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Kathy Marshack News

A Bodybuilder Makes a Difference in the Lives of Senior Citizens

Monday, July 28, 2014

senior getting physically fitDo you sometimes wonder if you matter or can make a difference and a real contribution? Recently I read a heart-warming story about a champion body builder, Mr. Addo, who uses his physical fitness skills and the values from his youth to make a real difference in the lives of others.

You’d expect someone who has won Mr. Ghana bodybuilding championship twice to open up a gym for the elite. Instead, Mr. Addo has found his niche helping senior citizens regain their balance, mobility and strength. As the story explains, “He was raised with the values that improving the lives of one’s elders is of the highest virtue. He brings that to life among this group of retired adults. In his own words he says, ‘They remind me of my grandmothers and aunties back home.’”

This unlikely combination of bodybuilder and the frail elderly has changed many lives for the better. Together they have created a community of people who care about each other, and they work to make each other stronger physically and emotionally.

We can all make a difference in the world when we use our talents to improve the lives of those around us. This giving spirit nurtures both the giver and the receiver. What values and talents do you hold dear, and who can benefit from them? Even our weaknesses can be used to strengthen others. When you find the answer to those questions, you’ll find happiness and purpose. Join us on my Facebook page, ( and let’s continue the discussion about people who inspire you to achieve your greatest potential.

Robbie’s List of Helpful Back to School Resources for Kids with Special Needs

Thursday, March 06, 2014

back to school resources for special needs kidsRecently I felt so honored that one of my young readers reached out to me because, after reading my article, Help Your Special Needs Child Prepare for the New School Year, he wanted to share additional helpful online resources that parents and teachers can use to benefit children with special needs. (His tutor, Kelly Campbell, from helped him.)

This young man clearly wants to make a difference in the world that he lives in. His name is Robbie. He chose to do research for a school project called “How to Prepare for the Start of School”. While doing his research, he compiled a list to share with me, so I could share it with you. I am very happy to do so today.

Robbie’s List of Back to School Resources for Children with Special Needs

Back to School Resources This is a list of links from to learn about resources for health (checkups, immunizations, healthy eating, physical fitness) and school (school bus safety, financial aid, homework help, supplies).

20 Apps for Play-Based Learning This is a list of 20 (apps) games with a brief description for each, pricing, and which device they work on.

Homework Help This offers a comprehensive PDF that lists why homework is beneficial and how special needs children can get the most from it. School-Related Information on a Safe Site This is a list of links for information that teachers and parents can use when teaching children about Art, Exercise, Fitness and Nutrition, Government, Health and Safety, History, Jobs, Math, Money, Music, Online Safety, Reading and Writing, Science and Social Studies.

Parent's Guide to Finding Safe Online Communities for Kids These are guidelines that alert parents to potential dangers online as well as tips for finding safe online sites that comply with Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

I’m sure you’ll agree that Robbie has compiled some very helpful information that parents and teachers can utilize when teaching children, especially those with special needs.

When a young person takes this kind of initiative I am very impressed. Clearly Robbie is one of those people who will make a difference in the world. It only takes one small kindness such as his to make a difference.

Please leave a comment below (simply click on the comments link below and submit your comment) or share your thoughts on my Facebook page so Robbie can see how all of you feel about his very much-appreciated contribution today.

What Are You Really Teaching Your Children About Money?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

When children are young, they don’t understand the concept of what money is and how it works. Offer a little one the choice between a dull dime and a bright shiny nickel, and they’ll pick the nickel because it’s pretty and bigger.

When a child doesn’t learn the real value of money, as an adult they will struggle with money problems, which may escalate into relationship problems. Either they’ll undervalue it and squander it, thinking they can just ask for more. Or they’ll go to the other extreme of attaching too much importance to it sacrificing their own health or relationships for it.

A healthy view of money sees money as a means of exchanging what you have for what you want or need. To get money, you expend resources, such as time, accumulated knowledge and energy, to earn it. How can you instill good financial habits in children? What money values do you want your children to live by? An article written by a financial advisor, Wayne Von Borstel, made me think about this topic today. He had some very good advice.

First and foremost parents teach by example. Your children will copy your attitude toward money and the way you handle it. This is especially true if you run a family-owned business

You can discuss with your partner these questions to determine what model you’re giving to your children:

Do I argue over money with my spouse? Do we have a budget? Do we spend beyond our means, wracking up huge credit card debt? Do we make monthly deposits to a savings account? Do we make charitable donations? Do we keep funds especially earmarked for emergencies that can’t be dipped into for any reason? Do we save money for a vacation as a family? Have we set up a college fund for our children? Do we require our children to contribute toward any of these?

Helping your children see the real value of money also involves actively participating in making and spending money. When they earn the money they spend, they’ll make the connection that the amount available is limited by the time and effort put into earning it. This contributes toward creating a good work ethic. And as you guide them in how to spend money wisely, perhaps entrusting them with a specific amount for buying school clothes, or saving a portion in a savings account or college fund, they learn good financial habits.

What do you do when you want to train your children in money management, but your spouse has different ideas? Are you searching for conflict resolution techniques that really solve the issues over money in your family? If so, then contact my Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA office and set up an appointment.

If you’re an entrepreneuerial couple I address parenting and financial disagreements in my book, Entrepreneurial Couples: Making It Work at Work and at Home. You can also read Wayne Von Borstel’s entire article, 8 Ways to Maximize a Child’s Financial Potential, here.

Help Your Children Cope with Tragedies

Thursday, December 20, 2012

In light of the recent tragedy at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, I thought it would be appropriate to share a few tips for parents. Whether you live in Connecticut or on the other side of the world, we are all effected. Parents often times struggle to find the right words to explain tragedies to their children. Children are not blind to what is going on in the world. They watch it on TV, read it on the Internet or hear adults discussing it.   

Here are a few tips to help you discuss these sensitive issues with your children:   

Draw them out. Ask them what they have heard and how it makes them feel. Be prepared to give brief and honest responses, but avoid going into detail.

Stay calm. Wait until your emotions are under control before speaking with your child. They will pattern their own behavior after yours. That doesn't mean you have to be devoid of emotion, but if you are overly upset, they may not listen to a word you are saying.    


Be available. Let them know you are there to talk whenever they need you. Get back into a routine as quickly as possible and spend some quality time together as a family. Maybe as a family, look for a way to memorialize those who have lost their lives. 

Reassure them. Help them appreciate that these tragedies are not common, but they do happen. Explain to them what is being done to prevent these types of things from happening again. Focus on the positive things that can come out of a tragedy. 

At times, children might need the assistance of a mental health care professional to help cope with a tragedy. Click here to read how to pick a therapist for your child. If you live in the Portland, Oregon/Vancouver, Washington area, contact my office to set up an appointment. 


Parents: Help Your Child Fight Obesity

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 12.5 million children between the ages 2-19 are obese. If you are a parent, these number are frightening. Childhood obesity is linked to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and emotional pain  

How can a parent help a child ward off obesity? Here are a few simple tips:

Make it a family affair. Even if the rest of the family is healthy, all family members must be on board. If the child feels isolated and is the only one who has to exercise or eat differently, it will only add to their low self-esteem. Talk about "family goals" and how to implement them. This includes diet and exercise.    
Associate food with fuel. Teach your child that food is fuel for their body. The better they eat, the better their bodies will work and they will be able to do more fun things. 

Make if fun! Changing a lifestyle into a healthier one isn't always easy or fun to say the least, but in order for it to resonate with children, it must be fun. Can you make exercise into a game? 

Give choices. It's easy to start patrolling your child's food or exercise choices. Give your child some measure of freedom. You can do this by giving them choices. For example, they need to exercise. Ask them if they would like to go for a walk or ride their bike. Exercise is not an option, but what they do for exercise can be. had an inspiring story about a young girl who lost 65 pounds. I highly recommend the article! The parents set a fine example in helping their daughter and I also appreciated the suggestions from Dr. Denise Wilfley, director of the Weight Management & Eating Disorders Program at Washington University School of Medicine.   

For more information, visit Mind and Body Health - Healthy Weight Control

Parents: Are You Aware of the Dangers of Social Media to Generation M2?

Friday, November 30, 2012

Is your child highly tech-savvy and between the age of 8 – 18? According to a new article on this makes him/her a member of "Generation M2". A 2010 Neilsen survey estimates that the average teenager sends an astonishing 3,400 texts a month – or more than 100 a day!   

Concerned parents want to know if all this time using technology, especially on social media, is healthy. The American Academy of Pediatrics' has the same concerns. Their council on communications and media led a panel called "Social Media: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly," at their last annual conference. Chairman-elect, Dr. David Hill, stated, "As pediatricians who are trying to help children behave in ways that keep them healthy and safe, we have to pay a lot of attention to what's happening in social media."   

 There are two main concerns that parents need to monitor when it comes to their child’s behavior on social media.   

The first concern is too much time being drained away from other activities. 

Statistics from the Kaiser Family Foundation show youth spending close to eight hours daily in front of various electronic screens. This can take time away from more important activities like sleeping, homework, exercise and family time. Parents need to set limits on the amount of time their kids spend online, on their phones and playing video games.


The second concern is inappropriate behavior such as bullying, sexting and revealing private information.  

The American Academy of Pediatrics encourages parents to monitor their children closely, especially during early adolescence. According to Dr. Hill, ”It's fair to say at any given moment, 'I can look at your computer; I can look at your phone’."  Older adolescents need regular communication about what is acceptable and what isn’t. They also need to be made aware of the long-term negative consequences of posting something inappropriate online.  

Parents, talk to your children about the positive and negative impact technology and social media can have on their lives. Explain to them the dangers that are involved. If your teen seems withdrawn or depressed, seek the assistance of a mental health care professional. Visit Am I a Good Parent for five key areas to master to be a good parent. These steps will help you deal with many challenges that may arise when you’re a parent.

Prepare for Traveling with an Autistic Child

Monday, November 05, 2012

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 1 in 88 children are on the autism spectrum. Because of this staggering statistic, there has been a major push to provide awareness throughout the community. In response to this growing awareness, the travel industry is taking note. 

Traveling with an autistic child can be overwhelming to both child and parent. In order to ease the stress of traveling, certain airports in the country are providing "mock boarding" experiences. This free program offers a trial run of what it is like to buy tickets, go through security, and buckling up on a plane that never takes off. Washington Dulles International Airport as well as Atlanta, Boston, Bridgeport, Manchester, Philadelphia, and Newark have offered this special program.  

TSA also provides a hotline - TSA Cares (1-855) 787-2227. Call 72 hours before your flight to let them know that you are in need of assistance. Try requesting use of the handicap line. Also, alert your airline. Keep in mind that not everyone will be compassionate to your situation. While awareness is growing, there are still many who do not understand. Do you best to be prepared, but realize there is only so much you can control. 

For more information and travel tips, I recommend reading The New York Times Article - Testing Autism and Air Travel. You may also be interested in my soon-to-be-released book,
 “Out of Mind - Out of Sight: Parenting with a Partner with Asperger Syndrome,” click here to download a sample chapter. 

Childhood Trauma Linked to a Troubled Future

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

"What do you want to be when you grow up?" Children are asked this question from a young age. Would you ever imagine a child telling you they would like to be an alcoholic, obese, suicidal, or cancer victim? Hardly! It sounds preposterous. Sadly, many children might have these issues looming in their future. 


In the past, the blame for these issues was placed on the material or physical background of a child. For example, maybe they grew up in the ghetto or had a poor diet. There has now been a shift in understanding. Childhood trauma, including psychological trauma, has a major impact on the future success of a child. Divorced parents, a parent in prison, a mentally ill parent, or abuse are all factors that can cause emotional stress and trauma. (Read article - The Psych Approach)


This doesn't mean that if you were a child who experienced these types of traumatic events, you will automatically have the serious issues I mentioned above. The risk is just greater. What does this mean then for these children? They must get the assistance of a mental health care professional immediately. If help is sought out promptly, the child will be in a better position to gain the coping skills that are necessary for a successful future. Parents, there is no need to be ashamed if you need to get help for your child. Taking this step is showing love for your child and it will help them now and in the future. 


For more information, visit Parenting - Am I a Good Parent?

Eating Disorders Skyrocket Among Children

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Childhood should be a time of fun, laughter, and a carefree attitude. Sadly, children are being diagnosed with eating disorders and the numbers are skyrocketing. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, hospitalizations for eating disorders for children under the age of 12 from 1999 and 2006 rose a shocking 119%. Children are worried about being fat. What is causing this to happen to children?

There are many possible factors. It can be linked to personality type. Perfectionism, anxiety, and obsessive compulsive tendencies are commonly linked with eating disorders. The media also plays a role. There is an incredible amount of pressure to look a certain way. Children are in tune with what is going on in the world. They can easily pick up on what the media is putting out there. There is also the idea of food being a reward or a punishment. This can lead to an unhealthy view of foods. (To read about a 9 year old girl's struggle with an eating disorder, read Child Eating Disorders on the Rise on

I encourage all parents to keep an eye on this fast-growing problem. Is your child losing weight? Is their hair thinning? Have they changed what they eat or how much they eat? The warning signs are there, so don't delay if you sense a problem.

Seeking out the help of mental health care professional is recommended if your child has an eating disorder. For more information on how to identify eating disorders, read Understanding Eating Disorders.

How Parents (and Stepparents) Can Help Their Children Adjust to Change

Thursday, August 23, 2012

As a young child, your son or daughter counts on you to help him or her make sense of major changes in his or her life. When marital problems can be resolved only through divorce, or when a child is expected to accept a new family configuration through blending, you must take the time to help him or her understand and adjust.

The guiding principle here is to slow down. You may be lonely, or feel you are ready to start a new relationship, but is your child ready for that? Talk to your child or children about what is happening. Answer their questions. If you notice a peculiar behavior, get

professional help. Research shows that following a divorce, children get less attention from their mothers than before the divorce, but more from their fathers. This change is neither good nor bad, but it is a change that children must adjust to. Help them with it.

One mistake you cannot afford to make is to deprive your child of the other parent. Even if you remarry, even if your ex-spouse is a derelict, children need access to that parent. They will always be attached to their parents in profound and inexplicable ways. No stepparent can take the place of Daddy or Mommy.

Stepparents need to understand this and not get their feelings hurt. As a stepmother or stepfather you can become the child's friend. You can be one of the role models your stepchild may imitate. Your stepchild may even prefer your company to that of her Dad or Mom, but in her heart her first parents come first. After all, it is through her first parents, all those years ago, that she had her first experience with discovering herself. That was a memorable period even if only in terms of feelings. Psychologists call this process bonding, and it is something that cannot be learned later in life.

It is important to honor this bond even if the child seldom has a chance to see the noncustodial parent. Being willing to talk about the absent parent, sharing photographs of happier times, and helping the child to learn the story of his or her earlier life keep the continuity of life going for the child. Your children need to know that they have a whole life that is unique to them, that has helped to shape them, that may be slightly different from yours. And they need to know that all they have been through is helping them to grow stronger and more beautiful each day—even extreme hardship. They are not bad because bad things have happened to them; and you can prove this by being willing to experience life with them.

For more information, visit Blended Families.

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