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As a mother of a high school senior who is waiting to hear from colleges about acceptances, I really appreciated this article in the New York Times called How to Survive the College Madness. It talks a lot about how getting into your first college of choice shouldn’t define who you become.
As part of the article, author Frank Bruni includes a letter from parents’ to their son regarding college acceptances and rejections. It struck a chord with me and I want to share it with all of you who will someday be in these parents’ shoes like I am right now.
On the night before you receive your first college response, we wanted to let you know that we could not be any prouder of you than we are today. Whether or not you get accepted does not determine how proud we are of everything you have accomplished and the wonderful person you have become. That will not change based on what admissions officers decide about your future. We will celebrate with joy wherever you get accepted — and the happier you are with those responses, the happier we will be. But your worth as a person, a student and our son is not diminished or influenced in the least by what these colleges have decided.
If it does not go your way, you’ll take a different route to get where you want. There is not a single college in this country that would not be lucky to have you, and you are capable of succeeding at any of them.
We love you as deep as the ocean, as high as the sky, all the way around the world and back again — and to wherever you are headed.
Every day when my 13-year-old son comes home from school he spends about 20 minutes telling me about his school day. Although, I don’t hear much about his classes, teachers or assignments.
The conversation usually starts with what girl joined him at the lunch table. Moves on to what girl wore a tight shirt or short shorts to school. And always includes what girl he talked to him the most on that particular day
Yes, my son is girl crazy!
My efforts to prod him about his science test or his math homework get overshadowed by his eagerness to talk about his conversations with his friend over whether Susie is hotter than Jenny. He notices the girls who all of a sudden are wearing makeup to school.
While girls his age are swooning over Harry Stiles, my son is raptured by supermodel Kate Upton.
What’s a mother to do?
I’ve given the lectures about what to value in the opposite sex (intelligence, kindness, ambition) I have given him the talk about lust, love and sex. I grab every teachable moment to talk about what to value in women beyond looks. I’ve seen tons of advice for mothers of “boy crazy” tween girls but not a lot of mothers of boys.
All I can do is hope this “girl crazy” 13-year-old boy will one day find a woman he adores for all the right reasons. Until then, I’m trying to be a good listener and help him navigate the middle school years. Something tells me it’s only going to get more challenging!
Recently I had a girlfriend of mine, Grace, call me frantically in a panic that her 14-year-old daughter, Lila, a high school freshman, went to her high school basketball game with her friends. Apparently after the game, she went over one her friend’s homes and drank — and drank. Lila got so drunk she basically passed out.
Well, the mother of the girl’s house where they were drinking came home, saw Lila on the bathroom floor, and called my friend Grace. Grace couldn’t believe it, her world was shattered by her young high school freshman daughter passed out drunk! How could this happen? she asked me. I said Grace, breathe. Is Lila ok? She said yes.
How could this happen? she repeated to me. I wanted to say, Really? You have to ask? She is a high school freshman and out with friends, it happens. She was trying her first drink and being she is skinny, it didn’t take much to get her passed out.
Grace took her to the Emergency Room for fear of alcohol poisoning and in case anyone took advantage of her since she was out cold. Happy to say, she was not taken advantage of and they pumped her stomach, gave her fluids and she was sent her home.
I told my friend Grace to do me one favor when her daughter woke up, “Do not yell or lecture her.” I told Grace her daughter already knows what she did was wrong and physically is paying for it. She didn’t realize how drinking would affect her. Yes, she is a minor, but what parent can tell me they didn’t sneak a drink when they were in high school? I also told Grace that the way she will parent Lila from this point forward will never be the same.
Welcome to Teen Parenting Grace! Your life will never be the same.
I also told Grace to let her daughter do all the talking, to let her explain what happened so she can listen to herself say what she did and realize it was wrong.
Will she do it again? Maybe. Maybe not. But this is high school. Teens will drink, smoke pot, have sex. Do we want them to do those things? Absolutely NOT! But, isn’t it better to prepare them so if they do these things behind our backs, they will make smart decisions/choices like no drinking and driving and no drinking until you pass out.
The more you take away, the more the teen will want.
Lila will have to earn her parents trust now, but that’s okay. She has time to do so. My advice to my girlfriend and to parents: pace yourself and don’t panic over the first “violation of trust.” Teens are trying to make friends. Some will drink to try to fit in and be cool. Some will try other things. So try to be understanding and let them know you do not support or agree with their choice to drink or smoke pot or have sex. Tell them please don’t get in a car if you have been drinking. Call me if you need a ride and use protection always if you have sex. Does this mean you support these choices? Heck no! But don’t be ignorant because you don’t want them dead or getting pregnant. So, if they are going to do what they want to do, EDUCATE THEM! That is the best parenting you can do for them. Let them know, you love them and hope they make smart choices because bad ones have bad consequences.
My dear friend Grace took her daughter to a therapist as well in hopes that maybe she drank for a reason. I told her Lila drank because her friends did and she wanted to try it, plain and simple.
We can’t shelter our kids yet expect them to survive in the real world once they are adults. It doesn’t work that way.
The point I’m making is…Don’t panic! The teen years will get better and you will survive them. Welcome to High School Parenting!
Teens can’t wait to become 18 and legally be an “adult”. My daughter Olivia keeps telling me that once she’s 18, things will be different. Uh, yeah they will and not the way she thinks.
She thinks being an adult gives you the freedom to do whatever you want. Yes, when you are paying your own bills, living in your own home and have a full-time job. But, when you are still in high school and mom and dad are paying for everything, uh NO, there is no freedom. Freedom is earned, like respect. Just because you are 18 does not mean you can do what you want. Well, you can but now you have consequences as an adult, not a child. Also, mom and dad DO NOT have to pay for anything, they are not responsible. So, trust me.. IT SUCKS BEING AN ADULT!
Why are you in a hurry to grow up? Being an adult is not all it’s cut out to be. If I could, I would go back in time and be a kid again — and enjoy it! The feeling of having no responsibility and having the freedom to just enjoy life and have your meals and laundry taken care of would be great.
I remind my daughter, Olivia, remember when you wanted your period so bad so you can feel like you are becoming a young lady? Well, how do you feel about that now? Yep.. it sucks!
Well, that’s the same with being an adult. Don’t be in such a hurry to rush adulthood, just because you’re 18 doesn’t mean you are ready. You will get there. Enjoy the journey to adulthood because it only happens once. The journey is the best part and you miss the best parts by rushing it by and wanting to be older.
It sucks to be an adult Olivia. It sucks to have bills. It sucks to worry about money. It sucks to worry about your job. It sucks to pay taxes. It sucks to have mean bosses. It sucks to worry about retirement. It sucks to worry about your future. So Olivia.. Yes, it sometimes sucks to be an adult. Don’t rush through life. Enjoy being a kid, having carefree fun, having little responsibility. Enjoy mom and dad taking care of you, grandma and grandpa spoiling you and buying you things. Enjoy not worrying how much you earn working at Publix. Enjoy sleeping as long as you want because.. It sucks being an adult Olivia.
Life is a journey, enjoy the ride and if you can, stop and enjoy the sites along the way!
This morning, I am in shock. My friend’s son killed himself. He was only 20.
What do you say to a mother or father who gets that news? There are no words.
As we run around, worrying about answering an email or returning a phone call, we forget that the routine tasks on our plates mean little when it comes to losing someone you love. There is nothing that can replace that hole for a parent who loses their child.
My friend may never understand why this tragedy occurred. But she will always wish she could have done more. She will think of every time she hugged her son, every moment she spent with him and wish there were more.
So, for all of us who have more time with our teens, let’s disconnect this weekend. Let’s not worry about the customer or supervisor who is giving us aggravation, the emails we need to answer, the errands we need to run. Let’s put our mobile devices in our pockets and leave them there. It’s Valentine’s weekend and the best time ever to show love to your teens and to those you care about by giving them what they want and need most — our undivided attention.
My heart aches for my friend who has been clutching her son’s photo since learning of the news. She has experienced the kind of loss and perspective no one should have to endure. I know there is little I can do for her right now. It’s a helpless feeling.
So, for her and the other parents who have been in her shoes, let’s make the most of our Valentine’s Day and be present for our families. We all have people in our lives we love – let’s show them through our actions. Let’s be present in body and mind. As my grieving friend as learned, roses and chocolates are nice but they pale in comparison to real conversation and a big hug.
Does it ever get really quiet in your house, you think your teen is asleep. But noooooo.
It turns out your kid has his cellphone with him in bed and he’s watching his Instagram feed or a funny new video on Vine.
As a mom, it’s so annoying!
But now, this mom has some ammunition to use against her son.
A new study found teens who bury their faces for hours in electronic screens tend to suffer bad nights of sleep. Now, as I blow into the room aghast that my son is still awake and playing on his phone I can blurt out: “Do you want to have a bad’s night sleep?”
“There are indications that today’s teenagers sleep less than previous generations,” said Mari Hysing, co-author and a psychologist at Uni Research Health in Norway told Time Magazine. “There are some aspects of electronic devices that may give an additional arousal; the [screen] light may impact sleep hormone production, and also the social communication aspect” may stir adolescents to keep chatting deep into the night.
Experts say ideally, the last hour before bed should be free of electronic devices and that use of any device in the hour before bedtime was linked to a heightened risk of taking longer than 60 minutes to get to sleep. (I’m wonder if the researcher also has a sneaky teen trying to text under the covers!)
Some of the key findings of the study:
If a teen’s total, daytime screen time surpassed four hours, that was associated with a 49 percent higher risk of taking longer than one hour to fall asleep.
Total screen viewing that exceeded two hours after school was “strongly linked” to both a longer period of tossing and turning before dreams finally came—and with shorter, nightly sleep duration.
Teens who used two to three devices each day were more likely to sleep for less than five hours when compared to those used just one gadget.
Here’s another eye-opener: On Monday, the National Sleep Foundation, recommended that teenagers between the ages of 14 and 17 get eight to 10 hours of restorative sleep each night — a full hour longer than the group had previously suggested.
I don’t need research to tell me teens need more sleep. In my house, waking up a teenager is a miserable job.
So, what do you think about getting your kid to disconnect from his/her smartphone or laptop an hour before bedtime? Doable or impossible?
I love this story posted on Bizwomen.com, mostly because of how Sam Gordon’s father nurtured her talent and encouraged her to follow her passion. It’s a great message for parents of teen girls who show athleticism. I hope some of your daughters see Sam during the Superbowl and are inspired by the opportunities she represents.
The young football player Sam Gordon became an Internet phenomenon in 2012 for her impressive skills on the field. It didn’t take long for her catch national attention — she landed a spot on Conan, smiled on a Wheaties box and joined NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell at the 2013 Super Bowl.
Now she’s onto her next big gig: She’ll be reporting live from Super Bowl XLIX for MAKERS.
After the 2012 excitement, Gordon took a year off of football to focus on soccer (which she also excelled at), but she missed football too much to stay away. These days, she plays on a boys’ football team near Salt Lake City, Utah, and her dad is her No. 1 fan.
“I said, ‘Hey Dad, would it be OK if I played football this year?’ And he said, ‘Sure, that’s fine.’ My dad never said no to anything like that just because I was a girl,” Gordon said in a video shown at the MAKERS conference last year.
Gordon’s dad said that people were surprised to see a small girl dressed up in football pads and gear walk onto the field. At first, parents and other kids would say, “Oh, look at that girl, she’s so cute.” But when they saw her scoring touchdowns and tackling boys, the tone would shift to, “Get that girl. You gotta get her. Boys don’t get beat by a girl.”
Her dad then posted a video of her playing football online, and in just a few days, the video had 4 million views. TV stations started calling.
“I really felt good that Sam’s story could help promote the idea that the potential of girls is greater than what maybe we give them credit for,” her father said. “Don’t underestimate your daughters.”
Recently, a couple of my daughters friends had requested to follow me on Instagram. I thought that was odd since I was “Olivia’s mom” but I figured I had an opportunity to see what my daughter was doing and with whom when she was out.
At times I am thrilled I can see what my daughter and her friends are up to but then other times, I feel weird following a teen. I have mixed emotions but in the end, I rather be informed then ignored.
One time I decided to “like” a picture of her friend with his family and apparently the “MILF” comments came. Olivia’s friend was THRILLED I liked his post. She told Olivia, “RAQUEL, liked my post!” Now I am worried I am giving off the wrong signal to a horny teen college boy.
I told Olivia I thought it was sweet he posted a picture of him and his family for the Holidays but, I never expected that response. Needless to say, I wont be “liking” his posts so as not to encourage any misguided intentions.
I know her friends think I’m a cool mom and feel comfortable communicating and making me a part of their inner circle, so in the end, if it allows me to have open access and an open relationship with my daughter, not to mention.. build TRUST, then it’s so worth it.
So, mom’s and dad’s, do you follow your teen on Instagram or do their friends follow you??
From every direction lately, I hear about teen suicide. First, I read about two high school girls, both popular soccer players, who killed themselves just days apart. One may have killed herself because she felt guilty for not preventing the other from taking her life.
Karageorge’s mother, Susan Karageorge, had previously told a TV station that her son suffered from concussions, and that he had sent her a text shortly before he went missing in which he apologized for being an “embarrassment” as a result of the medical condition.
“I wish you could’ve talked to me if you were struggling,”Johnni Dijulius, one of Karageorge’s teammates on the wrestling team told NBC News. “I love you to death and I hope that you found peace and you’re happy.”
As I read more and more about teen suicide, I’m scared. What’s going on with our teens and young adults?
The rate of teen suicide has been rising during the past few years, according to a survey by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The study also found 1 in 12 high school students reported having attempted suicide.
Are we raising teens that feel lonely, disconnected and misunderstood? What should we be doing differently?
Recently, during a fight in my son’s school cafeteria, the teens all reached for their phones to video it. Not one, called for help. Are we raising teens who try to capture the moment digitally rather than step in physically to prevent hurt feelings, broken bones or worse — suicide? Have you had a conversation with your teen lately about coming to you if he or she feels suicidal or believes a friend might be?
Teens, like everyone else, need to feel like someone gets them. They want to be understood. Obviously, we’re not doing enough to help them feel that way.
Girls have quietly repurposed the photo-sharing app into a barometer for popularity, friendship status and self-worth. Here’s how they’re using it.
Secrecy is hardly new on Planet Girl: as many an eye-rolling boy will tell you, girls excel at eluding the prying questions of grown ups. And who can blame them? From an early age, young women learn that to be a “good girl” they must be nice, avoid conflict and make friends with everyone. It’s an impossible ask (and one I’ve studied for over a decade) – so girls respond by taking their true feelings underground.
Enter the Internet, and Instagram: a platform where emotions can run wild – and where insecurities run wilder. The photo-sharing app is social media’s current queen bee: In a survey released earlier this month, three quarters of teens said they were using Instagram as their go-to app.
But Instagram’s simplicity is also deceiving: look more closely, and you find the Rosetta Stone of girl angst: a way for tweens and teens to find out what their peers really think of them (Was that comment about my dress a joke or did she mean it?), who likes you (Why wasn’t I included in that picture?), even how many people like them (if you post and get too few likes, you might feel “Instashame,” as one young woman calls it). They can obsess over their friendships, monitoring social ups and downs in extreme detail. They can strategically post at high traffic hours when they know peers are killing time between homework assignments. “Likes,” after all, feel like a public, tangible, reassuring statement of a girl’s social status.
That’s not what the app creators intended, of course, but it does make psychological sense: as they become preteens, research shows that girls’ confidence takes a nosedive. Instagram, then, is a new way for girls to chase the feeling of being liked that eludes so many of them. Instagram becomes an popularity meter and teens learn to manipulate the levers of success.
Here are a few of the ways that girls are leveraging Instagram to do much more than just share photos:
To Know What Friends Really Think Of Them
In the spot where adults tag a photo’s location, girls will barter “likes” in exchange for other things peers desperately want: a “TBH” (or “to be honest”). Translation? If you like a girl’s photo, she’ll leave you a TBH comment. For example: “TBH, ILYSM,” meaning, “To be honest I love you so much.” Or, the more ambivalent: “TBH, We don’t hang out that much.
To Measure How Much a Friend Likes You
In this case, a girl may trade a “like” — meaning, a friend will like her photo — in exchange for another tidbit of honesty: a 1-10 rating, of how much she likes you, your best physical feature, and a numerical scale that answers the question of “are we friends?” and many others. Girls hope for a “BMS,” or break my scale, the ultimate show of affection.
As a Public Barometer of Popularity
Instagram lets you tag your friends to announce that you’ve posted a new photo of them. Girls do the app one better: they take photos of scenes where no person is present – say, a sunset — but still tag people they love and add gushing comments. It’s a kind of social media mating call for BFFs. But girls also do it because the number of tags you get is a public sign of your popularity. “How many photos you’re tagged in is important,” says Charlotte, 12. “No one can see the actual number but you can sort of just tell because you keep seeing their name pop up.”
To Show BFF PDA
That broken heart necklace you gave your bestie? It’s gone the way of dial up. Now, girls use Instagram biographies – a few lines at the top of their page — to trumpet their inner circle. It’s a thrill to be featured on the banner that any visitor to the page will see — but not unusual to get deleted after a fight or bad day, in plain, humiliating sight of all your friends.
A Way to Retaliate
Angry at someone? Don’t tag the girl who is obviously in a picture, crop her out of it entirely, refuse to follow back the one who just tried to follow you, or simply post a photo a girl is not in. These are cryptic messages adults miss but which girls hear loud and clear. A girl may post an image of a party a friend wasn’t invited to, an intimate sleepover or night out at a concert. She never even has to mention the absent girl’s name. She knows the other girl saw it. That’s the beauty of Instagram: it’s the homework you know girls always do.
A Personal Branding Machine
Girls face increasing pressure not only to be smart and accomplished, but girly, sexy and social. In a 2011 survey, 74% of teen girls told the Girl Scout Research Institute that girls were living quasi-double lives online, where they intentionally downplayed their intelligence, kindness and good influence – and played up qualities like fun, funny and social. On Instagram, girls can project a persona they may not have time, or permission, to show off in the classroom: popular, social, sexy. Cultivating a certain look is so important that it’s common for girls to stage ‘photo shoots’ with each other as photographers to produce shots that stand out visually. (Plus a joint photo shoot is more evidence of friendship.)
A Place For Elaborate Birthday Collages
Remember coming to school on your big day, excited to see what you’d find plastered to your locker? Now girls can see who’s celebrating them hours before they get off the bus. Birthday collages on Instagram are elaborate public tributes, filled with inside jokes, short videos, and pictures of memories you may not have been a part of. “There is definitely a ‘I love you the most. I’ve loved you the longest edge to these birthday posts,” one parent told me. Collages that document the intensity or length of a relationship are a chance to celebrate a friend – or prove just how close you are to the birthday girl. Although most girls know to expect something from their closest friends, not getting one is seen as a direct diss, a parent told me. And it can be competitive: another parent told me her daughter’s friend stayed up until midnight just so she could be the first to post.
While girls may seem addicted to their online social lives, it’s not all bad — and they still prefer the company of an offline friend to any love they have to click for. (In a surveyt hat would surely surprise some parents, 92% of teen girls said they would give up all of their social media friends if it meant keeping their best friend.) And, of course, likes aren’t everything. As 13 year-old Leah told me, “Just because people don’t write me a paragraph on Instagram doesn’t mean they don’t like me.”
Rachel Simmons is the co-founder of Girls Leadership Institute and the author of the New York Times bestselling book, “Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls” and “The Curse of the Good Girl: Raising Authentic Girls With Courage and Confidence.”