Thursday, June 23, 2016

Fun Summer Movies To Watch With Your Teen

One of the best parts of summer is....time. There is just more of it. During the school year there is no extra time. Pretty much every minute is accounted for including weekends. In the summer there are weird pockets of time that you might actually find you and your teen in the house, at the same time, with nothing much to do. Take advantage of them. Maybe its at 11 AM when they are just rising from a late night, but are free till 4 or 5 when they are going to hook back up with their buddies. Or maybe all their friends are away for the same weekend, and they are hanging around the house. Here are some movies that are on demand or on netflix that are fun to watch, and might even generate some fun conversation.

First Position: I just watched this last night. Its a documentary about a world class ballet competition. Young dancers compete for scholarships for elite ballet companies. They follow 4 teens as they prepare for this competition. I LOVED it. Great examples of kids with passions and how they live their life. If you have a dancing teen, this is a must watch.

American Teen:  this is an amazing documentary that follows a group of high school seniors for their whole last year at a large midwestern high school. Every teen will find themselves represented, the social butterfly, the jock, the artsy kid, and the kid who doesn't fit in. Great film. My college students go crazy for this film every semester.

The Perks Of Being A Wallflower: Feature film about a group of kids who aren't part of a "popular crowd" but form an anti-popular crowd. Great story about friendship, and relationships. I love it!

Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink, Can't Buy Me Love: These are fun 80's teen movies that your kids have probably not seen, but are so much fun to watch. The hair may be big, and the shoulder pads huge but the teen issues are still the same. Would be really fun to introduce these to your kids

Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist: full disclosure, my daughter is one of the stars. She plays the drunk best friend caroline. This is a really sweet movie with Michael Cera. Kat Dennings and my daughter about friendship, relationships and has great music. though my daughter does play a drunk teen, it is not glorified at all. You'll see what I mean if you watch the movie.


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Talking Dirty To Your Teen

I bet that caught your attention!!!!

You would be surprised at how many calls I get from parents who in doing a little texting reconnaissance on their 14 year old's cell phone, find sexts about blow jobs!!!!! Yes that's right, blow jobs!!! Probably not words you want to read with your morning coffee. So what to do, what to do when you find those two dreaded words coming out of or being received by teens texting fingers? And of course, you must say something!!!! Or why else were you nosing around your teen's phone?

Blow jobs are very much prominent in teen culture, if they are not actually participating in the act, there is a lot of talking about doing it.  In fact most kids when confronted by a parent would probably say...what's the big deal, it's like kissing??? I know this because parents who call me tell me this!

We know why boys want blow jobs.  I don't think you need a parenting expert to explain that. But what about the girls?? I'm guessing most teen girls do not want to engage in oral sex. Many girls are repeatedly harassed by boys to do it, and are told by the boys that they are hot, that they really, really like them, and that they promise they won't tell anyone. Those are all lies!! But, if you are a girl, who feels flattered by this attention, you hope that if they participate they will get the holy grail...a boyfriend! Unfortunately this rarely happens. Not all girls by the way are the victims. They can also be the aggressor. I have had a number of calls from parents of boys who are considered "really cute" by the girls, and are aggresively offered a blow job in hopes of acquiring the all important boyfriend. Many of these boys are not interested, but are in a very precarious position. If they don't accept the offer, what might the girl think of him, and then by extension her friends? And what if the girl than tells another boy that he refused, what kinds of rumors might those boys spread about him? This is a very complicated problem.

So all and all, the only way to deal with this is to engage in a really open conversation.  Saying I don't want you participating in this inappropriate behavior will get you nowhere. You must use the real words, and at least pretend not to be freaked out by this conversation. So if you need to, go somewhere private, and say out loud; blow job, penis, suck, dick. Desensitize yourself to the language. Your teens may never have actually said or heard these words themselves out loud, and will be shocked hearing them come out of your mouth! And that is exactly the point. Teens are very distanced from the language they use in their texts and messaging. Writing words gives someone a very different emotional response than actually hearing them out loud. I want your teens to have the emotional experience of hearing them, and talking about them out loud.

Now, here is where the talking dirty comes in! If you have a daughter, especially a teen daughter who might be going off to co-ed sleep away camp, or will be spending more than usual in unsupervised time with groups of marauding teen-agers this summer, you have a good opening for an oral sex conversation.

You might say:" hey honey, so excited for you this summer. I know you will have a great time with all your friends. I also know that boys are very pushy these days when it comes to wanting girls to send naked pictures and wanting blow jobs." Be ready for your teen to give you an  "OMG what are talking about, leave me alone." But you must persevere. Use humor, break the ice, don't come into this in a lectury parenty kind of way.  Push through with a " so think about it honey, a boy wants to put his erect penis in your mouth...think about that for a second. He is turned on, ejaculates either in your mouth, or all over you. And he isn't even your boyfriend, and there is absolutely nothing in it for you. You are servicing this boy. I get that teens think it is no big deal, in fact kids may be fully clothed even, so what's the big deal? The big deal is that sex and intimacy is all about relationship, and caring. This is about a boy getting a quick fix, not about you. And boys might say nice things to you, about how beautiful you are, and how hot, and how much they like you, which may sound really good especially if you like this kid. But if he really liked you for a girlfriend, he wouldn't want you to be going around giving random boys blow jobs."

If you have sons, you must also have this conversation. Same words, different perspective. "Hey, honey it seems like you have quite the social life these days, and probably feeling horny pretty much all the time. (I'm hoping some dads read this blog too, this is a gender neutral parent conversation, but it should be the parent that has the highest chance of getting through and handling this kind of talk.) I know the guys sit around and think about which girls they have the best shot at getting blow jobs from, but I want you to understand the girls perspective. Most girls want a boyfriend, and they are probably expecting that if they go so far as to put your penis in their mouth that you might consider them girlfriend material. But I'm guessing that is not the case. That in fact, it may be the opposite, that you would be uninterested in having the kind of girl who would give random blow jobs, as a girlfriend. This could be very hurtful and disrespectful to this girl. And I hope that you will think about that before you pressure any girl to go down on you!!" And also parents of boys please please please have a conversation about porn. Remind them again and again, that what they may be watching on porn, the violent exploitation of women, the humiliation of women and the scenes of women liking the whole rape fantasy thing, are actors acting out a sick story, not real women who like being treated this way. Unfortunately, much of the aggressiveness you have been hearing about in news story after news story about campus rapes has been traced back to early experiences with porn.

God this is tough stuff!! Try to engage them in conversation, these are just guidelines for what should be talked about. Try to find a natural opening, maybe in a car during a longish ride, so that they don't have to look you in the face as you talk together. Not all kids are engaging in oral sex, but if you have a teen that is part of a social group there is a good chance they are talking about it.

Being a parent is really hard in this century. I miss the days of making someone you had a crush on a batch of brownies. Maybe you can bring it back!!!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Saying No Can Have Unexpected Outcomes

I read a wonderful editorial recently (see below) Most parents say NO when their teens make one of their many requests because the requests are either unreasonable, unsafe or because parents are tired, worn out and aren't in the mood to deal. But after reading this article it got me thinking about the times in my life when I got a NO. And many times, that NO forced me to rethink, readjust expectations, and become more creative. For example, When I was in the beginning stages of writing my book, I showed what I thought was a finished manuscript to a big time editor of a big time publisher who I had met socially and who graciously offered to read it. I thought I had hit the holy grail. Hey, everyone had told me this publishing thing was hard, and first time out I had my book in someone's hands. Initially the feedback was good, but then I got the "I think we'll pass" email, but with some very sage advice. First I had to lick my wounds, I was disappointed, and had to grieve a hit to my ego. But now I can see that this NO is what made book what it is today, after alot of really hard work I didn't think I had in me, but that NO made me see that I did.

Saying NO doesn't have to be punitive. It can be a gateway to growth. This quote says it all:
Amichay identifies three types of “no”: The one that makes us try harder; the one that inspires us to rethink our visions; and finally, the one that moves us into a different direction. 

So one of those times you say NO to your teen, maybe give them that chance to move in another direction. For example, when they come to you with one of their cockamamie, ridiculous, what are you thinking requests; instead of saying NO this is ridiculous, you can say: " Go back rethink, and come back to me with a more reasonable plan, and let's talk. Make them work just a little bit harder, and think just a little bit more, and maybe then they will get their holy grail YES.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Teaching Your Teens To Be Sexually Safe

Brock Turner, the Stanford student who has been found guilty of multiple counts of sexual assault, is a news story all parents read with revulsion. It is one of many stories of sexual assaults taking place on college campuses and that fuel fear in parents sending their children off to college. The most important part of this story is the victim’s heart wrenching accounting of what happened that night between her and Brock Turner.

Please read this victim’s statement out loud at your dinner table with your teens. Sections of her statement will make it hard for you to finish your dinner. That is the point. Lecturing about self-respect, and respect for women in theory is great, but hearing first hand from the victim is much more powerful.

Here is a parent checklist for keeping your teens sexually safe

  • ·      Do your young boys have access to porn on their smartphones? Have you blocked adult porn sites from their phones? Do you even know how to do it? Find out!!! The latest research is showing that when boys, even young boys have easy access to misogynistic porn, that their brain literally changes and makes connections about women and sex. If you have a steady diet of watching women being sexually humiliated and assaulted by men, you might begin to see that as sexually normal behavior instead of sexually deviant behavior. Lecturing about respect for women will fall on deaf ears when those sexual hormones are in play. Whatever part of the brain that lecture is buried, is not in activation when booze, testosterone, and images of anal sex are in play.

  • ·      How is respect for women modeled in your home? I'll just leave that statement on the table for you to ponder. But remember that how relationships are modeled in your home, is the model your kids take out into the world as they experiment with relationships.

  • ·      Do you lecture or educate? Lecturing is talking at someone. Educating is engaging in shared discussion, and the sharing of information. Find as much information as you can, about sexual assault, real stories like this one. Discuss them, debate them, strategize, and problem solve around them.

  • ·      Teach them what consensual sex really means. It does not mean having sex with someone so compromised by alcohol that they don't even know what is going on. The absence of consent is not consent. Teach them!!

  • ·      Do you teach your athletes about proper use of power? Teach them that having a skill set that includes aggression and power on the ice, on the field, or in the water, does not give them the right to use it in any other situation, and should be left on the field and on the ice.

  • ·      Talk about alcohol and drugs, over and over again, consistently, every time they leave the house. Talk and teach them the danger of binge drinking. Teach them about blood alcohol levels, and how many drinks it takes to go over the legal limit when impairment occurs. Not many!! This is about boys deciding that a drunk girl dancing sexy means "she wants it" and then "giving it to her." Teach your boys, that this is not consent. This is someone compromised by alcohol. Teach your girls that getting drunk means leaving their power at the door. Help them to strategize with their friends to keep each other safe, even when it seems like their friend doesn't want help. That is when they need the most help!!

Teach them!!!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Finding A Moral Compass: Lessons From The Stanford Sexual Assault

As you might imagine, I have a lot to say about the Sexual Assault and Rape by Brock Turner, the Stanford Sophomore. Stay tuned for part 2 on Tuesday!

“Boys will be boys, you know those hormones!” “I was so drunk I didn’t know what I was doing!” “She wanted it!” This is what is often said by and about young men caught in the act of sexual assault. The case of Brock Turner, the Stanford student who brutally raped a young woman was sentenced this week to the minimal sentence of 6 months in county jail and probation. In all actuality, he will probably be out sooner. He used these excuses to rationalize his violent attack on this unconscious woman. But as heinous as this attack was, the reaction of Brock’s dad Dan was equally as atrocious. In a statement to the court on the day of his son’s sentencing he said: “ This is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action.”

Parents are supposed to provide the moral center for their children. Human beings are not born with a moral compass, they must be taught, and it must be modeled. There is no other way. In my work as a parenting coach, I have come across many situations in which teens have made bad and unsafe decisions. Some parents react with appropriate anger, and provide reasonable consequences as well as a roadmap for their teen to grow and learn from the experience. But there are also many parents, Like Dan Turner who do the opposite. Rather than holding their kids accountable for their actions, they look for ways to manipulate the system, becoming confrontational and on the offensive. (See Donald Trump and Trump University) They look for any way possible for their teen to avoid assuming responsibility for their actions.

This can happen at school when parents confront teachers when they are not happy with their child’s grade in a class. They blame the teacher for being unfair, rather than looking objectively at their child’s performance. It happens when teens are caught at a party with alcohol and drugs. Rather than making their teen face the music, which might mean losing the ability to continue playing sports at their school, or having to do community service, parents often “lawyer up” and look for legal loopholes to get their teen off.

Mistakenly, parents fear that owning up, means giving up, on the imagined future success their child has ahead of them. The truth is actually the opposite. Growth and success in life comes from overcoming and working through the hardest and scariest challenges in life.  Make sure that you practice and teach that lesson to your children.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Summer Planning...Make Haste

"Idle minds are the devils playground." No truer quote applies when thinking about teens and summer. If you haven't yet gotten into the summer mindset, here is your wake-up call! Everybody needs down time, but 10 weeks of down time for teens can spell t-r-o-u-b-l-e, especially if you are a working parent. If you anticipate leaving your house for work at 8 AM with your sleeping teen snug as a bug in a rug, thinking that all is well, get you head out of the sand. The devil will be over to visit.

Regardless of good intentions, too much time = too much potential for temptation. We're talking sex, drugs/alcohol and general mischief. Once boredom sets in, which it always does after the initial bliss of no structure, look out. The planning should start now. If you have a younger teen, 13-15, this is a bit harder. They are too old for day camp, too young for most jobs, and too inexperienced or  not motivated to find something on their own. Many older teens are unmotivated as well, or lack the confidence to find something on their own. So the first thing is to have realistic expectations of how much your teen will do independently to make something happen. Your job is to make your expectations clear, that is step #1. "I get you are looking forward to the summer, and having free time to hang with friends. We want you to have time for that too, but it's also important for you to have other things going on for you as well, either  a job, or a volunteer/educational/internship experience, or camp, something that gives you a feeling of accomplishment and purpose. How would you like to go about this? What kind of help do you need from us?. Here is the deal, the question isn't, do you want to do something or not? but what is it you would like to do?"

This can be a slow, painful process, as mostly you will get a lot of "I don't knows." If you have some extra money, there are many great programs that cater to particular interests of teens. If they want a job, expecting that they will have any idea of how to go about looking for one is unrealistic. Do this together, making a list of the kinds of places that are of interest to them, and then drive them around to pick up applications, and sit with them as they fill them out. If you just say to your teen, go get some applications, and have you filled our those applications probably not much will happen. I worked in a work/study program for 14 years with teens, and rarely did I find a teen who felt confident enough to follow through on expectations. What looks like laziness is actually low-self esteem.

It is important to let them know that if there don't seem to be any jobs, and volunteering or interning is the fallback, that you will provide them with some kind of stipend. But, and this is important, if they choose to be idle, and do neither, then you will choose  not to provide them with any summer spending money. Sitting around with both nothing to do and no money is not fun, and will get old really really fast. So provide incentive and reward for those idle minds, and keep that devil at bay.