Posts Tagged ‘You Can (Really!) Survive Your Teen’

Got a Teen? Don’t Take the Bait!

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

Recently, on the way to school, my teenage son and I heard a silly commercial on the radio. I commented that it must be running at the same time every day because we had heard the exact same commercial while sitting at the same stop light the day before.

Just making conversation, right?

My son suddenly must have realized that he hadn’t fulfilled his “if mom says the sky is blue I must insist it’s green” quota for the day. So he came up with: “It wasn’t exactly the same commercial as the one that ran yesterday.”

Then he looked at me expectantly…

For the record? Yes, friends, it was EXACTLY the same commercial. But to my credit, I did something I don’t often manage to do: I didn’t take the bait. I just sort of shrugged as if to say “Oh well. You may be right. Who knows?”

Drove him nuts. Who was this mom who failed to engage in a debate over… nothing? After a couple more attempts resulted in less that his desired results, we moved on to another topic.

Success! I was not the catch of the day. I wish I could say it went this well every day, but I’ll take my victories where I can get them.

Have you been baited by your teen lately? How did you handle it? Today I was on my game. But tomorrow? I may need all the tips I can get!

Blog Love: Please Stop The Rollercoaster!

Monday, November 16th, 2009


I love what Sue Blaney — author, communications expert and parent of two kids in college — is doing over on her blog for parents of teens: Please Stop the Rollercoaster!

As she says, “parenting teenagers is an exciting ride, full of twists and turns that make parents wonder what’s coming next. Teens’ behavior at home can be very different than their behavior at school, confusing parents and leaving them in the dark.”

Parents of teens are too often isolated, unaware that their experiences mirror those of most other parents, and that support may only be as far away as your nearest neighbor, says Blaney. She helps us all learn together. (I wish she lived down the street, frankly!)

I love Blaney’s voice of experience, her practical advice and her ability to make me feel that I’m not alone in raising a teenager. If you’re the parent of a teen, check out this terrific blog.

Teens and Smoking: Why?

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

On the way back from dropping my son off at school this morning, I pulled up alongside an older Volvo
at a stop light. I smiled when I saw two girls, about 17 years old, in
the car, thinking that the driver's parents had probably made darned
sure she was driving a safe car.

They were so young and beautiful. Smiling, chatting, downing their Starbucks coffee drinks. Then, almost in unison, they both stuck their hands out the car window and flicked ashes from a cigarette.

My heart sank.

My mother in law, Pat, died of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) when my son, Matt, was just in first grade. A lifelong smoker, she tried many times to quit. But the habit, which she picked up in college, was too tough for her to give up. I remember her telling all this to Matt and then telling him to NEVER start smoking. To this day, he still talks about that conversation with his grandmother.

This morning, I wanted to get out of my car and go tell all of this to those girls. Those lovely, healthy young women with beautiful skin, bright eyes and (I hoped) still-healthy lungs and hearts.

I didn't, of course. The light turned green. We went our separate ways. And I don't expect those two girls to be seeking out a parenting blog… Until they are parents themselves, of course. When they're addicted to smoking and worried like hell that the second-hand smoke, and the example they're setting, might be hurting their kids. When they're looking up articles on Google about how to quit smoking or how to make sure their own kids never smoke.

How much easier it would be for today's teens to not pick up that first cigarette. Or to quit now, after a few months of smoking, rather than having to stare down that nicotine beast after a decade or more of damage.

If you're a parent who is smelling cigarette smoke on your kid's clothes when then come home, please show them this post. You may not be the parent of those two particular girls. But then again, there might be an older, gold-colored Volvo sitting in your driveway right now.

A Little Ice Cream… And a Better Day Today

Wednesday, July 16th, 2008

Several readers have e-mailed to suggest that the comment I left yesterday (in the comments section, not as a post) should be a post. So here goes: 

Today is a much better parenting day, and I even felt a bit (just a bit) bad about writing such a whining post yesterday. (Although in my “What’s Parent Talk Today?” description, I do promise a bit of whining now and then!)
I considered taking the (July 14) post down, but then I thought “Hey, this is real life. Some days we drive the people we love crazy, and we muddle through and move on to the next day and it all works out.”
That’s probably a better thought to share with my fellow parents than all the hearts-and-flowers posts about mommyhood could ever be. (Although you’ll find those here, too.)
Because none of us is even close to perfect, and it helps, I think, to know that other moms have days when running to the grocery store, alone, feels like sweet relief.
So the post stays. And the love for my son never disappears — even when I’m so frustrated with him that I want to take his video games and hold a big garage sale because he’s driving me nuts.
Today is a better day. But boy, that ice cream tasted good last night!

Innocence Lost

Friday, May 23rd, 2008

"Don't say anything."

My husband placed his hand on my arm as the trio sat down right in front of us in the movie theater at our local mall: a couple and a little girl, about 6, who seemed focused on her popcorn. But the R-rated movie we were watching soon grabbed her full attention.

I bit my tongue, but my insides squirmed as she flinched at scenes that were tough even for adults to watch: a whacked-out teenage girl in a filthy motel room, selling her body for drugs. A man digging his own grave, at gunpoint, before being shot in the head.

When the girl finally fell asleep, I thought of my own son, who still calls out to me in the night when he’s awakened by bad dreams.

What hideous dreams will that little girl be having? And after this night, what could possibly be “too much” for her? Why trouble yourself with holding the line on innocence at all, when your 6-year-old has just been shown how to freebase cocaine?

And these days, it starts much younger than 6. In fact, the sex-and-violence train starts steaming down the track as early as 3 or 4. When my son, Matthew, was in preschool, a 4-year-old boy in his class liked to sing Sir Mix-a-Lot’s “Baby Got Back” (“I like big butts and I can not lie…”), declaring it his “favorite MTV video.” In kindergarten, several of Matthew’s classmates talked of playing blood-and-guts video games. And in a recent report, ACNielsen listed “Desperate Housewives” as the most-watched television show for 9- to 12-year-olds.

When exposure to sexually explicit material starts so young, what does it take to entertain a teenager? Singer Naomi Judd found out the hard way. A few years ago, Judd was accused of assaulting a male stripper at a Brentwood, Tennessee restaurant, the local paper, The Tennessean, reported. She was upset at seeing the man straddling a teenage girl, police said. Judd reportedly said she placed her hand on the man’s shoulder to tell him to stop, and he lost his balance and fell.

Silly Naomi. Turns out the stripper had been hired by the girl’s parents as a present for her 18th birthday.

While experts certainly fret about youngsters’ exposure to sex, the disturbing increase in school shootings has focused their attention on violence. The American Academy of Pediatrics, along with three other prestigious medical groups, has declared that “viewing violence can lead to increases in aggressive attitudes, values and behaviors, particularly in children” and can cause “emotional desensitization toward violence in real life.”

Less than a week after seeing that R-rated movie, I witnessed this desensitization myself. A murder had taken place in the parking lot of that same upscale mall. A young man allegedly stabbed a 66-year-old woman during a robbery, at lunchtime, in front of several stunned shoppers. The T.V. news showed the woman’s sunglasses and one high-heeled shoe lying on the ground, surrounded by blood and yellow police tape.

A few days later, I spoke to a teenager who works at the mall.

“You must be pretty upset by that woman’s murder,” I said.

“Well, I know this will sound bad,” she replied. “But it’s not like I knew her personally or anything.”

How have our children become so numb to violence that the blood of a fellow human being, staining the asphalt just steps from where she works, can leave so little impression on a 16-year-old girl?

True, most kids don’t wind up in jail. Don’t shoot their classmates. Don’t become pregnant at 12 because of something they saw at the local megaplex back when they still believed in the tooth fairy. But when parents allow a preschooler to memorize lines such as “Watchin’ these bimbos walkin’ like ho’s,” there’s something wrong. When parents care more about catching a popular new movie than about protecting their first-grader from graphic violence, we’ve lost our way. When a 16-year-old is so jaded that the new shipment of Prada handbags gets her heart pumping more than the news of a woman’s stabbing ever could, we’ve reached an all-time low.

Maybe I should have risked embarrassment and stood up for that little girl in the theater before she had to watch a man get shot in the head at point-blank range. Maybe every parent in that room should have said something or done something. But we didn’t.

After all, it’s not like we knew her personally or anything.