Archive for children

Over 12,000 Kids Publicly Shamed This Year at Dick’s Last Resort

15 06 16 end shame dicksDick’s Last Resort- A restaurant chain where gruff staffers serve a Southern-style menu in a rowdy roadhouse environment.

According to a Star Tribune article Ralph McCrackin, the company’s president said, “We’re colorful, but not off-color. We’re irreverent, but not rude.” You decide.

Public Shaming of a Child at Dick’s Last Resort on June 14, 2015:

A waitress runs out to the middle of the restaurant with a roll of Saran Wrap and grabs a boy, probably about 6, who had been standing on his chair.  She pulls his chair out to the middle of the aisle for everyone to see.  She then starts Saran Wrapping him to the chair, with the help of his mom who is holding him down so he can’t get away.  He is struggling to break free.  Is this supposed to be funny?

The Shaming Continues

Around and around she goes.  My heart is beating in my chest.  I want to get up and push the waitress out-of-the-way and rip off the Saran Wrap.  I’m ashamed to say I sat still in my chair stunned by this entire scene.

His arms are fighting against the wrap which gets thicker and more impossible with each loop the waitress makes.  He’s heaving his chest to try to get out, his face turning red.  Finally realizing he’s not getting he makes a mental shift.  I can see it.

Just like the kid at school who has been labeled with a hurtful nickname often chooses to disguise his pain with laughter, this boy decides if he can’t get out he might as well show he doesn’t care.

All the adults around are laughing.  The mom is taking pictures.  His sister, probably 8, looks distressed.  She runs up to try to help him and thinks better of it.  She doesn’t want to be the next one.  She runs back to her chair.

It doesn’t stop there.  The waitress then tips his chair backwards once he is securely strapped to the chair. His back is now lying on the floor feet upwards to the ceiling.  The waiters come by and start covering him up with piles of paper napkins which were lying on the floor after being thrown just moments before to celebrate someone’s birthday.

Finally the waitress, with a nod of approval from the boy’s mother, takes an orange sharpie marker and draws a mustache on his little face and brings his chair back to an upright position.  The ‘fun’ is over.  For now.  Until they do it to another kid.

In 2013 I was here too. The same thing happened and the boy didn’t laugh.  He cried.  I found another video posted back in 2010 with over 73K views titled Dick’s Child Abuse.  Scroll through to about 8 minutes in and you’ll see the same thing.  That was over 5 years ago!


Standing Up and Speaking Up

After the boy was released, I got up from my chair and walked over to his table.  I bent down and gave him a hug and said, “Are you okay? My girls were scared for you.”  I spoke briefly to his mother and as we were leaving asked to speak to the manager, Mikey.

As Mikey and I stepped outside to get away from the noise, the words that came out were calm and confident.  This is a brief summary of our talk.

“Thanks for your time.  I wanted to let you know that as a professional who works with families, the Saran Wrapping of a child, which I’ve seen happen twice now, is totally unacceptable and upset not just me but my children as well.  Is this endorsed by your corporate offices?”

“Yes.  A parent has to approve of it.  We allow for a pie to be thrown in their child’s face or to have them Saran Wrapped.”

“Oh.  So the parent said this was okay?”

“Yes.  We asked her first.”

“Well does the child also have to agree to it?  I’m assuming they do.”

“No.  It’s done with the parent’s approval.”

“I’m not sure if you noticed but that boy was not having fun.  He clearly was trying to break free while everyone else stood by laughing.  Is that entertainment? I’m sure he didn’t’ think so.”

“Again it is the mother who agreed to have it done.”

“Did you know that would be considered public shaming?”

“I didn’t.”

“There is a movement I’m involved with right now to end public shaming of children.  That’s why I felt it was so important to talk with you.  Every week children are harming and even killing themselves due to treatment like this.  In fact I just wrote about a girl named Izabel Laxamana whose father cut off her hair as discipline. Video-taped it, and uploaded it to YouTube.  A few days later she committed suicide.”

“I had no idea.”

“Well I am working with people like Dr. Shefali Tsabary to help end this type of acceptance of public shaming of children and I wanted to be sure you knew how this affected me personally as a patron of your restaurant, how damaging it is to the child and how it is perpetuating this idea that publicly shaming a child is okay.”

I handed her my business card.  She said she’d write it up in her nightly review.  It’s been a few days and I still haven’t heard back.  I bet we will soon if we ban together!

It’s time to #endshame @DickSez. Over 12,000 kids a year shamed at your restaurant says @uofmoms! <===Click to Tweet

The Shaming In Numbers

I looked up Dick’s Last Resort and there are 17 locations.  Let’s assume they Saran Wrap two kids a day every day of the year.  That would be 2 kids a day x 17 location x 365 days a year = 12,410 kids a year they are publicly shaming with the permission of the parent.  I’m guessing it’s more than that.

Let’s go one step further.  12,410 kids a year being shamed and let’s say there are 100 people in the restaurant at the time this occurs that would be 12,410 kids x 100 patrons viewing per wrap = 1,241,000 onlookers who are doing nothing but laughing, maybe feeling uncomfortable and then walking right back out the door.


That’s crazy.  One million people a year who are witnessing public shaming of kids in a restaurant where they are paying for food.  I am choosing to be one in a million people who will speak up.  Will you?

Public Shaming Epidemic as Seen at Dick’s Last Stand:

PROBLEM 1.  Dick’s Last Stand corporate office endorses the shaming of children in their restaurants.

PROBLEM 2.  Parents are agreeing to the public shaming of their children.

PROBLEM 3.  Over one million onlookers a year for the past 30 years have done nothing to stop this.

We as a society need to ban together to educate ourselves and empower our children. Join us to raise awareness of public shaming and put an end to it.

Be a Powerful Parent who Chooses Solutions to End Public Shaming:

SOLUTION 1.  Refuse to speak or post negatively of your child online.  Choose private conversations and support as your tools of building a more connected and conscious family environment.  Sign up for our free Conscious Parent Mini-Series if you need help.

SOLUTION 2. Stand up and speak up.  When you see public shaming online or in person be proactive.  It’s our responsibility to advocate for children.  If not you, then who?

SOLUTION 3. Join our #endshame movement by tweeting in support of ending the public shaming of children.  Share inspiring quotes.  Share statistics and facts as you learn them.  Share positive pictures of parenting.  This is where our collective education will start.  Check back often to retweet and reply.

It’s time to #endshame @DickSez. Over 12,000 kids a year shamed at your restaurant says @uofmoms! <===Click to Tweet

SOLUTION 4.  Watch this very important video message from Dr. Shefali Tsabary.

As Dr. Seuss says so profoundly, “The time has come, the time is now, just go #endshame, I don’t care how!”  Or something like that.

Please comment below and let’s start talking about this.  Share this article on your Facebook page.  Let’s do our part to end the public shaming of kids.


When the teacher arrives will you be ready for the lesson?

When the teacher arrives will you be ready for the lesson?

When the teacher arrives will you be ready for the lesson?

Photo Credit: Uncalno Tekno,

It’s been said when the student is ready, the teacher will arrive. At forty-six I have enough life experience to comprehend the truth in this statement. I also understand the teacher can come in many different forms and show up in both our most challenging and our most triumphant moments. Upon reflection, I can say with conviction my most valuable lessons have come through twenty-two years of marriage and in parenting five children.

The role of wife and mother have taught me what it means to be part of a committed relationship and, even more important, how little control I have over anyone but myself. While there are myraid ways I have witnessed this throughout marriage and motherhood, the most pivotal lesson came several years ago during a crisis with my eldest son (at the time in his early twenties), and his addiction to alcohol.

It was that particular journey which truly opened my eyes and heart to the essence of what it means to be a parent who loves unconditionally. Prior to this walk I believed I understood the importance of limitless acceptance, in hindsight I know it was (at times) merely lip service and not a thorough understanding or true appreciation for the gifts our children can be in helping us develop into our best selves.

Obviously how we parent our children on a daily basis is very important. But, in the end, we must take care to remember we do not have the authority to direct the outcome of the life they have been given to live. In other words, children come into the world through us, we are chosen to guide them and assist their efforts to work towards their life’s purpose by creating an atmosphere conducive to their growth.

This, in and of itself, is a wonderful gift. We [as parents and grandparents] can choose to take the gift to the next level and remain open to the continuous learning we receive through our children’s journey. For example, once I understood the magnitude of my son’s alcohol abuse I could have spent a lot of time blaming myself or someone else for the challenge. Or, I could have recoiled in shame or guilt for considering myself a horrible mother. Instead, I chose to pray for my own guidance in assisting, supporting, encouraging, loving and learning from my son through the process of his recovery.

There were times when even that was not enough. The epiphany came when I woke up one morning and understood I was not in a position to control the outcome of his battle with alcohol, I was only in control of how I responded to the situation that presented itself to me.

Each day provides opportunities to learn, and people to teach. The question is…are you teachable? If so, look no further than the children in your life to show you exactly where you need to grow.


Gratitude: One Photo at a Time

13 11 22 Gratitude Collage

Frustration.  Toleration.  Acceptance.  Gratitude.  Love.  Freedom.

Traveling the journey to greater peace and gratitude one photo at a time.

These past 4 weeks Brene Brown’s Course “The Gifts of Imperfection” have been nothing short of life changing saving for me.  Thank you Oprah for having her create this course for me!

Being a perfectionist, by nature I presume, is not easy.  I have put a lot of pressure on myself, and others, to keep everything running smoothly, and neatly…and that’s not easy with three kids, a husband and a plethora of pets!

In 2010 I had the epiphany moment that it was okay if my house wasn’t perfect, which is part of the story of how Ride the Wave: Journey to Peaceful Living was born.  A constant source of tension was released, which was huge for me and my family.  That may seem like a simple realization, but for a perfectionist, being able to live without stressing while some dirty dishes lie dormant in the sink is nothing short of miraculous.

Well as all journeys begin with excitement and mystery it continues on to this day with revelation after revelation, setback after setback.  I’ve certainly had my highs and my lows.  But you see the honest truth is I’ve been struggling lately.  Even having accomplished so much and having launched my first big conference just 2 months ago, I had fallen into a slump. 

Have you ever felt that way?  Like, when is enough enough? How much more do I have to DO to prove to myself that I’ve done a good job?  It’s flat out exhausting!  So in my job as a life coach I wear the hat of a teacher most often, but I needed some time to be taught and I signed up for the course, not really expecting anything supernatural, but thank God for the unexpected.  The commitment to stick with it and keep going on this path to teaching moms how to be the best they can be has been renewed over these past few weeks.  As I sit here typing this now I feel a great sense of joy.

What happened?  How did this change come about?  It lies in the transformation of a mindset of tolerating to being grateful.  There is a difference between tolerating something and embracing it…you know what I mean?  Tolerating is equivalent to ignoring but ultimately zaps your energy.  It’s the things you are ‘putting up with that need to be fixed’.  Embracing something is knowing it’s not perfect and saying, “That’s just fine.”

Back to the story…my house had become a ‘toleration’ and so had my business.  They were both something that I put up with (albeit peacefully) but in the back of my mind there would come a point where I needed it fixed.  Whether that meant cleaning up messes at home or ramping up my programs online I had to jump into action to make it ‘right’ again.  Be the best in every area.  

So after completing the first 3 weeks of assignments which included making a list of things I am giving myself permission to do (or not do) during the class…for me one of them was permission to cry…finding a picture of me when I was at my most authentic, and also my most awkward and then recognizing my trigger points, how I numb myself when I’m triggered and what brings me true comfort, I thought I was home free.  They were fun and revealing exercises, but nothing too heart-wrenching.

Photo Nov 25, 8 49 48 AM

Enter week 4.  Gratitude.  Now to say this was orchestrated by the greater powers that be is an understatement.  Two months ago I was booked to speak to a group on the power of forgiveness and gratitude THIS WEEK and what is this week’s lesson?  Gratitude.

Assignment: Get behind your camera and take pictures of the everyday things you’re grateful for.  Easy enough…or not.  I was home one morning and decided to tackle the task.  I walked around the house with my iPhone and started snapping.  A pile of shoes in the closet brought a tear to my eye.  A sign taped to Sadie’s bedroom mirror “Disney Imagineer at Work” stuck out amongst her unmade bed and messy floor, Molly’s miniature drum set sat atop her neatly arranged desk overlook her trampoline, the one she begged us for last Christmas, and Amy’s self-portraits from kindergarten.  My how time flies.  Her progress shown right there hanging proudly on her magnetic dry erase board.

Photo Nov 25, 9 01 26 AMAs I sat down at my computer to review my photo shoot, I took one last shot.  This is my life.  Me.  My yoga pants.  Working.  My computer.  On the kitchen table.  With Monty at my foot.  How these moments slip by so quickly unnoticed.  I began crying.  I mean really crying.  It felt weird.  I wanted to stop it, but I remembered my permission slip, so I went there.

No one was home, the kids had gone off to school and Jim was at work.  I felt my heart that had been so productive and focused and goal-oriented for the past 3 years crack open to a new sensitivity.  The tears were running down my cheeks and I let it all out.  Recognizing that what really matters is the mess. 

My girls who are growing so quickly.  My husband who is so relaxed that a messy pile of shoes wouldn’t even register on his radar.  And my freedom to be able to work from home, pursue my passion to help moms live happy and fulfilling lives and still be present for my kids.

This is what I’m grateful for.  I’m not tolerating my life, the messes, the to-do list, I am grateful for it.  It means that there are people around me who need meals cooked for them, it means the girls have permission to be themselves without the pressure to perform to my preference of perfection, it means I can embrace my hubby without thinking about the pile of shoes that need straightening.  That is true freedom.

So I challenge you to look at what you are tolerating and see if you can embrace it.  Stop just accepting life as it comes, be grateful for each and every moment no matter how small.  Gratitude for the small things brings love, freedom and a new appreciation for whom and what surrounds you. 

With Thanksgiving just a few days away take a minute to snap a few of your own photos to mark this precious and fleeting time in your life and see how that brings new perspective on the ordinary, messy and often overlooked moments.  I bet a tear will come to your eye too.

Post a comment below to tell me about your Gratitude Photo Experiment.  I’d love to hear it!

April O’Leary, B.A. Ed. is a Certified Master Life Coach and founder of the University of Moms.   She is the author of two books: Ride the Wave: Journey To Peaceful Living and Focus on You: Your Needs Matter Too.  She happily resides in Southwest Florida with her husband and three daughters. 


Fall Semester Classes- OPEN

The air is finally cooling off a little bit here in Florida.  How about you?  Are you enjoying the change of seasons?  But despite the break from the hot summer sun, the holiday season can be a tough one for moms.  Not only are we busier than ever, but the pressure to make everyone else happy is heightened and it can leave us lacking for time, energy and patience.Although we all desire a ‘picture perfect’ family (and are eager to send cards showing everyone our happiness), behind closed doors we might be a little more stressed than we allow others (except our children) to see.So if you are feeling overwhelmed, if you are dreading the next few months or if you just want to find a better way to not only cope, but breeze through this time of year with a smile on your face, then you are reading the right email!

Give yourself the gift of education.  Our two University of Moms signature courses, led by me, are about to launch LIVE in just a few weeks.  They are aptly named Self-Care for Moms 101 and STOP Reacting 101 and in them I share the nitty gritty details of how I went from a stressed-out and unhappy mom (who yelled a lot) to a mom who is now calm, happy and patient.

Here is what one mom had to say who took both courses.  And check it out, she is a parent educator and and early intervention specialist!  Who would have thought she needed this course?  But she did!I originally decided to take the sample class because I thought It would be interesting and I could possibly use it to count for my job as a parent educator/ early intervention specialist for some continuing Ed classes. While taking the class I realized it was a blessing that it fell into my lap. I have 3 small children and the perfect life I had always dreamed of. Why then was our family full of so much yelling and reacting. Why did I feel out out control and not supported. Through April’s classes and incredibly supportive coaching I was able to dig deeper and realize I wasn’t taking care Of myself.  The stop reacting class was so wonderful for myself and my whole family. This class went above and beyond my expectations. April is a gifted life coach and the class and her coaching have truly been life changing for everyone in my family. ~Dana M., Family Counselor, NC
Each course is 4 weeks long and costs only $39.
Or take both classes for just $69 and get my book Ride the Wave: Journey to Peaceful Living free!
Click the images below to read the course descriptions.
So skip the new shoes or the monthly pedicure and invest in yourself.  Learn something new and then do something different and I guarantee you WILL get different results.  Like more peace in your house, less stress and rushing and a richer, deeper appreciation for yourself as a mother and a woman.If you can’t join us at the LIVE times as posted don’t worry.   The classes will be recorded and provided to you each week by email so you can listen in when it works best for you.  All live class options include a private Facebook group for support (optional) where you can ask questions and meet new mommy friends too.For the small amount of time and money required to participate, you will reap great rewards that will make your life happier.  You’re children will learn, from you, how to be proactive in life, not a victim, they’ll learn how to find constructive solutions to life’s challenges and how to manage their emotions with ease.

All of this is possible…and more!  How do I know?  Because my house is DIFFERENT than it was just 5 years ago.  It’s quiet.  It’s not stressful.  We look for answers together instead of pointing fingers at one another…and best of all I know how important it is to take charge of my own happiness. I’m not waiting around anymore for someone else to give it to me.  That is why I can honestly say…JOIN ME.  Let me show you how you can have all this too.

As always much love today and always.  Here’s to your peace.  Your happiness.  Your family.  Let it be a pillar for others to admire…all because you created it to be.

April O’Leary
Certified Life Coach
Founder of
Proud Mother of 3Author of Ride the Wave: Journey to Peaceful Living
Co-Author of Focus on You: Your Needs Matter Too! and

5 Tips to Build Your Marriage While Nurturing Your Children

What makes a marriage successful?  Why is it so difficult to keep your marriage strong when you have children?  Well, for starters, when was the last time you had a chance to sit down and actually talk to your partner….uninterrupted?!  Most of us know we want a happy marriage, but balancing an adult relationship with the demands children bring can be quite difficult in the ‘real world’.

This Monday, August 6th at 12pm EST/ 9am PST I’m happy to introduce Drs. Charles and Elizabeth Schmitz, America’s #1 Love and Marriage Experts to you LIVE as we kick off Motivate Your Monday, Mom! and they share 5 Tips to Strengthen Your Marriage While Nurturing Your Children.  CLICK HERE to view the event.

As a bit of background: Drs. Charles and Elizabeth Schmitz are renowned love and marriage experts and multiple award-winning authors. As “The Official Guides To Marriage” for, the top self-help website in the world, and Marriage Experts for and Marriage Advice Examiners for, they provide inspiration and guidance to readers around the globe. Affectionately dubbed “America’s Love Birds” by their clients, fans, and workshop participants, Drs. Charles and Elizabeth Schmitz know that simple things matter in relationships. They understand what makes relationships work because they have conducted three decades of research on successful marriages on six continents of the world, as well as sharing personal experience drawn from their own 45-year marriage.

Together, the Schmitz’s have written multiple award-winning and best-selling books, as well as being popular speakers and talk show guests. Their latest book, Building a Love That Lasts, provides surprising insights on creating successful relationships (Published by Jossey-Bass/Wiley).   We will be discussing their book as well.  Click the book or the link above to view it on Amazon.  For even more info visit their website at

So go ahead and join us, MONDAY, AUGUST 6th at 12pm EST/ 9am PST LIVE by webcast, phone or Skype.  CLICK HERE to view the event and remember to mark your calendar to return on Monday.  Come with your questions too which you can submit online or raise your virtual hand to ask them.  If you can’t come live, register as a member at FREE and you’ll get the recording via email after the event occurs.  The recording is for members-only.

Welcome Drs. Charles and Elizabeth Schmitz!