Thursday, August 25, 2016

Why Do You Think They Call It Dope!!! The Marijuana Debate

Most teens think pot is no biggie. And it probably isn't if they are using infrequently as a treat. But for many teens, pot is becoming the high of choice. It mellows you out, you don't throw up from it, and hey it's legal in Colorado so how bad can it be.

Well as it turns out, it's not good. In the developing brain of teens, it changes the way the brain grows. Rather than trotting out your own lecture on why drugs are bad, why not read this article at the dinner table!


http://www.bostonglobe.com/lifestyle/health-wellness/2014/04/15/casual-marijuana-use-creates-brain-changes-new-report-shows/X1cN8A7h5pOVJkeYkXTXlJ/story.html

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

How Girls Learn To Define Themselves As Women



For all you parents out there with daughters, the article below is a great read. I remember having conversations with my daughter when she was a teen. I would be talking about how fat I felt, or how old and ugly I was feeling.(That's when I was in my 40's, now that I am heading in my 60's I actually like myself better. See getting older is fun) But I do remember very clearly my daughter saying, "and you wonder why I am consumed with worrying about being fat. I get it from you!!!!" And I'm guessing she is more than a little right. I do not have one memory of my middle aged mother ever ever commenting on her size, her sexiness or her aging. Women in the 1950's and 1960's just did not think about that, or if they did they did not talk about it. And what about the dads. I know even from my own hubby and our middle aged friends, there are always comments about this hot woman, or that hot woman. Again, I never ever heard my dad comment about women in terms of their hotness. Maybe, we as adult have to start with ourselves and watch what we say and how we live. Are we giving these messages to our daughters and sons without even realizing it? Do we spend too much time and energy making ourselves look sexy and cool, rather than just healthy? Maybe we have had too much of the kool-aid as well, read too many People magazines, too many Allures and Vogues showing us how to find the fountain of youth. We have bought too many creams, had too much botox ( I draw the line) too many eyelifts and so on. Maybe we have to first model self-acceptance for our kids before we can expect them to follow suit.

At the least we have to continue, on a regular basis to have talks with our teens about this. No matter how much eye-rolling you may encounter, do not let that deter the message. Find opportunities when they present themselves, don't manufacture them. If you are watching a show or hear some lyrics or see something in a magazine or hear a story from the news, or a friend, there is your chance, your "I get it"  moment. " I get how this might sound hip or funny, but I worry that it makes girls feel like that have to wear a tight or cleavage revealing top, or short shorts with a butt crack exposed, or whatever, just to get attention from a boy. Do you feel that way?"
Or with your son: " I get that boys think its funny to comment on the size of a girls boobs, or think that they can convince girls to take pictures or give blow jobs in order to be their boyfriend, but its really just to "get a little", and get a good story to tell the guys. I hope you wouldn't lead a girl on like that? Just talking about this once does not facilitate change. This is tough stuff. Our world is changing and this happens to not be one of the good things. Our culture bombards us with messages, but we give our kids messages as well. Do as I say, not as I do, won't work anymore. You gotta walk the walk to really make a difference.

A fantastic documentary on Netflix Miss Representation is a great watch with your teens especially with your daughters. It shows the power of a sexist media and how it defines and what our society expects of how women should act and look. I show this to my college freshman every year, and the discussion and outrage it brings up for both the genders is one of the most powerful of the semester. Have a watch!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sarah-koppelkam/body-image_b_3678534.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000003

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Opposite Of A Lecture



Are you a lecturer quiz?

1. Y N Do you feel like you absolutely know what is best for your teen?

2. Y N Do you regularly expound on this to your teen?

3. Y N When your teen comes to you with a problem in his/her life to you jump into problem solver mode?

4. Y N Do you find it hard to take questions from your "listening audience"

5. Y N Do you like to be right?

I am guessing that we all got 100% on this quiz. Only this 100% probably won't get you an applause and a congrats from your teen. Problem solving comes very naturally to parents. We see our kids making mistakes, we see our kids in pain, we see uour kids about to do something that is unsafe and it feels natural to want to protect them from all of it. Unfortunately your teens do not want your protection, they actually want the opposite of your protection. Which is weird, because they come to their parents with their problems, and as soon we go to give them our worldly advice, they respond with a rejection and a "you never listen!" And that is the crux of the matter. Your teens come to you because you love them, and know them better than anyone else. Their fantasy is they will tell you something and you will just listen. That's it, just listen. Here is the miscommunication. You think that when they come to you, they want you to tell them what they should do. But really they just want you to listen, maybe show some empathy, "oh honey, that must be so hard, or I'm sorry that must be so frustrating." But instead they get a "here's what I think you should do....!" And their eyes go dark.

Giving your teen the gift of listening is maybe your greatest gift to them. Unless they actually say the words, what do you think I should do?Go for a good nod, a hug, and some words of comfort. They are probably doing the work of figuring it out, and just need someone to bounce the words off and reflect back. Don't we all? This work of figuring it all out is what gives them the confidence they will need as they move into adulthood. If you do that work for them, they will never be prepared for they future that most assuredly is ahead for them.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Revenge Porn...Oh Yes It Is!

Oh how I wish I didn't have to write these kinds of posts. But this has been one long hot summer, and I don't just mean the oppressive heat. I have had too many to count calls from frantic parents of both boys and girls who have found of parts of teens bodies in photos on their kids phones in various stages of undress.This article (see link below) that appeared in the New York Times is an important article for parents of teens. File this under, Teens are so naive!" As happens more often than any of us would like to admit, teens show their love for their boy or girlfriends by sharing sexy photos, some showing more skin than you have seen since their baby baths. But with all things teen, romance rarely lasts very long, and even if it does last as long as their high school years, there rarely is a happy ending. And by that I mean a consensual break-up. No, usually break-ups are fraught with drama, drama, and more drama. With one party or the other accusing the other party of some sort of major misdeed. When that happens, revenge is in the air, and with the internet, revenge can be so sweet. Remember all those sexy photos, that had been promised to stay "just between the two of us?" Well all bets are off, and those photos along with personal information shared by the abandoned lover can and do show up in unexpected ways.

Please share and read this story with your teen, especially if he/she has a significant boy/girlfriend. They will fight you tooth and nail, and say: '__________would never do anything like this. He/she loves me too much." And you can say; you know honey, I get how much you trust and love each other now, and that is a wonderful gift you are giving to each other....now. But all bets are off when one of you meets someone else, or gets tired of being in the relationship, or your feelings change. It's hard to know now how powerful those feelings can be when this relationship ends. So I'm just saying, sending each other intimate photos does not equal trust. Not lying to each other, being honest and open that is where true trust comes from.

They will roll their eyes, but this is just another "educational" responsibility you have to teach your teen about safe use of technology.
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/24/us/victims-push-laws-to-end-online-revenge-posts.html?pagewanted=2&_r=0&hp

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Difference Between Moms and Dads

I was doing some research recently for an article I am writing, and came across this article from a New York Times;"Calling Mr. mom". I am paraphrasing and winnowing this down to the essentials, but basically, though women now make up 50% of the work force, keeping the home fires burning is still essentially woman's work. Here's another interesting statistic. Even though many companies now offer family flex time, only 26% of men take advantage of it, 76% of woman do. OK so this is not really new news, but it still puzzles me.

Several times a week I give my seminar: Adolescent Psychology-The Parent Version. Whether I have 300 people or 30 people in the audience, 95% of them are women. "I wish my husband had been here to hear this" is a mantra that I hear repeatedly from the moms in the room. Last week at one of my seminars, I noticed a couple seated not far from where I was talking and pacing. Yay a dad!!!!!! Except that while the woman took copious notes, the man I assumed was her husband spent the entire 2 hours (no break) playing on his Iphone.  Maybe he too was taking notes, but the fact that he never once looked up at the slides or seemed to be listening at all seemed pretty clear. Several rows away, another couple sat, again the woman/mom was  hanging on my every word, and the man seated next to her was sound asleep.

So here is my message. Parenting teens is a challenge. It does take a new set up skills to maintain this changing relationship. The balance of power is shifting, and "because I said so" falls mostly on deaf ears with your teens. They are interested in challenging, analyzing, discussing, and arguing. Believe it or not this is a great thing! This means that you teen is "thinking for themselves", and as their world and decisions get more complex they will have the skills to make sense of it.  This is all normal and desirable behavior. But if it only gets interpreted as disrespectful, teens may feel that thinking things through with you is a waste of time, and instead, sneak, lie and generally avoid conversation and confrontation.

Many dads I work with especially have alot of trouble with this new adjustment in power and control. They felt much more comfortable with the "I am the grown-up,  here are the rules" style that works so well with younger children. Men and woman do often parent differently, but both genders have to make adjustments as their kids get older. When I survey my college students on who they felt closer and talked to more during middle and high school, they almost unanimously say their moms.

Dads, your kids want to talk to you, they just aren't sure that you want to talk to them. They love you and need your input. So take advantage of that flex time, pick them up early from school and take them for coffee, and a movie, invite them to come in and have dinner with you at the office, volunteer for a field trip, take them in the middle of the day to their orthodontist appointment. This time with them is as important as sitting with them and helping with their homework, probably more.  The conversations and relationship building that occurs during these incidental moments of life are priceless, don't miss out!!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

How About A Little Hang Time?

A middle schooler writes to Ask Amy:" In my family, almost every night my mother and father watch adult oriented TV and movies. I am allowed to come into the room when they are watching, but I would really like to play a board game with them or even watch a family appropriate movie instead. My mother is very busy with her full time teaching job and I feel that barging into the room in the middle of a movie to play a game is rude, but how else could I ensure some family time without disturbing her? Am I being too pushy, and should I leave them to their leisure time because they are busy."

How sweet and sad is that letter! The other day I was getting frozen yogurt (my favorite) and spied a mom sitting with her young teen son having some yogurt. The mom was busy texting away on her phone, while her son, hunched over the table, just kind of sat there looking lost. I know we are always talking about how rude our teens are, and can't be separated from their phones, but how about you? How attached are you to yours?

Believe it or not, many teens do want to spend time with you, they are just embarrassed to ask, lest it sound needy and immature. In a questionnaire I gave to 60 teens ages 14-18, this very issue was oft repeated when asked: I LOVE WHEN MY PARENT (S):

  • Ask me to go places with them because I really don't get to do that a lot.
  • Spend time just watching TV with me because I never get to spend time with them.
  • Ask me to do things with them cause that's the best.
  • Can just talk and hang out and have fun with me.

Our lives are all pretty crazy, especially if you are working, taking care of an elderly parent, and have kids. Getting laundry and food shopping done, returning emails, and god forbid take some time for yourself is a full day. But your teens are watching your every move,and if they see that it's alright to multitask then they will do it too. But another takeaway from them, is that you are just too busy for them. Are you constantly checking your phone when your kids are in the car, at a restaurant, before and after dinner, while you are watching one of their sports practices and games. Do you take your work home with you, and your kids get that you are unavailable?  Are you halfway in or all the way?

PS. I am now booking for this upcoming school year seminars. Have Joani will travel..anywhere!! Last year, I spoke in California, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire. Below are the seminars I offer. Talk to your PTOs, religious organizations, community groups or businesses about presenting one of these to your community. I promise it will be fun and informative! Contact me for pricing and availability

Adolescent Psychology: The Parent Version 


  • Learn how the brain affects your teen’s behavior. It’s the battle of the thinking brain VS the feeling brain.
  • Learn Effective strategies for arguing-The Four Ways Of Fighting.
  • Develop effective strategies for keeping your teen safe as they explore the new world of teen life.
  • Learn how to teen-proof your home and cell-proof your teen

Sexting. Texting and Social Networking: What’s A Parent To Do? 
  • Understand how the “emotional brain” of a teen gets “turned on” by social networking.
  • Understand how the “Imaginary Audience” influences your teen’s performing on social media.
  • Learn which apps are safe and unsafe
  • Learn strategies to monitor and set limits around phone and internet use
  • Learn how your own behavior with phones and computers can positively and negatively influence your teen.

Drugs and Alcohol: How Does Your Teen’s Personality Style, and Your Parenting Style impact their experimentation with drugs and alcohol? 
  • Identify your teen’s personality style and risk-factors with drugs and alcohol
  • Identify your parenting style and how it influences your teen’s drug and alcohol use
  • Learn effective strategies and scripts to keep your teen safe
  

Joani’s Top Ten Parenting Tips 
The secret to parenting is to keep it simple. Learn 10 simple, concrete practical tips useful in those daily moments of stress as a parent when you wish you had the "right thing to do and the right thing to say!




 Joani Geltman MSW     781-910-1770    joanigeltman.com



Thursday, August 4, 2016

Summer Reading Sucks....For You!!!!!!!!

OK, the summer is exactly one half over, and crumbled up summer reading lists are being found and resurrected by parents everywhere. Most kids have spent the summer avoiding your queries about the reading by saying, "I'll do it, I have the whole summer, just leave me alone!!!" Well the whole summer is now down to 4 weeks and the books have been bought, Kindled or Nooked depending on the summer bribe. "If I buy you a Kindle/Nook, will you do the reading?" Your kid, panting like a dog who sees a new treat coming his/her way has promised that yes yes yes I will do the reading if you buy me off, I mean buy me a Kindle/Nook. But listen, it doesn't matter what form the book is in, it is still reading and might/could be way less exciting than say sitting on the couch texting/facebooking/videogaming/tv or movie watching or studying one's navel.

So here are a few strategies to get the reading done before school starts before you have to resort to the threats of no phone, no computer no life until you finish your reading.
  • Sit with your kid and add up the number of pages that need to be read by the start of school. Get out the old calculator and number of pages from each book and add together. Divide that number by the number of days left before school and you now have a PPD (pages per day) your kid needs to complete. When you break it down this way, it is far less intimidating. Most kids avoid the summer reading because it seems daunting. Maybe they have 3 or 4 books to read, and the image they have is just hours and hours of reading to complete it, so pretending it doesn't exist is much easier. Having to read 20 pages a day may not seem as bad.
  •   Set aside a reading time. Not on your schedule but a time of day that your kid feels is do-able. Get your book, take your kid to Starbucks, get him/her a Mochachino and read together for 30 minutes or an hour. Pair the reading with something pleasurable.
    • If your kid continues to be resistant to follow-through, pair reading with favors. For example, if the PPD has not been completed and your kid asks for a ride, some money, clean laundry etc you can say: "I would love to help you out, but I noticed you haven't done your PPD today, and I don't really feel like complying with your request until you do. I get this reading stuff is hard for you, but it's just something you gotta do.
    • Get the reading list books on tape. Some kids might be more motivated if they were hearing them rather than reading them. Put them on in the car while you are driving. Put it on an old CD player and let them listen with earphones, bring it to the beach and they can tan and "read" at the same time.   
    Get creative.  Just hucking your kid to do the reading is not going to get the job done. You have to "understand" their resistance, rather than criticize it, and help them to develop a plan that makes the impossible seem possible. 

    PS. I am now booking for this upcoming school year seminars. Have Joani will travel..anywhere!! Last year, I spoke in California, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire. Below are the seminars I offer. Talk to your PTOs, religious organizations, community groups or businesses about presenting one of these to your community. I promise it will be fun and informative! Contact me for pricing and availability

    Adolescent Psychology: The Parent Version


    • Learn how the brain affects your teen’s behavior. It’s the battle of the thinking brain VS the feeling brain.
    • Learn Effective strategies for arguing-The Four Ways Of Fighting.
    • Develop effective strategies for keeping your teen safe as they explore the new world of teen life.
    • Learn how to teen-proof your home and cell-proof your teen

    Sexting. Texting and Social Networking: What’s A Parent To Do?
    • Understand how the “emotional brain” of a teen gets “turned on” by social networking.
    • Understand how the “Imaginary Audience” influences your teen’s performing on social media.
    • Learn which apps are safe and unsafe
    • Learn strategies to monitor and set limits around phone and internet use
    • Learn how your own behavior with phones and computers can positively and negatively influence your teen.

    Drugs and Alcohol: How Does Your Teen’s Personality Style, and Your Parenting Style impact their experimentation with drugs and alcohol?
    • Identify your teen’s personality style and risk-factors with drugs and alcohol
    • Identify your parenting style and how it influences your teen’s drug and alcohol use
    • Learn effective strategies and scripts to keep your teen safe
      

    Joani’s Top Ten Parenting Tips
    The secret to parenting is to keep it simple. Learn 10 simple, concrete practical tips useful in those daily moments of stress as a parent when you wish you had the "right thing to do and the right thing to say!


     Joani Geltman MSW     781-910-1770    joanigeltman.com