Archive for the ‘You Can (Really!) Survive Your Teen’ Category

Suggestively Sucking Popsicles — in a Bubblebath With a Friend? Just Another Day in the Life of Some Teens on Facebook

Monday, October 25th, 2010

Wanted to share with you my guest post on SafetyWeb.com about kids giving out too much info on FB…

Do you know what your kids post? I saw one FB profile pic today featuring two young teen girls together in a bubble bath, wearing flesh-colored tube tops and sucking suggestively on Popsicles. Their mothers would be so proud… if they knew.

Make sure you know what your kids are up to on social media — for their safety.

Is Your Kid Smoking?

Monday, October 25th, 2010

Every time I drive by a group of high school kids and see one of them smoking, it breaks my heart. My mother-in-law, Pat, died of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) a few years ago after smoking her entire adult life. She started smoking in college because she thought it was cool, and back then, no one knew of the dangers.

One of the many gifts she gave to her grandson (my son), Matthew, was to talk with him about the dangers of smoking, how addictive it is and how important it is to never start. Coming from his grandmother, those words made a big impression on Matt.

We really do have an impact on our kids when we talk with them from the heart. Are you concerned that your child (or grandchild) may be starting to smoke? Talk with her. Tell her about the dangers. Talk about peer pressure.

I still have vivid memories of high school and I remember the feeling of wanting to fit it. I’m betting you do, too. Let your child know that you understand those feelings but that it’s more important to be her own person and to do what’s right for her — regardless of what others do.

Get Your Free Cyber Security Guide for Parents

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

Thanks to the folks at SafetyWeb for providing a wonderful, detailed, new guide for parents, “Cyber Security in the 21st Century.” You can download it as a free PDF here.

One of the most important things to talk about with your kids when it comes to being safe online is sharing personal information and photos over Facebook, Twitter, etc. Thanks to SafetyWeb for allowing me to share these tips for parents, which are also appropriate for kids:

• Don’t post the exact details of your whereabouts before the fact. Announcing the exact dates of a two-week vacation; reporting when and where a child goes to and leaves school; saying anything that tells strangers too much about your location or your kids’ locations should be avoided.

• If you choose to upload photos to a social networking site via a smart phone, turn off geotagging.

• Monitor kids’ networked friends. Be sure they understand that they should not accept invitations from people they don’t know.

• Do not include too many personal details. Birth month and day is adequate, for example, especially for information about children, but the same applies to adults, too.

• Use avatars or pet pictures for kids on social networking sites.

• Understand that Skype and other VoIP software can share too much information, too. Share information judiciously.

• Think before posting anything – pictures, facts or opinions. Privacy is a relative term on a social networking site, and things travel quickly on the Internet.

• Set and maintain your security settings. Do not assume that the site’s default settings are the best for you.

Hey, Doc — Can You Talk With My Kid About Sex?

Monday, October 18th, 2010

When we bring our wanna-be-teen and teenage kids to the doctor for routine check-ups, many of us are hoping our kid’s doctor or nurse practitioner will do more than just check blood pressure, listen to our child’s heart and keep the vaccination record up to date.

We also want the doctor to talk with our kids about sex, diet, drug abuse and smoking, says a report from the University of Michigan.

The poll — which asked parents of 11- to 17-year-old kids to rate 18 health-related topics for healthcare providers to address during an adolescent’s routine check-up — found that diet/nutrition, exercise/sports and the physical changes of puberty were the overall top three issues parents want discussed, followed by drugs, tobacco, sexually transmitted diseases and depression/suicide.

Doctors have heard it all, and they know how to talk with teens and pre-teens about these potentially touchy topics. So if there’s something on your mind that you’d like your child’s doctor to discuss during an upcoming office visit, call her in advance and let her know.

Have you had any situations where your pediatrician talked with your child about these subjects? Do you wish your pediatrician would bring up these things during a visit?

Guest Post: Thanks, But My Tween Will Pass on the Hooker Heels and Makeup

Friday, October 15th, 2010

Today’s guest blogger, Jennifer Smith, is mom to a tween girl and a teen boy. She’s a proponent of university-model schools (I want to ask her to blog about that, too!), a world traveler and a freelance writer and editor. Thanks for your post, Jennifer.

Whose job is it to help my 12-year-old daughter make important wardrobe choices? Everyone is eager to help. The malls are selling grown-up mystique to 12-year-olds faster than I can say, “How about a cute t-shirt under
that?”

Magazines and television ads and shows are “helping,” suggesting our kids can be tomorrow’s big pop stars if they dress and move a certain way. And many of the other girls are pressuring those who dress less “cool” to
dress older.

One day recently, I heard a young fashionista ask another tween girl, “Where did you get that shirt?” After the reply that the girl bought the shirt at a nearby children’s store, the fashionista rasped back saucily, “Oh, I thought so.” Sounds harmless enough to a parent, but for a fragile tween, that’s enough to make her want to burn everything in her closet!

Maybe a better question than whose job it is to help my daughter (i.e., market tween fashion to her) is, “Who is going to help my daughter make wise decisions about the way she dresses?” My answer? Her mom. No one else is going to help her navigate these decisions as honestly and carefully as I will. Not her friends, not the other tweens out there wearing full
makeup, hooker heels and skirts cut up to “there,” and certainly not the media.

No one else is going to be honest with her about the pitfalls of dressing too old too soon. With all the messaging encouraging girls to grow up fast, I want my daughter to have time and freedom to enjoy being a girl, playing sports and acting goofy with her friends.

That doesn’t mean she has to dress frumpy; I just don’t want her to dress “sexy,” for crying out loud! There’s plenty of time to grow up, but once those child years are lost, they can
never be regained.

Let’s be parents and take back our right to say “no” to anything that steals the innocence of our girls, including their wardrobe choices. Our “no” to growing up too fast and dressing too maturely is just a “yes” to so many other good things our kids need to be doing right now.

Is Your Kid Sharing Too Much on Facebook?

Sunday, October 10th, 2010

Not long ago I saw something on Facebook that parents should know about.

Some middle-school kids, who may not necessarily list where they live on their profiles, are joining Facebook  groups with names like “Run Day at ______ Middle School Sucks.” Or “Swim P.E. at ______ Middle School Sucks.”

Should 12- and 13-year-old kids be on Facebook in the first place? Probably only with their parents’ knowledge and supervision. Why? Because they don’t always think about the logical consequences of their actions.

No child should be this easily identified online, especially when it comes to where they live and what school they go to. I looked at the profiles of some of these kids (many of which were public and not protected; another issue for kids this age), and I was amazed at how much personal information they gave out, either in their profiles or through the groups they joined.

If your kid is on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter or some other social-networking site, make sure you check out his or her profile, posts, tweets, etc. regularly. If your child doesn’t want to friend you on Facebook, insist on knowing her password and let her know that you’ll be checking out her Facebook page from time to time to make sure she is not endangering herself or her friends by giving out too much information.

If your child posts videos on YouTube, make sure he doesn’t identify where he lives, where he goes to school, etc.

Talk with your child about being safe on the Web, and about Internet predators. We all watch the news and we all hear about kids being contacted by people who should not be targeting kids.

If you wouldn’t want your 13-year-old daughter telling a 40-year-old male stranger where she attends 7th grade, then you’ll want to make sure she isn’t doing exactly that — without intending to — online.

Prepare Now for Your Child’s “Launch”

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

Flipping through TV channels yesterday, I ran across the funny Sarah Jessica Parker - Matthew McConaughey movie “Failure to Launch” in which a thirtysomething slacker suspects his parents of setting him up with his dream girl so he’ll finally vacate their home.

Then I saw, on the Consumer Reports Money Blog, the post, “Should You Bail Out Your 20-, 30, 40-year-old Child?”

Hmm. Some food for thought here.

But why should parents of kids that aren’t even college age be concerned with this?

Because we set the tone for our child’s early-adult years during the childhood years. Do you fully expect your child to become a functioning adult who will make his or her way in the world at a certain age? Are you talking with your child about handling money, taking on increasing responsibility in age-appropriate ways and learning how to navigate the adult world?

When your child makes a mistake, or an error in judgment, do you rush to make it all better? To bail her out?

Let’s acknowledge the fact that, if we parents do our job well, we will be putting ourselves out of a job at some point. That’s the plan. That’s healthy for both you and your child.

Let’s not be the parents who call the university dean because little Meagan doesn’t like her first college roommate. Let’s let our kids find their way, struggle a bit when necessary, and grow from the experience.

When they’re 28, they’ll thank you. And you’ll thank yourself.

Letting My Son Grow Up

Friday, July 16th, 2010

I’m doing something today that I have never done before: Letting Matt, age 14, go to the doctor by himself. Without his mommy by his side.

No, he’s not sick. If he was, I’d be right there, dropping everything and taking him to the doc.

But it’s a beautiful day, the office is about a mile away, and he can ride his bike. He just needs to get blood work done for a routine physical for high school sports. (Gulp — He’ll be a freshman in September.)

I’m on a work deadline today and I have painters here doing some work. Not a good time to leave. So I called the doc’s office and they said I could send a note and Matt could come by himself.

Would you do this? Am I a bad mom? Or is this the right amount of freedom to let an incoming high school freshman have? Matt’s a responsible kid, for 14. But still… He’s 14.

What do you think?

Guest Post: A 16-Year-Old’s Take on “All Sexed Up For 8th Grade Graduation?”

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

I’m so happy to be able to share a terrific guest post today. Keira, who is 16, is the sibling of one of the 8th graders who was promoted at our local middle school on Tuesday night. This is in response to yesterday’s post on that event. (Let’s just say it prompted an interesting discussion!) I think she has a great perspective — and a heck of a lot of maturity. (I also think if every high school student in our town was as articulate as Keira, our English teachers would we thrilled.) Take it away, Keira…

As a 16-year-old girl who was there at promotion, I must agree with you. It’s disgusting. My year was even worse. I don’t understand how the parents of these girls let them walk out of the house looking like that.

I would never let my own daughter display herself in such an inappropriate fashion, nor would I ever feel okay dressing myself that way. Ever. It doesn’t matter if you’re thin and cute and want to show off, or if you’re not-so-thin and still feel like you need to show it all or fit in or whatever. It’s simply not okay.

The women in my life have shown me how to be modest and that one attracts people with how they dress. Obviously, we should not judge people by how they look. I’m not advocating that at all. I’m just saying that the girls who dress like they want a certain kind of attention will get it.

And for a 14-year-old  girl fresh out of junior high, that’s never good.

All Sexed Up For 8th Grade Graduation?

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

Last night we attended our son’s promotion from middle school. It was a wonderful evening, and we loved seeing so many kids that we’ve known for years — some since they were in diapers.

With 380+ kids in the 8th grade class, we saw a little bit of everything when it came to fashion. And let me be very clear, given what I’m about to say: The vast majority of kids followed the dress code that was distributed to parents on three different occasions.

But — and I’m not exaggerating here — about 10 percent of the girls looked like Vegas hookers, complete with stripper heels. We’re talking skin-tight dresses (with spandex to make them even more revealing), some strapless, at a length that barely covered their assets.

What are these parents thinking? Have they abdicated all authority over what their children do? Are they afraid to say no? Are some of the moms so hell-bent on having a daughter who’s part of the in crowd that they allow (or even encourage) her to dress like she’s about to slither around a pole at a sleazy bar?

These girls are FOURTEEN.

I don’t get it.

And another thing: As the mom of a 14-year-old boy, I’m working hard to teach my son to respect girls. It would be a whole lot easier to do that if some of these girls had a bit more respect for themselves.

Talk back: What do you think? Am I out of line here? What are you seeing in your community? And if you’re a parent who thinks this kind of dressing for an 8th grader is fine and dandy, would you please tell us why?