Raising Teens

A site for parents of teens striving for sanity

Social Media: Deathtrap for teens?

I recently reviewed a book  called The Boss of Me…is Me and was impressed, horrified, scared out of my wits and grateful  to the authors all at the same time.  The authors  have written an eye-opening book about  how social media can  lure teens into some scary and awful life-altering situations. They  give some  edgy scenarios as real-life examples.  One of the most shocking was about a young teen who had befriended an 18-year-old on Facebook, slipped unnoticed from her home to meet him, and walked into her death trap. As I was reading the book, all I kept thinking was how I could so see this happening.

The  book is filled with tips and intended to  empower teens with the life skills they need to be the boss of their own thoughts, attitudes and actions.    The authors address a variety of relevant issues including suicide, shoplifting, child molestation and runaways.   The book is designed to equip teens to think and act quickly to avoid going down a path that ends in death, prison and suicide. It  basically helps prevent teens from becoming  a victim and  a statistic. As a mom of two teens, these scenarios scare the heck out of me and infuriate me at the same time! I am still shaking my head that these threats to our teens are  really happening in our society, but I shouldn’t be.

I like that this guidebook helps teach teens that there is always a way out of these awful situations they get themselves into, often because of their social media activities. The guidebook is in a notebook form so teens can write in it and basically have a lifetime of references when completed! The notebook does not come in a digital format because the authors wanted to ensure parental supervision however, the guidebook is in digital format. The guidebook empowers parents to facilitate and engage in conversations with their teen and that’s what is most important!  Without the parents being a facilitator, your teen wouldn’t learn or grasp the true meaning and value of the message(s) the authors are trying to convey.

Parents, because you haven’t physically seen or been exposed to this DOES NOT MEAN it’s not happening or could not happen to you and your kids. Your child could be a victim!  No one is immune. Educate, be aware and talk to you kids. Better yet,  BUY them this book so they can learn first hand about the crimes that are happening to teens.

As a parent, I encourage you to  have them read it! Get the electronic version since you know teens prefer technology to actual books. I hope this books builds awareness but most importantly, saves lives.

Here is a link if you wish to purchase The Boss of Me…is ME ! It is also available at www.cablepublishing.com, Amazon, and all major bookstores. (25% of all proceeds will be donated to The Youth Connection in Detroit, MI.)

By the way, the authors’ backgrounds are impressive:  June Werdlow Rogers  is a retired federal agent with a PhD in criminology,  Rayfield Rogers Jr  is a retired district chief of security for a school district in Michigan,  Grenae´ Dudley PhD is CEO of a youth center.

Parents if you have encountered scary scenarios with your teen as a result of social media, or know someone who can relate, please share your stories.

13 going on 30

My sweet cousin, Isabelle turned 13 today and she is so excited to be officially a TEENAGER!I remember when I would visit her in  New York and go ice skating with her and hold her hand so she wouldn’t fall. This sweet, young, innocent young girl will now be entering the world of a teen. Does she even know what’s ahead  for her? Does she realize she will be changing without realizing it? When I visited with her  last month, I told her that I would write a blog about her turning 13.

So Isabelle, honey  here are my top 13  tips for  turning 13:

  1.  Periods. If you haven’t already, you soon will be getting your period. It may be a rite of passage for womanhood, but it is not all that it is cracked up to be. Monthly cramps, bloating  and mood swings are not fun. My advice: stay in bed and watch TV.
  2. Acne. Along with your monthly “mensi” comes acne.  My advice:  Don’t fight it. Just wash your face real well and  put anti-acne medication on until it goes away. Do not pick at your pimples or face! You will regret it later if you scar.
  3. Makeup.  Most 13 year olds like to wear makeup and try to look older. My advice:  Stay away from makeup until you really need it. You have beautiful young skin.  Enjoy it without makeup while you can. Now you can put on some nice lip gloss, or a little mascara now and then for a special occasion.
  4. Boys. If you haven’t already, you soon will start taking an interest in boys. My advice: Stay away from them and enjoy hanging with your girlfriends. Boys will come and go but your girlfriends will always be there.
  5. Dancing. This is the time when teens start to learn how to bump and grind and try to act cool dancing. My advice: Don’t. Bumping and grinding make you look silly and inappropriate.
  6. Dating. Some 13-year-old girls may want to go to the movies or a dance with a boy. My advice: Go as a group with your friends. Meet at the movie theater or the dance and just have fun. You are too young to date! Trust me, enjoy being carefree and young.
  7. Boobies. Yep, that’s right.. the tatas! You will be getting them and wearing a bra.  You probably already are wearing one. My advice: Embrace it, don’t advertise it! No need to show the whole world what ya got!
  8. Clothes. Now that you are a teen, your body will be changing and you will be growing and exploring new clothes and new styles. This is your time to figure out who you are and what makes you feel pretty. My advice: Don’t go crazy spending a lot on clothes because you will be outgrowing them sooner than you think.
  9. Parents. As much as you think your parents are a nag, annoying, a pain, mean, not fair, etc.., your parents are looking out for what is best for you. My advice: Listen to them.  It’s okay to disagree. You are entitled  to your opinion, but be smart enough to realize they are protecting you and trying to keep you safe and happy.
  10. Mean girls.  There are girls that are nice to you to your face, but behind your back are saying bad things and doing bad things. My advice: They won’t ever change  so stay away from them. They grow up to be mean women.  They are not your friends even if they act and say they are. You will know who your true friends are. Trust your gut. It’s usually right.
  11. Social Media. Teens  use this a measurement of popularity and some just can’t live without it.  My advice: Be careful  and limit what you say and do on it.  There are cyber bullies so be very careful what you post and who you “friend”.
  12. Peer Pressure. Becoming a teen makes you want to fit in and be liked and that comes along with social pressure.  My advice: Be yourself. Don’t let other people pressure you into doing or saying something you don’t feel comfortable with. Again, if they do, these kids are not your “friends”.
  13. Respect. ( my biggest tip! ) You may think you know it all and adults don’t understand, but they do. My advice: Always always respect your parents, family, teachers, adults etc.   You are entitled to get upset, be in a mood, say things you don’t mean, but you are not entitled to be disrespectful.

There is a movie  called “13 going on 30.” I think you should watch it, Isabelle, and see that growing up and being an adult is not easy. It is more fun to be a teen and be young and carefree.

So Isabelle,  I hope you will take my 13 tips and  gain the wisdom  to know  how to survive your teenage years! Time goes by fast, so savor every day and every moment.

Now parents  of teenagers, I would love to know what tips you have for Isabelle as she becomes  a teenager.

Should a Teen Sleep Over a Boyfriend’s or Girlfriend’s House?

Nearly two years ago I (Raquel) wrote a blog that surprised me as it resulted in the largest response I had ever had. The topic? Should teens that are dating be allowed to sleep at each other’s house and have a boyfriend/girlfriend teen sleepover? This blog post resulted in almost 150 comments, from parents and teens!

I honestly can say I did not expect such a huge response. But I was so happy to touch upon a subject that clearly needed to be talked about. I sure hope I helped some parents and teens with this difficult conversation. Given the high level of interest in this, I thought it was worthy of sharing a Top 10 list from the interesting feedback I received from teens and parents.

Original post from March 2014

Is it okay for boyfriend/girlfriend to sleep over at each other’s house?

My daughter recently went over to her boyfriend’s house last Saturday night to hang out like she has done in the past. I fell asleep and realized she wasn’t home and it was past her curfew. I looked on my phone and found messages from her saying she is sleeping over at her girlfriend’s house.  I am a bit upset over the fact she didn’t ask permission and I know she is lying!

I asked her why she didn’t ask me prior to now and she said she fell asleep. More lies. I decided I would let her stay over her “girlfriend’s” house knowing very well she is probably at her boyfriend’s. I knew arguing at this time of night wasn’t going to get me anywhere so I said we would talk about this in the morning when she comes home.

Next morning comes around and like I suspected she stayed at her boyfriend’s house! I was extremely upset because we had this discussion before and I am totally against it, as is her father. She tells me that she doesn’t understand what the big deal is? “Lots of parents let their kids stay at their boyfriend’s house.”

I said, “Well, it’s not okay with this parent.” She said my reasoning did not help her understand why it was wrong or inappropriate because she found nothing wrong with it. They weren’t doing anything and they are 17.

How do I talk to a teen rationally about this? I am spitting nails and fuming. My daughter would not let go of the fact that there is nothing wrong with the sleepover and that it’s not wrong.

So, I am asking… Am I wrong? Do you allow your teen to sleep over at their boyfriend/girlfriend’s homes? Have times changed THAT much? I need someone to please help me understand this or at least help me make my daughter understand.

I did explain to her that sometimes in life, just because we don’t think it’s not inappropriate or wrong, doesn’t mean it isn’t. There isn’t always a logical reason.

That same day my husband called my daughter’s boyfriend’s dad and told him that she was not allowed to sleep over and unless he hears it from us, don’t believe it is okay with us.

I mean, really? These teens nowadays have found a way to basically make everything a battle. Sleepover with boyfriends? Yay or Nay?

Top 10 Things I Learned After Reading Feedback on My Original Post:

  1. Talk with your child not TO your child. Sometimes simple conversations can go a long way with building a relationship with your teen.
  2. Listen to your child. You may not agree with what they say but give them a chance to talk to you if you want the same courtesy back.
  3. Be realistic. Teens of today are not the same from when we were teens so because you did not do it does not mean they should not. Don’t have expectations that your teen may not live up to.
  4. Do not judge.  You are not a bad person and you will not be punished if you allow your son or daughter to sleep over at their boyfriend/girlfriend’s house.
  5. Teens are not sleeping over their boyfriend/girlfriend’s house for sex. They can have sex anytime. They just want to be able to relax the way they cannot at home.
  6. Teens need to respect and trust parents first! Parents want what is best for their teen and that may be not letting them “play house” at 17 or 18. So, until you are an adult and get your own place, parent’s house…parents rules.
  7. Communicate  and compromise. Consider compromising with your teens so they do not have to lie and go behind your back. Better to know where your teens are and that they are safe than to not know.
  8. Do not try to control your teen. Teens hate to feel controlled. They just want to be able to have some freedom.
  9. Trust your teen. If you have taught them about right from wrong and good from bad, then trust that your teen will make smart choices and will be honest with you on not about just sleeping over at their boyfriend/girlfriend’s house, but on bigger issues.
  10. Teach your kids values and respect. That is more important than controlling them or allowing them to be a part of a sleep over.

Talking to Your Son About Teen Sex

I have been talking to my youngest son, Garret, about wearing condoms when he has sex since he was in third grade. I know it sounds crazy to start so young, but when he came home from the Transformer movie talking more about Megan Fox than the plot of the movie, I knew I had to have the teen sex talk early. Because I have an older son, I gave them both the “always wear condoms”  sex talk at the same time. I explained that even if the girl says she has protection, unless they want to be a dad or contract a disease, they better not be silly and always wrap their willy to be safe.  They laughed and called me a crazy mom.

Now that Garret is in high school, I am having a different conversation with him about teen sex. It’s a conversation about emotions, actions and consequences.   I want him to know that sex can be a healthy way of expressing love in a good relationship. I also want him to know sex is more than a heat-of-the-moment action. Although he’s only 15, Garret tells me he has friends who are having sex, sometimes in their own homes, and usually without their parents knowing.

Even as I repeat my “wrap your willy” talk with him, there’s something I have to worry about in addition to diseases or pregnancy as a result of unsafe sex.  As soon as my son turns 18, sex can become a crime if there is an female involved who is under 18.  Let’s say Garret  turns 18 and has sex with a girl who is a year younger than him. In Florida, it’s considered illegal, even if the sex is consensual. The age of consent can vary among states, and some states differentiate between consensual sex between minors who are close in age (for example, two teenagers of the same age), as opposed to sex between a minor and a much older adult. But states some don’t.

It’s a scary thought that my son could run into legal issues for having sex with another teen who he might think legitimately wants to “hook up.”  If the girl’s parents find out she had sex, and she decides to say my son forced her into it, the penalties for him include prison.  So, already I’m giving Garret the lecture about how things change when he turns 18 and how he needs to know the risks. I’m also thinking about the advantages of legal insurance. ARAG  (a partner of RaisingTeens) offers legal insurance that works a lot like health insurance (but way more affordable). You can use it if your teen falls victim to identity theft, pulls a dumb prank that gets him into legal trouble, gets a traffic ticket, or needs legal help of any sort like in the situation I described involving sex. When your teen turns 18, a lot changes in the eyes of the law, and legal insurance gives you peace of mind because a lawyer is always available to help you navigate through any issues that arise with any family member.   I completely understand why 90 percent of people with ARAG legal insurance feel it reduces their stress.

As a mother of a teen girl, I’m glad the law protects minors who are forced into sex. But as a parent of boys, I worry about the gray area around teen sex, consent and the law.  Parents, what are you saying to your teen boys about sex?  Do you think it’s unrealistic to tell boys to stay away from younger girls once they turn 18?

 

 

Is Your Teen Daughter Cutting Herself?

One day, my daughter came home from school and told me her friend had cut herself.  My reaction was “she did what?” My daughter explained that her friend is “going through some stuff” and she had been cutting her arm, just enough to cause pain but not enough to cause serious harm.  After that first time, she has mentioned many other friends who cut themselves, telling me about it like it’s no big deal.

This self-harm trend is huge and most parents don’t even know it’s happening.

Growing up, I can’t remember ever considering cutting myself, nor do I remember hearing anyone else consider it. But today, cutting is a way some teens are coping with strong emotions, intense pressure, or relationship problems.  It’s a way for a teen to  let out what she is feeling inside. According to NDTV, self-harm is not a fashion fad, nor is it suicidal behavior. It is merely a coping mechanism and one in 12 teens have tried it

Where do teens learn about this? Believe it or not, there are dozens of YouTube “how to” cutting videos. 

The triggers are pretty much the same ones that have always caused teens trouble:

  • Depression,
  • Low Self-Esteem
  • Complicated relationships
  • Alcohol and drug abuse
  • Stress and emotional burden

Today, the first of March is marked as Self-Injury Awareness Day. An orange ribbon is commonly associated with this campaign.

 

 

 

 

If you’re a parent who has seen signs that your teen is self injuring, this book could be a resource for you,   A Caregiver’s Guide to Self-injury.  So could these fact sheets with dos and don’ts for approaching your teen about it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you suspect your teen has inflicted self-injury — bruises, scratches, cuts– it’s a great opportunity to have a conversation about it. This is definitely not a rare phenomenon so if you’re suspicious, use today to do something about it. You can follow the conversation on Twitter at #SIAD.

This is a powerful video made by a teen who talks about her personal experience with cutting

When Your Teens’ Friends Start Driving

I will never forget the day my son Jake’s friend pulled into the driveway an hour after she got her driver’s license. She already had two other kids in the car and wanted him to go for a ride. When I told him no way, he was furious with me. It was the start of months of negotiation with Jake over driving rules and arguments that lasted beyond the day he got his own license.

Slowly, I have eased into the idea of my teens driving with other teens. Not because I want to, but because I have had to give in to keep myself sane.

Now, here I am again with my younger son starting the negotiations again. Garret is six months away from being eligible to get his license, but his friends have started to get theirs. To me there’s is nothing scarier than letting your teen drive with a new driver! There are so many distracted drivers on the roads today, which makes lack of experience even more worrisome.

One of my friends doesn’t let her daughter drive with anyone who hasn’t had his or her license for a month. She also has told her daughter she is not allowed to take any passengers in her car for a month after she gets her license. I agree with my friend that it is definitely easier for a new driver to concentrate without passengers in the car.

For me, enforcing a rule like that is hard.  If I tell my Garret he can’t drive with friends, he will get left out. Last weekend, some of my son’s friends went to the beach together. One of the boys, who has had his license a month was going to drive.  I wanted to drive him myself to the beach.  However, he told me I was making him look like a baby and he would rather stay home than have me drive him separately. I gave in, said my prayers, and breathed relief when he got home. My son told me a mom of one of the other boys who went with them tracked her son on his phone the whole time and called to question him when they stopped at the mall after the beach.

So far, I don’t have any set rules with Garret, nor have I felt the need to track my son when he is out with friends. I have let Garret drive with a friend who I feel is responsible, and I have said no to driving with one who gets easily distracted. In the meantime, I am preparing myself for the day he gets his license and the independence and the inevitable parental worries that goes with it.

So parents, am I too lenient to let my son drive with new drivers? How have you handled your teen being a passenger in a car with a teen driver? Do you have any rules?

Why teens are taking prescription medicine

I am sharing with our readers an article that was published  in my son, Matthew’s high school newspaper,  The Eagle Eye.

I was shocked but then again I wasn’t when I read this well-written article about prescription medicati by a junior at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High in Coral Springs, Florida. I am very familiar with Adderall because my daughter Olivia is on it for her ADD. I recall reminding her to take it every day and cautioned her about the side effects that came with taking it. I told her she would have loss of appetite and it would keep her up all night.  I also recall reminding her  that selling her prescription pills is a felony and told her not to ever even think of doing so, even if someone asks to buy one from her.  She was well aware of that risk and assured me she would never sell her pills and jeopardize her future. But, what is sad is that kids feel the need to use this ADD/ADHD medicine to help them get through all their school workload. Some teens are so desperate they illegally want to buy it off their friends. Parents, this is awful! This is a cry for help! These kids have no other alternative? Really?  Clearly, this medicine helps many teens succeed and do well, but at what expense?

Are the schools or teachers even aware that so many teens feel a need to take this medicine to stay awake and focused? If not, teachers need to wake up. Maybe our high schools should have classes for teens on how to handle stress or school workload. I am very worried about our teens’ stress levels. Some turn to prescription drugs,  some become depressed — and some do even the unthinkable, commit suicide.  We as parents need to do what we can to help our teens handle their stress levels, even if that means talking with their teachers.  My heart goes out to these teens who feel they have no other alternatives  to handle their stress other than medication or suicide.

Adderall is physically and psychologically addicting, and has long-term side effects.  What about the legal ramifications if your teen gets caught taking it without a prescription? You can kiss your teen’s future goodbye because now they are in a heap of legal trouble.  Now, as a preventative or if your teen does get into legal trouble, I would highly recommend you reach out to ARAG, a national company that offers legal insurance to families.   I wish I knew about legal insurance  years ago, but I know about it now and I am very passionate about paying it forward and helping  other parents become aware of this resources they could tap  in case of an emergency.  There are so many things to worry about as a parent of a teen and  ARAG  (a sponsor of RaisingTeens) could be an important resource because having legal insurance can save you money  and peace of mind when it comes to your teen’s future.

So, parents, please read this article because your teen can have all the right intentions as to why he/she is taking  Adderall, but not realize there are physical and legal consequences for abusing it, and selling or sharing their medicine.

Students abuse pharmaceuticals to maximize efficiency for schoolwork

A Teen’s Perspective: What Your Teen Is Doing On Social Media

Today, fellow parents, we are extremely fortunate. A teen is going to give us some insight into how  we can keep up with our teens on social media. She has lots of great suggestions for  how to help  your kids with problems they  may encounter online.

Let me introduce you to Lauren Ofman. If you have questions or comments for Lauren, please weigh in below!

Lauren Ofman is a high school student in California who loves spending time with her family, learning sign language, and helping teens and parents communicate! She blogs about her perspective and answers requests for advice at, http://ateensperspectiveblog.weebly.com/.

I’m a junior in high school, so I can tell you one thing for sure – your teen’s phone and computer are essential to his or her life. For school, social life, and sometimes even breathing, I need my phone and my computer.

It’s not surprising that it’s difficult for most parents to understand the role technology plays in almost everything their kids do. For most teenagers that I know, interactions with online content and social media are complex, inescapable, and require constant management in order to protect or maintain an image- even if your goal is to not have an image.

I’m a big fan of the 90s and even the 80s a little. My understanding of high school for the generations before mine is derived mostly from movies and stories I hear from my parents. In my admittedly limited view, it seems to me that not much has changed. The struggles of a teenager in high school today are still basically the same as they were decades ago. We’re all still very concerned about our image and the way we’re perceived by others.

The big difference is that, in today’s world, many of us, whether we admit it or not, are managing two separate personas. Yes, you read that right; we’re leading double lives. There’s our IRL (“in real life”) persona, which everyone has and does their best to maintain, but, for most teenagers today, there also exists a funnier, sexier, wittier, and even more daring alter ego. And it’s this second persona that’s in charge of making sure that, no matter what, the Instagram and Snapchat content coming out of the camp is sensational, sexy, and stage ready.

The priorities of the alter ego and the IRL persona are sometimes different and the two are rarely on the same page. This is usually okay, since for the most part the IRL persona makes rational decisions and is ultimately the one in charge. Trouble arises when the alter ego takes over and clouds the judgment. When this happens the Instagram and Snapchat posts get racier or otherwise worse in judgement while at the same time the social circle expands beyond friends to include more random, anonymous internet alter egos with bad intentions. It’s at this point that your teenager is most likely to encounter issues like cyberbullying and blackmail.

Here’s what to watch for:

New Followers: As a parent you should have the Instagram and Snapchat apps on your phone and learn to use them. You should also do your best to know your teen’s Instagram and Snapchat handles. For Instagram and Snapchat, even if the account is private, you can see the number of followers your teen has. A few of my friends with dominant alter egos have multiple Instagram and Snapchat accounts, so this may take some digging. Once you find the account(s), keep an eye on the number of people following that page. If you notice more than 5,000 followers and the account is private, this could be a sign that the alter ego is in command. Also, if you notice a large and sudden uptick in followers, this would be a point of concern.  I suggest that even though you’re keeping an eye out, you focus on protecting against real danger, not policing every move your teen makes and trying to be too controlling. A post that makes you roll your eyes, has typos, sounds dumb to you, or uses slightly off-color language? Let them be.

 

Cyberbullying: According to Antibullyingpro.com, 7 in 10 people aged between 13 and 22 have been a victim of cyberbullying. Cyberbullying has become one of the most frequent types of bullying in society today. It’s happened at my school. It’s even occurred within my social circle.

For many alter egos, the feeling that they can say what they want anonymously or without the pressure of speaking face-to-face is too strong to resist; however, cyberbullying is a very serious offense. It comes in many forms: texting, sending incriminating pictures, or even sharing confidential information can all be examples of cyberbullying.

The best way for your teen to avoid cyberbullying is to limit your teen’s followers and social media friends to those they actually know in real life. In my experience, cyberbullying usually doesn’t come from someone you’re going to see at school or camp the next day. It’s almost always some random troll from the internet. I only accept friend requests or approve followers from people I know.

You might let your teen know that cyberbullying is a crime and that if it happens to them, you are happy to help. They will roll their eyes, but if things get bad, they might remember they can come to you.

Blackmail: Limiting social media interactions to people your teen knows  also helps limit opportunities for blackmail. All of the blackmail I’ve heard about, however, has taken place when a relationship ends badly. Relationships in high school are by nature shaky and uncertain and always have the potential to end badly, so that means lots of us are at risk of being blackmailed.

Whenever I send a photo or video, I assume it’s going to go public, and if I’m not comfortable with my grandmother seeing it, I simply don’t send it. My recommendation to you is simple; tell your kids to assume that everything they send out will be seen by everyone they know, including their grandmother.

But also make sure your teen knows that if someone is blackmailing them with a text or photo, there are legal actions he or she can take, and you’re able to help them if they get in a tough situation. The idea that an indecent picture of you may be on everyone’s phone within the hour can be terrifying for a teen (or anyone).  So, it’s good that they know ahead of time to come to you immediately for help if the situation arises, and that you’ll help them without being angry.

They should also know, if they’re under 18, that sending risque photos of themselves, even to a friend or boyfriend, could land them in legal trouble. It’s pretty common for teens to send photos to their boyfriends and girlfriends, and although you may not want to think about it, you should be sure your teen understands that it could end in not only embarrassment, but legal trouble.

Most people I know who’ve been embarrassed by a photo getting shared trusted the person they sent it to, and thought “He would never do that!” Your teen will probably think the same. So instead of focusing on what that significant other might do if they break up, point out that accounts get hacked all the time, phones get lost, laptops get stolen, and all sorts of unpredictable things happen. Those scenarios may be easier for your teen to think about happening to them.

TALK TO YOUR TEEN! These are just some suggestions, but overall the important thing is to start a dialogue with your teens and share information without attacking or accusing them. You should also always be on the lookout for signs that the alter ego has taken over.

Teen Trouble With The Law

When I was a teen, the only encounter I had with the law was either getting a speeding ticket or getting in a minor accident when I rear ended someone during spring break in Ft. Lauderdale.

Nowadays, teen trouble with the law happens more than parents care to admit. Teens of course are still speeding, or distracted driving and getting into accidents. However,  it seems like the severity of their accidents are worse. Some young teens will steal their parent’s car without having a license,  end up getting into an accident because of their joy ride and total the car.  When that happens,  parents often are left with fixing or replacing the vehicle, not to mention a possible arrest and ticket for driving without a license.

Parents of course do not want this on their teen’s record because this isn’t just a normal moving violation, this is breaking the law. This will require an attorney to ensure your teen does not carry a record with him all his life.

Most parents don’t have a criminal attorney on speed dial. I know from my personal experience, I had no clue who to turn to when faced with a similar situation. I ended up asking a police officer friend for a lawyer referral.  I was lucky and that lawyer turned out to be fantastic. The experience changed my life and my daughter Olivia’s. The legal process and potential consequences without proper legal representation was scary.

I remember talking with the attorney and hoping everything would turnout okay. This was all new to me. I was concerned, yet I had to be strong for my daughter whom I wanted to strangle for putting me through this.

Going to court with her the day of her hearing, I was sick to my stomach and fearing the worst. Fortunately for her, the judge ordered her do community service hours and instructed her that she had to maintain  a 3.0 GPA. If she did all she was ordered  within the period he gave us, he would expunge this from her record. Relief came over me and I was grateful to have a great attorney who was experienced with cases like this.

I want to  encourage parents who are raising teens — or will be in the near future – to be aware and prepared for what may come and make sure they have access to the right resources. Even responsible teens can mess up.

I recently learned about ARAG, a national company that offers legal insurance to families and who is also a sponsor for Raising Teens blog. Legal insurance plans protect consumers and their families against life’s legal issues, by giving you access to a nationwide network of attorneys and  legal resources. I wish I knew about legal insurance when I went through my daughter’s legal issues. I was fortunate to have had a great attorney but some people are not as lucky. ARAG offers help and resources that could be beneficial to families with teens. I highly recommend you check them out because having legal insurance would have saved me money and peace of mind.

A parent cannot predict what their teen will do – drive drunk, use a fake ID, get caught with weed –  but when they do, you will be prepared.

Raising a teen is not easy in today’s world, we need all the help we can get from each other, and outside resources to ensure we raise our teens safely and with proper morals.

I am curious to hear of any teen vs the law stories you may have had and how your experience turned out?

When mom tells her teen daughter she is fat

 

I am at Starbuck’s and I’m eavesdropping. I hate to admit that I would do such a thing,  but I just can’t help it. The teens sitting at the table next to me are talking loud and the conversation has lured me in.  “I love your mom,” one of the teenage girls says to the other. “She’s so cool.”  Now, instead of taking the compliment, the other girl replies, “Oh yeah, well this morning my mom told me I was fat.”

I listen as she explains further.  The girl continues on. “My mom asked me to go to the gym with her in the mornings before school. Can you believe that?”  “Really?” asks her friend, sounding horrified. “Yeah, of course I’m not going to go. I don’t have time for that,” she says.

I glance over and from where I was sitting it looks like the young teen girl is  average weight. Sure, the Frappuccino she is drinking isn’t doing anything to trim her waistline, but she by no means seemed overweight. As I sat there taking it all in, I realized that what I did not hear in the conversation was any mention that the girl’s mother had actually said her daughter was fat. She merely invited her to go with her to the gym.

As a mother of a teen daughter, I have learned discussing body issues is dangerous.  Teen girls are super sensitive about their bodies and bringing up the topic of weight is tricky. This girl apparently read more in her mother’s invitation to join her at the gym — whether or not the mother intended it that way. Unfortunately, I could relate. One day I suggested my daughter eat something other than the cupcake she was about to put in her mouth. My comment sparked tears and she insisted I called her fat. I tried to convince her I was just trying to teach her about making healthier eating choices.

As a society, we’ve gotten a little better about expecting females to be stick thin throughout their lives. But for teen girls, carrying extra weight can be difficult mentally and physically. It’s something many mothers worry about. So how exactly do you as a parent handle it when you see your daughter packing on pounds?  Do you say something and risk that she will rebel? Do you couch it in a caring way and avoid the word fat? Do you ignore it completely?

And, what do you do when your daughter says, “I hate my fat thighs?” Is there any right answer?

I have found a well-meaning conversation that’s just about weight or dieting, especially in the heat of the moment, can backfire.  Instead, I noticed conversations go more smoothly when you plan out what you’ll say before you say it, so you don’t cause your daughter to get defensive or worse, develop an eating disorder.   What has worked for me is to talk with my daughter about healthful eating, and how to balance that with exercise.

Lots of teen girls are just figuring out moderation and  what “eating healthy” really means. My friend’s daughter gained a good bit of weight her freshman year of college. My friend was upset and wondered if she should say something. She worried that speaking up would hurt their relationship.  But then, on her own, my friend’s daughter realized that eating late at night can make you put on weight and that skipping breakfast made her ravenous at lunchtime.  She began eating healthier and lost the weight. My friend felt  her daughter needed to figure it out herself and the approach worked. But it doesn’t always play out that way.

As a parent, none of this is easy.  I have found it helps, though, when you make your teen daughter well aware of your unconditional love. Have you ever talked to your teen daughter about her weight? Why do you think so many teen girls walk around saying, “My mother thinks I fat?”

 

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