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The Response-Able Parenting Newsletter 22
November 5, 2003


Welcome! This is a free newsletter on becoming a Response-Able parent, raising Response-Able children.



My mission is to strengthen families and improve parent communication skills (including my own), by helping parents learn practical, useable verbal strategies for raising responsible, caring, confident children.





1. Quote [back to top]


"When we make a child 'share,' it is not sharing."

----Magna Gerber


2. Humor [back to top]


I have proof that there is no life on Mars. It isn't on my teenager's cell phone bill.


3. Spirit Whisperer Contemplation [back to top]


Imagine that you are an open letter to your children. What messages are you sending? What is being read? Are you corresponding with intentionality?


Subscriber comments, ideas, and concerns are valued. Email your

comment to



4. Bumper Sticker [back to top]


Spotted on a Ford Taurus at a truck stop on I-94 near Battle Creek, MI:

their babies


5. Make a Difference in Your Community [back to top]



Take a giant step toward helping the parents in your community. Become a skilled facilitator of the Parent Talk System by attending our February Training of Trainers Seminar.

Join the growing number of people from around the world (USA, Mexico, Spain) who are learning how to help parents raise responsible, caring, confident children. We will help you learn to put the highly effective PARENT TALK skills into the hands of parents in your church, school, or organization.

You will leave this three-day training with the skills and confidence to touch the hearts and minds of parents in your community!

Parent Talk System Trainings:

1. Ithaca, NY
November 10, 11, 12, 2003
Trainer: Chick Moorman
Contact: Gina Tzizik at to request a detailed brochure and registration materials. Please include your mailing address.

2. Grand Rapids, MI
February 5, 6, 7, 2004
Trainers: Chick Moorman and Sarah Knapp
Contact: Chick Moorman at to request a detailed brochure and registration materials. Please include your mailing address.


6. The Wisdom of Children [back to top]


"You should never pick on your sister when she has a baseball bat in her hand."

----Joel, age 12


7. Facts [back to top]


60% to 80% of adult sex offenders begin offending as adolescents.

Found in the background of most adolescent sex offenders is a history of physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, or family violence.


Privacy Statement: Under no circumstances do we sell, trade, or exchange your email address, ever. It is safe with us. Always!


8. Article: "You Might Be Right, But I Don't Think So" [back to top]


By Chick Moorman

"Austin, will you help me set the table?" I inquired, as I took a bowl of corn out of the microwave oven and placed it on the kitchen table.

"Sure," he replied, and he headed out of his bedroom in my direction. I returned to preparing the rest of our meal.

"Here," I told him, "you can start with the plates." I handed him three plates to add to the bowl of corn, which was the only item on the table.

The task completed, Austin returned to me at the sink area and asked, "What's next?"

I was about to say, "You decide," one of my favorite Parent Talk phrases, when I noticed the bowl of corn had been turned upside down.

"Austin, you spilled the corn," I said.

"No, I didn't," he immediately shot back.

"Austin, you were the only one over there."

"I didn't do it."

"I understand you don't think you did it, but it couldn't have been anyone else. Austin, it's not a big thing. You're not in trouble. You're not a bad person. The problem is easy enough to fix. No one else was even over there. So you must have done it somehow."

"Grandpa, I would have known if I had done it. I didn't do it."

"Austin, stop and think for a minute. The corn was sitting upright before you put the plates down. You walked over and distributed the dinner plates. When I looked back over there 30 seconds later, the corn was upside down. You must have done it inadvertently."

"I don't know why you don't believe me. I didn't do it."

"Are you 100 percent sure?"


"Would you be willing to consider the possibility that you might be mistaken?"


"How about a 5 percent chance that you did it accidentally and didn't realize it?"

"I didn't do it. I would know if I had."

This was not the first such incident of this nature involving my 11-year-old grandson. Austin was also not the one to put the empty milk carton back in the refrigerator. He didn't leave his bike in the driveway. Someone else must have put the TV channel changer in his room. He didn't spill sticky stuff on the kitchen floor or miss the center of the toilet. Also, he wasn't the one who used up the toilet paper without replacing the roll, even though no one else was home at the time.

Austin doesn't lie. But he does go unconscious sometimes. After experiencing several incidents similar to the corn caper, I have come to believe that Austin sincerely believes he is not responsible in these cases. More troubling to me than the unconscious behavior that leads to his denial is his disinclination to admit that there is even the slightest chance he could be wrong.

Austin is a bright boy. He knows a lot of information about a lot of things. So he thinks he knows what is right, what is best, and what should be done as well as what happened and why. His stance in life is that he is right and others are wrong. He strongly resists moving from that world view.

I believe being right doesn't work. Interpersonally, it is not an effective maneuver. So after the upturned corn incident, I set out to help Austin appreciate the value of an open mind and suspended judgment.

I also believe that if you want a behavior, you have to teach a behavior. So I decided to teach Austin language that would communicate the possibility that he may not be right and that would demonstrate an open mind.

I brought out the easel I use for seminars and turned to a clean page. I numbered from one to five and wrote the following sentences:

1. "There's a possibility you could be right, but I don't think so."

2. "I think I'm right, but there's a chance you could be."

3. "That might be true, but I sincerely doubt it."

4. "I'm not 100 percent sure, but close."

5. "I suppose it's possible, but it's not likely in my view."

6. "The chances of that are slim. Real slim. So I don't think so."

After explaining what I was doing and why, I challenged Austin to memorize the sentences. When he thought he had them, I quizzed him by calling out numbers; I said the number and he said the sentence. After seven minutes of this drill, he knew the sentences by heart.

During the next three days I implemented the second phase of this project. At random times I would call out a number, and he would voice the corresponding sentence. At the end of the three days, it was impossible to stump him.

Then came phase three. When I spied french fries on the floor under his chair during dinner, I said, "Austin, you dropped some fries."

"No, I didn't," he replied.

"They're under your chair, and I believe there's a good chance that they are yours. And please give me number three."

"That might be true, but I sincerely doubt it," he reluctantly replied.

When I noticed that someone had left the garage door open, I asked him if he had forgotten to close it.

"Nope. It wasn't me," he said.

"I thought I saw you putting your bike away a few minutes ago. Maybe you thought you closed it and didn't. And let me hear sentence number five," I said.

"I suppose it's possible, but it's not likely in my view," he answered, with a disgusted look on his face.

After several similar incidents, I asked Austin how he felt Project Open Mind was going.

"It's not working," he said. "I only say those things because you make me. I don't really believe them."

"Are you sure?" I questioned. "I think I've heard you use those sentences a few times without my even prompting you."

"You might be right," he said, "but I don't think so."

Chick Moorman is the author of "Parent Talk: How to Talk to Your Child in Language That Builds Self-Esteem and Encourages Responsibility" and "Spirit Whisperers: Teachers Who Nourish a Child's Spirit." (Available from Personal Power Press at (toll-free) 877-360-1477.)


9. Book Report [back to top]


There are occasions when you absolutely know you are right. You know that you're supposed to turn north, and your partner thinks you should turn south. You know the White Sox played the Dodgers in the 1957 World Series, and your partner thinks it was the Yankees vs. the Dodgers. You know the vacation is going to cost only fifteen hundred dollars, and your partner thinks it will cost double that figure.

It is at times like these that it's important to keep in mind the adage, "Being right doesn't work." Being right, or acting as if you are right, creates emotional separation and puts distance between you and your partner. Comments like "You're wrong about that," "No way," "That's impossible," 'You're mistaken," and "You can't be right" not only make you right, they make your partner wrong. When you make your partner wrong, you don't build goodwill, connectedness, or happy relationships.

If you liked this passage, you will love the book "Couple Talk: How to Talk Your Way to a Great Relationship" by Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller. Call (toll-free) 877-360-1477 to order your copy today.


10. Question and Response [back to top]


Mr. Moorman,

My mom bought my husband and me the book and cassettes, "Parent Talk." We enjoyed reading the book and are having some deep conversations about it. I have one important question. When do you draw the line? For instance, my daughter chooses a behavior, I use the Parent Talk you suggest, and she still chooses to misbehave. In this instance she knows what she is doing is inappropriate. When do you draw the line?

Mother of Three

Hello, Mother of Three,

You can draw the line wherever and whenever you choose. I like to draw my lines early. I am not inclined to remind a child five times that throwing a truck across the room is inappropriate. I say once, "Trucks are for rolling on the floor or for carrying cargo." If it happens again, I say, "If you choose to throw the truck, you will be choosing to have the truck in time out (on the shelf) for the rest of the day." If the truck is launched again after that PARENT TALK, I say, "I see you choose to have the truck in time out." Then I take action by picking up the truck and putting it away. One important tenet of the Parent Talk System is to talk less and act more. You and your husband get to decide the correct amounts of talk and action for your family.

Your mom must have seen me at one of my seminars.

Best wishes,

Chick Moorman


11. Managing Your subscription [back to top]


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To find out more about workshops, seminars, and keynote addresses presented by Chick Moorman contact him at toll free, 877/360-1477 or email


Copyright 2003 Chick Moorman Seminars, all rights reserved. Share this with your circle.


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