Archive for November, 2009

02
Nov
09

Not That Complicated. (Or is it?)

Ah, teenagers! Strange creatures, some may say. They can be hard to understand, and some find them hard to love. They can seem to be so complicated, unreachable, and hardened, yet hollow. These teenagers whose lives can be so full of anger and pain may seem hopeless to even the greatest of men, but these are not hopeless lives.  Sure, they may be complex, but not hopeless. Our job as parents is to realize this and help them do the same as best we can… it’s not as complicated as one may think.  Give it a try and let me know what changes you see.

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02
Nov
09

5 Things Parents Need To Know About Their Teens

I feel it’s always a good idea to see where teenagers are coming from, what they’re thinking, and what their concerns are.  I’m not saying that I feel they should “run the show,” but that their thoughts should be taken into considering.  With that in mind, I recently asked a 17-year-old boy to share the top five things he thought parents should know about their teens.  The following is his list, and the [ ] are my words:

1.  Teens need their space. It’s [absolutely] okay to be a part of their lives but you have to be careful because you don’t want to make it seem like you’re smothering them.   It’s okay to be involved with your teen, [and expected], but sometimes you just need to let them go off and just trust that they will do the right thing, keeping in mind that teens often have mood swings and may not want to talk to their parents; that is a part of puberty and a part of maturing. Parents should know that it does not mean that your children don’t like them, it just means that they need time to themselves.

2.  Teens want to be able to go to their parents for problems they may be facing, so as a parent you have to get ready to be open to anything .  If a teen does not feel that they can talk to their parents then their will be no relationship whatsoever [and neither party ever wants that to be the case].  You should also feel comfortable giving them advice that they need in order to live their lives the right way [that’s part of parenting and part of developing a stronger relationship.  Just be sure not to come across as “lecturing” or “preaching.”  That can cause them to shut down.  Remember that you are their guide to this life].

3.  Parents need to understand that teens are under a lot of pressure out there in the world.  They face a lot temptations and sometimes they are hard to pass up.  Always give your teen boundaries, but do not make them too strict [let the “punishment fit the crime”] because a teen does not like to be locked down.

4.  Teens need to learn responsibility and the discipline of hard work.  Make them get a job if they are not doing anything with their lives.  Having a job gives a teen the satisfactory of making their own money and getting an idea of what it is like to live in the real world.

5.  Finally, always show your teen that you love them and that you care about them.

So for all of the parents that read this, please take these things into consideration, because I am a teen myself and I know how their minds work [good luck].

Student, age 17

02
Nov
09

Do You See The Warning Signs?

When kids use drugs and alcohol their parents may not be able to tell at first, but the signs are all there:

1. Your teen may seem spaced out or like they are trying not to talk to his or her family members.

2. He or she may also seem like they are tired all of the time, and it will seem like all that they do is sleep.

3. They may seem less ambitious or seem like they do not care about their grades, relationships etc.

4.  If your teen seems to stay out for long periods of time,  when they come home, seem zoned out, or they go right to their room, then you know something’s up.

5. Your teens mood will alter and change almost like someone who is bipolar.

6. They may stop caring about their personal appearance or their personal hygiene.

7. They may get sudden acne on their face ,and if they have never had it before then you should probably look into it.

8.  If your child begins to eat very large quantities of food, almost like they are being glutenous, it may mean that they are high and have the “munchies”.

9. If your child seems withdrawn, or seems like they just want to stay in the house and not get out and get any fresh air, then this could mean that your child is using drugs.

These are just some of the characteristics of a teen that uses marijuana.  I know from experience because I am a former “pothead”.

Parents, when it comes to this especially, don’t stay out of your teens business.  They may not like you at first, but stay on them anyway, and in time, they will love you for it.  They may try to rebel but you have to put them in their place; that it was got me to change .  I was really spiraling out of control, using pot and cigarettes, but now I am on the right track and all it took was some tough love.

Student, age 17

02
Nov
09

Do You Love Me?

Intern here again… and I have been fervently thinking of topics for this blog, but nothing really stuck out to me. Until I realized one of the most important things in life isn’t always on the forefront of most people’s minds, especially people with ungrateful and angry teenagers. I am by no means saying that you don’t love your teen but when was the last time you made a meaningful effort to express that love? I know that you do a lot for your kids and yes, I am one that still lives at home, and I occasionally get yelled at for being ungrateful and not doing enough around the house, but there are days that I wish my parents realized how much I do with school, work, and around my house. I want them to take a moment, look me in the eye and express their care for me. It’s not that you telling your children and doing what you do for them isn’t good enough, but it’s hard growing up in a could-care-less culture and our only true support team is you. We need you to take the time to show us you care in a meaningful way. You know your child the best, so gauge what you think would be a loving thing for you to do for them. I would recommend looking into a 5 love languages book to figure out what you think they would be interested in. One other thing I realized while writing this. We are kids! We might not know what it takes for us to express our love for you either. Maybe, instead of yelling at us (or putting pressure on us)about what we don’t do, you can express what doing a particular thing around the house would mean to you, or whatever you would like. Your child does want to please you, especially if they are beginning to understand how much you truly care!

~Contribution made by Amanda Matias

02
Nov
09

The View From The Other Side pt.2

Parents, please know that all the decisions you make effect how your child comes out from the way you talk to them and the way you listen. They need to know you love them, and love doesn’t just include putting clothes on their back and a roof over their head. I know!! I see how demanding parenting can be, but I heard it like this before: You need to rear your children not just raise them. Emotional stability, something I’m still working on, is a part of that.  Your teen needs you to listen, and to keep listening; this isn’t a one time sit-down session; it’s a work in progress and you may get eye rolling and attitude in the beginning, but this is something you want to continue to do, and not get angry if your teen closes you out, or totally spills their guts. To trust you they need to know you aren’t going to freak out and punish, punish, punish even though there may be consequences, but that you truly care. Your kids do want to know you care about their lives, validate their emotions, and trust their opinions. Loving and taking care or your children is a huge task, but you can do it!!

I’m taking those steps as a child in my relationship with my mother because I don’t want to be angry or resent her. I want her love and approval and I want a better relationship with her. Yes, at 22 I still act like a baby, but I am also making choices to take a step back, think about why I am reacting, and discuss it with my mom. In summary, don’t give up on your kids no matter how hard it is. They will thank you when they grow up!!

~ contribution by Amanda Matias

02
Nov
09

The View From The Other Side pt.1

I’m interning with Driven for the summer and  I was asked to write something that I thought parents should hear.  I have a lot that could go in that category, but I’m not writing a book and I need to keep this as short as possible.

I didn’t grow up having the best home, best examples,  best parents (although my mom is wonderful), or just the best influence all around. I grew up in a world that I felt didn’t care. I was hurt by the people in my life that chose to make careless decisions and failed to look around to see who those decisions were affecting. I felt abandoned, abused, and neglected. I was lonely.

The way I expressed those things when I was a teenager were by yelling, back-talking, refusing to do anything my mom told me, and to tell her how horrible of a mother I thought she was. Now, at 22, I still struggle with some of those things; old habits die hard and living with your family isn’t always the easiest thing, but I’ve learned a lot since being a 15/16 year old who didn’t care about anything but herself. I’ve realized through the years that I wasn’t the only one with problems and that I wasn’t the center of everything, but being told that and learning that are two different things.

My point here is this: I was crying out for attention (I know, so cliché), but it’s true.  However, now I look back and realize I just need someone to realize that I’m human too, that I have feelings and emotions and I’m not crying because I’m out of control, or because I don’t want to listen, but I’m crying because I need them to understand where I’m coming from. I need them to understand that I’m hurting and I want them to stop telling me where to improve or how I need to fix myself and allow me to have a voice.

Please don’t misunderstand me, I don’t want you raising teenagers that walk all over you, but if you’ve come to a place where your exhausted because you feel like your teen is an emotional wreck or you don’t feel like you’re getting your point across; think about it. Are you listening to your teen? Are you really hearing what they are saying instead of just thinking they are whining about their lives? Your teen is a valid person, with opinions that need to be heard.

~ Contribution from Amanda Matias

02
Nov
09

Having To Say You’re Sorry

Do you ever have those days when you just get “snappy” with your kids?  I had one of those days today.  Something happend with my 14-year-old daughter and I said, “Look into my eyes; do I look like I want to have this discussion with you today? Do you really want to go there.”  She paused, said no, then walked away.  I felt bad, but at the same time, was glad I tried to end it.  “Tried” is the key word here.  It didn’t seem to end.  However, she wasn’t the issue; I was.

If I’m being honest, I think I needed to get the days frustration out and she seemed like the easy target.  She did something  “wrong”, however small,  and I took the opportunity to make a big deal out of it.

So, what do we do when we have days like this?  We can’t take it back can we?  Although, we can certainly say we’re sorry, that we were wrong, and ask for forgiveness.  We should do this for two reasons.  For one, it’s the right thing to do.   For another, we lead by example;  we teach them to do the same thing.

Take a moment and ask yourself if there’s anything you need to apologize for, and if there is, don’t waste a moment more.