Thursday, June 30, 2016

A Great Parenting Strategy

I can't take credit for this amazing new parent technique, but I absolutely must share it with you. It is called the CTFD techniques which stands for: Calm The F**K Down

Here are some applications for the technique:

  • For the umpteenth time you have asked your teen to clean up their room...CTFD.  So what if your teens room get a 10 on the filthy room scale. If there are no bugs, or flying insects, you're good! Is your teen a good person who happens to be a slob..CTFD

  • For the umpteenth time you have badgered your teen to sit down and start their summer reading for the fall. CTFD I will give you some strategies to help you with that tomorrow.

  • For the umpteenth time you have reminded your teen to do whatever one chore they are responsible for. You cannot believe what a lazy sloth your teen has turned into this summer. CTFD Just do it yourself and save yourself from frustration. Is your teen otherwise a good person?

  • You get the drift. Relax, its summer, soon enough you will have to badger like its nobodies business. Put yourself on vacation.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Summer Tips

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

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

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

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

A four question example:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Fun Summer Movies To Watch With Your Teen

One of the best parts of summer is....time. There is just more of it. During the school year there is no extra time. Pretty much every minute is accounted for including weekends. In the summer there are weird pockets of time that you might actually find you and your teen in the house, at the same time, with nothing much to do. Take advantage of them. Maybe its at 11 AM when they are just rising from a late night, but are free till 4 or 5 when they are going to hook back up with their buddies. Or maybe all their friends are away for the same weekend, and they are hanging around the house. Here are some movies that are on demand or on netflix that are fun to watch, and might even generate some fun conversation.

First Position: I just watched this last night. Its a documentary about a world class ballet competition. Young dancers compete for scholarships for elite ballet companies. They follow 4 teens as they prepare for this competition. I LOVED it. Great examples of kids with passions and how they live their life. If you have a dancing teen, this is a must watch.

American Teen:  this is an amazing documentary that follows a group of high school seniors for their whole last year at a large midwestern high school. Every teen will find themselves represented, the social butterfly, the jock, the artsy kid, and the kid who doesn't fit in. Great film. My college students go crazy for this film every semester.

The Perks Of Being A Wallflower: Feature film about a group of kids who aren't part of a "popular crowd" but form an anti-popular crowd. Great story about friendship, and relationships. I love it!

Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink, Can't Buy Me Love: These are fun 80's teen movies that your kids have probably not seen, but are so much fun to watch. The hair may be big, and the shoulder pads huge but the teen issues are still the same. Would be really fun to introduce these to your kids

Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist: full disclosure, my daughter is one of the stars. She plays the drunk best friend caroline. This is a really sweet movie with Michael Cera. Kat Dennings and my daughter about friendship, relationships and has great music. though my daughter does play a drunk teen, it is not glorified at all. You'll see what I mean if you watch the movie.


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Talking Dirty To Your Teen

I bet that caught your attention!!!!

You would be surprised at how many calls I get from parents who in doing a little texting reconnaissance on their 14 year old's cell phone, find sexts about blow jobs!!!!! Yes that's right, blow jobs!!! Probably not words you want to read with your morning coffee. So what to do, what to do when you find those two dreaded words coming out of or being received by teens texting fingers? And of course, you must say something!!!! Or why else were you nosing around your teen's phone?

Blow jobs are very much prominent in teen culture, if they are not actually participating in the act, there is a lot of talking about doing it.  In fact most kids when confronted by a parent would probably say...what's the big deal, it's like kissing??? I know this because parents who call me tell me this!

We know why boys want blow jobs.  I don't think you need a parenting expert to explain that. But what about the girls?? I'm guessing most teen girls do not want to engage in oral sex. Many girls are repeatedly harassed by boys to do it, and are told by the boys that they are hot, that they really, really like them, and that they promise they won't tell anyone. Those are all lies!! But, if you are a girl, who feels flattered by this attention, you hope that if they participate they will get the holy grail...a boyfriend! Unfortunately this rarely happens. Not all girls by the way are the victims. They can also be the aggressor. I have had a number of calls from parents of boys who are considered "really cute" by the girls, and are aggresively offered a blow job in hopes of acquiring the all important boyfriend. Many of these boys are not interested, but are in a very precarious position. If they don't accept the offer, what might the girl think of him, and then by extension her friends? And what if the girl than tells another boy that he refused, what kinds of rumors might those boys spread about him? This is a very complicated problem.

So all and all, the only way to deal with this is to engage in a really open conversation.  Saying I don't want you participating in this inappropriate behavior will get you nowhere. You must use the real words, and at least pretend not to be freaked out by this conversation. So if you need to, go somewhere private, and say out loud; blow job, penis, suck, dick. Desensitize yourself to the language. Your teens may never have actually said or heard these words themselves out loud, and will be shocked hearing them come out of your mouth! And that is exactly the point. Teens are very distanced from the language they use in their texts and messaging. Writing words gives someone a very different emotional response than actually hearing them out loud. I want your teens to have the emotional experience of hearing them, and talking about them out loud.

Now, here is where the talking dirty comes in! If you have a daughter, especially a teen daughter who might be going off to co-ed sleep away camp, or will be spending more than usual in unsupervised time with groups of marauding teen-agers this summer, you have a good opening for an oral sex conversation.

You might say:" hey honey, so excited for you this summer. I know you will have a great time with all your friends. I also know that boys are very pushy these days when it comes to wanting girls to send naked pictures and wanting blow jobs." Be ready for your teen to give you an  "OMG what are talking about, leave me alone." But you must persevere. Use humor, break the ice, don't come into this in a lectury parenty kind of way.  Push through with a " so think about it honey, a boy wants to put his erect penis in your mouth...think about that for a second. He is turned on, ejaculates either in your mouth, or all over you. And he isn't even your boyfriend, and there is absolutely nothing in it for you. You are servicing this boy. I get that teens think it is no big deal, in fact kids may be fully clothed even, so what's the big deal? The big deal is that sex and intimacy is all about relationship, and caring. This is about a boy getting a quick fix, not about you. And boys might say nice things to you, about how beautiful you are, and how hot, and how much they like you, which may sound really good especially if you like this kid. But if he really liked you for a girlfriend, he wouldn't want you to be going around giving random boys blow jobs."

If you have sons, you must also have this conversation. Same words, different perspective. "Hey, honey it seems like you have quite the social life these days, and probably feeling horny pretty much all the time. (I'm hoping some dads read this blog too, this is a gender neutral parent conversation, but it should be the parent that has the highest chance of getting through and handling this kind of talk.) I know the guys sit around and think about which girls they have the best shot at getting blow jobs from, but I want you to understand the girls perspective. Most girls want a boyfriend, and they are probably expecting that if they go so far as to put your penis in their mouth that you might consider them girlfriend material. But I'm guessing that is not the case. That in fact, it may be the opposite, that you would be uninterested in having the kind of girl who would give random blow jobs, as a girlfriend. This could be very hurtful and disrespectful to this girl. And I hope that you will think about that before you pressure any girl to go down on you!!" And also parents of boys please please please have a conversation about porn. Remind them again and again, that what they may be watching on porn, the violent exploitation of women, the humiliation of women and the scenes of women liking the whole rape fantasy thing, are actors acting out a sick story, not real women who like being treated this way. Unfortunately, much of the aggressiveness you have been hearing about in news story after news story about campus rapes has been traced back to early experiences with porn.

God this is tough stuff!! Try to engage them in conversation, these are just guidelines for what should be talked about. Try to find a natural opening, maybe in a car during a longish ride, so that they don't have to look you in the face as you talk together. Not all kids are engaging in oral sex, but if you have a teen that is part of a social group there is a good chance they are talking about it.

Being a parent is really hard in this century. I miss the days of making someone you had a crush on a batch of brownies. Maybe you can bring it back!!!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Saying No Can Have Unexpected Outcomes

I read a wonderful editorial recently (see below) Most parents say NO when their teens make one of their many requests because the requests are either unreasonable, unsafe or because parents are tired, worn out and aren't in the mood to deal. But after reading this article it got me thinking about the times in my life when I got a NO. And many times, that NO forced me to rethink, readjust expectations, and become more creative. For example, When I was in the beginning stages of writing my book, I showed what I thought was a finished manuscript to a big time editor of a big time publisher who I had met socially and who graciously offered to read it. I thought I had hit the holy grail. Hey, everyone had told me this publishing thing was hard, and first time out I had my book in someone's hands. Initially the feedback was good, but then I got the "I think we'll pass" email, but with some very sage advice. First I had to lick my wounds, I was disappointed, and had to grieve a hit to my ego. But now I can see that this NO is what made book what it is today, after alot of really hard work I didn't think I had in me, but that NO made me see that I did.

Saying NO doesn't have to be punitive. It can be a gateway to growth. This quote says it all:
Amichay identifies three types of “no”: The one that makes us try harder; the one that inspires us to rethink our visions; and finally, the one that moves us into a different direction. 

So one of those times you say NO to your teen, maybe give them that chance to move in another direction. For example, when they come to you with one of their cockamamie, ridiculous, what are you thinking requests; instead of saying NO this is ridiculous, you can say: " Go back rethink, and come back to me with a more reasonable plan, and let's talk. Make them work just a little bit harder, and think just a little bit more, and maybe then they will get their holy grail YES.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Teaching Your Teens To Be Sexually Safe

Brock Turner, the Stanford student who has been found guilty of multiple counts of sexual assault, is a news story all parents read with revulsion. It is one of many stories of sexual assaults taking place on college campuses and that fuel fear in parents sending their children off to college. The most important part of this story is the victim’s heart wrenching accounting of what happened that night between her and Brock Turner.

Please read this victim’s statement out loud at your dinner table with your teens. Sections of her statement will make it hard for you to finish your dinner. That is the point. Lecturing about self-respect, and respect for women in theory is great, but hearing first hand from the victim is much more powerful.

Here is a parent checklist for keeping your teens sexually safe

  • ·      Do your young boys have access to porn on their smartphones? Have you blocked adult porn sites from their phones? Do you even know how to do it? Find out!!! The latest research is showing that when boys, even young boys have easy access to misogynistic porn, that their brain literally changes and makes connections about women and sex. If you have a steady diet of watching women being sexually humiliated and assaulted by men, you might begin to see that as sexually normal behavior instead of sexually deviant behavior. Lecturing about respect for women will fall on deaf ears when those sexual hormones are in play. Whatever part of the brain that lecture is buried, is not in activation when booze, testosterone, and images of anal sex are in play.

  • ·      How is respect for women modeled in your home? I'll just leave that statement on the table for you to ponder. But remember that how relationships are modeled in your home, is the model your kids take out into the world as they experiment with relationships.

  • ·      Do you lecture or educate? Lecturing is talking at someone. Educating is engaging in shared discussion, and the sharing of information. Find as much information as you can, about sexual assault, real stories like this one. Discuss them, debate them, strategize, and problem solve around them.

  • ·      Teach them what consensual sex really means. It does not mean having sex with someone so compromised by alcohol that they don't even know what is going on. The absence of consent is not consent. Teach them!!

  • ·      Do you teach your athletes about proper use of power? Teach them that having a skill set that includes aggression and power on the ice, on the field, or in the water, does not give them the right to use it in any other situation, and should be left on the field and on the ice.

  • ·      Talk about alcohol and drugs, over and over again, consistently, every time they leave the house. Talk and teach them the danger of binge drinking. Teach them about blood alcohol levels, and how many drinks it takes to go over the legal limit when impairment occurs. Not many!! This is about boys deciding that a drunk girl dancing sexy means "she wants it" and then "giving it to her." Teach your boys, that this is not consent. This is someone compromised by alcohol. Teach your girls that getting drunk means leaving their power at the door. Help them to strategize with their friends to keep each other safe, even when it seems like their friend doesn't want help. That is when they need the most help!!

Teach them!!!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Finding A Moral Compass: Lessons From The Stanford Sexual Assault

As you might imagine, I have a lot to say about the Sexual Assault and Rape by Brock Turner, the Stanford Sophomore. Stay tuned for part 2 on Tuesday!

“Boys will be boys, you know those hormones!” “I was so drunk I didn’t know what I was doing!” “She wanted it!” This is what is often said by and about young men caught in the act of sexual assault. The case of Brock Turner, the Stanford student who brutally raped a young woman was sentenced this week to the minimal sentence of 6 months in county jail and probation. In all actuality, he will probably be out sooner. He used these excuses to rationalize his violent attack on this unconscious woman. But as heinous as this attack was, the reaction of Brock’s dad Dan was equally as atrocious. In a statement to the court on the day of his son’s sentencing he said: “ This is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action.”

Parents are supposed to provide the moral center for their children. Human beings are not born with a moral compass, they must be taught, and it must be modeled. There is no other way. In my work as a parenting coach, I have come across many situations in which teens have made bad and unsafe decisions. Some parents react with appropriate anger, and provide reasonable consequences as well as a roadmap for their teen to grow and learn from the experience. But there are also many parents, Like Dan Turner who do the opposite. Rather than holding their kids accountable for their actions, they look for ways to manipulate the system, becoming confrontational and on the offensive. (See Donald Trump and Trump University) They look for any way possible for their teen to avoid assuming responsibility for their actions.

This can happen at school when parents confront teachers when they are not happy with their child’s grade in a class. They blame the teacher for being unfair, rather than looking objectively at their child’s performance. It happens when teens are caught at a party with alcohol and drugs. Rather than making their teen face the music, which might mean losing the ability to continue playing sports at their school, or having to do community service, parents often “lawyer up” and look for legal loopholes to get their teen off.

Mistakenly, parents fear that owning up, means giving up, on the imagined future success their child has ahead of them. The truth is actually the opposite. Growth and success in life comes from overcoming and working through the hardest and scariest challenges in life.  Make sure that you practice and teach that lesson to your children.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Summer Planning...Make Haste

"Idle minds are the devils playground." No truer quote applies when thinking about teens and summer. If you haven't yet gotten into the summer mindset, here is your wake-up call! Everybody needs down time, but 10 weeks of down time for teens can spell t-r-o-u-b-l-e, especially if you are a working parent. If you anticipate leaving your house for work at 8 AM with your sleeping teen snug as a bug in a rug, thinking that all is well, get you head out of the sand. The devil will be over to visit.

Regardless of good intentions, too much time = too much potential for temptation. We're talking sex, drugs/alcohol and general mischief. Once boredom sets in, which it always does after the initial bliss of no structure, look out. The planning should start now. If you have a younger teen, 13-15, this is a bit harder. They are too old for day camp, too young for most jobs, and too inexperienced or  not motivated to find something on their own. Many older teens are unmotivated as well, or lack the confidence to find something on their own. So the first thing is to have realistic expectations of how much your teen will do independently to make something happen. Your job is to make your expectations clear, that is step #1. "I get you are looking forward to the summer, and having free time to hang with friends. We want you to have time for that too, but it's also important for you to have other things going on for you as well, either  a job, or a volunteer/educational/internship experience, or camp, something that gives you a feeling of accomplishment and purpose. How would you like to go about this? What kind of help do you need from us?. Here is the deal, the question isn't, do you want to do something or not? but what is it you would like to do?"

This can be a slow, painful process, as mostly you will get a lot of "I don't knows." If you have some extra money, there are many great programs that cater to particular interests of teens. If they want a job, expecting that they will have any idea of how to go about looking for one is unrealistic. Do this together, making a list of the kinds of places that are of interest to them, and then drive them around to pick up applications, and sit with them as they fill them out. If you just say to your teen, go get some applications, and have you filled our those applications probably not much will happen. I worked in a work/study program for 14 years with teens, and rarely did I find a teen who felt confident enough to follow through on expectations. What looks like laziness is actually low-self esteem.

It is important to let them know that if there don't seem to be any jobs, and volunteering or interning is the fallback, that you will provide them with some kind of stipend. But, and this is important, if they choose to be idle, and do neither, then you will choose  not to provide them with any summer spending money. Sitting around with both nothing to do and no money is not fun, and will get old really really fast. So provide incentive and reward for those idle minds, and keep that devil at bay.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

A Clever Strategy follow-up

A blog reader alerted me of the ability to individually schedule each of your child's ability to access wifi with your modem. I googled it and below is how to do this. It looks complicated to a non-techie like me, but call The Geek Squad, I'm sure for not so big bucks they can do this for you. With summer coming and lots and lots of unstructured time for your teens, and huge potential for 24/7 device use, this seems like a great way to institute some off-device time without having to fight about it. Below are the instructions!!! Here is the link I found
This isn’t at all complicated to set up. For a Linksys router, you’ll first want to identify the MAC address of the devices you want to limit. You can find this under the Status menu, then “Local Network” and then click on the “DHCP Client Table” button.
This will pop up a listing of the DHCP Client Table, showing all of the devices currently connected (or recently connected) to your home network. Locate the name of your kids’ devices, and then note the value listed in the MAC Address field. Keep in mind that not all routers are the same, and not even all Linksys models have the same menu system – so you may need to search for these menus on your particular router. There are also online guides and manuals that can help you find these features.
Once you’ve found the MAC address for the devices you want to limit, next you’ll want the “Access Restrictions” menu area, where you’ll find the Internet Access Policy page. Here, you can define a number of different policies for those devices and customize specific rules for Internet access for them.
Name the policy, enable it, and then edit the list of devices. On the list, you can type in the MAC addresses you’ve recorded from the previous screen. Then save your changes and close that pop-up window.
Finally, all you have to do is define the access restrictions you want to apply to those devices. Click on “Deny” and then set up the schedule you want to use. In my case, I actually have to set up two policies, because of how Linksys requires the start time to be larger than the end time – meaning I can’t set a P.M. start time and an A.M. stop time. So I’ve configured an evening block covering the 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. hours.
Next I created the morning policy for the same devices, blocking access throughout all of the morning hours up until 6 a.m. Once you’re done, you’ll be able to see all of the Internet access policies you’ve created under the dropdown list next to “Access Policy”.
This is probably one of the most effective ways to manage Internet use (or overuse) on your home network. If you have kids (or anyone living at your house) who just won’t honor your requests to stop using the Internet after a certain time of day, you can take matters into your own hands on the router. Using their MAC address, there’s no way they’ll be able to find a way around it.