Raising Teens

a site for parents grappling with sanity

Mom versus Gramma

When your teens were babies, it was great having your mother-in-law or mom help you out.  As  you well know, you can never have enough help when you have a baby. The more hands the better.

Over the years, you appreciate the help, the babysitting, the spoiling with gifts etc. But, as your children become teens, the dynamics change and it becomes  mom vs. gramma. Often,  when your teen doesn’t like the rules or gets angry with you, he or she will call Gramma.  In other words, they don’t need to stay at home because they have Gramma’s house. Gramma will take my side. Gramma will make me feel better. Gramma will listen and understand.

That’s all fine and good UNTIL Gramma undermines mom and sides with your teen and enables your teen in a way that it justifies his or her disrespectful behavior. Basically, your teen wants someone to side with them and who better than Gramma.

Well, what your teen doesn’t realize is he or she should never underestimate mom. In the end, SHE IS YOUR MOM, Gramma is NOT. She will win, trust me.

Using Gramma against mom is not smart and Gramma should know that her  job should be to talk with your teen and reason with him or her to see what mom and dad  are trying to communicate or what lesson they are trying to teach.

What will make it worse is when Gramma starts fighting with mom because she agrees with your teen! Really? Who is the adult? Who is the teen? Now mom, has two people to deal with but,  mother-in-law dearest or mom should know better. How would they like it if you  or your husband did that when you were a child. It’s ridiculous that you now have to reason with your mother-in-law or mom when you shouldn’t have to! You have a teen to deal with!

Remember that help they gave you when your teen was a baby? Well, they certainly aren’t doing it now!

So, parents, teens, does this sound familiar? Do you have a mother-in-law/mom that makes matters worse? Do your teens run to Gramma whenever things get tough at home? What do you do to resolve this?

 

Signs your sweet baby boy has become a teenager

It’s 10 p.m. and my 15-year-old son Garret is still in the shower. He’s been in there for quite a while.  Music is blaring. Loud rap music. Very loud rap music. He is singing along like he’s the only person left on earth and no one can hear him.

For months, I’ve started to see the signs but I tried to ignore them. My sweet baby boy has become a teenager. A few days ago, he was with me in the supermarket and he asked me to buy him a razor. I looked at him puzzled. “What are you going to shave?” I asked him. “That little bit of peach fuzz above your lip?” He smirked a little and said, “I just want a razor.”

Last week, he asked to join a gym. He paid his own money to join for the summer and his brother has been taking him there. Every now and then, I catch him flexing his muscle, trying desperately to bulk up.

boy eatingAnd then there’s the non-stop eating. My always hungry growing boy is fully capable of finishing off as an afternoon  snack a whole lasagna or a giant sub sandwich that would have been dinner just a few years ago. I have become used to the continual question, “What’s for breakfast?” followed by “What’s for lunch?” and then an hour later, “What’s for dinner?”

A now, there’s the digital era sign of a teenage boy: flirting with girls on Snapchat. I’m driving along when I see my son next to me in the car making flirty faces into his phone. The first time, I questioned him: “What the heck are you doing?” Annoyed, he explained that he was sending a snapchat to some girl. By now, I am immune and don’t even ask anymore. I just assume that every car ride will involve selfies.

Lastly, there is the change in internal body clock. At night, my son goes to bed way later than I do (and I’m a night owl!) In the morning, I can’t get him up. Long gone are the days when he would pop up in the morning ready for the day ahead with a smile on his face. This morning, I woke him up at 10 a.m. and he groggily asked me why I was waking him up so early. I kid you not, when my older son was in high school, one summer day he slept until 3 in the afternoon. I was horrified!

As a mom, I know that watching your son grow up into a young man is a wonderful thing. But at the same time, it’s hard to see your baby boy mature before your eyes. It makes me feel old and miss the days when my son would cuddle with me and want me to tuck him in at night.  Some days, I want to hand him his Lightening McQueen toy cars and say “Remember these? Why can’t you be a carefree tot and play with these again?”

So parents, what are the signs you have seen that your son has become a teenager? Are they overt or subtle? As a parent, how have you handled the transition?

And that’s a wrap folks! Next stop..College bound!

My Olivia has graduated high school. Class of 2016 is moving on to bigger and brighter adventures!

I can’t believe when I first started this blog Olivia was  a young teenager and now she has graduated high school! I never thought this day would come with all the hurdles, challenges and obstacles we have had to overcome. This day seemed like an eternity away, and yet here it is. Next step.. college — an even bigger hurdle I am sure.

Olivia has been wanting to go to college the moment she started high school. She always wanted to be older and hurry life along. That has always been my challenge with her, to slow her down. I hope as she takes on the next chapter of her life, she has learned from her mistakes and will use those lessons to make smart choices and do well in college.

I asked Olivia how it felt to cross the stage and get her diploma. She said “amazing”. I told her, “Now imagine when you graduate college how that must feel. That’s what you need to achieve next.”

Now that Olivia is off to college, I am sure I will have much to blog about her adventures and dramas.  At the same time, my  14-year-old son Matthew will be starting high school in the fall.  Needless to say, I am far from over blogging on raising teens!

Who know what lies ahead? All I know is I am sure it won’t be dull and boring, just one big exciting rollercoaster ride. I just need to hold on tight and enjoy.

Next stop.. college!

Let me know how your high school graduation felt and about your teen’s new adventure to college.

 

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Letter to Mom from Son at Graduation

Just last year, I was one of the thousands of parents of a child who was graduating from high school and moving on to the next phase. It felt strange. I was happy and sad at the same time. I even felt a little lost and wondered what my home life would be like with one less child around. If you’re experiencing that right now, know that you are not alone.

Today, our guest blogger is Raffi Bilek, a former teenager and current parent of school-age children.  Raffi is a family counselor and director of the Baltimore Therapy Center, where he offers parenting workshops and counseling to parents, teens, and families. He loves his mom and wrote a letter to her from a teenage perspective. We enjoyed reading it and thought you would too.

Raffi sent a photo of him and his mom that he took on an instamatic camera. It’s not the best quality, but it gives a great feel for the sentiment he was experiencing at the time.

Me & Mom

Hi Mom,

Thanks for coming to this meeting.  I know you’re really busy with other projects but I’m glad we were able to take time out for this.

I figure the best way to do this is just be direct.  Mom, I’m downsizing.  Now that my corporation, Me, Inc., has been around nearly a decade and a half, it’s really become clear that we don’t need the complex management system we’ve had all this time.  You and Dad have been great managers, no doubt, but at this point, it’s really overkill.  In the past you’ve taken on a lot of different assignments around here, which have obviously shifted with the company’s needs over time, and just aren’t so relevant anymore.

Feeding and changing was a big one when we were just a tiny startup. Remember those days? Novice mistakes and setbacks, long hours, few days off if any… you sure put in a lot of time and effort, and I definitely want to appreciate what you did for the company back then, Mom.

Then there was scheduling and logistics for many years around playdates, school, baseball practice, dentist appointments.  You’ve certainly survived a lot of conflicts between the staff of Me, Inc., and your upper management team. And let’s not forget your expert direction of Me, Inc.’s Food Services Unit, your leadership in running the infirmary, and your clever efficiency improvements in areas ranging from Tantrum Weatherization to Homework Completion to Household Budgeting.

Yep, you’ve worn many hats around here.  But the point is, it’s just becoming less and less necessary.  As the founder and president of Me, Inc., I see the need for your skills dropping off as we move ahead into the bright future of adolescence.  So, like I said, I’m downsizing. I’m afraid that, effective immediately, you and Dad are no longer managers at Me, Inc.

I know this comes as kind of a shock to you, but in truth, the signs have been all over the place for some time now.  You’ve gotten a bit behind the times and have failed to notice the shifting winds that started in the pre-teen years.  You sometimes treat me like a startup instead of the burgeoning corporation that I am, and it has kind of gotten in the way of progress.

Look, it’s not as bad as it seems.  After all, this is really what you’ve always wanted – an independent, growing business that isn’t tied to your every move, that can function and even expand even when you’re not at the office.  I’m sure you’ve had retirement in the back of your mind all along (even if you thought it was in the distant future).

And, just as importantly, please note that I said we no longer need your skills.  But the truth is – and the guys in the back room will kill me if they ever heard me saying this – Me., Inc. really still needs you.  We need what you have to offer – your knowledge, your years of experience, and not least your moral support.

So, think of this as a door opening, not a door closing.  Take some time off to come to terms with being laid off.  I know it isn’t easy.  But when you’re ready to shift roles, I’ll tell you what – Me, Inc. really needs a good consultant or two.  We need someone who can help guide the company from the sidelines while taking a much more hands-off approach.  Someone who knows the company inside and out.  Someone who really cares about the company’s growth and success.

I think you’ll be great for the job.

Raffi

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Should you let your teen drink alcohol?

alcohol at prom

 

This time of year, the topic of teens and alcohol  comes up more often. There are after-prom parties and after-graduation parties and end-of-year parties and most of them involve drinking alcohol.

As a parent,  do you forbid your teen from underage drinking? Do you say it’s okay for him or her to drink as long as he or she doesn’t drive? Do you explain what drinking in moderation is all about? Do you trust your teen to know his or her limit?

There are many different points of view on the answers to those question. One mom I know bought the alcohol for her daughter’s after prom party and told me she would rather buy it, serve it and monitor it than have the kids sneak it and drink irresponsibly. Another mom forbid her daughter from drinking at prom, but her daughter did anyway and lied about it. (The mom found out through someone else at the prom)

For parents, there really is no single correct  way to deal with teens and alcohol, and there is a lot at stake.  I think the important thing is the conversation you have with your teen about the consequences of driving drunk, losing your inhibition around the opposite sex, and drinking to excess.  Now, there’s also the risk of someone posting drunken photos of your teen on social media. So, I guess that needs to be discussed, too.

There’s also the tricky question for parents of whether to drink around your teen. How do you handle it when they want a sip of what you are drinking? My 14-year-old son always asks for a sip of beer when my husband is drinking it.  So far, my husband has been giving it to him. But I’m worried that soon he’s going to ask for his own bottle.

Parents, what are your experiences with your teens and drinking? How have you been dealing with the end of the year celebrations and alcohol? Have any of you ever bought alcohol for your teens to drink at prom? If so, how did that work out?

My daughter thinks her mom is annoying

If your teenage daughter has considered you annoying at some point in her life, know that you are not alone.

I have a great relationship with my teenage daughter. Most of the time.

Sometimes, I’m just plain annoying.

I am most annoying when I say the wrong thing. For example, yesterday, when my daughter told me she was going to borrow a dress for an upcoming party,  I asked her why she doesn’t wear the blue dress I bought her for a different event.  I continued on to tell her how good she looks in the dress. Big mistake. Just from her voice I could tell she was annoyed with me.

What is it about the mother/daughter relationship that lands a mother in the dog house with just a few wrong words? I am much more annoying to my daughter than I am to my sons. Most of the time, I don’t even realize what I’m about to say could be considered annoying. But once it’s out, I know right away what I have done.

One way I’m particularly annoying is the  habit I have of repeating myself. This is extremely annoying to my daughter.  How many of you mothers have offered a little bit of advice only to hear this response?

“Mom…You’ve told me that ten times!”

I’m also annoying when I excessively worry about my daughter’s messiness.

“Mom, no one but you cares if I make my bed.”

And let’s not forget how annoying I am when I don’t give the answer my daughter wants to hear.

“Mom, you don’t understand.”

By now, I have figured out the things I do most likely to annoy my daughter:

  • Offer life lessons
  • Remind her of something I want her to do
  • Tell her not to get worked up over something
  • Offer a solution to a problem
  • Ask too many questions

As a mother of a teen girl, I am resigned to the fact that I just can’t avoid being annoying. Yet, I presume my daughter believes I have some good qualities to offset my annoyingness because, despite how  irritating I can be, my daughter and I remain close.  I know in my heart when it really matters, I’ll be the one she’s talking to — and I will try really hard not to be annoying about it.

When did “Mommy” turn to “Mother”?

I recently saw the movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2”.  In the movie, Tula, the bride from the first movie, has a 17 year old daughter and has challenges communicating with her. Tula asks, “When did  mommy turn to mother?”   When she said that, it got me thinking about how true that is.  I want back that cute 5-year-old who needed me and called “mommy” for everything. Now, I am called  “mom,” or sometimes even “Raquel,”  or “mother” when one of my kids are upset with me.

When did the transition happen?  Why does it have to happen? Watching our kids grow should be a happy time for Matthewus, but sometimes it isn’t. What can we do to change it? We didn’t change who we are or how we love our kids, but I guess our kids changed how they look at us. I miss my kids wanting to be around me and being the center of their universes. I miss the way my son used to look at me with such amazing love. What changed?

The other day we went out to dinner as a family and I went to hug my son who was sitting next to me in the booth. Well, he pushed me away saying  “mom, we are in public.” There was a time when PDA for my children was welcomed by  them.  Now, it’s utter horror. It hurt that the thought of me showing my son love was embarrassing. What I am curious to hear from all the moms, mommies and mothers out there is whether you have had a “transition” with your title? Would love to hear from the teens as well and get their perceptive.

 

Mother kissing teenage boy (14-16) on cheek, close-up

Mother kissing teenage boy (14-16) on cheek, close-up

 

 

 

 

Helping Your Teen with College Acceptances and Rejections

When my son got rejected from his college of choice, I didn’t know what to say.   I wanted to tell my son that everything always works out, but I didn’t because I knew that wasn’t what he wanted to hear while the rejection was raw.  (It turns out he is super happy at the university he ended up at). I wish I was better prepared as a parent to help my teen through this emotional part of the college process.

 

college letter

For all you parents facing March Madness, that time when the acceptance and rejection emails arrive , here is some great advice for coping from International College  Counselors, a Florida college advisory firm.

How to Help Your Child Cope with College Admissions Results
 
1. Say positive things.  Let your child know how proud you are of him or her for getting through high school and wanting to go to college. Even before knowing if your child was accepted or rejected at schools.
2.  Stay supportive. This is a hard time for a student whether they get into their first choice college or not. If your child gets rejected, this may be the first time they’re dealing with major disappointment. A parent’s job is to stop this from damaging self-esteem. For students who get in, after the initial euphoria, they’ll start thinking about what going to college really means. Leaving home, leaving friends, leaving a comfortable routine, having to find themselves, and make their own way is difficult. Understandably, this may feel overwhelming.
3.  Talk it out. Allow your child to be emotional. Talk about getting accepted and rejected and turn it into a teachable moment. If your child is hurt over a rejection, be sensitive and acknowledge the pain of disappointment. Then help your child accept that he or she didn’t get in and move forward with the opportunities that do present themselves.  Children who get accepted have a right to be proud, but help them understand that it’s important to be sensitive to the feelings of their friends who may not be so happy with their admissions results.
4. Focus on what’s important.  Let your child know that getting into a first pick college is important, but it’s not the end of the world if they don’t. Let your child know you don’t love or like them any less and they shouldn’t love or like themselves any less either. College is one step on a long road. Much of the college admission process was out of your family’s control. College admissions are highly subjective. A high GPA isn’t the only thing that counts. Maybe the band really needed a new oboe player.
5.  Get help.  Call or meet with your student’s International College Counselor advisor once all the results are in.  One of our expert college counselors can go over the pros of the schools a student was accepted into and there are a number of colleges still accepting applications.
6. Don’t let your child take rejection personally. Someone at the college just didn’t think your child was the right fit at the time. Your student may actually be better off someplace else.  Your child can have a great experience no matter where he or she goes.
7. Practice gratitude.  With your student, thank the people that made a college acceptance possible.  Think of the parent who shared the responsibility of driving hours and hours of carpool, a teacher writing a thoughtful college recommendation, a coach staying a little bit longer after practice, and a principal making sure the student got the classes he/she needed.  No child gets into college without a supportive team.
8. Say Yay!  Celebrate all the college acceptance letters your child gets. Getting into any college is great. Talk to your child about how he or she will let friends know.
9. Reframe the future.  Truly worried students may relax knowing that there is always the option to transfer. Our recommendation is to keep this as a back pocket option and not as a goal. Students who go to college with the intent of transferring won’t be able to enjoy the full college experience they can have. Once they settle in, many students are actually very happy.
10. Do something nice. When all the letters are in, celebrate the end of this intense time.  Go out for a nice family dinner, or give a student a meaningful gift. Make this time positive.

 

 

 

How do you know if your teen is smoking pot?

 

So parents, have you been grappling with figuring out whether your teen smokes pot? Do you just assume your teen will try it?

Some parents are in denial, others really don’t have an issue with it. But then again, it’s legal in Colorado. By the way, don’t even think about calling it pot to your teen. He or she will immediately tell you it’s called weed these days.

In a world where there are so many other worse drugs, is fighting over pot worth the battle?

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