Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Power Of Understanding: It Really Works!

Do you ever wonder why your teen's eyes roll back in their head every time you offer an opinion or think you have the answers to all of their problems. Most assuredly you are probably right! But unless you figure out a more effective way to deliver your message than " well you know honey, here is what I would do, and then blah blah blah,"you will undoubtedly walk away from these encounters unhappy.

Before you offer up your opinion, your teen has to first feel that you really do understand what they are dealing with. So for example, if your teen comes back from a practice and rants on and on about the coach and how he/she is an asshole, and never gives them any play, and is so mean and they want to quit, you have several ways to respond. You can say" You are not quitting, you are part of the team, and this is the way it is, suck it up!" Or you could say, " you know what honey, that guy really is an asshole, want me to give him/her a call and see if I can get him/her to give you more playtime." Or you could say, " you know honey, I think you should go up to the coach after practice, and let him know that you feel that he is not giving you enough play, and if he/she is having a problem with you, just let you know so you can work on it." All three of these responses indicate that you know better, and that you have the solution to the problem. While any one of these might take care of the problem, the response from your teen will probably be more like, " NO that's stupid, you don't understand, that's ridiculous, see that's why I never tell you anything.!" And so now you are hurt and mad at them because they think you are stupid, so instead of a warm fuzzy moment, you both stomp away completely unsatisfied with each other. 

Here is an alternative that works literally in every situation. It is what I call an " I get it" moment. Who doesn't want to be understood? We all do. There really is nothing more powerful then when someone "gets you". So in the above situation, rather than offering up an instant solution, you might start with an " I get how this feels really unfair. I get sitting on the bench sucks. What do you think is going on with the coach?"  This approach takes a lot longer, but your teen needs to learn how to process feelings and turn them into action him or herself.  If you give a solution they will tell you that you are stupid, I can almost guarantee it. But if you try to get them to solve the problem, you come out smelling like a rose.

These I get it moments work when your teen breaks curfew or doesn't do their homework, or gets disrespectful towards you, or doesn't take out the garbage, or screams at his/her younger siblings. Literally anywhere anyhow. " I get your brother can be a pain in the ass lets......" rather than "if you hit your brother one more time I'm taking away your phone, your computer..." " I get taking out the garbage is the absolutely last thing you want to be doing, lets figure out...." rather than" I am sick and tired of asking you to take out the garbage, you are lazy and ungrateful." I get you get caught up with your friends and lose track of the time, lets figure out a way...." rather than, you're grounded, I am sick of your excuses. "I get you are pissed off at me, and hate me sometimes, how can we do better?" rather than don't you ever talk to me that way again, I'm taking away your phone!

If you were a teenager which statement would encourage you to talk?

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Saying NO May Have Unexpected Consequences

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 to 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 the book I published a few years ago: A Survival Guide To Parenting Teens, Talking To Your Kids About Sexting Drinking Drugs and Other Things That Freak You Out, (see how I put that plug in this blog!) was in it's infant stage, 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 the hit to my ego. But now I can see that this NO is what made my book something I am really proud of. At the time, I didn't think I had in me, to re-think and re-write, 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.

http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/editorials/2014/03/27/are-millenials-hearing-enough/HPRtqb0oh2eH8Bocjo4chL/story.html

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Things Teens Do To Make Their Parents Crazy!!

What is it with these teens anyway? How can they be so self-absorbed, and selfish? How many times have you found yourself saying to your teen: "I ask so little of you, you can't even do this one thing, after all the things I do for you, even just this one thing you can't do?????"

You are right when you say that it doesn't make sense. Cause it doesn't. How hard is it to empty the dishwasher, or bring the basket of freshly washed and folded clothes (which you very nicely did for them) up to their room and put it all away? Obviously not hard. It may be that it is your delivery system of expectations that isn't working. Notes, too easy to ignore, in-person requests, to easy to dismiss..."I'll do it!!!!!!!" But of course they don't. Why? Cause there is really no real motivation to do it. They don't really care about their laundry, until of course they can't find their favorite pair of jeans that you must be hiding somewhere, and now they're late, and it's all your fault!!! Crazy making!

Find a delivery system that will work. Is it a text? Is it an alarm on their phone? Is it a denial of a ride request, money for the weekend, new outfit. As in "gee honey, I'd love to do, take, buy X for you, let me know when you empty the dishwasher. But I will tell you what doesn't work, and that is the yelling, and the lecturing that they only think of themselves. The truth, they do only think about themselves....for now. Your son or daughter does not have a character flaw, you have not spoiled them (unless you have), they are in this moment of time, and they do need your help, just not the yelling kind.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Popularity In The 21st Century: The Epidemic Of Being "Liked"

Below is a link to a PBS Frontline show that I found both illuminating and disturbing. There is a new kind of "popularity" in town, and you don't have to have the coolest clothes, be the cutest, or hang with the right people. You can become popular in the comfort and privacy of your own home, or in the back seat of your parents car, at the dinner table, doing your homework, anywhere, as long as you have your trusty smartphone, ipad, or laptop.

The new popularity can happen in a click. Put up a photo, click you're liked. Write something silly, click, you're liked. Say something sexy or provocative, click you're liked. Make a youtube video in your room and talk about yourself or other people, click, you're liked. Get enough likes and you are not only popular but the newest sensation.

Is your teen caught up in the endless cycle of "liking and being liked." Maybe you  too have gotten caught up in it too. Maybe you posted a video of your family taking on last year's "ice bucket challenge." Yes, you did it for charity, but seriously wouldn't you have been disappointed if no one "liked" or commented on your adorable family. Or, your dog just did the cutest thing, and you posted it on instagram or twitter and facebook, and waited patiently for the likes and comments to come pouring in. Face it, it feels really good. I get it, I love it too! It's addictive, and it makes us feel acknowledged and yes "liked."

As adults, we have perspective. We get it's all a little self-serving, but it brings joy and fun into our lives, and who doesn't need a little of that from time to time. But hopefully, we can set limits on ourselves and the time we give to this public pursuit of "likeness." We have had years to develop competence and confidence in who we are and what we have accomplished in life, and that is the real stuff that feeds our self-esteem. Teens, on the other hand are in a time in their life when they may not be feeling confident or competent in much of anything. And getting 50 likes for saying something or posting something a little outrageous can provide them with a much needed boost in their confidence, even if it is given for no real accomplishment. And that is the real issue. Confidence and self-esteem that lasts is built on a foundation of real accomplishments. Confidence and self-esteem that is built on accumulation of "likes" and "followers" and "friends" has no real lasting effect, and can actually hinder the development of an identity.

This is why I feel so passionate about parents needing to be really on top of how much time their teens give in the pursuit of "likeness" Life is about balance. Take a good long honest look at your kids. How much time do they spend in the endless cycle of posting and re posting and commenting, and "liking. " Like some of the kids in the Frontline story, sometimes this pursuit of popularity takes the place of actually living a life full of real living. If your teen's life seems out of balance, they will need help from you to create some. They will not "like" it. So be it, you can get your "likes" somewhere else for now. Watch this video with your kids, and talk to them about it. It is a discussion worth having! If you "like" this post, and want more parents to understand this phenomenon so that your teen can't say to you, "nobody else's parent is worried about this" than please share this post with  five friends who have teens!
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/generation-like/

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Juuling and Vaping: The New "Smokin In The Bathroom" Trends

Ok, gratitude, thankfulness, Thanksgiving yeah yeah yeah, now its back to reality!! Juuling and vaping two more things teens do that parents didn't do as teens but have to know about!!! The article below does a great job of explaining what this is and how teens do it, so I won't be redundant, I'll let you read for yourself. But talk with your teen you must!!! This will be another example of something teens think is NO BIG DEAL!!! Juuling is wayyy more potent than smoking a cigarette. The nicotine is much stronger and more dangerous. It actually can give you a high!! It can also be used, along with a vape pen to smoke pot. Vaping is old school, but Juuling is new to me too and I work with parents all the time. It look like a zip drive so your teen may be using it and you think they just have a bunch of new zip drives, being so responsible and saving all their school reports. NOPE

Why do kids juul: To look cool, just like you wanted to do when you smoked your first cigarette, to get a buzz, and maybe to to hide smoking pot. Many kids are buying these on-line since you have to be 18, but I have heard from parents that they are pretty easy to get in local convenience stores who see a new source of revenue now that not many people are smoking ciggies these days. Sooooo if your teen seems to be going through more cash than usual, you might want to check for vape pens and juuls.

Read this article aloud to your teens. Understand using an " I Get It" statement: "I get that kids don't think that this is any big deal, and that it is kind a fun to do. Who doesn't like to do something a little sneaky and bad, I know I did when i was a teen. But this is much more dangerous than you might think, and I know that kids are also using these to smoke pot which though legal is not safe for a growing brain. Tell me what you think about it?"

Remember,  start talking with a tone in your voice that communicates understanding and interest in their point of view. If you come in with a lecture, you'll go out with an eye roll and a shut down teen!


https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2017/11/15/where-teenagers-are-high-school-bathrooms-vaping/IJ6xYWWlOTKqsUGTTlw4UO/story.html

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

All You Need Is Love!!!

There is something about the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.  Maybe its the embedded memory of a half day at school and the anticipation of four days of freedom. I know for me its also the anticipation of my favorite meal ever, looking forward to savoring every morsel of turkey and stuffing. But what I look forward to most is the minute my beloved daughter walks in the door on Thanksgiving day. There is nothing more special, more delicious, than that first hug with your child, no matter how grown up. Thanksgiving is a day to be treasured. All the worries of daily life, messy rooms, bad attitudes, disappointing grades, worries about money, job, family responsibility all put aside in order to cherish and preserve the present; family, food, and football. ( I personally hate football, but I get it's importance to some)

I know sometimes for parents this is no easy task. Maybe you have had a hard week with your teen, arguments, hurt feelings, parents feeling ignored and abandoned by their kids. I wanted to share especially for these parents a poem that a parent shared with me. She and her son had been at odds at what felt like forever. She was so saddened by the change in their relationship, and was working really hard to find some common ground with her son in this battlefield. One morning, going into her son's room to grab his laundry, she found this poem on the floor. This was not a school assignment, but an impulsive pouring out of thoughts. He did not hand his mom this poem as an olive branch, but instead, left it out for her to find. It is a tribute to the love a son has for his family. Know this, that what you often see on the outside, is not what is really going on the inside. Thanksgiving day is a day for you to share those feelings with your kids. Take the inside love and wear it on the outside, at least for the day, and maybe they will too. 


Where Am I From

I am from long nights lying on the grass
I am from days packed with sports
I am from burnt rice and undercooked hot dogs
I am from arguing about the stupidest things
I am from Love
I am from listening to my ipod late at night
I am from turning on my fan just for the noise
I am from letting facebook turn 1 hour of work into 3
I am from tiptoeing to the bathroom so my mom thinks I'm still asleep
I am from prayers said with the rest of my family over wine, even though I can’t drink
I am from Love
I am from Life

Thursday, November 16, 2017

It's Time For A Little Thanks

In the last few months, close friends of mine have dealt with life issues that seem unbearable; major health issues, loss of parents and husbands; children who have been diagnosed with scary health issues; big big big issues. It does make me feel so thankful for the blessings of family, friends, satisfying work, and good health. Life isn't perfect, and there are many days I feel discouraged, or whiny about what now seem like such silly things in light of what my friends are dealing with. So this Thanksgiving is a time for real thanks.

Your teen may need a little dose of that thanks this holiday. Maybe things haven't been so great. Maybe report cards have been disappointing, or their attitude towards you and the family has you pulling your hair out, or they seem ungrateful and entitled, or distant and uncommunicative. There is not much good to be found. And the more they disappoint, the more you pull away.  Sometimes we need an excuse to wipe the slate. Why not have Thanksgiving be that excuse. If you have found the last few months weighing in on the negative, maybe just for the next few days, you share some thankful moments with your teen. Maybe a text, or a card left on their bed with a " I get things have been hard between us over the last few months, but I am so grateful that you are my son/daughter. I cannot imagine my life without your (insert some of the good stuff here, here are some examples: humor; getting me to watch movies I never would have picked but loved; forced me to learn about..., you get the idea.) I know we will get past this other stuff. I love you."

Don't look for a response or a thank you. This is a selfless gift you are giving with no expectations. Teens need to know that with all the crap they hand out, you will always love them, plain and simple.

Treasure these days.