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,




Striving is Necessary – Need to Teach it.

Fostering virtue in ourselves and in our children requires that we are most intentional and committed to making it happen.  It takes effort and focus to grow in virtue.

I believe that striving is something that is modeled for us, and something that takes practice and encouragement.  It is easy to rescue or be rescued and there are times when that is appropriate, but there are also times when it is in the best interest of an individual to learn stick-to-it-tiveness.

I see that it makes as much sense to teach your child how to read, or how to get dressed, as it is to deliberately instruct our children in working hard at something, persevering, goal-setting, and seeing something to completion.  I think parenting includes showing our children the value of striving; the fruits, value, and results.

After a child works toward something, take time to review what they did, why it was meaningful, how they grew, and what it mind mean for the future.  Let them know how it connects to being a servant of the Lord and one’s neighbour.  Point out what it does for character and stability.

All of us benefit from striving, but boys and young men in particular need to experience “climbing mountains.  Coming into manhood requires the ability to strive.

I believe our present society has lost some sense as to the necessity of pushing through when it things are easy.  We are in a world that looks for things to come easy and where entitlement is reinforced in education, media, and even in some churches.  We are not the better for it.

Be mindful of being supportive, positive, and kind, but also be certain that rescuing our children from the gift of effort robs them of something beautiful.

God bless you all!  I welcome your thoughts.


ah2h long

Responding to Authority

We’ve become way too uncomfortable with authority.  We all need a healthy response to those set in authority over us.  Today I want to address what I see as a crisis in parenting.  Many moms and dads are unsure of their authority in the home, worried that they will damage their children if they exercise their God-given mandate to be in charge.  They hold back when it comes to enforcing standards, manners, rules, good behaviour, and first-time obedience.

Now, I’m a believer that there is no need for punishments or rewards when attachment is in healthy shape, but I also know that in those early formative years, children need to know who is in charge and what is expected.  We rob them of freedom when we leave formation to the wind.  As is modeled by our heavenly Father, we know that our freedom comes from know right from wrong, and where the boundaries are.  Firm expectations anchor us.  A great security, and ultimately greater independence, comes about from honouring authority, obeying, taking our cues from, and responding to the one we love.

Permissive parenting leads to disrespect, uncontrolled behaviour, and frankly, chaos in the home.  Godly, steady, and consistent parenting, leads to peace, contentment, and vibrant relationship.

I always welcome your comments or inquiries.  If you are interested in a talk on first time obedience and can get a group together, I’m happy to travel your way.  🙂

ah2h long

The Home School, High School, Freak Out

OK, up to now you’ve found your home schooling groove and you’ve been doing just fine.  Suddenly one night, your head on the pillow, you start thinking about HIGH SCHOOL!….and thinking….and fretting…and doubting…and finally, you FREAK OUT!  You start to wonder about your abilities and convince yourself you’ve probably ruined them for life!  You must be behind!  What about Chemistry – argh!!!  Oh no! You barely made it through high school math!   What about getting a diploma?  You don’t want to close doors!  Imagine being a “door closer”…terrible! Hubby isn’t so sure home schooling will work anymore.  Your Aunt Betty is a high school English teacher.  At Thanksgiving she had asked you if your eldest child knew how to write a research essay.  You faked your way through that one.  That is it, you’re just a big fake aren’t you?  Pillow panic!  You sit up, you feel the weight of this mighty decision.  What about graduation ceremonies!??  Can you really deprive  your child of one of these big moments in life?  Putting her/him in school, really?  Is this the solution to it all?

I get to look in the rear view mirror now after 22 yrs. of home schooling behind me.  I now have four adult children who all did high school at home, with two graduating post-secondary (College and University) and with one in First Year Nursing.  The fourth got his locksmithing diploma and is my hands-on trades guy. This blog post isn’t going to address it all, but allow me to make a few  points.  You know me, I’ll frame them in the form of questions.

  • Who set you on the path to home school?  Why did you respond, “yes”?
  • Why did you choose to home educate?  Have these reasons changed?  Does this stage in your child’s life change your answers?
  • How come so many thousands upon thousands of home schoolers have successfully educated their children right through to graduation successfully?  What makes you different?
  • What are the results and fruits you see in those that have home schooled through high school?  What evidence do you have that you need to switch paths at this stage?
  • Do you know your options regarding post-secondary entrance, diplomas, and graduation celebrations?  What have other people done?  Have you asked them?
  • Have you looked at all your options, tutors, mentors, programs, online courses?
  • How will sending your child to school impact faith, relationship, family life, learning, and future success?  Are you sure your goals for your child match the results school can offer?
  • Are you having an emotional reaction rather than one founded on accurate information?  Is this a trust issue?

Out of my entire time home schooling, the best years were the high school years.  All my hard work came to ripen, bloom, and show forth in dramatic ways.  My mature children were at their best and I didn’t miss a moment.

I am open to giving a talk on Home Schooling Through the High School Years if anyone would like to host a gathering.  I’ll share my excitement for staying the course!