Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Did You Know There Is a Parenting Award For Being A Good Mom!!!

I just returned from a quick trip to LA where I was honored to receive the Judy and Hilary Swank Award for Parenting given by the Actors Fund Looking Ahead Program, which serves young actors and their parents. When I was called and told I would be receiving this award, I thought every parent should receive this award in recognition of the hard but rewarding job of being a parent! So I share this award with all parents!!! The first thing of course I did was to cry! This award recognizes a parent who has raised a young actor who has gone on to become an exceptional adult actor and all around wonderful person, which my 35 year old daughter certainly is!! I wanted to share with you my acceptance speech. Though geared to raising a child heading towards a professional career as an actor, I think it applies to raising any child with a passion whether it be sports or music, or art or leadership or academics or community service or for being a great friend and all around wonderful kid!  I hope you enjoy!! Here goes...

When Ari was a little girl, we introduced her to an array of activities, but what captured her heart was her first grade play.  She had found her passion at age 6.  There was no question that we were in 100%.  Finding our role in all of this wasn’t always easy. We had no roadmap and we had to figure out how to manage and balance our own lives with the demands of Ari’s busy career. 

We took our cues from Ari.  There were boundaries, unspoken but abided by. We were NOT her managers, her directors, or her agents; We were her parents. We were her uber drivers, chaperones, food service workers, appointment secretaries, and her most ardent supporters. We did not coach her on scripts, give feedback on her performances, or tell her what project she should do; that was not what she needed from us. She had her own mind, and eventually, “her people” for that. What we could do, as her parents, was to give her the freedom, opportunity and commitment to follow her dream.

Sometimes we were faced with decisions and dilemmas that challenged our roles as parents. Like when Ari was 13, she was lucky enough to be cast as the fool in an all women’s Shakespeare company production of King Lear. Ari was the only child and non-equity performer. They were to be in residence at Smith College for the summer and then go on the road for several weeks with the show. Because Ari was not equity, there was no place for me, both literally and figuratively.  But we figured it out. I slept on the floor of her tiny room and stayed out of the way until and unless Ari needed me. As the cast became a family and Ari felt ready to take on some independence, I took my leave. All that she learned that summer as a 13 year old is still very important to her. Just 2 years ago the company reunited in Scotland to perform together. Relationships and the work families she has become a part of had their beginnings in these early experiences, and I am so glad I didn’t let my own anxiety get the best of me. 

When Ari was 15 she was in a production at the Huntington Theater in Boston, where we live.  As often was the case, Ari was again the youngest in the cast by many years. Again she became part of her stage family. Her stage brother then 25 most especially. After the production ended, Michael invited Ari to New York City to stay with him and his then boyfriend. So I put her on the train, and off she went. My friends were aghast. "You’re letting her travel alone on the train?" "You’re letting her stay with two 25-year-old men, what are you thinking?" Here’s what I was thinking,. My only child now has a brother, an amazing man who loves and cares about her enough to invite her into his life. And now here we are 20 years later, Michael, here in the audience, is one of my most cherished friends, and is still, and will be forever, Ari’s family. Now she is Auntie Ari as Michael and Brian’s family has grown by two beautiful babies. The Power of relationship!!

In the summer before Ari’s senior year in high school we were in LA auditioning, and she landed a test for a pilot to shoot immediately. I really didn’t understand and was clueless that this meant she would need to sign a contract in 24 hours that might determine her life for the next 5 years. I felt strongly that you only get one senior year of high school. Ari was engaged in and loved her school, had amazing friends, and wanted some college experience. This opportunity could potentially erase this year of that life. Ultimately I had to make the call, Ari WOULD be going back for her senior year- no pilot! I felt no ambivalence about my decision.  But I understood completely and my heart broke for the pain and disappointment Ari was feeling.  I think in the end the lesson Ari took away from this experience was to really understand what is most important in life, and sometimes that means making really hard decisions. 

I have been so inspired by those kinds of hard decisions Ari now makes about her career and her life. She has stayed really true to herself about the work and the art she wants to put out into the world, even when it is not the most popular decision. If even a little bit of this came from that hard day almost 20 years ago in LA, I will be grateful.  

This is a tough business, so much of what an actor has to cope with are decisions made about them beyond their control. As a parent this can feel absolutely excruciating, unfair and yes, sometimes even cruel. Our instinct is to want to protect our children and fix it!  Over the years I have learned from Ari that what she needs from me in these moments is not advice, but instead a safe and loving space to be understood, with the freedom to experience and express her feelings. This lesson has probably been the hardest (still working on it) but honestly it is the most valuable and powerful one for me as both a mother and a professional.

As a parenting expert and writer, I am as passionate about my work as Ari is about hers, and I know that my experience raising my dedicated, and extraordinary daughter informs much of who I am and what I teach parents today. I have learned so much from her. She continually challenges herself to live a life full of integrity, purpose, passion, and authenticity. To learn, to experience, to take risks, to love and most importantly to find the power within herself to live a fulfilling life as both an artist and a woman.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

The "Liking" Epidemic Of the 21st Century

Below is a link to a PBS Frontline show that I found both illuminating and disturbing. There is a new kind of "popularity" in town, and you don't have to have the coolest clothes, be the cutest, or hang with the right people. You can become popular in the comfort and privacy of your own home, or in the back seat of your parents car, at the dinner table, doing your homework, anywhere, as long as you have your trusty smartphone, ipad, or laptop.

The new popularity can happen in a click. Put up a photo, click you're liked. Write something silly, click, you're liked. Say something sexy or provocative, click you're liked. Make a youtube video in your room and talk about yourself or other people, click, you're liked. Get enough likes and you are not only popular but the newest sensation.

Is your teen caught up in the endless cycle of "liking and being liked." Maybe you are caught up in it too. You just posted a video of your family on your recent vacation or family outing, or, your dog just did the cutest thing, and you posted it on instagram or twitter and facebook, and waited patiently for the likes and comments to come pouring in. Face it, it feels really good. I get it, I love it too! It's addictive, and it makes us feel acknowledged and yes "liked."

As adults, we have perspective. We get it's all a little self-serving, but it brings joy and fun into our lives, and who doesn't need a little of that from time to time. But hopefully, we can set limits on ourselves and the time we give to this public pursuit of "likeness." We have had years to develop competence and confidence in who we are and what we have accomplished in life, and that is the real stuff that feeds our self-esteem. Teens, on the other hand are in a time in their life when they may not be feeling confident or competent in much of anything. And getting 50 likes for saying something or posting something a little outrageous can provide them with a much needed boost in their confidence, even if it is given for no real accomplishment. And that is the real issue. Confidence and self-esteem that lasts is built on a foundation of real accomplishments. Confidence and self-esteem that is built on accumulation of "likes" and "followers" and "friends" has no real lasting effect, and can actually hinder the development of an identity.

This is why I feel so passionate about parents needing to be really on top of how much time their teens give in the pursuit of "likeness" Life is about balance. Take a good long honest look at your kids. How much time do they spend in the endless cycle of posting and re posting and commenting, and "liking. " Like some of the kids in the Frontline story, sometimes this pursuit of popularity takes the place of actually living a life full of real living. If your teen's life seems out of balance, they will need help from you to create some. They will not "like" it. So be it, you can get your "likes" somewhere else for now. Watch this video with your kids, and talk to them about it. It is a discussion worth having! If you "like" this post, and want more parents to understand this phenomenon so that your teen can't say to you, "nobody else's parent is worried about this" than please share this post with  five friends who have teens!

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

What Is Really On Your Teen's Mind!

Tweets from a 15-year-old

"Sometimes when I really like a person I act like I don't like them because I don't know how to express my feelings properly."

"I'm sitting by myself at a party and I'm scared to get up because I don't have anywhere to go and I don't want to wander around alone. "

"It's hard to support your friends who aren't supportive or even pretend to be supportive of you."

Don't you just love this kid? I do. I know this teen and I think she is the honest voice of a generation of teens. From what I can gather about her, she is adorable, smart, has tons of friends, and seems ridiculously confident. But what you see is very often not necessarily reflective of what is going inside a person. And that goes for your teens as well. When they come home from school, or a night out with friends, or a dance or rehearsal or practice, there is a good chance that they are dealing with the kinds of feelings Maude is expressing; insecurity, embarrassment,  and disillusionment. Teens encounter these feelings many times daily. And because the relationships they are now experiencing as teens are new to them, they are obsessed with thinking about them. Learning to deal with intimacy based relationships rather than activity based relationships is a whole new ballgame. The worry is not whether they have someone to "play with," but instead, does this person(s) I'm hanging with like me? What do they think about me?

So when your teen walks in the door with a sour puss expression, it may be that something felt bad in the friend department, and unless they ask, it's probably something they don't want help with. They may need to be a sour puss for the night, and saying "whats wrong with you?" in an accusatory voice, after they have been unresponsive and grumpy towards you, probably won't help.

Read these tweets to your teen.  Maybe it will generate some interesting discussion. Or not!

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Wake Up You Sleepy Head!!

So how are your mornings?? Is your teen a member of the "I'm getting up!!! Leave me alone club!! Do you dread getting out of bed, knowing that your early morning will be fraught with cajoling, yelling, and threatening? Once you have become your teen's personal alarm clock, you have let them off the hook. They actually don't care about all the yelling, you have just become like their personal ringtone!! They have absolutely no motivation to to get themselves up when they know that you will do it for them. Before you take the steps below, first look around for any physical/environmental issues that need to be addressed. Is your teen's room outfitted with black out shades that make it feel like the middle of the night? If you have a teen with a wake up problem, get rid of those shades immediately!!! Like these lyrics from the musical Hair, 'Let the sunshine in"! If you go to sleep before your teen, is he/she on their phones late into the night, or watching Netlfix/Hulu/Itunes until they fall asleep. Do you learn nothing from the early sleep training you did with your baby? Remember all those books you read telling you not to rock your baby before you put them in the crib because then they will never be able to self-sooth to get to sleep. Think of Netfliz/Hulu/itunes as you rocking them to sleep. First their phones/ipads/laptops should be shut off using  parental controls, or you take all tech toys out of their room at a time decided on by both of you. After you have done these checks follow the directions below!

Let them know today what you will and won't do to help them with the new morning wake-up.

1. Spend the first hour of the morning making it your mission to get them up.
2. Listen to their usual morning abuse as you continue to update them about how much time they have left before the bus/ride/walk to school is approaching.
3. Give them a lateness excuse because they just couldn't get their ass out of bed.
4. Give them a ride if they choose to stay in bed and miss their bus/ride/walk to school

1. Let them know that you understand that this transition to early AM's is really hard. You understand that they do not want to get up this early, and that they hate it.
2. Share with them what you are not willing to do with respect to getting up on time.(use above list)
3. Share with them what you are willing to do:

  • Work with them to come up with a plan. Perhaps you are willing to give them two wake-up calls. But if they choose to ignore those reminders you will NOT continue to shake, scream, or otherwise annoy the hell of them until they get out of bed.
  • Be happy to drive them to school or bus stop at the appointed time. But if they choose to not to get up in time to make the ride, they will be responsible for their own transportation that day. You will not wait around for them to get up and out!
  • Buy any new required clocks or alarms they might need to rouse them out of their deepest sleep.

Your teens have got to learn to be responsible for getting up on-time. My college freshman tell me that this is their biggest challenge when they get to college. Most of them report that they sleep through most of their first classes because they never developed their own plan for wake-up, instead relying on their annoying parents to do it for them. This is your practice time. It takes years to develop good AM rituals that work. This will take some trial and error. But please stick with it. You both deserve a better start to your day.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Why Does my Teen have To Act So Teenagery?

I am on Twitter. I don't post much, just my blog, but I love reading other people's tweets. Especially tweets from teens. Here is one I particularly love: "Dad keeps saying that I am acting like a cliche of a teenager and I don't understand why that's surprising."

How brilliant is she? How many times have you thought that same thing about your teen. When the stereotype behavior of eye-rolling, snide comments, laziness, messy room, distracted by technology to the max, etc etc etc just get to you, and you think those exact words, why are the so much like a teenager? Why can't they act more like an adult?  Because....they ARE teenagers. Everyone of those behaviors is completely normal. They roll their eyes, and speak with a snarky tone, because you are probably unbelievably predictable. Your kids know exactly what you are going to say to them, how you are going to say it, and what you want their answers to be. The eye-rolling is the, "here we go again" short-cut. If you look at yourself honestly, you probably do repeat yourself a million times a day, because, they just don't seem to be listening, cause if they were..THEY WOULD JUST DO WHAT YOU ASK!!!! Right?  The laziness, and technology is a teenagers way of showing you what is the most important thing in their life right now, and it isn't a neat room. It is doing everything they can to stay in contact with their beloved friends, or the friends they are hoping to have, or dissing the friends they don't like anymore. Anything to do with friends is definitely their number one priority. You have got to accept that, and understand that, but you still have to set limits around it, but I'm just saying, they will never wrap their arms around you and thank you for saving themselves from their friends.

So how to survive all the annoying traits of a teenager. First it is just a stage. They truly will not be like this for the rest of their lives, Really I mean that most sincerely. Just remember how your terrible two year old turned into the sweetest human being on the earth around 7, and couldn't show you enough love, so will this terrible teenager. This too shall pass. Try not to judge, set the limits you need to and when the eye rolling and sarcasm gets the better of them, just give them a smile, a hug, and know that in just a few years they will turn into the sweetest human beings on earth.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

So You're Kid Wants To Go To College!!

The leaves are starting to change, the air is turning crisp and fall like, and that means that we are upon the annual weekend ritual of visiting colleges with your high school junior or senior. If you seem way more excited to visit colleges than your junior or senior, I think I can help you understand why.

For parents the anticipation of their child all grown up and ready to go off to college is both exciting and terrifying. Remembering their own college years, they can't wait for their kids to experience all the wonderful things they did, which may even have included finding the love of their life and marrying them. Hello mom and dad! But there is trepidation as well, two years full of what if's? What if my kid doesn't get the grades, and SAT's that will get him/her into the college I want, I mean they want to go to? What if they don't write their essays on time, or worse, they are bad?  What if they don't get their applications in early? What if we don't have enough money to send them to the school of our I mean their dreams?  What if my best friend's kid has better grades and better SAT's and gets their essays and applications in before mine, and they get into the school I want my son/daughter to get in? And what if........ This is the stuff ulcers are made of.

So you become the college Nazi's. You vill get your essays done this weekend, or you won't go out!!!! You vill go with us to visit colleges on the weekends we want you to go! You vill go to SAT tutoring or you are grounded!  And for all this commitment and time and money you give to your teen in support of this college journey, what do you get in return "leave me alone, I'll do it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

 Here are the questions your teen is asking. What if I don't get in anywhere? What if I disappoint my parents? What if my SAT scores suck, I will be humiliated.  How do they handle their anxiety, they avoid, they procrastinate, they miss dates. Why, because once they put themselves on paper in an essay, in an application, on an SAT score, it is out in the world for people to judge. And when they don't get into the school of your, I mean their choice it will be an affirmation of what they knew all along, I am just not good enough! Your teen does care about this process. Way more than they are showing you. So if you are only paying attention to their outward displays of attitude and avoidance you are missing the boat, and may actually be exacerbating the problem.

Use some " I get It moments" to crack the code. You might have this conversation; " I get this whole college thing is really hard. You have a lot on your plate this year, just keeping up with school stuff, your sport/theater/job, your friends, and now on top of all that, you have to deal with all this college stuff. I was wondering whether you feel like we are putting too much pressure on you, and you're worried you might disappoint us?" ( Now wait for their answer) After you get their take on that, assure them: " We have total confidence in you. There are a lot of things in this process no one can control, like who colleges accept, and that really seems like it is a crap shoot anyway. We just want to make sure that you don't unknowingly shoot yourself in the foot, by not doing the things that you are in control of. How can we help you do those things without making you crazy. We are willing to help you in anyway we can, setting up some date guidelines, reminding you that deadlines are coming up, getting you help with the essay stuff, whatever, but we don't won't to spend the next one or two years arguing with you constantly about this. We want you to take ownership. That will be a sign to us, that you are really wanting to and ready for college. If you choose not to wholly participate in this process, that will be sign to us that you might not want or be ready for the independence of college. What do you think, are you up for this, or are you feeling you might want to take a year off after high school to get yourself ready? Whatever you choose is fine with us, but commit to one or the other."

Just thought I would also throw in a few college visit tips. Remember this is your teen's opportunity to jus soak in the atmosphere. This is not the visit where they are worried about what the biology labs look like, or course selection. I know that's what you are interested in, but for these first visits, you really need to zip up, and let it be about them. They are looking at the students and wondering, are there kids here I could imagine being my friends? Does the campus feel like a place I feel comfortable and safe in? Could I sleep in this dorm and imagine myself feeling at home? This is what interests them. So walk along side them, keep a low profile, and if you have questions ask them another time. There will always be the second visit if they like and most importantly, if they get in!!! Many kids avoid the college visits prior to acceptance, because they worry that if they "fall in love" with a school and don't get in, it would feel devastating. So keep that in mind.

On the drive home, try to refrain from sharing your impressions the second you get in the car. Often parents are way more enthusiastic about a school than their teen is, and that shuts them down from talking to you. Give them time to digest. Some teens will start talking right away, others need to process. Remember that visiting colleges makes everything about the college process feel really real and maybe scary, and they might need some time to just sit with it all. So if they immediately put their earbuds in, just let them be. And then, on your way home, stop for a bite to eat, an ice cream, a coffee, and maybe ask a, "so what did you think?" in a calm neutral voice, and see where it goes.

Here is the thing, if your kid wants to go to college, this will work itself out. Maybe it won't be your first choice or their first choice, but if I have learned anything over the last 30 years it is that kids are amazingly adaptable, and whereever they end up becomes the place they want to be, and if it isn't they can always transfer, and you can do this all over again...yay! And by the way, heed the advice of this college admission officer regarding "helping" your prospective college student with their application essays!!

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Teaching Your Teens To Live In The World When They're All Grown Up

First I want to say, that all your kids will be fine in the end. There I said it! Unless there is severe mental illness or severe family trauma, by the time your teen hits their 20's they will adore being at home, desirous of your input and advice about their life, and unbelievably fun to hang out with. So take a deep breath, pleeese!

The way I see it, in my experience, after 30 years of working with families, and raising one of my own, there are only three real parenting mistakes that can change the outcome of your child's life.

First is the too strict or rigid parenting style. If you are the party of NO, my way or the highway, or you have a ton of rules way past the time that kids need rules for everything, and you have extremely high expectations for your teen's academic performance, you run some risks.

Risk #1: Adolescence is all about independence. If you continue to write the script for your teen's life they will react in one of two ways. If they feel over-controlled, over-managed, and have to answer to too many rules, some kids will be forced to act out to get the freedom their brain and their body are telling them they should have. By acting out I mean lying, hostility and anger, deliberate school failure, drug and alcohol use or abuse and avoiding you at every turn. This can feel like armed warfare. These teens need to learn how to make decisions on their own. These are the kids that often bail on college. As soon as they hit campus, and experience that first taste of freedom, all control and discipline, no matter how much you have drilled it in to them is gone. They have never actually learned how to be self-disciplined, or internalized the rules and structure that you imposed. As young children structure and control is good, as teens you need to share and encourage with supervision your teen's innate drive to be independent.

Risk #2: Some teens who are over controlled and over-managed become extremely passive. They have developed what is call learned-helplessness. What they integrate is a lack of complete confidence in their ability to make decisions, and look to you for direction in all parts of their life. This is not healthy. These teens are lovely to have in the home because they never fight with you, and come to you often for help. For a parent, there is nothing like it. However in life, you will not always be available.  When it comes to adult relationships whether romantically, with friends,  or with bosses or colleagues they will rarely speak up for themselves, and open themselves up  to be taken advantage of, thinking that they don't know better. These kids need to learn to have confidence in their own ability to make decisions, and that what they want matters.

Risk #3 is the too permissive parent. This parent maybe has an unspoken rule, do well in school, and I will ignore everything else. Or maybe, your philosophy is that your teens should be able to manage their own lives, or maybe the parent's life is in chaos with a divorce, or other family crisis, and takes their "eye of the ball" being too involved in their own life events. Rather than too many rules, there are no rules, no expectations, no supervision. These are the parents with the blind eye. A blind eye to what goes on in their own basements with their teens and their friends, a blind eye to where and what their teens are doing when they are out and about, and a blind eye to their teens safety. Teens are by nature risk-takers. Sometimes those risks can be life-threatening, either physically or psychologically. Teens need to know that someone is looking out for their welfare, even if they fight you tooth and nail when you do. When these kids move into adulthood, they are often entitled, irresponsible young adults, who look towards you to bail them out when they act badly, perhaps its is financially, or legally. These now grown up kids, can't or don't feel like managing the mundane of life, and will constantly look to you to do it for them, even well into adulthood.

So these are the three biggies. Everything else in between, usually works itself out. Parenting a teen is about setting enough limits to keep your teen safe, and give enough leeway for them to practice decision making, knowing that they will make mistakes, that they will hate you some days, and knowing that underlying it all is love. Your love for them, and their love for you. It really is as simple as that.

This is a very interesting article about the consequence of "over-parenting" when your kids hit the real world.

Dear Blog Readers
I am looking to hire free-lance booking agents!! Do you work in a large company that cares about work/family issues and might be interested in having me do a lunch time seminar and has a budget for this?  Do you have friends or family that work in large companies that you could tap as potential seminar resources? How about your school system, are you connected to your PTO reps or have a relationship with your principal or superintendent. Perhaps they would be interested in having me speak. I am available to travel and will compensate you for this important work with 10% of my negotiated fee, plus one hour of parent coaching, which can be done by phone for those of you who don't live in the Boston area. Call or email me if you are interested in working with me to give parents the kind of information and strategies I provide in my blog to as many parents as I can reach. 781-910-1770  joani@joanigeltman.com

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Teens and Pot: The News Is Not Good

The news on Teen pot use is not good. A new study published in the American Journal Of Psychiatry says so!!! Read and then we'll talk!  https://www.bbc.com/news/health-45732911

Teens and pot, not good, Adults and pot, whatever turns you on. I have had a number of letters from parents recently worried about their teens use of pot. It seems that their teens have defended their use with a variety of rationalizations. Some of my favorites include; " I can think better, I can drive better, even the cops don't care, it relaxes me so I can concentrate better on my homework, you should be happy, at least I'm not drinking alcohol!" Unfortunately this is the drug talking. And thats the point, pot is all about distortion. That's what the 60's were all about, and why the lava lamp was invented!

Adolescence is all about new experiences and experimentation. It is a cruel law of nature that tempts teens to try all sorts of new things just at a time in their lives when their brain is engaging in a major growth spurt. Teens live in a world of what you see is what you get. With alcohol you see the fruits of your labor literally in the toilet bowl if you're lucky, otherwise in someone's car or basement. You worship the porcelain temple and then you pass out. With pot the effects are less obvious and more hidden. Pot gives you the illusion of feeling in control but what you're teen is missing is what is going on in the depths of their brain. As with all experimentation, some kids might try pot and see it as a treat every now and then, and others will begin to use more regularly. In either case it is important to talk with them about it.

A little science lesson here. There are receptors in the brain that just love THC, the chemical in pot. These receptors are connected to two very important parts of the brain. The Hippocampus, which is responsible for memory and learning, and the Cerebellum that controls balance and coordination. In short, regular use of pot can cause problems with thinking and problem solving (the hippocampus) and distorted perception of sight, sound and loss of motor coordination. (the cerebellum) So much for the driving rationale. Responding to lights, sound and reaction time are all distorted.

Pot is especially attractive to teens because it relaxes them, mellows out their stress, and if they are someone who struggles with anxiety, pot can be a wonderful new best friend. There is nothing more uncomfortable than feeling anxious, and once a teen who suffers with anxiety tries pot, a love affair begins.

First read this article with your teen, if you know that your teen is already using it, and especially it they haven't tried it yet! Talking with your teen about pot requires finesse, and the power of understanding. Here is your I Get It moment. You can say to your teen" I get how pot would be attractive to you. I know you are stressed out, and it makes you feel relaxed and mellow. But here is what you don't know." At this point instead of sermonizing and lecturing, either read the article above and this one to them or have them read it in your presence. https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuanaThis is link to a very straight forward Q&A about pot. If you choose to lecture, your teen will think this is your opinion and probably just stop listening, thinking that they know more than you about this particular subject. So real science is always good in this situation. Now I am sure that you will get resistence here. And here is how you might handle this. " I am worried that you don't feel that pot affects your judgement, driving etc. You need to read this article and talk with me/us about it before we will allow you to drive our car. It is important to us that you have the facts here. If we see a change in your grades, or your ability to concentrate on getting your work done, we will have to drug test you every now and then. We love you and want to make sure that you don't unknowingly jeopardize your health and your future.

Unfortunately with the invention of vape pens, it can be really hard to detect the tell tale scent of pot on your teen. Ahhh the good ole days when they were just rolling and smoking joints. You may find vape pens in closets or backpacks. Be very suspect if they tell you they just like smoking the vape with the fruity cartridges!!Most kids use vape pens to smoke pot!!

Talking with your teen who you already suspect is using pot is not easy. Expect them to be resistent, defensive, and in a lot of denial about this. Try really hard to not get mad, this will not serve you well in helping them to understand why this worries you so much. Information is power!

As I have mentioned before, I present seminars to parents and companies and community organizations. Here is a list of the seminars I have to offer. Talk to your PTO chairs and your principals and "introduce me to them." I am passionate about what I do and am trying to reach as many parents as I can to give them as much information and strategies as I can to help with this challenging stage of their kids lives. I can't wait to meet you!

Joani’s Top Ten Parenting Tips

The secret to parenting is to keep it simple. Learn 10 simple, concrete practical tips useful in those daily moments of stress as a parent when you wish you had the "right thing to do and the right thing to say!
Audience: All ages

Adolescent Psychology: The Parent Version
·      Understand teen stressors and anxieties
·      Learn how the brain affects your teen’s behavior. It’s the battle of the thinking brain VS the feeling brain.
  • Learn Effective strategies for arguing-The Four Ways Of Fighting.
  • Develop effective strategies for keeping your teen safe as they explore the new world of teen life.
  • Learn how to teen-proof your home and cell-proof your teen

Sexting. Texting and Social Networking: What’s A Parent To Do?
·      Understand how the “emotional brain” of a teen gets “turned on” by social networking.
  • Understand how the “Imaginary Audience” influences your teen’s performing on social media.
  • Learn which apps are safe and unsafe
  • Learn strategies to monitor and set limits around phone and internet use
  • Learn how your own behavior with phones and computers can positively and negatively influence your teen.
  • Understand the addiction of gaming

Drugs and Alcohol: How Does Your Teen’s Personality Style, and Your Parenting Style impact their experimentation with drugs and alcohol?
  • Identify your teen’s personality style and risk-factors with drugs and alcohol
  • Identify your parenting style and how it influences your teen’s drug and alcohol use
  • Learn effective strategies and scripts to keep your teen safe

College Bound:
  • Understand the emotional journey of your college bound high school student
  • Understand the emotional journey of a parent of college bound high school student
  • Learn strategies for making this process successful and positive

With over 40 years of experience working with families, Joani's approach, using humor, storytelling and easy to use tools make the job of parenting just a little bit easier.
Joani Geltman MSW     781-910-1770    joanigeltman.com

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Teaching Your Boys To Be Compassionate Men

Read and then we'll talk:

Just minutes before I started writing this blog, I watched this video of President Trump laughing at a female reporter. https://twitter.com/ava/status/1046811645115289602

Did you know that 1 in 5 college women have been sexually assaulted, but very few report, being afraid of blow back from their peers, their administration, and fear of being victimized for a second time. What the hell is going on with these young men? A researcher and alum from the Harvard graduate School of Education was on the Harvard Campus recently and relates this anecdote."  I was walking on campus and a male Harvard student walks by and says to me: "Damn, you're a sexy bitch." And this is one of our "best and brightest."  So, I guess this is the way young men say hello to women now.

Yes, we need colleges to set better policy about sexual harassment but that men feel permission to speak like this to women, starts wayyyyy before they step onto that college campus. Here is what I think.

  • Read the article with your sons, and have them watch this video with Trump trying to humiliate a very accomplished reporter. Don't lecture, but ask them with no expression in your voice, "What do you think about this? Have you seen stuff like this going on in your school and with your friends? How hard it must be to stand up to guys doing this and acting this way. A lot of boys love their power, but this is what happens when power goes unchecked." You will probably get a lot of grunts and groans and denials. Keep bringing these kinds of stories and articles to read or watch with them, no matter the eye-rolling. The only way kids learn is through repetition. This is not a one and done kind of conversation. Think of how you taught your kids to say please and thank you!! You repeated these rules of politeness many times a day, for many years, until it become integrated in how they behaved with you and in the world. 
  • Now that kids are getting smartphones at earlier and earlier ages, (getting one at 8 years of age is no longer an exception) boys now have easy access to pornography at a very early age, way before they even have access or readiness for the actual experience with a real live girl of their own age. Research has shown that these early images and sexually provocative language can literally make brain connections. Just like learning a new language, this now becomes their language of sex, and communication with women.
  • Now that kids can download apps where they can use extremely sexual language when texting each other, that disappears in 5 seconds, safe from parental supervision, sexting has become the norm for communication. As in "hey sexy bitch." Do this starting at age 8 or 10 or 12, it becomes your go-to language.
How surprising can it be then, for boys who have had the freedom to look at misogynistic porn and use misogynistic language talking to their "bitches," think this is how women like it! And by the way, adding fuel to the fire, these "bitches" think hearing that language from boys is no biggie,  

This is where you come in. Your kids need you desperately to let them know this is not alright, and not safe. They need you to monitor what they are writing so when you see this kind of language, you can talk to them about it and let them know it is not OK. You might need to say to your teen; Hey how would you like it if I said to your mom, hey bitch you're f##kin hot, Or mom might say: "how would you feel if your dad talked to me that way." Don't mince words or language when you are talking to your teen. Say the words they are using, say them out loud, make them uncomfortable and embarrassed, how else will they hear how demeaning and ugly sexually explicit can sound when it is used as a "hello, what's up?

If you want your teen to go into life acting respectfully towards women or demanding respect if they are a woman, that takes work. It means saying no to apps that allow them to develop bad habits because no adult is giving then the other side of the story. It means disabling safari on their smartphones for young boys too young to understand and too impulsive and horny not to access porn without your knowledge. 

Think about it this way. When your kids were young, you understood that they had a developing brain, and you knew that the most important thing you needed to do was to stimulate it by providing experience; reading, talking, singing, etc Your teen's brain is in that same stage of development, it is open to stimulation. Make sure that what it's feeding on is healthy and safe, and respectful!

I wanted to thank everyone for sharing this blog. I can't tell you how many messages I received from parents thanking me for giving them a roadmap into how to talk to their kids about the troubling times we are living in. There is nothing that makes me happier than knowing that I can give tools to parents struggling with these uncomfortable and challenging topics. Again I ask that you share if you feel that your friends could use some help and strategies in teaching their boys to become compassionate men. It will benefit all of us in the end!