Raising Teens

A site for parents of teens striving for sanity

Month: April 2012

Do we confess our own poor choices?

When I was 16, I chugged wine coolers with my friends on the beach. Lots of wine coolers. We had no designated driver.  On the ride home, we sang at the top of our lungs to the blaring radio, further distracting the already drunk driver maneuvering the streets of Miami with a carload of teens.

Do you ever think about some of the things you did as a teen and cringe?

 

Even worse, have you ever been caught in a conversation like this:

“Mom, what age were you when you first had sex?”

“40.”

“Mom. Be serious.”

At some point, as parents of teens, you will reflect on your own poor choices and wonder how you ever made it through the teen years alive. And then, you will be forced to confront them when queried by your teen who inevitably will toss an incriminating question your way when you least expect it.

Lately, I’ve resorted to mumbling my response. It’s the coward’s way out but at least it’s a language my teen son understands.

I’ll be doing the dishes and he’ll blind side me with something like, “Have you ever smoked?”

Me: grumble, grumble, grumble.

Him: Oh.

Then, if you’re like me, you will wonder when your child’s real mother will show up. You know, the one with the flawless past who did everything exactly the way you’re telling your teen to do it.

So, while I don’t advocate lying to your teen, I do suggest being prepared. Teens will use parents as their guideposts and they seem to sniff when we are BSing them.

Recently, Madonna said on TV that she’s horrified that her daughter Lourdes was photographed smoking a cigarette. She said she thinks she may need to become a tougher parent.

Then NBC correspondent Harry Smith brought up a music video of Madonna, ahem, smoking, to which she responded: “I don’t smoke. That’s just an accessory, Harry. There’s a difference.”

Apparently, Lourdes didn’t think so.

Readers, how honest are you with your kids about your teen indiscretions? Do you skirt around the tough questions or confess and offer an explanation? Do you think your teen would buy into a do-as-I-say-not -as-I-did approach to parenting?

Is it EVER going to get easier?

I am sitting here during my lunch hour at work contemplating how my husband and I are going to deal/handle yet another “drama” with our daughter, Olivia. Just when I think there’s hope, the mask comes off and here comes reality staring me in the face.

I just grounded Olivia.

I decided to type up a contract that basically lists what she is grounded from, why she’s grounded and how she can get all her privileges back. One of the items on the list was that I decided to turn off Olivia’s cell phone until her father and I see changes in her. We want to see that she is focused on what’s important, like school!
I understand Olivia is a “typical teenager.”  But, after a while, that phrase just doesn’t cut it anymore. That excuse has been overused. I know I will get a call from her friend’s phone telling me her phone is not working. When I tell her I shut it off, she will of course say “why”?
I am hoping this “contract’ will help Olivia get back on track. She has too many distractions and it’s my job as her parent to eliminate them and get her focused.
I wish there was a book that could give parents the answers whenever we have issues with our teenagers because raising them is not getting any easier as they get older!

So parents of older teens, I ask you.. “Is it EVER going to get easier?” How long do I have to wait?

Why I’m considering a teen driving contract

My stomach has been in knots since last Monday when my daughter got her driver’s license. She has taken to the streets — in my car!!!

I’m a wimp. I hate her out on the road. Since she got her license a week ago, I’ve only let her use my car to go on short errands. Slowly, I’m getting used to the idea that she’s behind the wheel of my car without my supervision.

Recently, a mom in my neighborhood mentioned she made her son sign a contract when he got his license and a car. I thought that was a great idea and asked my neighbor for a copy of the contract. She hasn’t shared it with me yet.

But in the meantime, an email landed in my inbox that convinced me this is something I need to do. These contracts are agreements between parents and teen driver that explain what to expect when the automobile is driven responsibly and when its driven by the teen driver irresponsibly.

“Teen Driving contracts are easy to create, and really do help save lives,” says Aurelia Williams of parentingmyteen.com.

Williams has provided a sample contract that you can use for your teen: Click here.

I’m going to modify the contract a little, playing up the no cell phone use a little stronger. But this sample is definitely a good starting point. If you teen isn’t driving yet, you might want to print this sample contract. I think it will prove to be helpful when the time arrives.

Parents, if you have a teen driving contract that differs from this sample, please share. If you are totally against the idea of a driving contract, let’s hear about that, too.

 

 

 

The Choking Game, what’s it all about?

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Oh no! Another thing for this stressed out mama to worry about: The Choking Game.

Do you know what the choking game is? I didn’t until I saw a report on ABC News and heard about it also on NPR this week. Apparently, this worry-worthy concern, the choking game, has become increasingly popular with 13 and 14 year olds.

Teens are learning how to play the choking game from YouTube videos and from their friends. As a parent, it’s scary as hell.  It makes me crazy that teens are always so eager to try things they think will make them seem cool.

Here’s the deal: Kids are choking themselves to feel that light headed sensation you would feel right before you pass out. It’s a way to get high without the risk of getting caught with drugs or alcohol. Once a teen succeeds in getting high the first time, they usually try again, and some times, they go too far, killing themselves or causing brain damage.

Parents whose kids have died from it say they wish they had seen the signs –bruising or red marks around the neck, headaches and bloodshot eyes.  The thing about the choking game is “it’s practiced by ‘good kids’ who do not want to do drugs so they perceive that this is a ‘legal’ way to get high.”

Here is a website that describes it in detail.  I bet your teen knows exactly what it is. But do you think they know how deadly it can be? Doctors believe most kids who play it have no idea of the risks.

Just figured as long as I’m talking to my kids about it, you might want to do the same.

 

 

What happens when mom isn’t ready for daughter to get license?

Teenage Meltdowns

Remember when your child was a mere tot and the word “no” could reduce your little sunshine into a wailing demon? While that memory makes me cringe, I’d go back in time and experience it again.

Yep. You read that right.

Any crazed parent of  a toddler knows tantrums come with the territory. I did. But then, the years  went by and I starting to feel superior, like I had parenting thing under control. Like I was a combination of Carol Brady and Angelina Jolie.

And then, bam! Reality check. I  have a teenager. And NOTHING could prepare me for a teenage meltdown.

My first encounter came out of nowhere and I quickly discovered that whatever a Mom does or says likely will only add to the meltdown. (Of course, I know that now, after I suffered the brutal result of trying to be rational.)

This is what you are likely to hear during a teen meltdown:

“You’re ruining my life.”

“Because of you I’m going to get left out.”

“Everyone will be there and I won’t and it’s all your fault.”

The meltdown will include: Crying. Screaming. Anger toward you. Possible door slamming.

Sound familiar?

Here’s what the experts at Families With Teens say NOT to do:

1.  React.   When you become angry, you add to the energy of your teen’s meltdown.

2.  Back down.  It may be tempting to make the meltdown go away by giving in a bit, but it will not help you or your child in the long run.  In fact, it will make the next meltdown even bigger because he has learned that sometimes you back down.

3.  Problem-solve.   Your teen is reacting out of an emotional side of him, and is not ready to engage his intellect (which is needed for problem-solving).

4.  Threaten. Most parents do this out of anger and it only exasperates the teen and adds energy to the meltdown.

5.  Insult.  Avoid the temptation to say, “You’re acting like a child.  Grow up and act your age.”

6.  Watch.  For some teens, just having their parent in the room watching them will increase the meltdown. Your non-verbal reactions may be enough to fuel the fire.

7. Argue.  It may be easy to show your teen the error in his logic, but remember, he is not thinking logically, he is thinking emotionally.

Here’s what they suggest you do:

1.  Remain calm. Easier said than done.  This takes practice.

2.  Acknowledge the anger.  Sometimes it is calming for a teen just to be understood.

3.  Find something else to do.  Do anything that will help you to not engage in your teen’s meltdown.

4. Make every effort to starve the fire.  It’s not the time to enforce punishment.  It’s not the time to discuss the consequences.  Only do these things when your teen is showing you they can be calm.

My first encounter with a teen meltdown has left me numb. But next time, I plan to take the walk-away and wait-for-calmness-to-return approach.

Parents, or should I say survivors, how do you handle teen meltdowns?

 

(Wondering how Angelina would handle a teen meltdown???)

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