Raising Teens

A site for parents of teens striving for sanity

Month: January 2012

Is your teen’s messy bedroom killing you?

I can’t stand to look at my teenagers’ bedrooms. A mere glimpse in that direction puts me in a horrible mood and turns me into a nagging, screaming, nutcase!

I tell myself I’m going to punish my kids by leaving the piles of dirty clothes, used dishes and crumbled papers until they can’t stand to see them in their room anymore. But sometimes, I can’t stand it anymore…so I go in when they’re at school and straighten it up…just a little bit. I know, what you’re thinking…that I’m an enabler.

I’ve just stumbled onto an article in the Wall Street Journal that nails the dilemma I’ve been having: Bet you’ll love the title: When a Teen’s Bedroom Is Incorrigibly Messy, It’s Time for Extreme Parenting.

Here’s one tactic suggested by parenting expert Jim Fay, co-founder of the Love and Logic Institute. He recommends saying, “I’ll take care of it.” Then, get the job done in some way that satisfies you but “creates problems for the kid,” Mr. Fay says. “Maybe you hire a neighbor kid to clean up.”

In another scenario in the article, one parent picked up all the clothes on her daughter’s  floor, stuffed them in two garbage bags and hid them in the attic. When her daughter arrived home from school to a bare bedroom, there was screaming, and shouting, ‘How can I live without my clothes?’ ” The mom required her daughter to earn her clothes back by doing chores.

My mom had her own tactic when I was growing up: When she couldn’t take it anymore, she would wake me up an hour earlier for school to clean my room. That meant the light would go on abruptly at 5:30 a.m. There’s nothing worse for a teen than waking up an hour early in the morning to clean their room!

One family sought help from Douglas Riley, a clinical psychologist, in getting their 14-year-old daughter to clean up her bedroom. Riley, who has worked with families for 30 years, suggested that since she wasn’t bothered by the dirty clothes all over her floor, perhaps the whole family could start using her room as a laundry hamper. Her attitude changed after her parents and younger brother started tossing dirty laundry into her room, including a few soaked and smelly T-shirts and socks

So parents, what strategies have you used? Or do you think the battle isn’t worth it and do you just shut the door to your teen’s room and live with the mess?

Teens exchange Facebook passwords to show love

Apparently, the new equivalent to teen sex or showing love is sharing your Facebook password.

Why are teens sooooo trusting of each other?

The New York Times reported today that teenagers are sharing passwords for Facebook, Tumblr and/or other accounts in order to show their trust and affection for each other and to assure their boyfriend/girlfriend they have nothing to hide.

NYT reported Tiffany Carandang, a high school senior in San Francisco saying that sharing her password with her boyfriend is “a sign of trust.”  But it can backfire! Emily Cole, 16, a high school junior in Glastonbury, Conn., was a victim of vicious exploitation after her ex-boyfriend read an e-mail she sent to another student she had a crush on. He then spread the e-mail around the school, calling her a “pervert.”

Rosalind Wiseman, an author who studies how teenagers use technology, compares sharing passwords to sex – the pressure in teenage relationships to give up something important ultimately defines how much they love each other. “The response is the same: if we’re in a relationship, you have to give me anything,” Ms. Wiseman said to NYT.

Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project conducted a study back in Nov. 2011 that showed one in three teens online have shared their passwords with significant others or friends. That’s 30 percent of all teens with girls being more likely to share their information than boys.

We all know how quickly a boyfriend/girlfriend or just a friend can become a frenemy during the teen years…and how breakups can be ugly, especially when they play out on the Internet. I know my daughter has a few of her friends’ Facebook passwords and I can never understand WHY they give them to each other.

Bottom line: as a parent, you might want to caution your teen —  encourage him or her to make sure showing teen love (or friendship) by sharing a password is worth the price of sharing your privacy.

Readers, what do you think of this new precursor to teen sex? Is it just an innocent way for teens to show love? Do you think it can lead to disaster?

Would you call the cops on your teenager?

I just read a story that I could totally relate to and I love the commentary added by Lisa Belkin.

On the Huffington Post parenting blog Belkin writes: no one can get to us — worry us, provoke us, amaze us, infuriate us — like our own kids.

So true!

Here’s the latest example of kids who pushed mom to the brink:

In Salem, MA,  a mother called the police to report that her five children had been fighting all day, according to the local paper. The 15-year-old son punched his 8-year-old sister in the arm and their 16-year-old sister stepped in and was reportedly pushed to the ground.

When the arriving officers asked “what she felt we as a police department could do to help  assist her with the issues she’s having as a parent,” the incident report says, “the mother replied ‘I want them both out of here,’ ” referring to the oldest children. In the end, the state Department of Children and Families was called in, and the older son faces a court date where he’ll face charges for hitting his sister.

How many of you parents can relate to exactly what pushed this mother to the point where she responded this way? My hand is raised.

Have you ever been tempted to call the cops on your kids?

Do we really know our teenagers?

My daughter said to me the other day after our daily/weekly “mother/daughter bonding” moment, that I really “didn’t know her.” She said that who she is around her friends is “who she really is.” Well, I then asked her “Who are you?” She answered: “Not who I am around here.”

What does that mean? Does she lead a double life?

Part of me was sad that she can’t  “be herself” at home, but did I really expect her to not be? I told her that I understood that the way she acts around her friends is not the way she acts at home. I was a teenager at one point you know.

This “teenage stage” is harder that I thought.

I truly believe teenagers want their privacy and want to be treated like adults — even if they aren’t. I also believe around friends they can be who they want to be or what they wish they could be, older, more mature. But at home, THEY ARE exactly what they are, teenagers, not adults, someone’s children, someone’s brother or sister.

I hope someday my daughter will be able to “be herself” around me, but then again aren’t we different around our friends than with our family?

Curious to know what you think?

Should you allow your teen to drink in front of you?

I was brought up that it’s better to have your kids drink in front of you than behind your back. Being of Latin descent, drinking wine was as normal as drinking water. It was never abused but it was respected. Maybe that’s why I never had the urge to drink behind my parents back because the mystery was gone.

My daughter is at the age to where kids her age are drinking alcohol or at least trying to drink.

My daughter has asked me at family functions if she could have a taste of my wine. I let her taste it because I too believe in taking the mystery away from drinking and prefer to watch her taste it in front of me.  After about 2-3 sips and  she’s done. That’s her “adult moment”.  Do not get me wrong, I DO NOT condone teenage drinking in any shape or form. But I am sure she will go behind my back and drink and if she does, I want her to be smart and  informed about the dangers of teen drinking. No different than sex; now that’s another blog.

My daughter knows many teenagers have died because of drinking and driving and her dad and I  have spoken to her about drinking in general.

Communication, I believe, is key with your teen. Constantly talking but most importantly, listening to them. This is one of many tough roads I will be taking with my daughter, I just want to make sure we are on the road together when we go down it.

So, I ask you, what is your view on teen drinking and how to handle it? Should we be open with them and have them try it in front of us to take away the mystery or just say NO!?

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