Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Few Summer Tips

Yea...summer is here. Some of your teens may have been shipped out to various camps, programs, far-away islands, and you are all enjoying a little break from the trials and tribulations of daily teen life. However, many of you are looking at 8 weeks of "what are you going to do all day?" conversations. If you do not have a teen who has found a job, internship or volunteer gig, here are some ideas on how to keep your teen from turning into a video gaming, jersey shore watching, shopaholic, comatose during the day, but strangely energized come sundown person.

1. All teens need money to survive during the summer. Those nightly jaunts into town, to the mall, or out to dinner with friends all cost money. Pair money to gym workouts, book reading. As in, "I get you need money when you go out with your friends. Here is the deal, you can earn money for your hangs by getting off the couch. Every time you hit the gym, you earn some cash. When I see you reading for an hour, you get some cash. When you actually do some stuff around the house, ie laundry, cleaning your room, making your bed etc, you get some cash. Should you choose to just sit around the house all day, no cash. Of course you can always find a job, internship, volunteer something,which I would love to help you with, but I cannot support you being on the computer, facebooking, playing video games and watching tv all day. That's the deal."

2. For those of you who have video game addicts. These guys are looking at the summer as an orgy of game playing. If they are not involved in any activities, jobs, etc you are looking at the potential of your son playing for 12 hours a day. NOT GOOD!!! Get a device for your device that can be programmed for finite amount of use. Your teen can earn video game play by exchanging other activity participation. Like above, book reading, exercise, internship, lawn work, be creative. But DO NOT let your teen play video games all day and night. Come September, you will have a full-fledged addict!

3. Summertime does mean more free time with friends. Weather is warm, outdoor partying is the preferred option. Make sure you continue to talk about safety with drug and alcohol use, and sex. There is just more opportunity to participate in all of it. And now that weekday nights are free and clear from homework obligations, there is that much more to fill the days and nights. Use this system I have discussed in previous posts.

A four question example:

Teen asks: "What time do I have to be home tonight?
Parent asks: What time do you think you should be home?

Kid states a time. Lets say 11:00 PM
Parent asks: What do you think I will be worried about if I say yes to 11. This is your teen's opportunity to say out loud any of the dangers that in fact you do worry about.

Parent asks: Yes those issues do worry me, what is your plan to make me feel OK, that you will stay safe?
Teen needs to offer up a plan for safety around drugs and alcohol and other safety issues curfew times, keeping you in the loop throughout the night etc.  that hopefully he/she stated in the worry question.

Parent asks: What will the consequence be if you don't follow through on your plan?
Teen needs to put a consequence in place so that if he/she fails to follow though on the plan, a consequence is ready to go.

Engaging your teen in this process of taking responsibility for behavior makes for a calmer summer. They want more freedom, and you are giving them the opportunity to take ownership. This does not in anyway give them carte blanche to go and do whatever they want. Sometimes the plan is just not good enough, perhaps it is too unsafe, or just not practical. No will still mean no when you need it to.

So off you go! Have a wonderful summer. I too will be regenerating, but will post some of my "greatest hits" of the year to keep you on your toes. Happy summer!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Home Alone..Can Parents Of Teens Ever have A Social Life?

In my last video post I shared four ways to "teen proof " your home for the summer. A parent who viewed the post, wondered about the "never leave an empty house" tip. Does that only mean when you go on vacation? She asked, what about on a Saturday night when my husband and I want to go out with friends to a movie and dinner? The answer is m-a-y- b-e. Parenting a teen sometimes feels like you are being held hostage by your son/daughter. You try to wait patiently to make your plans for the weekend. But patience begins to wear thin as the teen plan-making machine goes into overdrive and verges on blowing up. The texts are flying, you keep bugging your kid to let you know what their plan is so you can make your plan.  The more vague they are, the more worried you get, bagging your own plans altogether. You are annoyed and cannot for the life of you understand how making the decision of how to spend the next three hours of a teen's life has become such a life or death process. But going out for an evening with friends, not knowing where, what and with whom your teen is, ruins the evening for you anyway. Glued to your Iphone, you are like a dog waiting for a treat, hoping that the next text from your son/daughter will have the definitive plan and you can relax. Of course that definitive plan may be that after you left for dinner in utter frustration and anxiety, your teen texted his friend who texted her friend and so on and so on, that they have finally found a house with the holy grail....a parent-less home!

Now that it is summer this is an especially important issue to come to terms with, because basically every night is a Saturday night in the summer. Though the parks and woodlands in your town are favorite teen destinations, there is nothing like an empty house where you can party in comfort, no pine needles, sand or bugs invited. It is also important to work on this with your teen, as they may also be home and free during the day, while you are at work, leaving them "home alone" plan-less, bored and in need of friends and diversion. You absolutely do not want your house to be the go-to hang house while you are at work. Think sex, drugs and rock and roll all day long!

Here is the "I get it " conversation you can have with your teen. "Here's the deal honey, when I/we are out at work during the day, or out for an evening you are not allowed to have friends in the house. I get its nice to be in your own home with all the creature comforts, but putting you in the position of having to monitor your friends to make sure they don't drink, do drugs, or have sex in our bed is too much to ask of you. I know you respect us and your home, but I/we get that kids like to party. And we know that for you to have to say to no your friends, 'you can't do that in my house' is unrealistic. So to make things easier for you on the nights you want to go out with friends, and we are going out here is the plan. We will tell you our plan the day before, including where and what time we need to leave. If you do not have a plan for yourself an hour before our departure time, we will drive you to your friends to continue your planning, so we can do our thing and you can do yours, without the temptation of kids coming to our house after we have left. We want you to be safe, and we want our home to be safe, and hopefully this plan will work. Having kids in our house without supervision is a disaster waiting to happen. If your friends are drinking or doing drugs and something happens, we/I are now legally responsible for that situation whether we are home or not. I know you would never want us to have to be in that situation god forbid something happened to one of your friends. We love you and want you to have a fun summer, just when we are in the house."

So that's the conversation. Be a little evasive with when you are returning home. Arrive home at unpredictable moments just to keep your kids on their toes in case they think they can "game the system".  Here is where the "maybe" part of my answer comes in. You have to trust your own gut here. If you have a teen that has a few close friends, who are not the partying kind, have shown little interest in partying, and are happy at home with a good video game, a friend and some popcorn, I think you can safely go on your way, leaving them alone.  If you have a very social, friend-loving, party-going teen, follow the directions above.

Having a teen does mean in adjustment in your life. Just when you are relishing the freedom from having to pay for a babysitter, you find yourself taking on that role yourself, as house sitter. It doesn't last forever, and keeping your teen safe and your house safe is worth the peace of mind. My advice, have a lot of dinner parties and be the go-to party house for your friends. At least then you get to have as good a social life as your teen!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

I am in/not in (check one) with the "popular group"

 In this week's Time Magazine, Annie Murphy Paul writes on Life After High School. In this month of high school reunions it is particularly timely. So what are the kids who were in your "popular group" up to these days. As adults are they still enviable and are you still craving their attention?  I'm guessing not. Don't you wish your kids knew now what you know? It would make all the angst and obsession with 'being in the popular group" all go away. It turns out, which of course we already know, that being popular in high school, is just being popular in high school.

This article discusses a number of longitudinal studies. One in particular follows a cohort of people starting in their senior year in high school, all the way to age 50!  In a sentence here are their findings:  "Coveted as they are in high school, brains and popularity get you only so far in the real world. Hard work and development of capacities like conscientiousness and cooperation also matter for success-not to mention personal satisfaction and fulfillment."

As you are well aware there is nothing, and I mean nothing, that is more important to your teen than their friends. Their status, the clique they aspire to being part of, and the surety that they will have people who they want to hang with and who want to hang with them is the main concern of every waking moment. But as their article states so clearly, as long as you have a group of friends you will be fine. Maybe it's only one or two. But one or two good friends who share your passion for polka dots, or being"artsy weirdo" as one girl in the article calls herself, can get you through high school and into to the next phase of life where you will really find your place.

I think sometimes parents are as worried about their teens place in the popularity ranking as their kids. I have talked with many parents who wax on endlessly about their own high school years and their place in the "popular crowd", and worry that there is something wrong with their teen because they only have 1 or 2 good friends. Well according to this article: "Popularity isn't entirely positive. Belonging to the cool crowd  is associated with higher rates of drinking, drug use, sexual activity and minor delinquency during adolescence..and higher rates of substance abuse and sexual promiscuity three years after graduation."

So if you have a teen who likes hanging at home, has a couple of friends to hang with when they feel a need for hanging, isn't part of the main stream high school scene, and doesn't seem concerned or unhappy about it, then heed the words of Bobby Mcferrin...don't worry be happy!,9171,2076739,00.html

Monday, June 13, 2011

The parenting challenge: Building good character

The headline of an op-ed in Sunday's globe: Self-control in childhood brings future success hopefully caught the eye of parents who mistakenly think that tutoring, tons of extra-curricula activities, and top of the line computers give their kids an edge for success. Gareth Cook, writes that it turns out that good 'ole-fashioned' character is what matters most.

Back in 1972 psychologist Walter Mischel did a ground-breaking social experiment. He placed a four-year-old in a room with a table and one marshmallow. He said to the child, "you can have this marshmallow, or wait till I get back, not eat this one and I will give you two marshmallows." The challenge for each of the hundreds of kids participating was to wait for an even bigger reward by delaying gratification. I have watched the actual footage of this experiment, and the creativity kids employed to distract themselves from eating this marshmallow was as good as any reality hidden camera show. The real results however came some 20 years later when researchers met each of these kids now young adults. It seems that the kids who were able to delay gratification had overall higher SAT scores, success in school and work, were "healthier, more likely to save, less likely to abuse drugs, or be convicted of a crime, and the list goes on."

The good news is that self-control can be taught at any age. Granted some kids are born with difficulty managing impulses, but everyone has the capacity to learn, given they have "teachers", that means you parents,  who are willing to tackle this sometimes difficult subject. Cook says: "We are building a society filled with ever more compelling distractions and temptations. What will children need to thrive..not catalogs of facts but the discipline of mind to focus, persevere and make good choices." It's not that this is new news, its just that we have offered kids a plethora of new distractions, which they have wholeheartedly embraced. We have said to our kids, here is a whole table full of marshmallows..enjoy, eat up until it makes you sick!

As a parent, you have to decide what your priorities are. Is it to raise "successful" politicians like Anthony Weiner, or Arnold Schwarzenegger? Or how about a "successful" investor  like Bernie Madoff? I'm guessing these guys would have gone for the marshmallow on the table and then lied that the "dog ate it" so they could get another one. Somewhere along the line, as these guys were growing up, I'm guessing they didn't hear the word NO very often.  It is no fun saying no. 'No to a fancy cell phone, no to having your phone on during dinner time, homework time, bedtime, no to expensive and unnecessary clothing, computers, video games, no to unsafe and unsupervised activities. Your teens might get mad, that's OK. Your teen might think you are unfair, that's OK too. But when your teen is a young adult, they will say thank you for helping to make them a responsible, disciplined, motivated and productive adult.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Why Don't They Ever Call Me? The Lament Of A 7th Grader

I was contacted recently by a parent who had a question about how much to intervene in the social life of her 13 year old son.  7th grade has been a good year, A-B student, played multiple sports, seems to be liked by his peers and most importantly grew 6 inches. Wow, talk about an out of body experience. Mom's worry is that though he seems engaged with his friends when he is at structured activities like his games, or school plays etc, when the weekends come, he is "home alone". He sees the other kids getting together on the weekend, but he is not an "initiator" and instead waits around for friends to call him, and when they don't, he feels like a loser. Mom's question was how much do I help him with this? She is worried that she might become one of those helicopter parents.

Here is the deal with middle schoolers. You absolutely could not find a more self-centered bunch of kids. The reason they are not calling this guy on the weekends, is that they are too busy thinking about themselves and their plans to think about whether there is anyone they have left out. The excitement of this new idea of a "social life" VS a "play date" is in overabundance. For proof of this just walk through your town center when your middle school has a half day. These kids are literally jumping out of their skins as they roam through town in huge numbers ecstatic with these new found feelings of independence and grown-upness. They are focused on how they look, how they act, and who they are with, period. They love their friends, but mostly because they see their friends as a reflection of themselves. When the weekends come, only the strong survive...literally.

Those kids who are obsessed with these powerful new feelings of independence, and grown-up ness will be extremely motivated to make something happen. Texts begin to fly around the town, who is doing what with whom. If you don't get into the "game" you are left out of it. This I suspect is what is happening with this 7th grade boy. He needs to get into the action. No more sitting on the bench and waiting for the coach to put him in. In these early years of adolescence, friendships don't run deep. This guy's friends are not thinking, "oh I wonder what X is doing today, lets give him a call." If X doesn't send a text to someone saying: "hey whats up for today" he will end up "home alone".

So if you have a son/daughter who is waiting to "get asked to the dance" here are some ways you might help. Understanding that right now your teen is a bit overwhelmed, and could use a little help you might say: " I have some errands to do at the mall, town, the city on Saturday, I would be happy to drop you and some friends off at the movies, the batting cage, the mall, McDonald's, etc. Why don't you text X and Y and see if they want to come. Even if that plan doesn't work it will get him/her into whatever other action plan is in the works, as he gets into the texting conversation with his friends. Most likely what he/she will get is a "oh so and so and I are going to X wanna come? And that will be that. Middle School is a transition time. Many kids are used to parents orchestrating their play dates, and now they are a bit adrift here in the sea of plan-making. They have no experience doing it, and it may actually go against their basic nature. Especially boys. How many husbands do you know who get on the phone and make the plans for weekends and vacations? I rest my case!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

What you see is NOT always what you get.

 After I had posted my blog on Weinergate, I received an e-mail from a columnist at the Washington Post who also was writing on this issue and its impact on kids. While doing her research, she googled Weiner +teaching moment, and my blog appeared at the top of her search, and she contacted me. She wanted permission to excerpt a piece of the blog for her column. As a high schooler (me) who never rose above a C in English, having something of mine published in the Washington Post was a huge thrill. Take that Mr S (my sophomore and junior year English teacher)

Here is my point. When I was in high school I was told I was a terrible writer. I took that definition of myself along to college, and graduate school, procrastinating, and struggling with every single writing assignment.  Until I started to realize that actually I was a good writer who had let one man's opinion of me define how I felt about myself. Some of us are just late bloomers!

I have several friends whose kids really struggled in high school. They struggled with the material, had ADD, found much of the subject areas boring and unnecessary, had test anxiety and struggled to keep their grades up. They often felt disregarded and criticized by their teachers, and to say that they lacked motivation as a result is to put it mildly. What these kids did have however, were parents who believed in them unconditionally, and never actually felt worried, or if they did, never communicated that worry to their kids that they might not ever do "well enough" to succeed in college and after. These parents ability to know that their kids would find their way,  and that their school difficulties did not need to define them sent their kids off to college to find their way. And find their way they did. Luckily the schools they chose matched the kind of educational stimulation that was right for them. These kids discovered that they are intelligent, motivated, and capable of doing good work. Why because they found "work" that was meaningful too them, and they also grew up some.

So for those of you, who at this school year's end are fretting and worrying that your teens lack of motivation has impacted their ability to reach the grade point average that you want them to, and feel discouraged, worry not, they may be one of us, one of those late-bloomers. Take note that those people who were the star students in High School often DO NOT turn out to be the most successful people in life. Sometimes it's those of us, who find out later how great we really are, and find teachers, or colleagues or friends or partners and most importantly parents who believe in us and understand that we all have potential. It takes love, understanding, and most of all patience.  This last report card may suck, but next year is a new year, fresh with possibility. And  if next year is their senior year, try not to worry. There are schools enough for everyone. Of course you need to have expectations for your teen, make sure they are realistic, make sure they know you love them and you believe in them, even when their grades are less than you expected. High School is really only the very beginning of their life, what comes after lasts way longer, and bears the most fruit. Just ask me!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A "Weinergate" teaching moment

I would like to thank Congressman Weiner for helping us to open a discussion with our teens about the dangers of sexting.  Its hard enough to say to your teen "don't send or post pictures of your bulging penis/sexy body on your cellphone or facebook, it could get you in trouble. " Most likely your son/daughter will look at you with that blank stare that communicates "I don't want to talk to you about this, and everybody does it and its no big deal." But thanks to Mr Weiner, we now have the actual bulging penis picture plastered all over national television and I'm sure by the end of the week, People Magazine. Perfect!

There couldn't be a better teaching moment. Here is a well-respected, smart man who is now the laughing stock of our country. He has lost the respect of his colleagues, his constituents, his family and his friends. He may possibly even lose his job. And honestly, the pictures weren't even that bad, he wasn't posing naked, just manly. We don't have the content of the sexting messages that were sent, thank god, but we know they existed. But when these pictures and sexting messages get into the wrong hands of people who are mad at you, want to expose you, get back at you, or just don't like you, they can wreak havoc and potentially ruin your life. See Weiner, Schwarznegger,  and Tiger Woods. These are pretty convincing cases in point.

Show the pictures of this bulging penis, and talk about the consequences of this seemingly benign photo to your teen. Using an I Get It moment you can say: " I get this guy was just having fun, and obviously not worried about the potential of future harm. Boy, I bet he was surprised. What a turn his life is taking. How sad that such a talented smart guy, who really loves his country and wants to serve it, will be taken down by a picture. I know this seems pretty removed from your life, but it isn't. Anything you send on your phone and on your facebook is public. If you choose to put up racy things, or unkind things, they could come back to haunt you too. Coaches, colleges, employers, friends, and parents are all potential audiences. Is it so much fun that you would risk it all? Ask Mr Weiner.

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Joy Of Letting go

This is why I love Facebook. Because every now and then a video like this pops up on my news feed, and makes my day. This little boy and his attitude about life and challenging oneself is worth more than a year of expensive therapy.

Lets look at learning to ride a bike as a metaphor for parenting. You buy your kid a brand-spanking new bike. You buy the helmet and the knee pads, understanding that learning to ride a bike can be risky, but showing him/her that there are things you can do to keep you safe. First you put on the training wheels, just to give them some confidence. Some kids take off down the street, and never look back, and some kids need you by their side as they take on this shaky new mode of transportation. But over time, they develop confidence, and are ready for the next step. Off come the training wheels. You are both ready for the next challenge. You find a flat, open piece of road. You encourage them to start pedaling and then you hold on like hell as you attempt to hold them up. Some of us let go really early, the kid falls, cries, and you just encourage them to get up and get back on, and give it another shot. Some of us hold on for dear life, running our asses off to keep up with the kid who is really ready to go, but we are too scared to let go, worried they might go to fast and to far for us to help, and some of us sensing the time is just right, let go.

Eventually all these kids learn to ride a bike. Some important lessons have been learned. Taking risks as long as you are safe can be exhilerating.  Taking on a challenge, though frustrating at times, reaps enormous rewards. Stick with something really hard, use that frustration to fuel your desire to "get it" and then experience the power that you feel when you accomplish your goal. Just watch this little boy, and you will feel it with him.

Parenting is scary. If we let go too soon, maybe our kids will get hurt, but if we hold on to long they might never want us to let go. Parenting is about trust. Trusting our own instincts about our kids, and their readiness to "take off". Trusting our kids to use the lessons we have taught them to "be safe". Sending them off into the world, with their helmets and their knee pads, knowing there will be falls, but trusting their ability to get back up and get back on. Your teen will feel hurt from relationships gone sour, disappointment they didn't make a varsity team or get a good part in the school play, or frustration from a subject that they just "can't get." Protecting them from those feelings and trying to make it all better does not help build resilience and confidence.  Helping them up and brushing them off, and encouraging them to keep on going does. There is nothing better than that. This little boy says it best:"I feel happy of myself."

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Love In The Afternoon

It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon. The warm spring breeze flowing through the open windows, and the sunlight filtering through the blinds.  The family is buzzing around doing their Sunday rituals, cleaning, organizing for the week and homework. Dad walks upstairs to ask his 15 year old daughter and her 17 year old boyfriend, who have been "working on homework together" if they would like anything from Starbucks, as he is going on a coffee run. As he walks into her room, expecting to see a bed piled high with books and notes, he is shocked to see this couple undressed and having an afternoon quickie!

Beautiful afternoon shattered. Apparently this had not been a spontaneous event. When this teen's parents checked her text messages post-coital, they saw a carefully laid (excuse the pun) out plan. They had hoped to have time earlier in the day when the rest of the family was gone, but the family never left, and apparently the couple, intent on commingling, were not deterred.

Previous to this incident, parents had been extremely respectful of their daughter and this relationship. Having no basement family room or semi-private space in their home, they had given permission to their daughter and her boyfriend to hang out in her room with the door open so they might have some privacy. They had only recently given her text messaging, but had chosen not to check her texts. Clearly these are not parents who are control freaks, and "this is how she repays them???" Additionally they gleaned from the texts that the boy's parents often left them unsupervised and they were enjoying their sexual freedom in that house as well.

Questions that might be swarming around your head: How could she do this with her parents home? How could she do this with her 10 year old brother home, who lacking good boundaries often barged in on the couple asking for or to do something with them? Why would she be so brazenly disrespectful to her family? And why at 15 years old is she having SEXXXXX????

Teens have sex because they want to, because they are driven to, and unless there are very honest discussions with parents or other compassionate adults who might potentially offer another perspective, don't really see any down side to it.  When you see your teen in a relationship that has lasted longer than a few weeks, it is important to have a conversation with him/her. Remember that teens are impulsive, determined and are driven by their feelings not their brains. And with the powerful pheromones released during adolescence they need all the help they can get. Remember though it is not what you say, but how you say it, that is particularly important here. If you have a discussion that comes off as a lecture or a laying down of the law: "You are not allowed to have sex", they will run for the bed. If you use an I Get It moment, and provide some rules you can control you might have a better outcome.

Here goes: "I get that you are in a relationship with X. I am excited for you. Having someone in your life who really cares for you is amazing. I also get that you guys are probably really attracted to each other and may be thinking about having sex. Once you get on that train, its really hard to put the brakes on, so I want to make sure you take the time to really think about it. You are only 15 and have many boyfriends/girlfriends ahead of you. You have the potential then of having many sexual partners when you start this young. That means more potential for hurt when relationships don't work out having been so intimate with each other, and potential for STD's or pregnancy when you get too comfortable to use a condom, and have too many partners. You need to consider things like that. Also we are not comfortable with you having sex at such a young age. We can't stop you, but you need to know we don't think it is healthy at this point in your life. So a few rules now that you have a boyfriend. You man not have him/her in your bedroom, you may not have him/her here when we are not home, and I will speak to X's parents to let them know that we expect them to provide supervision when you are at their house. We are happy to have him/her over whenever you want, and know that you guys will be "fooling around", but hope that you can keep intercourse off the table. I know that you will be respectful of us and your younger sibs, trying not to put us in awkward situations. We love you and just want you to be safe."

Honestly, there isn't much more you can do. But at least you are acknowledging and respecting this relationship, and are offering your perspective in a way they might be open to hearing it. You are setting limits in your home, anticipating situations they might find themselves in, and hope they will respect them. Keep the communication open, and keep the doors open!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Let My Teenager Go

 David Brooks, a columnist for the New York Times wrote a great Op-Ed today called: Its Not About You.  In it he discusses the plight of this season's new college graduates, and how ill-prepared they are to face the great big world out there after growing up as a "member of the most supervised generation in history. They have been monitored, tutored, coached, and honed to an unprecedented degree, going out into a world that is wide open and unstructured." He continues to say that "these young people are going into an amazingly diverse job market, social landscape and lifestyles niche." Marriage, buying a home, and having kids, things we, their parents, all took for granted, they may choose to opt out of, or is out of their reach financially. I don't know about you, but me and most of my friends are too busy paying off college and housing debts to be of much financial help to our young adult children. It's a cold hard world out there these days, and many of these young adults end up back home. They don't call it the "boomerang generation" for nothing.

Knowing this, and accepting this as your child's fate can be a tremendous asset as you prepare your teenagers now, for the future that awaits them. You know what's coming and it is your job to ready your teen for today's reality not yesterday's. How? By making your teens accountable for their decisions, by teaching them skills to be independent and adventurous rather than fearful and timid. I know many many kids who believe or not, don't know how to mail a letter at the post office, take the train into the city, order food at a restaurant that is not the local pizza parlor, deal with money, call and make an appointment for a doctor or a dentist, figure out directions to a place they have never been to before, pay a bill, understand how much things cost, and so on and so on and so on. When our kids ask us the "how do you?" questions, or will you? questions, we are so happy to be needed that we jump in to get or do for our kids so they will be grateful and love us more. We are not doing them any favors.

Do a self-check. Do you over-protect, and/or over-indulge your teen. Do you discourage them from taking public transportation or from driving somewhere that is unfamiliar because its too scary for YOU? Do you give into their demands/requests for things because you like to pamper them and feel needed, or do you expect if they want something they need to work for it. Because that is what they will have to learn to do when they walk into their future.

Your teens need to believe that you believe that that they will be OK. The world is not so scary a place if you have been prepared to live in it.  Next time they say, will you drive us into the city, tell them you will teach them how to take public transportation. Next time they need to go for a dentist appointment, tell them they know their schedule better than you, and let them make it. When their college applications need to get mailed in the fall, send them off to do it for themselves. If they want an expensive pair of jeans, or sneakers or video games, even if you can afford it, let them work to buy it themselves. Be creative and find ways for them to learn: "I can live in this world and be successful." Baby steps!