Posts Tagged ‘teens’

Getting Out of Trouble is Harder than Staying Out

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Our teenagers are trying to learn something that we, as adults, have yet to master. That is the ability to deal with peer pressure. As adults, we know that some people are likable but not desirable. We know how to appreciate their finer points without making them our best friend.     We have a nice little treasure chest of excuses that we pull out when we need to avoid a potentially sticky situation. Sometimes, we can’t really pinpoint what it is about a person or situation that makes us uncomfortable but we’ve learned to trust our instincts. We’ve learned that getting ourselves out of trouble is a lot harder than just staying out to begin with.

If you have teenagers, can I suggest that giving them a list of ‘red flags’ to watch out for can help them combat peer pressure? We parents have a tendency to concede defeat with our teenagers when it comes to drinking, smoking, drug use, inappropriate language and sexual experimentation. We decide they’re all going to do it so why fight. The answer to that question is obvious. These are our children. They are worth more than anything else we have in our lives so taking a stand for them and with them is worth every negative they can throw at us when we do. Let your children know the things you see as possible problems. Tongue rings, nose rings, tattoos, suggestive clothing, the lovely (not) aroma of cigarette smoke, cocky attitudes, disrespect toward authority figures – all of these things can be seen as ‘red flags’. Let your child know that others who display these banners of rebellion are not people you will tolerate in their lives. Once they walk out that door, you can’t be certain they will follow your directions but you will, at least, have given them tools to help them choose friends wisely.

Then, take that one additional step of showing them that they can politely smile at anyone. They can treat anyone with courtesy. They just don’t have to hang out with them. Help them start their own, personal treasure chest of excuses. Give them the first excuse they can use. The one that says ‘my parents don’t allow me to __________ (fill in the blank).’ If their friends (or should we say acquaintances) taunt them about the desire to obey, teach them to point out that the parents are the ones with the cash and the car keys and we don’t share with our children who don’t obey. Teach your children that there are consequences to giving in to peer pressure. The consequences from parents who love them is significantly less painful and of shorter duration than the consequences life can hand them.

Our teenagers are not always as loving to us as we would like them to be but they’re still OUR teenagers and we still love them. We also still hurt for them when they hurt. To help them avoid hurt, teach them to recognize people and situations that are problematic. Make sure they have the tools to avoid those things. They might not decide to use them but, then again, they might!

Talk to Me!

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

The other day, my granddaughter made a very serious comment to me. It was one of those ‘see the world through the eyes of a child’ moments. I smiled because it was so delightful to see reality as a six-year-old. If, as an adult, she remembers that statement, she will realize how silly her perceptions were but for now, this was an important, deadly serious observation she was sharing with me. She resented my smile! She demanded to know why I was smiling. Experience allowed me to recognize the sensitivity she was feeling at my reaction. Maturity allowed me to quickly cover my mistake with the statement, ‘because you are so wonderful. I love to hear what you think!’ In days gone by, I probably would have said something like, ‘because that is so silly.’ The answer I did give, gave us a chance to have a meaningful dialogue. I was able to ask her why she thought as she did and it gave me the opportunity to suggest other ways of thinking. It gave her a chance to consider alternatives to her current way of thinking.

As she grows older, it will become more and more important that she continue to be willing to tell me those important observations. As she reaches her teen years, her attitudes, her ideas will become the recipe she uses to build the foundation of her adult life. If that recipe isn’t right, the foundation will crack and her adult life will be significantly harder than it needs to be. The same can be said for your teens as well. If we want to be the ones providing the recipe for their foundations, we have to break down the barriers we have helped to build so we can talk to them! Phrases like ‘you have a lot of learning to do!’ and ‘you need to grow up!’ or ‘don’t ever let me hear you talk like that again!’ need to be erased from our vocabulary. They need to be replaced with conversation building comments like ‘why do you think that way?’ or ‘do you think that will work in this situation? If not what do you think will?’ or “I’m glad you can tell me how you feel. Let me tell you what I think about that and let’s see if we can come to a meeting of the minds.”

I really don’t like egotistical people who tell me I have a lot of learning to do. If I’m with someone who puts me down because of my beliefs or tries to imply they know so much more than I do, I tend to avoid talking to them. I actively seek out others to talk to instead. I think one of the reasons our teenagers have quit talking to us is because we’re the ’egotistical people’ they prefer to avoid. We take the lazy way of parenting and just tell them the ‘right’ way to think instead of taking the time to discuss their view point versus our viewpoint.

I’m sure there are a thousand other reasons why our teens shut us out. We can’t fix all of them but we can fix the ones that depend on us. The effort we expend in changing our attitudes and our words when we speak to them will be worth it!

Should I Check My Child’s Cell Phone Numbers?

Friday, July 15th, 2011

Q: My 13-year-old daughter is a very responsible, reliable teenager but she had an out-of-state phone number on her cell phone bill.  I got worried and called the number to check it out.  It turned out to be nothing but now my daughter is furious with me for checking on her.  She says I have proven I don’t trust her.  How can I repair the damage to our relationship?

A:  Trust your instincts.  You did the right thing.  Regardless of how wonderful your 13-year-old is, there are several things you can be sure of.  At 13, your daughter is probably naive and/or gullible. She believes she is far more mature than she is and, she is quite self-centered.  All of this makes her extremely vulnerable to internet predators.  The new Facebook accounts on cell phones have also increased the odds that your child will have an encounter with a less-than-desirable individual.  Checking a questionable phone number does not show a lack of trust.  It shows admirable parental protection.  Your daughter is going to need your protection for several years yet.  She’s probably going to object to many things you require of her and that you ask her.  (Who are you going to the party with?  Will there be adults present?  What time will you be home?, etc).  But keep on asking anyway.  That’s what responsible parents do to guide their children safely into adulthood.  As for repairing your relationship – all you can do is let her know it had nothing to do with a lack of trust and everything to do with your love for her and concern for her welfare.  It may be a few years before she truly understands what you’re saying but, when she does, she’ll be thankful for the wonderful parenting she received.

Bi-Sexual ???

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

Message: Hy mom, I’m kati. My familys catholic. Im bisexual. No, Im not doing it to impress guys or to have fun. Im legitimently attracted to both men and women. How do I tell mom, perferable without getting grounded?

Dear Kati, If you are still young enough to live in your parent’s home and expect to be grounded for your behavior, then you are too young to make this decision. Hormones can fool you when you are a teenager. Many girls look at other girls breasts and feel sexual arousal. That may not necessarily mean that they’re lesbians. If you’re looking at a guy and thinking ‘boy is he hot’ while looking at girls and being sexually aroused, it may not mean you’re bi-sexual. It may just be that you have a normal sex drive. You need to take some time to become a little more familiar with your emotions before you make a decision of this magnitude. But if you insist on going to your parents, I suggest you set the groundwork for your discussion. Obviously, your parents are not going to be happy about your decision so you better be ready with some answers for them. Some of the things you need to be ready to discuss are: 1) Your family is Catholic. Is being a Catholic important to you? The Catholic church doesn’t condone alternative lifestyles. You have to be ready to let them know that you are prepared to give up this part of your life. I would suggest you go to your Priest and discuss with him how you feel. Go through the steps he gives you so you can let your parents know that you have legitimately looked into how not being a Catholic will affect you. 2) Try to decide what you want in a relationship. Do you want your partner to be faithful to you and only you? If you do, being bi-sexual – by definition – isn’t the way to go. Bi-sexual people accept sex with both sexes so you could never be sure if your partner was about to move to a male partner instead of you. And your partner could never fully trust you. If you don’t need or want a committed relationship then this isn’t going to be a problem for you but you do need to decide that. 3) For most teens, it is important to have a partner when you attend the prom or even just attend classes. It is a source of pride to have this committed partner. If that is the case, then you are going to have to decide whether you prefer a male or a female partner. If you choose male, no problem for you. If you choose female, you will again have problems with your parents and your Catholic faith as well as other kids in your school. 4) Next, you will have to be prepared to explain how this will affect your future. Be ready to let them know how you want your adult life to be once you are out of school. When you are an adult and running your own life, how do you want your life to be? Do you plan to have children? How do you think this decision will affect them? What do you plan to do for a living? How will this affect your career plans? If you go through all these steps, they will see that you have carefully thought through your position. They may see this as a faze you’re going through. They may feel that you are just being rebellious. You can’t expect them to be happy with your decision. Whatever their reaction, you live in their home. Therefore you live by their rules. If you can’t convince them of your sincerity in this matter, then you must wait until you have moved from their home to live the lifestyle you have chosen. As I said in the beginning, I think you are too young to make this decision anyway. So waiting until you are old enough to move from home will give you the time to gain the maturity you need to make an informed decision.

Family Reunion Truants

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

Q: I have two daughters who are 12 and 15. They are refusing to attend a family reunion my sisters and I are having for my mother. My mother is getting older and we wanted her to have a nice family get-together while she is still healthy enough to enjoy it. So we have invited family members from other states as well as those near here. The problem is that we have invited my mother’s brother. He has been in a nursing home for the last couple of years but is well enough to come on outings. His hands shake so when he eats he frequently gets food on his face and clothing. My daughters say this ‘grosses them out’. My mother will be heartbroken if they don’t come. I’ve tried everything I know to convince them but they won’t listen. Do you have any suggestions?

A: You’ve tried reasoning with the girls and they won’t listen. Now it’s time to tell them a few hard truths about life. When they were younger, they were the princesses of the family and you let them believe that the world revolved around them. They are old enough now to realize that not everything is about them! Other people are important, too. Your mother – their grandmother – is important. You – their mother – are important. And your uncle who ‘grosses them out’ is important. There will come a day when they, too, will be old and spilling their food and they will not want others to treat them as they are treating him. It is time for them to start giving back to the family that has given so much to them. If discussion doesn’t work, then assure them you can remove some of those things that have been given them. For instance, if they are like many children today, you have provided them with a cell phone. Assure them that if they don’t show up with a smile on their neatly scrubbed little faces that the phones will no longer be theirs! If they show up, they can keep the phones but if the smiles falter, it may be a few days before they get them back. If they don’t have phones, I’m sure they have other treasured items you can use as incentive. Children your daughter’s ages tend to be rather self-centered. It’s not always easy for them to see someone else’s point of view. So a little bit of firm determination on your part may be what needs to happen. Good luck and stick to your guns!

Dating at 13

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

(This email has been modified. It was sent in the text message style which is a little difficult for us grandma’s to read. I imagine it can be for others also. I believe I got the gist of it right. Also, please remember when emailing, this is a family site. Profanity will be deleted. If there is too much profanity, I may delete the entire email. Mom)

Q: My parents are being completely unreasonable. They say I am too young to date a 16 year old. I am 13 and everyone says I am mature for my age. He and I were having a great time together until they found out. I figure you’re a mom and they might listen to you if you tell them they are being unreasonable. Can you send me an email for them?

A: Actually, I think you are the one being unreasonable. Dating at 13 is way too young in my opinion. When you are just entering adolescence, your body is changing and hormones are causing you to have major mood swings. You need to give yourself time to adjust to these changes before you start complicating things with emotional attachments to boys. Also, it sounds to me like you knew your parents wouldn’t approve. You said they ‘found out’. Were you sneaking around behind their backs? Another thing. Sixteen is too old for a 13-year-old. I suggest you and your parents sit down together and set up a list of rules for dating. That would be the mature thing for you to do. The more you are responsible and follow the rules they set down, the more they will give you space to make your own choices.

Stressed Mom

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

Q: I am a single mom with 3 kids.  They are 7, 9 and 12.  I work 4 10 hour shifts a week.  It feels like I am constantly running.  The minute I get home I’m throwing dinner on the table then dashing to my son’s basketball practice or piano lessons for my other son or dance lessons for my daughter.  When we get done with those there is homework to do and housework that has to be done.  I feel like we are moving so fast as a family that we have completely lost touch.  I don’t feel like I even know my children anymore.   My children are almost teenagers.  If I lose touch with them now, how will I know they are okay when they are teens?  I guess I don’t really have a question.  I was just stressing out.

A: Dear Stressed Mom, I am glad you’ve written because I believe your concerns are those of every parent whether they are single or not.   Families everywhere are moving so fast that they don’t really spend time just being together. And when we do spend time together, we tend to group our children together like a bunch of grapes. Having family times together is important but it is also important to spend time individually with each of your children so that you do have a feel for what they are thinking. You do need to take time to listen while they tell you about their day at school and with their peers. Marriage counselors are always encouraging couples to have a date night so that they can keep in touch with one another. Why not use that same concept with your children? If you take one child a week out on a ‘date’, you will be able to have some very quality one-on-one time with your children. I’m sure, as a single parent, that money is tight for you but these ‘dates’ don’t have to be expensive. They can be something as simple as going to the zoo together, or riding bikes together, or going to garage sales, or seeing a matinee movie. Just spending a couple of hours with that child doing what that child enjoys will keep you in touch with their lives.  And, I believe, will make a significant difference in how your relationships proceed during those teen years you are worrying about now.

Prom Dresses

Monday, July 11th, 2011

Q: My daughter is already talking about Prom.  What styles are popular for this year?  I don’t want her to look out of place but, I don’t want her in a strapless top with a skirt up to her waist either.  We are on a budget.  What is a good amount to pay for a prom dress?

A: If your daughter is already talking about the prom, she is already thinking of the style of dress she would like to wear. To be sure that the style of dress she ultimately chooses will be suitable to you, I suggest the two of you start shopping. Shopping with teenage daughters can be a challenge. NOT shopping with them can cause major family wars. Before you head for the mall, discuss with your husband the amount you can afford to spend and then let your daughter know what her budget is. Also, let her know what criteria she needs to use in choosing a dress (ie does it need to have straps, what lengths are unacceptable to you, can she have slits up the sides and, if so, how far up can the slit go, etc). Once she knows her boundaries, let her pick and choose those she will try out. They may not be the ones that you would choose but, as long as they are within your boundaries, let her have fun. Going to the prom is a big event in the life of a teenage girl so being able to choose the dress she wants is important. If you’ve set the criteria, you can be happy knowing she will choose something you consider appropriate. And she will be happy because she has chosen the one she thinks is the most beautiful.