Is your teen’s messy bedroom killing you?

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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

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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?

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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?

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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?

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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!?

20 Things You Need to Share With Your Teen

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I love this list and wish I could take credit for creating it….But, I have to give credit to Leslie Welch, a mother who obviously knows just what the rest of us parents are going through. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did. Feel free to add your “things to share with your teen.”

 

20 things you need to share with your HS or middle school child

by Leslie Welch on Tuesday, December 6, 2011 at 7:38pm

1.         Yes, your freshman year counts towards your GPA for college  entrance.  Screw it up and you’ll work for crap wages your whole life.

2.        No means NO.  In every possible circumstance.

3.        Join every sport, every club, every after school activity no matter what the cost.  It’s cheaper than bail.

4.        Repeat after me: I am never in that much of a hurry…I am  never in that much of a hurry.   Now say that every time you get behind  the wheel. It will save your life and that of your best friend in the  seat next to you.

5.        Don’t smoke pot.  It ruins your short term memory. (Did I already say that?)

6.        Don’t ever get a credit card.  Ever.  You earn it or you live without it.

7.        If I yell at you, it’s because I love you.  And also, because  you pissed me off.    To avoid the latter, stop being an idiot.

8.        Make a vivid picture inside your head of every great moment  of your childhood.   You’ll need those to get through adulthood.

9.        Make snow angels as often as possible.

10.      Stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves.

11.      Be always benevolent.  Yes, that’s a word.  Look it up.

12.      Call me for a ride even if you are so drunk you barely know my  number.  I’ll probably be mad for a while but I’ll respect you for  calling and I won’t kill you.  Riding with someone who is drinking will.

13.      Be a leader, not a follower. Unless you are doing stupid things, then follow the kid with the highest GPA.

14.      Love your siblings, even when you don’t like them.  Some day  you will be trying to get them to take care of me in my old age.  If  they are mad at you, you are stuck with me.

15.      I’ve been  there, done that on more things than you can imagine.  I’m not stupid  and I know what you are doing.  I was once you (times ten).

16.      Work hard at everything you do.  Anything worth doing is worth doing your best   at.

17.      Cover it.  (Enough said.)

18.      When I tell you to clean your room, do not point at my messy  room and raise    your eyebrows.  I’m trying to raise you to be better  than me.

19.      Learn to type; to budget; and to pray.  All are equally important.

20.      Never be sedentary.  Some day soon you will no longer be able to move like that.  Enjoy it.

High school start times cause sleep deprivation

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Teens and sleep deprivation

Are your teens sleep deprived? There’s a buzz around the country about teenage sleep deprivation and a new movement called Start School Later. There’s actually an online petition that parents are signing to move back start times.

As a parent, I’m all for starting school later. My kids wake up at 6 a.m. on school days — they’re miserable and so am I.

Sleep deprivation is a real problem with teenagers and parents like me pay the price when our tired teens are downright cranky. Yet as Dr. Jeff Deitz points out on today’s Huffpost Healthy Living blog, there is still resistance to starting high school later to accommodate the biological time clocks of teenagers

How can it be that despite overwhelming evidence that sleep deprivation in teenagers is every bit the public health menace that cigarette smoking is, school administrators have held fast to the status quo?

Dr. Dietz says that sleep researchers have convincingly demonstrated that, on average, teenagers need nine hours of sleep and that their brains are programmed for them to stay up later than adults. I’m a night owl and many nights, I go to bed at midnight and my teens are still up. I would guesstimate that most teens get about six hours of sleep on school nights.

Of course, I don’t think its just the teenage biological clock that’s to blame. Some of the reason for the late nights, I think, is the huge amount of homework teens get in their honors and AP classes ( which are almost requirements to get into colleges these days).

Dr. Dietz compares teen sleep deprivation to cigarette smoking:  ”Not getting enough sleep is as pervasive in today’s culture as was consuming two or three packs per day of Lucky Strikes in the 1940s, 50s and 60s.” He’s so right.

The risk for our teens is that sleep is essential for sustained focus, concentration, and attention which are crucial for succeeding in high school. Dietz writes: “Clinically, every psychiatric disorder I treat in adolescents is worsened by getting too little sleep. Well over half the teenagers who come to me with attention symptoms are sleep deprived.”

Some schools are taking action.

CBS News recently reported on an eye-opening study says delaying high school starting times by just 30 minutes can reap big rewards. The study at St. George’s School in Middletown, Rhode Island, discovered students there were more alert in class, expressed better moods, arrived to class on time, and even reported eating a healthier breakfast due to a 30-minute later start.

“The results were stunning. There’s no other word to use,” says Patricia Moss, academic dean at the boarding school where the study was done.

Dietz believes high school should start at 8:45 a.m., or better at 9 o’clock.

I realize some kids work after school and starting early allows for earlier release. But I think there’s a middle ground that can be found in most school districts.

Parents, what do you think about teenage sleep deprivation?  Some parents have decried the movement to start school later, calling it “the coddling of a generation and giving in to spoiled brats’ laziness.” Do you think starting school later would make a difference for your teen?

Teen Belly Buttons: To pierce or not to pierce?

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Recently my 14-year-old daughter asked me if she could  get her belly button pierced.  As I stood there wanting to scream “HECK NO”!, I realized she needed to see that I was respecting her time to talk with me and that I owed it to her to at least listen.

Ok, I listened as she told me that “all her friends have done it,  she would not flaunt it, what is the big deal, it’s better than a tattoo”, etc.. etc..

As contemplated my response, I asked her why it was so important to her? She said that she always wanted to get one, but, she knew we (her dad and I), would never allow it because she was too young. So  I asked her,  ”Don’t you think you are too young now?” She said “no.”  She told me most kids her age are getting them, especially the soccer players in her league.

I personally think she is too young, but I am also her mother and am biased when it comes to her. I don’t see her like everyone else. It’s my job to protect her and make decisions that I feel are best for her now and in the future.

I said I would discuss it with her dad and she responded,  ”Oh, dad will say no, so you have to convince him to say yes.” WHAT? I told her I was not “convincing” anyone and all I could promise her was a conversation with her dad. If she did not like that response then the answer was “no.” She said “fine”, she would wait.

I think I am just pushing off a battle with her since I don’t want her to have it and I know her dad will most definitely not want her to have it either.

So, I ask you, what do I do?  Do I fight this battle till the end with a stern “No” or should I pick my battles and just compromise and take her and make sure it is a small, nice piercing? Am I making a bigger deal than it needs to be? No one will see it anyway right?

Would love your feedback and opinion.

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