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The Response-Able Parenting Newsletter 34
December 17, 2004


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]


"Do give books--religious or otherwise--for Christmas. They're never fattening, seldom sinful, and permanently personal."

--Lenore Hershey


2. Bumper Sticker [back to top]


Spotted in a social worker's office at Harbor High School in Highland, MI:

"Hate is not a family value."


3. Spirit Whisperer Contemplation [back to top]


What if happiness is a muscle? What if it shrivels up from non-use? Will you flex your happiness muscle today? Will you use it when it requires effort, or only when it is easy?


4. Food for Thought [back to top]



By Chick Moorman

Raymondo and Luis grew up in a family that decorated a Christmas tree as one of their holiday traditions. Actually, the family didn't decorate the tree. The mother did. The boys' participation consisted of watching while their mom placed the ornaments and arranged the tinsel.

Mrs. Gonzalez liked the tree decorated a certain way. She wanted small ornaments at the top, bigger ones at the bottom. The tree needed a balanced look, she told them. The tinsel needed to be draped so that it appeared symmetrical. Too much tinsel on one side created an unpleasant look.

Raymondo and Luis wanted to help. Every year they asked if they could add some ornaments and tinsel to the tree. One year their mother relented and let them assist, but she didn't like the way the tree looked and chose to do it over after the boys went to bed. The results of their efforts didn't match her mental model of the perfect tree. Ever since that experience, Mrs. Gonzalez has decorated the tree while other family members looked on.

Each year, the Christmas tree in the Gonzalez's living room is beautifully decorated. The ornaments are neat, trim, and precisely arranged. The tree regularly attracts compliments from friends and relatives.

This past holiday season, Raymondo and Luis showed no interest in the tree-decorating ceremony. Mrs. Gonzalez chalked their apathy up to emerging adolescence. "What a shame," she told her husband, "that the boys don't want to participate in this important family ritual." "It sure is," her husband agreed.

5. Article: "Is There Really a Santa? " [back to top]


Tips for Answering the Santa Question

By Thomas Haller and Chick Moorman

You might get the question when your child is four years old or when he is five. She might wait to ask it until she is seven. Regardless of when it comes, will you be ready for, "Mommy (or Daddy), is there really a Santa?"

What are you going to say when you hear the Santa question? Will you stumble over your words? Will you tell a half-truth or perhaps lie? Will you be tempted to avoid answering the question in an attempt to preserve the mystery and your personal enjoyment for one more year?

Whether you are ready or not, the question is coming. How you respond can help your child make a smooth transition into accepting the information you give them. Use the suggestions below to guide you in your preparation.

1. Before answering your child's Santa question directly, ask clarifying questions. Determine his present frame of reference and how much he has already been told by peers or siblings. The fact that he has asked this question indicates that he has been thinking about it and needs further clarification. Ask him what he has been thinking, who has given him information, and what he feels about what he already knows. From the answers you get to these questions, you will glean what information needs to be clarified and where you need to begin.

2. Once you have information on what your child already knows, ask, "Do you really want to know?" Some children don't want the answer. It's enough for them to simply talk about what they know now. Their goal is to verify what they presently know. They may return later to learn more. Some children take away what they now know and do not return for further information. They hold onto the mystery of Santa in their own way and preserve it into adulthood.

Most children, however, want to know. If they want verification and explanation, their answer to "Do you really want to know?" will be, "Yes." Their "yes" is often accompanied by a sad look.

3. When children want to know about Santa, tell them the truth. If they say they want to know, don't attempt to preserve the mystery. Be open, honest, and gentle with your words. Remember, you are revealing a lie that the entire family (not to mention a large percentage of the population) helped you keep.

4. As you begin your explanation of why the Santa story was created, focus on the importance of giving. Move the attention from Santa and concentrate your discussion on the attitude of giving from the heart. Here is where you can talk about your family's religious views. Explain the "reason for the season" from your family's moral, ethical, and religious point of view.

5. Acknowledge your child's emotional reaction. She may be angry, hurt, or sad that her parents have been lying to her for years. She may be disappointed that there is no Santa. Don't make her wrong for having these feelings. Console and comfort her. Communicate empathy by saying, "I can see you feel sad about this," or "This is really a big disappointment for you, isn't it?" Allow her to grieve the loss of a fantasy and of a part of her childhood. Inviting your child to write in a journal or draw a picture to communicate her thoughts and feelings is useful at this time.

6. Treat this moment as a benchmark, a milestone, a developmental transition in your child's life. Help him recognize it as an indication that he is growing up. Help him make the transition from sadness about the loss of childhood into the next stage of his development, that of being someone "in the know" about Santa.

7. As a final suggestion, we encourage you to find a way for each child in your family to contribute to the spirit of giving so the focus stays on giving rather than on receiving. Ask him or her to respect other children and allow them the opportunity to discover the answer to the Santa question themselves. Refrain from asking your child to join you in preserving the lie. Instead, ask him or her to join with what your family has established as the "reason for the season."

If you take these suggestions to heart, it won't matter when the Santa question comes. Whether it comes after your trip to the mall to visit Santa, the night before Christmas, or in the middle of July, you will be ready. Regardless of your child's reaction, your preparedness will carry you through.

Thomas Haller and Chick Moorman are the authors of "The 10 Commitments: Parenting with Purpose," available from Personal Power Press at toll-free 877-360-1477. They also publish a FREE email newsletter for parents and another for couples. Subscribe to them at Visit and and


6. Article Reprints [back to top]


We have many articles like the one above that are available for reprint by your school, PTA, church, or other organization. To check out the complete list of articles, go to There is no charge for reprinting these articles, but we do ask that you use our byline at the top and publish our trailer at the end of each article you reprint. The approved trailer is:


Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller are the authors of "Couple Talk: How to Talk Your Way to a Great Relationship" (available from Personal Power Press at (toll-free) 877-360-1477). They have also coauthored the soon-to-be-released "The Ten Commitments: Parenting with Purpose."


7. Holiday Vacation Ideas [back to top]



By Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller

One of the commitments we ask parents to make to their children in our book, "The 10 Commitments: Parenting with Purpose," is to remember that experience can be messy. We urge them to allow children to learn from making messes and the cleanup which follows. To that end we offer you several ideas for things you can do with your children this holiday season that are messy, fun, and incredibly valuable learning experiences for everyone involved.

Before we list the activities, we want to point out that while experience can indeed be messy, it can also lead to learning. Depriving children of the opportunity to make messes decreases their range of experience and limits their learning opportunities. Parents who allow children to make messes and hold them accountable for cleaning up extend opportunities that exceed those given to children who are required to be consistently neat, clean, and quiet.

Mess making also affords another important opportunity for parents--the chance to connect. Bonding occurs when you get down on the floor and get messy together. The mess is impermanent. It can be cleaned up and removed. The experience will stay with your children forever.

1. Clean Mud

Rip toilet paper into small strips. Grate Ivory Soap. Mix together with water and you have clean mud. Play with it on the kitchen floor or in a tub on the kitchen table. Great for building, designing and frolicking.

2. String Painting

Take an 18-inch piece of string and dip it in children's paint. Then apply it to paper. Use different colors to be creative while painting pictures, making holiday cards, or designing your own wrapping paper.

3. Make Plastic

Use one cup of water to three packets of gelatin. Bring water to a boil and mix in the gelatin. Add 2-3 drops of food coloring and stir for 1 minute. Pour mixture onto coffee can lids or Tupperware lids and let stand for 1 hour. Remove the mixture from the lid and cut with cookie cutters or a dull knife. Dries hard in 2-3 days. The shapes dry unevenly. It is interesting to watch how nature changes the shape by twisting and turning them. Makes creative tree ornaments.

4. Indoor Snowball Fight

Make "snowballs" out of crumpled-up paper and throw them at each other. The more balls you make, the more fun this activity becomes. This is a high-energy activity and is ideal for bringing the family out of boredom, depression or lethargy.

5. Toilet Paper Adventure

Place 2 or 3 rolls of toilet paper on a dowel rod at one end of the house. Grab an end of one roll and take off running. Wrap the toilet paper around furniture and each other. Break through it, throw it, and roll it into huge balls. Laugh and be silly.

6. Paint a Mural

This activity is ideal for adolescents and teens. Brainstorm possible picture ideas. Shop with your teen to buy the desired paint. Move all the furniture in his bedroom to one side, freeing up one complete wall. Let him paint a huge picture on the wall. Be sure to include a lesson, instructions, carpet covering, old clothes, and cleanup materials.

7. King/Queen for a Day

Rotate days and let different family members be the King or Queen. The person in charge for the day gets to set rules, make up schedules, and do the planning.

8. Living Room Camping

Move furniture and set up camp. Pitch a tent, make a fake "campfire" out of paper, eat hotdogs and s'mores. Hold a family slumber party and do outdoor activities only in the living room.

9. No Manners Night

Have an evening meal where no manners are required. Do not have spaghetti for this meal. Discuss how it is the same and different from other meals. Do more listening than you do talking.

10. Recycle Gift Wrappings

Save the boxes and paper that gifts come in this holiday season. Challenge your children to construct a city, park, fort, room, or other structure using the recycled materials. Stand back and watch their creativity flow.

Experience is indeed messy. As a parent, you get to choose the degree of mess you're willing to tolerate. Remember that at the same time you are choosing the range and depth of life experience in which your child will engage.


Multiple copies of "Parent Talk: How to Talk to Your Child in Language That Builds Self-Esteem and Encourages Responsibility" can be obtained at discount prices by calling (toll-free) 877-360-1477 or emailing


8. Did You Know? [back to top]


A. Did you know we have a new book out? "The 10 Commitments: Parenting with Purpose" is now available from Personal Power Press, 877-360-1477,, and bookstores everywhere.

B. Did you know books ordered today will arrive in time for Christmas? We suggest "The 10 Commitments: Parenting with Purpose." Order by calling toll free, 877-360-1477.

C. Did you know we are looking for people who are committed to helping parents raise responsible, caring, confident children? We are offering two Parent Talk System trainings to teach people to facilitate this exciting and helpful model. Grand Rapids, MI, February 3-5 and Santa Barbara, CA, April 4-6. Send for details at

D. Did you know this is the 34th issue of The Response-Able Parenting Newsletter? All back issues are available at

E. Did you know we have a new website to showcase our new book, "The 10 Commitments"? Check out

F. Did you know we never sell, trade, or distribute your email address for any reason, ever?

G. Did you know we have two sister publications? A newsletter for educators and another for couples are available by requesting that you be added to those mailing lists at

H. Thomas Haller and Chick Moorman are available and willing to present at your next PTA, church, or organizational meeting. GRACE-Full Parenting, The 10 Commitments, and Parent Talk: Words That Empower, Words That Wound are currently the most requested workshops. Contact Tom and Chick at or


9. 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 2004 Chick Moorman Seminars, all rights reserved. Share this with your circle.


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