Raising Teens

A site for parents of teens striving for sanity

Author: raisingteensblogger (Cindy) (page 1 of 20)

Are all promposals creepy?

 

It’s that time again: promposal season. Time when there’s a fine line between a cute or romantic invitation to prom, and an over-the-top creepy one.  One year my son’s friend asked a girl to prom by writing PROM? on her car with pancake syrup because she likes pancakes. It was sticky and she was pissed.

Things have gotten so out of hand with promposals that Jimmy Kimmel made a huge commotion about it last week. Jimmy says the time has come for celebrity promposals to end.  He gave an impassioned speech during his monologue imploring high school students to stop creating elaborate videos to ask celebrities to prom.

Jimmy’s came after a boy created a promposal video to ask Emma Stone to prom.  Emma’s answer was that she is working in London. She really dodged a bullet with that one!

But Jimmy told it like it is…. “She doesn’t want to go to a dance with you because she’s 28, and 28-year-old people don’t want to go on dates with 16-year-old children because it’s creepy.”

I’m not sure when this whole crazy tradition of teens creating elaborate ways to ask each other to prom got started and I’m even less sure why Hollywood has been roped into the craziness. Some believe it started with the use of social media. A few shared videos or pictures of romantic prom invitations may have led to the hysteria now known as promposals.

I gotta say I feel bad for shy teens who can barely get up the guts to ask someone to prom…now he or she has to do an elaborate ask and often it comes across as desperate — or creepy. It’s particularly creepy when someone you barely know does an outlandish promposal and backs you into a corner.  I just saw a photo of a guy who tattooed  “Prom?”  on his side. Sure hope his potential prom date said yes.

 

Recently I heard about a prom idea I LOVED….at one Illinois high school, prom dates are randomly assigned by lottery so no one gets left out. Male students draw names of female students in the school library, while girls wait for them in the school’s gym. After the names are drawn, a skit is performed to reveal who their dates are. The lottery system started in 1926, to ensure that all students had a date to prom, but the current students still think it’s a great tradition.

I particularly like it because no one has to out do the other with a creepy promposal. My son in high school says it stinks because couples can’t go with their significant other on their big night of high school. (He’s got a point there) He also says not all promposals are creepy. (I agree that some are sweet, but overall I think this promposal stuff has gone too far.)

What are your thoughts on promposals? Are they sweet, creepy, unnecessary?

 

Here are  the 10 Funniest Promposals Gone Wrong.

Here are 25 of the most ridiculous, over-the-top Promposals.

Video games, clothes, food…where would your teen spend his/her money?

My son, Garret, kept asking us for money on the weekends to go out with friends. It really became a problem. So we decided to give him an allowance and a debit card. My husband tracks where he spends his money, but doesn’t question him about it because we want him to make his own choices.

Recently, we noticed that Garret spends most of his money on food.  That kid loves to eat. He and his friends are big fans of Chipotle. Now that my son’s friends are driving, it’s where they go on a Friday or Saturday night. It’s also where they go on an early release day from school. If you ever go to Chipotle, you will notice a ton of teens there. Chipotle tends to put its locations near high schools and universities. Pretty smart, huh?

Even though my son is a foodie, I am now learning  that he is pretty normal in his spending habits. Teens are spending most of their money on food. Yes, they are spending more on eating Chipotle and drinking Starbucks than on clothes, sneakers and video games. Even while we complain about our teens being less social because of their electronic devices, they are spending their money on eating out.

Piper Jaffray, which has surveyed teens about their spending habits for 17 years, has just released its 2017 Taking Stock With Teens research survey.  The survey found  food is the most important category within a teen’s wallet at 24 percent of spending. Clothing comes in second at 19 percent.

“We are seeing teen spending continue to shift more toward experiences — eating out and leisure,” Piper Jaffray senior analyst Erin Murphy said in a release.

Starbucks is the only public brand to maintain its double-digit share among all teens. It tied with Chick-fil-A at a 12 percent preference level.

Here’s another pretty interesting finding: Teens would rather buy athletic apparel than fashion brands. That kind of surprised me.

Other interesting takeaways:

  • 81 percent of teens expect their new phone will be an iPhone, the highest level ever seen in the survey.
  • Move over Facebook: Snapchat was listed as teens top social media platform at 39 percent. Instagram was second at 23 percent. Facebook and Twitter tied for third at 11 percent apiece.
  • Disney films were the clear winner for the most anticipated moves list with “Beauty and the Beast,” “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” and “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” grabbing some of the top spots.
  • Bad news for console gaming: The percent of teens who plan to digitally download more than half of their games increased to 45 percent from 37 percent in the fall of 2015.

Do you keep track of how your teen spends his or her money? Would you agree that food is the most frequent purchase?

A Father’s Perspective on Raising a Teen Daughter

Today we have a treat for you! We are featuring a father who shares his perspective on raising a teen girl. We hope you enjoy hearing another point of view on raising teens.  Please meet Tyler Jacobson. Tyler is a husband, father, freelance writer and outreach specialist with experience with organizations that help troubled teens and parents. His areas of focus include parenting, social media, addiction, mental illness, and issues facing teenagers today.  You can follow Tyler on: Twitter @tylerpjacobson and on LinkedIn.

 
I’m a father of three: two boys and a girl. My boys and I are close. We easily bond over food and roughhousing. However, I have to say it’s true what they say about dads and their little girls – ever since the day she was born we have had a very special connection.

Raising boys vs. raising girls…these are two very different things, especially for a father. When you are raising a boy, you notice the same things he does. Marketing targeted at boys today (TV shows, cartoons, toys, etc.) are the same as you remember growing up seeing.

As my daughter grew, her mother and I did everything to encourage her to find out who she wanted to be. More than anything, we wanted her to be comfortable with herself and not feel limited by our actions. Our daughter is a thoughtful, caring, adventurous individual and we tried to help her build on her strengths as well as discover her positive attributes.

However, after a while I noticed there was a different message for girls in the toys that are targeted at children. When we would go shopping as a family, wandering up one aisle and down the next, Legos, racecars and Nerf guns were the bulk of the “boys” aisle. While in contrast, the “girls” aisle was play makeup, stuffed animals and dress up items. It seemed that all the active toys were in the “boys” aisle with sedentary toys making up most of the “girls” aisle.

At first I wasn’t sure what to do, so I’d try to ignore outside influences and just reinforce her personal freedom. It about broke my heart when she asked if it was okay that she wanted a Lego set for her birthday. In her young and impressionable mind, the message had hit home. Some toys were only for boys and some only for girls. Even though I reassured her that her choice in toys was fine, I didn’t address idea that some things were right for boys and some for girls.

Now she’s a young woman

My little girl is 12 and I only wish the social pressure was about Legos again. Instead, my wife and I have had to start having many talks with our daughter about what is and isn’t appropriate for a young woman.

In one instance, when my daughter spent an afternoon at a friend’s house, she came home with a face full of makeup. From overdone eyes to an aggressive shade of red lipstick, my sweet 12 year old looked older and infinitely hardened.

It was hard not to demand she remove it immediately. Instead, we sat down together and talked about what she liked about the makeup. She told us all her friends were wearing makeup and that she was tired of looking like a little kid.

After more discussion, we reached a compromise. My wife would help her learn how to apply light makeup, and until she turned 14, she could only wear it on Sundays and special occasions at school.

I didn’t want her to feel like she had to wear makeup to feel beautiful. I wanted her to stay my fresh-faced and happy little girl. But allowing our children to grow is one of the hardest things parents have to learn, and I don’t want to stunt her growth as a she becomes an independent young lady.

Dealing With Social Programming

After the makeup incident, I knew I had to get ahead of future problems if I didn’t want them sprung on me again. I began to research what other parents were dealing with while raising teenagers and how to help my daughter deal with social pressure.

I found a few resources to help me understand how to deal with the media, and also what my daughter may be going through with the body image pressure she’s getting from every direction.

Together, my wife and I worked to open lines of communication with our daughter. We began with simple topics like her current hobbies. As she became more comfortable talking to us, stronger trust was established and she began coming to us on her own about her concerns.

Over time, I pointed out subtle influences in the media she was consuming, pressuring girls to be a certain thing, and asked her what she thought. Once she knew what to look for I didn’t have to bring attention to anything.

My daughter has always been precocious, but it makes me so proud to see her open up and define her sense of self outside of what society is trying to sell her. My daughter is strong, independent, and beautiful exactly as she is and if I have anything to say about it, she’ll grow up to be a confident woman who will be able to think critically about what the world says women should be.

Oh no, is this a lecture? Talking to teens so they listen

 

 

 

 

 

We were driving in the car with our son Garret when he noticed a Maserati on the road next to us. He started excitedly showing us the car and telling us how he wants one.  Noticing his excitement, my husband started talking about saving up for things he really wants to buy rather than taking on debt just to be flashy.

It took all of a second for Garret to completely tune my husband out and say, “Oh no dad, is this a lecture?”

When your kids hit the teen years, that line between talking and lecturing gets thinner. My husband and I think we’re just having a conversation but the next thing we know, we’re imparting some wisdom and our kids say we’re lecturing.

The thing is as a parent, these “little lessons” just spill out of our mouths. Sometimes they come out in the form of a question in the heat of the moment, as in “Did I tell you about how I earned my own money when I was your age?”  Sometimes they come out in the form of sarcasm, “Right, you’re just going to hang out at some guy’s house when his parents aren’t home and nothing is going to happen.”

The problem is teens often think they already know whatever wisdom you’re trying to impart… as in “I know that mom!” So instead of listening, they blow you off, get annoyed and retreat to their phones where they can immerse themselves in what their friends are saying on Twitter.

One day, my daughter told me I have a lecture voice. She said I put it on when I “think” I am saving her from mistakes. I HATE to come across that way.  The only thing I have found that works is to listen more and talk less. It’s not always easy but with my daughter, I force myself to just listen and not react. Instead of trying to problem solve, point out the  ways she’s being irrational or launch into  anything that comes across as a lecture, I take a deep breath and stay quiet. Then, I tell her I hear what she is saying. It’s a strategy I picked up from a friend who says it’s the only way she survived the high school years with her daughter.

I’d love to hear your strategies. How do you guide your teen without the perception that you’re  lecturing? Is it possible to get through the teen years without offering unwanted “life lessons” that they find annoying?

Should a Teen Sleep Over a Boyfriend’s or Girlfriend’s House?

Nearly two years ago I (Raquel) wrote a blog that surprised me as it resulted in the largest response I had ever had. The topic? Should teens that are dating be allowed to sleep at each other’s house and have a boyfriend/girlfriend teen sleepover? This blog post resulted in almost 150 comments, from parents and teens!

I honestly can say I did not expect such a huge response. But I was so happy to touch upon a subject that clearly needed to be talked about. I sure hope I helped some parents and teens with this difficult conversation. Given the high level of interest in this, I thought it was worthy of sharing a Top 10 list from the interesting feedback I received from teens and parents.

Original post from March 2014

Is it okay for boyfriend/girlfriend to sleep over at each other’s house?

My daughter recently went over to her boyfriend’s house last Saturday night to hang out like she has done in the past. I fell asleep and realized she wasn’t home and it was past her curfew. I looked on my phone and found messages from her saying she is sleeping over at her girlfriend’s house.  I am a bit upset over the fact she didn’t ask permission and I know she is lying!

I asked her why she didn’t ask me prior to now and she said she fell asleep. More lies. I decided I would let her stay over her “girlfriend’s” house knowing very well she is probably at her boyfriend’s. I knew arguing at this time of night wasn’t going to get me anywhere so I said we would talk about this in the morning when she comes home.

Next morning comes around and like I suspected she stayed at her boyfriend’s house! I was extremely upset because we had this discussion before and I am totally against it, as is her father. She tells me that she doesn’t understand what the big deal is? “Lots of parents let their kids stay at their boyfriend’s house.”

I said, “Well, it’s not okay with this parent.” She said my reasoning did not help her understand why it was wrong or inappropriate because she found nothing wrong with it. They weren’t doing anything and they are 17.

How do I talk to a teen rationally about this? I am spitting nails and fuming. My daughter would not let go of the fact that there is nothing wrong with the sleepover and that it’s not wrong.

So, I am asking… Am I wrong? Do you allow your teen to sleep over at their boyfriend/girlfriend’s homes? Have times changed THAT much? I need someone to please help me understand this or at least help me make my daughter understand.

I did explain to her that sometimes in life, just because we don’t think it’s not inappropriate or wrong, doesn’t mean it isn’t. There isn’t always a logical reason.

That same day my husband called my daughter’s boyfriend’s dad and told him that she was not allowed to sleep over and unless he hears it from us, don’t believe it is okay with us.

I mean, really? These teens nowadays have found a way to basically make everything a battle. Sleepover with boyfriends? Yay or Nay?

Top 10 Things I Learned After Reading Feedback on My Original Post:

  1. Talk with your child not TO your child. Sometimes simple conversations can go a long way with building a relationship with your teen.
  2. Listen to your child. You may not agree with what they say but give them a chance to talk to you if you want the same courtesy back.
  3. Be realistic. Teens of today are not the same from when we were teens so because you did not do it does not mean they should not. Don’t have expectations that your teen may not live up to.
  4. Do not judge.  You are not a bad person and you will not be punished if you allow your son or daughter to sleep over at their boyfriend/girlfriend’s house.
  5. Teens are not sleeping over their boyfriend/girlfriend’s house for sex. They can have sex anytime. They just want to be able to relax the way they cannot at home.
  6. Teens need to respect and trust parents first! Parents want what is best for their teen and that may be not letting them “play house” at 17 or 18. So, until you are an adult and get your own place, parent’s house…parents rules.
  7. Communicate  and compromise. Consider compromising with your teens so they do not have to lie and go behind your back. Better to know where your teens are and that they are safe than to not know.
  8. Do not try to control your teen. Teens hate to feel controlled. They just want to be able to have some freedom.
  9. Trust your teen. If you have taught them about right from wrong and good from bad, then trust that your teen will make smart choices and will be honest with you on not about just sleeping over at their boyfriend/girlfriend’s house, but on bigger issues.
  10. Teach your kids values and respect. That is more important than controlling them or allowing them to be a part of a sleep over.

Talking to Your Son About Teen Sex

I have been talking to my youngest son, Garret, about wearing condoms when he has sex since he was in third grade. I know it sounds crazy to start so young, but when he came home from the Transformer movie talking more about Megan Fox than the plot of the movie, I knew I had to have the teen sex talk early. Because I have an older son, I gave them both the “always wear condoms”  sex talk at the same time. I explained that even if the girl says she has protection, unless they want to be a dad or contract a disease, they better not be silly and always wrap their willy to be safe.  They laughed and called me a crazy mom.

Now that Garret is in high school, I am having a different conversation with him about teen sex. It’s a conversation about emotions, actions and consequences.   I want him to know that sex can be a healthy way of expressing love in a good relationship. I also want him to know sex is more than a heat-of-the-moment action. Although he’s only 15, Garret tells me he has friends who are having sex, sometimes in their own homes, and usually without their parents knowing.

Even as I repeat my “wrap your willy” talk with him, there’s something I have to worry about in addition to diseases or pregnancy as a result of unsafe sex.  As soon as my son turns 18, sex can become a crime if there is an female involved who is under 18.  Let’s say Garret  turns 18 and has sex with a girl who is a year younger than him. In Florida, it’s considered illegal, even if the sex is consensual. The age of consent can vary among states, and some states differentiate between consensual sex between minors who are close in age (for example, two teenagers of the same age), as opposed to sex between a minor and a much older adult. But states some don’t.

It’s a scary thought that my son could run into legal issues for having sex with another teen who he might think legitimately wants to “hook up.”  If the girl’s parents find out she had sex, and she decides to say my son forced her into it, the penalties for him include prison.  So, already I’m giving Garret the lecture about how things change when he turns 18 and how he needs to know the risks. I’m also thinking about the advantages of legal insurance. ARAG  (a partner of RaisingTeens) offers legal insurance that works a lot like health insurance (but way more affordable). You can use it if your teen falls victim to identity theft, pulls a dumb prank that gets him into legal trouble, gets a traffic ticket, or needs legal help of any sort like in the situation I described involving sex. When your teen turns 18, a lot changes in the eyes of the law, and legal insurance gives you peace of mind because a lawyer is always available to help you navigate through any issues that arise with any family member.   I completely understand why 90 percent of people with ARAG legal insurance feel it reduces their stress.

As a mother of a teen girl, I’m glad the law protects minors who are forced into sex. But as a parent of boys, I worry about the gray area around teen sex, consent and the law.  Parents, what are you saying to your teen boys about sex?  Do you think it’s unrealistic to tell boys to stay away from younger girls once they turn 18?

 

 

Is Your Teen Daughter Cutting Herself?

One day, my daughter came home from school and told me her friend had cut herself.  My reaction was “she did what?” My daughter explained that her friend is “going through some stuff” and she had been cutting her arm, just enough to cause pain but not enough to cause serious harm.  After that first time, she has mentioned many other friends who cut themselves, telling me about it like it’s no big deal.

This self-harm trend is huge and most parents don’t even know it’s happening.

Growing up, I can’t remember ever considering cutting myself, nor do I remember hearing anyone else consider it. But today, cutting is a way some teens are coping with strong emotions, intense pressure, or relationship problems.  It’s a way for a teen to  let out what she is feeling inside. According to NDTV, self-harm is not a fashion fad, nor is it suicidal behavior. It is merely a coping mechanism and one in 12 teens have tried it

Where do teens learn about this? Believe it or not, there are dozens of YouTube “how to” cutting videos. 

The triggers are pretty much the same ones that have always caused teens trouble:

  • Depression,
  • Low Self-Esteem
  • Complicated relationships
  • Alcohol and drug abuse
  • Stress and emotional burden

Today, the first of March is marked as Self-Injury Awareness Day. An orange ribbon is commonly associated with this campaign.

 

 

 

 

If you’re a parent who has seen signs that your teen is self injuring, this book could be a resource for you,   A Caregiver’s Guide to Self-injury.  So could these fact sheets with dos and don’ts for approaching your teen about it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you suspect your teen has inflicted self-injury — bruises, scratches, cuts– it’s a great opportunity to have a conversation about it. This is definitely not a rare phenomenon so if you’re suspicious, use today to do something about it. You can follow the conversation on Twitter at #SIAD.

This is a powerful video made by a teen who talks about her personal experience with cutting

When Your Teens’ Friends Start Driving

I will never forget the day my son Jake’s friend pulled into the driveway an hour after she got her driver’s license. She already had two other kids in the car and wanted him to go for a ride. When I told him no way, he was furious with me. It was the start of months of negotiation with Jake over driving rules and arguments that lasted beyond the day he got his own license.

Slowly, I have eased into the idea of my teens driving with other teens. Not because I want to, but because I have had to give in to keep myself sane.

Now, here I am again with my younger son starting the negotiations again. Garret is six months away from being eligible to get his license, but his friends have started to get theirs. To me there’s is nothing scarier than letting your teen drive with a new driver! There are so many distracted drivers on the roads today, which makes lack of experience even more worrisome.

One of my friends doesn’t let her daughter drive with anyone who hasn’t had his or her license for a month. She also has told her daughter she is not allowed to take any passengers in her car for a month after she gets her license. I agree with my friend that it is definitely easier for a new driver to concentrate without passengers in the car.

For me, enforcing a rule like that is hard.  If I tell my Garret he can’t drive with friends, he will get left out. Last weekend, some of my son’s friends went to the beach together. One of the boys, who has had his license a month was going to drive.  I wanted to drive him myself to the beach.  However, he told me I was making him look like a baby and he would rather stay home than have me drive him separately. I gave in, said my prayers, and breathed relief when he got home. My son told me a mom of one of the other boys who went with them tracked her son on his phone the whole time and called to question him when they stopped at the mall after the beach.

So far, I don’t have any set rules with Garret, nor have I felt the need to track my son when he is out with friends. I have let Garret drive with a friend who I feel is responsible, and I have said no to driving with one who gets easily distracted. In the meantime, I am preparing myself for the day he gets his license and the independence and the inevitable parental worries that goes with it.

So parents, am I too lenient to let my son drive with new drivers? How have you handled your teen being a passenger in a car with a teen driver? Do you have any rules?

A Teen’s Perspective: What Your Teen Is Doing On Social Media

Today, fellow parents, we are extremely fortunate. A teen is going to give us some insight into how  we can keep up with our teens on social media. She has lots of great suggestions for  how to help  your kids with problems they  may encounter online.

Let me introduce you to Lauren Ofman. If you have questions or comments for Lauren, please weigh in below!

Lauren Ofman is a high school student in California who loves spending time with her family, learning sign language, and helping teens and parents communicate! She blogs about her perspective and answers requests for advice at, http://ateensperspectiveblog.weebly.com/.

I’m a junior in high school, so I can tell you one thing for sure – your teen’s phone and computer are essential to his or her life. For school, social life, and sometimes even breathing, I need my phone and my computer.

It’s not surprising that it’s difficult for most parents to understand the role technology plays in almost everything their kids do. For most teenagers that I know, interactions with online content and social media are complex, inescapable, and require constant management in order to protect or maintain an image- even if your goal is to not have an image.

I’m a big fan of the 90s and even the 80s a little. My understanding of high school for the generations before mine is derived mostly from movies and stories I hear from my parents. In my admittedly limited view, it seems to me that not much has changed. The struggles of a teenager in high school today are still basically the same as they were decades ago. We’re all still very concerned about our image and the way we’re perceived by others.

The big difference is that, in today’s world, many of us, whether we admit it or not, are managing two separate personas. Yes, you read that right; we’re leading double lives. There’s our IRL (“in real life”) persona, which everyone has and does their best to maintain, but, for most teenagers today, there also exists a funnier, sexier, wittier, and even more daring alter ego. And it’s this second persona that’s in charge of making sure that, no matter what, the Instagram and Snapchat content coming out of the camp is sensational, sexy, and stage ready.

The priorities of the alter ego and the IRL persona are sometimes different and the two are rarely on the same page. This is usually okay, since for the most part the IRL persona makes rational decisions and is ultimately the one in charge. Trouble arises when the alter ego takes over and clouds the judgment. When this happens the Instagram and Snapchat posts get racier or otherwise worse in judgement while at the same time the social circle expands beyond friends to include more random, anonymous internet alter egos with bad intentions. It’s at this point that your teenager is most likely to encounter issues like cyberbullying and blackmail.

Here’s what to watch for:

New Followers: As a parent you should have the Instagram and Snapchat apps on your phone and learn to use them. You should also do your best to know your teen’s Instagram and Snapchat handles. For Instagram and Snapchat, even if the account is private, you can see the number of followers your teen has. A few of my friends with dominant alter egos have multiple Instagram and Snapchat accounts, so this may take some digging. Once you find the account(s), keep an eye on the number of people following that page. If you notice more than 5,000 followers and the account is private, this could be a sign that the alter ego is in command. Also, if you notice a large and sudden uptick in followers, this would be a point of concern.  I suggest that even though you’re keeping an eye out, you focus on protecting against real danger, not policing every move your teen makes and trying to be too controlling. A post that makes you roll your eyes, has typos, sounds dumb to you, or uses slightly off-color language? Let them be.

 

Cyberbullying: According to Antibullyingpro.com, 7 in 10 people aged between 13 and 22 have been a victim of cyberbullying. Cyberbullying has become one of the most frequent types of bullying in society today. It’s happened at my school. It’s even occurred within my social circle.

For many alter egos, the feeling that they can say what they want anonymously or without the pressure of speaking face-to-face is too strong to resist; however, cyberbullying is a very serious offense. It comes in many forms: texting, sending incriminating pictures, or even sharing confidential information can all be examples of cyberbullying.

The best way for your teen to avoid cyberbullying is to limit your teen’s followers and social media friends to those they actually know in real life. In my experience, cyberbullying usually doesn’t come from someone you’re going to see at school or camp the next day. It’s almost always some random troll from the internet. I only accept friend requests or approve followers from people I know.

You might let your teen know that cyberbullying is a crime and that if it happens to them, you are happy to help. They will roll their eyes, but if things get bad, they might remember they can come to you.

Blackmail: Limiting social media interactions to people your teen knows  also helps limit opportunities for blackmail. All of the blackmail I’ve heard about, however, has taken place when a relationship ends badly. Relationships in high school are by nature shaky and uncertain and always have the potential to end badly, so that means lots of us are at risk of being blackmailed.

Whenever I send a photo or video, I assume it’s going to go public, and if I’m not comfortable with my grandmother seeing it, I simply don’t send it. My recommendation to you is simple; tell your kids to assume that everything they send out will be seen by everyone they know, including their grandmother.

But also make sure your teen knows that if someone is blackmailing them with a text or photo, there are legal actions he or she can take, and you’re able to help them if they get in a tough situation. The idea that an indecent picture of you may be on everyone’s phone within the hour can be terrifying for a teen (or anyone).  So, it’s good that they know ahead of time to come to you immediately for help if the situation arises, and that you’ll help them without being angry.

They should also know, if they’re under 18, that sending risque photos of themselves, even to a friend or boyfriend, could land them in legal trouble. It’s pretty common for teens to send photos to their boyfriends and girlfriends, and although you may not want to think about it, you should be sure your teen understands that it could end in not only embarrassment, but legal trouble.

Most people I know who’ve been embarrassed by a photo getting shared trusted the person they sent it to, and thought “He would never do that!” Your teen will probably think the same. So instead of focusing on what that significant other might do if they break up, point out that accounts get hacked all the time, phones get lost, laptops get stolen, and all sorts of unpredictable things happen. Those scenarios may be easier for your teen to think about happening to them.

TALK TO YOUR TEEN! These are just some suggestions, but overall the important thing is to start a dialogue with your teens and share information without attacking or accusing them. You should also always be on the lookout for signs that the alter ego has taken over.

When mom tells her teen daughter she is fat

 

I am at Starbuck’s and I’m eavesdropping. I hate to admit that I would do such a thing,  but I just can’t help it. The teens sitting at the table next to me are talking loud and the conversation has lured me in.  “I love your mom,” one of the teenage girls says to the other. “She’s so cool.”  Now, instead of taking the compliment, the other girl replies, “Oh yeah, well this morning my mom told me I was fat.”

I listen as she explains further.  The girl continues on. “My mom asked me to go to the gym with her in the mornings before school. Can you believe that?”  “Really?” asks her friend, sounding horrified. “Yeah, of course I’m not going to go. I don’t have time for that,” she says.

I glance over and from where I was sitting it looks like the young teen girl is  average weight. Sure, the Frappuccino she is drinking isn’t doing anything to trim her waistline, but she by no means seemed overweight. As I sat there taking it all in, I realized that what I did not hear in the conversation was any mention that the girl’s mother had actually said her daughter was fat. She merely invited her to go with her to the gym.

As a mother of a teen daughter, I have learned discussing body issues is dangerous.  Teen girls are super sensitive about their bodies and bringing up the topic of weight is tricky. This girl apparently read more in her mother’s invitation to join her at the gym — whether or not the mother intended it that way. Unfortunately, I could relate. One day I suggested my daughter eat something other than the cupcake she was about to put in her mouth. My comment sparked tears and she insisted I called her fat. I tried to convince her I was just trying to teach her about making healthier eating choices.

As a society, we’ve gotten a little better about expecting females to be stick thin throughout their lives. But for teen girls, carrying extra weight can be difficult mentally and physically. It’s something many mothers worry about. So how exactly do you as a parent handle it when you see your daughter packing on pounds?  Do you say something and risk that she will rebel? Do you couch it in a caring way and avoid the word fat? Do you ignore it completely?

And, what do you do when your daughter says, “I hate my fat thighs?” Is there any right answer?

I have found a well-meaning conversation that’s just about weight or dieting, especially in the heat of the moment, can backfire.  Instead, I noticed conversations go more smoothly when you plan out what you’ll say before you say it, so you don’t cause your daughter to get defensive or worse, develop an eating disorder.   What has worked for me is to talk with my daughter about healthful eating, and how to balance that with exercise.

Lots of teen girls are just figuring out moderation and  what “eating healthy” really means. My friend’s daughter gained a good bit of weight her freshman year of college. My friend was upset and wondered if she should say something. She worried that speaking up would hurt their relationship.  But then, on her own, my friend’s daughter realized that eating late at night can make you put on weight and that skipping breakfast made her ravenous at lunchtime.  She began eating healthier and lost the weight. My friend felt  her daughter needed to figure it out herself and the approach worked. But it doesn’t always play out that way.

As a parent, none of this is easy.  I have found it helps, though, when you make your teen daughter well aware of your unconditional love. Have you ever talked to your teen daughter about her weight? Why do you think so many teen girls walk around saying, “My mother thinks I fat?”

 

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