Thursday, October 29, 2015

"It Wasn't Me!! I Didn't Do Anything!"

Here is a straight from the headlines story that all parents should use to talk with their teens. Erin is a 17 year old senior in high school, honor roll student and captain of her Volleyball team. On a Saturday night, Erin got a call from a friend who was drunk at a party and knew that she couldn't drive home. She asked Erin to come and get her. Erin arrived at the party to pick up her friend, just as the police had come after getting a call about this out of control party. Erin was arrested along with the other party guests. Police confirmed that Erin was "alcohol free" but regardless she was stripped of her volleyball captainship and was suspended from play for 5 games. This was devastating for Erin. She had only been helping out a friend. Unfortunately, the town in which Erin lives has a very strict, zero tolerance alcohol and drug policy especially for athletes. Being in the presence of drugs and alcohol is equal to being in possession of illegal substances, hence the severe consequences for Erin. Erin and her parents are suing the town.

This blog is not about fairness and what the town should or shouldn't do. It is a cautionary tale for parents to share with their kids. Sometimes the world is not "fair." For Erin, she was helping out a friend, clearly a responsible act, and her friend, knew it wasn't safe to drive, clearly a responsible act. Both teens were acting responsively, that much is clear. But Erin was at the wrong place at the wrong time, and she is now paying dearly for her act of friendship. Fair or not fair, isn't really helpful right now. Talk about this story with your teen. Make sure you both understand your school policies about drugs and alcohol. Let them know that you are always always always a good starting point when a decision has to made. If a situation like this presents itself for your teen, tell them you should be their first call, whether your teen is the drunk friend in this story, or the responsible friend. Promise to validate their act of responsibility, not punish it, and help them to figure out a strategy that is safe for everyone!!!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Isn't It My Turn To Be The "Good Cop?"

When kids are young arguments between parents tend toward eating and TV habits, and bedtimes and manners. Ah, the good ole days say parents of teenagers. If only we were just arguing about too much junk food. Arguments for parents of teens get much more personal. "You never say no, or all you ever do is say no, or why am I always the bad guy, or don't you remember when you were a teen, or kids will be kids, can't you just lighten up?" Worries about your teens safety, future,  and their success in life are present in every decision and negotiation you go through with your teen. Differences in personality and style with your parenting partner can become especially apparent in parenting your teen.

Most of us have very vivid memories of our own teenage years and the parents who got us through them. Some memories skew toward the awful. "My parents were so rigid, and punitive, I never want to be that way with my teen, or "I got away with everything, my parents were clueless, its amazing I am still alive, I will be much more on top of stuff with my teenager." You can see the inherent problem here. If you and your partner were parented from opposite ends of the parenting spectrum, and now are parenting from those perspectives, your teen will be in hog heaven. There is nothing easier for a teen than having parents who are extreme opposites. Because their brain now allows them to analyze their parents and how they parent, (your own private couples counselor) they can now figure out who is the best parent to go to for which things. Want to go to a concert and stay out late, go to the parent who is excited you love music and feels concerts are a rights of passage. Definitely do not ask the parent who would never let you go out on a school night, thinks concerts are only for drug addicts, and whose only experience with concerts is the Symphony.

This is problematic, not only because your kid is learning how manipulate his parenting duo, but also because it is a set-up for one parent to have a satisfying and fun relationship with their teen while the other parent ends up with the anger, and the lack of connection as the "bad cop parent."No fair! If there are two parents present in the family, it is important for this teen to have a model of cooperation. If a teen learns to manipulate a situation to his advantage on the home front, this then becomes a roadmap for manipulation in other relationships as well,  with friends, with co-workers when they start a career, and any future partnership or marriage of their own. Teens learn how to manage the world from the people who are closest to them, and that my friends are their parents.

The only way to deal with this is to at least have an agreement that neither parent will impulsively give their teen the immediate answer to a request. Teens are extremely talented in the art of negotiation and are not good at delaying gratification, that doesn't mean that you have to feed into that. Both parents have to get into the habit of saying, "your mom/dad and I will get back to you on that." When your kid pressures you for an answer, nothing really you have to say here, but give a shrug of your shoulders, a smile, and a we'll get back to you, and thats that. If is something that is time sensitive, and the other parent is not at home, thats why cellphones and texting were created. Obviously this strategy is for decisions you know are open to question, not the run of the mill, can I go hang at Joey's house. Do not ever disagree as a marital unit in front of your teen!!!! Take it outside, into the bathroom, in the car. Kids love seeing you two fight over this kind of stuff, and it can make one or the other parent seem ineffective and powerless. So please do your own negotiating privately, especially when you have to take defeat. You and your parenting partner may come from two very different places, but respect for each other always always always needs to be modeled. Even saying to your teen after a decision has been made: "you know I get why your mom/dad was so worried about having you do this. But we talked about it and here is why we came to this decision. You are communicating parenting understanding,not necessarily agreement, but respect for differing opinions. Believe me, this will come in very handy when you need your teen to understand you!!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Arguing 101

Thank god for television, comic strips, news, and AOL or where oh where would I come up with all these blog ideas. I was watching a rerun of 30 Rock, it's hard not to since they seem to be on every channel. It seems "Jenna" (it doesn't matter if you don't know the show or the characters) was having a hard time dealing with her very manipulative, user mother. "Jack" who has experience dealing with his own manipulative user mother was advising "Jenna" on a foolproof strategy in dealing with her mother's outlandish requests of her. As soon as I heard it, I wrote it down so I wouldn't forget. Three perfect steps to "winning" an argument.


Perfection! So your teen comes to you with a request to do, go, or buy something. I think that covers all the bases. This is the kind of request for which there is no compromise. Its either too expensive, too unsafe, or too unrealistic. Your teen, unfortunately does not agree.  You state your case in a kind and clear manner, hoping to ward off an argument. Sometimes that works, but if your teen is extremely invested in a YES, I'm guessing you get put on the defensive after being accused by your teen for being overprotective, overbearing, too strict, and the worst parent ever. It's tough not to get hooked. After all you have to protect yourself. But here is the thing, once your teen has heard the word NO, and you mean no, it doesn't matter how loud or how long you argue to the contrary, you will not win. PERIOD! And it will only deteriorate into a place you really don't want to go with your teen. So here is the "Jack Doneghy" strategy.

Say NO in a calm but controlled voice

Stay low, as in keep your voice in a low, soft, controlled register. Once you hit the high notes, you've lost. This means NO SCREAMING NO YELLING

Let It Go: There really is nothing else to say after you have said no. Given that you have explained your rationale for the no.You might end with an "I get it moment. " I get you're angry with me, and don't understand and don't want to hear this answer. I'm sorry, I know how disappointed you are."  and you are done. Do not re-engage.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Motivation For Your Teen To "Clean Up" Their Posts On Social Networking

Great article from the Boston Globe. (see link below) The "fly on the wall" metaphor has taken on new meaning with the accessibility of complete and total strangers to anything you put out in the nether world of social media. And some of these total strangers are potential employers, college admissions officers, potential internship places, and the list goes on. This was an astounding statistic quoted in this article:"Nearly 80% of employers research job applicants and 70% have rejected candidates because of their online profile." Let the parent lectures begin!!!

As I mentioned a few blogs ago, your teens allow complete strangers to follow them on their favorite app du jour! If you want to test that out, come up with a phony name and ask to become one of your teen's instagram followers. I'm guessing you'll get your "in" in a second or two! If your teen is starting to think about a job or internship they need to beware. Or how about looking to become a camp counselor? Perhaps that camp director is social media savvy, and goes on your teen's instagram or twitter account (again, you know how selective they are about friending people) or on tumblr, and If your teen has been posting obscenity laden quips, drunken exploits or sexy pics, you better tell them that might not look so good to a camp director, who is looking for a wholesome camp counselor. Or, how about that highly competitive internship, looking for Mr or Ms responsible? I don't think they want to read that "man I got wasted and ....."

Perhaps your teen is waiting to hear from colleges. This is a tough college market. And sometimes that decision might come down to what admission officers have found during their social media sleuthing!

This is definitely not something that is on your teen's radar. Someone has to put it there, and it is you!!! Though this article focuses on college graduates, it definitely applies to, summer jobs, college admissions, it's all the same deal. As Crosby Stills Nash and Young sing...."Teach, your children well."

You might have them read this article, and say: You  know honey,I get that posting outrageous stuff on your facebook, inststagram, etc is fun, and reading all your friends crazy stuff is also fun, but the reality is that it makes your life an open book to college admissions people, potential jobs and internship employers. I wouldn't want something silly like the stuff you put out there in internet world to get in the way of doing what you want. I think it's time to do some "housecleaning." As you go through all your postings, think like a potential boss, or admission counselor, and ask the question: "What impression am I getting about this student, employee from their sites?" You woudn't want them to say:"wow this kid seems to party alot, that would probably affect their ability to work, or they use alot of foul language and sexually explicit language, they don't show much respect for woman or men, I wouldn't want them interacting with my staff." Help your teens to ask the right questions and send them on their way with a Mr Clean power eraser!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Good Kind Of Risk-Taking

I was listening to the radio this morning and the subject was good VS bad risks. One of the guests shared a story she saw on her local newspaper's police log. (come on, you know you love to read it) On it was a post about a potential child endangerment call. What was the potential danger, two 9 year old kids were riding their bikes in the neighborhood, and a concerned neighbor thought their potential risk and danger being out in the neighborhood was worthy of a 911 call.  Oy Vey!!! We are barraged daily with horrific news stories about child predators, school shootings, and facebook friends gone bad. These are crazy making for parents. It makes us want to hold tight to our kids and keep them as safe as we can. Sometimes that holding tight for safety has mixed messages. Often parents say no to giving their teens the independence to safely navigate the world that will soon become their life when they leave home for college. But they give them access to drugs and alcohol in the house and technology that can potentially create addiction, contact with questionable people and way way too much access to cell phones, media and distractions with no supervision. But when their teen asks to take public transportation to go into "the city" parents quake in their shoes and say no.

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Seriously....Why Did You Lie??

A parent wrote me recently with this question. I'm guessing it will be a familiar quandary.

Lying.  My daughter has been taking some expensive classes each weekend and my husband and I just discovered that she's skipped 2 of them. She said she really hates the classes but of course we're still dealing with the deceit and her whereabouts for the time she was supposed to be in class.  Since the classes were expensive we were thinking about having her pay for anything she wants for the rest of the year (Senior Prom dress, AP exams, dance competition fees, new track cleats, it really goes on and on) and/or moving the date she takes her driving test to the summer since she has betrayed our trust.  My husband wants to come down really hard here to illustrate how hurt we are by her lying and how unacceptable lying is to us.  Do you have any thoughts?

Kids are funny, aren't they? They are in constant request and promise mode. If you will buy me/pay for me to/take me... I promise I will do xyz, pleeeese!!! I dont' know what class exactly this daughter was taking, but I am sure the motivation came from another friend, or a fantasy she had about what class would be like. Unfortunately, teens base many of their decisions on fantasy and emotion. They imagine that if they join this team, take this modeling class or specialized training program all sorts of amazing things will happen for them. What they aren't imagining or anticipating is that there will be actual work involved and required seriousness by the instructor/coach. Maybe her best friend was doing it and she wanted to make sure that she wasn't missing out on something. Turns out, it wasn't fun, wasn't what she expected, got in the way of other opportunities, take your pick, and now what? She knows that if she tells her parents whe wants to quit, she will have to hear about "quitters" and money, and commitment and so on and so on. And her parents will be right, and that is the worst for any teen... a parent that is right. So what does any self-respecting teen do in this situation..LIE

Ah, if only they could get away with it. And this girl did for at least two of the classes. I know the parents are worried about what their daughter was doing instead, I'm guessing not much, hiding out at a friends' probably. So what to do, what to do. First I would want to know why the avoidance to talk to  parents beforehand. Lying is an avoidance technique, and if your teen is lying to avoid you than he/she is either worried about disappointing you or worried that you will just get mad and not listen. 

It is really important to understand what motivated the lying. Are you scary? Do you go right to the angry place? If so, your teen has little motivation to be honest. Unfortunately what they don't get is that lying makes everything that much worse; the disappointment, and the anger. In the above situation, I would actually calculate the amount of $$ of the missed classes and deduct that from future spending on non-essentials. That is an objective, non-emotional, right to the point, consequence. 

But as important is a calm conversation about what got in the way of her just coming to her parents and saying she didn't like the class. Parents this is an important time to share ownership of the lying. By literally saying, "what could we do differently to make it easier for you to come to us, so that you wouldn't feel you had to lie instead." Decision making is not a teens strong suit. They are impulsive, emotional and persuasive. It is really hard for a parent not to get drawn into their enthusiasm. I think one way to counter this unrealistic enthusism is to have your teen take shared ownership of a decision. For example, the next time this girl asks her parents to do something like this, with a possibility that down the line the teen might change her mind, is to have them share financial responsibility from the get go. If she doesn't have money saved, then an agreement to work it off doing projects of your choosing. This way if things go south, your teen has an investment in making it work. 

As for lying, I know how frustrating and disappointing this can be. But this doesn't change the essence of who your teen is. They care alot about what you think, and rather than feel your disappointment they will go to great lengths to avoid it. It doesn't make them bad, or ungrateful, just part of the normal trajectory of teen behavior. You won't like it, and you need to absolutely address it, but look at it as a problem to be solved rather than a characterization of who your teen is. 

There are different kinds of lies. Lies of avoidance like this story and lies for getting away with doing something you will say no to, and lies of shame. Teens are extremely motivated to do what they want to do, and go where they want to go, without parental interference. Even the "good" kids. Providing motivation for truth-telling is your greatest weapon!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

How "Being 13" May Shock You

I can honestly say I was nauseous as I was watching the CNN special called "Being 13" It's one thing to think theoretically how social networking is affecting teens, but it's a whole other thing to hear, up close and personal, the way kids use it, what they say on it, and the effects it has on their emotional well-being. The researchers captured 150,000 posts from 13 year old teens who by the way, gave the researchers permission to snag these posts for analysis. In the same way that teens don't get the consequences of posting sexual or profanity laced posts, these kids had no idea that some of these texts would be broadcast coast to coast, and that they might be identified.

Here are some of the comments from the 200 teens surveyed asked what would happen if they couldn't use their social networks:

  • I'd feel like I'm going to die
  • I would feel empty inside
  • I would rather not eat for a week than get my phone taken away
  • 57% said that they would rather be grounded than lose their phone
Let's discuss this last one, since to me it is one of the most disturbing!! Rather than hanging out in real time, live and in-person with their friends, 1 out of 2 teens would rather be punished with grounding  than lose their phone. In essence they are saying that their on-line world is more important that their real world!!!

Here is their online world: 
  • when taking a selfie, some kids take 100 pics before they take one that is "on-lineable"(that is my term) This may include multiple changes of outfits, multiple makeup applications and multiple changes of facial expressions and body positioning! This is very time consuming parents!!!
  • Most teens are checking their phones over 100 times a day!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Most teens have no idea who is following them on instagram and twitter. They are giving hundreds of strangers access to their personal life!!!! Terrifying
  • Most kids online persona is completely different that who they are in person
Lets talk about this last one. The teens interviewed said that they would never say or do in person what they say and do on-line. One boy was confronted on this by Anderson Cooper. An adorable boy, dressed in a jacket and tie, polite and intelligent is asked by AC whether he is the same online and in-person. He responds that yes, absolutely, he is "real and himself both in real time and on line. Here is where teen magical thinking comes in. This poor boy who had given permission for the researchers to snag his posts, is now presented and confronted by a huge screen full of profanity, violent and sexual posts that he had posted. And a snide AC says "hey I thought you said you were the same in person and on line, is this how you are in person. BUSTED!!! Like a trapped animal this poor teen tries to talk his way out of it, and humiliated is almost speechless. The other teens, laugh nervously, thanking god I'm sure, that their like-minded posts were not shown. As humiliating as that moment was for this teen, watching his father, part of the parent group being interviewed, being shown these posts of his son was equally as squirm producing. AC first asks the dad does he think his son is capable of writing texts that are sexual, violent and profane. He says truthfully, that his son is a good kid, they have talked about appropriate posting etc, and that he trusts him. The camera stays on this poor dad's face as he reads his son's on-line life. Torture!

When the teens were asked about posts that were designed to be hurtful and mean, they responded that all kids do it, and if someone says something mean to you, you have to be mean back. One girl who was interviewed and had been regularly bullied on ASKFM by anonymous posters was asked why she bothered to read such horrible stuff. She said she'd rather know what was being said about her. Now I want to tell you that kids are writing mean and horrible things are not writing them to kids they barely know, they are mostly writing it and receiving it from their closest friends, who apparently can be vicious one minute and completely loving the next.  Go figure!!

I could go on for hours here, but I don't want lose you before I can give you some strategies. First, the researchers found that when parents engaged with their teens about this whole social networking extravaganza, their teens were less likely to become depressed or anxious. So at the least rather than judging and criticizing them for being so addicted to this, drink a little bit of the kool-aid and understand with them how important you know this is to them. That at least should be your starting place. You should absolutely know what apps your teens are using regularly and become a follower. Not to punish them, but so you can at least have conversations when you see posts that are overtly mean, sexual, or violent, even if they don't come from your teen. At least follow one of their friends, they won't know or care who you are anyway.  (remember half of their followers are strangers) It also wouldn't be a bad thing to go on your kids apps and ask them about followers you aren't familiar with, and ask them to tell you how they know them. They probably won't unfriend them but at the least you are getting them to think about having complete strangers being so privy to their lives.

Now about the language your teens use on-line. For years I have recommended to parents that rather than use the words inappropriate language, say the  real words out loud. As I mentioned in the beginning these kids said they would never say in person what they say on-line. That's because they haven't heard it said out loud!!! So say I don't want you offering or receiving "dick pics" (how kids say penis pictures). No sucking dick requests or offers. You can't make your teen not use swears and sexy language, hearing words come out of your mouth like a truck driver might at least sensitize them to how they sound and more importantly how they feel. Though all teens know how hurt and insecure it makes them feel when they get a mean post, or they are not tagged in a photo(apparently a fate worse than death), or excluded from a group text, they seem to feel no hesitation to pay the abuse forward. What's up with that????

You can't monitor every post but you can limit opportunity, and as far as I can see that is the most you can do. If you have kids who are 10-15 you absolutely should be in control of how much access your kids get to social networking, they do not need 24/7 availability. An hour after school and an hour before they go to bed, and of course no cell phones in bed!!!!!!! Here is a website where you can get some help with parental controls. USE IT!/ These are products that allow you to shut off social networking sites on your teen's phones, ipads, and laptops and then turn them on when you want to. This helps give your teen breaks from this obsessive and addictive behavior. Your teen will not be happy, they will yell and carry on, but when they get used to whatever schedule you agree on for use, they will be relieved. I have had many parents call me after instituting these breaks and report that their teens actually thanked them. Teen don't obsess about all this because they want to, they obsess because they have too!!!

Your teens need some peace of mind!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Consequences Of Parenting Too Hard

This provocative article "ripped from the headlines" caught my eye: Overparented and underhappy. To summarize, the article cites a study done with  college students who were asked how much they agreed with with the following statements: "My parents supervised my every move growing up. It was very important to my parents that I never fail in life" The study found that the students who agreed most with these statements, also felt less psychological well-being and needed more medication for psychological well-being.

The work of parenting is to raise children into adults who are; resilient and able to recover from life's challenges; are able to sort through options so that they can make decisions that are healthy and growth promoting; and can build strong, loving relationships that can sustain them through the ups and downs of life. This is a tall order.

This study supports what my college students share with me. Many feel unprepared for life on their own as they start college. The first day of classes this semester I asked them what they thought their biggest challenges were going to be as they started this new journey as independent college students. Almost all of them said that they were worried they would not be able to get their work done without mom and dad telling them to do it, afraid that their phones, their computers and that the distractions of friends around 24/7 would take precedence over getting to class, getting to sleep and getting to work.

It's not that college students overwhelmed as freshman is a new phenomenon. I remember feeling the same way. Its just that I didn't have as many distractions as students do today. Hall phones, and TV in the student lounge took care of that piece. But I still had the kids in the dorm, walks into Harvard Square for coffee and muffins to distract me. I think the most important piece for me was that my mom had given me increasingly more responsibility for my own life as I worked my way through the experience of high school, and ultimately I knew that I was responsible for me by the time I left for college.  I was ready to take that  on, I wasn't afraid of it, and I was excited for it.

I think this study underscores this point. Parents who take on the responsibility of making their decisions for their kids rather than with their kids risk raising young adults who feel terrified of making their own decisions. Parents who rescue their kids from failure, risk raising young adults terrified of going into unfamiliar territory and instead rely on the familiar even if it makes them unhappy.

Of course we want our kids to be happy, healthy and successful. But making decisions for them, protecting them from failure, and not making them responsible for their behavior in the long run is not protecting at all.

So when it comes time to making rules about social networking and social life, or decisions about what classes to take or activities to join or where to get a job, or consequences for their actions, make them a part of the discussion. Instead of  saying: "if you don't do X , or I think you should, start with a "what do you think should happen if you don't....?, and what do you think you should do.....? Put the ball in their court, it might take longer, you might get more frustrated, your teen might get more frustrated, but the confidence they will begin building will make them a stronger, happier more confident adult.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

How Do I Get My Teen To Do What I Want Them To Do?

If you want your teen to do something, anything, then do it yourself. I am not talking here about cleaning their room, or resistance to emptying the dishwasher. I am talking about all those things you tell your teen to do or not to do like drink and drive, text/talk on your phone and drive, get out and get some exercise, read a book for fun, do some community service, mow the lawn etc etc etc.

Yesterday while driving on a major highway I was tailgated by a an enormous Hummer, driven by a  person anxious to get around me. I was already going 70 mph by the way. After I pulled over to the next lane, I readied myself to give this person a dirty look as they passed me and what I saw floored me. In the passenger seat was a teenaged girl texting away, but in the drivers seat was her mom, elbows on the steering wheel, head down, texting furiously away on her cellphone driving at least 80 mph!! I was aghast. Forget about giving a dirty look, I wanted to call the police, the highway patrol, Child Protective Services. The danger this mom was putting all of us in and especially her own child was mind boggling. What on earth could be that important!! This teen, probably only months away from getting her learner's permit, is learning a valuable lesson. Texting and problem, just learn to drive with your elbows. This trick not included in conventional driving schools, only at selected mom and pop locations.

If you don't want your teen to text/talk on their cell phone while driving, then start with not doing it yourself, at least when your kids are in the car. Don't wait for your kids to be teens before you start modeling this very important and safety enhancing behavior. If your kids grow up with you driving and talking and texting while they are in the car with you, that will become their norm of how one drives a car. I am sure at nursery schools everywhere,  3 year olds are sitting in their little play cars holding plastic phones to their ears as they pretend to be mommy or daddy driving the car. Get the picture! Be deliberate about this. Say to your kids/teens when you all are in the car, "hey honey can you make sure my phone is off, I don't want to be distracted by the phone while I am driving." You need them to hear you take this intentional step for safety.

No drinking and driving. This is another popular missive given to teens everywhere by parents worried about their teens safety as they hit the roads with their friends on weekend nights. Yet at dinner out with the family at restaurants, at friends homes, or at parties, teens watch you throw a few back before you get in the car to drive everyone home. If you don't want your teen to drink and drive, then show them. At dinner, say to yourself or your partner, out loud, and in front of your kids: "who's/I'm the designated driver tonight, and whoever that is waits for their glass of Chardonney until they are safely home.

If you worry your teen never gets off the phone/computer/video game/TV,  do a self-check. Do you? Do they ever see you cozied up on the couch with a blanket and a book, TV off, phone off and charging in another room, computer screen blank. Creating an image of what it looks like for someone to just a powerful one.

Do you bug your kids to do chores, as they watch a myriad of hired helpers do most of the work in your house: house cleaners, landscapers, snow plowers, handymen, peapod. Just saying.....

Do you strongly suggest to your teens to get on the community service train? It looks good on college apps, and will make you a better person. Do they see you do more than write a check to support your favorite charity?

Children learn best not by telling them what to do, but by showing them. You are the most powerful model in their life. If you want them to lead a safe, productive, full and loving life, show them how it's done.