ll share from my experience (22 yrs. of home schooling), my favourite titles and why they make their mark.  What value is there to the classics and what makes a good classic?

If you are interested in having me speak on any of these topics or those listed under TALKS on the tool bar, I’m happy to come out for a minimum of a dozen people.  I have set my fee at 20 dollars per person or couple if within the Edmonton and surrounding area.  If you are in Central or Southern Alberta, I will have to have travel expenses covered in addition to the talk fee.  If travelling out of the area (North, South, East or West), I’m happy to come but would require billeting overnight, please.  If you would like a double-header talk over a two day period, that can be arranged!  🙂

Contact email: or phone 780-764-2044

God bless you!


ah2h long



Words That Build Attachment

Simple statements can truly grow the love bond between parent and child; words we can write on the heart and make beautiful in the memory.  All of us recall those stinging moments when words hurt us.  We often carry them through life.  So too we carry with us words of affirmation and praise, words of encouragement, and words that made us feel closeness to the ones we love.

Allow me to share today some statements that build relationship and create strong attachment.

” I like talking with you.”

“You are lovely company.”

” You came at the right time.”

” I was hoping we would have time together today!  This is great!”

” I look forward to tomorrow when we’ll (insert activity), together.”

” This has been a super day because we worked side-by-side.”

” Show me what you’ve made.  You are so interesting.”

” Tell me what you think.  You always have something worthwhile to share.”

“I missed you!”

Remember the value of gentle eyes and kind words.  They are transformative!

Feel free to contact me with your thoughts and insights.

In Christ,