Raising Teens

A site for parents of teens striving for sanity

Page 10 of 27

Should you stalk your kids on Facebook, Instagram?

My daughter is a summer camp counselor and LOVES every minute of it. I know this because she has been posting photos on her Facebook page of herself with other counselors doing a group high 5 or dressed head-to-toe in blue for color war. Peeking at her Facebook page gives me a glimpse into her world without having to bombard her with questions when she comes home. Sometimes the comments on her status updates are the best part! For parents, the key definitely is to refrain from asking you kid anything about what she posts.

Admit it. If you’re a parent, you have looked at your teen’s Facebook page, Instagram or Twitter update for the sheer purpose of knowing who your kid is hanging around and what they are doing or saying without them knowing you’re as interested as you are. God forbid they think we’re nosy!

In the fall, my daughter will be off to college and you can bet I’ll be trying to sneak a peek at what she’s up to by checking her social media pages. At the school’s recent orientation, they showed parents a YouTube video to warn us not to go overboard stalking our kids on social media. The video, a satire, is pretty hilarious.

In the video produced by The Onion, E-Mom’ Gloria Bianco shows two TV news anchors how geographical distance is no longer a roadblock to shamelessly interfering with the lives of your children.

It cracked me up so I  had to share it with all of you.  Whether you have a kid going to college or not, I hope you’ll find it as funny as I did.


Time for the permit..give me strength

My daughter Olivia, turns 17 today. I know she was hoping by now she would have her permit and possibly her license, but circumstances stopped that from happening because of her poor choices. I have to admit, I am very relieved she hasn’t been driving. However, I know its time for her to get her permit… UGH.. the one thing I am dreading!

I signed her up this summer at a high school to take Drivers Education  for 4 hours a day for 3 weeks. She loves it. I want her to be taught properly the rules of the road and the law as well. She is really enjoying it and is getting school credit as well.

She is suppose to have a driving log, which means I am suppose to drive with her weekly. I told her that I don’t think I could do it. It just freaks me out the thought of her in that crazy traffic world. It’s scary for me. She has not clue how crazy and stupid other drivers are and that if she doesn’t drive defensively she could end up dead. I know she is excited and this is a big stage in her life, but Mom doesn’t like this stage of life. Mom wants her daughter safe at home. I know that isn’t realistic. Sooner or later, Olivia has to be able to live and deal with the real world.. ugly as it may be at times.

I told her I would pay for a driving school because I simply can not teach her myself. I am a nervous wreck and that will not help her while she is driving.

Funny thing is, now she corrects me when I drive. Maybe I need to go back to drivers ed?

Do you drive with your teen? Do they make you nervous?  Did you teach your teen to drive or do you think Driver’s Ed is the way to go?


A mother’s thoughts at her daughter’s high school graduation

(Me and My Graduate!)



Years ago, I was driving home from work late at night and tears came to my eyes. A late-breaking news story had kept me in the office and I had missed the entire day with my baby daughter. As the sitter filled me in by phone on my baby’s day, I was overcome with guilt.

Eighteen years later: My daughter, wearing a cap and gown, enters the auditorium to Pomp and Circumstance to say goodbye to high school. That one day I missed with my baby long ago has become far less important, overtaken by a series of bigger moments that became the basis of our close relationship.

Around me, other parents also silently marvel at the swiftness of time and wonder if we have properly prepared our kids for their journey into the real world.

As mothers, our parenting “jobs’’ perhaps have been more complicated than those of generations past. Today, 68 percent of married mothers work outside the home (and among single, divorced or separated moms, it’s 75 percent).

Almost all working mothers and fathers, including myself, harbor some regret with our kids — a recital or tournament we missed, a day we sent our child to school with sniffles, that time we lost our temper after a difficult day at work. I regret field trips I couldn’t chaperone because of deadlines and car rides I spent on my cellphone with work instead of talking with my children.

As I surveyed fellow parents of graduates, I found that I wasn’t alone. The biggest regrets came from those who felt they shortchanged themselves by working too many hours, or sharing too little down time with their kids. Yet those at the other end of the spectrum who had devoted most of their time to kids also expressed angst; what will they do now?

If we have been good role-models, our success at combining work and family will inspire our children.

Dads like my husband, who balance work and coaching their children’s sports teams or sitting through recitals, face their teens’ graduation day with similar introspection. More fathers today want to be more involved with their children than in past generations, but they struggle to break free of the constant electronic communication that keeps them tied to their work. On this day, they tuck away their devices to relish the seemingly-fleeting time with their children.

I think about the candy sales, the mad dash to sports practice and the parent-teacher conferences that have been so much a part of my life in years past. As some of those activities fall off my calendar, I realize that my daughter and I are both moving on to new adventures and adjustments.

As she flips her tassel and heads off to college, I hope my daughter remembers not to accept what other people expect of her, to explore all options and do what she finds fulfilling. I have impressed upon her that hard work will beat out talent, that life never goes exactly as planned, and that it’s okay to make unpopular choices if she thinks they are right for her.

We all walk away from graduation with something. For some, it’s the lessons learned from juggling parenthood and careers. For me, it is motivation to appreciate the career and life choices I made and look ahead. The ultimate reward of working motherhood will be to watch my daughter pursue her passions — as I have mine — and to marvel at where the journey takes her.


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?


World’s Fastest Texter is….a teen of course!

I’m out with my son and we’re stopped at a red light. I’m trying to send a text message to a friend when I hear, “Oh my god mom. You text soooo slow.”

“What? I think I’m pretty fast!” I tell him.

Of course, now the light turns green and I hand the phone over to my son to finish the  text for me. In two seconds, he zips off the rest of the text.

Okay. I’m no match for a teen texter. What is it about their finger-brain coordination that has given them the edge?  They can type under tables or desks without even looking at the screen. They can text with their phones in their pockets. They can text regardless of the obstacles — angry teachers, pesky parents or even a few beers in.

So, it should be no surprise that the World’s Fastest Texter is a 17-year old Brazilian teenager who competed for the title in New York City and typed a 26-word message perfectly in just 18.19 seconds, beating the previous champion’s record of 18.44 seconds.

CNET reports that to become the Guinness World Record holder for texting, Marcel Fernandes Filho, had to text the following sentences and get both the spelling and punctuation right: “The razor-toothed piranhas of the genera Serrasalmus and Pygocentrus are the most ferocious freshwater fish in the world. In reality they seldom attack a human.”

Personally, I’m just surprised the kid knew how to spell and use punctuation. That’s a feat in itself.

Filho broke the record on a Samsung Galaxy S4 with the Fleksy keyboard application installed. That the same phone my son owns. Maybe I won’t be so annoyed next time I find him texting under the dinner table. I guess he’s just in training to break the world record!


Photo of Marcel Fernandes Filho, courtesy of Fleksy

What’s up with teen obsession with selfies?

Have you noticed that if you spend a day with teens, particularly girls, numerous selfies will be taken? You will be driving along minding your own business when a flash goes off in the back seat . You will be startled, but then you will remember you are transporting a teen or multiple teens so that streak of light isn’t a siren or a UFO — it’s merely another selfie.

Yes, we are raising the #selfie generation. Our kids may be future doctors or lawyers or even nuclear scientists but only if they’re not too busy posting selfies  on Instagram to worry about a career.

And, now, the selfie has made headlines for its appearance at college graduation. The University of South Florida has forbid graduates to take selfies on stage during graduation. USF notified graduating students and placed an ad in the student newspaper this week asking them to refrain from taking selfies with USF president Judy Genshaft when crossing the stage for their diplomas. The reason, they claim, is that it will slow down the graduation ceremony. But can the selfie generation really refrain from such a prime selfie opportunity?

The selfie craze has affected high school graduation, too. My daughter recently informed me that graduates at her high school no longer want the prestige of sitting on the stage during graduation. Usually, a stage seat means you’re highly ranked in the class. But sitting on the stage now means you can’t use your cell phones during the ceremony — and that means no “here I am waiting for my turn selfies.” Even worse, it means no texting for a few hours. What American teen could survive that?

As selfies document every accomplishment in my teens’ lives, I’ve been wondering…Are kids today more self-absorbed than we were at their age?

It seems like vanity has become an obnoxious online preoccupation for teens reinforced by a burning need for “likes.”  What’s amazing to me is that very few poses are off limits for selfie-taking teens. One mom I know says the sharing of self-portraits on social networking has become such an issue in her house that that she has banned bathing suit selfies.

How many of you have witnessed a teen trying repeatedly to take the perfect selfie? It can involve posing and re-posing so many times that you find yourself saying “enough already!”

So, for  parents like me who are reeling from selfie obsession,  it’s up to us to shape the future of the habit. Tell you’re kid her or she is lovable and cool and doesn’t need a selfie to prove it. You might have to do it between camera clicks.




Sometimes ending a friendship is a good thing.

During the course of your life you will meet many people who will have an adverse affect on you and will either stay in your life or go. Some stay for a short time and some longer and even very few forever.

I was talking to my daughter about how you will make so many friends in high school and college and throughout your life, but there will be very few who will be your “best friend” forever. I told her that I have lifetime friends that I can count on one hand and that’s enough for me. I have my childhood friend since 2nd grade Jackie, my college room-mate Suzanne, and my best friend Sally. These ladies are my true friends. Friend that wont judge me, turn on me, leave me or  be jealous of me. They are the ones that stick with  you NO MATTER what. And you want to know something, Jackie and Suzanne don’t even live near me. They live in other states. But, that doesn’t matter. We pick up like we never missed a beat. It was as if distance was never there. THAT IS FRIENDSHIP. They are my sister soul mates. I can tell them anything and they will love me forever and for that I cherish and adore them.

Recently,  my daughter Olivia told me about one of her “best friends” she had in 8th grade and 9th grade that her dad and I thought was a bad influence and NOT a true friend. Olivia soon realized in 9th grade her “friend” was betraying her, getting her into trouble and hanging around the wrong people.  At that time I told Olivia, that Monica is not your friend. Friends don’t get you in trouble. They want the best for you and protect you. Well, she broke off their friendship and it was the best  thing Olivia did.

I remember the day she told me “Mom, I told Monica  we needed a break. I just want to stay away from her. She hangs around the wrong people.” I was thrilled Olivia came to this conclusion on her own without my input.  I was so proud.  Olivia was actually listening to me! Constant communication does work. There is hope!

Recently, her friend Monica was arrested for selling ADHD meds. Olivia said she was expelled from school as well. Inside I was saying “I told you so!” I mentioned to her all the times I told her Monica wasn’t her friend and not a good influence. See where she landed… in jail! Her life will never be the same with a record and being expelled.

I remember that Monica had parents that were “cool” according to Olivia.  Her parents would go out late  and leave Monica at home and sometimes for a weekend which resulted in parties at the house and police! I told Olivia those parents aren’t cool. It’s much easier not to discipline and to allow things to happen. It’s easier to not be involved in your kids lives. These  parents went out all the time!

I told Olivia, its fine for parents to go out but it’s not okay to go out overnight and late so there is no adult supervision for a high school teen at home. I’m not naive enough to go out late or go away for a weekend and not expect parties at my house. You see what  that parenting style did to their child!

Olivia now realizes as she is growing up the importance of choosing friends carefully and surrounding yourself with people who will have a positive influence on you.  I told her about her one best friend Jared, who has been her friend since 5th grade and is loyal and there for her always. I said, “Olivia, Jared will be one of your friends on your one hand. ” She said “yeah, he will”.

Friends will come and go  through  your life and some friendships will end, but not by choice and that is fine because I guess they truly weren’t your friend after all then were they?


It’s promposal season: asking someone to prom goes over the top

It’s that crazy time of the year. Every day, my teens come home from school with a story of another outrageous prom proposal.

In the past few years, how you ask a date to prom has become serious, crazy, over-the top stuff. You can’t just ask a simple question like we used to do. Nowadays, it’s got to be big and showy — a public display.

Just this week on Facebook, I saw one friend whose daughter was presented a giant chocolate chip cookie with PROM? in m&ms. Of course, promposals are meant to get reaction, big reaction and are immediately posted on Facebook and YouTube. The word “promposal” has 205,000 YouTube results.

One of my favorite bloggers, Mama Sass, writes: The student council president at my daughter’s high school caused a stir when he asked a girl to “report” to a dance with him over the morning announcements in front of the entire school. Another boy scrawled his request on a banner then ran through it on the stage at a pep rally. Another had his friends line up and lift their shirts, with a letter on each chest spelling out “P-R-O-M?”


This time of year, no one is safe wherever they go. Promposals could involve loud serenades, scavenger hunts, and almost always they involve videos to capture the recipients reaction. Mama Sass notes that any surface could become a promposal target at any time: “Messages are being scrawled on donuts, Starbucks cups, ping pong balls, scoreboards, sunburned backs, skateboards, puppies, chip bags, juice boxes, pizzas, cupcakes and lockers.”

And, that’s just the beginning of the extravagance. The next step is prom, which now is a giant, expensive event that involves limos, party buses, hotel rooms, ballgowns, updos, makeup and nail appointments, pre-parties and after-parties.

The Prom Spending Survey conducted by Visa in 2013 reports an average cost of $1,139 per couple, a 30-percent increase from 2011. Some experts project a similar increase for 2014, putting this year’s prom at just under $2,000 per couple.

Leave it to this young generation to do things in a big way. Leave to us parents to pay the price.


I survived an “ULTRA ” Weekend!

Well, after 2 years of saying “NO” to my daughter to go to a 3 Day ULTRA MUSICAL FESTIVAL in Miami, this year I finally approved and allowed her to go under certain conditions:

1. Grades had to be GOOD

2. She must come home by her curfew

3. She must check in when she arrives, during festival and on her way home.

4. NO drinking or drugs

I’m happy to say she did ALL 4 PLUS her boyfriend’s dad paid for a car service to take them to and from the festival so they wouldn’t have to drive. That was a HUGE peace of mind for me and her dad to know she was safe.

I was VERY anxious and nervous as I was trusting her to go this festival but knew how much she LOVES EDM (electronic dance music) and the DJ’s. Heck, I like them. I knew people from my work who were going and they were very good kids, so I felt good about my decision. Olivia is 17 and will be turning 18 before I know it. When she’s in college, I won’t be there every day to make sure she gets home safe. I had to trust her.

I knew how much she changed in a year and was going to the festival because she truly loved the music NOT the craziness around it. Nevertheless, I was still worried as any normal sane parent would be.

She had purchased what she was going to wear each day and decorated it with flowers and glitter. I was truly impressed by her outfits.  She wore beautiful flowered head bands and decorated flowered tops and of course comfortable tye-dyed Keds. She was set and she was excited.

One night, Saturday to be exact, I was coming from Miami visiting family and got caught in rain heading home, so I texted her to warn her rain was coming. Well, about 30 minutes later around 9 p.m., as I walk in the door, she texts me ” Mom, can you come pick us up (her and her boyfriend), it’s raining, we are cold and wet?”  Of course, I said I would.  For my selfish reasons, I was thrilled she wanted to come home early. So, off to Miami I go again but to ULTRA!  This was going to be an experience for me and her dad. We had no clue what we would be driving into, but I  was kind of excited. I would be able to see what all the hype is and see what Olivia loved about it.

We picked her and her boyfriend up and gave them blankets. As I looked around, it wasn’t bad at all. Kids were having fun listening to music and just hanging out and walking around.

The last night of ULTRA, Sunday night , I couldn’t wait for her to come home. When she texted me at 10:30pm, “in express lanes, heading home” I was like YAY!! ULTRA is over. I SURVIVED with no drama or incidents! Woo Hoo!!

When she got home, I asked, “So, how was it?” She said, “It was the best time of my life mom. It was what I expected and more.” I was so happy for Olivia because she got to hear her favorite DJ’s and be a part of a “Woodstock” like event something she will tell her kids and remember for the rest of her life.

And I will remember that “I survived 2014 ULTRA  Music Festival  weekend!” But more importantly, I will remember that I trusted my daughter and she came through with flying colors.

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….


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