Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Holiday Hit List-Update

I know I said I was going on hiatus till after New Years, but I got the first call of the holiday party season today and my sense of responsibility got the better of me, and  I felt the need to tell this cautionary tale.

So this 15 year old boy, a little on the shy side, wanting to ingratiate himself to the "popular group," offered to have a party at his house. He and his parents agreed to keep the number of kids to 16, and of course there was the pledge of no drinking. Parents were home. Mom and dad were up and down the stairs to the basement all night, and didn't really see much amiss. But this was their first party as well and I think weren't really sure what to look for. By the end of the night, the group had grown from 16 to 60, pretty much without the parents really being aware until the neighbors called. It seems their house abuts woods, and large groups of kids were out in back of their house, in the woods, playing the game Mob Hit, which is basically hide and seek in the dark and drunk. Kids ran when they saw the cop cars, and when the parents went out in the morning, their yard was full of water bottles, that had been filled to the tippy top with vodka, in addition to all manor of booze bottles. (I'm guessing removed from homes where parents had done the holiday booze shop and wouldn't miss one bottle).When the parents confronted their son, what they realized was that he just plain lost control of the party. He didn't really know a lot of the kids, and because he wanted to be one of the "cool kids" he didn't do anything to stop the roller coaster. Which I totally get.

Here is how it got out of hand. There was a basement door that allowed access to the house and out to the yard. Kids were coming in and out unbeknownst to the parents. If you have a basement where kids hang out, you have to figure out a way to monitor, either with some sort of alarm or keep it locked when your teen has kids over. If they have to come through the front door, then you know how many and who they are. These parents felt betrayed not only by their son, but by his friends that they had know since elementary school. Once again I want to say, this is not about bad kids, but kids who are driven to have fun. You are not in their head AT ALL when they text and the inviting is going on. The call goes out that there is a party at X"s house and all are invited. If they aren't coming in the front door, it all can careen out of control really fast. The whole backyard woods issue is a horrible accident waiting to happen. Imagine a slew of drunk kids running around the woods in the dark playing hide and seek. Maybe someone trips and injures themselves, maybe someone trips,  the other kids are not paying attention and they get left outside, without help. No good scenario here.

So if your kids want to have friends over, keep it limited to a number you can supervise. If you have a basement access, and you don't feel comfortable locking it, get your coat on a walk around the house during the party to make sure all is well. This is all about safety. Teens can have fun and be safe, it is not mutually exclusive.

See you after New Years. Be happy, be safe!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Holiday Hit List

As the holiday vacation looms I thought I would pass on some tips for the next two weeks. Some of your kids are in private school and their vacation starts today, some of you have college students returning home for a month, and others start vacation next week. It's all about your expectations, and keeping them grounded in reality.

Let's start with college students, especially those freshman. Your expectations may be that you will pick up where you left off, curfews, rules, etc. But it has been out of sight, out of mind, for you and your kids for the last four months, and your kids have changed. They will be rule averse. They are used to going, being and doing whatever they want, whenever they want, free of parental oversight. Expecting them to resume their place at home as same ole same ole will never work, and cause a great deal of unpleasantness, for all of you! I suggest the following conversation, and I Get It moment: " We are so excited to have you home. We get things will be different for you when you are home, you are used to being the master of your universe, and have not had to answer to anyone about what you do and where you go. We will try to respect that. Here's the thing, that is going to take some time for us to get used to, and this will be our first vacation with you as a non-teenager. We still worry about you. That will probably never change. We know that partying at college has been fun, but at least you or your friends weren't driving. We won't have a curfew, but it would be great if you would at least leave us a text as to your plan as it gets later, just so we know you are safe. If you choose to crash where you party, that's fine, but walking by an empty bedroom at 3 AM will scare the s**t out of me, but if I read a text that you are at someones house, I will be fine. We will be happy to pick you up anytime, anywhere. No questions asked. I don't care if it's 3 in the AM, I will put my coat on and come get you." ( I used to do this for my daughter when she was in college, and she actually took me up on it, wanting to sleep in her own bed. I was happy to do it, we had some good conversations on those late nights, and I knew she was safe)

You do not have to over indulge, give money away or bribe your kids to want to be at home. In fact just the opposite. If they need money, there should be some quid pro quo involved. You  don't get something for nothing. Many college students begin to get a real sense of entitlement during the college years, money thrown into a bank account when they need it, tuition paid, food available just by swiping a card at the student union, that of course you pay for. When they come home, and are in need of cash, please expect something in return. Maybe it is caring for a younger sibling, maybe its doing laundry, going food shopping, running errands, you name it. And if there is an avoidance of fulfilling your requests, you can say, you know honey, I'd love to give you some cash, but here are some things I need, so whenever you're ready!

Bottom line, you need to respect the change that has occurred while they have been away from home, but not exempt them from feeling thankful and responsible to their family.

OK, so that takes care of the college students. Lets deal with your middle and high schooler.
 There will be alot of lying around the house during the day, and then a flurry of activity to get out at night. They will not sit around the house and read the books you bought them for presents, but they will watch cartoons, Jersey Shore, and Teen mom for hours at a time. It will make you crazy. Just turn around and walk out of the room. If you have a teen who has been busy with school/sports and other extra curricula activities, they are craving veg time. Let them have it! When they want to hit the party circuit, this is where you need to intervene. Here is your I Get It moment: " I get you and your friends are in heavy duty party mode. I want you to be safe, so I will be your chauffeur service. This way, I won't be worried about you driving or your friends driving. Your friends can pick you up at the start of the evening, but I will be your car service at the end. I want you to have a fun vacation, and I want it to be a safe one!

It's all pretty simple. It's about safety. Have a wonderful holiday. I will be on hiatus for the next two weeks but will return after the New Year. The archives are full of help, should you need it over the break. Enjoy the love of your family!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Gifting Game

So, are you all out running around trying to buy everything on your teen's holiday gift list? There is nothing like fulfilling your kid's wish list, and readying yourself for that hug, and smile and real live thank you. Finally! But remember that hug and I love you lasts about a minute, and you will be left dealing with the consequences of this dream come true. If it's expensive clothes, sneakers, boots, coats, or other apparel, they will not have magically learned to "take care of their things." If you have given in to the smart phone movement, do not expect them to want to put it away to enjoy your holiday dinner, or shut it off so they can get to sleep before 3 AM  so as to take advantage of every amenity of their phone, or not get distracted by it when school resumes, or even lose it by the end of the vacation. If you caved and bought the newest Call Of Duty, or other addictive video game, expect that you will find them in their pajamas, unwashed over the next 7 days, eyes glazed over after a week of 12 hours a day of gaming. Catch my drift.

It's all about the expectations. Your teen may have promised anything just to get this beloved and treasured new whatever. But have you learned nothing after getting the family dog when they were 8 after you extracted "the promise," that "I will walk her every day and feed her, and clean up after her, so please please please can we have a dog? And now here you are 5 years later, up at 6 AM walking the damn dog that you never wanted, but has now become your most trusted pal.

So whatever you choose to buy your teen, think it through. Think it past the moment of opening euphoria and into the near future. Because once the deed is done, and you find yourself a month from now at one of my seminars apoplectic because your teen is so distracted, addicted or you are just pissed at their lack of appreciation for the money you blew on their gift, you will have no one to blame but yourself. Don't get me wrong, there is not one ounce of scrooge in me. I love giving gifts, and I love seeing the people I love happy, but gift giving to teens is more complicated, and requires a thinking through process.  And just like we say to them all the time: "What were you thinking" when they do something on the silly or stupid continuum, you maybe turning that around on yourself.  So choose with love, but choose carefully, The holiday only lasts a day, but it is the first day of the rest of your life!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Whose Genes Are These?

I met with a lovely parent today whose worry about her son stems from things that he has no control over and neither does she. Its all about the genes. In her son's case at 17 he has early male patterned baldness. His hairline is receding, he is beginning to get a bald spot on the back of his head, and time is not on his side. His grandfather was completely bald at 25. In addition he has an auditory processing problem (those genes again) that makes concentrating difficult. He is painfully self-conscious about both these issues.  So much so that there are days, he just doesn't want to go to school. I have met with parents where acne was the culprit, or height,  or big breasts or no breasts, or body shape, anything that makes their teen feel different and vulnerable.

Your heart bleeds for your teen because you absolutely feel their pain, and want more than anything to just make it go away.  So you may go into denial mode, and say to your teen at one of those times when they just wish they could close the blinds and get back into bed: "What are you talking about, nobody notices, it's just you!" And they look at you, not with love and thankfulness, but with anger and defiance because of course they know that you are lying. They live in our heads after all, and pretty much know exactly what we're thinking as we are thinking it. Your kids have amazing bullshit detectors. And what they imagine you are thinking is probably way worse than what you are actually thinking, so it's best to just be honest. " Oh honey, I get that you hate your (fill in the blank). It totally sucks, I know. What can I do to help?" You don't need to be brutally honest by saying, "you're right you have a pizza face, but you can acknowledge that for them it is a problem. Maybe you spring for something that might dull the pain, fabulous sneakers, or a cool hair color, or an outfit that other kids would kill for. Find something that might build their confidence in another way, and distract them, just for a minute from the pain of self-consciousness.  Yes it may seem superficial, buying their confidence, but when you have a teen who is losing the battle with their genes, and patching them just won't work anymore, its time to buy some new ones! As always, this too shall pass. The trick here is not letting these time-limited feelings of self-consciousness turn into a lifetime of self-loathing.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Listen And You Shall Hear

A news story over the weekend really resonated with me. It wasn't about teens or parenting but it reinforced a message that is the primary focus of everything I teach to parents, and that is my "I get it"moments. Saying " I understand, I may not agree, but I see why this is important to you," can change entire outcomes of events from something negative to something positive. Here is the story.

As in many of our states, the Occupy Wall Street movement took hold in many major cities. Boston was no different. A Tent City took over the Rose Kennedy Greenway, a city within a city. Since the end of September this group of hundreds lived and breathed their commitment to their ideals. The city, including the mayor were supportive and patient, but this past weekend they felt it was time to end the occupation. Other cities had faced the same situation, and chose to go in with force, using billy clubs, mace and stun guns to get them to leave. People were hurt, lawsuits were filed, and a demonstration that had started quite peacefully ended in violence. Boston took a different tact. From the beginning, the police were told to get to know these dedicated demonstrators. Rather than being confrontative, and controlling, the officers chose to try to understand who these people were and their commitment to their cause. Over the course of the two month occupation, officers developed relationships with the occupiers. So when the day came this past weekend when the city had to set the final limit, and close down this occupation, they got cooperation not confrontation. This is not to say the occupiers went without some resistance, but the police understood that leaving this "city" was momentous for the demonstrators. They might not have agreed with them, but the police understood that the last 2 months had been a life changing event for many of the people who had chosen to participate, and that they needed to be respected for all they had sacrificed to be involved.There were no billy clubs or mace, only conversations, camaraderie and communication between the police and the occupiers. Some chose to be arrested, but went willingly, while most packed up their belongings and left feeling at the least they were given the respect for all they had done.

I tell this story because it mirrors many kinds of confrontations that you have with your teen. You want your teen to do something. They might not want to do "your something" and there is an impasse. Just like with these police and these demonstrators. You can either go in with your billy clubs and try to "make them" do what you want, by threatening punishment, or you can understand why they are resistant,  and acknowledge their point of view. You can "get "that doing X might not be fun, takes them away from something they would rather be doing, not allow them to do what they want, etc etc etc, but in this case they will just have to go along, and you know that will be hard for them. Most people, when not pushed, like those occupiers will see the light, feel heard, and go along with the plan. Those people who feel pushed, not heard or acknowledged will fight until the end. My way or the highway does not engender cooperation. Understanding does!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Nobody Really Gets Me

My new favorite comic Zits:

Jeremy looking dejected and sad: " Nobody really gets me.
Mom, comforting arm around her son: "Oh honey, I get you!
Jeremy, looking even more dejected: "OK, that's even worse.

How many hundreds of times have you been in just this situation with your teen. Perhaps it's the Friday or Saturday night blues fest, when your teen is sitting at home, no plans in sight, no texts getting returned and feeling low, dejected and misunderstood. Or maybe, you notice that it is has been a fierce night of facebook and texting, and every time you walk by your teen's door they are flopped on the bed, staring off into space, and you just know that something has happened, some slight, some misunderstanding.

It is in these moments that the mama/papa bear or the lion/lioness comes out in you, and you get this powerful, primal urge to protect your baby cub from hurt. So you walk in with your sympathetic, loving, supportive arms and pronounce their friends are all a**holes (which was what I always did, and I admit was completely ineffective and backfired on me) and tell them when they get older they will find "real friends" who get them! Which may actually be true, but they do not want to hear that. The future is light years away, and has absolutely no meaning for them. And besides, it is these friends that they want and crave. No substitutions please. So when you go in and want to be that shoulder to cry on, and take pleasure in being that one person that gets them, it is in that moment for them that that is the kiss of death. The teen in them, the teen that is trying to be independent of you and that primal need of theirs to be love and accepted, will reject you. It is the acceptance of their peers that is the most important. Love and acceptance from mom and dad, not so much.

So when you see your teen with the "Jeremy" look, say a simple "bad night" huh, and leave it at that. If they look up to you with an invitation to talk, great, otherwise, as always, this too shall pass.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Sporting Game

For those of us who live in Massachusetts there has been a major news story about a hazing incident that involved a high school varsity basketball team who had attended a basketball camp this past summer. This story only came to light this past week. Apparently the incident in question involved forcing underclassman who were new recruits to the team, to eat cookies that had been dipped/spread in semen. I hope you are not reading this post with your morning coffee.

I know boys will be boys, but really. The details of the incident and how the semen was acquired are sketchy due to the disgustingness of the allegations, but it clearly involved coercion and humiliation.  The school system has suspended the upperclassman responsible for the hazing, and are moving to expel them permanently. Lawyers for the expelled seniors are fighting the expulsion saying:"They have been really good students and anticipated going on to college. All of that is up in the air right now."

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 at the basketball camp, 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 physically damaging, but it sure as hell was 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. Just recently a drum corp member of a college team died as a result of some "right of passage" that involved alcohol. 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!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Navigating The 5th Grade Party Circuit... You Heard Me

A parent called me the other day with a question about 5th graders. Her son had been invited to a "boy-girl" party. Whaaaaaat!!!! It wasn't a birthday party or a holiday celebration, but a mom anxious to get the ball rolling on the popularity train, encouraged her daughter to party down. What do I think? Really? It's stupid, there I said it. There is no rush to put these tweens in a situation that I know they will feel completely awkward in. Which isn't to say, the kids aren't wetting their pants over the idea of it. Is that crude? Sorry, its just that the end of childhood keeps getting whittled down to a shorter and shorter time, and I feel protective. Unfortunately, it puts parents who feel like me in an awkward situation. Do they let their kids go, or do they say no, trying to explain to their child/tween that its just not quite time yet, and face having them not even understand what you are talking about. Not quite time for what, they will ask? You know what I think, I think you say: "gee honey, I'm sorry we have family plans that night, sorry you won't be able to make it," and just leave it at that. Sometimes saying less is more. Everything doesn't need to be explained. Distraction works just fine.

The only kind of "party" like this I would sanction, was if it was activity based. An ice skating or rollerskating or bowling party. Do I sound like I was raised in the 50's. Do kids even do these wholesome kinds of activities anymore? It's the house-party situation that is premature. A situation where there is not enough structure is asking for trouble. There will always be the more precocious kids who will be the ring leaders, trying to mimic more "teenagery" kinds of behavior that perhaps they have seen on TV or with older siblings.  Spin the bottle, truth or dare, games that most kids will feel uncomfortable with, or clueless about, but feel pressured to participate can spell trouble.

So if you are anxious to move your tween towards more teen like behavior. Check your own needs at the door. If you are more interested in your tween's social life than your tween is, that's a problem. 5th and 6th grades are real transition years. Don't rush them.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Friendship chain

I am on cloud 9. I gave myself a 60th birthday party this weekend, and I am reliving every wonderful moment of it. This memory in particular I think will stay with me forever. The loft I had rented in NYC, so my daughter could be part of the celebration was filled not only with my friends, some of whom have been in my life since I was 12 years old,  but also family, and so touchingly many of my daughter's friends, now in their late twenties and thirties. One group I have known since they were freshman in high school, another group her college buddies, and yet another group of friends she has made over the years and has shared with me. I felt so blessed. Because I love to sing, I had a DJ/Karaoke, and when it was time to welcome and thank this "loving family" for coming to this festivity, I chose to sing them "You've Got A Friend." As my voice faltered with emotion, the room filled with close to 100 voices sharing my song. I saw arms go around those close to them, singing and swaying to this beloved song of mine. I felt I was in the temple of friendship. As powerful emotion as I have ever felt.

These people in my daughter's life, who now as adults are truly my friends too, have been incredibly valuable in developing the strong connection I share with my daughter. When she was a teen, I loved being the driving parent. Nothing gave me more pleasure than carting around a bunch of girls, music blasting, and gossip flying. I loved when they came over. They would throw down their bags and their backpacks on the floor, covering every inch of our small hallway, smoosh into our tiny TV room, 4 on the couch, two on the love seat, 2 on the floor, and settle in for a good hang.  Nothing fancy in our house, not the latest technology, not a  big family room with a big TV or overstuffed furniture . Just a ton of Diet Coke on hand, maybe some chips or facsimile junk food, but mostly acceptance and love. Sometimes I was invited to join for a Sex In The City marathon, sometimes I was a room away. We were not the party house, cause there was no alcohol allowed, but we were a go-to house.

I learned than, that all teens really want is to be loved and accepted.  Since I wasn't their parent, I didn't care whether they had good grades, or were star athletes, or asked where their future was heading. I could just enjoy and get to know them, and in doing so, got to know my daughter as well. I wasn't their friend, I didn't want to be and more importantly, I didn't need to be. I am now, but we have grown into that relationship. Dr, Robert Brooks, a psychologist who specializes in developing self-esteem in children, calls us "charismatic adults." Getting to know your teen's friends, not in a nosy way, but in a genuine way, taking the time to really get to know what's on their minds shows them respect, and in turn earns respect from your own teen. It builds bridges, and connections that will last a lifetime. Just ask me. And by the way, 60 is the new 40!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Love is a many splendored thing-except for...

If you have a teen who has been in love, this story will both be familiar and terrifying. When a teen falls in love, and by in love I am not talking about the 2 day romances that most teenagers rotate through a million times during their middle and high school years. I am talking about that "first love" experience. The couple that is joined at the hip, waiting for each other before they walk into school kind of love, waiting for each other after classes to walk together to their next class kind of love, spending every waking minute, that is not otherwise scheduled, being together, wrapped around each other everywhere kind of love. You know it when you see it. This passion for each other knows no bounds, whether loving together or fighting together, it is over the top.

This particular couple is such a couple in love. The relationship is also chock full of drama....relentlessly so. The girl is 15, a sophomore in high school, and the boy 18 is now a freshman in college. They have been together for a year. They really really love each other, but as you can see by the age difference, they are currently living in two very different worlds, and will be for 3 more years. A set-up for disaster. Hence the current drama. Imagine yourself the parents of this young girl. Though they are concerned about the age difference, they really like the boy, and have been supportive of this relationship, while setting up limits around the whole college issue. The boy's school is about 45 minutes away.  Because these two are "worlds apart"they spend many hours fighting about who is doing what where and with whom, now that they are not living each other's life. The arguing is non-stop. The mom has spent hours consoling her crying daughter, and often wonders to her daughter, whether this relationship is worth all this trauma. I don't have to tell you the answer the girl gave to her! Anyway, one particular night, after a fight the girl had had over the phone with her boyfriend had gone on way to long, and seemed way out of control, the mom at her wits end, at the end of her rope, put her foot down, screamed at her daughter : "that's it! No More! This relationship is over!" Now this is a smart mom, and she knew that when they both calmed down she would recant that demand, but the girl fearing the worst, that her parents would forbid her to see her beloved hatched a plan. And here is where it gets scary. Parents go to bed, daughter goes to bed, done. Actually, parents go to bed, daughter, sneaks downstairs, takes mom's car keys that are hanging by the door, gets in the car, and drives to boyfriends college. Remember, this is a 15 year old, no learners permit, no driving experience, and it's 10 o"clock at night.

Mom wakes up with a headache, who wouldn't, goes into kitchen to take some aspirin and is mindlessly looking out the window, and noticed something doesn't quite fit. Her car is missing! Assuming her daughter is sleeping, door is closed to her room and locked (her door has one of those buttons you can push in to lock it) the parents call the police to report the car missing. An older son, up late studying, says he thinks maybe the daughter took the car. They check her room, and low and behold she is gone. The daughter won't pick up her mom's call but does pick up the brothers. Police are called, they cancel the stolen car report, and the mother and son head off to pick up this lovelorn girl.

There are a lot of "thank gods" here. Thank god, she didn't crash the car, thank god the police didn't stop her, .... I tell this story because teens in love lose all sense of rational thinking. Love at this age knows no boundaries. Because this may be the first time they have ever felt these kinds of feelings before, both sexual and emotional, they are on a perpetual high. Addicted to love. We have all been there, and it is amazing..at least to the kids, not so much for the parents. We see this relationship through an adult brain, and know that there is no way this kind of high can be sustained. What goes up, must come down. And crashing it does. A "see I told you so" though tempting should be avoided at all costs. See story above!!

The cold hard truth, is that you have little control over these relationships except to set the limits you need to for safety reasons. Curfews, sleepovers, too much time alone in the house, etc But other than that, your job will most be as a safety net when the crashes happen, and to mirror for them their feelings. When the crashes and burns happen, it is important not to be critical or set limits you can't control for, see story above. Your I Get It moment: "I get how important this relationship is to you, and I see how upset it makes you lately. What do you think needs to change for it to get better?" 

If they ask for you opinion, you can share it, just know that coming on to strong about the negatives in this relationship might come back to haunt you. Just like the forest fires in Texas this year, it takes a long time for these hot fires to burn out, and when something flammable gets in the way, it gets burned too.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

My Daughter Myself

Over Thanksgiving I had a chance to spend some time with my beloved daughter. She was lovingly telling me how beautiful I looked. (I am turning 60 next week and I take in every compliment that is paid to me) Don't be jealous, she is 28 now, and a full on adult. Anyway, over the summer I had some "work" done, and that's all I will say about it, but it has definitely made me feel differently about the way I look, the way I carry myself, and the way I feel about myself. My daughter's comment was the beginning of a conversation about "getting" that. I was saying to her that I felt more confident and more attractive than at any other time of my life, even now at 60.  And here is what my daughter said to me:

"When I was a teen, and you and I would be together, people would always say, you look just like your mother. But then you would say: 'oh no, I'm fat, I'm not pretty, Ari looks like her dad.' But what I took away was,  if people say you look like your mother, and your mother says she is fat and ugly, therefore, if I look like my mom, I must be fat and ugly too."

This was a stunning revelation for both of us. I always felt that by saying that she didn't look like me, that that would make her feel better about herself, because I never felt that great about my "looks."  But that is not how she heard it. My daughter spent all of her teen years, and even now as a young adult who is absolutely stunning, thinking that she is still that chubby preteen, not pretty, who looks like and feels like how her mother feels. Talk about identification. If I had only known that my good intentions to make her feel better about herself had had the opposite affect.

Our daughters see themselves reflected in us. Good or bad, academically inclined or not, athletic or athletically challenged, social or shy, serious or fun, ambitious or not. As teens they want to be everything we are not, but when they move on to young adulthood, they see more clearly how connected they are to us.  What you say, and model about how you feel about yourself has tremendous impact on how your daughters than feel about themselves. So if you are always putting yourself down,  or have those moments of self-loathing probably better if you don't share those with your daughter. Learn from my experience. My daughter has modeled many of my positive qualities as well, and of course that makes me happy, and she is also very much her own person and nothing like me, but, she does carry with her a backpack full of self-doubt, and I am afraid that somewhere along the line, I put some of my own stuff in there.

We all want out daughters to head out into the world confident and assertive women, proud of who they are, and what they have to offer. Show them how it's done!