Raising Teens

a site for parents grappling with sanity

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Lindsay Lohan, Miley Cyrus, Amanda Bynes….what are these teens thinking?

Last weekend, a bunch of kids in my teens’ school threw a party with alcohol and drugs. They posted photos of themselves all over Facebook with giant liquor bottles. Anyone who didn’t go was made to feel like they missed out on something really, really cool.

That’s what we’re up against today as parents. I’m not lovin it.

Not only do teens have the normal peer pressure in high school but they have the social media peer pressure to deal with when they’re trying to do the right thing.

Which brings me to Miley Cyrus. Miley has decided to make herself look bizarro. She has used social media to let the world know. Within hours after it happening, she tweeted out photos of her freakish new haircut and dye job. As a parent, my immediate reaction was to scream and run into my daughter’s room shouting DON’T EVEN THINK OF DOING THIS! But there are lots of girls out there who think whatever Miley does is cool and they are choosing to make themselves look like freaks, too.

…and that’s why I hate when teen starlets  go bad.

I know it’s hard for young celebrities to be perfect, especially when you’ve got the world watching your every move.  But really, don’t these Hollywood starlets know that millions of younger girls look up to them and follow their every move on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter?

I love Miley Cyrus because she’s talented. Her song, The Climb, is so moving. I love Amanda Bynes because she’s always been the girl with a sense of humor.  And I must admit that The Parent Trap with Lindsay Lohan is one of my all time favorite movies.

I’m disappointed that Amanda is whacked out, that Lindsay can’t stop herself from drinking, partying and crashing cars and that Miley has decided to take on a bad girl image. I trying to use these incidents to talk to my daughter about maturing without going insane.

I’m no fool though. I know in Hollywood, just like in my home, kids mature and make their own decisions about how to dress and act, sometimes just to rebel. But as a mom, I feel invested in my Hollywood favorites and cheer them on like I would my own kids. I want to see these girls do well. I miss the sweet lil Hannah Montana. Obviously, she still hasn’t found the best of both worlds.

Parents, do your teens think it’s cool to be a good girl gone bad? Have you talked with them about how to handle it when their role models disappoint them?

 

 

Taking away the cell phone

                                                              Should parents take away cell phones as punishment?

 

 

My youngest son has a foul mouth. It’s coming from the music he listens to and the You Tube videos he watches. Sometimes, he’ll walk around the house singing obscene from rap songs or  video.

The more vulgar the song, the more he remembers the lines. I’m constantly on him on about this.

I’ve banned him from You Tube but frankly, it’s too hard to monitor. He pulls it up on a friend’s phone when I’m not around.

Last night, I blew up. He was walking around the house singing a song and doing some gestures that had something to do with a girl humping a guy in the back of a car and trying to pin him down months later as the baby daddy. “Now I’m pregnant and you the pappy…say what?”

The best punishment I could think of was taking away his cell phone. It’s the one thing he really cares about these days. Yet, taking away the phone punishes me as well.  Today after school is the school dance and I want to be in touch with him for pick up.

In some ways, taking away the electronics worries me. The goal, of course, is to help my son learn from his mistakes, make better choices and demonstrate more maturity. We all know that for wired kids, the most impactful consequence is loss of digital privileges. But am I giving electronics more power by using them for discipline? Will taking his cell away make it something he wants to use even more?

I dont’ know about you, but I know how hard it is to enforce digital punishment.  A recent Pew Report found many parents don’t follow through on cellphone bans.

Some parenting experts believe we should use digital punishment sparingly. They say the most effective consequences grow logically out of misbehavior. A kid who sends an inappropriate text loses cellphone access or a kid whose grades suffer because she’s on Facebook instead of doing homework gets social media access taken away. The recommend saying the device is being grounded instead of the child.

So what do you think about digital grounding? Have you ever taken away your teen’s or tween’s cell phone as punishment and if so, did it change the behavior?

 

What’s with the “tone” in teens?

It could be me, but it just seems like no matter what I ask or comment on anything to my daughter Olivia, the response has such a “tone” that it literally rips right through me.

I would knock on her door because God forbid you enter without knocking, and she would say in her tone, “WHAT!!!!”, I then come in and say, “I just have clothes for you”. It can be the most simplest thing as saying their name, and the tone “WHAT!” comes out.

The other night I knocked on the bathroom door and asked Olivia if she could hand me her dirty clothes as I was about to do laundry. Her response, “Damn”!?? I snapped immediately and asked, “Why the tone and foul mouth for me just asking for your clothes?” No response. I told her to have some respect and that I didnt appreciate the way she responded to me.

Are we bothering our teens by actually speaking to them? I don’t get it??

It can be a simple reminder of “don’t forget your lunch”  and then comes the “I KNOW I KNOW”.

Why are teens so moody and angry? When I ask my daughter, “why the tone?” or “why are you in a bad mood?” she will say, ” I’m not in a bad mood!”   Really? I wish she was so that would justify her tone and actions.

Is it a phase?  What is it? I was not like that with my parents, was I? Is it technology? We seem to blame everything on that these days.

Looking for some good feedback with a positive “tone”.

Mom of teen: Braving the HPV Vaccine

Today, I had every intention of taking my 16-year-old daughter to get the HPV vaccine.

When we got to the doctor’s office, I chickened out. I just couldn’t let them give it to her.

I’m terrified of  the possible side effects.

I’m just not convinced I know enough about short- and long-term reactions to Gardasil, the  Merck vaccine against four strains of the cancer-causing human papilloma virus

My pediatrician is a big proponent of Gardasil and said he gave both his teen daughters the vaccine, administered in a three-dose series. To him, the prevalence of HPV is too widespread not to get your teen vaccinated. A friend of mine who works as a nurse in a hospital ER is a proponent as well. She’s seen boys admitted with horrific genital warts and oral cancers associated with HPV.

I did some research and this is what I found…

Pro:

The Center for Disease Control says HPV is the most common sexually transmitted virus in the United States. At least 50% of sexually active people will have genital HPV at some time in their lives. There are more than 40 types of HPV that cause different symptoms and health problems.

To me, those are some scary facts. I want to protect my daughter from this virus.

Worse,  I learned that HPV can infect areas that are not covered by a condom – so condoms may not fully protect against HPV. Even more, according to CDC, there is  there is no medicine to treat an HPV infection which can lead to cervical cancer.

Con:

I happened upon a website called truthaboutgardasil.org. It scared the crap out of me with stories of girls who had the vaccine and died or suffered seizures, permanent disability and strokes. Even more, there are claims all over the Internet that even if you get vaccinated, your chances of experiencing some form of HPV infection still are high.

 

From all this, I tried to ferret out the truth. I found some answers on the forbes.com website:

Matthew Herper writes: It’s true that there have been 24,000 reports of adverse events with Gardasil. (All of these numbers come from the VAERS database, which you can search here.) There have also been 60,000 reports of death with the mumps, measles, and rubella vaccine, and 26,000 following vaccination with Pfizer‘s Prevnar, for pneumococcus bacteria. And yes, it’s true that there have been 106 deaths reported after Gardasil vaccination. There have also been 101 deaths reported after vaccination with Prevnar 13, a new version of Prevnar introduced in 2010. It’s normal for these reports to pour in for safe vaccines.

His conclusion: The risks from the vaccine are very small and may be limited to headaches and fainting caused by the needle, not the vaccine itself.

This certainly is a tricky health decisions parents must confront — weighing the odds of getting HPV against the odds of an adverse reaction from the vaccine. So far, only 30% of eligible girls have gotten Gardasil or rival product, Cervarix, made by GlaxoSmithKline.

 

Here are a couple of interesting articles:

The Gardasil Problem: How The U.S. Lost Faith In A Promising Vaccine

Here Is How We Know Gardasil Has Not Killed 100 People

I’m not ruling out having my daughter get the HPV vaccine. Honestly, I’m scared of her being intimate one day with a guy who could give her the HPV virus. But for now, I’m still gathering info.

What are your thoughts on the HPV vaccine? Have you had your  teen daughter vaccinated? Would you consider getting your teen son vaccinated?

No weekends for Mom when raising a teen?

I don’t know about you, but I find myself quite challenged in planning my weekends now that my daughter Olivia is in high school. I know she wants to go out with her friends and I do prefer to have control and take her and pick her up from events. But, that is a double-edged sword because that means planning a night out with my hubby or son is tough!

What’s a mom to do to make everyone happy??

I have learned to plan ahead and let my daughter know when we have plans so she doesn’t plan on going out. I explain to her that Mom and Dad need a night out too!

It amazes me how Olivia has something to do every weekend. Now we have football games and “just hanging out” at friend’s house. It’s endless. However,  I must admit, I like knowing where Olivia goes and who she is with and  I get a chance to talk with her one-on-one in the car even if its only for a moment.

When we don’t have plans, my husband and I take turns picking up and dropping off. Teamwork! Sometimes, to be honest, I don’t mind just staying home and relaxing. After a week of back and forth with practices and games and just plain work, being home is quite relaxing.

So, parents of teens, how are your weekends? Are you in and out of the car, picking up and dropping off? Would love to hear how you do it!

With teens, nice guys finish last

 

Ugh, I’m lecturing my teens — again!

What the heck is wrong with me?

As a parent, I’m in a quandary. I’ve made a discovery and I want to share it with my teens. But where do I start and how do I take this epiphany down to their level without sounding like Glee’s know-it-all Sue Sylvester?

My big discovery: nice guys finish last in high school. It only took me 47 years to figure that out. By nice guys finish last, I mean teens girls prefer “bad boys” and teen boys prefer the “heartless bitches.” That’s the simple truth and it is a hard to explain to a “nice” teen.

Recently, I listened to my daughter rant about the fact that at least a dozen boys were after a girl who she considers slutty and mean. I explained that teen boys tend to go after slutty girls at this age because it’s much easier for them. I gave her a little heads up on the value of big boobs and loose lips during the teen years and encouraged her to hang in there for another ten years until boys are mature enough to see value in intelligence and personality.

At the same time, my son is too nice to the girls he likes. He buys them flowers, says sweet things to them, and showers them with attention. The girls don’t like it at all. No, they’d much rather chase the boy who makes out with them behind the bleacher, and then text messages their friend to ask her out a few minutes later.

I’m not sure exactly the age when treating your partner nicely is an admired quality, but I’ve discovered it’s not in high school. Even worse, I remember blowing off some really nice guys in high school. Now, I feel like crap for doing it.

I’ve decided all I can do as a parent of teens, is talk with them about healthy relationships. I tell them that healthy relationships occur when both parties are happy and their needs are being met. Can a teen can even understand that?

Maybe not.

So I try a different tactic. I explain confidence is sexy. Being independent, positive and secure are what attract the opposite sex — at  any age. Right?

I enjoyed reading advice one teen gives on her website to nice guys who wonder why they don’t get girls. She says nice guys need to show just the right amount of interest to get the girl –not too much, not too little.

Parents, how do you talk to your teens about the value being treated well by the opposite sex? Do you think it’s challenging to get your daughter to appreciate a “nice guy” ?

 

Why I hate “Facebook official”

 

This weekend, a friend of my daughter’s was in tears after her boyfriend broke up with her by text and then posted the status change on Facebook five minutes later. She felt the need to change her status minutes later, too. Of course, that gave both of their entire friend circles opportunity to comment on the break up.

I don’t get it.

For some reason, it’s become common that as soon as teens break up or hook up, one rushes to change their status on Facebook. Apparently, online relationships are the new spectator sport. Corcoran put it well:  “Everyone gets to have opinions and comments on something that, in fact, should be dealt with between two people.”

As a parent of teens, I will never the fascination with “Facebook official” or worse, “Facebook unofficial”. Here are some random definitions of Facebook official from UrbanDictionary.com:

  • When on one’s facebook profile it says “In A Relationship” and your significant other’s name. “Are Adam and Courtney dating?” “I don’t know, they’re not facebook official yet.”
  • This term is used when a relationship is official, and you know so because the couple changes their status from either “single” or “it’s complicated” to “in a relationship” on Facebook.
    Guy 1: “Dude, I met this fly girl last night and we had a really good time, so I looked her up on Facebook…” Guy 2: “And….” Guy 1: “She’s Facebook official with some douche bag.” Guy 2: “Ouch bro.”
  • If something is absolutely certain or believed to be true, it is indeed Facebook official.
    Hey, did Aaron and Michelle break up???
    Yeah.
    Your positive?
    It’s facebook official!!!

 

To me, the problem with “Facebook official” is the speed in which teens post their relationship status changes. I don’t get why teens feel the need to rush to Facebook within seconds of a break-up. It’s so hurtful for teens to endure the nasty online comments, or worse, friends “like” the split, leading the wounded party to question the sincerity of their friends in the first place.

I recently heard my son talking about a friend who changed made his new relationship “Facebook official” only a few days after he started dating a girl. It devastated his ex-girlfriend who thought they were on the way to reconciliation.

I find it extremely challenging to talk with teens about entering and ending relationships with face-to-face discussions and in a private manner rather than on Facebook. This has become such a big concern that just last month, the Boston Public Health Commission  invited 200 teens from all over the state to a conference: the Break-Up Summit.

In a story on ABCnews.com, Casey Corcoran, director of the commission’s Start Strong initiative, says the problem is the way the teen brain is wired: “Young people don’t differentiate as much as adults between online and offline life. … One of the wonderful things about the adolescent brain is impulsivity. And these [social networking] tools drive on impulsivity.”

I’ve tried to talk to my soon about staying off Facebook with his relationship status changes but he tells me I don’t understand the way things are done today.

Parents, how have you dealt with the repercussions of “Facebook official” or changes to “single”? Have you been frustrated trying to teach your kids the importance of face-to-face conversations and keeping their love lives private?

 

How do you survive high school when you have already graduated?

My daughter Olivia started high school yesterday. She is officially a freshman and I am officially panicking on how I am going to survive not only freshman year but 4 years of high school!!?? Did my mom or dad panic like this? I didn’t think I made them worry like this. Did I?

Why do I feel like I am starting high school too?

Starting high school is a process.
1. School clothes shopping
2. Designer Bag (Michael Kors, Coach) or back pack
3. School supply shopping
4. Open House where you pick up your schedule and walk around for and hour trying to find your child’s class with them say they don’t get lost the first day.
5. Getting hair cut and highlighted
6. mani/pedi
7. Whiten teeth with Crest whitening strips
8. Spray tan
9.Orientation at school where this time you run around for 2 hours so you can meet the teachers that are scattered all over campus.
10. Pray they do well in school and don’t get into trouble.

Did I leave anything out?

I have stressed to my daughter numerous times the importance of doing well from day one in hopes she understands bad grades = no college. Am I over killing her with expectations? Am I driving myself insane? There needs to be support groups for this!!

I know there is only so much I can do and that she has to work and focus on her own. But, I can’t help but feel that it’s my role as a parent to ensure she stays on track. In the meantime, I feel like I am holding my breath until report cards come out.

How did you survive?? Look forward to reading your high school survival tips! Us parents, need to stick together!!

How (not) to embarrass teenagers on vacation

 

I’m on vacation with my kids, thinking I’m a cool mom adventurer.  We are on a jeep headed to the top of a mountain when I begin to make conversation with some young girls who are riding up with us. My teen daughter whispers in my ear to stop making conversation because she finds my “friendliness” embarrassing.

As a parent of a teen, I’ve become used to hearing:  Mom, you’re being so embarrassing!

So far, a few days into vacation, I have heard this every time I say something I find funny, make conversation with strangers, pass gas in front of any other human being, wear my shorts at what’s considered by them an inappropriate length (either too short or too long)or talk in a voice they consider too loud. My husband hears it every time he tries to sing.

Meanwhile, my 10-year-old son still worships me. Thank god!

What is it about the teen years that bring out this utter embarrassment with parents?

I take comfort in a warning from Adam Gopnik of BBC News Magazine: The one thing that is written into the human genome is that exactly at the age of 13, your child – in a minute – and no matter how close or sympathetic the two of you have been before, will discover that you are now the most embarrassing, ridiculous and annoying person on the planet. This is a universal truth.

This embarrassment/annoyance  will sometimes be expressed in a tone of pitying condescension, and sometimes in one of exasperated wrath, he says.

So parents, it’s not us, it’s them. Of course, once you are declared embarrassing, you may as well live up to your teen’s belief that you cannot keep your absurdity to yourself.

My husband and I are threatening to ride around the golf course at our hotel at dusk on bicycles completely naked.

Now, that would give a teen something to be embarrassed about!

 

Mom Wants Teen Daughter to Get A Boob Job

Last night I dabbed some acne medicine on my daughter’s chin. She didn’t ask me to do it, nor did she want me to do it. I just did it out of instinct and it didn’t go over well.

So how far would I go to encourage my daughter to look good?

Not as far as British mom, Chantel Marshall. She’s trying to force her 14-year-old daughter, Britney, to get a boob job.

Chantel told The Sun, “Britney is going through a funny phase at the moment and saying she doesn’t want to get her boobs done.” Chantel then went on to say she really wishes Britney would follow the lead of her four sisters.  “I really love the fake look of my girls and I know Britney will go that way when she’s a bit older.”I

The Huffington Posts writes: Britney, the “brainy” one of the family, told the Sun, “Maybe I’ll decide to get them too and start saving in a few years. But for now I want to focus on my school work.”

On the face of it, this story is ludicrous. I want to be repulsed. I want to think this mom is completely insane….but I can relate to this mom in a very bizarre way. Wasn’t I just dabbing cream on my daughter’s face?

I’m not a crazy mom who goes off the deep end worrying about her daughter’s looks.  I want my daughter to attract boys with her smarts, her ambition and her confidence and not care if they don’t find her as attractive as she finds herself.

But I understand how a mom who is struggling with her own confidence could get carried away in pushing her daughter to enhance her appearance. I know a lot of parents today who measure their worth by how successful their children are in sports, academics and physical attractiveness. What parent doesn’t beam when told their daughter is gorgeous?

And there’s the root of the problem. We all know teen girls struggle with their self-esteem.  Now, mothers are struggling, too. Our society values beauty and we’ve got many women who themselves are undergoing the knife to enhance their looks.

Isn’t it our job, though, as parents to come up with a constructive way to guide our girls into adulthood with confidence in themselves? If they want plastic surgery and beg for it, then that’s one thing. But to pressure a teen into getting it?

Shouldn’t we at least let our daughters become insecure adults before we encourage them to make life altering decisions about their bodies?

(Britney, 14,  and her mom, Chantel, 53)

 

 

 

 

 

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