Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Don't Forget You have ........Today!!!


Are your teens mom or dad dependent for remembering for them? Somehow, you become that person of blame when a practice or rehearsal is missed, or a music lesson, or haircut even though you have a very distinct memory of reminding your teen just that morning of said practice, lesson or appointment. And now somehow, it has become your fault that they forgot it. Isn't it always that way? You never get credit for the good stuff you are responsible for, but get sh** for the stuff that is really their responsibility.

Family calendars in theory are a great idea, especially if you have several children. But their effectiveness is more about keeping your head straight about who is going where and when than for your kids. They can open and close the refrigerator door a thousand time, and never once glance at the schedule. After all, their head is filled with way more important things as they mindlessly survey the contents of the fridge. That big board is just filled with alot of useless letters and words.

So you have a choice. Let the calendar speak for itself, and declare yourself off duty as the schedule master. If you stick to your guns, your teens will learn by default that the responsibility of keeping track of their lives will fall to them. Natural consequences like angry coaches or piano teachers might yield a change in behavior. Or, you can keep the schedule in play for youself, and find better strategies to remind your kids about what is coming up. Just saying "don't forget...." is not a strategy. In the moment they hear you, but in the chaos of their brain, as soon as a thought with more importance pings, your reminder is long gone. Develop a system together, a text message, a note on their steering wheel if they drive, an alarm set on their phone. Be creative, like dogs who salivate when they hear the can opener, and know that food is on the way, so can your teens be trained. Just get creative!

And in other news,  I will only be writing blogs on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I want to make sure my blogs stay fresh and full of energy. And hey, how about telling 5 new people about my book? Word of mouth is the best advertising there is. And for all my loyal blog followers you would be doing a "mitzvah" (that's yiddish for a good deed.) Now that you know that word, you can use it on your kids every time they do something nice! They won't know what you mean, but it sounds really nice!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

How To Relieve Stress...Easily

You might be surprised to know that according to the theory of the worst offenders in the stress category, it is the "daily hassles" rather than a major life crisis that causes one to feel the most stressed on any given day. Traffic, being late, pop quizzes, demanding bosses, irritating teens, irritating parents, lines at the supermarket, no parking spaces, speeding tickets, parking tickets, dirty laundry, over scheduled, being rushed, etc, etc, etc. I am sure that you and your teens can build on this list forever. It's not that the big things like report cards, college stuff, financial difficulties, family illness or crisis, marriage and partner issues don't cause us stress, that would be a ridiculous thing to say, but it is the smaller stuff that happens on a daily basis that makes us the most crazy.

The good news is that there is an anecdote to these daily hassles. It is called "uplifts." An uplift is an unexpected pleasant surprise (for me, after a crummy day of hassles, it is stopping by my favorite frozen yogurt store for my fix and finding out that Black Raspberry is the flavor of the day. Honestly that changes everything for me.) Or, an uplift can be something that you know will change the course of your day, and availing yourself of it.

Uplifts can be powerful stuff in the stress relieving department. It can be especially effective to lift your teen out of a particularly bad mood. Two reasons this is important. First, if your teen is in a crummy mood, they will make your life miserable. Just being the supportive, "hey honey, what's wrong" parent usually backfires with a "just leave me alone!" Secondly, it is a good way to teach your teen about managing stress.

So here is how it might work. When you "get" that your teen has had a crappy day, for whatever reason they don't feel like sharing, think about what might be an "uplift" for them and surprise them with it. Maybe it is stepping out to Starbucks at 8:00 PM and bringing them a mochachino latte that you know might put a smile on that face. Or maybe their room is a disaster area, and you surprise them when they get home from an evening practice with a nice cleaned up space. Maybe after a particularly stressful day, you gift them a stay home fake sick day to mellow out and veg. Don't ask what they want, and don't expect anything in return. Those are the rules. The whole point of an uplift, is to give an unexpected "gift" that breaks the negative mood, and then lets them move on.

PS: Do it for yourself too!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

When A Store Makes a Teen Girl Feel "Small"

Oh how I wish "small" in this case means not large. But small in my title means "less than" and not "small enough." BandyMelville is the name of the hottest new store for teen girls. Their "gimmick" is to offer a "one size fits all" which really mean "one size fits tiny girls." I visited this store over the weekend to see for myself. At 11:00 AM on a Sunday the store was packed with tween-teen age girls. Unless a teen was a 0-1-2 forget buying any jeans, leggings, shorts, or sweats or tiny little crop tops. They did have some cute oversized flannels shirts, and sweaters, so normal sized girls could still find things to shop for.

What is disturbing for me about this store is it's target audience is teenage girls. Girls who are in the throws of puberty, consumed with body image and how they see themselves and how others see them. And here comes a store that exploits this very vulnerable age group. 'I'm so skinny I can wear Brandy Melville jeans."Apparently it is a badge of honor to be able to fit into these tiny togs. And as trends go, this is one that belongs to a very exclusive club. Just what teens need, another way to feel less than and excluded!

These are not unique, one of a kind clothes. These are the same clothes I saw on the rack at Forever 21 across the street. So if this makes you just slightly disgusted, remember parents, your power and your daughter's power is in the wallet. What a great message to send to your teen, "you know honey, I don't want to give my money to a store that excludes girls who are a normal, healthy size. You can use your own money if you want to shop there, but I don't feel comfortable buying clothes at this kind of store, that preys on teen girls to be thin." Maybe you'll even get your daughters on board to spend their money elsewhere in solidarity of the sisterhood!

If your teen does want to shop there, at least give her some strategies so that she doesn't leave the store feeling like a piece of sh**. If she is a size 4 or above tell her not to set herself up for disappointment by trying on jeans that are meant for only very tiny girls. There are other options in the store. Tell her she can by her bottom half stuff elsewhere! Here is a clip of a segment I did this morning about Brandy Melville on Fox news. I was a lively discussion!
http://www.myfoxboston.com/clip/10730280/one-size-fits-39small39-teen-brand-stirs-controversy

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Open The Door And Send Them Out To Play


I know the world can be a scary place. God knows we are bombarded with it these days by Ebola, ISIS, scary stories about teens.  These are crazy making for parents. It makes us want to hold tight to our kids and keep them as safe as we can. Sometimes that holding tight for safety has mixed messages. Often parents say no to giving their teens the independence to safely navigate the world that will soon become their life when they leave home for college. But they give them access to drugs and alcohol in the house and technology that can potentially create addiction, contact with questionable people and way way too much access to cell phones, media and distractions with no supervision. But when their teen asks to take public transportation to go into "the city" parents quake in their shoes and say no.

I am always so shocked when I ask teens to describe their "world" to me. It is a world of being chauffeured by parents to friends houses, activities and parties because many teens now show little interest in getting their license. It is a world of houses and hangouts that never change from week to week. Rarely do I hear teens talk about getting on the "T" to go to "the city." I have talked to a lot of college students who go to schools on suburban campuses who never leave their campus to investigate the wealth of culture and energy that a "city" can provide, even when colleges provide shuttles to the closest public transportation. Somewhere along the way we have scared our teens.

Taking risks, safe ones mean doing something new and challenging. It means figuring out directions, destinations, and making decisions without knowing the outcome. When is the last time your teen came to you for permission to do something like that. When my daughter was a senior in high school her group of friends wanted to go on a vacation after graduation together. My daughter asked if she could go. My answer was if you have the money and the will, go for it. I remember many of the parents wanted and did take over the planning of the trip for these girls, suggesting destinations, getting them the best price, finding the best airline etc. There was even a "parent meeting" to discuss the trip. Always the rebel, I refused to go. What is the point of an adventure, or can you even call it an adventure, if mommy and daddy do all the planning.What lessons are learned?

I remember my own post-high school graduation vacation I took with my 8 best friends. The planning was actually more fun than the week we had in Hyannis. Looking for the cottage, doing comparative pricing, and deciding which cape destination had the potential for the most boys took months of planning. And when we opened the door that June day to our very own cottage rental we felt euphoric. We had planned and talked and argued for months, and now here we were.

Encourage your teen to take safe risks, to venture out of their comfort zone without your help. The confidence and competence they will feel and take away is worth it....for both of you.

Have I mentioned that I would love you to post a review of my book on Amazon?
https://www.amazon.com/review/create-review?ie=UTF8&asin=0814433669&channel=reviews-product&nodeID=&ref_=cm_cr_pr_wr_but_top#

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Hazing Gone Seriously Wrong


This past weekend a story broke about a high school football team in New Jersey where a disturbing hazing incident took place. The alleged hazing involved wrestling a nude 9th grade player, fresh from the showers,  to the floor, while a fellow player digitally penetrated his anus. Sorry if you are reading this with your morning coffee. Disgusting, humiliating. This is not hazing, this is sexual assault.

I know boys will be boys, but really! The school superintendent has suspended the entire team from play and the football season is now over for this team. They are investigating not only this incident but the culture of athletic and activities of the entire system.

I feel bad for everyone. I feel terrible for the victims who were underclassman, who must have been elated to make the varsity team,  and looked forward to playing for their high school team. Now that has all been tainted. I feel bad for the senior boys who were responsible for the hazing. I truly believe that they really didn't didn't think there was anything that wrong with what they were doing. After all, in their minds, they are probably thinking: "it's not like anyone got hurt! Their lives will be forever effected."

Who I feel no sympathy for are the coaches, and the staff  and maybe even the parents whose kids are on the team. Somewhere along the line, these kids are just not getting the message that hazing is serious business. Hazing, in this case, was not only physically damaging, but it sure as hell is psychologically damaging. When someone, especially a teenager, who is literally at the most psychologically vulnerable time of their life is humiliated in front of their peers, it can do real harm. I get that teenagers don't get this and don't understand this. But the adults do need to get it.

If you have a son or daughter who is on a sports team or a cheer leading squad it is your job to talk about this issue with them. You might tell them about this incident, and then say: " I get that upperclassmen/women feel sometimes that it is their right to "induct" new team member into the team through some traditional rights of passage. Unfortunately those "rights of passage" are illegal if they humiliate or put someone's safety at risk.  This is serious stuff, and I know you might be in a situation someday where you will be the subject of or be asked to be the perpetrator of hazing. Lets figure out what you can do, should you ever find yourself in this situation."

Though all schools now have very strict rules and regulations about hazing, I don't think the communicating part to the kids is happening. This is where you come in. Never expect that someone else will take care of it. Take care of it yourself!

Looking for reviews of my book. I would be very very grateful!https://www.amazon.com/review/create-review?ie=UTF8&asin=0814433669&channel=reviews-product&nodeID=&ref_=cm_cr_pr_wr_but_top#