Raising Teens

A site for parents of teens striving for sanity

Month: October 2010

Should teens trick or treat?

How old is too old to trick or trick? Is it 12, 13, or 21?

Did you know that some cities across the country have adopted age limits for trick or treating – usually around 12 years old.  They’re actually giving out fines if they catch teens doing it.
 
Check out this quote from the Mayor of Belleville, Ill.: “When I was a kid my father said to me, You’re too damn big to be going trick-or-treating. You’re done,” Mark Eckert said. “When that doesn’t happen, then that’s reason for the city governments to intervene.”
 
Time for the government to intervene? Is this guy insane? The mayor claims some people are scared to open their doors to teens in freaky costumes and that little kids are scared of teens they run into on the streets. I get that. But really, is a ban necessary?
Kids grow up too fast, these days. Why not let them continue the tradition? It’s such a bummer when you get to old to trick or treat, or when you still want to but your friends think they’re too old. As a parent, I’m okay with my kids trick or treating until whatever age they still want to do it. (It’s better than them out drinking or vandalising or getting into trouble.
 
Of course, there’s also the battle of what age is okay to trick or treat without embarrassing parents tagging along. I still wish my 14-year-old would let me tag along.
 
Meanwhile, I’m planning to encourage my kids to trick or treat this year and the next, and the next. I mourn the day when I no longer have trick or treat bags around to raid when they head off to school. (Mmm, can’t wait for the Junior Mints!)
 
What do you think about teens trick or treating? Should there be an age limit? Will you encourage or discourage your teens to go door-to-door? Do you remember how old you were when you stopped trick or treating?
 

Has the Glee Cast gone too far in sexy photo shoot?

                                                                                     Terry Richardson for GQ

 

Have you heard? The cast of Glee has created a stir with is ultra sexy photo spread for GQ magazine.

Have these actors suddenly turned into poor role models for teens?

For the magazine, Cory Monteith (Finn) is fully clothed in every shot, but Dianna Argon and Lea Michele are scantily clad with their bras and panties showing. In one shot, Lea is licking a lollipop and making sexy faces. Yes, it’s a little raunchy.

Kate at Parenting.com says she see why these actors felt the need to do this. Personally, I don’t like it, but I really don’t fault the cast members for doing the shoot. In real life, they are in their 20s. Why shouldn’t they make a buck when their value is high? Television stars celebrity rises and falls pretty quickly and being on the cover of GQ is a huge coup.

I love that Glee writers have handled issues like homosexuality and teen pregnancy with flair. I like that the show’s teen followers look up to the show’s amazing cast. And, while teens normally wouldn’t buy GQ, they will when their celebrity crushes are on the cover.

To me, this photo shoot is the perfect segue into a conversation with your teen about what’s appropriate to wear and do at what age.  It’s a chance to tell your teen that it’s not ok to pose scantily clad for attention. If you have seen what girls wear to high school these days, you might want to have that conversation pretty darn fast!

Should teens be banned from the mall?

The Aventura Mall in North Dade has made a bold move. It has banned teens under the age of 18 from entering the mall, walking around or attending a movie after 9:30 p.m. without an adult chaperone.

 The ban makes me mad. The new policy comes a little less than two months after The Miami Herald reported that police arrested 12 kids aged 14 to 17 outside the mall’s movie theater for brawling on a Saturday night. It was quite a scene. Accounts at the time said a fight broke out in front of the ticket office, triggering a chaotic stampede by hundreds rushing the concession stand. Of course teen abhor being punished for the actions of a few bad eggs.

Banning teens from malls at night isn’t all that unusual. An increasing number of malls and movie theaters across the country are adopting similar polices. The Mall of America was the first to establish an “escort policy” in 1996, and the idea has quickly spread. At least 40 other malls also have put limits on when teenagers can be there alone.

Frankly, my kids have never asked to go to the movies alone at night so I haven’t had to confront this yet. If they did, I’d be a reluctant to let them. I’ve been outside local theaters near midnight and seen teens hanging out. It’s a scary scene. Some nights, it looks like a brawl could start any minute.

So, while I understand the mall’s reasoning, I don’t think they need a ban. I think having a ban might cause bigger problems. Where are high school age teens supposed to go on a date? I’d rather my teen be in a movie theater than a parked car. I used to hang out with friends at night at the mall theater when I was in high school. Why can’t today’s teens have a place to hang out? We don’t want teens in bars. We don’t want them driving around town without purpose. We don’t want them crashing parties. Teens need a place to meet up and hang out and the mall movie theater is an ideal venue.

What do you think about the ban? Is it financially foolish for Aventura Mall or a great marketing move? Do you consider meeting friends a the mall theater a high school rite of passage?

When a teen party gets out of hand

As a parent, there are times when you relent to your child’s pleas. The Rasabis of Boca Raton did just that. They let their teen sons have a homecoming after party at their home. Big mistake!

The party turned into a disaster. Apparently, only about 100 kids were invited but the word spread on Facebook and about 350 underage party crashers arrived on buses and brought alcohol with them. Students were passed out and vomiting on the front lawn. The police and paramedics were called. The party ended when the parents hosting it were arrested along with six other teens.

There are a variety of accounts of what happened at the party. What is clear is that it wasn’t a good scene.   The Palm Beach Post and the Sun Sentinel published police accounts that said alcohol was rampant, a keg was on the premise, and the parents were upstairs. However, a close friend of mine says she knows the hosts and that they are responsible parents. She says the parents had hired security, and that articles and police report don’t accurately describe what happened.

As a parent, this clarified for me that I will never have a teen party at my home. Someone is bound to bring booze. Still, I wanted to know exactly what the law says about parental liability when teens drink at your home.

I asked Miami criminal defense attorney Dan Lurvey for guidance.

Me: What if an underage teen arrives at your home and he’s already been drinking?

Lurvey: It becomes a factual question. There could be additional burden on you if you allow him to continue drinking at your party. That’s going to be a real problem if he gets in his car and drives and hurts himself or someone else.  

Me: Are you liable if an underage teen drinks at your home but you don’t supply the alcohol?

Lurvey: It’s all a question of knowledge. If you are having a party, and you see them break out alcohol and drink and they are minors, it’s the same thing as if you supplied alcohol. You are allowing an illegal act to occur and not stopping it.

Me: What if teens come to your home when you the parent aren’t there and get into your liquor or bring it with them.  If they are drinking, and they are unsupervised, what’s the parental liability?

Lurvey: You have to have knowledge that certain things are occurring to break the law.  It would be hard to hold you criminally liable when you had no idea it was happening. But if they found out every Saturday the teens were there between 10 and 11 and they were drinking and you made no effort to stop it, it could be argued that you should have known.

With regard to a civil suit, if someone leaves drunk, gets into a car and kills someone, a plaintiff could sue a parent for negligence for allowing teens to be home alone without adequate supervision. It would be up to the jury to decide whether to hold a parent responsible. In the Boca case, the parents were arrested for hosting an “open house party”  which must be a city or county law. That’s a different kind of liability.

So what do you think about this party disaster? Does it change your mind about hosting a teen party? Do you think these parents should have done anything differently?

(Photo from party below as seen on SunSentinel.com)

The Homecoming Dance: when raising teens gets tough

It’s my daughter’s homecoming dance this weekend. She sees pretty dresses, and the crowning of high school royalty.  Her morbid mother sees overpriced tickets, awkward moments, fist fights, and car crashes.

Frankly, I’d rather she stay home and play with dolls.

I never really though about it before, but the homecoming dance opens the door for parent/teen disagreements on almost every battleground — from finances and independence, to drinking and driving.  

It usually starts with money.Who is going to pay for the pricey dance ticket? The tickets at my daughter’s school are a whopping $55 a piece. I told my daughter she would have to pay. She took the guilt route: “I guess I just won’t go,” she said in her poor-me tone. We settled on a 50-50 split.

After money you move on to the next topic for debate: Who is driving? Are you a naive mom like me? Do you really think you are driving?  Last week, I heard loud screaming from down the street. My neighbor and his son, a new driver, were battling it out. Dad emphatically refuses to let son drive to homecoming, particularly with a date in the car. Dad offered to drive. Son said, “no way!” The outcome: Dad is hiring a van to transport son, friends and dates to the dance. My daughter and I still are negotiating her ride.

Then there’s the date thing. What happens when your teen feels peer pressure to take a date? Do you dare to make suggestions? Do you tell him or her to go with friends. My advice on this one: Say nothing.

Next topic of disagreement: Curfew and/or the after party. This is definitely where ground rules meet rebellion. My 16-year-old nephew wants to go to a hotel after the homecoming dance with the rest of his friends. “All my friends parents are okay with it,” he insists. His parents response: “Nothing good happens in a hotel room.” So true!

I just read a blog post by a mom who wonders if she’s the last remaining strict parent around. Her daughter has a date to the homecoming dance. Her husband says she can’t go unless the boy comes to their house to ask his permission. He’s allowing her to go to an after party when the dance concludes with one exception.  He needs to go too.  When he let her know that’s one of the conditions, she rolled her eyes and said, “Oh kill me now”.

If anything, homecoming is the perfect time to discuss rules, values and expectations with your teen. How’s the discussion going in your home?

The Homecoming Dance: when raising teens gets tough

It’s my daughter’s homecoming dance this weekend. She sees pretty dresses, and the crowning of high school royalty.  Her morbid mother sees overpriced tickets, awkward moments, fist fights, and car crashes.

Frankly, I’d rather she stay home and play with dolls.

I never really though about it before, but the homecoming dance opens the door for parent/teen disagreements on almost every battleground — from finances and independence, to drinking and driving.  

It usually starts with money.Who is going to pay for the pricey dance ticket? The tickets at my daughter’s school are a whopping $55 a piece. I told my daughter she would have to pay. She took the guilt route: “I guess I just won’t go,” she said in her poor-me tone. We settled on a 50-50 split.

After money you move on to the next topic for debate: Who is driving? Are you a naive mom like me? Do you really think you are driving?  Last week, I heard loud screaming from down the street. My neighbor and his son, a new driver, were battling it out. Dad emphatically refuses to let son drive to homecoming, particularly with a date in the car. Dad offered to drive. Son said, “no way!” The outcome: Dad is hiring a van to transport son, friends and dates to the dance. My daughter and I still are negotiating her ride.

Then there’s the date thing. What happens when your teen feels peer pressure to take a date? Do you dare to make suggestions? Do you tell him or her to go with friends. My advice on this one: Say nothing.

Next topic of disagreement: Curfew and/or the after party. This is definitely where ground rules meet rebellion. My 16-year-old nephew wants to go to a hotel after the homecoming dance with the rest of his friends. “All my friends parents are okay with it,” he insists. His parents response: “Nothing good happens in a hotel room.” So true!

I just read a blog post by a mom who wonders if she’s the last remaining strict parent around. Her daughter has a date to the homecoming dance. Her husband says she can’t go unless the boy comes to their house to ask his permission. He’s allowing her to go to an after party when the dance concludes with one exception.  He needs to go too.  When he let her know that’s one of the conditions, she rolled her eyes and said, “Oh kill me now”.

If anything, homecoming is the perfect time to discuss rules, values and expectations with your teen. How’s the discussion going in your home?

What Teens Can Learn About Money From Mistakes of Pro-Athletes

Your son thinks he’s going to be the next Le Bron James? What a coincidence, so does mine!

Will I be using this to my advantage? You bet I will.

Here’s my strategy for teaching him a financial lesson: I plan to tell my son about the recent post on TheSportsCommentary.com that said, “While the life of a professional athlete seems like one of overflowing luxury and rock-solid fame, it has been well documented that within five years of retirement, as a result of divorce, unemployment, or bad business decisions 60% of NBA players and 78% of NFL players find themselves on the brink of bankruptcy or flat broke. 

Next, I plan to use the strategy suggested by Dr. Robert Lawson, a youth financial wellness expert.  He wants us to teach our teens that it’s not how much you make that ultimately determines your financial success in life but rather, what you do with what you make. (As an added bonus, as part of this lesson, I plan to dig up a photo of a destitute athlete standing by the side of the road in his former uniform with a “Will Work For Food” sign.)

Mr. Lawson tells of a professional athlete who had earned over $52 million in his career. However, because of poor investment decisions and real estate deals gone bad, this player was on the verge of filing for bankruptcy. 

I’m not sure who Lawson is referring to but there are lots of other examples:  Baseball slugger Jack Clark had 18 cars and owed money on 17 when he went broke. Scottie Pippen lost $120 million in career earnings due to poor financial planning and bad business ideas. Former New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies star Lenny “Nails” Dykstra was a success on the baseball diamond, but in his 2009 bankruptcy filing, he owed more than $30 million to creditors.

As part of my strategy, I will show my son the recent reports about the $7.6 million home LeBron plans to buy and the rumors of a $49 million home, and I will hint that LeBron could become broke some time in the future.

Then, I will follow Lawson’s advice and tell my kid that a person who earns an average salary say of $40,000 a year and invests wisely and develops a good savings habit can wind up with more money in the end than a multi-millionaire NBA star who doesn’t handle his finances wisely.

Lawson offers a few more tips to teach your teen to handle money.

  • Cash is king—not credit. 
  •  Learn to set aside a portion of everything you earn. Always pay yourself first.
  •  When you pay cash for something that means you won’t have to worry about bills and interest payments that come due each month.
  • When you miss a payment, it just makes things worse because you get charged additional fees and adds to your debt liability.
  • When you put something on a credit card that means you’re going to pay more for it in the long run.

The next time my son heads outside to shoot hoops, I’m ready with my offense. Do you think my strategy will work?

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