Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Back Seat Parenting: Get Out Of The Car!

 I was working out at my Gym over the weekend, huffing and puffing my way through some sit-ups while a small group training class was taking place around me. In this group of 5 was a dad and his teenage son. Oh, I thought, how lovely that the're sharing this time together doing something they both love to do. Well it turns out, I think it was just the dad who loves working out. I only surmised this after ogling his very ripped and toned body!!! Hey I'm only human! The son it turns out, not ripped and toned. Tall and skinny and clearly suffering through this workout at the behest of his dad. The trainer was a great guy; enthusiastic, supportive and doing his best to be this boy's cheerleader. The dad on the hand, grunting and groaning through his own lifts with some major wight poundage, still managed to yell out to his son going through his own workout; " use your abs!!!! and "lift don't swing those weights." As you can imagine, this boy/man now beat red in the face, rolled his eyes, and glared menacingly at his dad. The bubble over his head saying: "You know who I'd like to swing these weights at?????"

You are all good at something. And you hope, wish, and pray that maybe your kids will be good at the same things you're good at. Isn't that the circle of life? Maybe it all works out that way, but usually not, and especially not when your kids are teenagers. The last thing they want, is to be any which way at all like you!

Perhaps writing is your thing, and you are an editor extraordinaire; your teen's in-house managing editor. But believe me, your teen is shaking in his Adidas when you walk in the room asking to see his latest writing assignment. Feeling inadequate, measured against your experience and writing finesse, he has only written a few sentences, and you balk at his procrastination. Or perhaps you are a math wizard, and your teen's frustration tolerance for challenging math homework rivals a two year old's tantrums. And your frustration over their lack of understanding drives you mad.

Maybe you are a tennis(insert any sport you love) enthusiast, and have had your teen in tennis clinics since they were old enough to hold a racket. You have dreamed of these teenage years when you can get on the court together and play ball! You have so much to offer and teach, and believe me you do!! "take a full swing, throw the ball higher when you serve, run goddamn it, you could have gotten that volley!" Sounds like fun to me.

Get the point? The quickest way to squash enthusiasm in your teen is by offering your unsolicited "feedback."You have got to tread lightly in the coaching department. If they have actual coaches than let them do the work, and be the supportive cheerleader. Let their teachers do their job, and understand with your teen their frustration and their worry about being good enough, rather than adding to their worry about being good enough..for you. Adolescence is a time of life when defining themselves, their strengths, their weaknesses is a huge challenge. They are feeling enough of their own-self imposed pressure and expectations. Living up to yours should not be more important than living up to their own.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Do You Know About The App YUBO? You Should!!

If I were single,  25 years old, and looking to meet a cute guy who lived or worked near me for a spontaneous drink and let's see where the night takes us..... I might use the dating app Tinder. At 25 I hope I would be able to discern a creep from a cutie, know to protect my privacy by not giving out any personal information and be prepared for a quick escape plan should I need it! A teenager not so much.

There's a new app in town, or at least a newly named app YUBO formally YELLOW. This is the icon:

Does your teen have this app on his/her phone?? DELETE IT!! It is Tinder for the teen set. You know, swipe left if you like me, swipe right if you don't. If we both like each other the future is ours for the swiping!! You know what, the future is the best thing your teen has going for them. A future as a young adult when they have the experience and judgment to handle the boundary free journey that these dating apps take you on and challenge you to stay safe on. But as a teenager, there is no such experience yet, and there is no mature judgment because they are still in the "firsts" of what it means to get to know another person with romantic or sexual goals in mind. There may have been no real life lessons yet about the good, the bad and the ugly about dating. The "awesomeness of someone   thinking you are "hot" or "cute"is just too much to turn down! This can be an enticing app for those teens who love attention, and what teen doesn't. Talk about validation!!! If you have been the shy guy or girl, or feel that the kids in your school are just not your people, this app can be especially desirable, giving a teen the opportunity to try out a whole new persona, knowing this person doesn't know them as the awkward or quiet kid from their history class. It can be a heady fresh start!!

A major danger of this app is that it connects to instagram and snapchat once the two parties have both "chosen" each other, which gives access to all kinds of personal information. As you can imagine this over sharing of information to strangers is not safe, and of course you can bet that there are many predators out there salivating at the thought of these naive and trusting kids.

A parent recently wrote to me about this app and correctly thought it was definitely not a good thing.  Her husband, though,  thought it was a great way for their son to "practice" talking to girls! But as you can imagine, much drama can ensue!!! There is temptation for these "faux" relationships to get intense and intimate and since parents have no idea they are even going on, they are powerless to supervise and set appropriate boundaries around the relationship. And honestly, our world is superficial enough, do we need to start kids at 13 swiping and choosing potential crushes based completely and solely on looks and photoshopped photos! What kind of message does that send?

Ok, so you can obviously tell that I think this app is a no no! If your teen has already downloaded, take them to this site: protectyoungeyes.com and scroll down to the YUBO app review. This way it is an expert telling them it's bad not their parent! At this point, a simple "this is not a safe app, I get you are disappointed but it is my job to keep you safe until you have the experience to do that for yourself." End of story, you don't have to say anything more. I have said this before, your teen's phone should have parental controls on it so that they literally have to come to you to unlock the ability to download apps. When this is in place you won't have to go to the delete place. Taking something away from your teen that they are already attached to absolutely sucks...for you!!! Let's preempt that fight by you being in control of what goes on their phone in the first place!!

PS: I have a favor. I am working with a spectacular new partner who is a motivational speaker for teens and we are putting together a joint podcast. As we develop this project I would love to talk with parents about our concept and how we can best meet their needs. If you would be willing to do a 15 minute phone chat with me or fill out a short survey I would be eternally grateful, and would offer a 15 min coaching session as a thank you. You can email me at joani@joanigeltman.com,  or PM me on facebook. I look forward to hearing from many of you....please???

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Parenting In The New Year!

Happy New Year! On your way to the gym, and after you have only eaten healthy food in order to lose 10 pounds, and when you have cleaned out your closets and gotten rid of all your non-essentials, and when you have finished your salad, no dressing for lunch, and then walked for 30 minutes instead of having a hostess cupcake(does anyone eat hostess cupcakes anymore), and then did everything on your "to-do" list at work or at home before your kids come home, and made sure that you accomplished everything on your new years resolution list, then take a deep breath and say thank god this day is over.

The problem with New Years resolutions is that we make too many of them, and then never really follow through on any of them. The same thing also happens with parenting. I might meet with parents for an hour, and in that time we come up with a game plan that includes a number of strategies to improve whatever situation brought them in to see me. I always caution them to pick one issue, and one strategy, stick with making that one change, integrating it into their parenting bag of tricks before they take on something else. Imagine trying to teach you dog how to sit, come, and roll over all in the same training session. Eventually they just look at you, with that adorable cocked head, and know you are absolutely crazy. Teens are the same way. If a new regime takes over, and you start changing all the rules at the same time, your teen will look at you with that adorable cocked head, and say,"What are you crazy?"

Perhaps over this vacation, you have had time to reflect on your relationship with your teen, or thought about some areas you think you need to help your teen with. Maybe you want to be less negative and focus less on what they don't do and more on what they can do. Maybe you are worried about homework focus and cell-phone use, or their organization and time-management issues, or their attitude and how they talk to you. I am sure there are a million things that could go on this list. Pick one and only one, and then think of a simple strategy to address it, and then follow through on it, consistently!

Teens hate change. They resist it, and will fight you every step of the way. This is not really their fault. So much of adolescence is about change; changing bodies, changing moods, changing relationships, changing expectations. They are so overwhelmed by all these changes, which for the most part are out of their control, that they tend to hang on to those things that have become almost ritualistic whether they are good for them or not. So before you institute any changes in rules, or expectations first make sure you acknowledge with them that change is hard. You can say: "I've been thinking about ________________, and it seems like we need to work on this. I know you are used to ________________, and doing it a different way will be an adjustment, I get it. Lets figure out a way together to make it work.  Including them in the strategy building helps them to take ownership of it. Nobody likes to be told what to do, especially teens. The key here is not the choosing of whether or not there will be some change but how it will make it easier for them to be successful at adjusting to it.