Raising Teens

A site for parents of teens striving for sanity

Page 2 of 26

Teens don’t want their parents on social media

Is your teen on Houseparty?

 

Driving some teens to the beach last week, I listened in on a conversation going on in the back seat about a new social media platform called Houseparty.  My son, Garret, and his friends were talking about some girls whose “houseparty” they had joined. One kid was saying that he sneaked into the houseparty without everyone realizing it.  I was intrigued. Here’s the description of  Houseparty, a group video chat app: Welcome to the House, where the Party is always on. When you and your friends are in the app at the same time, you’ll see each other instantly.

Last night, I told my friend with two teen daughters about Houseparty. I told her it was likely her daughters were on it at that very moment. She immediately downloaded the app and discovered that sure enough they were on it and taking part in a houseparty on their cellphones. In a houseparty, you can see other people on your screen who are at the party, you may  or may not know everyone because a friend of a friend could be on. My son and his friends say it’s a great way to meet people.  Anyway, when my friend’s daughters discovered their mom had joined Houseparty, they weren’t happy. Not at all. One of them started begging for her mom to delete it immediately.

The whole situation got me thinking about teens and social media. I remember doing things as a teen that I didn’t want my mom to know about or participate in.   Maybe we should give our teens leeway to do the same. Or should we?

Facebook, started by college kids, was cool until parents joined. So teens migrated to Instagram. As soon as we got on Instagram, they moved to Snapchat. When I joined Snapchat, my teens weren’t happy about it. Very few of their friends accepted my friend request. (Maybe it’s creepy for a parent to friend their teen’s friend?) My two  teens told me even if their friends accepted my request, I shouldn’t look at their Snapchat stories. (I still peek) But when my two older teens traveled this winter break, it was their postings on Snapchat that allowed me to keep up with them and know they were safe.

Recently, I noticed that my son, Garret, and his friends are on Instagram Live. It’s a new feature.  It worries me that going live and letting people comment on what you are doing and saying might make it easier to bully kids, intentionally or unintentionally. Unfortunately, so much of our teens’ self esteem revolves around what happens on social media — their likes, comments, acceptance into groups. It just feels like parents should be aware of what our kids are doing so we can have conversations that guide their online behavior.

As a parent of a teen, I want to keep up  and make sure my kids  don’t get into any trouble online. But this is difficult territory to navigate.  It’s pretty clear to me by now that as a parent, I will never be able to keep up with everything my teens are doing on social media. I’m just not as digitally savvy.  The question is…how hard should I try to keep up?  Do our teens deserve the privacy we had without our parents hovering? Or is it different with social media?

Some friends of mine take a completely hands off approach. Others, stalk their kids as much as possible on social media. For now, I decided to stay off Houseparty and give my son his privacy. He has convinced me that joining will make me look like a creeper. But I have reserved the right to  join later if the conversation in the back seat of my car leads me in that direction.

So parents, how do you handle monitoring your teen on social media?

 

 

Tips on how to take a teen approved picture with an iPhone.

I don’t know about you but I cringe when my daughter Olivia asks me to take a picture of her alone or with her girlfriends.  I cringe because if the picture is not PERFECT, it’s my fault.   I get anxiety when I take a photo because I know she will get frustrated with me and have no patience  with my picture taking skills or so-called lack of skills.

So, according to my daughter here are some tips to take a good photo of a teen with an iPhone:

  1. Make sure there is proper lighting! This is key! Have your teen check for lighting by taking a practice  photo to make sure the picture looks good in the light.
  2. You have to focus on the faces and hit the box  that is on your faces to focus. God help you if you don’t do that!
  3. Then, immediately after you do that, you click the camera button to take the picture. This has to be timed precisely right or the picture will come out dark or blurry and you will have to deal with a bad picture and the wrath of a teen.
  4. Be patient because you will not be taking 1 or 2 photos, try  5-6 and they will all be different poses. Be prepared to help come up with different poses if necessary.
  5. Their  phone will always be better than your phone to take pictures. Period.  End of story.

In addition to the above tips from Olivia, here are my tips to survive this task:

  1. Ask if you don’t know  what to do but, be prepared to have  a huge sigh and “OMG mom, you are so annoying”.
  2. Do exactly as your teen instructs. 
  3. Practice makes perfect, You will get it after the 6th time!
  4. Have a sibling – your other son or daughter –  take the picture! They  would do a better job than you.
  5. Compliment the picture always. Teens need that reassurance or you will be taking  pictures of them forever!

There needs to be a section in the Apple store for parents with teens to learn how to take the proper teen approved picture with an iPhone. I know I would attend!

Please share your photo taking memories of your teen or any insights or photo taking skills you may have. It could save a mom or dad!

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!

 

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???

 

Should teens get a job?

cashier-jobs

 

Olivia got her first job  at 14 as a  bag person at Publix Supermarket. She could only work 10 hours a week, but she was excited to be working and making some money for herself. As years went by, she gained more hours and loved working with friends and making new ones.

Where we live Publix is the grocery store a lot of teens get their first job because management is so flexible with the hours and extremely considerate of students’ school and family commitments.

When Olivia turned 18, she became a cashier and could work a lot more hours  since she was an adult.  She was thrilled when they gave her a raise and  she was allowed to participate in their 401k.

Working at Publix  taught Olivia about customer service, working with difficult people, managing conflict and resolving it. It was such a great way for her to get a taste of working in the real world and learn about responsibility and accountability.

Working also allowed her to pay for things that she wanted that were not a necessity and more of a luxury, such as manicures, hair color change,  new shoes and clothes.

When Olivia went off to college this year, her dad and I told her we didn’t want her working but focusing on college so she could graduate on time in four years.  At home she had worked for five years and now her workload was about to get harder. We wanted her to focus on school, but said over  Christmas break and summer break, she could work at Publix to make some money.

I have to admit, initially one of the reasons we wanted Olivia to get a job was to keep her busy and out of trouble during her high school years. Well, that clearly didn’t work because she still found time to get herself in trouble.

Now, my son Matthew is another story. He is 15 and we have tried to get him a job at the same Publix Olivia had worked as a bagger, but we are not having any luck. Funny though, I am not as eager for Matthew to get a job as I was for Olivia. Could it be because teenage girls  spend a lot more on themselves than boys?

I have family members whose kids have never worked — ever!  Wow!

I started working at sixteen to pay for my car and car insurance. When Olivia got her car, she worked to pay her car insurance just like I had done. She needed to realize that in life, if you want things, you have to work for them — whether it’s an A in a class or a new car or a David Yurman ring. You earn what you want, nothing is given to you and you are not entitled  to it.

I am curious, do any of you moms and dads encourage your teenage daughter or son to
work? If so, why? If not, why not?

What to say to your teenage daughter after the election

I woke up this morning thinking about what I wanted to say to my teenage daughter about the future.  At first, it felt like an overwhelming task. I saw a clip on television of a woman at the Hillary Clinton reception. The woman looked up and said to the camera: “The glass ceiling is there and it’s fully in tact.”

Clearly, as a mother, that’s not the message I want my teenage daughter to take away from this election.

I also do not want her to take away the message that degrading women is okay or that walking around in shirts that say “Trump that Bitch” is acceptable behavior. I want to my daughter to believe that there is a level of respect for women in the United States and that young women today have every opportunity to achieve whatever they set out to do. I want young women to believe that their husbands, fathers, brothers and male friends are okay with women having power in the workplace and in the political arena.

My daughter watched the campaign results in her sorority house, surrounded by young women who had voted for their first time. This morning, I told my daughter I was proud of each and every young woman who voted. As a child, my mother hammered in the message that women worked hard to get the right to vote and I must never let them down by failing to exercise my right. It’s the same message I have repeated to my daughter.

As a journalist, I have been writing about women in business for two decades. I have seen firsthand how difficult some of their journeys have been to achieve success in their fields. But I see progress.

This morning, I encouraged my daughter to be proud of how far women have come and to realize that having a female presidential candidate is an accomplishment. I told her that young women today need to educate themselves about politics, business and social issues. They need to know who and what they are voting for and why. They need to demand respect at work and in the world and refuse to accept anything less.

I am encouraged by the reaction of a young woman at Wesley College who said this morning: “Today, we put on our pantsuits and fight on!”

Yes, young women, we need you to fight on!

Over the years, I have seen that the success of women is the success of families. I have seen that when women break the glass ceilings in their fields, they achieve feats that better all of mankind.

There are two things that Hillary Clinton said in her concession speech that I wanted my daughter to hear:

 

Hil

“To all the women, and especially the young women, who put their faith in this campaign and in me: I want you to know that nothing has made me prouder than to be your champion. Now, I know we have still not shattered that highest and hardest glass ceiling, but someday someone will — and hopefully sooner than we might think right now.”

Then, Clinton went on to say something equally as encouraging to the next generation of female leaders:

“To all of the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams.”

So parents, talk to your daughters today about what the future holds for them. Give them the encouragement to dream big and to understand that achieving high goals may come with obstacles but navigating them is part of life.  Show them examples of women who are admirable and encourage them to address disrespect. Most important, let them know there is a lot of work to be done and I’m hopeful that there are many young women who are smart, self confident and enthusiastic enough to make positive change for years to come.

 

 

When an Instagram post makes your teen feel excluded

teen-on-sm

 

 

The morning after Halloween, my friend’s daughter woke up and checked Instagram (part of most teens morning routine).   She saw in a post that three of her friends had gone trick-or-treating together and didn’t invite her — and freaked.  She told her mother that her feelings were hurt.

As a parent of a teen girl, I could SO relate!

Being excluded from social events has always been rough on kids. For decades, groups of friends have been getting together, inviting this one or that one, and someone inevitably gets left out.  But tweens and teens today are much more likely to find out about what they are missing because EVERYTHING is posted online in real time.

 

A few years ago, I went through a similar experience with my daughter. She found out from a Facebook post that some of her good friends had gone to the beach and she wasn’t included.  She was sad and disappointed that she was left out.  As a parent, it was upsetting to me, too.

Unfortunately,  during their teens years, our kids are struggling with confidence and self esteem and friendships and relationships. Being excluded from one event can easily seem like a BIG deal.

I feel like most kids aren’t posting with the intent to make others feel bad. They’re just trying to be cool or share pics of themselves having fun.

When my daughter experienced this type of exclusion, I told her:  “You’re just not going to be included in every get together and you have to be okay with that.”  I also told her she may be the one who accidentally excludes a friend one day and she needs to be careful about what she posts and mindful of how it could hurt someone’s feelings.

My teenage son says handles it differently when he sees on Instagram that he has been left out when friends get together: “If I really want to hang out with them, I ask them if I can hang out with them next time, or I take the initiative to be the one to make the plans.”

Of course, there’s a big difference between posting group pics or party photos in which someone is excluded by accident — and posting the photos on purpose to taunt someone.  That’s where some parental intervention may need to come in.

We all know that teens aren’t going to stop sharing their “hanging out with my friends” pics any time soon. But encouraging your teen to think about the potential for who may see the pictures before posting can go a long way toward avoiding hurt feelings.

Has this happened to your teen? How as a parent did you handle it?

 

 

When your teenage son tells you he only does hugs, not kisses.

teenkiss

 

Last week my son Matthew and I were sharing a rare and awesome moment laying in bed watching the TV  show The Goldbergs together. It was just like we use to do before the teenage years came around.  The mom in the show was trying to give her 14-year-old son Eskimo kisses, so I went over to Matthew, to be funny, and tried to do the same. He pulled away and said, “No way mom!” Okay, I get that he may not like an Eskimo kiss so I gave him a kiss on the cheek and then asked him for one on mine. He looked at me and said “Mom, I don’t do kisses. I do hugs.”  In shock, I said, “Since when?”  What happened to the little man who use to give me hugs AND KISSES??

Then, I asked Matthew why he didn’t  gives kisses when he use to with no qualms. He explained that he thinks it is weird now that he is older. Weird to give your own mom a kiss?? NOOOOOOO! I told him I was going to blog about this and share this with all other moms out there. He said, “Go ahead”, I still will only you give hugs.”

Part of me is sad  that my Matthew is changing and growing up and I can’t do anything about it. For now, I can only embrace his hugs and appreciate that he gives them willingly and with lots of love in them.   I will take the hugs because I know one day, the kisses will return and my cheek will be waiting eagerly for it.  Truth be told, Matthew does give the best hugs.

Have you experienced push back from your teen when you want to give him or her a kiss on the check? Is hugging acceptable? Or does your teen flinch when you try to show him or her any affection?

Why teens don’t want the new iPhone 7

 

iphone

 

So, here comes the new iPhone and the reaction is lukewarm  with teens.

Usually, the announcement of a new iPhone creates a stir in the morning carpool. Not this time.

Yesterday, I had a car full of teen boys and I asked them who is going to get the new iPhone. No response. ( They were too busy looking at the latest videos on their phones  to hear an adult voice).

Still, I kept prodding. Finally, one looked up. Then another. The reason for their lack of enthusiasm, they explained, is the headphone situation.  They told me the lack of a headphone jack will cut them off from access to their music, which is a HUGE part of their lives. (I’m still trying to prevent my son from listening to dirty rap music, not an easy task!) They also wondered why the new wireless headphones didn’t have the phone built right into them. (That’s coming next, I assured them) So, bottom line is that they aren’t going to beg their parent for the phone.

Meanwhile, one 17-year-old girl told MediaPost that her dream device would be an iPhone 7 with a headphone jack. (Maybe Apple should have spoken with some teens before it went wireless!)  MediaPost says the teens it spoke to noted how they can’t listen in the car anymore, can’t charge their phones while listening, and they can’t use their favorite headphones with the device.

Did Apple make a mistake with the coveted teen crowd? We’ll have to wait a few months to find out.  What does your teen think about they new iPhone and its wireless headphones? If the begging hasn’t started, that’s surely as sign.

 

When Teens Leave After Summer

parent-goodbye

 

When I moved my two older children into their college dorms what I didn’t foresee was their return home. They came home this summer more mature, more independent and had lots of their own ideas and thoughts about politics, equality, meal choices and curfews.

The first few weeks with everyone home it was a big adjustment for the entire family. I had to pull back my natural inclination to do things for my older teens and let them buy their own toiletries, fill their own prescriptions and make their own doctor’s appointments. When my two older ones were in high school, I  always waited up at night for them to get home. This summer, I had to let go a little bit, ease up on the curfew and get comfortable with going to sleep before they returned home.

As the summer went on, we settled into a nice place as a family. My daughter and I had amazing conversations about life and love and spent time together as friends. My son and I talked about religion and travel and had a few deep conversations about life. Now it’s September and my two college students have returned to campus and I must cope with change once again. In some ways, it’s more difficult this time. They didn’t need me to help them choose classes and they seemed excited to go back.  Now that they are gone, so is the chaos that surrounds them, their friends who congregated at our home playing games, laughing and socializing. I miss it.

With one child still at home, I still feel the normal  angst that parents experience when the new school year kicks in. What is different though is the sense that my life revolves around my children as it did for so many years. I now know that my teenagers will leave and return and leave again and that I must create a new sense of self that plans for the good times ahead and learns to be okay with the house emptying and filling and emptying again.

Rather than complaining, I owe it to myself to realize change is part of life. Whether our children are leaving the nest, whether we’re relocating to a new city, whether we are taking on a new job, a big life change can be an adventure. It can be a time to meet new people, identify new interests, have new experiences and create a new chapter in our lives.

Summer officially is over, the new school year is here, and I’m  making the emotional adjustment to enjoy all that lies ahead.

As many of my friends drove their teens to college for the first time and returned home without them, I gave them this advice: ” You will miss them, but if they are happy, you will be too.” Now, I have to take my own advice.

« Older posts Newer posts »

© 2017 Raising Teens

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑