Raising Teens

A site for parents of teens striving for sanity

Month: March 2012

Kendall Jenner Posts Bikini Shots, are you ok with it?

The talk of the town today: Kendall Jenner.

The 16-year-old aspiring model posted a photo on Twitter of herself in a bikini Monday night with the caption, “Miss summer! #Tan.” Her dad, Bruce Jenner, reportedly made her take it down.

If you’ve peeked over the shoulder of your teen on Facebook lately, you might notice what I’ve seen. Girls, in particular, seemed to be always posing for the camera: hair swept back, hand on hip, up against the wall with their head tilted back.  In at least a few instances, I’ve seen middle schoolers in bikinis that left little to the imagination.

I’ve asked my teens, “What’s up with the posing?” Strangely, they think nothing of this vamping.

Randee Holder writes on the Motherlode blog  that technology, particularly the smartphone camera, is affecting how adolescent girls conduct themselves in their actual, everyday lives.  She writes: “Girls this age, who have felt pressured historically to look their best most of the time, suddenly seem to feel as if they need to look their best all of the time. In turn, always being “on” seems to lead some girls to pose for pictures that are oversexualized: pouting lips, lots of cleavage, short-shorts, crop tops that showcase a bare midriff. ”

She surmises: For Teenage Girls, Facebook (and Twitter) Means Always Being Camera-Ready.

You have a point there Randee. It seems like girls post these sexy pics of themselves on Facebook trolling for “Likes” to boost their self esteem. I guess we’re not doing a good job of teaching our girls their self worth is about more than social media feedback.

Parents, what do you think about teen girls posting bikini shots? Is there a difference if they’re just posting it for friends or making it public? Have you ever made your teen take down a photo?



Your teen’s first day of work, fun or fiasco?

So Olivia finally started her first day at work at Publix. We have her uniform tops and her Gap pants of course, and she is ready to go to work.  So why am I nervous for her? Is it because I hope she does well or that she doesn’t screw up and get in trouble? Probably all of the above huh? Well, she only went for two hours and she seemed to have a good first day. YAY!

Last Sunday I had to bring her into work and do my own grocery shopping as well. I kinda felt awkward seeing her work, but then, I looked at her from afar and realized she really is growing up.

She is no longer the 3 or 4-year-old that would help me shop at that same grocery store.  At the same time,  I thought of all the “fun stuff” that is yet to come like driving, dating, parties  etc.. So for now, I’m taking one milestone at a time and taking deep breaths every time.

Today, she took her job seriously and was being responsible and respectable, and for that I am thankful. Tomorrow is another day in the life and adventures of raising a teen.

I am very proud of Olivia and the fact that she wants to work at 14. I know many of her friends that are her age and older who don’t work and don’t plan on it. I am trying to teach Olivia that nothing in life is given to you, it must be earned by honest, hard work, whether it be grades, making money or a finding a job. It builds character and great foundation for your future.

I hope she continues to do well and can balance her work, school and soccer. I know I will be right behind her all stressed and wanting to help her balance it all. But I also know that she needs to do it on her own and ask me for help if she needs it.  It is part of growing up both for me and her!

So, tell me, what stories do you have of your teens first day of work — fun or fiasco?

Would you show this fatal drunk driving crash video to your teen?

Teens are going to drink. They will. I’m resigned to that because I already see my 18-year-old nephew doing it. But will they drink and drive?


Many of them will figure it’s just a few blocks to home or their dorm room and take a chance.

So parents, how bad do you want to scare them into thinking twice about drinking and driving? And,  is there anything that still shocks teens?


A teenager, whose camera was rolling as her two friends died in a drunk driving crash wants other young people to see and hear the gut-wrenching video. Desaleen James, 18, was inside the car when she took the video and is the sole survivor.  The video aired on CBS News shows three young women – one drunk behind the wheel – headed home from a Maryland nightclub on December 29th, 2011. It captures one of the women in the car saying, “We’re driving drunk.” (A police report confirms the driver was more than twice the legal limit for intoxication. )


The video also captured the crash and  continues to roll from inside the mangled car for 21 minutes, capturing the sounds of the desperate rescue attempt.  The 22-year-old driver and 19-year-old passenger were both killed. Desaleen James, 18, who videotaped the entire night, survived, suffering a broken hip. She was buckled up in the front passenger seat.

“Maybe I here to save someone else. I wouldn’t want even my worst enemy to walk in my shoes right now,”  says Desaleen, who talks about how easy it was to get alcohol in a club, even at 18.

Car crashes are the leading cause of death among teens – one out of three is alcohol related, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving statistics based on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The good news is that the number of DUI fatalities has actually gone down in the U.S. in recent years. But wow, this video is painful and powerful!

Parents, check out the video. Do you think it would have any affect on your teen’s choices?


Click here for link to video


See the follow up video:

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?



Mom sits quietly in the stands trying not to embarass her teen — well, kinda

My friend Pat Dunnigan at Suburban Kamikaze posted this video. It cracked me up, so I figured Pat wouldn’t mind if I shared it with you (right Pat?) I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Teenage love: Should we encourage or discourage it?

My son is in love — big time!

He has proclaimed his love for his new girlfriend in words I never knew were in his vocabulary. I know this because I’ve become a top secret spy, trying to decipher teen code.

On Valentine’s Day, my son wrote her a handwritten card, declaring his eternal love and telling her he has never met anyone like her. His text messages are equally as sentimental. While I know she likes him back, at least her text messages say so, I worry about the intensity of his love.

I’ve forgotten how emotional teens can be when they think they are in love. It’s such naive infatuation that adults just can’t relate because we’re so many years past feeling the same way.

But as a mom, I’m worried.

I know this girl makes my son happy, and I want to encourage him. But I’m asking myself: Can he put this relationship in perspective? How will he handle it if and when this relationship ends? Even if I discouraged the relationship, would it make a difference?

I keep reminding him that he’s a great kid, with or without a girlfriend. Of course, that only gets me the eye roll (I’m sure most of you parents know what I’m talking about!)

So, I went to the kidshealth blog for some guidance: “For people falling in love for the first time, it can be hard to tell the difference between the intense, new feelings of physical attraction and the deeper closeness that goes with being in love.”   TRUE!

The site, aimed at kids, also says: “If it’s your first real love and the relationship ends before you want it to, feelings of loss can seem overwhelming. Like the feelings of passion early in the relationship, the newness and rawness of grief and loss can be intense — and devastating. There’s a reason why they call it a broken heart. Losing a first love isn’t something we’ve been emotionally prepared to cope with.

From all the advice for kids, I gleamed this piece of 411 for parents: When a relationship ends, teens need support. Apparentely, adults often  expect younger people to bounce back and “just get over it.”

Experts suggest helping your teen find someone he can talk to who really understands the pain he’s going through. If its not you, then maybe it could be a friend or a therapist or a teacher or coach.

A came across an article that offers teens pretty good advice for Getting Over a Break-Up. I’m going to keep it handy — just in case I need to give it to my son.

Parents, have you tried to discourage your teens from getting romantically involved in high school? Do you think it makes a difference if a parent encourages or discourages a teen relationship? How have you supported your teen through a break up?



Shopping with your teen for work clothes: adventures at The Gap

My daughter Olivia recently got hired at our local Publix and is going for her all-day orientation this Saturday.

I am very excited for her because she will now hopefully learn how to multi-task/balance school, sports, work and her social life and earn her own $.

Publix, of course, has a dress code for their employees. Olivia needed to buy appropriate attire for her orientation. We needed to buy Black Khaki pants and button-down top. For most of us this would have been easy. Well, for a 14, soon to be 15-year -old teenager, this was not easy at all….NO!

I told Olivia we would go to The Gap to get her her pants and top. What an adventure that was!

First, we go into the store and she tries to tell me that they are “allowed” to wear tights black Khaki pants. I said, “”No, that is not work appropriate.” When I showed her some of the pants, I knew she would not go for what she calls “baggy” look. I let her peruse the store with the generous help of the store attendant. I said NOTHING during her adventure. I let her pick pants to try on and whichever one she liked she would come out and show me. I told her not to worry about the length, that we could hem it.

Well, she came out with one pair and to me it was not as loose as I would want it but, it was appropriate for her job. Meeting her half way was fine. When I looked at the price of the pants- $60, I was shocked!  Should I really pay $60 for a pair of khakis for work? I told her we would buy more pants but not there. We would need to check other stores. She was specific on which stores NOT to go into of course. We went to Macy’s, Aeropostale and of course my favorite store as you know..Hollister (please note, I did NOT buy anything for myself at Hollister). Can you believe none of these stores had black pants for a teen? Only jeans and very casual cotton pants/capris. Can you believe there wasn’t any other stores that we could buy more pants other than The Gap?

I told Olivia, that I was going on the JC Penny website and I was sure they would have pants for her less than $60. To my surprise, she said nothing. I’ll take that as a “Yes, thank you very much.”

When we were in Hollister, we bought this really cute preppy long sleeve shirt that I could not believe she liked. There is hope for us yet! I am very proud that we did not fight every step of the shopping trip. Was it because we were limited in our store selection or that she’s maturing and realizing what is “work appropriate” or both?

So, parents, have you gone work clothes shopping with your teen? Was it a fun experience or a fiasco?

Has Google Replaced Parenting? Ask Google Dad

Yesterday, my 10-year-old  son wanted to know what triumph meant. I immediately pulled out my pocket dictionary and tossed it to him. He looked and said: “Really mom?” He then marched over to the computer and put the word into Google.

I felt so old school!!!

It’s ben so hard to face up to the fact that my kids will do everything in their lives differently than I did. They will work differently, learn differently, play differently.

Today, my guest blogger is an old friend, Miami super attorney Spencer Silverglate. He shares his wise take and personal experience raising his teen son in the digital age.

Can dad keep up with teenage son?

Blood red.  Marbled to perfection.  Two 12-ounce slabs of New York’s finest, grass-fed, prime-grade, cut-it-with-a-fork, melt-in-your-mouth, beef fillets. Steak.  It’s what’s for dinner—at least it was last Wednesday. Except it wasn’t just another meal.

As I explained that morning to my 16-year-old son Cameron, it would be the night I pass on the manly pursuit of grilling dead animal flesh.  Just like my father passed it on to me and his, undoubtedly, to him.  Yes, that night I would hand over the apron and tongs to my son and reveal the family recipe for grilling steak.  He may have started the day a boy, but by nightfall, he would be a man. Barbecue Man!

Imagine my shock when I rolled into the driveway at 6:45 that evening, accosted by the unmistakable aroma of sizzling meat.  Impossible, I thought to myself. I hadn’t even begun the lesson.  I stared in disbelief as I entered the house and saw my son on the back patio, hovering over the open flames that caressed the tender underbelly of the New York Strips.

“What do you think you’re doing?!” I barked.  “You were supposed to wait for me.  And be careful, you’ll burn the steaks.  You need to cut ‘em open and check to see if they’re done.”

“No, Dad,” he objected.  “If you do that, the juice will leak out.”

“What are you talking about?” I snapped.  “I’ve always done it that way.”

“Chef Ramsey says cutting the steak will dry it out like beef jerky,” he responded.  “You’re supposed to press the meat and feel for the same firmness as the fleshy part of your nose.”

“The fleshy part of . . . who the heck is Chef Ramsey?!” I snarled.

“Really, Dad?  Gordon Ramsey—quite possibly themost famous chef on TV.  I just watched him on YouTube.  According to Gordon, this is an 8 ½ minute steak.”

I stood there slack-jawed for a moment and then walked away with the remnants of my male ego.  Probably just as well.  My son was putting the final grate marks on the best cooked steaks the old grill ever produced.

            The Steak Incident, and others like it, has caused me to question whether our role of parents has been usurped by computers.  There’s very little we can teach our kids that they can’t find on the Internet.  Only the computer generated lesson is “better.”  If you’re a kid, why ask a parent for help with homework when you can have a Stanford professor explain it online?  Why ask dad how to swing a baseball bat when Albert Pujols can teach you on YouTube?   Why ask mom for decorating advice when you can watch Martha Stewart on your smart phone?

What’s the capital of Iceland?  Wikipedia it. How do you spell “chrysanthemum?” Spell check it (I just did). How do you build a tree-house?  Google it.  How do you get to the mall?  GPS it. Who sings this song?  There’s an app for that. Where do babies come from?  You get the point.

We were at dinner the other night and a disagreement broke out over the ways in which one may become a U.S. citizen.  My son, who recently studied the issue, explained the process to my wife and me.  Poor lad, he left out the one about marrying a U.S. citizen. I figured I’d impress him with my mental superiority, so I laid it on him.  He respectfully disagreed, explaining that marrying a citizen would yield a green card, not necessarily citizenship.  As my blood pressure began to rise, I figured I’d play the dad card.  You know the one: “I’m right because I’m dad.”  Before I could utter the words, my son already pulled up the facts on his iPhone.

The computer was right, of course.  The darn thing is always right.

When I was a kid, what my father said was final.  These days what Google says is final.

But have we moved forward or backward? We seem to be floating around in our own, ear-bud wearing bubbles streaming only preferred content.  Why listen to top 40 hits when I can live in the land of perpetual Bruce Springsteen?  For that matter, why bother interacting at all?  I may be sitting next to you at lunch, but I’m texting someone 300 miles away.  Today our personal relationships are not centered around work or school or church, but Facebook.  So what if we never leave the couch—we can still have thousands of “friends.”

I take comfort in knowing that not everythingcan be replaced by machines.  Some things still need to be experienced, especially by our children.  They may be able to go online and learn about riding a bike, but they need a parents’ firm grip on the seat to steady the ride.  And maybe that’s the best metaphor for what parents provide their kids—a firm grip on the ride of life.

I realize of course that we won’t be getting rid of machines anytime soon, nor would I want to. Although technology has the potential to supplant relationships, it can also enhance them.  Anyone who has connected online to a forgotten high school friend can attest to that.

Like anything in life, there must be a balance.  A harmony between man and machine that enriches rather than detracts from the human experience. Which brings me back to my son…

Just the other day I was getting ready for a formal party and decided on a whim to sport a white pocket square to offset my black tuxedo.  Not being a hanky-in-the-top-pocket kind of guy, I had no idea how to fold the silken Rubik’s Cube.  Cameron happened to notice my struggle and casually suggested I go online.   Even though it wasn’t my first instinct, I had to admit it was a good idea.  A few minutes later I had a perfectly folded pocket square.

So there you have it.  My family, just like my ebony suit and ivory handkerchief, now lives together in perfect harmony—with a little help from Google.


( Google dad, Spencer, and son, Cameron)

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