Raising Teens

A site for parents of teens striving for sanity

Category: Parent Teen Relationships (page 1 of 2)


I long for the days of being a teenager and looking forward to spring break. Right about now, most teens are exhausted, crabby and tired of school. My son complains almost every day about how much work teachers are piling on and how other students are becoming annoying.  As a parent, I can tell you I’m suffering along with him as we head into the final stretch of the school year. Spring break can’t come soon enough!

I admit,  I’m looking forward to spring break as much as my teenagers.

My daughter, Carly, is a college senior. I can’t wait to spend time with her. If there’s anything I have learned over my years of parenting teenagers it is to use spring break wisely. Whether or not you have something planned for spring break, give your teenager time to unwind. Having some down time can make a big difference in the month of May and June when the end-of-the-school-year is a crazy blur of banquets, final exams, awards ceremonies and recitals.

I have learned firsthand that making time during spring break for one-on-one with your teen goes a long way. Recently, I was talking with my friend Maria, whose four children are now in their 20s. We were discussing the baby and toddler years vs. the teen years. She said something that struck me. The teen years, she said, are so much more important. They are your chance to establish trust and communication. Once your teen graduates from high school, the things they come to you to discuss have much bigger life implications. If you have that relationship, your opinions hold more weight.  When she said that, I realized how true it is.

My bonding strategy

We all know teens don’t really view spring break as a  time to hang out with their parents. (Who wants to be seen on the beach with mom, right?) Teens see it as a break from school and a chance to “just chill” and hang out with friends.

Clearly, OUR idea of spring break isn’t watching our teen spend days focused on some variation of a screen (video games, social media, texting, tv, taking selfies, etc.) while stretched on the couch eating junk food. That can get so frustrating! So can being the parent who turns into the house nag.   As social worker Dori Mages notes, “If the point of spring break is to relax and have fun together, then make sure it isn’t an excuse to spend time reminding them of a laundry-list of “to do’s” such as homework, chores, the overdue thank-you note to grandma, or questioning their fluctuating moods or silences. ”

That’s why I plan to be strategic this spring break. Doing an activity with teenagers doesn’t have to be expensive. And, they don’t even need to know I am plotting to get one-on-one time.  This spring break, I am suggesting my daughter help cook her favorite dessert with me. I am offering my youngest son to go on a bike ride with me to get an icee from 7-Eleven. Think small activities that your teen with enjoy as much as you will.

Even working parents can make bonding time

I realize some parents work during their teenagers’ spring break. Still, all of us can find a way to spend an hour bonding in some creative way. It could be as simple as staying up a little later and watching a movie with your teen. Go for it parents, you won’t regret it!

Whether you are traveling for spring break or just hanging around town, spring break is the perfect time for creating new memories, or just figuring out what’s going on in your teen’s head. Before we know it it will be summer. We just need to survive the next few months!


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How to Parent a Teenager Whose Personality Differs From Yours

As parents, we recognize how each of our children are different, or similar. Sometimes our personality is so different from our child’s that it is challenging to relate. So, when Jeannette Rivera-Lyles proposed an blog post on raising an introvert, I LOVED the idea. As a mom, I have struggled with how to relate to an introvert. Jeannette tells us her experience and brings in an expert. I think you will enjoy her post.


parenting an introverted teenager

Jeannette and her two teenage sons




Your Teen’s Introversion is Just Who He is, Embrace it

By: Jeannette Rivera-Lyles

If you are parenting an introverted teenager, chances are you often feel like you’d do better if you could read minds or even tea leaves. Either one could offer more insight into what’s going on inside his head than asking “How are you?”.

I know it because if have an introverted 15-year-old son, James. He spends lots of time in his room drawing or playing in his computer, prefers to socialize with a small group of friends, and often can be a complete enigma as he is not one to verbalize his thoughts regularly.

At times, I have been worried about him. I have feared the possibility that his behavior may stem from depression or insecurity. But for the most, though, he seems happy, is caring, eats and sleeps well, and is a good student who stays on top of an overwhelming amount of homework. So, I reached out to my friend Dr. Kathy McHugh, an Orlando-based licensed psychologist who treats adolescents, to help me sort out what is going on.

Here’s the takeaway from Dr. McHugh:

  1. Introverts draw their energy from solitude. They are depleted by too much external stimulus and thrive in reflection and solitude. By contrast, extraverts’ energy is increased by spending time in busy, stimulating places often with lots of people. Understanding this difference is key. Resist the urge to force your introvert teen out of his room or to make him socialize more than he wants. “Wanting to be alone isn’t the same as withdrawing, which could be a sign of depression,” Kathy said. “If he has dinner with the family, comes out to watch a TV show with his siblings and participates in family activities, he’s not withdrawing but seeking time alone. This is how an introvert decompresses and recharges.”
  2. Do not try to change an introvert. This is not a phase, it’s who they are. Let them know you respect that. There’s a false notion that a healthy teenager is only the one who socializes regularly, has tons of friends and is involved in many activities. This just isn’t true, Kathy explained. “It is just as fine to be a reserved person, who enjoys introspection, and prefers to have just a few friends with whom to share meaningful connections,” she said.
  3. Allow an introvert to decompress first before attempting conversation. When she arrives home from school, after hours with hundreds of kids and loud hallways, she’s likely craving time alone. This may not be the best time to start asking questions. Your introverted teenager may be more responsive if you engage her in conversation after she’s had some time alone. And when she opens up, don’t interrupt while she’s talking.
  4. Be aware that intelligence, wisdom and success aren’t exclusive to extraverted personalities. Some of the most successful introverts in history include Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, J.K. Rowling and Meryl Streep, according to Inc. Magazine.

A teenager’s introversion may be problematic at times for me and you as parents, but not for the teen. I have learned to be patient, take the time to look at things from my son’s perspective. To do this, we may need to allowing our teen to spend more time secluded in his room. My son, like many other introverts, see his room as a peaceful haven. I’ve learned that it is okay for him to spend extended periods of time behind closed doors, as long as I know what he is doing and that he is safe. I drop by periodically to check on him, and use the opportunity to allow him to have a private space that everyone in the family respects.

One more thing, our introverted teens must be ready for a world in which at least 75% of individuals are extroverts. I realize I can’t  shield my son from the different personalities types in his environment. I am very much an extrovert and I have found that sharing with James my personality needs (I like people, parties, music) and how these things fill me with joy and positive energy, helps him understand the uniqueness and positive attributes of both approaches.

Have faith. Your introverted teenager can thrive and accomplish as successfully as any outgoing kid. I truly believe it!

Jeannette Rivera-LylesAbout Jeannette Rivera-Lyles: Jeannette is a born storyteller. She knew that she wanted to write professionally as early as the first grade and she followed her dream. Jeannette is the founder of Accent Communications, a strategic communications consulting firm in Central Florida. Previously, she worked in print and broadcast journalism at places like the NBC News Channel,  El Nuevo Herald and The Miami Herald and the Orlando Sentinel. Additionally, Jeannette has freelanced for BBC Mundo, Florida Politics.com, AhoraMismo.com, and MSN Latino. Jeannette enjoys the challenges of parenting two teenage boys, ages 13 and 15. She also loves wine, foreign films and taking naps in the backyard.


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!


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? 


Should teenagers have a technology curfew?

teenager on cellphone


Oh the joys of being a parent in the digital age!

When we were teens, our parents only had to worry about whether to implement a curfew for us to arrive home from nights out with friends. Now,  as parents of teens,  there is a debate over whether to give a “technology curfew.”  Should you force your teenager to power down electronics at a certain time of night?

At the gym this morning, a few moms got to talking about our weekends. One mom confessed she spent the whole weekend battling with her son over how much he plays Xbox. At 1:30 in the morning, she insisted he get off Xbox and go to bed. But he said the phrase most mothers know well. “Okay mom, in a minute.” The mom said finally, her husband used some app on his phone to disable the Xbox. (That sounded really cool to me!)

Of course, her son was mid-game and went crazy. She said he spent the next hour yelling and trying to restore the game. ( I can just picture what that looks like, can you?)

“I don’t mind my son unwinding on the weekends, but when he stays up late, he ‘s grumpy the next day or wants to sleep to noon and half the weekend is gone,” the mom said.

Another mom who was part of the conversation said her 13-year-old daughter was up at 1:30 a.m. over the weekend  on the House Party app on her phone, talking to a bunch of friends. This mother also had battled with her daughter about powering down and going to bed.

I can relate to these moms. Sometimes late at night, I think my son is sleeping and I hear noise. “What the heck is going on? “I ask myself.  When I go into his room, I find him watching videos on his Instagram feed and cracking up.  “Go to bed,” I say, and what do you think the response is?   “In a minute mom.”

Sure, our kids need chill time, and since they find electronics their entertainment, I’m all for letting them use their phones for video games or to join a “House Party.” I get that their social lives today revolve around electronics.

Still, I understand the frustrations of these gym moms. I have gone to bed many times with a hoard of boys gathered around the TV in the playroom screaming at the characters on the screen in their video game.  And yes, I have contemplated implementing an electronics curfew.

According to The Seattle Times,  our teenagers may need our help powering down. Self-control is not fully developed in teen brains, so it can be hard for teenagers to voluntarily turn off a video game or  close out of Instagram, the article said. One expert said giving teenagers smartphones without any restrictions is like offering them an unlimited supply of Häagen Dazs ice cream and telling them not to eat too much.

A typical “technology curfew”  requires teens to put on their phones on chargers in their parents’ rooms or kitchens at 9 or 10 p.m. to prevent them from losing sleep to  late night text conversations or videos.

So, if any of you have tried a technology curfew, how did it work out? What do you think is a reasonable time for electronics to be shut down, and does it differ on weeknights and weekends?

Back to School: A Parent’s Guide to High School


Yesterday, I was talking to a friend whose daughter starts high school today. Even on the phone, I could hear the angst in her voice. I am remember that angst well. There is a lot to worry about during the high school years and it’s a little scary for parents. So, here is a guide to help you, the parent, survive the next four years. These are my 10 best tips.

1. Your child will be more stressed than in middle school. In high school, classes are more difficult, workload is more intense, teacher expectations are higher. Some teens handle the stress better than others. You may need to step in and come up with ways to help your teen cope. When meltdowns happen, they usually are late at night. Do what it takes to smoothe things over and get your teen to go to bed.

2.   In high school, people are annoying.  Your teen will come home and talk about how much he or she is annoyed by some teacher, classmate, friend, or maybe even by you. That’s just the way it is. Don’t take it personally.

3. Phones play a bigger than ever role. Teens take pictures of assignments, share homework, look up answers and of course socialize on their phones. Just get used to your teens staring at their screens.

4. You likely will NOT get the whole story. When teens hit the high school years, they start to keep information from their parents. You may hear part of the story, but it’s normal for teens to hold back.

5. Lunch is when big things happen. Arguments, relationships, friendships, cheating…the beginnings of these activities tend to start during lunch. If you are going to ask your teen about his or her day, pay attention to what went on at lunch time.

6. Teachers prefer students to resolve their own issues. There is nothing wrong with parents interceding when a situation gets out of hand, but in high school it’s best to let your teenager try to fix an issue on his or her own first.

7. You don’t get to choose your teenagers’ friends. This is a tough one for parents to accept, especially for moms who made playdates for their kids or organized sleepovers. In high school they choose their own friends and they may choose some you don’t like.

8. These next four years can get expensive. First there is the clothing. Then there is the car, insurance and gas. There also are class rings, homecomings, proms, clubs fees, club fundraisers, sports fees and uniform costs, entrance to football games, and supplies like computers and calculators.  Without realizing it, the costs add up. You may want to budget for additional costs or talk to your teens about contributing  for the items they consider most important.

9. If your teens says something you do is nerdy, believe them. My daughter reminds me that I wanted to drive her up to  the front of the school and she insisted it was nerdy. Apparently it took me about a week to understand that the further away I dropped her from the front, the better.

10.  Every year of high school counts. Encourage your teen to do his or her best every year. Colleges look at rigor, grades and activities starting freshman year. If your teen is not doing well in a course, try to catch it early and get him or her a free in-school tutor or request a transfer into another course.

High school can be as challenging for parents as it is for their children. Hang in there! You will be surprised at how fast four years fly by!

Why mothers of teenagers worry so much


I am on the phone with the mother of a three-year-old when she tells me that her son wants to play with her keys all the time. “I’m worried that maybe he doesn’t have enough toys,” she says. I suppress a laugh when she tells me this because I’m quite sure her toddler has plenty of toys but prefers the keys. I’m also quite sure that worrying over his play choices is the beginning of a long list of things this mother will fret about.

In most households, mom is the designated worrier. From the day a mother holds her little bundle of joy, the worrying begins, as does the expenditure of emotional energy on concerns that will seem both deranged and justified.

The worrying manifests in ways unimaginable to our former selves, and turn us into people we don’t recognize.  As our children grow, so does the list of things we moms obsess about. When are children are young, we  worry about school. Is my child making friends? Does he have a learning disability? Is he reading on grade level? These questions become the topic of conversation with friends, family and other mothers. Each Facebook post by another parent raises questions about our own child’s progress.

But it’s the tween and teen years that send our anxiety into overdrive. Along with adolescence comes drama. As mothers, we must decipher between real problems and normal teenage behavior. We worry about our teenagers’ choice of friends, whether they are lying about their whereabouts, whether their grades are good enough to get into college, whether mental health issues are a concern or just normal teenage moodiness. Of course, we worry about the mundane behavior too — boys spending too much time playing video games and girls being left out.

As the new school year kicks in, the typical threats that our parents agonized about — sex, drugs and alcohol — still are top of mind, but now there are additional concerns because of technology, higher academic pressures and gun violence. Each time we listen to the news, we learn more about cyberbullying, distracted driving, sexting and sex offenders using social networking sites — contemporary risks that scare the heck out of us. Social media posts about teen suicide or young drivers killed while texting and driving send our anxiety soaring. For some of us, high school is as nerve wracking for us as it is for our teens.

Now as Labor Day approaches, many moms are confronting the college drop off, an experience fraught with panic. Our minds are racing with questions such as …Will my teen ever wash his bedsheets or do his laundry? We also wonder about bigger concerns such as…Does my teen understand the risks of binge drinking or the prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases? Does my teen know the difference between consensual sex and assault?

Social media feeds our natural inclination to fret.  As one mom said to me: “You go on the Internet, and it fuels your fears when you see images and read posts of all the stuff that is happening.”

In his book Worried All the Time: Overparenting in an Age of Anxiety and How to Stop It, child and family therapist David Anderegg makes the case that today’s parents are taking worrying to an unhealthy extreme. He argues that they worry too much about the everyday aspects of parenting, and says good parenting is about moderation and empathy.

To be fair, it is not just mothers who worry about their kids. Of course, fathers worry too. However, mothers seem to carry more of the emotional burden. In most households, we still are the primary caregiver, the parent who stresses about the logistics and the gender that most often gets judged over our parental decisions.

As my two older children leave for college, I want them  to be independent, to make wise decisions and to function on their own without my help.  I know as a parent, I can try to keep my teenagers safe, healthy and on a path toward total independence.  But it’s really in their hands. At some point, I will have to stop worrying,  but for now, I just don’t think I can. I have gotten pretty darn comfortable with being mom the worrier.


A Dad’s Perspective on Helping Teen Boys Reach Their Potential

Are you a frustrated parent  whose teen boy comes across as lazy or too busy with video games to give you his attention?

In honor of Father’s Day, we have a guest blogger who is a dad and a psychologist with a practice in New York City and New Jersey. If you’re a father (or mother) of a teen boy, Dr. Adam Price offers some extremely helpful tips for averting clashes with your son, especially during the summer months. I hope you find his insight as useful as we do.

–Cindy and Raquel (moms of teen boys)

The first things that comes to mind about boys and summer is to let them enjoy it. I often get concerned when parents say they want to make sure their sons’ don’t lose ground over the summer, and enroll them in academic enrichment courses, test prep courses, etc. There are some wonderful programs at college for students, but it has to be something the teen wants to do.

Kids are under so much pressure these days, and I really think they need time to decompress. That being said, they still need structure and supervision. A few weeks of sleeping late and lazing around is ok, but a few months is too much.

A summer job can be a great opportunity for a young man to take responsibility, feel effective in something other than school, and learn a little about ‘real life.’ So many boys I have worked with who have struggled in school really thrive at a job, even if it is scooping ice cream or working construction. If no job is available perhaps parents can pay their son’s to take on a project at home. One summer a friend and I painted my parent’s house. Not my favorite summer, but it worked out.

Depending on a family’s budget there are also many wonderful opportunities for travel, camp, etc. However, colleges are less impressed by a teenager whose parents paid for them to travel the world than one who went on a church-sponsored community service trip. One young man I worked with went on a Habitat for Humanity program and learned that some of the families he worked with lived on less money than his parents gave him each month.

If you are pushing your son this summer and he comes across as lazy,  you must realize that the phenomenon that presents itself as teenage apathy can have many sources, including adolescent psychology, parenting styles, family dynamics and sometimes learning disabilities. Laziness is not on the list. Calling your son “lazy” will only make him more oppositional than he already is. Here are a few other parental habits worth breaking (and summer is a great time to start!)

Stop telling your son how smart he is. Better to praise him for working hard. My son has 15 soccer trophies sitting on his shelf, most of them earned just for showing up to practice, a vestige of the 1960s self-esteem movement. Constantly telling children they are good at something actually discourages them from trying harder at it.

Stop doing the dishes for him.  Teens are not helped when parents take care of household chores because their children are “too busy” with homework, sports, a summer job or other activities. Treating teens like royalty whose only job is to bring honor to the family gives them an unrealistic message about life. Successful people tend to be those who are willing and able to do things that they really don’t want to do.

Don’t let him off easy. Clinical psychologist Wendy Mogul has written that it is easier for parents to feed, shelter and clothe their children than it is for them to set effective limits. But not enforcing consequences for the indolent teenage boy reinforces the notion, yet again, that he is special, and that the rules of the world do not apply to him.

Don’t make him shine for you. In a culture where teenagers scramble to amass credentials and gain admission to the best colleges is more intense than ever, being considered average or even a little above has become unacceptable. But by overlooking the good in the quest for the perfect, parents saddle children with unrealistic expectations. A college counselor know likes to say that a good college is one that fits your kid, not one whose name adds class to your car’s rear window.  Think about this during the summer months and let your teen boy be a teen boy. Most important, you be the parent who teaches him how to grow up.

To learn more, check out Dr. Adam Price’s Book on Amazon, He’s Not Lazy: Empowering Your Son to Believe In Himself.

13 Reasons Why Not (Preventing Teen Suicide)

My daughter, Olivia, recently told me about the Netflix show “Thirteen Reasons Why which is based on a novel about a young teenage girl who commits suicide and leaves 13 letters behind to explain the 13 reasons why she did it. This show is somewhat disturbing, but yet so real and mesmerizing. It’s a subject no parent wants to talk about because it is incomprehensible to think of a child committing suicide, but face it, suicide is VERY real! Ignoring or avoiding the subject could cost your child his or her life.

I have to admit, there were times I worried about Olivia.  Four years ago, Olivia had a friend in high school she knew through her soccer team, Bailey Leal.  I remember meeting Bailey at the end-of-year high school  soccer awards dinner. At the dinner, Bailey was awarded  an iron for being the “iron girl” of the varsity team.  I remember thinking, “WOW, how cool is that to get an “iron” award!”  Little did I know how Bailey would be impacting mine and Olivia’s  lives, not to mention thousands of others.

On May 21, 2013, I received a text from Olivia saying Bailey Leal committed suicide. I remember thinking, “This must be a mistake. How can this be? ” I also remember thinking the bigger question.. “WHY?? ”

Within minutes, the news about Bailey’s suicide was all over our town. Teens  were devastated and parents were numb. Olivia at the time was going through her own personal problems and this did not help. Olivia could not comprehend WHY Bailey would do this? I remember her telling me , “Mom, she was beautiful, popular, everyone loved her. She was an All-American soccer star and got a  perfect score on the ACT. She had it all Mom. Why did she take her life?”

Olivia, couldn’t understand if Bailey had ALL of this going for her, what could be so awful that her only solution would be to end her life.  Little did I know how fragile Olivia was and how badly this would affect her.

There were times Olivia couldn’t go to school. She couldn’t handle her emotions inside and was afraid of herself and what she was feeling. Bailey’s death brought all kinds of feelings to the surface. It made what she was feeling and thinking REAL and at the same time it scared her to death.  This changed my world as well because I didn’t know how to deal with teen suicide and what the signs were and how to talk to Olivia about it. She was suffering and I didn’t know how to get through to her and help her.

Bailey’s death brought everyone together in the community, teens, parents, families. They even created a club at school  called the HOPE club so kids can  get together and talk about what they are feeling and deal  those feelings together, no judgment. These teens had no idea how  Bailey’s suicide would affect them.  I know many parents became afraid that their child would be next. Bailey’s death brought awareness of how  thoughts of suicide can hide behind a smile, a laugh, a hug.

The point of my blog is to keep Bailey’s spirit alive through awareness of Mental Illness. Not every parent can recognize the signs because  teens are really good at hiding them. So  as a parent of a teen, what should you do?

Talk to your teen!! If he or she doesn’t want to talk to you, suggest they talk to someone else.  Not every teen has thoughts of committing suicide, but it’s okay to talk to them about it because they may know someone who they think does. Ignorance will not save anyone. It’s okay if your child is not okay. It is up to us, the parents, to be as involved in our teens’ lives as possible, even when they don’t want us to be.

Sad enough,  teens are committing suicide because they didn’t seek any help or they felt no one could help them. They are literally suffering inside in their own hell. Parents think their child is fine or  just moody or going through a hormone stage.  That may not be true. Your teen may be suffering from depression, anxiety,  bipolar disorder. But without really talking to them or getting them help,  you won’t know   until it is too late.

I have attached a video that was created for the one-year anniversary of Bailey’s death. I have to warn you, it will break your heart.  You will cry. I sometimes wonder how Bailey’s family got thought her death. How did they even want to wake up in the morning?  What I can tell you is that they did. It wasn’t easy, I am sure. And, I bet every day is a struggle. But Bailey’s mom is now an advocate for mental health and keeps her daughter’s memory alive through education and awareness of teen suicide.  I am in awe of her because as a mom, I don’t know if I would be as strong as she has been. So, all you moms and dads and teens who are reading this blog, I hope this opens your eyes  to mental illness and teen suicide and prevention.

I thought I would end with the 13 Reasons Why Not to commit suicide:

  1. You are not alone
  2. The pain can go away without committing suicide
  3. There is help
  4. The world needs you
  5. No one can replace you
  6. You will be missed
  7. It will make things worse for the people/family you leave behind
  8. Friends and family will be devastated
  9. Your life hasn’t even begun
  10. You can save someone’s life
  11. You are bigger than the problem
  12. You did not come this far in life to end it so tragically and so early.
  13. You are worth more and loved more than you think.
raquelmalderman@gmail.com has shared a video with you on YouTube





Remembering Bailey


by William Holden

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Mother feels jealous over son’s girlfriend

It’s  Video  Friday on our RaisingTeens Facebook page. In honor of Mother’s Day we explore a mom’s reaction to her son’s love of another woman (girl).

Can you relate to how Raquel is feeling? What was it like for you when your son got his first girlfriend?

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