Tuesday, August 14, 2018

I Love My Mom

I loved loved loved this video. In it, parents describe all the ways they think they have failed their children. "the I'm not a good enough parent" syndrome. I meet a lot of parents who come up to me after a seminar, and say:  "Oops, I guess I've already screwed up my kids, I've done everything wrong!!! They couldn't be more wrong. Yes maybe the consequence they used when their teen did something wrong wasn't that effective. Or maybe you lost it and got over the top mad when you should have tried to keep your temper in check, or maybe your teen disappointed you yet again and you said something that signaled your disappointment in a very strong way that set them off and they felt misunderstood. Of course WE ALL behave in ways sometimes that we regret and wish we had acted differently, especially as parents, But the good news is, your kids will be fine as long as they feel completely loved and accepted, and that the stuff you think you "did wrong" is countered with all the years and years of hugs, and I'm proud of you, and you're awesome stuff!!!!

Teen often bring out the worst in us. There is a parenting adjustment that needs to happen, knowing that the way you parent your teens when they were young just won't work anymore. Frustration at what feels like a lack of power, can turn parents into screaming banshees. But you haven't always been that way, and you won't always be that way. So give yourself a break and watch this video. It will make you feel really really really really good!!!!! And have a box of tissues ready!!
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/31/the-video-every-mom-must-watch_n_4181007.html?1383226374&icid=maing-grid7%7Cmain5%7Cdl1%7Csec1_lnk2%26pLid%3D399391

Thursday, August 9, 2018

When Your Teen Asks You The: Did You Ever Questions

I came across a really interesting article by Dr. Perri Klass, a well know Pediatrician and author on kids and families. The article: Q. Did you ever smoke pot? A. It's complicated,  addresses the anxiety and ambivalence most parents feel when their teens asks this question. Of course the major worry is, if I tell the truth, will my teen use that against me as in " Well you smoked pot or drank when you were my age, so don't be such a hypocrite and tell me I shouldn't."

A study done at the Hazelton Treatment Center in Minnosota actually found that parental honesty about their own history with drugs and alcohol was a positive influence. And that has been my experience with parents as well. When your kid finds out that you dabbled yourself as a teen, I think it makes them feel that they can be more open with you and feel less judged by you if you have experienced the draw of teen experimentation.

Lying never works. If you are trying to encourage your teen to be honest and open with you, you need to return the favor. Which isn't to say that you have to tell the WHOLE truth and nothing but the truth. You do not have to say that you got trashed every weekend. Dr Sharon Levy, the director of the adolescent substance abuse program at Children's Hospital in Boston advises: "You don't need to tell everything. But if you decide to answer don't lie. Tell them the truth without glorifying it, and if you think you made a mistake, tell them that too."

If your teen does decide to turn it against you, you do not need to bite. Clearly if they have been confronted about a episode of drug and alcohol use, they will use any and all means to deflect responsibility for their actions. You do not need to get defensive or argumentative, you can just say we are not talking about me here, we are talking about what happened with you. Hopefully this won't happen because when your teen asked you for full disclosure of your alcohol and drug use it went something like this; " You know honey, I get that you are interested in hearing how I dealt with this stuff when I was a teen. So here goes. I did try pot, but just didn't like the way it made me feel. I didn't like feeling like I wasn't in control,( or when I was stoned, I couldn't concentrate and it stated affecting my school work) With drinking, I hated the feeling of getting drunk and being sick, and seeing other kids do really stupid things. ( insert a story here of some kid you knew who got into trouble drinking) so mostly I would just have a beer or two. When I was a teen we didn't drink hard liquor like teens do now. No one did binge drinking like that. And also pot has really changed since I was a teen. It is much much stronger now. And now there is so much more information about the brain. They didn't know when I was a teen that the brain is still growing, and that drugs and alcohol can actually lead to permanent changes in the way the brain works. Thank god I just kind of dabbled, cause if I knew then what I know now, it would have really changed the way I thought about it. I wouldn't want you to touch a hot stove just to find out you could get burned. My parents didn't know anything about this stuff, or about what I did, thank god nothing bad happened to me. But now we know alot more about brains and the potency of the pot out there, and of course I love you and want to make sure you are making informed decisions. I know that you have a lot ahead of you,  and that you have goals, and want to be successful in life. I wouldn't want to see something that you can be in control of to get out of control and alter you life forever."

Whew!! That's a long paragraph. You can be honest, without being preachy. You want to always keep the conversation open ended. Check in with them often, every weekend, reminding them how much
you love them and want them to be safe.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

The Problem With Mean Girls: Is Your Daughter A Meanie or "Meaned" To?

When you're a parent of a teen, one of the hardest and most heartbreaking things is seeing your teen be left out or excluded from events with kids he/she is friends with or thought they were friends with. A parent called me the other day worried about her 13 year old daughter. Like most girls her age she had her posse of four "besties." After school it seems a delegate from this elite group was chosen to deliver the message. No mincing of words here, "we don't like you anymore." There is no more brutal assault. The daughter was bereft, sobbing and humiliated vowing never to return to school. The mom, feeling every bit as much pain as her daughter wanted to do something, to fix it. "Should I call the school, should I call the parents of the other girls, what should I do?" she asks feeling desperate to make it "all better."

There is a simple answer. Nothing. There is honestly nothing a parent can do to make this better. Best friends on Monday, enemies on Tuesday, best friends again by Friday. There is no rhyme or reason for this fickleness. Kids in middle school are especially susceptible to this jockeying for friends. They are in the midst of going to what I call the "buffet of friends." In elementary school, friends are often chosen by default. Perhaps your best friend has kids the same age, and by default your kids become "best friends." Or maybe your neighborhood is full of kids the same age, and since kindergarten they have been hanging at the bus stop together, taking the bus together, and getting off the bus together and by default end up at each others' house after school, so easy. Think of this like taking your kids to a Chinese buffet. When they are young and overwhelmed by the options, you make their plate up with those things they will eat, chicken wings, fried rice and spare ribs. Now as they get older, they go up to the buffet themselves and are astounded and excited about all the choices, and are anxious to give them a try. Choosing friends in middle school and again in 9th and 10th grade is like going to the buffet for the first time. Wow, look at all these options. I think I would like to try this friend, or that friend.

This means that some kids will do the leaving, and some kids will be left behind. Now that these teen brains are working on overtime, they are thinking more deeply about who these people are they call friends. Whereas in elementary school they only need a warm body for "playing", now they look for friends to talk to, and  to share common interests with. They are less interested in what you have to play with and more with what do you have to offer me? Do I like your personality? Are you too quiet, too loud, to bossy too pretty, not pretty enough? etc etc. Are you fun, do we like to do the same things together? Often in middle school and then again in 9th grade, some kids are ready to transition to more teenagery like behaviors, partying, experimentation with the opposite sex, drugs and alcohol, while some kids are happy with less riskyish behavior.

All this is a set up for feelings of betrayal and exclusion. It is painful, and the good news, is they will get over it. As for your role, there is not much more to do than understanding their pain, and providing tons of TLC. If you insinuate yourself into these friend dynamics you will regret it. Perhaps you have never liked the girl who has just defriended your daughter, and you tell her so. Thinking you are making it better, you wax on and on about what a bad friend this girl has been,  and good bye to bad rubbish! The only problem with this is that the next day, when the girls have made up, your daughter now knows you hate this kid, and will never talk to you again about her.

I talked to a mom about this yesterday at one of my "Ask The Expert" parties whose daughter was experiencing all these friend complications. She said that her daughter would come to her crying and in her effort to make her feel better would try to solve the problem for her, by giving her all kinds of strategies. The daughter, not looking for help, just a shoulder to cry on, then gets angry at mom for interfering. Thats' what I am saying. Stay out of it!!!!! Your kids need to learn to figure this all out for themselves. Obviously if it is more of a bullying situation, it may require a different strategy, but if it is old-fashioned cat-fighting, just let it be. Your kids will have a lifetime of friendships for which they are now in training. It's a bit like basic training. In the beginning, you never think you'll get through it, and then you get stronger and smarter, and you get better at figuring it all out. Just be patient, they'll have to sweat a little.

Now having just told you to mind your own business, I do have one caveat. A parent recently told me of this situation. Her daughter went to a friend's house with 7 other girls for a weekend night "girl party." It seems that this girl cherry picked 5 of the girls to sleep over and left the other two out of the sleepover. As you can imagine, those two girls felt like s**t.  It didn't seem like the host's mom had any idea this had happened. If your kid has a group of friends over, there should be a proportion rule. In the example above, the parents should have been aware of the situation from the beginning, knowing who was invited for the sleepover. In a large group of 7, I get that all the girls sleeping over might have been too much, but 5 out of 7 is just too exclusionary. Have a rule in your home about sleepovers that states, either everyone or just 1. It would make sense the host girl wanted someone with her to finish out her fun night with the girls. I think all the girls could have understood the one rule, but they didn't understand the 5 and not you two rule. Your teens might need some of this kind of help. You won't choose the sleepover friend, but you can teach them about inclusion!

Thursday, August 2, 2018

When Is It My Turn To Be The Good Cop?

When kids are young arguments between parents tend toward eating and TV habits, and bedtimes and manners. Ah, the good ole days say parents of teenagers. If only we were just arguing about too much junk food. Arguments for parents of teens get much more personal. "You never say no, or all you ever do is say no, or why am I always the bad guy, or don't you remember when you were a teen, or kids will be kids, can't you just lighten up?" Worries about your teens safety, future,  and their success in life are present in every decision and negotiation you go through with your teen. Differences in personality and style with your parenting partner can become especially apparent in parenting your teen.

Most of us have very vivid memories of our own teenage years and the parents who got us through them. Some memories skew toward the awful. "My parents were so rigid, and punitive, I never want to be that way with my teen, or "I got away with everything, my parents were clueless, its amazing I am still alive, I will be much more on top of stuff with my teenager." You can see the inherent problem here. If you and your partner were parented from opposite ends of the parenting spectrum, and now are parenting from those perspectives, your teen will be in hog heaven. There is nothing easier for a teen than having parents who are extreme opposites. Because their brain now allows them to analyze their parents and how they parent, (your own private couples counselor) they can now figure out who is the best parent to go to for which things. Want to go to a concert and stay out late, go to the parent who is excited you love music and feels concerts are a rights of passage. Definitely do not ask the parent who would never let you go out on a school night, thinks concerts are only for drug addicts, and whose only experience with concerts is the Symphony.

This is problematic, not only because your kid is learning how manipulate his parenting duo, but also because it is a set-up for one parent to have a satisfying and fun relationship with their teen while the other parent ends up with the anger, and the lack of connection as the "bad cop parent."No fair! If there are two parents present in the family, it is important for this teen to have a model of cooperation. If a teen learns to manipulate a situation to his advantage on the home front, this then becomes a roadmap for manipulation in other relationships as well,  with friends, with co-workers when they start a career, and any future partnership or marriage of their own. Teens learn how to manage the world from the people who are closest to them, and that my friends are their parents.

The only way to deal with this is to at least have an agreement that neither parent will impulsively give their teen the immediate answer to a request. Teens are extremely talented in the art of negotiation and are not good at delaying gratification, that doesn't mean that you have to feed into that. Both parents have to get into the habit of saying, "your mom/dad and I will get back to you on that." When your kid pressures you for an answer, nothing really you have to say here, but give a shrug of your shoulders, a smile, and a we'll get back to you, and thats that. If is something that is time sensitive, and the other parent is not at home, thats why cellphones and texting were created. Obviously this strategy is for decisions you know are open to question, not the run of the mill, can I go hang at Joey's house. Do not ever disagree as a marital unit in front of your teen!!!! Take it outside, into the bathroom, in the car. Kids love seeing you two fight over this kind of stuff, and it can make one or the other parent seem ineffective and powerless. So please do your own negotiating privately, especially when you have to take defeat. You and your parenting partner may come from two very different places, but respect for each other always always always needs to be modeled. Even saying to your teen after a decision has been made: "you know I get why your mom/dad was so worried about having you do this. But we talked about it and here is why we came to this decision. You are communicating parenting understanding,not necessarily agreement, but respect for differing opinions. Believe me, this will come in very handy when you need your teen to understand you!!

Booking seminars for the fall!!! Invite mew to speak at your company during for a lunch-time seminar, your kid's school, your church/temple or community group.

Understanding Your Child’s Temperament and Personality
Strategies For The Future

 Is your child:

·      The adventurer
·      The lawyer
·      The child who always says no
·      The anxious/shy child
·      A combination of all 4

 This 1 hour  seminar describes these personality styles and gives parents the strategies to bring out the best in their child both in the present and implications for their development from childhood through their teen years.

 Audience: Parents of all ages

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!
Audience: All ages

FOR PARENTS OF TEENS

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

College Bound:
  • Understand the emotional journey of your college bound high school student
  • Understand the emotional journey of a parent of college bound high school student
  • Learn strategies for making this process successful and positive

With over 40 years of experience working with families, Joani's approach, using humor, storytelling and easy to use tools make the job of parenting just a little bit easier.
Joani Geltman MSW     781-910-1770    joanigeltman.com








Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Sleepover Scams

Summertime sleepovers are in high demand. Unless your teen needs to be up early for work or some summer program, you're not left with too many excuses about why they can't sleep at a friends after a night out or hang. During the school year when I teach college classes about Adolescents to Adolescents I ask my my college students to tell me what they argued about most with their parents, when they were in high school. They raised their hands with the usual; messy room, laundry, fighting with siblings, messy room, laundry, rest and repeat. But one student raised her hand and told me how every weekend she would fight with her parents to be able to take the car on the weekend nights when her evening would end up with a sleepover at a friends. Coming home to sleep, no problem, take the car, sleeping at a friends, no way. Turns out it wasn't even the family car, it was her own car.  I was intrigued, and puzzled. But then the real story revealed itself.

Hypothetically speaking here, if your teen brings your car to a sleepover with your permission, then the ease of sneaking out after curfew with those attending the sleepover is considerably easier. Because of course the sleepover host parents have obviously told their teen that use of the car is verboten after everyone is home and accounted for. Meaning you better not sneak out. Now technically speaking when another teen has brought a car to your house, and the sleepover crew sneaks out and drives away in the friends car, from their point of view they are not technically breaking a rule. After all it wasn't YOUR car they used for the getaway. Let me emphasize here that the teen rationalization for being out and about after curfew is well, "It wasn't your car." As if the car is the issue!

I surveyed the class to see if this was just one rogue ballsey student, but when I asked who else pulled this sleepover scan, almost the entire class of 30 hands went up! So where would you go at 1 in the morning? I asked naively. "To a boys house, to a party, to get a food. "But how could you just walk into someone's house that late, weren't the parents home? I asked again naively. "Through the basement door, through the front door. The parents were asleep or away for the weekend and just never knew!

So I don't think you want your teens driving around late at night, partying and trying to get home before you get up after a night of drinking! So please parents, supervise those sleepovers. Set your alarms, and get up and do a bed check at 2 AM and 4 AM. And most importantly, let your teen know that you will be doing this. If teens think they can get away with something, they will give it their all. How many times have you said your goodnights, and gone up your two or three flights of stairs none the wiser to what your night owl teens are up too. This is about temptation not trust. Don't set your teen up for failure or unsafe decisions.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

The Curse Of Summer Reading

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

    Tuesday, July 24, 2018

    The Two Most Annoying Teen Behaviors: Solutions!!!!

    Laundry:
    This might be one of the major hurdles that parents and teens just can't get past. Forget drugs. alcohol, sex, cellphones, computers; why can't they just put their damn laundry away?????? It is this question that has plagued parents since the concept of clean clothes was born. The answer is that kids don't give a s**t about their laundry. They just like the magical laundry fairy to deliver their clean laundry all folded up nicely to their room. They don't really think about the real person who has done it,  or that putting away this beautiful folded laundry would make the laundry fairy happier than almost anything else. The Laundry fairy, however, is being driven quietly insane by this basket of nicely folded laundry that is emptied out on the floor as their teen scrounges through it looking for their favorite white tee shirt, leaving the beautifully folded laundry in a heap either hanging off, inside or outside of the laundry basket. What's a laundry fairy to do?

    There are two easy possible solutions:

     First just do it yourself. It will take 5 minutes of your time, and it will be one less thing to argue with your teen about. Consider it a gift of parenthood. Also, and not of minor importance, it gives you access to your teens drawers where you might potentially find contraband of some sort or another that gives you insight into your teen's life!

    Second, if your teen won't put this beautifully folded laundry away, then STOP FOLDING IT! Do the laundry as always, and bring to your teen a basket of clean but unfolded laundry. If they aren't happy with this new adjustment, you can calmly say: " Since it didn't seem important to you to put your laundry away to keep it unwrinkled, I figured it didn't need to be folded at all. If you feel differently, I would be happy to fold your laundry when you decide that putting it in your drawers keeps your clothes they way you like them. Just let me know what you decide."

    Dirty Dishes and food wrappers
    This is another one of those issues that drives parents absolutely crazy. "Why can't my teen bring his dirty dishes, glasses, food wrappers etc up to the kitchen and put them in the dishwasher????" Why, because they absolutely could not give a s**t!! It doesn't bother them, and as soon as they are finished with whatever foodstuffs they have consumed, it is out of sight out of mind!

    Here is a solution: Buy cheap paper plates and cups. New rule, any food consumed out of the kitchen is to be eaten or drunk from the paper products now available on kitchen counters everywhere. This includes bedrooms, family rooms, and basements. Your job is to provide ample trash receptacles in every location, strategically placed next to couches, chairs, cushions or other lounging areas. The more wastebasket availability the better. Don't just leave it at that. Have a training session. Bring some snacks to your trash toting teen using said paper products, and when they have finished eating, practice putting the trash in the available trash receptacles. 

    Sometimes it's better to problem solve than nag. If they can't, won't, don't, bring the dishes upstairs, then figure out other ways for them to consume. Many parents worry that if they don't "teach" their kids how to clean up after themselves than as adults they won't know how to do it. This is not true!!! If you have provided a good model from the get-go on a keeping a well-ordered home then that is the model that will be present for them when it is time for them to have their own home. Trust me I know this from my own experience with my daughter and all the young adults I have watched grow up. They all are wonderful keepers of their homes, but as teens they were just like yours!

    PS: I am now booking for my fall seminars. If you enjoy my blog, you will love my seminars, two hours of non-stop humor and problem solving. Why not give your principal or PTO presidents a heads up about the work I do with parents. Call 781-910-1770 or email joani@joanigeltman.com for more info. I will travel!!