Raising Teens

A site for parents of teens striving for sanity

Category: Trends (page 1 of 2)

Are we too close to our kids?

Just a few minutes ago, my daughter called from the parking lot of a restaurant. She was supposed to be inside at a birthday party for her friend. Instead, she was sitting in the car in a panic. “I don’t have a pen,” she said.

“So?” I answered.

“I need a pen. I need to write on the card.” I’m not sure if she wanted me to bring her one, but I didn’t give her the opportunity to ask. “Go inside and ask the hostess for a pen,” I said calmly. “But everyone is inside and they will see me.”

If I’d told my mom I didn’t  have a pen to write on a card when I was my daughter’s age, she would have been dead silent, a clear message to deal with it myself. But these days our kids tend to hold onto us with one hand, even as they reach into adulthood with the other. Like many parents, I’m much closer to my kids than I was to my own parents. But am I doing my kids a disservice by making them rely on me too much?

Ironically, my daughter recently told me I was treating my teenage son like a baby bird. She scolded me for packing a dinner for my son to take with him to a six-hour shift at work. It really made me think. I try not to be a helicopter mom, but should I be doing more to promote independence?

A new survey by AARP found parents today dole out twice as much advice and practical help to our kids as parents did in the mid-1980s. The message most of us parents have gotten is that we need to be involved parents.  But are we too involved?

Recently, a mother of adult children told me she read an article when her kids were young and posted it on her fridge. It was called, “How to Guarantee Your Children’s Happiness.” The key to their happiness, the article said, was teaching them to do things for themselves. The mom said the article triggered a strong reaction in her. She stopped scrambling to help her kids get out the door for school in the morning and insisted they get ready on their own. Today, she has three high-powered kids at the top of their professions.

Meanwhile, many parents struggle to support dependent adult kids. If I keep on being mama bird, am I setting myself up to be one of those parents whose adult children call home for help at every stage of life?

All I know is that as a parent of a teen who’s about to go off to college within a year’s time, I find myself conflicted. I want her to know how to do laundry, make her own meals, stick to a budget, and find her own pens. Teens should know how to do all of that. But at the same time, I’m fighting the urge to tell her: What’s the hurry to grow up? Take your time.

So, fellow parents, do you think we’re doing too much for our kids? Have you made any effort to make your teens more independent? Where do you think the line is between being involved and being too involved?

 

Why are teens so annoyed?

 

 

Almost every day, I hear a teenager say someone is annoying. He or she could be talking about their sibling, their teacher or their close friend.

Recently, my son told me he was interested in girl, but he found out she said he was talking too much to her one night and she called him annoying. He wasn’t even offended by that!

Being annoying isn’t really much of an insult, because to teens it is  assumed that someone — even a close friend — is going to be annoying at some point in time.

What confuses me about the “annoyed” generation is that these are the same kids that hug each other every time they meet or part. For teenagers, hugging is hip. And so is being annoyed.

Check out the hashtag #annoyed on Twitter and you will find teens who are annoyed by how loud people talk, how boring teachers are, how two faced their friend is or how certain people talk too much.

I saw a teen comment on a website that said: “It’s kinda hard *not* to get annoyed.

Of course, for teens we (parents) are THE most annoying people in their lives. Some days, saying hello to them or their friends in a certain tone is considered annoying.

Luckily, I’ve read up on how not to be annoying to a teen. Here’s what I’ve discovered I need to do:

1. Avoid repeating myself (this is a tough one!)

2. Learn to read facial expressions (so that I can immediately identify and stop whatever I’m doing that is annoying)

3. Avoid laughing too loud in front of a teen’s friends (or asking too many questions).

4. Do not butt into conversations when they are chatting with friends (another tough one!)

5. Avoid singing along to music on the radio (particularly if you are belting out the wrong lyrics!)

I’m not sure how, when or if teens mature into less annoyed adults but from where I sit, it can’t happen soon enough!

 

 

Why I hate “Facebook official”

 

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

I don’t get it.

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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.

 

 

Project X inspires teen copycats

 

Does your teen know the difference between a movie and reality?

You’re looking at me like I’m crazy for asking that question. But I’m not.

Remember when the movie Jackass came out and kids all over  the country were getting hurt trying to copy the stunts? Give a teen a “brilliant” idea to gain some popularity and most often, he will go with it.

My son went to see Project X over the weekend. (I posted the movie trailer above) His friends were saying how great it is and he came home saying it was hilarious. It’s been called The Hangover for teens. The movie is about teenagers in California who through a property-destroying, drink and drug fueled birthday party to gain popularity. It already has made more than $50 million in ticket sales.

Teens think the movie is so funny that they want to copy it. Across the country, teens are throwing their own wild bashes. Now, police are worried that a potent cocktail of copycats, Spring Break and empty properties is going to lead to big trouble. “There are a lot of abandoned houses and everyone knows which ones they are,” police are saying.

One home in South Florida recently vandalized had Project X spray painted on its walls in preparation for a party canceled by police earlier this week. Though the police learned of the party in time to prevent it, the teens managed to create $20,000 in estimated damages to the house before the police the organizers.

Today, police have something our parents didn’t have to track whether we were getting into trouble….social network sites where anticipation for these wild bashes builds in public view.

So parents, if you see your teen organizing something on Facebook, keep a close eye on what’s going on. Chances are high your teen knows someone who is planning a Project X party.

Now, I want to ask you, do you think that movie makers should realize that teens might follow their lead and that doing so is easier with the heightened presence of social networks? Is it not really their problem since they are just putting this kind of movie out there as entertainment?

Or parents, is it our responsibility to make sure our teens don’t go too far with mimicking Hollywood?

 

Why only parents need driver’s licenses

 

My daughter turned 16 yesterday. Yep, I’m thinking about hiding the car keys.

I remember how excited I was to turn 16. It meant I could finally take my mother’s orange Nova for a spin on my own. I picked up a few of my friends and drove around the neighborhood. Oh yeah…I was hot stuff!

My daughter is just as excited to get her license as I was decades ago. She, too, thinks she’s hot stuff behind the wheel.

For the last year, I’ve sat like zombie in the passenger seat, letting out gasps as I teach her to drive. Truthfully, she’s not a great driver, yet. She brakes abruptly, doesn’t notice cars about to back into her in parking lots and she’s still figuring out how to change lanes. She needs more practice, and some lessons. Of course, she thinks she’s ready for me to turn over the keys and abandon the passenger seat.

Last night, I was telling her not to pull over at night just because she sees flashing lights behind her. I gave her the lecture about how some weirdos try to “pretend” to be police officers. She thinks I’m insane. Maybe I am….there’s just that extra layer of insanity that kicks in for parents when your kid is alone on the road.

Life would be so much easier if just parents were given driver’s licenses.

Apparently, most teens aren’t in a rush to get their licenses. More are delaying that freewheeling rite of passage. I just read an article in the Sun-Sentinel that said teens aren’t all that interested in driving.  Many are waiting way beyond their 16th birthday. The article gives three reasons why:

First, teens care much more about connecting with each other electronically than in person. Second, owning and insuring a car and filling it up with gas is expensive. Lastly, kids don’t want to make the time to learn to drive — they’re too busy with homework and all the school demands.

Personally, I think it’s a good thing that kids are waiting longer to drive — especially when texting and driving is a huge problem. When I drop my kids at high school, I get a firsthand look at how teens drive and I have one word to describe it— SCARY!

What do you think about the trend of teens waiting longer to get their driver’s licenses? Do you think it’s a good thing — more mature, more responsible? Or do teens need the practice to start young and become better drivers? What do you consider the perfect age for someone to get their license?

 

 

Teen Belly Buttons: To pierce or not to pierce?

Recently my 14-year-old daughter asked me if she could  get her belly button pierced.  As I stood there wanting to scream “HECK NO”!, I realized she needed to see that I was respecting her time to talk with me and that I owed it to her to at least listen.

Ok, I listened as she told me that “all her friends have done it,  she would not flaunt it, what is the big deal, it’s better than a tattoo”, etc.. etc..

As contemplated my response, I asked her why it was so important to her? She said that she always wanted to get one, but, she knew we (her dad and I), would never allow it because she was too young. So  I asked her,  “Don’t you think you are too young now?” She said “no.”  She told me most kids her age are getting them, especially the soccer players in her league.

I personally think she is too young, but I am also her mother and am biased when it comes to her. I don’t see her like everyone else. It’s my job to protect her and make decisions that I feel are best for her now and in the future.

I said I would discuss it with her dad and she responded,  “Oh, dad will say no, so you have to convince him to say yes.” WHAT? I told her I was not “convincing” anyone and all I could promise her was a conversation with her dad. If she did not like that response then the answer was “no.” She said “fine”, she would wait.

I think I am just pushing off a battle with her since I don’t want her to have it and I know her dad will most definitely not want her to have it either.

So, I ask you, what do I do?  Do I fight this battle till the end with a stern “No” or should I pick my battles and just compromise and take her and make sure it is a small, nice piercing? Am I making a bigger deal than it needs to be? No one will see it anyway right?

Would love your feedback and opinion.

Family dinners matter

It’s so easy to kill dinner hour, especially when your teen criticizes that chicken creation you’ve struggled to put on the table. And then there are all the activities that have teens running in or out at all hours making it nearly impossible to get everyone at the table at the same time.

Believe me, I’ve thought about telling my kids to fend for themselves for dinner. But I’ve resisted. Watching a special report on ABC News last night, I’m glad I’m a family dinner hold out.

Here are the big benefits of family dinners:

  • Compared to teens who ate with their families five to seven times a week, teenagers who had fewer than three family dinners a week were almost four times more likely to try tobacco, more than twice as likely to use alcohol and 2.5 times more likely to use marijuana.
  • Teens who eat with their families make healthier food choices when eating out with their peers.
  • Female teens who ate family dinners at least most days were less likely to initiate purging, binge-eating and frequent dieting.

Of course, some teens, especially those with driver’s licenses, think it’s “not cool” to eat dinner with their families. Seventeen-year-old Ben Smith had this comment on ABC.com: “You know if I’m sitting at the dinner table my parents are going to ask me, ‘How’d you do at school today,'” he says. “You don’t really want to tell them, ‘Oh, I failed three tests.’ ”

Let’s say you like the idea of family dinners, but don’t really think it’s doable. William Doherty, a professor of family social science at the University of Minnesota advises starting on a Sunday night. “One (dinner) a week is better than zero. It’s quality, not quantity.”

He has more advice: Turn the television off, put all cellphones away and have kids talk about the best and worst thing that happened in their day.

This might be tough for parents, but Doherty says don’t use the sit-down meal as an opportunity to nag or scold.  “Make it a connecting meal. It’s the quality of the connecting. Just try to have a good conversation. Don’t grill them about their grades.”

What are your thoughts on the family dinner hour? Do you think it’s unrealistic these days to get everyone at the table? Do you REALLY think it makes a difference in whether a teen will drink or do drugs?

Click here to see the ABC News segment.

Family dinners matter

It’s so easy to kill dinner hour, especially when your teen criticizes that chicken creation you’ve struggled to put on the table. And then there are all the activities that have teens running in or out at all hours making it nearly impossible to get everyone at the table at the same time.

Believe me, I’ve thought about telling my kids to fend for themselves for dinner. But I’ve resisted. Watching a special report on ABC News last night, I’m glad I’m a family dinner hold out.

Here are the big benefits of family dinners:

  • Compared to teens who ate with their families five to seven times a week, teenagers who had fewer than three family dinners a week were almost four times more likely to try tobacco, more than twice as likely to use alcohol and 2.5 times more likely to use marijuana.
  • Teens who eat with their families make healthier food choices when eating out with their peers.
  • Female teens who ate family dinners at least most days were less likely to initiate purging, binge-eating and frequent dieting.

Of course, some teens, especially those with driver’s licenses, think it’s “not cool” to eat dinner with their families. Seventeen-year-old Ben Smith had this comment on ABC.com: “You know if I’m sitting at the dinner table my parents are going to ask me, ‘How’d you do at school today,'” he says. “You don’t really want to tell them, ‘Oh, I failed three tests.’ ”

Let’s say you like the idea of family dinners, but don’t really think it’s doable. William Doherty, a professor of family social science at the University of Minnesota advises starting on a Sunday night. “One (dinner) a week is better than zero. It’s quality, not quantity.”

He has more advice: Turn the television off, put all cellphones away and have kids talk about the best and worst thing that happened in their day.

This might be tough for parents, but Doherty says don’t use the sit-down meal as an opportunity to nag or scold.  “Make it a connecting meal. It’s the quality of the connecting. Just try to have a good conversation. Don’t grill them about their grades.”

What are your thoughts on the family dinner hour? Do you think it’s unrealistic these days to get everyone at the table? Do you REALLY think it makes a difference in whether a teen will drink or do drugs?

Click here to see the ABC News segment.

Family dinners matter

It’s so easy to kill dinner hour, especially when your teen criticizes that chicken creation you’ve struggled to put on the table. And then there are all the activities that have teens running in or out at all hours making it nearly impossible to get everyone at the table at the same time.

Believe me, I’ve thought about telling my kids to fend for themselves for dinner. But I’ve resisted. Watching a special report on ABC News last night, I’m glad I’m a family dinner hold out.

Here are the big benefits of family dinners:

  • Compared to teens who ate with their families five to seven times a week, teenagers who had fewer than three family dinners a week were almost four times more likely to try tobacco, more than twice as likely to use alcohol and 2.5 times more likely to use marijuana.
  • Teens who eat with their families make healthier food choices when eating out with their peers.
  • Female teens who ate family dinners at least most days were less likely to initiate purging, binge-eating and frequent dieting.

Of course, some teens, especially those with driver’s licenses, think it’s “not cool” to eat dinner with their families. Seventeen-year-old Ben Smith had this comment on ABC.com: “You know if I’m sitting at the dinner table my parents are going to ask me, ‘How’d you do at school today,'” he says. “You don’t really want to tell them, ‘Oh, I failed three tests.’ ”

Let’s say you like the idea of family dinners, but don’t really think it’s doable. William Doherty, a professor of family social science at the University of Minnesota advises starting on a Sunday night. “One (dinner) a week is better than zero. It’s quality, not quantity.”

He has more advice: Turn the television off, put all cellphones away and have kids talk about the best and worst thing that happened in their day.

This might be tough for parents, but Doherty says don’t use the sit-down meal as an opportunity to nag or scold.  “Make it a connecting meal. It’s the quality of the connecting. Just try to have a good conversation. Don’t grill them about their grades.”

What are your thoughts on the family dinner hour? Do you think it’s unrealistic these days to get everyone at the table? Do you REALLY think it makes a difference in whether a teen will drink or do drugs?

Click here to see the ABC News segment.

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