Tuesday, September 29, 2015

When Your Kids Ask You: Did You Drink Or Do Drugs When You Were A Teenager?

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Distracted Driving: A Scary True Story

One of my Freshman students came into class the other day with this story. He and three friends had been driving to the mall on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. NO ONE WAS WEARING SEAT BELTS!!!! The driver, looking down at her phone to change the music, slams into the car in front of her who had stopped short. Because she was paying attention to her tunes not her driving, she missed his slow-down. Amazingly only the front seat passenger was injured. He hit the windshield and ended up with a 7 inch laceration on his head. Cradling his friend, waiting for the ambulance to arrive, my student was covered in blood! This is a thank the f**king lord moment that no one was killed!

How do we communicate to our teens that seat belts are a non-negotiable and driving distracted can injure and kill. Let's start with the seat belts. If you have a teen who is a soon to be a driver, is already a driver or goes in cars with friends here is a way you can assess their seat belt safety. When they get in the car, do they automatically put on their seat belt, or do they need your prompt to remember?  If they need your prompt than here is a strategy: Let them know that they will not be allowed to take the car or drive in their friends cars until you see that they remember to put their seat belt on without reminders from you!! You should also test their ability to make sure their passengers are wearing selt belts by not putting on yours when they are driving in the car with you as a passenger. You need to teach them to be aware of what is going on in their car when they are the driver. If they are ferrying around their friends, then they must make sure that their passengers are safe. Again, unless they can learn to do this, no car!!! In the story above, the driver needed to take a look around her car, see that no one had on a seat belt, and remind everyone to buckle up!!! Never just assume that since they put their seat belt on that they will be aware of the passengers in their car. They need you to teach them!!!!

As for driving distracted, whether it's texting, or changing their playlist to something that better meets their mood requirements, your teens should not have their phones within easy reach. It is just too tempting!!!!! Practice with them what they will do with their phones when they get into the car to drive. Will it be put in the glove compartment, in their purse, where?? This needs to become a ritual, and making something become a ritual takes repetition repetition repetion. And that is your job to get them to rehearse. If you have a soon to be driver, 15 1/2 year old. Let them know that if they want to get their license they will need to start practicing being in a car with using a cell phone... HORRORS!!!! Like in any classical conditioning experiment, your teen needs to start associating being in the car without being on their phone. It is as simple as that. This is not intuitive for your teen, and truly not for most adults. Just look at your own phone behavior in the car!!!!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Do You Know If Your Teens Are Using These APPS

I wrote this blog last spring. But in the last two weeks I have had several calls from parents who found their teens on these apps with scary consequences, so I thought I would re-post. Please check your teen's apps and have them explain to you what is on their phone and why. These apps should not be there!!!!!!

Meerkat, Periscope, and YouKnow ...Do you know? Honestly keeping up with the latest and greatest new app has become almost a full time job. Here's the scoop, these three apps take video chat to a new high. YouNow is a live streaming video app, as are the other two. But what makes YouNow unique is that it allows live interaction. So I download this app, and I am now immediately connected to anyone else who has downloaded this app and is on it at the same time I am. Tweens and teens are loving this, better than TV, better than movies, I can see live and in person and talk to these other live and in person people whoever and wherever they are. And If I really like them, I can "tip" them with fan points, that I can buy with real money (really your money) to show how much I like them, and maybe they might do the same for me. Live video+ money incentive + impulsive teens is a dangerous combination.

Meerkat and Periscope are also live streaming but lack the ability to interact in real time. Read the two articles below, these are written by parents who have a better understanding of all this technology than I do. But what I do know is that teens are loving this!!! At best these are additional distractions from living in the real world, and at the worst are opportunities for potential bullying, secret tapings of someone for public broadcast (think taping a drunk friend at a party making a fool of themselves not knowing that are being viewed by an audience of voracious voyeurs) and opportunities for "meeting" unsavory people.

When is the last time you checked the apps that are on your teen phones! If you are not the app CEO of your teen's phone, this should be a weekly activity that you and your teen do together. Making sure that you are aware of what your teen is participating in, and discussing the real world implications of these apps. I continue to recommend that parents be the gatekeepers of teen downloads, by creating a private password (not apple ID)on your teen's phone by going to settings, then general then enter  a password, which takes you to a screen where it allows you to disable a whole menu of things like installing apps, preventing purchases, and tons of other things. Exercise your option for keeping your teen safe and engaged in the REAL world, not the Virtual one.


Thursday, September 17, 2015

You Are Not Allowed To.....

I got a wonderful e-mail recently from a parent who is struggling with "sneakiness" from her teenage son. Do I hear a chorus of "me too". This is a classic parent-teen struggle. You work hard to set reasonable rules, and your teen works just as hard to wrangle him/herself around them. Here is what this parent wrote: "I believe he senses me becoming "paranoid" and questioning things because I don't trust...and he then becomes sneakier. How do I break that cycle and how do you convey confidence and trust when they have broken that trust?"

Let's play this out. You make a rule. This mom had a rule about no food in the basement. She goes down the basement and finds cans and wrappers stashed behind furniture. This a relatively minor infraction but a great example of how these small things build up, create niggles of doubt, until full out distrust and paranoia develop. Fill in the blank here with the smaller rule breakers that your teen challenges you with. 

Here is your "I Get It" moment: "Hey honey, I just found (fill in the blank) wrappers and cans in the basement. Clearly you think this is a rule worth breaking. Give me an alternative. I'd rather we come up with something together, that we both can agree on, rather than you disagreeing with something and sneaking around to do what you want anyway." The work is always to encourage truth-telling. When you include your teen in the rule-making, at least you get them to have partial ownership of the problem. Here is how you can do this. Using the above example, 

Your teen will probably say: "its stupid that I can't eat downstairs where I hang out."

Parent says;" What do you think I am worried about when you ..........." 

In this case kid will say: "that I will trash the basement." 

Mom can say: "Yes that's right, so what will you do to assure me you won't trash the basement, and get rid of your trash."

 Now the owness is on the teen to come up with a plan that makes you happy.

Final question from parent: "What will the consequence be if you don't follow through on your plan."

The consequence is in place. If you aren't satisfied with the consequence your teen comes up with, offer one up yourself. Maybe in this case, you are banned from the basement for 24 hours if I find trash down there. 

As your kids get older, they will disagree with you more and more. Your choice is to set your rules, and watch your kids dance around them, or engage them in the process so they feel a part of the process. They want to manage their life, they are driven to manage their life, even if they don't do it well. It's called practice! It is up to you to give them opportunity to practice, by including them in the process. They will screw up. But I think it is less about trust, and more about temptation. Teen''s are impulsive, and don't think things through for very long. They need help in that department. So when you find the beer can in the basement, what you want is use that to open conversation. So rather than getting angry, and going with a "how can you betray my trust like this" You might say" I was surprised to find this beer. I know we don't have any in the house, so either you or one of your friends brought it in. What are you going to do to make me feel OK about being in the basement and sneaking in beer or booze.?" Again, using the words trust can be loaded. 

As soon as you use the words: "you are not allowed to"... your kids may see this is a challenge to show just how much you cannot control their behavior. Parenting a teen is a team effort, you and your teen being the team. The top down style of parenting: my way or the highway, may work well with younger kids, but with teenagers it is a call to action on their part. They are yearning for control of their lives, and if you try to take that away from them, you will be setting yourself up for daily battles. Negotiation and compromise are life skills. Teaching your teen these skills now, will help them to become successful in the future.

Teens are tempted by all the fun stuff teens want to do and try. They need your help to stay safe and trustworthy, not just your anger.  

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Please Don't Wait Till It's Too Late

I read an article recently by a journalist who interviewed people for whom death was imminent. OK, don't get all gloomy on me, it really was about living life to it's fullest. Those interviewed were asked about regrets they had, missed opportunities, and how they wished they had lived their life differently. There was definitely a consensus on many of these life lessons. I wanted to share four of them that I felt really resonated with the parenting experience, and could really change the lives of you and your kids if you pay attention to them. Here Goes! My comments in italics

  1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a true life to myself, not the life others expected of me.  So often we are fulfilling someone else's dreams and expectations for us. This goes for children who feel the need to measure up to their parents expectationsMaybe you never followed the path you wanted because your parent's discouraged you. I used to teach adult students who came back to school to get their master's degrees in Eduction. Most of them had originally wanted to be teachers, but as college students, their parents discouraged them, pressuring them to go into more lucrative professions like business and the law. So many of my students described the lack of pleasure they got from their careers, fulfilling their parents expectations. Now as adults in middle age, and feeling the freedom to finally do what they wanted to do, they were giddy with excitement and curiosity.  Make sure as parents, you give your teens and young adults the freedom to chose who they want to become even if it doesn't fit your dream for them. 
  2. I wish I didn't work so hard. Sometimes work schedules can't be helped, but sometimes they can. Maybe you can't make it home every night for dinner, but I know you can 1 or 2. And then there are always the weekends. The research is unequivocal on this, when there is dedicated time for families, which may only be dinner for busy families, teens feel more connected and communicative, and engage in few risky behaviors! Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize!
  3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings. I'm guessing here that they aren't talking about angry ones. Those are usually pretty easy to express, especially when you are in the middle of parenting your teens. Your teens may not present many opportunities for the non-angry ones. But find them you must. Also, this is not just about expressing feelings to someone else, but also expressing feelings about yourself. Kids need a model here. They need to hear when you are sad, disappointed, angry, frustrated, proud about things going on in your own life. If you are proud of something you challenged yourself to do and accomplished your goal, show and share your pride in yourself. Its a good thing! When you are disappointed in yourself for something, say it and share it with your kids. It's good for them to see you taking responsibility for your actions. You will be more likely than to see them do the same, and understand that even the all-mighty parents make mistakes too. It makes them feel less badly about their own. 
  4. I wish that I had let myself be happier. Remember these are people with no time left for a do-over. You and your kids on the other hand, do!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Power Of Understanding Is Indeed Powerful!

Recently I had two personal experiences that reiterated to me the power of understanding and forgiveness. One experience was for me to ask for forgiveness, and the other, looking for someone else to understand me.

I got an email recently from someone in my past. In it she expressed a need for closure on an incident that occurred between the two of us many years ago. Unfortunately, my own memory about the issue was very fuzzy, but really it didn't matter what I did or did not remember because her feelings were very much in the present. I was devastated that something I had done, even though unintentionally, had caused her such pain. I apologized, with respect for what she was feeling, and for my own need to make amends. It is so hard to accept sometimes our own culpability in bringing on pain in people we care about. In fact often we are unaware that something we have said or done has hurt someone. So, when confronted and surprised by someone we have hurt we get defensive, and combative, rather than be apologetic and understanding. In my example, this person had her experience and her feelings, that is a simple truth that I had to acknowledge and respect. Her gift to me was accepting my apology, and thanking me for my lack of defensiveness, and understanding her need to get closure and move on.

People are not perfect. We screw up. We screw up with our friends, our partners, and yes, we screw up with our kids. When you own your mistakes, and apologize to your kids, you show them respect. They will be able to move on. When you get defensive and evasive even when you know it's on you to take responsibility for your actions, your kids become disrespectful, and then feel acutely a double standard of "do as I say, not as I do."

The second experience illustrates this point. I felt a colleague had crossed a professional boundary. I agonized for a week about whether to share my feelings about this incident. But I could see that it was interfering with our relationship,  and that we needed to talk about it. I was expecting a simple "Oh my god, I am so sorry, I didn't even realize, I'm glad you told me so I can do better the next time. "Instead, I got a "face". You know that face, kind of all scrunched up, and disdainful. No apology, no thanks for letting me know, just the feeling that I was the crazy one! Even if I was the crazy one (which by the way I wasn't) giving me that gift of understanding would have cleared it up in a second. Like I said nobody is perfect, and we all make mistakes.  How can we change if we don't know what those mistakes are, take responsibility for them and move on.

The power of understanding, and all the "I get It" scripts I feed you in these blogs I hope pave the way to help you accept, respect and move on in your relationships. Truly, it's powerful stuff.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

How Would My Teen Grade My Parenting Skills??

Have you ever noticed that your teen seems to be lacking an edit button when it comes to what comes out of their mouth? They are completely unfiltered. What they are thinking is what they are saying. That's why half of what they say is followed by an "I'm only kidding." This is why there are so many hurt feelings and drama during the teen years. Their developing frontal cortex is providing them with new opportunities for analyzing and deeper thinking. This is why their teachers expert more of them when reading texts and deciphering the subtext, because now they have a capacity for thinking deeper that they did not have before. But this deeper thinking is not just reserved for school work, it's for everyone and everything. David Elkind, a Child Development expert calls this "thinking in a new key."I love the image that conjures up. Think of a song that goes through a key change. It sounds the same...but different.

So of course, if your teen is looking at the world and the people in it through a newly developing brain, you become part of their musings. As children, they didn't much think about you as a separate person. They saw themselves as extensions of you. They might think you were unfair in a decision to not let them stay up late to watch a favorite TV show or finish a video game, but didn't think any deeper about that decision you made. Now that same decision passed down to your teen, might erupt into a treatise about the kind of parent you are and then the person you are. "You are smothering me, you never let me make my own decisions, you want to control everything I do, blah blah blah!"  See they are learning about subtext! Now they are analyzing your underlying motivations for the parenting decisions you make. Hello Freud!

Rather than waiting for your teen to "share" their opinions about you at a time that might be volatile due to an unwanted parenting decision, try heading them off at the pass. I actually think that what teens think and say about their parents is oftentimes right on. I credit my daughter for helping me develop better listening skills. "You are interrupting, let me finish" was an oft repeated phrase. And you know what, she was right! Also,"stop asking me so many questions." Again, guilty as charged. Hard as it was to hear, I needed to hear it. 

When you feel you are open to hearing some "feedback," how about asking them outright to share some of their thoughts about you as a parent?  We feel very free sharing our "feedback' with our teens. 'If you only....why can't you just do......I think you should.....I don't like that you.....!' How much of your daily communication with your teen starts off with phrases like this. How about on your next car ride you say:" you know honey, I know I am not a perfect parent, I'm wondering if there are things I could do differently. Are there things I do or say that really bug you. I really would like to know."

You're job at this point is to just listen. It is not to defend or explain your actions. If you need more clarity you can ask questions like: " Can you give me an example? Or, How could I do it differently? You are not agreeing to make any changes, you are just giving them the opportunity to share how what you say and do affects them. The gift is in the opportunity and respect you are giving them for their opinions and your openness to listening. You decide what to do with that information.

PS: Getting my speaking schedule up and running for the 2015-16 year. Email me at joani@joanigeltman.com if you are interested in having me come and present one of my seminars at your school, company, church, temple, community group or on a street corner in your neighborhood!!   Or book an Ask The Expert Party. Invite your friends, or the parents of your teen's friends to your house and I'll spend two hours giving you all tips and strategies, geared specifically to your needs. I also do parent coaching in person and on the phone!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Don't Forget Your....Getting Your Teen To Remember!

Now that school has started, your teen has a lot to remember; books, homework, lunch, sports equipment, phone, laptop, iPad, etc etc.How many times have your said to your teen: Don't forget your math book, sports equipment, lunch, house keys, etc., etc., etc. You may have even done the reminding just before your teen walks out the door, and you are responded to with a " I WON"T!" And so you leave it at that!

Then the phone call comes in from your teen, not a text, but a real honest to goodness human voice: "Hiiiii, it's me....... how's your day going?" Said in the sappiest, sweetest tone your teen your kid can muster. And then the: "I forgot my _________________, can you bring it to school?" And you grimace, and groan, and say: " how many times did I ask you and remind you to make sure you had that to bring to school? "And you start in on the lecture; "If you only did like I told you to get your school stuff ready the night before this would never happen........" And then you cave and interrupt whatever it is your doing and bring the damn_______________ to school. Because you know that if you don't, the teacher will give your teen a "0" for class that day, and that too many zero's can add up to a grade drop for the term, and if the term grade isn't high enough, it will effect their chance of an honor's class or grade point cum or any other consequence that might in some way affect your teen's college chances and therefore the rest of their life.

That train of thinking is called sequential thinking, and that is the kind of thinking that your teen does not do very well. When you did that final yell up the stairs in the morning, your teen heard you, and really did think, oh yeah, gotta remember that book. But then a second later he/she got a text from a friend who asked a really important question like "what are wearing today? or Wassup. And this very important question took them away from the remembering.

If you really want your teen to remember the things they always forget, than you have to help them come up with a strategy for remembering that works for them. Remember that you and your teen are not the same person, you do not have the same brain, and therefore what works for you in the remembering department like making a list for example, may not work for them.

So don't start off this conversation with the "you know what works for me?" Instead you can say; "You know honey, I know it's hard to keep track of what you need to do and remember, you have alot on your mind. (And they do) and I get it's easy to forget things when in that moment you have a ton of other things that take up space in that brain of yours. So here's the thing. I get that just saying "don't forget" does not work. I also am not willing anymore to interrupt my day to take you what you need, or letting "I forgot" being an excuse for not following through on something, like keeping in touch with us when you are out with your friends. Instead, we have to come up with strategy to help you remember."

And here is the real work. TOGETHER you brain storm some ideas. Perhaps if your teen is attached to his phone, he/she can set an alarm just before leaving for school that reminds them to remember such and such. Or maybe you text them just before they leave, even if you are sitting in the same room, or perhaps you have color coded post it notes on the door out to the garage that match up with what they need for the day. Be creative. Look at who your kid is and how their brain works. Thinking through a strategy is giving them a life skill that they can use the rest of their life, saying don't forget lasts only a second.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Joani's Back To School Sale

Yes, the summer is over, and it is back to backpacks and schedules, carpools and homework. For some parents this day could not come fast enough, and for others it is dreaded almost as much as their kids dread it. The good and bad news is that in a few weeks, it will feel like summer never happened. Tans will fade, girls will finally have to put on some pants that cover their tushies, and everybody will be in some kind of routine.

I thought today I would give you my own version of a back to school sale, as I try to "sell" you on some strategies that you can start with from the get-go in hopes of a smooth beginning to the school year.

Cellphones, laptops, tablets, itouch, ipod....:

Do not allow your teen to take these to bed. How I wish teen drama happened between 8-10 pm, but the reality is, the real juicy stuff happens after 1 AM. Your teen has their phone on vibrate, and he/she never really hits the deep level of sleep that allows the brain to absorb the day's learning. Instead they lie in wait for their crush to text, or a best friend to text the days wrap up. This is why they are exhausted when they wake up. If you have been a good doobee parent who has not given your teen a smartphone, simply have your carrier shut it off when you and your teen agree on a time. Your conversation: "hey honey, I get how important it is to check in with your friends before bed, and I want you to have that time, but then we need to agree on a time that the phone will be shut off for the night. It is important for you to get a good night sleep. If you have already given your teen a smart phone, which you can't shut off through the carrier, you will say the same first part and then: " I will need to collect your phone at our agreed upon time. If you argue with me, and we get into a struggle about handing over your phone, I will need to switch out your smartphone for a regular phone, so that I can have it shut off and we won't need to argue. Your choice." And by the way, this goes for laptops, Itouches or any other device that can interfere with sleep. Shut your modem off if you have too. It is that important. Teens are already sleep deprived with the brain saying, "I'm not tired yet", and the school bus pick-up at a very early ungodly time. Your teen DOES NOT have the willpower to do this on their own, no matter what they tell you. Do not set them up to fail.

Check out Verizon's Family Safeguard service. It costs about $5 extra a month and will enable you to schedule when your teen's phone can be on and off. and a million other things you can use it for.


If you have had a teen that has fallen into the homework hole, do not wait for it to happen. Anticipate that this might happen again.Things don't change that much over the summer. If you have a younger teen, 6-10th grade, you might consider hiring what I call a homework coach. This is a cool college student with a car, who picks your teen up either after school or in the evening, takes them to a library, and sits with them while they do their homework, and then takes them out to shoot some hoops get an ice cream or a coffee when they are done. This basically gets your teen on a homework schedule, and pairs the dreaded homework with someone and something fun. Not that you aren't fun, well, actually you probably aren't when it comes to homework. Twice a week is usually enough.

Make sure you have a 2 hour period when there is no cellphone, and social networking sites are blocked. See cellphone strategy above. You can do the same thing, have it shut off for a couple of hours or agree for them to surrender. Again, and I will keep saying this, cellphones, and facebook, twitter et al, are TOO DISTRACTING. Your teen will argue till they are blue in the face that they can handle their homework while texting, facebooking, twittering etc. The research is unequivocal here, they can not. The brain will pay attention to the most interesting stimulus, and you can bet that geometry loses to texting every time. Even if your teen has no homework and says they did it at school you should follow through on the 2 hour rule. All this stuff is hugely addictive, you are not doing them any favors by feeding this addiction. Maybe they will actually spend time with you watching TV, a fate worse than death. Your teen will be mad at you. SO WHAT!


All teens should be involved in something. Too much time on their hands can be destructive. School is usually out by 2 and that leaves them with hours to whittle away doing who knows what, and who knows where. You should have an expectation that you teen either chooses a sport, club, drama or a job, but they must have something to do at least 3 days a week. No activity, no job...no money! Some teens may be overwhelmed with the choices available at school, and might be too shy to join something. If you know your teen has a strength in some area, say art for example, you might want to go undercover and let the guidance counselor know about this. Perhaps they need artists to work on the newspaper or yearbook or drama production, and they might get the faculty involved to approach your teen, saying they heard that they were talented and could really use their help. Be creative. This is all about building self esteem and self confidence especially if academics is not your teen's area of strength.

Social life

Teen proof your home.
  •  Lock up the alcohol and prescription drugs
  • Make sure you supervise sleepovers (that means setting alarm clock to check on location and sobriety of your house guests.)
  • Help your teen to think in advance about handling themselves in risky situations
  • Supervise teens coming to your house to hang. Make sure your teen understands your no drinking or drug policy, and have a plan in place should your teen have friends who flaunt your rules. Remember it is unsafe and illegal. 

This is in caps and in bold because it is the most important. Do not let your relationship just be about checking up on your teen, as in "have you? did you? when will you? If this is the bulk of your conversation with your teen you absolutely need to build in some good relationship building time. This is what will get your teens to do what you want, not taking away their phone. Go to a movie during the week, take them out for a coffee, give them a day off when they feel stressed, and stay in your pajamas all day eating junk food. Let your teen know you get life can be hard sometimes, and that you don't always have to be the hard-ass!

PS: Getting my speaking schedule up and running for the 2015-16 year. Email me at joani@joanigeltman.com if you are interested in having me come and present one of my seminars at your school, company, church, temple, community group or on a street corner in your neighborhood!!   Or book an Ask The Expert Party. Invite your friends, or the parents of your teen's friends to your house and I'll spend two hours giving you all tips and strategies, geared specifically to your needs. I also do parent coaching in person and on the phone!