Discussion Questions: Chapter Three

Problematic Childrearing Practices

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This chapter discusses how the harm done by our parents can harm our own children, why this happens unintentionally, and what we can do. This chapter may be the most difficult to discuss in the entire book—but it will open up an understanding between group members for later dialogue. Be sure to review the guidelines in the Facilitator’s Guide.

Childhood damage begins a negative trajectory for life and harms many others in an outward spiral.

Q. What are the two most negative things a parent can do, according to this chapter, and the three rules of positive parenting to avoid them?

The surprising results [of the ACEs study] demonstrate the connection between traumatic childhood experiences and medical problems, mental health issues, and addictions throughout a person’s lifetime. 

Q. Were you surprised to learn that ACEs are a national health crisis? What did the sample survey questions on p. 31 reveal to you? (Here is a link to the full questionnaire.)

Just as it is important to know family medical history (e.g., diabetes or tuberculosis), it is equally important to know about our social inheritance. 

Q. What is your social inheritance? What destructive patterns did your parents and grandparents overcome? Think back to your childhood, to how you were disciplined. What were the consequences of this disciplinary action in the short term? In the long term?

Many parents still rely on punishment, holding beliefs such as “my parents used it and I turned out okay;” or “you have to beat your own kid or the world/the police/others will beat him/her.” 

Q. Did your parents punish you “for your own good?”  Did their parents? Is punishment a legacy in your family?

Every country has ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child except two: Somalia and the United States. Somalia had a good reason: it didn’t have a government.

Q. Were you surprised to learn about the CRC? Do you think the U.S. should ratify? Why or why not?

Hit them back;” “Don’t be a tattletale;” “My little princess;” “Boys will be boys.”

Q. Do you ever find phrases like this coming out of your mouth? Do you really believe them? Or are they just what you heard your parents/friends say?

Casual rudeness and “cute nastiness” are unfortunate parts of a permissive and open society, one that allows and welcomes comedy that is often at someone else’s expense.

Q. How do you view rudeness in your family? How do you define it? How do you respond to it? How do you talk about it?

No parent is doomed to transmit damaging patterns to the children he or she loves. Anyone at any age can change attitudes, behaviors, and habits. Anyone can make new choices that begin to change the family trajectory.

Q. Have you made any decisions to change your inherited patterns?

This question is always a good one, too:

Q: What sentence, paragraph, or idea popped out at you, or stuck with you after reading?

Reply in the Comments, below!


  • Get your ACEs Score at www.acestoohigh.org. Since the publication of this book, they have created a Resilience Score… scroll down and take that, too!
  • Plan to see the movie Resilience!

Looking for resource links? Click here.

<< Chapter 2 | Chapter  4 >>


Discussion Guide: Chapter Two

Enormous Changes in Society

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This chapter looks at how our modern lives have changed family connection. Choose some questions.

Q: What might your ancestral family structure have looked like? How has your family “acculturated?”

Q: How have you experience culture shock, culture fatigue, or future shock? Have your children experienced it?

Q: In the “Pendulum Swing” of parenting styles, how would you say the last few generations have gone in your family? What is your parenting style?

Q: In what ways are you or are you not a “Whatever Parent?”

Q: How much or how little are screens a part of your family?

Q: Does the “typical family dinner” describe your evenings with family?

This question is also a good conversation-starter:

Q: What sentence, paragraph, or idea popped out at you, or stuck with you after reading?

Reply in the Comments, below!


Plan a family dinner the way your “ancestors” (parents, grandparents, or generations back) might have gathered. Ask your kids how they think times have changed.

Looking for resource links? Click here.

<< Chapter 1 | Chapter  3 >>

Discussion Questions: Chapter One

“And How Are the Children?”

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This chapter starts with a Masai greeting that shows children’s well-being is the highest cultural value, then delivers the bad news, that a UNICEF study has shown the U.S. as the lowest on the list of developed countries when it comes to child wellness.

A list of our ugliest social problems follows, showing how crime, child abuse, substance abuse, school shootings, date rape, poverty, privilege, materialism, gender difference, immigration, sexual preference, and mental illness are all tied up in the dynamics of bullying.

So there is only one question to begin with:

Q: Are the children you know well or not well?

Additional questions posed by this chapter are:

  • How are we, as a people, teaching kids to be violent?
  • How can we, as parents, change the terrible patterns of history?
  • How do we stop enabling bullying?
  • Where, exactly is the national conscience?

These will all be addressed in the course of the book.

The chapter ends with one of Albert Einstein’s most delightful quotes: “Imagination is the preview of life’s coming attractions.” Discuss the final question:

Q: Imagine…what kind of world do you want your children to grow up in?

This question is also a good conversation-starter:

Q: What sentence, paragraph, or idea popped out at you, or stuck with you after reading?

Reply in the Comments, below!

Looking for resource links? Click here.

<< Introduction | Chapter 2 >>

Discussion Questions: Introduction

Our discussion groups have begun! We will be posting chapters weekly until the end of May. Feel free to pick up a book and read along… or download the chapter right from this post! (For a limited time.) Respond with your thoughts in the comments.

Connecting the Dots: from Bullying to Breakthrough

DOWNLOAD Introduction (english only)

This chapter opens the conversation with an overview of the book. To get off to a good start, get an overview of the group. Each person should introduce themselves and say what they want to get out of this reading group.

The first statement in this book is that bullying is a dynamic, “defining the issue as a power structure problem that can be changed with awareness, knowledge, and skills.”

Q: Have you ever been a victim of bullying? Have you ever been a bully? Were you labeled either way? Was the situation changed with awareness? Could it have been?

We give the antidote to bullying a name: Zorgos! There are many aspects to this “superpower.” The word comes from the Esperanto, “I will take care.

Q: Who do you know who embodies the idea of Zorgos? What does this word mean to you?

Answer any question you choose, or use the standard conversation kick-starter:

Q: What sentence jumped out at you? Why?

Reply in the Comments, below!

Chapter 1 >>

Looking for resource links? Click here.

The Bullying Antidote Reading Group Begins!

Izorgos stickert’s been two and a half years since The Bullying Antidote hit the shelves, and we are finally launching discussion groups! It really is a book designed to create change in groups. As a matter of fact, the stickers on the Zorgos Project books read, “Don’t read this book alone!”

Would you like to discuss The Bullying Antidote with friends, parents at your school, people at your church, among your family, or at work? How about with other parents while you’re waiting at Karate lessons? Learn how, here.

If you live in Oakland, California, you can request FREE copies for your group from Oakland Parents Together here, or come to Oakland Parents Together this Friday and every Friday through June, where the authors will be leading the core group.

If you live elsewhere, and would like to start a discussion group, you can purchase books at a discount here.

books labeled with Zorgos stickersAnd no matter where you are if you have a copy of the book, you can join the discussion online at any time!We will be posting questions weekly right here on this blog where you can ask questions and share thoughts and stories in the comments.

By reading this book together we will create a greater understanding of the mechanisms of bullying dynamics and healthy emotion. We can raise a generation of children who can make and keep friends. And in our own adult lives, we can heal the wounds of bullying dynamics, and become experts ourselves!

We need volunteers and we need sponsors! Please contact Kristen regarding both!