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Young People … Our Greatest Resource

Lifted Up

Here’s a simple, short piece that says so much.

 James Sutton, Psychologist


I stilled a hungry infant’s cry
With kindness, filled a stranger’s cup.
And lifting others found that I
Was lifted up.
-Author Unknown

July 29, 2006 Posted by | Inspirational | Leave a comment

Part 3 of 3: Assessing Oppositional Defiant Disorder

Part 3 of 3: Assessing Oppositional Defiant Disorder

(This three-part article is by Dr. James Sutton. It is from his newest book, “What Parents Need to Know About ODD.” This book is available to be downloaded in e-book format from


Projective assessment: Projective assessment consists of questions and challenges that have no right or wrong answers. This assessment serves to evaluate how youngsters structure their responses to the tasks. Assessment instruments include the famous “ink blot” cards, sentence completion questions and open-ended thematic (story) cards. The examiner looks for content and patterns of responses that can lend insight into the child’s emotional and psychological state. Since youngsters typically have little experience with projective assessment, this part of the evaluation is difficult for the child to “fake” or manipulate. For the same reason, it’s a part of the assessment that can make them uncomfortable. But even this discomfort is diagnostically valuable; it shows how youngsters handle situations they cannot control.

Diagnostic Interview: I put the diagnostic (clinical) interview at the end of the assessment because it can affect rapport. However, in the hands of a skilled and compassionate interviewer, it can deepen rapport. It just depends. I use an interview I wrote; it consists of 155 questions that sample a child’s perception of how they operate in the essential “Life Fields” of school, home and community, peers and self. The interview is extremely comprehensive, covering everything from relationships to drug/alcohol use to depression to suicidal thoughts or gestures. (Obviously, I don’t use the whole interview with young children.) The interview not only collects valuable information in the child’s own words, it lets the child consider their needs and priorities for intervention. What better place to start counseling or therapy than with an issue the child already sees as pertinent?

A Written Report:  Any psychologist will tell you that the most difficult part of an assessment is the challenge of making sense of all the information collected. This involves pulling together all the pieces and parts into a narrative interpretation of the assessment, providing a diagnosis (if appropriate), and offering plenty of practical recommendations for treatment and intervention at home and school.

Who Can Do An Assessment? 

A comprehensive assessment is usually done by a psychologist, but it can be done by anyone having the training and certification or licensure to do so. I recommend that parents find someone who specializes in children and adolescents. A referral from a pediatrician would be a good place to start, as would the psychology or special education departments of a local university. Large counties, especially those with large cities, often have a psychological association; members can be accessed through a referral line. Also, child psychiatrists sometimes have a psychologist on staff or available to do assessments.

Fees vary, but generally run between $500 and $1500, depending on customary fees in the area and, quite frankly, the reputation and track record of the assessment professional. These expenses are usually covered, at least in part, under health insurance.

(Go to the “FREE ARTICLES” or “THE ODD PAGE”  link from to read additional information about Oppositional Defiant Disorder.)

July 27, 2006 Posted by | Difficult Child, Educators, Parents | Leave a comment

Part 2 of 3: Assessing Oppositional Defiant Disorder

Part 2 of 3: Assessing Oppositional Defiant Disorder

(This three-part article is by Dr. James Sutton. It is from his newest book, “What Parents Need to Know About ODD.” This book can be downloaded in e-book format from


Review of available records and reports: Unless we take a look, information valuable to treatment can remain buried. I once evaluated a fourth grade girl whose medical background indicated that she had reduced hearing in one ear and no hearing in the other. The teacher did not know this. The child was seated in the back of the room with her best ear to a wall. Behaviorally she looked indifferent, uncooperative and noncompliant. She did an abrupt turnaround with a little preferential seating.

Interviews with parents and teachers: This can be done in writing, in person, or both. I generally ask parents and teachers to write down their concerns in order of priority … on one sheet of paper (this keeps it quick, focused and concise). I ask them to also briefly list the youngster’s three best strengths or qualities. If a child has several teachers, I prefer that they all do a page on the child. It’s amazing how this little activity can quickly differentiate between problem and non-problem areas at home and school. If we don’t have to “fix” everything, the job is easier.

Perceptual-motor assessment: Some examiners would leave this one out of the assessment. I consider it to be essential with an ODD youngster because the child either doesn’t want to answer your questions initially, or they are apt to tell you what they think you want to hear (especially if they think they’re in trouble). By giving a couple of drawing tasks that require no speaking at all, I positively disrupt what the child is expecting. Also, distinct patterns of oppositional and defiant behavior can be uncovered on these instruments, often without the child even knowing it.Assessment of academic functioning: Why is this child not completing school work? Is the work too difficult (always a possibility), or is the child too difficult? This part of the assessment doesn’t have to be all that deep, but it does need to settle the issue of potential versus performance.

Assessment of intellectual functioning: IQ testing can signal areas of interest, strengths and needs, learning modalities and potential for insight, all of which are helpful in developing intervention. Extremes in intellectual functioning can present difficulty. Mentally retarded oppositional and defiant youngsters are resistant to change; they have trouble developing insight into their behavior (they have to experience consequences instead of considering “What if …” as motivation to change behavior). Of course, if a child is seriously deficient in intellectual skills, you probably already know it. Really bright youngsters, on the other hand, already know they’re smarter than the adults; they stay a jump ahead of everyone.

(to be continued)

July 25, 2006 Posted by | Difficult Child, Educators, Parents | Leave a comment

Part 1 of 3: Assessing Oppositional Defiant Disorder

Part 1 of 3: Assessing Oppositional Defiant Disorder

(This three-part article is by Dr. James Sutton. It is from his newest book, “What Parents Need to Know About ODD.” This book can be downloaded in e-book format from


 Hardly a week goes by that I don’t receive several dozen emails from parents, grandparents and teachers. They note that their child, grandchild or student is definitely ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder). When I ask how the youngster was diagnosed, I’m often told that they, the parent, grandparent or teacher, made the diagnosis themselves based on the observable symptoms and behaviors.

If only it were this easy. I’ve always held to the notion that effective intervention must follow accurate assessment. Otherwise, a condition could be treated as one thing when it is actually something else. In such a case not only will interventions not be effective, appropriate diagnosis and treatment are overlooked. This could cause the real problem to fester and worsen.

There are a number of childhood conditions that present much the same symptoms and behaviors as ODD. These include depression, anxiety disorders, ADHD, stress disorders, bipolar conditions, emerging personality disorders, medical conditions and other concerns. An evaluation and diagnosis of ODD must consider all of these and determine that they are not the child’s primary condition or disorder, or that two or more conditions coexist (comorbidity). An accurate evaluation of ODD must also determine the severity and impact of the child’s symptoms and behaviors over time, exactly how the behaviors affect others, and the overall clinical significance of the disorder as it could affect the growth and development of the youngster. In short, an effective evaluation is a complete mapping of an uncharted region … the inner workings of a child.

Components of the Assessment: 

I’m clear on the fact that there is no one way to do an evaluation. (I’m referring to the terms assessment and evaluation and being the same thing.) What is listed here is a model for a process I used for years. It represents what I consider to be the basics. (Because of my writing and speaking schedule, I rarely do evaluations anymore.) I normally do not repeat parts of an assessment that have been done recently, such testing at school. If the reports and records contain the information I need, I use them. This can save time and it’s easier on the child, not to mention the benefit to the parents’ pocketbook.

(to be continued)

July 24, 2006 Posted by | Difficult Child, Educators, Parents | 1 Comment

Part 3 of 3: The Pickle Jar


(Here’s a great little piece from that famous author, Anonymous. As a first-generation college student, I can also identify with having parents who sacrificed much to give their children as many opportunities in life as possible. It’s interesting to consider how my folks (perhaps yours, too) likely would not have considered it a sacrifice at all, but rather a wise and solid investment.—James Sutton)


When I married, I told Susan about the pickle jar and its impact on my life. It defined just how much my father loved me.

Even during the summer when Dad was laid off from the mill, and Mama served beans several times a week, not a cent was taken from the pickle jar. To the contrary, it seemed to make Dad even more resolute. “Son, when you finish college, you’ll never have to eat beans again … unless you want to.”

We spent the holiday with my parents the first Christmas after our daughter, Jessica, was born. After dinner, Mom and Dad sat on the couch and took turns cuddling their first grandchild. The baby began to whimper, so Susan took her into the bedroom to change her.

When Susan returned, there was a strange look on her face. She handed Jessica to Dad, reached for my hand, and led me into my parents’ bedroom. “Look,” she said, pointing to a spot on the floor beside the dresser. The pickle jar was back, as if it had never left its spot. The bottom was already covered with coins. I took the change from my pocket and, with a gamut of emotions choking me, dropped the coins into the jar.

I looked up and saw that Dad, carrying Jessica, had slipped quietly into the room. Our eyes met. I knew we were sharing the emotion of that moment. Neither of us could speak.

Nor did we need to.

July 22, 2006 Posted by | Inspirational, Parents | Leave a comment

Part 2 of 3: The Pickle Jar


(Here’s a great little piece from that famous author, Anonymous. As a first-generation college student, I can also identify with having parents who sacrificed much to give their children as many opportunities in life as possible. It’s interesting to consider how my folks (perhaps yours, too) likely would not have considered it a sacrifice at all, but rather a wise and solid investment.—James Sutton)


We would always celebrate each deposit with an ice cream cone. I always got chocolate; Dad vanilla. When he received his change, Dad would show me the coins in his hand. “When we get home, we’ll start filling the jar again.”

He always let me drop the first coins into the empty jar. As they rattled around with a happy jingle, Dad grinned at me. “You’ll get there on pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters, but you’ll get there. I’ll see to that.”

The years passed. I finished college and took a job in another town. Once, while visiting my parents, I used the phone in their bedroom. I noticed that the pickle jar was gone. It had served its purpose and had been removed.

A lump rose in my throat as I stared at the spot beside the dresser where the jar had always stood. My father was a man of few words; he never lectured me on the values of determination, perseverance and faith. He taught these virtues with that pickle jar.

July 21, 2006 Posted by | Inspirational, Parents, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Part 1 of 3: The Pickle Jar


(Here’s a great little piece from that famous author, Anonymous. As a first-generation collegeThe Pickle Jar student, I can also identify with having parents who sacrificed much to give their children as many opportunities in life as possible. It’s interesting to consider how my folks (perhaps yours, too) likely would not have considered it a sacrifice at all, but rather a wise and solid investment.—James Sutton)


The pickle jar, as far back as I can remember, sat on the floor beside the dresser in my parents’ bedroom. When he got ready for bed, Dad would empty his pockets and toss his coins into the jar.

As a small boy, I was always fascinated at the sounds the coins made as they were dropped into the jar. They landed with a merry jingle when the jar was almost empty. Then the tone gradually muted to a “thud” as the jar filled. I used to squat on the floor in front of the jar and admire the copper and silver discs that glinted like a pirate’s treasure when the sun poured through the bedroom window.

When the jar had filled, Dad would sit at the kitchen table and roll the coins. Taking the coins to the bank was always a big production. The rolls were stacked snugly in a small, cardboard box that was placed between Dad and me on the seat of his old truck.

As we drove to the bank, Dad would look at me hopefully. “These coins are going to keep you out of the textile mill, son. You’re going to do better than me. This old mill town’s not going to hold you back.”

Every time he slid the box of rolled coins across the counter at the bank, he would grin proudly at the cashier. “These are for my son’s college fund,” he would always say. “He’ll never work at the mill all his life like me.”

July 19, 2006 Posted by | Inspirational, Parents, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Part 2 of 2: Finding a Counselor or Therapist for Your Child

Part 2 of 2: Finding a Counselor or Therapist for Your Child

by James Sutton, Educator and Psychologist

The following two-part article is excerpted from “What Parernts Need to Know About ODD,” an e-book that can be downloaded from the homepage,


If you can’t line up a good referral, don’t necessarily go straight to the Yellow Pages. Oppositional and defiant youngsters can be either incredibly tough on counselors and therapists, or their behavior is so good in the professional’s office that they don’t see the problem (and want to release your kid after the second visit).

Counties with large populations often have a county psychological association (and probably similar associations for counselors, social workers and therapists). They generally operate a referral line. The folks handling the phones or returning the calls can save you a ton of time and frustration by matching a few professionals to your specific needs. It’s nice to have a choice because factors like location and office hours can make a difference.

If you live fairly close to a major university, you might do well to contact the departments of psychology, counseling, social work or special education (or all of them). Not only can these folks often help you find a competent professional pretty quickly, these departments often operate counseling or therapy labs to train students. They’re actually looking for kids, and the cost is nominal or free. University students are supervised and highly motivated to do well; they regularly staff their lab cases with their supervising professors. And students working on their master’s or doctoral degrees are likely to have substantial experience anyway.

July 18, 2006 Posted by | Difficult Child, Parents | Leave a comment

Part 1 of 2: Finding a Counselor or Therapist for Your Child


by James Sutton, Educator and Psychologist

The following two-part article is excerpted from “What Parernts Need to Know About ODD,” an e-book that can be downloaded through my homepage,


Parents often ask me how they should go about finding a counselor or therapist for their son or daughter. Here are my thoughts. First of all, look for someone who:

1. Is credentialed and experienced. Ask.

2. Devotes a good part of their practice to working with children and adolescents or families as a unit.

3. Understands oppositional and defiant behavior thoroughly.

4. Will work with you on school problems, including attending school meetings on occasion.

5. Will “connect” with your child so well that the youngster begins to see the therapist or counselor as an advocate, not an adversary. (An excellent early indicator her is that the youngster either looks forward to follow-up sessions, or at least attends without complaint.)

A personal referral, someone recommended by a person who knows you and your needs as well as the professional and their track record, is the best way to go. Check with your pediatrician, family physician, school counselor or a friend who’s “been there.”


July 17, 2006 Posted by | Difficult Child, Parents | Leave a comment

Grandma’s Bumper Crop

Grandma’s Bumper Crop

As she was growing up in Kansas, my mother’s mother was always the sick child in her family. Yet, with her frail health, Myrtle Harriet Smith managed to outlive all of her brothers and sisters. Perhaps it was because she had a good heart.

It was certainly a generous heart.

Grandma came to spend the better part of a week with me when I was a young boy. My mother joined my father on a business trip, so it was just me and Grandma. We had fun, fellowship and lots of great food!

One day she announced that she was going to make sugar cookies.

“My favorite!” I shouted. “Please make a bunch of ‘em.” She did; she quadrupled the already generous receipe.

We quickly realized we had a problem. Cookies began coming out of the oven quicker than I could find plates, jars, cans and boxes to put them in. The house overflowed with her laughter as I would scurry around to find one more thing that we could stuff with cookies. The “Cookie Story” became one of her favorites, and she loved telling it.

We obviously had more cookies than we could eat. So Grandma grabbed her scarf and we spent the rest of the afternoon delivering fresh-baked cookies around the neighborhood.

She taught me many things that week and in the weeks and years that followed. But the greatest thing my grandmother ever taught me was a life-long lesson in sharing.

And she taught it with cookies.

James D. Sutton, Educator and Psychologist

July 15, 2006 Posted by | Inspirational | Leave a comment

When Our Children Strike Back

Dr. Sutton sent this letter to “Letters to the Editor” of USA Today on June 13, 1997. It seems this message is a strong one still today.


The June 9th, 1997 article, Parents, why do you push so hard? by Patrick Welsh, squarely addressed an issue that is troubling families today. When our children are so pressed to achieve, there is often a price to pay; they can become sick, or they can become sick of parental expectations.

As a child and adolescent psychologist, I see a wave of defiance in good and decent kids that is unprecedented, something I call the “Good Kid” Disorder. These kids shut down in the face of parental pressures to achieve, and, more often than not, they are not very open to talking about it. Their behaviors of noncompliance and underachievement does the talking. These youngsters have their parents (and their teachers) completely frustrated and totally baffled.

Often, parental frustration serves to make things worse. Take, for instance, the case of a 16-year-old girl who was brought to counseling by her father. Although she was bright and capable, she was failing her third year as a high school freshman. Every April, her father would give her the “Please, please, please; all I want you to do is pass” lecture. And she would fail. It seemed certain that her ability to control the emotional state of her father was more valuable to her than a high school diploma. Unfortunately, her story is not unique at all.

Although there aren’t any easy answers which will erase all the problems, I do believe that there are two interventions which can help: affirmation and empowerment.

We must return to affirming our children in ways that are not brimming over with conditions. For instance, a parent could say to a daughter: “You know Suzie, I really don’t say it to you often enough, but I’m glad that you are my daughter. You don’t have to say anything; I just wanted you to know.” Over time, this can be powerful stuff.

Offering choices is an excellent way to empower a youngster, although not everything is open to choice. Preparing a “menu” of options can eliminate a number of hassles, and, more importantly, it is usually perceived by the child as a fair and reasonable gesture. It’s not a panacea, but it is a move in the right direction.


James D. Sutton, EdD


(Dr. Sutton’s newest e-book, What Parents Need to Know About ODD, offers many insights and interventions. It can be accessed and downloaded through his home page:

July 13, 2006 Posted by | Difficult Child, Parents | Leave a comment

Sorry! I tried to fix it!

If you notice that the last two posts (parts two and three) have some strange paragraph structure, this is to let you know I’m aware of it. Every time I try to fix it, it “glitches” in some other place. This is due in part because I “cut and pasted” the article. Sorry for any inconvenience, but you hopefully can get the idea.

 James Sutton, Educator/Psychologist

July 12, 2006 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Part 3 of 3: Why Some Behavior is Inappropriate


Behavior quite often speaks loudly; sometimes it screams at us. What a child DOES is the best indicator of what’s going on inside. A child’s behavior is not difficult to read, but it does take a bit of practice.

If a youngster is fearful that his parents will separate and divorce, how does he stop them? I’ve seen kids get into so much trouble at school the parents had to come together to deal with it. As long as they youngster is in trouble, Mom and Dad are communicating. So what would the youngster continue to do in that situation?

I remember a high-school girl from a single-parent family (her mother was deceased, one huge, unaddressed source of the girl’s unhappiness) whose father was on the road all the time in his work. She found a way to pull him off the road; she failed the ninth grade (in fact, she failed it more than once)!

When a small child criticizes the artwork (or other accomplishments) of other youngsters, is it possible she’s really saying, “What happens around her to a little girl who doesn’t know how to draw very well?”

What’s the message when a boy destroys the new bicycle he just got for his birthday? Could he be saying, “I’m not the kind of kid who deserves a nice bike like this,” not to mention the hurt he could inflict on his parents with such an action.

Mary is crying. Her best friend is concerned and says, “What’s wrong, Mary?” In response Mary screams, “Can’t you just leave me alone? Why do you keep butting into my business?” Could it be that Mary, in her turmoil, can’t handle the closeness of a friend right now?

Research tells us that happiness is relationship driven. No surprise; all of the examples we’ve considered here involve relationships. Although relationships are our greatest cause for unhappiness, we need others to be happy.

James Sutton, Educator/Psychologist

July 12, 2006 Posted by | Difficult Child, Educators, Parents | 1 Comment

Part 2 of 3: Why Some Behavior is Inappropriate


Young people (or adults for that matter) really have no cause to act out in their behavior if things are going well for them. Why should they? Persistently poor behavior is a statement of misery. Nothing new here.

For the most part, the behavior of children and adolescents is the barometer that reflects the state of their relationships at home and school. I believe kids are respectful and kind by nature (the core of Dr. Marshall’s work), qualities that can be reinforced by caring adults. When a child’s behavior is inappropriate, we’re pretty good at addressing it, but addressing the behavior doesn’t always solve the circumstances within the youngster that created it. Effective intervention has always been a two, not a one-step, process. First, we stop the inappropriate behavior. Second, we attempt to address why the child is so unhappy.

How do we know a child is unhappy? Ask them! Sometimes that’s all we need to do. This doesn’t mean that we can always fix the problem. (What if Suzie is still very upset that Grandma died?) We can, however, let the child know that we are there to support them, and will support them, but that their behavior is wrong and must stop.

What if a child says, “I don’t know,” when we ask them why they are unhappy? Unless we have a useful tool for prying the “real” truth out of the child, we have to accept their answer, show our support, and continue to show it.

Sometimes we can suggest possibilities like, “You know, Suzie, ever since Grandma died, it seems like you’ve been angry a lot. Is it because you are so sad about Grandma?” Again reflect back to the child that, regardless of her sadness, Suzie has no call to be inappropriate in her behavior, but you will do what you can to help her through the difficult times. In this example you can’t bring Grandma back, but you can assure Suzie that you are there for her, and that, day-by-day, things will get a little better. I’ve also encountered youngsters who knew why they were sad, but didn’t want to say for fear of consequences or for fear that their feelings wouldn’t be honored. Whenever we ask a child to tell us the truth about something, we should validate the courage it might take to tell it. Most adults know exactly what that feels like.

James Sutton, Educator and Psychologist

July 11, 2006 Posted by | Difficult Child, Educators, Parents | Leave a comment

Part 1 of 3: Why Some Behavior is Inappropriate

Dr. Marvin Marshall (, my friend in California and founder of the acclaimed “Discipline Without Stress” program, suggests young people sometimes misbehave for two clear and addressable reasons:

1. They are unhappy.

2. Their behavior is their attempt to “fix” the problem.

We best not lose the message of these two statements in their simplicity. They come very, very close to saying all we need to know about behavior in children and adolescents. Unfortunately, it is often the case that we consider neither of these reasons in working with the disruptive and defiant child; we simply want the behavior to stop.

Parts two and three will address each of these reasons separately.

James Sutton, Educator and Psychologist   

July 10, 2006 Posted by | Difficult Child, Educators, Parents | 2 Comments

Something to Build a Life Around

Thanks to my friend Jim Gentil of Austin, Texas for this quote. Who on earth could ever take issue with Mother Teresa.

Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.
– Mother Teresa



July 8, 2006 Posted by | Inspirational | Leave a comment

Youngster Need Enthusiasm

I thank Jim Gentil of Austin, Texas for sending this little piece about some fellows getting ready to jump out of a perfectly good airplane.

One day an army general was visiting a military base where paratroopers were training on jumping out of airplanes.  During a conversation, the general asked this question to a group getting ready to go up in the air: “How do you like jumping out of planes?”
The first paratrooper responded, “I love it, sir.”
He then asked the next.  “It’s a fantastic experience, sir!” exclaimed the soldier. “I couldn’t imagine not doing it.”
“How do you like it?” the general asked the third one.
“I’m scared to death, sir, and don’t much like it,” he honestly said.
“Then why do you do it?” the general queried.
“This group has a passion for jumping, sir, they’re excited about it, and I like being around people who enjoy what they do!”

People want to be around other people who are on fire with an enthusiasm that drives them. Young people especially need teachers who have that fire and can pass it on.  It makes a difference in the quality of the school day, and it makes a difference in the bottom line of achievement. (You know, when the kids take the TEST that tells us all where we fell in our effectiveness that year)

Even “problem” students do better in those classes where the teacher is enthusiastic toward the subject and toward them. It’s difficult to quantify that sort of enthusiasm, but the results of it CAN be measured every single day. 

 Enthusiasm is the mother of effort, and without it nothing great was ever achieved.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

July 6, 2006 Posted by | Educators, Inspirational | Leave a comment

Independence Day, 2006–My Most Patriotic Moment

My most patriotic moment, my proudest time to be an American, occurred when IJim in Vietnam wasn’t even in America at the time.

It was 1968, I had brought a small group of sailors to Camp Horn near DaNang, South Vietnam. We were there to assist a marine radio battalion (First Radio Battalion) that at the time was overworked and way undermanned. (We were all part of the Naval Security Group, having trained together at Correy Field in Pensacola, Florida.) Our work there, and the men I worked with, are among my most meaningful experiences ever.

We were still short on communications specialists, so we all worked in two 12-hour shifts. There was never a day off; you were on or off, and very quickly you shifted. Frankly, we were luckly to get any sleep at all when we were under mortar attack.

When it was time for our group to cycle back to Japan and let another group help out for awhile, I realized the marines did not have tickets to get us OUT of Vietnam, only IN. We had to wait for whatever hop we could catch. We hung around around the airport long enough and looked miserable enough (which wasn’t difficult) that we finally caught a flight out … a medivac, a hospital plane.

We landed for transfer in Okinawa. I checked on flights to Japan for myself and my men, and was told that there was an American aircraft headed that way, but it was ready to take off. Fortunately, they radioed the plane and told them to wait for us. They pointed me in the general direction of where the planes were and simply said, “Hurry!”

At night all airplanes look pretty much the same. We were running down the tarmac, toting our sea-bags, trying to find one plane among what looked like hundreds. By this time we were exhausted. Something told me to look up. A spotlight, or some kind of light, was shining squarely on Old Glory, a small American flag that was painted on the tail of our ride out of Okinawa. It’s difficult to put into words, but I felt an immediate sense of calmness and serenity, that everything would work out. We loaded quickly through the tail ramp of the plane. I made sure my men were taken care of, then buckled myself into a seat … and slept like a baby.

I NEVER see Old Glory flying but that it doesn’t remind me of that night and that special flag that seemed to find me.

God Bless America, and all of our men and women in uniform who wear our flag on their shoulder. May it be a beacon to them also.

 James Sutton, Psychologist 

PS: The picture was taken in 1968, DaNang, South Vietnam. I ended up taking an additional TAD detachment of support there to First Radio Battalion.  

July 4, 2006 Posted by | Inspirational, Special Occasions | Leave a comment

The New Shoes

As I get more into this blog, I will be putting in a lot of material about working with difficult youngsters in the home and school environments. Be watching for it.

I will also be answering questions that are posted here in this blog or through email.

As I was searching through material, I came across this piece that was published in one of my newsletters. I thought you might enjoy it.


The scene: New York City in late December

 A boy was standing in front of a shoe store, barefooted, peering into the window. He was shivering with cold as a lady approached him.

“Young man, what are you looking at so intently in that window.”

“I was asking God for a pair of shoes,” he replied.

She took him by the hand and entered the store. She asked the clerk for several pairs of socks for the boy, then she requested a basin of water and a towel.

The lady took the boy to the back of the store and, removing her gloves, knelt down and washed his feet, then dried them with a towel. She then put clean, new socks on his feet and purchased for him a new pair of shoes.

As a finishing gesture, she tied up the remaining pairs of socks and handed the bundle to the lad. She then gently touched him on the head.

“No doubt, my little friend, you’re more comfortable now.”

As she turned to leave, the youngster reached for her hand. With tears filling his eyes, he looked into her kind face and asked a question that grabbed at her heart/

“Are you God’s wife?”

James Sutton, Psychologist

July 1, 2006 Posted by | Inspirational | 1 Comment