Raising Teens

A site for parents of teens striving for sanity

Category: arguments (page 1 of 3)

How to Know When Your Teenager Wants to Talk

Last weekend, my teenage son Garret and I were driving to a food festival. My cell phone rang and I answered the call. It was my daughter at college with a big story to tell me. As I spoke to her, I didn’t notice how annoyed Garret was getting until he screamed out, “Enough talking on your phone mom!”

I hung up with my daughter and asked Garret what was going on. He told me he just wanted to talk to me. “I don’t understand why you have to be on the phone when we’re in the car together,” he said.

I felt like a bad mom. I had totally missed that signs that Garret want to talk to me. He actually had something specific he wanted to talk about, but I had no idea when we got in the car. Usually, Garret blasts his rap music when we are driving somewhere together. A lot of the time when I want him to open up to me, he gets annoyed by my prodding.

Because Garret is my third child, I should know the signs by now when a teenager wants to talk to his or her parent. But even as a seasoned veteran, I was off my game.

talking to a teenager

Seize the moment

If you want good communication with your teen, it’s important to seize the moment when you can to have a conversation rather than a lecture. Car rides are great places for that opportunity — and by talking on the phone, I had almost squandered it.  The next car ride alone with your teenager, turn off the radio, don’t answer your phone and it’s likely your teenager will surprise you with candid conversation.

Do something together

Another sign your teenager wants to talk is when he or she asks you to do an activity together. When my son Jake was home from college, he asked me if I wanted to go on a bike ride. Jake rarely opens up. But during the bike ride, he had lots to say and actually talked to me about his girlfriend.

When I watched the television show “13 Reasons Why” one of the things I found scary was how the teenagers shrugged off their parents’ efforts at conversation.  At times, my teenagers have shrugged me off the same way. It feels as if they want to talk when they want to talk and they don’t want to talk when you want to talk. The definitely don’t want you asking them questions.

Be available

A spontaneous conversation in the car or in their bedrooms late at night — any time when you’re not rushed — can make for some of the warmest, most rewarding moments with a teenager, according to Laurence Steinberg, an expert in adolescent behavior.  I have learned that those moments happen when your teen can tell they have your attention and when you listen more than you speak.

On WebMD, Steinberg said. “I think for parents, one of the key parts of having good communication with kids is being around enough to capitalize on these moments that invariably don’t come up when you expect them to.”

Be aware of location

As toddlers, the spontaneous hugs and “guess what mom?” seemed to come so easily. Now, my teenagers have a life that I’m not fully a part of and connecting is much more complicated. I noticed with Garret, and with my older teenagers, that they don’t like to have those deeper, bonding conversations in their bedrooms. It’s almost like I have invaded their personal space. So, if Garret comes into my bedroom or my home office or into the kitchen while I’m cooking, it is a sign he has something to tell me or is  open to conversation.

As parents, I feel we need to know what our kids are doing and thinking. Teenagers see it differently.  They don’t want us to know everything going on in their lives.  Still, the teen years are such a crucial time and just because they aren’t willing to open up to us as much as when they were younger, doesn’t mean we can’t keep working on ways to have those important talks. Next time I’m in the car alone with Garret, he gets priority over phone calls.  While, it took a harsh reminder  to get me to realize it, not only do those bonding conversations mean a lot to me, they mean a lot to our teenagers, even if our teens don’t always admit it.


Are you a Spy Mom? What some moms have learned about their teens on Facebook

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No son, you can not say the n-word

My 16-year-old son and I are at odds.

I blame Gucci Mane. And Kendrick Lamar. And Kanye West.

My son loves their rap music and walks around singing the lyrics to their songs.  When he takes a shower, he blasts rap music. At first, I didn’t mind because the beat is catchy, and I want him to encourage him to have his own taste in music.

But here’s why we are at odds.  These are the lyrics to Gucci Mane’s song, “Last Time” (one of my son’s favorites).

I love when my bitch get drunk ’cause she talk greasy to me
Nigga with an attitude, this shit gettin’ easy to me
The last time I drunk some lean I was out of my mind
Tried gave me 20 years and that’s a whole lotta time
A married woman divorce her husband to spend the weekend with me
He think it nasty when she squirt but that shit sexy to me
The last time I took some molly, took a gram and a half
Niggas think they know ’bout Gucci but they don’t know the half
See I’m an ex-X popper and online shopper
Niggas thought I was a clone, they heard me speak proper
Convicted felon worth 10 million, I’m a well known robber
Like Shawty Lo I got 10 children, yeah, Lo my partner


These are not exactly the words you want your 16-year-old son walking around singing. I hate songs that have the word bitch in them and MANY rap songs do. However, my biggest beef is with the word “nigga.” I have noticed that tons of rap songs have that word in them. So, you have a bunch of teenage white boys rapping along to hip-hop songs and saying the n-word. The more they sing it, the more they think it’s okay to say it. In my eyes, it’s not okay. I have let my son know that LOUD and CLEAR. We all know that word has heinous origins and while the “a” at the end instead of “er” may be an attempt to reclaim the word and casualize it, in my eyes putting an “a” at the end  doesn’t make the word less revolting when being sung by a white boy.

My son says he likes the beat and the vibe of rap music and he prefers hip-hop artists to pop artists. He friends do, too. They seem to know almost every word to every song by popular hip-hop artists. In the last few years, rap has permeated the mainstream and even pop music stations play rap music in between top 40 hits.

When we’re together in the car, I listen to rap  with my son.  Some of the lyrics are insightful and moving. The beats are catchy.  But the cursing! I can’t stand it! Sometimes when a song is too explicit, I will insist my son skips to another song. Why do rappers have to use such vulgar language and why the n-word?

I am told that cursing is part of the rap genre and hip-hop artists are singing about where they came from and how they were raised. I get that. I read one teenager’s argument that profanity makes rap what it is. Again, I get it, but I don’t have to like the cursing, especially when my kid is singing along.

I wonder how it feels as a rapper to look at into the crowd at a concert and see teenage white kids among the sea of black fans singing your lyrics and hearing “nigga” coming out of their mouths like no big deal.

As a parent,  how do I  instill my son with a sense of historical perspective about this derogatory word while letting him enjoy and embrace a music genre becoming popular among his friend group?  There is no easy solution from my seat in the car and my son isn’t happy that I have banned him from saying any form of the n-word.

If you’re going through this battle over rap lyrics with your teenager, what approach have you taken?

When mom is the referee between teenage siblings

sibling rivalry


One evening when my children were young, I was cooking dinner when I heard a loud shriek coming from my son Jake’s bedroom.  “MOM, come here quick!” I ran across the house and expected blood or a broken bone. However when I arrived, I instead found my daughter trying to shove my son off the chair in front of the only computer we had in our house at the time.

“Mom tell Carly to let me finish my game,” he shrieked.

“Mom tell Jake he’s been on the computer long enough and it’s my turn now.”

Ugh, it was now on me referee sibling rivalry,  a job most mothers dread. So I did what most moms would do. I turned off the computer and told both kids to come help me cook dinner. End of argument.

Flash forward 10 years and I hear that familiar shriek again. “Mooommmm come quick!”

There  is no blood or broken bones or life threatening emergency, just three teenagers arguing over a set of car keys. Two of my teenagers are home from college, one is still in high school and all three want the car at the same time.

“Tell Jake I get the car now. My friends are waiting for me.”

“Tell Carly I need the car. I have a haircut appointment.”

“Tell them both the car is mine now and I want to use it.”

I am agitated. Once again I am expected to referee. With teenagers, it’s not as easy as turning off a computer. I want the arguing to stop!! I want to go back to scrolling through my Facebook feed, where everyone’s kids have smiles on and look like they get along fabulously!

I find myself trying to come up with a solution that will bring peace and harmony to my household and put an end to the fighting.  I pull out a calendar and start mapping out who can have the car on which days and at what times. I put my car in the collective driving pool on the days and times I don’t need it.  I am working in overdrive trying to make everyone happy and  make my kids participate in the negotiation/resolution process. This is when it dawns on me that this is why mothers make great bosses. We know how to work out conflicts. We have lots of practice.

As a seasoned mother, I have come to realize that sibling conflicts generally are a pretty typical and normal part of family life. At least I’d like to believe that is true. I also know by negotiating conflicts with their brothers or sisters, kids learn valuable skills for getting along with others in the real world.

I reluctantly acknowledge my job as referee is a lifetime position and my main goal is ensuring I don’t encourage sibling rivalry. Author Amy McCready says  reacting in a way that encourages sibling rivalry is a pretty common parenting mistake.

So I dangle the car keys in front of my teenagers like a reward, toss them on the counter, make some suggestions and leave it up to  them to figure out how they can all get where they need to go. Then, I slap the calendar we’ve created up on the wall and retreat to my home office. A few minutes later, I look out the window and see Carly and Jake drive off together in the car.

For now, there is a peace accord, a negotiated settlement. I am pleased, but realistic enough to know my referee skills will be called upon again, and it won’t be long until I hear the next “Mooommmm!”

Raising Teenagers Means Knowing When To Stay Quiet

parenting teenager means staying quiet


My friends and I have just made our way through the buffet line and are taking our seats at a round table. As I pull my chair back and sit, I notice my friend is staring at her daughter’s plate. I know she wants to say something about the lack of protein and abundance of starches she sees piled up, but she glances away, and quietly takes a sip of water.

Watching her, I understood what was going through her head. I have had many similar moments of silence — when I want to say so much, but don’t. By staying silent, I have preserved my relationship with my teenagers rather than blurting out words that they ignore, resent or respond to with anger.

When my older son was about 14, he had a wicked crush on a girl who seemed to be annoyed by his attention. On Valentine’s Day, he bought her silver heart earrings. Aren’t they nice? he said, putting the earrings in front of me. At that moment, I knew my son was going to give her the earrings no matter what I said. So I said “yes” and then stayed silent.

At so many different life moments, I have wanted to offer my teenagers suggestions that would save them from getting hurt, or warn them about friends who aren’t loyal or give an opinion on a love interest. But as I began to open my mouth, I realized my comments would be misconstrued or worse, cause my teens to go in an opposite direction just to show me they are their own persons. So as I have gained some teen-raising wisdom, I have started to recognize when to bite my tongue, avert my gaze and resist the instinct to blurt out what I am thinking.

Of course, there are times when I do speak up because staying quiet can create bigger problems. The challenge for a parent is knowing when to make that call.

Here are the times I think it’s okay to tell your teen what’s on your mind:

To tell them the risk or consequences of an action. Whether it’s drugs, drunk driving, cheating  on tests, or premarital sex, I think teens need to know the worst that could happen. 

To give them another option. If your know your teen is going to be at a party with alcohol I think it’s okay to say something like…”If the only option is getting into a car with a drunk driver, call me — I don’t care if it’s 2 in the morning.”

To remind them of the rules of your home. If you have a rule of “no doors closed when the opposite sex is in the room” it’s okay to say something when the rule isn’t being followed, even if it’s in the moment.

To address a lie. This is tricky because most teenagers tell their parents lies or just tell them half of the story. In an online poll of 1,000 teenagers, only 40 percent said they tell their parents the whole truth.  Some lies or half-truths can be ignored. Others can’t. I have had to drill down at times to get the whole story and then figure out what to say in a way that will encourage them to tell me the truth in the future.

Here are the scenarios in which I zip my lips and stay quiet.

To comment on anything related to body image. We all know teenagers are sensitive about their appearance, but somehow we can’t help doling out advice and giving our opinions. Usually, what we say or what advice we give is not taken well. 

To say something about one of their friends. This is super-dangerous territory and can easily go badly for a parent.

To comment on a romantic interest or boyfriend/girlfriend.  I have discovered your teen  can say something negative about their love interest. You cannot. And if you think you you can guide them toward being interested in someone you pick out for them, don’t go there.

To compare them with a sibling. Somehow almost every parent at some point falls prey to the temptation of comparing a child to their siblings. Don’t do it!

So many teenagers walk around saying they hate their parents or they can’t talk to their parents. Ugh…I don’t want that to be me. So now, I put a little thought into what I say and how I say it, and at those pivotal moments, I stay silent. (Here’s an article I like about Talking to Your Teen )

Parents, do you believe in staying silent at times? Has staying quiet helped, or made a situation worse with your teenager? 


How to Make the College Application Process Less Stressful

I am on the phone with a teenager, talking about her college applications when her father enters the room, makes a comment to her and the two begin fighting. Unfortunately, this scenario is not uncommon. If you have a high school senior, be ready for some arguments over college applications.

The college application process is stressful for teens and for their parents. Some of us have kids who are all in. They want to go to college and they want to get their applications done.  But even if they want to do it all by themselves, they get overwhelmed.

Then, there are the teens who aren’t motivated at all to fill out college applications. They aren’t sure whether they even want to go to college, or they just don’t want to put in the effort to apply.

In either scenario there is one thing in common: a stressed out parent!

I know because I have been that stressed out parent. As a writer, I wanted to help my older son with his common app essay. He refused to let me, or to even consider my suggestions. It led to some awful fights.

Most high school seniors are in the thick of the application process right now. What they quickly discover is that there is a LOT involved in the process. So parents, here are my five suggestions for holding onto your sanity during the process.


  1.  Prepare a list together. Work with your teen on a list of schools and make sure they are colleges or universities you an afford.  Ask your teen what major he or she is interested in or considering  and make sure the colleges on that list have that major. Once the list is made, put the responsibility in your teen’s hands for applying on time.
  2.  Don’t nag. Once your teen knows the deadlines, nagging only makes things more tense. It’s okay to check in every so often on progress, but it’s not okay to continually remind your teen that applications need to get done. It only creates tension. If your teen is independent enough to go to college, he or she should be able to get the application done by deadline — or ask for your help.
  3. Don’t get offended.  If your teen doesn’t take your advice or suggestions, it’s normal. If you want to give an opinion or make a suggestion, be prepared for your teen to dismiss what you have to say.
  4.  Be open to options.  If the application process becomes too contentious, back off. In the end, your teen needs to own it. Or, if your teen isn’t ready for college, don’t freak out. There are great vocational schools and certificate programs that can lead to high paying jobs.
  5.  Consider getting help. There are people who you can provide guidance, not just college advisors but sometimes teachers at your teen’s school or friends who are strong in grammar.  It’s amazing how when someone else tells your teen the exact same thing you do, they listen.

The college application process is a year long process of applying, getting accepting, making housing deposits and making a final choice. It’s a year where there may be lots of tears of frustration and elation – and almost always some arguments. Just hang in there! It will all work out!

So, what are your thoughts…..do you believe parents should be highly involved in the process, or do you believe in a completely hands off approach?

The teenage son haircut struggle..It’s real.


My son Matthew has beautiful curly wavy hair. When it is cut, it looks so good and makes him look so handsome. However, to get him to get a haircut is torture for both of us. The constant back and forth and  mother-son bickering is awful.

I just don’t understand why there is a struggle every time I ask him to get a haircut.   I even compromised and said he could just get his hair “trimmed.”  I was desperate. He still refused.

Recently, I texted him about getting a haircut and as you can see I didn’t win.  I guess I should be grateful that at least he will get his haircut before school starts












Sometimes I wonder if my son’s resistance is because how he looks and how he dresses represents his identity and that is the one thing he would like to control or have a say in.  Look, I get it, for teens, how you look should be up to you and your appearance is your choice, but I also think you mom or dad should have a little say in it, right?

I am curious to find out if any other parents have had the same struggle. If so, how have you resolved the haircut battle?


Should a Teen Sleep Over a Boyfriend’s or Girlfriend’s House?

Nearly two years ago I (Raquel) wrote a blog that surprised me as it resulted in the largest response I had ever had. The topic? Should teens that are dating be allowed to sleep at each other’s house and have a boyfriend/girlfriend teen sleepover? This blog post resulted in almost 150 comments, from parents and teens!

I honestly can say I did not expect such a huge response. But I was so happy to touch upon a subject that clearly needed to be talked about. I sure hope I helped some parents and teens with this difficult conversation. Given the high level of interest in this, I thought it was worthy of sharing a Top 10 list from the interesting feedback I received from teens and parents.

Original post from March 2014

Is it okay for boyfriend/girlfriend to sleep over at each other’s house?

My daughter recently went over to her boyfriend’s house last Saturday night to hang out like she has done in the past. I fell asleep and realized she wasn’t home and it was past her curfew. I looked on my phone and found messages from her saying she is sleeping over at her girlfriend’s house.  I am a bit upset over the fact she didn’t ask permission and I know she is lying!

I asked her why she didn’t ask me prior to now and she said she fell asleep. More lies. I decided I would let her stay over her “girlfriend’s” house knowing very well she is probably at her boyfriend’s. I knew arguing at this time of night wasn’t going to get me anywhere so I said we would talk about this in the morning when she comes home.

Next morning comes around and like I suspected she stayed at her boyfriend’s house! I was extremely upset because we had this discussion before and I am totally against it, as is her father. She tells me that she doesn’t understand what the big deal is? “Lots of parents let their kids stay at their boyfriend’s house.”

I said, “Well, it’s not okay with this parent.” She said my reasoning did not help her understand why it was wrong or inappropriate because she found nothing wrong with it. They weren’t doing anything and they are 17.

How do I talk to a teen rationally about this? I am spitting nails and fuming. My daughter would not let go of the fact that there is nothing wrong with the sleepover and that it’s not wrong.

So, I am asking… Am I wrong? Do you allow your teen to sleep over at their boyfriend/girlfriend’s homes? Have times changed THAT much? I need someone to please help me understand this or at least help me make my daughter understand.

I did explain to her that sometimes in life, just because we don’t think it’s not inappropriate or wrong, doesn’t mean it isn’t. There isn’t always a logical reason.

That same day my husband called my daughter’s boyfriend’s dad and told him that she was not allowed to sleep over and unless he hears it from us, don’t believe it is okay with us.

I mean, really? These teens nowadays have found a way to basically make everything a battle. Sleepover with boyfriends? Yay or Nay?

Top 10 Things I Learned After Reading Feedback on My Original Post:

  1. Talk with your child not TO your child. Sometimes simple conversations can go a long way with building a relationship with your teen.
  2. Listen to your child. You may not agree with what they say but give them a chance to talk to you if you want the same courtesy back.
  3. Be realistic. Teens of today are not the same from when we were teens so because you did not do it does not mean they should not. Don’t have expectations that your teen may not live up to.
  4. Do not judge.  You are not a bad person and you will not be punished if you allow your son or daughter to sleep over at their boyfriend/girlfriend’s house.
  5. Teens are not sleeping over their boyfriend/girlfriend’s house for sex. They can have sex anytime. They just want to be able to relax the way they cannot at home.
  6. Teens need to respect and trust parents first! Parents want what is best for their teen and that may be not letting them “play house” at 17 or 18. So, until you are an adult and get your own place, parent’s house…parents rules.
  7. Communicate  and compromise. Consider compromising with your teens so they do not have to lie and go behind your back. Better to know where your teens are and that they are safe than to not know.
  8. Trust your teen. If you have taught them about right from wrong and good from bad, then trust that your teen will make smart choices and will be honest with you on not about just sleeping over at their boyfriend/girlfriend’s house, but on bigger issues.
  9. Teach your kids values and respect. That is more important than controlling them or allowing them to be a part of a sleepover.. Teens hate to feel controlled. They just want to be able to have some freedom.
  10.  Be realistic. Teens of today are not the same from when we were teens so because you did not do it does not mean they should not. Don’t have expectations that your teen may not live up to. In this article, the author explains that one of the key skills to parenting is to guide your kids without trying to control them. They will make mistakes, but you can help them learn from them.

When mom tells her teen daughter she is fat


I am at Starbuck’s and I’m eavesdropping. I hate to admit that I would do such a thing,  but I just can’t help it. The teens sitting at the table next to me are talking loud and the conversation has lured me in.  “I love your mom,” one of the teenage girls says to the other. “She’s so cool.”  Now, instead of taking the compliment, the other girl replies, “Oh yeah, well this morning my mom told me I was fat.”

I listen as she explains further.  The girl continues on. “My mom asked me to go to the gym with her in the mornings before school. Can you believe that?”  “Really?” asks her friend, sounding horrified. “Yeah, of course I’m not going to go. I don’t have time for that,” she says.

I glance over and from where I was sitting it looks like the young teen girl is  average weight. Sure, the Frappuccino she is drinking isn’t doing anything to trim her waistline, but she by no means seemed overweight. As I sat there taking it all in, I realized that what I did not hear in the conversation was any mention that the girl’s mother had actually said her daughter was fat. She merely invited her to go with her to the gym.

As a mother of a teen daughter, I have learned discussing body issues is dangerous.  Teen girls are super sensitive about their bodies and bringing up the topic of weight is tricky. This girl apparently read more in her mother’s invitation to join her at the gym — whether or not the mother intended it that way. Unfortunately, I could relate. One day I suggested my daughter eat something other than the cupcake she was about to put in her mouth. My comment sparked tears and she insisted I called her fat. I tried to convince her I was just trying to teach her about making healthier eating choices.

As a society, we’ve gotten a little better about expecting females to be stick thin throughout their lives. But for teen girls, carrying extra weight can be difficult mentally and physically. It’s something many mothers worry about. So how exactly do you as a parent handle it when you see your daughter packing on pounds?  Do you say something and risk that she will rebel? Do you couch it in a caring way and avoid the word fat? Do you ignore it completely?

And, what do you do when your daughter says, “I hate my fat thighs?” Is there any right answer?

I have found a well-meaning conversation that’s just about weight or dieting, especially in the heat of the moment, can backfire.  Instead, I noticed conversations go more smoothly when you plan out what you’ll say before you say it, so you don’t cause your daughter to get defensive or worse, develop an eating disorder.   What has worked for me is to talk with my daughter about healthful eating, and how to balance that with exercise.

Lots of teen girls are just figuring out moderation and  what “eating healthy” really means. My friend’s daughter gained a good bit of weight her freshman year of college. My friend was upset and wondered if she should say something. She worried that speaking up would hurt their relationship.  But then, on her own, my friend’s daughter realized that eating late at night can make you put on weight and that skipping breakfast made her ravenous at lunchtime.  She began eating healthier and lost the weight. My friend felt  her daughter needed to figure it out herself and the approach worked. But it doesn’t always play out that way.

As a parent, none of this is easy.  I have found it helps, though, when you make your teen daughter well aware of your unconditional love. Have you ever talked to your teen daughter about her weight? Why do you think so many teen girls walk around saying, “My mother thinks I fat?”


Mom versus Gramma

When your teens were babies, it was great having your mother-in-law or mom help you out.  As  you well know, you can never have enough help when you have a baby. The more hands the better.

Over the years, you appreciate the help, the babysitting, the spoiling with gifts etc. But, as your children become teens, the dynamics change and it becomes  mom vs. gramma. Often,  when your teen doesn’t like the rules or gets angry with you, he or she will call Gramma.  In other words, they don’t need to stay at home because they have Gramma’s house. Gramma will take my side. Gramma will make me feel better. Gramma will listen and understand.

That’s all fine and good UNTIL Gramma undermines mom and sides with your teen and enables your teen in a way that it justifies his or her disrespectful behavior. Basically, your teen wants someone to side with them and who better than Gramma.

Well, what your teen doesn’t realize is he or she should never underestimate mom. In the end, SHE IS YOUR MOM, Gramma is NOT. She will win, trust me.

Using Gramma against mom is not smart and Gramma should know that her  job should be to talk with your teen and reason with him or her to see what mom and dad  are trying to communicate or what lesson they are trying to teach.

What will make it worse is when Gramma starts fighting with mom because she agrees with your teen! Really? Who is the adult? Who is the teen? Now mom, has two people to deal with but,  mother-in-law dearest or mom should know better. How would they like it if you  or your husband did that when you were a child. It’s ridiculous that you now have to reason with your mother-in-law or mom when you shouldn’t have to! You have a teen to deal with!

Remember that help they gave you when your teen was a baby? Well, they certainly aren’t doing it now!

So, parents, teens, does this sound familiar? Do you have a mother-in-law/mom that makes matters worse? Do your teens run to Gramma whenever things get tough at home? What do you do to resolve this?


Video games are driving me crazy!

boys on xbox

“Get that guy! Nice shot! These phrases along with other yells and screams have been the background noise of my home this summer.

Video games are driving me crazy!

For some reason, when my sons have friends over, video games become the immediate entertainment. I know there is some benefit: it must help with hand eye coordination.  There may even be skill involved. It’s just that there so much noise from the soundtrack of the games and from  kids screaming at the screen that it makes me insane. Then, there’s the arguing about who gets the control next and who had the highest score.

It’s not only the actual playing into the wee hours of the night that’s driving me crazy. It’s the content, too.

Video games have been at the center of conflict between me and my sons this summer. Recently, my 14 year-old-son, Garret, and I had a battle at GameStop. He wanted to buy an M-rated video game and needed my permission. I asked the guy who works there why the game is rated M. He explained it is because of the extreme violence and scantily clad women with  big breasts jiggling committing destructive acts of terror. We left the store without the game!

The next day, I overhead my son plotting with his now 18-year-old brother, Jake, to take him to GameStop. It sent me on a rampage, screaming at my sons and asking why these games need to be so violent and why they need to feature half-naked women .  I have to give it to Jake, he explained it to me in terms I could easily understand. “Mom, their target market is horny 18-year-old boys!”

Action games with big battles are incredibly exciting, but it seems like the video game industry assumes girls don’t play them. There are not many female heroes in games. In a lot of video games, the default character is a guy. If you want to play as a female character, it’s not easy. Often you have to pay. That makes me furious. My boys don’t seem to be bothered by that — at all.

Last year, when I moved my daughter into her college dorm, I noticed the boys across the hall had not unpacked a single item of clothing or even made up their beds. Instead, they were deeply engrossed in playing Xbox. I recognized the  sounds coming from their room: “No way! You’ve got to be kidding me! That’s bullshit!” …. I turned to my daughter and said, “I guess Xbox even follows teens to college!”

Recently, when the sounds of explosions and gunfire from Xbox had give me a giant headache, I told my sons and their friends to go outside and play basketball or good old-fashioned hide and seek. Their response was to continue playing. It seems these all-consuming video games make it difficult to hear a mother’s voice.

Now school starts and we go back to homework and activities, the Xbox will go into hibernation mode. I will miss the lack of routine, but I will not miss the sounds that emanated from my playroom this summer. I realize I can’t fight the video game generation or the superfans the video game developers are targeting, but I can insist that school and homework come first. Most importantly, I have a shot at restoring some peace and quiet at home and I plan to take it. Score one for mom!

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