Raising Teens

A site for parents of teens striving for sanity

Author: mominthesprings (page 1 of 8)

I Never Felt So United As I Did at the March For Our Lives

I am not a political person whatsoever, and I have never been to a march in my life. However,  as you know, my son Matthew is a sophomore at Marjory Stoneman Douglas  High School.  So, attending the March For Our Lives in Parkland was something I felt compelled to do for obvious reasons. I am sure many people have various reasons for attending March For Our Lives around the nation, but mine was quite  simple. I wanted to be there for the 17 angels/students who couldn’t be there, and for my son and all the other students who could.  I do not have a personal agenda or political one.

I just want my son and all children to go to school and feel safe!

The  pictures I took told  stories.

Many different stories of all types of people.

I have not felt so unified with so many different people since 9/11. It made me wonder… why is that? Why does tragedy do that to us as a nation? We all want the same thing don’t we? We want to keep our schools safe, to keep our children safe.   We never want something like this, this horrible tragedy, to  happen again.

I hope, if anything, that when you see the pictures from March For Our Lives in Parkland, you see what I saw —   students, parents, grandparents  unified. This March For Our Lives is for all of us – all across the country — who want change, and for the 17 angels who deserve change.

This shirt worn by many at the Parkland March For Our Lives had the names of the 17 lives lost in the shooting:

  • Alyssa Alhadeff
  • Scott Beigel,
  • Martin Duque
  • Nicholas Dworet
  • Aaron Feis
  • Jaime Guttenberg
  • Chris Hixon
  • Cara Loughran
  • Gina Montalto
  • Joaquin “Guac” Oliver
  • Alaina Petty
  • Meadow Pollack
  • Helena Ramsay
  • Alex Schachter
  • Carmen Schentrup
  • Peter Wang

Here are photos that speak louder than words:





Walking My Son Back Into Marjory Stoneman Douglas After the Mass Shooting


students return to MSD

As a mother of a 16-year-old son who attends Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, where a mass shooting took place on Valentine’s Day,  the last week has been a struggle to come to terms with all that has happened.

It is Sunday, February 25th at 3:30 p.m. and it is time to walkover to Stoneman Douglas so my son, Matthew, can pick up his backpack that he left in the classroom the day of the shooting. I haven’t really blogged much about the shooting,  except for Matthew’s text he sent me during the tragedy. I haven’t really had one second, one minute to myself because I have been involved in  all the community has been doing.. funerals, vigils, walks and grief counseling and trying to process all of this.


It is still surreal.

I have tried to be extra sensitive, patient and comforting to Matthew, to make sure he is okay,  but he’s not and I don’t know when he will be.  Just when I think he is okay, I see him lash out at me for something small.  Yesterday,  on our way to the high school for the first time after the shooting, he  walked ahead of my husband and I at fast pace.  We kept calling his name, but he had his headphones in to tune out the world. I don’t know Matthew was walking at such a fast pace because he wanted to see the school, which he hadn’t since the shooting,  or he just wanted to get this over with.  He was cold towards me, angry, mad and he did not want to talk. As I was walking behind him, all I could see was a little boy who once couldn’t bear to leave my side.   As mothers, we want to protect our kids and keep them safe and happy. So, when will Matthew be either one of those? I can’t control everything and that scares me. What I could control  was not getting upset because Matthew wasn’t acting how I wished he would. I kept telling myself, give it time, be patient, just love him and be there for him no matter how he treats you or lashes out at you.

As we walked toward the school, nothing fazed Matthew. He walked with determination, even as he passed the memorials crowded around by parents and students.  He didn’t even look once. It was pandemonium. I saw angels to honor the victims, flowers, music, praying, news media.. it was crazy!

angels to honor Parkland shooting victims


We realized the administrators were making us walk all the way around to the senior parking lot entrance, which was right next to the 1200 building where the shooting happened. I couldn’t believe it. I have never entered the school this way but, I am sure they had their reasons. I noticed they had fenced in the 1200 building and displayed beautiful banners from schools all over the county and state, as well as local community businesses,  which offered words of encouragement. But I couldn’t help and look at the 1200 building and think, “all that horror happened in this building that I am looking at right now. How can this be real?”

Oh, but it was.

We got to the school  entrance and we followed  Matthew to his classroom. I asked him to show us where he was when he heard the shooting. He explained that when there  is a fire drill, the kids go in a different direction, they need to go to the nearest exit, which is the reason he was where he was. He was going down the stairs and he saw people running all over and saying, “It’s a code red, go back,” and then he heard the gunshots.  He quickly ran back up the stairs to the nearest classroom, TV production.  It was there that he and 54 students crammed into a small back room with their teacher, Mr. Eric Garner. We went in the room and Matthew went to the back room and picked up his backpack.

My husband Scott and I went over to Mr. Garner and shook his hand and said, “Thank you. Thank you for keeping our son and all the other kids safe.” I attached an article that was in the local paper about Mr. Garner. Matthew said Mr. Garner moved the bookcase to keep all the students safe.

We left the classroom and started to head back home. The mood in the school was good. Kids needed to be around  their friends and teachers to start to heal together. I saw the Coral Springs Fire Rescue walking, and I patted one rescue worker on the back and said, “Thank you. Thank you for all you did and what you continue to do.” He looked at me with such appreciation.

As we started to leave the school, Matthew again was walking quickly with a purpose — to get home fast. I figured I wasn’t going to catch up to him and I would meet him at home, so  I stopped at the memorial site of victim, Joaquin Oliver, who was the son of a sweet friend of mine. I placed a white flower, that was handed to me when I walked into the school onto the many flowers that were there. I turned around and surprisingly, I saw Matthew  walking towards me. He asked, “Where did you go?” I told him I wanted to place a flower on Joaquin’s memorial site.  At that moment, I realized, he really did care if I was behind him. He didn’t care if I wasn’t next to him, he just needed to know I was watching his back. I took a deep breath and smiled because I was grateful … “Mommy will always have your back Matthew, always.”

What do you when your teenager doesn’t want to go to college

to go or not to go to college


On those rare occasions that I have conversation with my son about his future, I try not to pry too much and let him do all the talking. So, one day Matthew decided to tell me that he doesn’t know  if he wants to go to college.

My first reaction was,  “You will be going to college. Are you crazy?”  But I took a deep breath, and told Matthew he still has  two years to decide what he wants to do after high school. He is 16 years old and a high school sophomore.  I know some 16 year olds may already know what they want to do when they graduate and where they want to go to college.  However, not all teenagers know. They are all different and that’s okay.

Stress, I truly believe, has a lot to do with it.  Teenagers have so much homework and so much studying that often they can’t see their future, and the thought of more work in college scares them.


should teenagers to to college

I told Matthew we will cross that bridge when we get to it, and we will take one day at a time. He said, ” I don’t  want to waste your money on college.  I would rather take a year off and then decide.” I told him I appreciated that he didn’t want to waste our money and his time going to college, but I hope he  changes his mind.  I told him he could take a “gap year” if he felt it  is what he needs.

I truly felt trying to talk to him out of not going to college at this point would be useless. I remember my daughter Olivia’s thoughts about college when she was 16, and she did a full 180 by the time she graduated.  I think what I do need to worry about is Matthew’s stress and anxiety and how to help him work through it. I guess my gut as a mom tells me he will change his mind because he is a smart kid and knows that without education, it is more difficult to succeed in life.  Matthew just needs to mature and grow up  some more before making any decisions about his future.

So for now, I continue to listen when he wants to talk, which is rare for a teenage boy. I  try to help him  work through the stress and anxiety, and of course, I try to guide him to make smart decisions for his future.  Because in the end, parents get blamed 10 or 15 years later when their children’s lives are not how they planned, even if we let them choose the path they want to follow.

This family board game will definitely let you “Talk About It”!

Last  Sunday night my family had just  finished eating dinner and I was starting to clean up the kitchen when my son Matthew said, “Mom, if you want to play that game after dinner, we can.” He was referring to a board game called Talk About It!

Well, you never saw me clean the kitchen so fast. I knew I only had a small window of opportunity for Matthew to give his attention to something other than his computer. 

Talk About It!  is family board game intended to encourage  communication between teens and adults. It’s a card/dice game with a twist!

Because I have a teenage son who loves the computer more than anything in the world,  I couldn’t wait to try this game, and possibly get him interested in something new.

When you open the board game’s rule book, there are several choices of specific games to play. We decided on Go  Fish since it was easy and our first time. I had Matthew pick the deck we would play from.  We had topics ranging from stress, to feelings, to icebreakers, to values. Matthew picked the “least of  the most awkward” topics for him to talk about. He picked values.

We started the game and I was so nervous as to who would have to answer a question first. Well, it was my husband and believe it or not, I was just as curious to hear his answers as my son’s. When Matthew finally got to answer, I listened carefully and tried not to look obvious that I was hanging on his every word and thrilled to be playing this game with him.

Matthew, on the other hand, was not so thrilled, but he played anyway. What I found peculiar was that no matter who had to answer the question on the card, Matthew would answer for that person.

For example, if I had a card that said, “What do you value most, that you are not willing to give up?” Matthew would answer for me, or at least give me some choices. I answered “respect” and then went into why. I started to notice Matthew really wanted to share his answer for someone else’s question. I started to listen to his response more than my husband’s answers. But I also got an opportunity to learn Matthew thoughts on topics we usually don’t talk about.  It was a way for him to tell us things he normally wouldn’t.

At one point, I said we can stop if you don’t want to play anymore. Matthew surprised me when he said, “No, let’s play until we are done.”  For me, this board game  was the key to learning more about Matthew’s thoughts and feelings in a way that I couldn’t accomplish without it being awkward or without him shutting me down.   I also loved that my husband opened up in front of my son.

I  truly believe teens are not going to openly tell you how they feel, or what they feel, or why they feel how they do —  but playing board games often helps. For me, the game definitely helped my son Talk About  It. You might want to consider a family game night. It can get quite interesting!

You are definitely my friend! Period.

Over the holiday break, my daughter and I were going to do something together and I was so looking forward to it. What is it you ask? We were going to try the Knixteen & Knixwear underwear. The Knixteen underwear was for her and the Knixwear was for me.   When I first approached my daughter about trying them to give our reviews, she was a little apprehensive. I told her to keep an open mind and that the underwear will not be like anything she has ever tried on before.

Why is that you ask?  Because they are period panties! Awkward right? Well, that is what we thought! Olivia really did not want to try these at all because she had it in her mind that these will look like “granny panties” and feel like them as well. She was not looking forward to wearing them, but I told her I would be trying them out, too. I was excited for us to be trying out the Knixwear panties at the same time and discussing what we thought about it. I was more excited that these were period panties and could not wait to see whether they really worked.

The package arrived during winter break. I went into Olivia’s room with a big smile and said, “Guess what came in?”   Her face quickly transformed into a look of despair.

I took them out of the package and much to my surprise and amazement; they were the silkiest, smoothest, softest feeling panties I have ever felt. I am talking Victoria’s Secret-needs-to-worry soft!

Did I mention they also look quite sexy and NOT a granny panty like Olivia thought? She looked at them and said, “Oh wow, this is not what I envisioned at all.”  I could not wait to try them, but more so, I could not wait for Olivia to wear them and give her opinion. Olivia is very high maintenance, and very particular and specific with everything she wears. She does not buy just anything. She likes to buy quality and does her research on whatever she purchases.

Well, we wore the panties and I asked her what she thought. She said, “Mom, I cannot believe how comfortable and form fitting these panties are! I can wear them with clothes that I would normally wear a thong with.  They are so soft, and they conform to my butt.”

Did I mention the best part of these panties? We all know how we feel and what underwear we wear when we have our periods, and let me tell you, they do not look or feel like Knixwear or Knixteen panties. I absolutely loved how comfortable they felt. Whether you wear them during your period, or to prevent an accident leak, this underwear will make you feel amazing!

I asked Olivia how she felt wearing them during her period and she said,  “At first with my period I thought it was weird because I felt so comfortable and worried about an accident, but I was so wrong for worrying. I loved them. Are you buying me more?”

This was such a fun experience for Olivia and I, and I hope you all do the same kind of experiment with your teen, or at the very least, have your teen daughter try  Knixteen. She will love them!


How to handle your parents when they fight you on their estate planning?

So recently, my dad had to undergo brain surgery, which resulted in him in being hospitalized for some time. This also resulted in the hospital asking my mom if she had a Power of Attorney or Medical Surrogate form. Well, she does not. Did I mention my parents are in their early 70s? I am amazed they have come this far without having these documents to protect themselves and their family.  By the time most of most of us have teenagers, our parents are starting to age and we need to think about what that means for us.

For years, I have been telling my parents, mostly my mom, to please get a will, power of attorney, etc. I told her to get their estate planned. She constantly dismissed me with excuses that she did not need it; she did not have a lot of money to have an estate planned. I kept telling her that it is not about the money, it is about protecting the assets you have so my brother and I could have legal access to their accounts if God forbid something happened to them.  Does she not realize the nightmare my brother and I would have if we do not have any legal papers authorizing us to handle their estate or medical decisions?

Like my parents, there are many people out there who are in their 70s, 60s and 50s or older who have nothing in place to protect whatever assets they have or make any medical decisions for them in case of an emergency.

What do they think happens to their estate when they pass? Do they honestly think the courts will say, “go ahead and sell the house and take the profits?” NO!  What do they think would happen, if God forbid they are both incapacitated and their bills need to be paid? When my brother or I call the bank or credit card company, they would say we do not have legal authority to their account. Then, the bills would not get paid and we would have no access to anything of theirs, including the ability to make medical decisions.

In a world filled with identity theft, it is crucial now more than ever to protect whatever assets you have and that includes your health, the most important asset! You do not have to be rich to protect yourself, your home, jewelry, personal mementos or car.

I think for my mom, it is the work that has to be done for the estate planning that overwhelmed her, not to mention she thought it costs thousands of dollars. She does not know what estate planning is or the cost. Many people are like my mother and are afraid or unaware, so they rather not plan or think about it.

There are resources out there that can make this process smooth, painless and easy. I have seen and read about many legal companies that will help you connect with attorneys that will do the planning for you. I know ARAGlegal.com is a great resource for estate planning. The company provides legal insurance, which includes access to estate planning. I encourage everyone who does not have their estate planned to visit ARAG.com and see how easy it is to get it started.

As parents, I truly believe we should not only protect our children, but protect what we have worked for all our lives.


*ARAG is an affiliate partner of RaisingTeensBlog.

Will moms of teenagers ever be able to exhale? Why do we worry so much?

Sometimes I feel like I am holding my breath while raising my teen.  I am hoping I will be able to exhale once the coast is clear and the teen years are behind me.

But for now, it feels like the worries of raising a teenager never end or go away.

I try not to worry.  but, it’s in my DNA..

With my son, I worry about all kinds of things….

  1. Are his grades slipping?
  2. Is he eating properly?
  3. Is he happy?
  4. Is he depressed?
  5. Will he go to a good college?
  6. Will he do well on his SAT?
  7. Will he be more social as he gets older?
  8. Is he getting bullied?
  9. Is he having sex?
  10. Is he wearing a condom?
  11. Is he lying to me?
  12. Is he keeping things from me?
  13. Did he try any drugs? Will he?

Crazy right?

I long for the day when all my worries are gone, and I can exhale and breathe and say to myself, “Okay, now you can relax.” But, to be honest, I don’t see that  day arriving any time soon. So for now, I take life one day at a time, one breath at a time, one prayer at a time.

Do you worry, too? I would love to get your feedback and hear whether other parents of teens feel this way? Any advice?


How does a mom connect with her teenage son?

So sophomore year has started for my teenage son and yet another year of high school has begun.  When my daughter was in high school I could rely on her telling me about all the school drama, her teachers, what’s happening in school. But, with my son, I get… crickets crickets (silence). I have to probe, pull, nag, or interrogate just to find out what is going on? Every time I ask a questions I am “annoying” or  I am “bothering” him. I have never felt so disconnected from my teen son. I know high school years are not easy for teen boys, but does he really have to shut mom out?

Matthew tells me school is hard and stressful and not like it was in the 70s when I went to school. Hello…. I graduated high school in 1985, thank you very much. I am NOT that old.  I just want to be closer to my son, but the closer I try to get, the more he pushes away. I try to give him his space, but anytime I enter his room he doesn’t want to talk. He would rather play video games,  or talk with his friends on the phone. I know this is a phase, but I really don’t  like it  at all!!!

I try to tell myself that I went through this with Olivia and this too shall pass. When I drive Matthew to school it’s dead silence in the car. I try to start a conversation, but he uses one word answers. I know it’s an awkward stage, but I’m your mom! The person you looked up to and couldn’t live without just five years ago.

There are rare moments when Matthew will open up. But those are few and far between. If he texts me, it’s about  food or clothes he wants me to get for him. It’s funny how Olivia will text me all day long from college, and yet my son won’t text me at all. I guess the level of communication is the difference between having a teenage daughter and son.

I guess I am struggling with giving him space, but not too much space, because in the end it’s my responsibility to make sure he makes smart choices and does the right things.

I enter his room every day when I get home and give him a hug. When he hugs me back, it makes me feel so happy. I need him to know how much I love him, even though it’s awkward for him now. I usually go in his room a few more times  before I go to bed and I’ll even get in a kiss on  his head. I know he loves me, and I truly believe he feels awkward showing affection to me.  I  just want to connect with him and for the life of me, I just can’t figure out how?

I would love to hear if any other moms or dads have had this issue with their teen son, and what you did to overcome it?

I know just this stage in my son’s life will pass, and I will get my Matthew back, but in the meantime,  I will breathe,  be patient, take one day at a time and  make sure he stays on the right path.

Olivia’s college room decor!





I thought I would share with the readers, Olivia’s college room decor which is a reflection of her love with the Tiffany blue color.

When your child puts together their college room it is very personal and a huge part of telling their other roommates who they are. Olivia loves her room. It’s her study room, her TV room, her resting room, her safe place,   her sanctuary.

I know after class, she looks forward to crashing in her bed and either taking a nap, doing homework, studying or watching Netflix.

This is her home away from home that she created for herself and that mom and dad help her put together.

We would love to hear or see pictures from your college student’s  “sanctuary.” Please share!

Lessons of a college student: Things don’t always go as planned

Olivia’s first night in her new apartment at college had some bumps, but to her they felt more like mountains.

First, her closet shelf with ALL her clothes fell.










The property manager sent someone the next day to install a new shelf.

Then, Olivia  texted me frantically that she had a water leak  under her bathroom sink and the bathroom’s electric outlet wasn’t working. I told her to let the management know and they would fix it.

The next disaster:  Her Internet wasn’t working either. For Olivia the college student, the world was coming to an end! She was very anxious and overwhelmed and like a lot of impatient teens, wanted everything fixed — NOW!

Instant Gratification

This generation is so use to instant  gratification that if God forbid they have to wait for a resolution, the world  as they know it is over.  Teens are so used to technology helping them speed along whatever they want or need. Well, that wasn’t  happening here. There wasn’t an app for instant repairs…with all the students moving into the complex at the same time, Olivia had to wait …it’s called a process.

I told Olivia this was part of growing up, dealing with issues and hurdles and knowing how to get them resolved. Patience is key and Olivia didn’t have any. She just wanted to move into an apartment and have everything perfect.  Mind you, these are MINOR issues that can be resolved rather quickly and management did take care of them eventually, but in that moment, to Olivia, all the issues were overwhelming and HUGE!

Mom — and grandma —  to the rescue

Olivia  needed mom to help her see how minor her issues were in the big picture.  However, like most teens, Olivia decided to go on Instagram and post about her bad day. That’s when grandma stepped in. (Yes, grandma is on Instagram!)  Olivia’s grandmother (Manolaeva) saw Olivia’s post about all that had gone wrong and didn’t feel sorry for her one bit.

Here’s what grandma said: “This is a test of real life…that’s why I believe that most of today’s kids need to go away to college, not just for academics but also to experience some of the imperfection of life. Those are minor things. They’re fixable, and it all will be fine.”


The Resolution

At the end of the next day, everything in the apartment did get fixed. Finally,  I could talk to Olivia calmly. I made her realize how minor this issues were in the bigger scheme of things. She realized it, but said it was just a lot of aggravation in one day. I just said, “Olivia, it was just a bad day. Tomorrow is a new day. It’s not how things start, but how they end that matters.”  For Olivia and me, the day ended well, her school year got off to a start,  and THAT is all that mattered.


Older posts

© 2018 Raising Teens

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑