Teens using Facebook as a Diary Can Become a Nightmare

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A friend of mine called me a few weeks ago to ask me what was going on with my son. She said he posted something kind of depressing on Facebook. Truthfully, I hadn’t been paying much attention to his postings so I quickly went online to check.

He had posted something about feeling really lonely and alone after breaking up with his girlfriend and then asking a girl out and being turned down. I could understand his sadness but I was horrified over making his feelings so public. I saw a few comments below the post and they weren’t particularly kind. I immediately got into his account deleted the post.

That’s when I began to wonder….Do teens understand that Facebook isn’t a diary? Do they realize that using it like a diary opens them up to kids they may barely know commenting publicly on their feelings? What a nightmare that could be!

Later that day, I sat down with my son. I handed him a small notebook to use as a diary and explained the difference between it and Facebook. I told him Facebook is a place to post things that he’s doing, places he visits or songs he likes, stuff like that…a place for fun and keeping up with friends.Then, I explained the diary was a place he could write his feelings, which are personal.

I think the problem is there is no rule book for Facebook and teens are trying to figure it out on their own. I just read a WSJ article about tweens whose parents wouldn’t let them have a Facebook account so they found ways around it by finding new social media sites unsupervised by their families. Does it surprise you that a recent survey found a third of teens say their parents don’t know what they do online?

Is it really possible to anticipate how our teens will use social media? Should I have sat down with my son years ago when he first got on Facebook and explained in more detail how to use it? Have you run into problems with the way your teen has used Facebook?

 

Do we confess our own poor choices?

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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?

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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

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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.

 

 

Teenage Meltdowns

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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???)

Kendall Jenner Posts Bikini Shots, are you ok with it?

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The talk of the town today: Kendall Jenner.

The 16-year-old aspiring model posted a photo on Twitter of herself in a bikini Monday night with the caption, “Miss summer! #Tan.” Her dad, Bruce Jenner, reportedly made her take it down.

If you’ve peeked over the shoulder of your teen on Facebook lately, you might notice what I’ve seen. Girls, in particular, seemed to be always posing for the camera: hair swept back, hand on hip, up against the wall with their head tilted back.  In at least a few instances, I’ve seen middle schoolers in bikinis that left little to the imagination.

I’ve asked my teens, “What’s up with the posing?” Strangely, they think nothing of this vamping.

Randee Holder writes on the Motherlode blog  that technology, particularly the smartphone camera, is affecting how adolescent girls conduct themselves in their actual, everyday lives.  She writes: “Girls this age, who have felt pressured historically to look their best most of the time, suddenly seem to feel as if they need to look their best all of the time. In turn, always being “on” seems to lead some girls to pose for pictures that are oversexualized: pouting lips, lots of cleavage, short-shorts, crop tops that showcase a bare midriff. ”

She surmises: For Teenage Girls, Facebook (and Twitter) Means Always Being Camera-Ready.

You have a point there Randee. It seems like girls post these sexy pics of themselves on Facebook trolling for “Likes” to boost their self esteem. I guess we’re not doing a good job of teaching our girls their self worth is about more than social media feedback.

Parents, what do you think about teen girls posting bikini shots? Is there a difference if they’re just posting it for friends or making it public? Have you ever made your teen take down a photo?

 

 

Your teen’s first day of work, fun or fiasco?

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So Olivia finally started her first day at work at Publix. We have her uniform tops and her Gap pants of course, and she is ready to go to work.  So why am I nervous for her? Is it because I hope she does well or that she doesn’t screw up and get in trouble? Probably all of the above huh? Well, she only went for two hours and she seemed to have a good first day. YAY!

Last Sunday I had to bring her into work and do my own grocery shopping as well. I kinda felt awkward seeing her work, but then, I looked at her from afar and realized she really is growing up.

She is no longer the 3 or 4-year-old that would help me shop at that same grocery store.  At the same time,  I thought of all the “fun stuff” that is yet to come like driving, dating, parties  etc.. So for now, I’m taking one milestone at a time and taking deep breaths every time.

Today, she took her job seriously and was being responsible and respectable, and for that I am thankful. Tomorrow is another day in the life and adventures of raising a teen.

I am very proud of Olivia and the fact that she wants to work at 14. I know many of her friends that are her age and older who don’t work and don’t plan on it. I am trying to teach Olivia that nothing in life is given to you, it must be earned by honest, hard work, whether it be grades, making money or a finding a job. It builds character and great foundation for your future.

I hope she continues to do well and can balance her work, school and soccer. I know I will be right behind her all stressed and wanting to help her balance it all. But I also know that she needs to do it on her own and ask me for help if she needs it.  It is part of growing up both for me and her!

So, tell me, what stories do you have of your teens first day of work — fun or fiasco?

Would you show this fatal drunk driving crash video to your teen?

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Teens are going to drink. They will. I’m resigned to that because I already see my 18-year-old nephew doing it. But will they drink and drive?

Probably.

Many of them will figure it’s just a few blocks to home or their dorm room and take a chance.

So parents, how bad do you want to scare them into thinking twice about drinking and driving? And,  is there anything that still shocks teens?

Maybe.

A teenager, whose camera was rolling as her two friends died in a drunk driving crash wants other young people to see and hear the gut-wrenching video. Desaleen James, 18, was inside the car when she took the video and is the sole survivor.  The video aired on CBS News shows three young women – one drunk behind the wheel – headed home from a Maryland nightclub on December 29th, 2011. It captures one of the women in the car saying, “We’re driving drunk.” (A police report confirms the driver was more than twice the legal limit for intoxication. )

 

The video also captured the crash and  continues to roll from inside the mangled car for 21 minutes, capturing the sounds of the desperate rescue attempt.  The 22-year-old driver and 19-year-old passenger were both killed. Desaleen James, 18, who videotaped the entire night, survived, suffering a broken hip. She was buckled up in the front passenger seat.

“Maybe I here to save someone else. I wouldn’t want even my worst enemy to walk in my shoes right now,”  says Desaleen, who talks about how easy it was to get alcohol in a club, even at 18.

Car crashes are the leading cause of death among teens – one out of three is alcohol related, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving statistics based on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The good news is that the number of DUI fatalities has actually gone down in the U.S. in recent years. But wow, this video is painful and powerful!

Parents, check out the video. Do you think it would have any affect on your teen’s choices?

 

Click here for link to video

 

See the follow up video:

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