Raising Teens

A site for parents of teens striving for sanity

Category: School issues (page 1 of 4)

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.

Why teens are taking prescription medicine

I am sharing with our readers an article that was published  in my son, Matthew’s high school newspaper,  The Eagle Eye.

I was shocked but then again I wasn’t when I read this well-written article about prescription medicati by a junior at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High in Coral Springs, Florida. I am very familiar with Adderall because my daughter Olivia is on it for her ADD. I recall reminding her to take it every day and cautioned her about the side effects that came with taking it. I told her she would have loss of appetite and it would keep her up all night.  I also recall reminding her  that selling her prescription pills is a felony and told her not to ever even think of doing so, even if someone asks to buy one from her.  She was well aware of that risk and assured me she would never sell her pills and jeopardize her future. But, what is sad is that kids feel the need to use this ADD/ADHD medicine to help them get through all their school workload. Some teens are so desperate they illegally want to buy it off their friends. Parents, this is awful! This is a cry for help! These kids have no other alternative? Really?  Clearly, this medicine helps many teens succeed and do well, but at what expense?

Are the schools or teachers even aware that so many teens feel a need to take this medicine to stay awake and focused? If not, teachers need to wake up. Maybe our high schools should have classes for teens on how to handle stress or school workload. I am very worried about our teens’ stress levels. Some turn to prescription drugs,  some become depressed — and some do even the unthinkable, commit suicide.  We as parents need to do what we can to help our teens handle their stress levels, even if that means talking with their teachers.  My heart goes out to these teens who feel they have no other alternatives  to handle their stress other than medication or suicide.

Adderall is physically and psychologically addicting, and has long-term side effects.  What about the legal ramifications if your teen gets caught taking it without a prescription? You can kiss your teen’s future goodbye because now they are in a heap of legal trouble.  Now, as a preventative or if your teen does get into legal trouble, I would highly recommend you reach out to ARAG, a national company that offers legal insurance to families.   I wish I knew about legal insurance  years ago, but I know about it now and I am very passionate about paying it forward and helping  other parents become aware of this resources they could tap  in case of an emergency.  There are so many things to worry about as a parent of a teen and  ARAG  (a sponsor of RaisingTeens) could be an important resource because having legal insurance can save you money  and peace of mind when it comes to your teen’s future.

So, parents, please read this article because your teen can have all the right intentions as to why he/she is taking  Adderall, but not realize there are physical and legal consequences for abusing it, and selling or sharing their medicine.

Students abuse pharmaceuticals to maximize efficiency for schoolwork

Helping your teen through exam stress

teen-studying

It’s 10 p.m. at night and you know what’s about to happen. You sense that the mood is about to shift in your home.  Your teenage daughter is stressed about end of semester exams and a melt down is just minutes away.  Yep, here it comes…the tears, the drama, the no-win effort to calm her down.  Are you ready to pull your hair out yet and long for the days of diapers?

It may be years since I graduated high school, but as a parent of a teen, exam hell is far from over! When my teen is suffering, I must suffer, too.

With three children,  I have experienced both extremes of exam hell. You may have as well. Either you have the kid who doesn’t seem one bit concerned about the gravity of mid-term exams (but needs to be), or you have the teen who takes it so seriously that you actually start to worry. This is when parenting gets difficult.

How do you make a teen more concerned about his grades? How do you calm a teen who is so stressed she can’t sleep?

Here is what experts say we are not supposed to do:

  1. Say things like:  “Shouldn’t you be studying?” or “You are getting way too crazy about exams!”
  2. Interfere with how they study.  I know it’s hard to hold back but we’re not supposed to say, “How can you think with that music blasting?”  (This one is going to be hard for me!) Apparently, some teens can study better with music or the TV on in the background.
  3.  Nag them about what they are doing instead of studying.
  4.  Bribe them with money to study
  5. Fight with them about their cell phone use. (This one is super hard for me. I hate when my son studies with his phone by his side. )
  6. Tell them to stop stressing  (This has the opposite effect!)

 

Here is what we are supposed to do:

  1. Be lenient about chores, messy rooms and untidiness as much as possible.
  2.  Give them a break and understand lost tempers and moodiness
  3.  Encourage them to work hard for their own satisfaction, not just for the grade
  4.  Schedule small  rewards for the effort they are putting in or suggest a special evening out as a treat to look forward to when exams are over.
  5.  Encourage them to put a single exam into perspective. The world is not going to end.
  6. Discourage cheating
  7. Encourage them to find some outlet to de-stress. (Maybe offer to talk a walk with your teen after a solid hour of studying?)

 

So if exam pressure is building in your household and a meltdown is moments away, give your teen a reassuring hug and try not to say much.  Know that teenagers are programmed to overreact and rant to their parents. Take it from a mom who has been there…there is no easy way to navigate exam season. But then again, there is no easy way to parent a teen!

 

New Year, Tons of Homework

homework

I’m not sure what’s going on but the new year has my home in turmoil.  My oldest are still home from college on winter break having a great time doing whatever they feel like doing and my youngest is inundated with homework.

I remember the older two having tons of homework in high school but it seems to have gotten worse. I know each child has their own pace for getting homework done, and maybe my youngest is slower at his homework (or more distracted). Still, how much homework is too much?

I hate being the nagging mom asking repeatedly each night, “How much homework do you have?” It’s just that as a mom, I want my kid to go to bed at a decent hour. Some nights, I feel like screaming at the teachers, “What are you thinking? These teens deserve time to be a kid.”

Unfortunately, it’s a different academic world today than when most of us parents went to high school.  There is so much pressure on teens to take advanced classes, get good grades, get amazing test scores, participate in activities and go to college. Some teens do after school activities — or work — and then have to come home to hours of homework. No wonder our teens are stressed out, burnt out and suffering from anxiety!

When my daughter got to college last year, she felt the workload was a breeze compared to what she had in high school. She also had more time to get the work done. In that way, I guess high school prepared her well.

Still, is the overwhelming amount of high school homework necessary? I really don’t think it is! I think about all those parents out there,  trying to get their teens to put down their phones and finish math and I send them my sympathy. We all want our children to do well in school. But does school really need to follow our kids home in such a burdensome way?

What are your thoughts on high school homework?

 

Cell phones and homework? The struggles of a parent of a teen

A few days ago, I walked into the room to see my son at his desk staring at his cell phone.  I yelled at him to put it down and get his homework done. But,  he insisted he was doing his homework. “Mom, I’m looking up my assignment,” he told me.

Lately, I’ve noticed a big difference in the way my youngest child Garret, a high school freshman, uses his phone and the way his older siblings used their phones .  Garret uses his phone for everything he needs to do his homework. He uses it to look up word definitions, check his grades, calculate math problems and research science terms. Of course, in between, he’s also liking pictures on Instagram and pulling up videos on Vine.

As a parent, I’m struggling with maintaining control over how much connectivity is too much, particularly when my teen is a digital native who considers a paperback dictionary “ridiculous” and “unnecessary”.

A big problem is that homework in my house seems to drag on for hours and I find myself nagging Garret to hurry up so he can get to sports practice on time or get to bed at a decent hour.  While I realize that teachers pile on the homework, I’m sure that some of the reason it drags on for hours is because of the distraction of electronics.

In a new study by Common Sense Media, half of the teenagers said they watch TV or use social media either “a lot” or “sometimes” while doing homework, and 76 percent said they listen to music while working.  Half of the teens also said that listening to music actually helps their work, while only 6 percent said they thought it hurt.

“As a parent and educator, there’s clearly more work to be done around the issue of multi-tasking,” said James Steyer, founder and CEO of Common Sense Media, an organization that monitors youthful media use and gives recommendations to parents told NBC News. “Nearly two-thirds of teens today tell us they don’t think watching TV or texting while doing homework makes any difference to their ability to study and learn, even though there’s more and more research to the contrary.”

My friend Stefani is just as frustrated as I am. She took her son’s cell phone away from him a few days ago. She explained to me that he’s a kid who is easily distracted and whose grades have been slipping. “I blame that darn phone,” she said.

The phone is just one culprit in our teens’ addiction to devices.  New research has found that teens are spending a reported nine hours a day on media consumption, with tweens trailing not too far behind, dedicating an estimated six hours to their smartphones or tablets.

Steyer says that that statistic  is sad because it “shows you that kids spend more time with media and technology than they do with their parents, time in school or any other thing.”

While it is sad, it also is reality.

Until now, I’ve been okay with letting my son use his phone while doing homework. He is doing well in school. But this survey has me wondering if I am making a mistake. Maybe I should make Garret put his phone in the desk drawer until his homework is finished. What do you think…should cell phones be part of the homework routine —  or banned until it’s completed?

How Parents Can Survive College Admissions Madness

 

 

 

college

 

As a mother of a high school senior who is waiting to hear from colleges about acceptances, I really appreciated this article in the New York Times called How to Survive the College Madness. It talks a lot about how getting into your first college of choice shouldn’t define who you become.

Here’s a link to the article:

As part of the article, author Frank Bruni includes a letter from parents’ to their son regarding college acceptances and rejections. It struck a chord with me and I want to share it with all of you who will someday be in these parents’ shoes like I am right now.

Dear Matt,

On the night before you receive your first college response, we wanted to let you know that we could not be any prouder of you than we are today. Whether or not you get accepted does not determine how proud we are of everything you have accomplished and the wonderful person you have become. That will not change based on what admissions officers decide about your future. We will celebrate with joy wherever you get accepted — and the happier you are with those responses, the happier we will be. But your worth as a person, a student and our son is not diminished or influenced in the least by what these colleges have decided.

If it does not go your way, you’ll take a different route to get where you want. There is not a single college in this country that would not be lucky to have you, and you are capable of succeeding at any of them.

We love you as deep as the ocean, as high as the sky, all the way around the world and back again — and to wherever you are headed.

Mom and Dad

 

 

 

Ugh! Is anyone else dreading “Back to School”?

Well the time has come.. it’s “BACK TO SCHOOL” time! The time of year I dread! I dread it because I feel like I AM IN HIGHSCHOOL AGAIN and because of the following TOP 10 reasons:

1. Fighting moms  at the mall with back to school shopping clothes

2. Buying ALL the supplies for school and then having more to shop and hunt for after the first day!

3. HOMEWORK!! who do you think helps? Moms and Dads ! and trying to get it all done before soccer practice!

4. TEST! EXAMS!  again, who do you think helps them study??

5. Traffic will now double in the moring and afternoon! as well as we have school zones to slow us getting to work.

6. Keeping up with all the school meetings!

7. Early morning wake ups! Love trying to get everyone up and  out on time.

8. Driving them to school.There goes that extra time we had in the morning to ourselves.

9. Crazy rushed mornings getting everything done.

10. Last minute runs to buy items for a school project that is due the next day.

So, I ask you, Is anyone else dreading it?

As college approaches, mom gets panicked

I can’t help myself. I’m in a panic.

As the idea that my teen daughter will soon be leaving for college sinks in, I’m in lecture mode.

Every chance I get, I slip in another lecture based on my worry of the moment.

Don’t drink from a cup you put down at a frat party!

Don’t walk around campus at night by yourself!

Don’t be fooled into think a guy wants you to watch TV at his apartment (He always wants more!)

Don’t take a shower in the dorm without shower shoes!

Don’t get busted with a fake ID!

I have a new “don’t” for her as each week passes. What’s wrong with me?

I want my daughter to enjoy her college experience. I want her to become independent and make new friends. But I’m overtaken the need to squeeze lectures into every free moment of our time together.

I’m really not sure how I went from “get rid of that pacifier” to “always carry around mace.”

Do all parents of high school grads get this crazy? Please tell me I not the only one.

Meanwhile, I’m off to give another lecture….

 

My last “first day of school” with my teen

Today, I woke up extra early. I hovered over my two  teens with a camera in hand, wanting to snap a picture of them on their first day of the school year. For my daughter, a high school senior, this would be my last time doing this ritual.

With comforting predictability, I have always pulled my camera out on the first day to capture the newness of the year, before the homework struggles and complaints about teachers set in. It hasn’t always been easy to “be there” to capture the moment — some years it meant planning in advance to make sure work assignments don’t conflict.

Today, the annual lump in my throat seemed larger as I stood there at dawn watching my daughter get into the car with my son and drive off for high school,  leaving me in the driveway. I may have complained in the past about back to school jitters, but today, I realize how much I enjoy the events leading up to the start of a new school year — stockpiling lunchbox snacks, comparing the deals on new school supplies, choosing first day of school outfits.

Alone in the driveway, it hit me…

The day will come when I don’t have the back-to-school stress that comes from getting kids in bed earlier, digging up quickie family dinner recipes and organizing carpools to sports practices and after-school activities. Inevitably, all three of my kids eventually will leave their dorms to attend class without mom taking a photo. Inevitably, my work life balancing act will get easier. Now that I’m much closer to that reality, I’m not sure I want that to happen.

My camera just doesn’t feel ready.

 

Why is prom so expensive?

 

My son, a sophomore was asked to the prom by a foreign exchange student. He turned her down. I wasn’t happy about it because I don’t condone hurting anyone’s feelings and I felt like she should get the American prom experience. But when he explained the expense involved, I understood his reasoning.

Tickets to prom these days can cost more than $100 a piece. And then there’s the $150 to rent a tuxedo and the expense of a dress for the girls. With girls, you also have the hair and nails expense and usually some new makeup. And then there’s the corsage.

And of course, there’s the transportation cost. These days, kids chip in to rent party buses so they don’t drink and drive. I’m all for not drinking and driving. And then, many of them stay overnight in a hotel room. That’s more money out the door. And professional prom photos are more than $100. By the time you’re done, prom can cost more than a thousand dollars.

ABC news reports the cost of going to prom — the perfect dress or tuxedo, a limo, and pre-dance festivities — has risen to a nationwide average of $1,139. That figure represents a 5 percent increase from the $1,078 in 2012 that American families who have a teenager attending a prom spent on all aspects of the dance.

That’s outrageous!

My son, who spends his own money on entertainment, explained to me that he’s just not willing to shell out big bucks when he’s only a sophomore and for a girl he likes only as a friend. I get that.

What surprised me was a VISA survey that found the families that could least afford it, spent the most on prom. Single parents spent more than married parents. According to Visa, on average, parents plan to pay 59% of prom costs, and their teens will cover the remaining 41%.

The worst part of the trend is that the expense of prom is expected to continue to rise.

There are parents who have come up with ways to rein in the costs.  It takes a lot of budgeting and pre-planning.

Here are a few tips from Time Magazine:

  • Shop for formal wear at consignment stores or online. Many outlets rent tuxedos and formal dresses and accessories.
  • Have make-up done at a department store’s cosmetics department or enlist a friend to help.
  • Split the cost of a limo with other couples, or simply drive.
  • Take pre-prom photos yourself and have the kids use cell phones for candid shots at the events.
  • Work out a prom budget in advance and set a limit for how much you will contribute. If teens want to spend more, encourage them to earn the money first.

Like most parents, I’m a sucker for prom. I want my kids — when they are seniors — to experience the high school rite of passage. So, even with the high price tag, I’ll encourage them to attend and chip in to pay. But that doesn’t mean I can’t complain about the cost. Right?

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