Raising Teens

a site for parents grappling with sanity

Why teens don’t want the new iPhone 7




So, here comes the new iPhone and the reaction is lukewarm  with teens.

Usually, the announcement of a new iPhone creates a stir in the morning carpool. Not this time.

Yesterday, I had a car full of teen boys and I asked them who is going to get the new iPhone. No response. ( They were too busy looking at the latest videos on their phones  to hear an adult voice).

Still, I kept prodding. Finally, one looked up. Then another. The reason for their lack of enthusiasm, they explained, is the headphone situation.  They told me the lack of a headphone jack will cut them off from access to their music, which is a HUGE part of their lives. (I’m still trying to prevent my son from listening to dirty rap music, not an easy task!) They also wondered why the new wireless headphones didn’t have the phone built right into them. (That’s coming next, I assured them) So, bottom line is that they aren’t going to beg their parent for the phone.

Meanwhile, one 17-year-old girl told MediaPost that her dream device would be an iPhone 7 with a headphone jack. (Maybe Apple should have spoken with some teens before it went wireless!)  MediaPost says the teens it spoke to noted how they can’t listen in the car anymore, can’t charge their phones while listening, and they can’t use their favorite headphones with the device.

Did Apple make a mistake with the coveted teen crowd? We’ll have to wait a few months to find out.  What does your teen think about they new iPhone and its wireless headphones? If the begging hasn’t started, that’s surely as sign.


When Teens Leave After Summer



When I moved my two older children into their college dorms what I didn’t foresee was their return home. They came home this summer more mature, more independent and had lots of their own ideas and thoughts about politics, equality, meal choices and curfews.

The first few weeks with everyone home it was a big adjustment for the entire family. I had to pull back my natural inclination to do things for my older teens and let them buy their own toiletries, fill their own prescriptions and make their own doctor’s appointments. When my two older ones were in high school, I  always waited up at night for them to get home. This summer, I had to let go a little bit, ease up on the curfew and get comfortable with going to sleep before they returned home.

As the summer went on, we settled into a nice place as a family. My daughter and I had amazing conversations about life and love and spent time together as friends. My son and I talked about religion and travel and had a few deep conversations about life. Now it’s September and my two college students have returned to campus and I must cope with change once again. In some ways, it’s more difficult this time. They didn’t need me to help them choose classes and they seemed excited to go back.  Now that they are gone, so is the chaos that surrounds them, their friends who congregated at our home playing games, laughing and socializing. I miss it.

With one child still at home, I still feel the normal  angst that parents experience when the new school year kicks in. What is different though is the sense that my life revolves around my children as it did for so many years. I now know that my teenagers will leave and return and leave again and that I must create a new sense of self that plans for the good times ahead and learns to be okay with the house emptying and filling and emptying again.

Rather than complaining, I owe it to myself to realize change is part of life. Whether our children are leaving the nest, whether we’re relocating to a new city, whether we are taking on a new job, a big life change can be an adventure. It can be a time to meet new people, identify new interests, have new experiences and create a new chapter in our lives.

Summer officially is over, the new school year is here, and I’m  making the emotional adjustment to enjoy all that lies ahead.

As many of my friends drove their teens to college for the first time and returned home without them, I gave them this advice: ” You will miss them, but if they are happy, you will be too.” Now, I have to take my own advice.

Don’t forget to breathe Mom!

I think many moms can relate having to remind their teen to do their homework, take a shower, make their bed, put deodorant on etc. Well, my son Matthew does NOT like to be reminded of anything.  He says, “Mom, do you think I’m stupid that I can’t remember things?” But  what Matthew doesn’t recall are the many times in middle school he would forget homework, forget to give me something to sign or fill out for school,  forget to put deodorant on or forget to take a shower.

In the past if he forgot, I wouldn’t remind him.   Funny thing is, when he would forget, he would say, “Mom, why didn’t you remind me or why didn’t you check my backpack?”  So, explain to me how I am supposed to remind him if he doesn’t want me to remind him? UGH!

I don’t want him to get a bad grade because he forgot his homework in high school. But then again I can’t keep enabling his forgetfulness. He needs to remember on his own.

Many times when I would go in his room to remind him of things,  he would say, “Ok mom, and don’t forget to breathe.”  I asked him why he said that and he answered: “Because that’s how silly you are reminding me of things I know.”

Good advice from a 14 year old. I do need to breathe, not because he was proving a point to me,  but because I need to trust him and let him remember on his own to do his homework, take a shower, do his chores. It’s the helicopter mom in me. I need to step back and exhale.

So, here is advice from my teenage son, Matthew,  for all the moms out there: Don’t forget to breathe.

mom breathing

The Day I Switched Cell Phones With My Teenage Son

Teenagers using cellphones

Teenagers using cell phones








I was dropping my son at school yesterday when he realized he left his cell phone at home. Tragedy! Big tragedy!

I told him he would make it through the day without his phone, but he explained that his AP History teacher gives extra credit points to students who put their phones in her basket when they enter the classroom.

“Please, let me use your phone today,” he begged.

“I will let you use mine, but I need to use yours,” I told him. So, we made a deal and he provided me his password to unlock his phone. “What a bonanza!  I legitimately had completely access to his phone!”

As soon as I picked it up and unlocked it, the phone already was buzzing and pinging with incoming messages.  Let me just say that my day quickly turned into a learning experience about teen cell phone useage, particularly what teens talk about and what goes on in high school.

First, my son received a text invitation to a birthday party. It was pretty high tech with lots of pop ups. I was impressed!

Next, he received a series of complaints about various teachers. Boy, kids complain about teachers A LOT! They complain about everything from their appearances to their demeanors to their attitudes to their fairness. I decided I don’t want to be a high school teacher.

From the messages that followed, I learned who made a new twitter account, who posted something funny to Instagram and who had made an awful musical.ly video. It made me wonder if teens can make it through a day without social media? Probably not.

What really cracked me up were the group texts. They had such hilarious names like APaulaDeen and FrackiesPlus2.  One clever message poster call himself Lord Farquaad, after the villain in Shrek, and had a lot to say about who he considered as hot as Princess Fiona.  Teens are quite creative and funny in group texts.  They also are busy posting all day long — even when they’re supposed to be participating in class.  I began to understand why my son’s  teacher had enticed her students to leave their phones in a box at the door.

I also learned  from text messages that teens are pretty helpful to each other as far as sharing info about homework assignments and what chapters the next day’s quiz is going to include. I started wishing we had cell phones when I was in high school.

On the flip side, my son saw all my text messages coming in. I’m sure he found them boring compared to his. Meanwhile, I couldn’t call anyone all day because I don’t have any cell numbers memorized. I realized I rely way too much on my contact list.

Still, I enjoyed a peek into the teen life — even if it was just for a day. I only can imagine what I would have learned if I had gotten to have my son’s phone for the night, too.  Oh well,  a mom can dream….


My 14-year-old son says he only needs 5 things when he goes to college.




Last week as we were shopping for my daughter for her college move. When we got home, she was so excited to show all her new purchases for her new apartment to her 14-year-old brother.

Olivia described each purchase with such enthusiasm! Her new duvet, her decorative pillows, her Keurig and so on and so on. Matthew looks straight at her and said, “When I go to college, I only need five things.” Then, he listed them:


  1.  A computer
  2. A desk
  3. Wires for computer
  4. Mattress
  5. Pillow

When I found this out, I couldn’t help but ask Matthew why he only wanted to bring five things. He said, ” I don’t need all the frilly, decorative stuff Olivia has for college. I just need my computer and a bed.” Wow, what a difference between a daughter and son! I have one that can spend like a feene and one I have to beg to buy things.

It’s amazing how some people need or require so little to get by and are happy, while other need so much.

I love how they are so different in their needs.

Do you have teen kids who are opposite in what they say they need for college? Do you have teen siblings who are opposite from each other  in general?


This is the deadliest time of year for teen drivers! What parents should do.

My 15-year-old son got his permit in June. This summer he took Driver’s Education. Still, he’s far from being a good driver. We’ve been practicing driving around the neighborhood, but I’m terrified to let him go very far. I guess it was the same with my older teens but for some reason it’s just harder this time because so many more teen drivers (or people in general) text and drive.

According to The Today Show,  the back to school season is the deadliest time of year for teen drivers. Part of that is because August is the month when most 16-year-olds get their licenses (who knew?). I learned some interesting things from watching this video and picked up a few ideas I’m going to try with my son such as creating a driving contract. I thought I’d share the video with you. If you have any tips that you used to keep your teen drivers safe, please share!


College move in day.. Super mom meets Super Walmart!

FullSizeRenderWell, I never thought I would see this day but this weekend, my husband and I took our daughter Olivia to Tallahassee for college.  It’s still surreal for me because we have gone through so many ups and down that I never thought I would see this day.

With all the challenges we have had with Olivia, moving her in for college seemed so far away. Don’t get me wrong, we still argue and have our differences, but now she is a bit more mature and responsible and she listens better to us. That wild teen from the  early high school years has grown up.  Thank God!

After months of shopping and packing for college, we finally moved her into an apartment near campus! She has her room all set up, her clothes in her closet and her bathroom all ready. However, it took multiple trips to Super Walmart for everything to come together. Here I thought I remembered everything, but once you start decorating the room, you realize you need a chair or curtains or a  bookshelf, or even an over-the-toilet shelf.  So where do you go to find all of this at affordable pricing? Super Walmart!

Every super mom needs Super Walmart! It’s our savior, our one-stop shopping palace! It makes our lives so much easier when we have a laundry list of things  to finish to decorate our teen’s college dorm or apartment.

For us, the end result was amazing! Olivia has a new home. It makes me happy knowing she created this home for the next four years and I was a part of it.

Tomorrow, I have to say goodbye to my daughter as she begins a new chapter in her life. I don’t know if I am happy for her, or sad for me. I also don’t  think it has hit me yet. Am I suppressing my feelings because I can’t bear to feel the pain I will experience when I say good bye?

I know she is so ready for this and she has been wanting this for so long that I know she will do well?   I know she is very capable of taking care of herself and responsible enough to handle what comes her way?

Why don’t I know is how  I am going to feel when I say goodbye. Guess, I will have to let you know after tomorrow. I also know that I am so proud of her and all I have ever wanted was the best for Olivia.  Even though she put me through hell,  I love her more than she will ever know.  She has overcome so many obstacles to get here  — more than most teenagers — and I just hope she learned from those obstacles. I believe in her and I believe that one day she will look back at what we went through with her during her teen years and she will say to me, “Thank you mom for not giving up on me and for believing in me. I am sorry I put you through hell. I love you.”

I am so excited for what’s to come for Olivia. I only hope she stays on track and reaches her goals.

It’s not only a new chapter for Olivia, it’s a new chapter for me as well. The journey continues. Stay tuned.



Young teens and older siblings

When I was in middle school, my older sister took me shopping for makeup. At the time, I didn’t have much interest in it, but my sister had started wearing eyeshadow and blush and thought I should wear it too. I handed over my entire week’s allowance to the cashier for a blue eyeshadow kit that I didn’t know how to use but desperately wanted to wear to be as cool as my sister.

brothersThis summer, I’ve seen the same pattern with my youngest son. He wants to be a part of everything his brother is doing.  His brother is four years older and in college. So are his brother’s friends.  That makes everything they do or say intriguing.

Some days, I’m thrilled that my older son includes his younger brother when he goes with friends to the beach or the gym. However, sometimes I worry about it, and I even try to discourage it. There’s a big difference between high school and college and the conversations that take place among boys about drinking and girls and parties and “hooking up.”  When my older son wanted to go play poker with his friends and invited his younger brother to come along, I wouldn’t let him go. I encouraged the younger one to make plans with friends his own age.

As a parent, I now see from a different perspective how much a younger sibling can look up to an older sibling the good and bad that goes along with it. Inevitably, a younger sibling will be more advanced because of an older sibling’s influence. But I’m struggling with when that’s okay and when it isn’t.

Should you let your younger daughter wear makeup or high heels at an early age because she sees her older sister doing it? Should you let your younger daughter in middle school go to a high school party with her older brother?

These are tough judgment calls for parents of teens. The influence of older siblings is undeniable, and that can be  good . However, there are privileges and age-appropriate behaviors that will come to younger siblings in time and it’s sometimes it takes tough parenting to make them realize they aren’t ready for them yet.

A few years ago, my younger son begged to go with his older brother to an R-rated movie. I would never have said yes to my older son when he was the same age. But with both boys begging, I caved.  When my younger son came home talking about the explicit sex scenes, I realized I had made a mistake.  I want to protect my younger child’s innocence and often find doing so is a battle that’s hard to win.

Over time, I’m learning that it’s OK for parents to treat their individual children differently, especially where age differences are concerned.  My 19-year-old son has earned the right to stay out until 1 p.m. on a weekend. My  15-year-old son has not.  I’ve had to explain to him that one day, he will get the privilege, too. Of course, that doesn’t sit well with him.

What are your thoughts on the influence of older siblings? Should parents  be worried about the effect that older children and their older interests have on young siblings? How have you handled the dynamics in your house, especially when a younger child is expressing interest in something that is not age-appropriate?





Help! My teenage son won’t get off the computer!

boy on computerSummer is here! The sun, the heat, the bbq’s, the beach,  the fun vacation time,  and for parents with teenage sons.. so is the all day video game playing and computer time!

I have to admit my 14-year-old son LOVES his online video gaming and spending time on the computer. He is literally on it for hours and hours! My biggest challenge with him is his screen time and trying to get him OUT OF HIS ROOM! I make deals with him in which he has to do the following:

  1. Read at least one chapter in his summer reading book a day
  2. Ride his bike/Go outside
  3. Visit his Nanny (great-grandmother)
  4. Spend time with his family
  5. Do his daily summer online virtual school homework for high school Spanish
  6.  Do an activity with friends

If he doesn’t do any of the above, his computer time gets reduced.

Let’s just say it’s a work in progress. He is only doing TWO of the items above so far so I have been reducing his computer. I do have to get on him to make sure meets the other items on the list. It’s not easy. To get his attention to do anything but play on the computer is a bit of a struggle.  Every day I make it a point to enter his room,  talk to him  and ask him how his day was spent. I also give him a hug and make sure he read and went outside.

I know it’s the summer and kids should do what they want, but I also believe teenage boys need to get out of their rooms!

This is a HUGE challenge for me so I am very open to any suggestions  you may have.

I have to say he has gone with his dad to the movies, he is spending the weekend at his grandmother’s and I am taking him to visit my cousin who will take him fishing.  We are trying but it’s not easy to engage a teenage boy!

Look forward to hearing your ideas and advice.


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?


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