Raising Teens

A site for parents of teens striving for sanity

Category: Teen dating (page 1 of 2)

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.

Open or closed bedroom door policy with girlfriend/boyfriend over?

Last Sunday,  my son Matthew asked me if his “girlfriend” could come over?   This would be the first time his “girlfriend” would be over since they have been together.  Until now, Matthew has been going over her house after school. At first,  I was happy that I finally get to meet her after they have been together for a month.   On the other hand, I was nervous. Will she like me? Will I like her?  Will she be rude? All the mom concerns were coming at me. This is really happening. Matthew is growing up! UGH!

She finally arrived and I walked into Matthew’s bedroom to introduce myself. She was cute and sweet, a typical 15-year-old teen. So far, so good. Matthew had his arm around her and was smiling, and for a second I had a weird feeling come over me; Matthew cares for someone else now. I am not his world anymore. I saw how happy he was and  you know what? I was a little bit jealous. Yep, this mom was jealous of a 15 year old. I wanted Matthew to hug me and love me like he did when he was a little boy and I was his everything.  Part of me was sad, but the other part was happy that this girl makes him happy.

So I left the room, and when I got into the family room, my husband told me  to make sure the bedroom door is open. Well, how the heck do I do that? Do I go back and open the door and embarrass them? Matthew would kill me for embarrassing him. I texted him to please keep the door open and you know what? I walked back toward his room and the door was open! That was easy! I was expecting a text back from him arguing with me about it.

I would love to know if other parents experienced this situation and how they handled it. What is your door policy when a girlfriend or boyfriend is over? Open? Closed? Cracked? Inquiring mom wants to know.

 

 

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?

 

 

What is it with the lack of respect among teen boys?

I am sure many of you moms have teen girls who have had or still have boyfriends. Like any mom, you want your daughter to be respected.

I am finding more  teen boys have no filter, and no respect when it comes to their girlfriends.  Recently, my daughter Olivia sent me a text from a girlfriend whose ex- boyfriend felt the need to call her a “trashy whore” among many other things. I looked at Olivia and said, “How on God’s green earth could your friend allow ANYONE to treat her or talk/text her like that,  particularly her boyfriend!” I told Olivia that she should be respected, not only by her friends,  but especially a boyfriend who “loves her.”  I  said to my daughter,  “Olivia,  it is disgusting that a boy would text your friend such disrespectful things and think it’s OK. I would love to know if he talks to his mother like that.”

The sad thing is, it is not the first time this boy has done this. I have seen previous texts from the boy to Olivia’s friend. I know if it was  my son Matthew who did it, I would be ashamed. I wonder if that boy’s mother knows  what her son texted to  his ex-girlfriend.  Are these boys not taught about respecting  girls and women?

Olivia knows I can not and will not stand for disrespect at all  and she should not either.

When I was dating my husband, never in a million years, even when we fought, did he ever ever call me names especially awful, disrespectful ones like the one Olivia’s girlfriend’s ex did.

So, for all those moms out there with teen girls and boys I would like to request the following:

Teen moms/dads with teenage girls:

  1. Make sure you  talk to your daughter about respect a1eb02545d42e076568b6c1d861d4a04bnd  being respected.
  2. Inappropriate  and foul language is unacceptable period —  end of story.
  3.  Value yourself, have some self-respect.  People can’t respect you if you don’t respect yourself.
  4. Any boy who disrespects your daughter does not need to be in her life.
  5. Talking is better than texting to resolve issues with your boyfriend.

 

 

 

Teen moms/dads with teenage boys:

  1. Make sure you  have the same talk with your son abo31f7eaad7d0505a3bf82eff061553468ut respect and being respected.
  2. Talk to him about how texting foul language to a girl — or anyone — is not right (and can be forwarded).
  3. Tell your son his  actions will define his character.
  4. Explain why he should want to be respected and how it will prevent him from  being alone in life.
  5. Remind him that talking is better than texting  to  resolve issues.

I have a 15-year-old son Matthew, and trust me I have this talk with him about respecting others and how I will not stand for disrespectful actions or language.

So moms and dads, what are your thoughts? Has your daughter been disrespected? If so, what did you do or say???

 

Parenting Openly Gay Teens

My friend Robin is one of the most amazing parents I know. When her daughter told her she was a lesbian, Robin showed her support in every way possible, even encouraging her daughter to publish a blog called Oy Vey, I’m Gay.

Ours is the first generation to really parent openly gay teens because in past generations, teens were much more secretive. I had a close friend in high school who didn’t want to be secretive. He told his Cuban-born parents he was gay. His macho dad went nuts and through him out of the house. I don’t think that would happen today. Or, would it?

I was excited to see that Nick News With Linda Ellerbee will feature a half-hour special, “Coming Out,” premiering Tuesday, Oct. 7, at 8:00 p.m. (ET/PT) on Nickelodeon.  The special follows the everyday lives of gay kids as they face fear, acceptance, bullying, isolation, encouragement and ignorance, and shows how straight and non-straight teens can come together to triumph over bullying.

Here’s what the press release says:

“It takes bravery for a kid to come out,” says Ellerbee. “Being accepted by straight people is not a given.  Being young and ‘different’ is not easy. This may be tough to talk about, or hear about, but this is important stuff.  Not addressing it doesn’t make it go away.”

“In elementary school, I knew I was different from the other guys,” says Bradley, 16.  “When I realized I was gay, the biggest problem I faced was wondering if my family would accept me or not.  I’d heard stereotypes about families kicking their kids out and I was wondering, ‘Oh gosh that might be me.’”

“I’ll take a chance. With one heart-wrenching throwback out of this closet, I’ll say the words I’ve been meaning to say my whole life. I’m lesbian,” says Christine, 14.

“Coming out isn’t going to be a one-time thing.  You’re going to meet new people every day, says Lia, 16.  “You’re going to always have that burning question in the back of your head: Am I going to come out today? Am I going to come out tomorrow?”

“I’m not a special case,” Marcel, 13, said.  “There are many people who are my age, and are gay. And you (kids) can say, ‘Well, I don’t know any gay people.’ You probably do, but they’re probably not out to you.”

My daughter has a handful of friends — male and female — who have discussed with her their struggle with sexuality and their conversations with their parents.  She’s convinced that parents who react like idiots mess their kids up.

Here’s what my friend Robin wrote to me: When my daughter came out to me, it was a relief in a way because I knew she was struggling with something, I just didn’t know what. I was not at all upset or disappointed. I was thankful that she felt close enough to me to share. My advice to her was not tho let that one part of her define her. I told her I’m a mom, wife, flight attendant, volunteer…but not one of those things defines who I am.

Robin also says: I try to empower my daughter in every way as I do my other two daughters. I set the same boundaries for her in any relationships.

Robin is awesome, but not all parents are as comfortable with the news.

I’m sure that having a child who is gay is scary and emotional. I’m sure it takes some self-introspection.  Still, I can’t see myself rejecting my own child for who he or she loves — could you? If you’re parenting an openly gay teen, what are the emotions you went through and what advice was most helpful to you?

Does your teen talk to you?

I know every kid is different. But it can get frustrating when you have one child that tells you everything and another that’s tight lipped.

My son and his girlfriend broke up last weekend. I’ve been trying for days to find out what went on but when I ask, he tells me he doesn’t want to talk about it. I really don’t know how to respond to that.

Why wouldn’t he want to spill his guts to his mother? Doesn’t he realize that mothers need to know what’s going on in their kids’ lives — every sordid detail of it? Doesn’t he realize that a mother’s advice is the best advice any son could ever get since mother knows best?

I’m ashamed to admit in my quest for info, I’ve resorted to stealth tactics that would make James Bond proud. I’ve tried listening outside his door when he was talking to a friend. I’ve tried searching through Facebook for clues. I’ve tried sending my younger son in to see what tidbits he could learn. I’ve even tried stretching my eyes to catch a glimpse of his text messages.

Finally, I gave up. I gauged my son’s mood and he seems okay so I decided he would share what he wanted with me when he felt ready.

A friend of mine with adult children gave me this advice for raising teens: “stay available.”

Last night, my son was in a pretty good mood and I asked him if he had spoken with his ex-girlfriend lately. I almost fainted when he responded with a small conversation and some details rather than a grunt.

By now, I know better than to give advice. Telling a teen that hurt feelings will pass is not effective because they live in the present an their pain is immediate. The only thing I could say to him was “breakups are a learning experience.”

By now, I would have known every sordid detail if the break up would have happened to one of my other kids. I have no choice but to accept that my son is more private. It makes me think about how tough it must be on parents whose kids keep bigger problems to themselves.

One mom says her opportunity to learn what’s going on happens when her son’s friends are over or in her car. “I just keep my mouth shut and listen.  My kid knows I’m there but he is more willing to say things than if I was speaking to him directly.”

How important to you think it is for parents to know what is going on in our teens’ relationships and friendships? Parents, how do you get your teen to open up to you? Do pointed questions work for you?

 

At what age do boys notice girls?

 

 

This past weekend, I was the water mom for my son’s lacrosse team. As I sat on the bench refilling water bottles, I listened as the 13-year-old boys were dissecting each play and how much game time each player was getting on the field. They were completely focused on the game — until a group of girls they knew came up behind them.

Because the bench was pushed back against a fence, the girls came up in a cluster and began flirting with the boys, urging them to come see their game. The entire bench of boys turned around to look at and talk to the flirty girls.

I found it amusing. The coach did not. “Girls, leave! You’re distracting my players,” he shouted.

My youngest son has noticed girls practically since birth. When he was only about three years old, I had to tell him to look older girls in the eye and not their chests. My older son really didn’t show an interest in girls until he was about 13. For him, that was the age when girls became less of an annoyance and more of a species that smells good and laughs at his jokes.

On the few forays I’ve had into relationship conversation with my older son, I’ve violated every basic rule of parental control, starting with “don’t give love advise to a teenager” and “keep the mood light.”

Some mothers will tell me their maturing son shows no interest in girls and wonder at what age that will change. They ask me if they should bring it up. I’m sure each kid is different, but when it happens, moms usually figure it out. All of a sudden, your son is putting on the Axe, brushing his hair and staring when an attractive girl walks by.

I’m worried that there’s some secret love advice I should be passing on (Be a gentleman? Don’t be patronizing? Text? Call?) 

Frankly, I‘d like my 13-year-old son to stay young, focused on the game and facing forward on the bench for many more years. But reality has hit and there’s no going back. He notices girls and so do most of his friends and teammates.

What age do you remember taking an interest in the opposite sex? Was there any love advice your parent gave you that you plan to pass on?

 

Is it okay for boyfriend/girlfriend to sleep over each others house?

My daughter recently went over 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 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 well as her father. She tells me that she doesn’t understand what the big deal is? Lots of parents let their kids stay at the 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. I think at one point I saw Jesus and asked for help because I’m gonna need it.

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 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 logically 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 it is okay with us.

I mean really? These teens now a days have found a way to basically make everything a battle. sleepover with boyfriends? Yay or Nay?

Surviving a teen break up

Apparently, my choice in outfit for the day is atrocious. Yes, that’s what my daughter has informed me. What was I thinking? I’m not sure what I was thinking when I put it on, but I can tell you what I’m thinking now. I’m thinking….”how do parents survive teen break ups?”

One way, is they choose better outfits. The other is that they brace for the grumpiness or moping that inevitably lies ahead. As a mother who has lived through two teen break ups, I can tell you that WHATEVER you say or do will be wrong. Whether you give sympathy, empathy or encouragement you don’t know what you are talking about. Whatever advice a teenage friend who has never had a boyfriend says makes much more sense than a wise parent with years of relationship experience. Just know that and you can save yourself wasted breath and clothing admonishment.

My other piece of advice for surviving a teen break up: Don’t ask questions. If you slip up and forget this piece of advice, get ready for shrugs and possibly even the cold shoulder. Oh, and don’t even try to get near  your teen’s cell phone, the center of activity post break up. The device will be guarded like a limb, just in case a parent like you wants to gather some intelligence. An extra layer of password protection likely will be added. 

Remember your first break up? This will be much more painful, regardless of whether you are the parent of a breakupper or breakee. The moodiness will go on for a least a week. And then, you will suddenly regain your ability to dress yourself to their satisfaction, or be considered somewhat less annoying. You will know you have reached this stage when you receive a text. It likely will be room-to-room communication and it may be a request for money but, hey, it’s communication. You will take whatever small, somewhat upbeat communication as a sign that your pre-break up teen is back and you are no longer an ogre. Then, only then, will you consider yourself a survivor!

 

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