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College Prep: Not Just for Seniors



staying organized


» Facts About E-Cigarettes » How to Avoid Raising Codependent Kids » Teen Texting vs. Talking

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what you can do tO save a lIFe

> If you see the signs, ask the person, “are you suicidal?” > Offer hope, don’t leave them alone, and tell others the person to the nearest eR, call the police, take them to > take a health care professional or > Call the Montana Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

september 2015


6 Staying Organized 14 Facts About E-Cigarettes 16 How to Avoid Raising Co-Dependent Kids 20 Teen Texting vs. Talking Prep: It’s for Freshman and 23 College Sophomores, Too IN EVERY ISSUE

2 From the Director 5 The Kitchen Table 10 Faces in the Crowd 11 40 Developmental Assets 12 Assets in Action 18 Q&A and By the Numbers BROUGHT TO YOU BY




Coleen Smith: (406) 324-1032


Wandering Albatross Photography




September 2015



director from the

Emma Templeton is an 8th grader this fall. She enjoys acting and participated in weekly theatre school this summer. She enjoys being in the water and her favorite stroke is the breast stroke. She enjoys spending time with her friends and family. A favorite activity with friends is making movies or music videos.

About Youth Connections Youth Connections is a coalition of over 1100 community members representing parents, educators, churches, youthserving organizations, businesses, and more who want to make Helena a healthy and supportive place for kids and families. Youth Connections recognizes the need to reduce negative behaviors including substance use and violence while also working to increase positive opportunities and mental wellness for all our local kids. So how do we do that? We know there is no silver bullet to making communities great, and so we do LOTS of things that we know make communities better. We support agencies and businesses who offer youth activities because we know kids who are involved in positive activities aren’t involved in negative ones. We support student mentoring relationships because research shows it helps kids stay in school and be successful. We also know that when kids know better, they do better, so we support classroom education in the areas of bullying prevention and substance use prevention. Youth Connections also understands we must support the adults in kids’ lives and therefore we provide training, education, networks, and collaborative opportunities for parents and professionals to connect with others who care about kids. Youth Connections is well known for its quarterly publication, YC Magazine, a resource for parents and the entire community. These are just some of the projects we’re working on to serve our mission of engaging our community to create environments where youth thrive and succeed. For a comprehensive list of activities, services, and ways you can get involved, please visit our website at


September 2015




can’t believe the kids are already back in school! This summer flew by and now the halls are full of kids who are focused and ready to learn…or not. We’ve got a great article on how to get your kids and family organized for the school year. As things start ramping up with homework, sports practices, music lessons, activities, and just life, the stress can increase. Being organized is key to keeping that stress in check for parents coleen and kids. smith We also have an article on vaping. There has been a huge increase in emergency room visits because of nicotine overdoses in kids. This article has some great information for families to learn the truths about those e-cigs and what kids are truly ingesting. A big thank you to our friends at The Legacy Center in Michigan. They are a coalition using YC Magazine to share important information with their families. They are seeing the same issues there and offered to write this article for us. I particularly like the article on how not to raise co-dependent children. So often we as parents are too eager to rush in and make everything right with our kids’ lives. It’s hard not to do everything for them, but we truly are doing them a disservice by fixing their problems and covering things up. A big thank you to Carolynn Bright with Student Assistance Foundation who wrote two of our articles this round. Carolynn has education and experience as a journalist, and it’s great to have her kind of expertise in our midst. Thanks, Carolynn! Another interesting article we have this issue is texting versus talking for kids. I recently was at the YMCA’s 3-on-3 tournament trying to get pictures for this issue. I wanted to get pictures of kids and families doing healthy and fun things. It was amazing how many kids—and parents—were on their phones. This article has some good information on limiting technology during family time. As always, we need to thank our advertisers! Without their continued support this publication would not be possible. Thank you all!

Can’t get enough great resources? Follow us: Twitter: @Youthconx Facebook (for parents): Youth Connections Facebook (for kids): Find Your Spot

Coleen Smith, YC Director Phone: (406) 324-1032

The first 8 years of a child’s life are vital.

high school students has or will be in an abusive relationship

Every Child CAN be Ready to Thrive!

the friendship center Working to End domEstic and sExual ViolEncE

ALWAYS FrEE & conFidEntial Physically, sexually, emotionally & with stalking In person, online & in texts To girls & boys

Between current & former partners If you or someone you know needs help contact us

(406) 442-6800 24 hours 1430 Sanders, Helena

Connect with local resources and information now what? The end of summer vacation and return to routines and demands of the school year may bring stress and pressures that are overwhelming for your son or daughter—regardless of age! Our therapists, psychologists, nurses and specialists can help your child and family lea to cope with the social pressures, learn emotional difficulties, substance abuse or other issues that are disrupting your family and your child’s success.

3240 Dredge Drive Helena, MT | 406-442-7920




September 2015



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Breast cancer is the 2nd leading cause of cancer death in Montana women. Talk to your doctor about getting screened. If you can’t afford a mammogram, call our Cancer Screening Program, 457-8923. Be Active • Eat Smart • Get Screened • Be Sunwise • Be Tobacco Free

Creating a stronger Community for loCal kids. 4

September 2015




confessions from The kitchen table

o get a perspective from both sides of the ball, we asked a parent and a referee for their reflections on sportsmanship and role models for kids. From a parent: I have always prided myself on being a very supportive parent of my two kids. After six years of competitive cheerleading, high school cheer, choir concerts, plays, preschool T-ball, middle school volleyball and basketball, and softball, I can count on one hand the number of games or performances I missed. I traveled to and around five states to watch them compete and perform and spent an undetermined amount of time on the road and in hotel rooms. I feel I should get an award. However, in those countless hours of support, there were times I conducted myself in ways that were less than stellar. In my defense, I did see some other parents who were worse. At one JV football game where my daughter was cheering, there was one parent from the opposing team who was running down the field screaming at the referee. She was so loud that all the parents on our side of the field could hear her. All I could think was, “She must have a lot of money on this game.” While I was not that bad, there was one time at a middle school basketball game

when I was ‘cheering’ for the girls and yelling what I thought were encouraging statements like, “Help her out,” “Defense,” and at one point, “Put your hands up!” I wasn’t intentionally yelling at the players, but it definitely came out that way. The girl kind of stopped and looked at me probably thinking, “Should I listen to this crazy woman!?” It occurred to me that in my quest to be supportive, I was actually crossing the line and being obnoxious. Yikes. I would like to think that I was being the kind of parent I hope my kids will be some day, but do I really want them copying everything they see me do? Probably not. We as parents need to keep in mind that our behavior has the potential of not only embarrassing our kids but, worse, being replicated at some time. From a referee: Forty years later, I can replay the scene with remarkable clarity. I was 15, and umpiring a 12-year-olds’ baseball game­—my first time behind the plate. I was a catcher, so I thought I knew it all about calling balls and strikes. Throughout the entire game, a grandmotherly woman was strongly (!) questioning almost every call I made. I heard every word. And I was getting mad, but didn’t say anything. Afterward she followed me to my dad’s car, chewing my rear the whole way.

I spun around and delivered a line that would have made a sailor blush. Not one of my better moments in life, but that experience didn’t stop me from wanting to umpire and officiate. I also coached my children extensively and have loved helping with youth sports. I remember other times as an adult when I was refereeing youth basketball games. Yep, I missed a few calls and blew the whistle when I should have let them play. As an official, I try not to listen to the fans, but I can’t turn it off. I know when I’ve blown a call. I’ve been yelled at by grandmas, moms, dads and kids. But contrary to coach, player, or fan opinion, I didn’t favor one team or player over another. I went out of my way to be impartial. When I umpired that baseball game 40 years ago, I made $5 and got a Coke; when I refereed the basketball game four decades later I made $10. Why do I do it? Why should I be verbally abused by parents, coaches, grandparents, and even the players? Why should I care what they say? Well, I’m human and words can hurt. I always want to get better­­—if I didn’t, I sure wouldn’t step between the lines for some free abuse. Kids need support, and they need to learn character lessons. Yeah, I heard you yell at me from the stands. Just remember, when I hear what you’re saying, so do your kids. ■

You can submit your story at: For many of us the kitchen table represents the typical family experience. We have laughed while having family game night. We have cried over our children’s choices. We have blown out the candles on many cakes. We have argued our way out of doing the dishes. We have struggled through those “three more bites.” We have learned hard lessons and celebrated many deserved successes. One thing is for sure though – if our kitchen tables could talk, there would be plenty of stories! So often it is in relating to others’ stories that we realize there isn’t always one answer, or even a right answer. Parenting is hard work! If you have a story of lessons learned, we invite you to share it with our readers. Sometimes, knowing we aren’t the only ones struggling to find the answer is all the help we need.




September 2015




And making ‘busy’ work for your family


September 2015




nized By carolynn bright

To use the term “herding cats” to describe the chaos that back-to-school brings for families with multiple active, engaged children may be cliché, but it’s pretty accurate at times, according to Molly Severtson of Helena, Montana. olly, and her husband, Eric, are the proud parents of a 14-year-old daughter and 13-year-old twin daughters. Molly is employed full time in donor relations for a nonprofit, and Eric works full time in the information technology industry. “Right now we have three teenagers and our lives are intense with ‘teenage’ things,” Molly said, adding that she knows all too well that her girls will be grown up and living their own lives all too soon. “We try to mitigate the frustrations and enjoy the good times.” In addition to attending middle school, the Severtson girls partake in activities including violin lessons, Youth Orchestra, Fiddle Club, swimming, Clarinet Choir, dance lessons, student council, basketball, volleyball, soccer, and babysitting at their church. How do they keep all of those activities straight? “We use Google calendar,” Molly said, adding that each family member has a designated color on the calendar. “It’s the only way we can do it, and we still miss things once in a while.” Having a centralized calendar that all members of the family can access appears to be crucial to success when it comes to keeping a myriad of appointments and activities in order. This merged family schedule can be as simple as a dry erase calendar posted on the refrigerator, to one of numerous smart phone apps — free or paid — that are available to help. In addition to Google Calendar, the Cozi Family Organizer shows up on numerous continued on page 9



September 2015




By law, use of tobacco products is not allowed on school property. Set the example: Be tobacco free!

start something Could your little one use a Big? It all starts with the right role models. And Big Brothers Big Sisters is the place to start a relationship with one. For over 100 years, due in large part to private donations, we’ve been able to recruit, screen, match and support mentoring relationships that have changed the lives of hundreds of young people in our community one Little at a time. A study for Big Brothers Big Sisters found that kids matched with a Big Brother or Big Sister: • are more confident • are more likely to steer clear of drugs and alcohol • do better in school • get along better with their family and friends • feel better about themselves eligiBility... who we serve Big Brothers Big Sisters serve as mentors to boys and girls who can benefit from a friendship with a caring adult role model. Children in the BBBS program: • live in the Helena and Boulder area • are between the ages of 6-14 • want to spend time with a Big Brother or Big Sister • agree to a minimum of a one-year time commitment • BBBS will continue to support matches until the “Little” turns 18 or graduates high school

Enroll your child today! Get started at

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September 2015




continued from page 7

Parents shouldn’t be afraid to ask their children to pitch in to help the family accomplish everything it needs to do.

parent-oriented blogs as being an effective organizing tool, along with Skedj. At this point, Molly and Eric make sure the calendar is up to date and that their girls get to where they need to go. However, Molly says she will soon share the calendar with her children and expect them to take a more active role in the coordination of activities. “Our eldest will be driving soon, too, which should help,” she said. How do the Severtsons get their kids to and fro? Molly and Eric don’t have any family members living in their community, so until they hand the car keys over to one of their children, some finely orchestrated arrangements need to be made. In some cases, carpools are the answer. “We do set up a few carpools, but sometimes they don’t help much because we often combine trips, picking up multiple kids at a time, so they don’t always save us that much driving,” Molly said. In an effort to create a smoother flow for members of the household, the Severtsons have coordinated their work schedules to allow one parent to be home to handle “getting to school” activities, and the other to be finished with work to manage “after school” efforts. “We’re lucky to both have employers who understand the value of family time and the obligations we’re under,” Molly said. “We both work hard at our jobs and are able to flex our time so that we can take great care of our kids, too.” Molly said the ability for parents to work as a team when schedules get hectic is important as well. For example, Molly stays home in the evening to make dinner, ensure the girls are ready for their activities, do the dishes, and perform other necessary tasks. Eric handles all of the driving. “We had both been trying to drive and/or cook every evening, and that was too chaotic for me,” she said. “I’m happier when I’m focused.” How do they get it all done? Molly says parents shouldn’t be afraid to ask their children to pitch in to help the family accomplish everything it needs to do. The Severtsons rely upon their daughters to make their own lunches and organize their school books and projects for the

following day. Completing their homework to the best of their ability falls within the category of organizing themselves for the next day, as well. “Our kids are really responsible and we don’t have to oversee (homework) very much,” Molly said. “We’ve taught them a few organization and prioritization techniques, but they’ve figured it out on their own, mostly, and they do a great job.” It’s well known in the Severtson household that school always comes first. However, Molly added, these types of conflicts between activities provide an opportunity to talk about commitment and priorities. “We try to impress upon our kids the importance of following through when they’ve made a commitment to a team or activity,” she said. “It’s not always an easy balance.” How do they balance family time with other activities? While many families schedule “family time” into their calendars, the Severtsons are a little less regimented about that—they find their schedules naturally provide for family opportunities. Whether family time entails camping, going out to eat, traveling to visit family, Molly says they make the most of it. In addition, Molly and Eric encourage their children to support each other in their activities. “We spend that time together, driving to other towns to perform or compete and to cheer each other on,” she said. What happens when it doesn’t all work out? Of course, the Severtsons acknowledge that managing multiple schedules doesn’t always come together perfectly. Communication is key in those instances. Recently, Molly had to go out of town for work; one child had a soccer tournament out of town; and another had a dance recital at home. They made arrangements for another family to take over the soccer excursion while Eric stayed local for the recital. “We are almost always both able to attend our kids’ events, games, performances,” Molly said. “However, if only one of us (or occasionally, neither of us) can be at an event, the kids understand that our professional work is important too. That’s how we pay for the activities.”

Take a break now and then As busy as Molly and Eric get with nurturing their children’s passion for school and activities, the two of them always make time for themselves as a couple and as individuals. That may mean going for a bike ride, taking a walk, or going on a date night. “We recognize the importance of making sure we stay connected as a couple, as well, so that when the kids leave, our relationship is still strong,” Molly said. “We’ll be sad when they leave, but we’re also looking forward to some freedom to do things together that we’ve always dreamed of.” Molly advises parents not to get wrapped up in what other families are doing. Every family needs to find its own comfort level. “Ever since our kids were babies, we’ve tried not to be too kid-centered, or too parentcentered, but to be family-centered,” she said. “It’s only good if it works well for all five of us.” Stay on top of things Even if your family doesn’t go in as many directions as this one, staying organized will help reduce the stress and chaos of getting ready for back to school. Since iPhones and Androids are pretty common these days, many families use the automatic syncing system to update family calendars. Smartphones take the work out of ensuring that all calendars are up-to-date. Once you’ve set up a shared family calendar, all phones and computers that are networked to the calendar will automatically refresh whenever you or your family members update the schedule. If you don’t have the benefit of every family member having a phone, a calendar on the refrigerator with a dry erase marker can do the trick as well. To reduce the chances of throwing a wrench in the schedule, touch base with each child every night to see if anything new has come up that you need to be aware of, such as treats for practice or an upcoming project that is due. To keep your child’s classroom or teams organized, set up a Facebook page. Practices or assignments can be added and checked at a moment’s notice. It makes communication so much easier with all parties involved. A little bit of organizing at the beginning of the year can make for a smoother transition from back to school throughout the year. ■




September 2015


Check out who’s standing out in our community. IS THERE SOMEONE YOU’D LIKE TO NOMINATE? Please email and tell us why this individual has stood out in your crowd.

Aelish Barrs


hawthorne Elementary School, 5th grade

Aelish was nominated for Faces because of her love of and commitment to animals. For her birthday, instead of asking for presents, she asked that everyone bring donations for the Lewis & Clark Humane Society instead. Rather than toys and games, she received kitty litter and dog food to donate. When she heard there was an influx of new pets at the shelter, she got donations of blankets and towels from her neighborhood to take to the shelter. Aelish loves to draw, hike, and read anything about animals. She also plays soccer. As soon as she is old enough, she will volunteer at the Humane Society. Thanks, Aelish, for making Helena a better place for our furry friends!

Nick Pida


Nick is an actor at Grandstreet Theatre but, more than that, he is a volunteer set builder and usher, and he works backstage on many shows. This summer he decided to mow a neighbor’s lawn, and he doesn’t even ask, he just gets the lawn mower out and mows. He is pleasant to all, adults and young kids alike, and has many peers. Nick enjoys skiing and has danced in the Queen City Ballet’s performance of The Nutcracker. He also enjoys drumming. His parents are Andrew Pida and Sri Vellanki. Thanks, Nick, for being such an awesome role model and inspiration to those around you!

Jylian Simkins

Helena High school, 10th grade

Jylian has been a participant in the YMCA’s You Got Served program for three years. She has volunteered as a dog walker at the Humane Society, cleaned yards around a group home, volunteered with the Governor’s Cup, volunteers for SACC at Four Georgians...and she wants to do more. “I want to be able to think about what I can do now and in the future and help others think the same, ” she said. Jylian is on the honor roll and is a student athletic trainer for football and wrestling. Her goal is to attend college and major in engineering. We salute her commitment to others to make Helena a better place. Thanks, Jylian! You rock!

Chuck Churchill


Chuck started as a day camp counselor in the summer for the YMCA in 2012 and has been one ever since. He also works at the front desk, helps set up equipment for games, and referees Y basketball games. He can also be seen working in the drop-in day care. Kids of all ages love “Hoops/Chuck.” When he’s not working at the Y, he coaches American Legion baseball for the Reps. Chuck graduated from UM with a degree in exercise science. Here’s to a great male role model for the kids of Helena! Thanks, Chuck, for your commitment to the kids of all ages in our community.

Helena Kiwanis Club


We would like to recognize the efforts of Kiwanis in their commitment to local kids. After a presentation at one of their meetings by the Bengal Pure Performance student-athletes, the board decided they wanted to do something to help local students. When they learned about the leadership summit and the need for motivational/educational speakers, they stepped up and offered to cover the cost of not only Holly Flanders, former Olympic skier from Park City, Utah, but they wanted to be the sole supporter of the event! In addition, through their efforts at the steak booth at the fair, they help support multiple efforts that benefit kids in Helena. Thanks, Kiwanis, for supporting our local youth!


September 2015




Home and community based intervention services for children with developmental delays or disabilities birth through age 18.

Supporting families to promote development in their young children with special needs. 1212 Helena Avenue • Helena, MT 59601 406-443-7370 •

40 developmental assets


40 Developmental Assets are essential qualities of life that help young people thrive, do well in school, and avoid risky behavior. Youth Connections utilizes the 40 Developmental Assets Framework to guide the work we do in promoting positive youth development. The 40 Assets model was developed by the Minneapolis-based Search Institute based on extensive research. Just as we are coached to diversify our financial assets so that all our eggs are not in one basket, the strength that the 40 Assets model can build in our youth comes through diversity. In a nutshell, the more of the 40 Assets youth possess, the more likely they are to exhibit positive behaviors and attitudes (such as good health and school success) and the less likely they are to exhibit risky behaviors (such as drug use and promiscuity). It’s that simple: if we want to empower and protect our children, building the 40 Assets in our youth is a great way to start. Look over the list of Assets on the following page and think about what Assets may be lacking in our community and what Assets you can help build in our young people. Do what you can do with the knowledge that even through helping build one asset in one child, you are increasing the chances that child will grow up safe and successful. Through our combined efforts Helena will continue to be a place where Great Kids Make Great Communities.

Turn the page to learn more!




September 2015


assets in action


15 Support

1. Family support: Family life provides high levels of love and support. 2. Positive family communication: Young person and her or his parent(s) communicate positively, and young person is willing to seek advice and counsel from parent(s). 3. Other adult relationships: Young person receives support from three or more nonparent adults. 4. Caring neighborhood: Young person experiences caring neighbors. 5. Caring school climate: School provides a caring, encouraging environment. 6. Parent involvement in school: Parent(s) are actively involved in helping young person succeed in school.

Enjoying good friends made in 4-H




7. Community values youth: Young person perceives that adults in the community value youth. 8. Youth as resources: Young people are given useful roles in the community. 9. Service to others: Young person serves in the community one hour or more per week. 10. Safety: Young person feels safe at home, at school, and in the neighborhood.

Boundaries & Expectations You Got Served participants volunteering at the YMCA

Adult coaching a 3-on-3 basketball team


11. Family boundaries: Family has clear rules and consequences and monitors the young person’s whereabouts. 12. School boundaries: School provides clear rules and consequences. 13. Neighborhood boundaries: Neighbors take responsibility for monitoring young people’s behavior. 14. Adult role models: Parent(s) and other adults model positive, responsible behavior. 15. Positive peer influence: Young person’s best friends model responsible behavior. 16. High expectations: Both parent(s) and teachers encourage the young person to do well.

Constructive Use of Time

4-H dog show participants at the fair


September 2015




17. Creative activities: Young person spends three or more hours per week in lessons or practice in music, theater, or other arts. 18. Youth programs: Young person spends three or more hours per week in sports, clubs, or organizations at school and/or in the community. 19. Religious community: Young person spends one or more hours per week in activities in a religious institution. 20. Time at home: Young person is out with friends “with nothing special to do” two or fewer nights per week.

If you or your child would like to submit a picture that represents one of the 40 Developmental Assets, please email with a picture and the number of the asset the picture represents.

Not all pictures are guaranteed publication.

26 Commitment to Learning

21. Achievement motivation: Young person is motivated to do well in school. 22. School engagement: Young person is actively engaged in learning. 23. Homework: Young person reports doing at least one hour of homework every school day. 24. Bonding to school: Young person cares about her or his school. 25. Reading for pleasure: Young person reads for pleasure three or more hours per week.

Girls volunteering to be score keepers at the tournament

Positive Values


26. Caring: Young person places high value on helping other people. 27. Equality and social justice: Young person places high value on promoting equality and reducing hunger and poverty. 28. Integrity: Young person acts on convictions and stands up for her or his beliefs. 29. Honesty: Young person “tells the truth even when it is not easy.” 30. Responsibility: Young person accepts and takes personal responsibility. 31. Restraint: Young person believes it is important not to be sexually active or to use alcohol or other drugs.

Social Competencies

32. Planning and decision making: Young person knows how to plan ahead and make choices. 33. Interpersonal competence: Young person has empathy, sensitivity, and friendship skills. 34. Cultural competence: Young person has knowledge of and comfort with people of different cultural/racial/ethnic backgrounds. 35. Resistance skills: Young person can resist negative peer pressure and dangerous situations. 36. Peaceful conflict resolution: Young person seeks to resolve conflict nonviolently.

Kids learning robotics during summer camp Junior Police Academy participants learning forensics


Positive Identity

37. Personal power: Young person feels he or she has control over “things that happen to me.” 38. Self-esteem: Young person reports having a high self-esteem. 39. Sense of purpose: Young person reports that “my life has a purpose.” 40. Positive view of personal future: Young person is optimistic about her or his personal future.

Girls Thrive celebrating hike to top of Mount Helena




September 2015


facts about

e-cigarettes By Jennifer Heronema, President & CEO, The Legacy Center for Community Success


September 2015




An electronic cigarette can contain as much nicotine as a regular cigarette, or more—amounts vary according by the cartridge.

The Survey Says According to the 2014 National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS), the percentage of middle and high school students reporting current use of cigarettes (defined as smoking at least once in past 30 days) decreased from 15.8 percent to 9.2 percent between 2011 and 2014. During the same period, hookah use among high school students doubled and e-cigarette use increased even more dramatically. NYTS, a school-based, self-administered questionnaire given annually to middle and high school students in both public and private schools, was given to 22,000 students in 2014. The nationally representative survey is conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Key findings of the 2014 survey include:

for Tobacco Products, said that the study confirms the tobacco product landscape has changed dramatically: “Middle and high school kids are using novel products like e-cigarettes and hookahs in unprecedented numbers, and many are using more than one kind of tobacco product.” An electronic cigarette can contain as much nicotine as a regular cigarette, or more—amounts vary according by the cartridge. Some contain no nicotine and only have a liquid, so users can have the experience of smoking with no harmful effects. But, the FDA has said that consumers have no way of knowing if other potentially harmful chemicals are being inhaled during use. Nicotine is dangerous and highly addictive for kids of any age, whether it comes from an e-cigarette, hookah, cigarette or cigar. Because the brain is still developing, adolescence appears to be a particularly vulnerable time. Research has clearly demonstrated that exposure to nicotine at a young age increases the chance that kids will become addicted. In addition to nicotine exposure, tobacco use can be harmful due to the numerous other chemicals present in tobacco products that can cause disease. Today, FDA has regulatory authority over cigarettes, cigarette tobacco, roll-your-own tobacco and smokeless tobacco. The agency is in the process of finalizing the rule that would extend its authority to regulate additional products that meet the legal definition of a tobacco product, such as e-cigarettes, cigars and hookahs. The FDA also is proposing a minimum age of 18 for buying tobacco. The public comment period ended in June, and it is uncertain when the final rule will be published.

» Current e-cigarette use among high school students increased from approximately 660,000 in 2013 to 2 million students in 2014.

What you can do: » Be clear with your kids that smoking of any kind is off limits.

» Among middle school students, current e-cigarette use more than tripled from 120,000 in 2013 to 450,000 students in 2014.

» Educate your kids that e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is a highly addictive substance, as well as a stimulant, and overall dangerous drug. They should know that cancer-causing chemicals are found in e-cigarette cartridges.

Middle, High School Students Find E-Cigarette Flavors Appealing E-cigarette sales in the United States could reach an estimated $3.2 billion this year, compared to just $416 million five years ago. This growth is driven in large part by the growing popularity of e-cigarettes among young people. E-cigarettes are cigarette-shaped devices containing a nicotine-based liquid that is vaporized and inhaled. Hookahs are water pipes that are made to smoke specially made tobacco. It’s not surprising. E-cigarette manufacturers continue to use marketing tactics perfected by Big Tobacco for promoting regular cigarettes to kids. Their tactics include glossy magazine ads, concert sponsorships and auto races, celebrity endorsements and sweet, colorful flavors like apple, mint, bubble gum, grape and blueberry.

» This is the first time since the survey started tracking e-cigarette use in 2011 that it surpassed current use of every other tobacco product, including cigarettes. » Hookah smoking roughly doubled for middle and high school students, while cigarette use declined among high school students and remained unchanged for middle school students. » Among high school students, hookah use increased from 770,000 in 2013 to approximately 1.3 million students in 2014. » Among middle school students, current hookah use increased from 120,000 in 2013 to 280,000 students in 2014. Why should you care? In a statement in the June 2015 FDA Consumer Update, Benjamin J. Apelberg, Ph.D., branch chief of epidemiology at FDA’s Center

» It can be difficult to know if your kid is using e-cigarettes, but e-cigarettes have been associated with dry cough, as well as mouth and throat irritation. So if these types of symptoms are persistent in your child, and have no other known cause, you might want to investigate if there has been e-cigarette use. » Look up e-cigarettes on Google Images so you are clear about what they look like, as well as the cartridges that go with them, and can identify them, if needed. Adolescence is a critical time for brain development. Nicotine exposure at a young age may cause lasting harm to brain development, promote addiction and lead to sustained tobacco use. The only way to prevent these problems is to avoid nicotine altogether. ■




September 2015


How to Avoid Raising

codependent kids By mark merrill

It may not seem like a big deal today, but shielding kids from consequences can have long-term consequences for parents. The following true story connects the dots on how we literally can’t afford to raise codependent kids or be enabling parents.

he quarter in which the Florida housing market crashed was also the quarter my friend’s brother Bill closed on a house he clearly couldn’t afford. He financed 110% of the purchase price, spent the extra cash on cosmetic upgrades, immediately put the house back on the market, and waited for his big payday. Bill’s salary wouldn’t nearly cover the mortgage, so his parents bailed him out. Within a year, the house tanked 40% of its value – long story short – Bill lost both the house and $50,000 of his parents’ money. Bill is 45 years old, and he’s gone through a lot of his parents’ savings over the past 25 years; but there’s little chance he’ll change until they’re as broke as he is. Why? Because they’ve been codependent since the enabling started in the first grade. It started small, such as Mom doing his chores so Bill wouldn’t get in trouble with Dad. Quickly, it moved to homework cover-ups and “science project by parent.” Then it graduated to Mom covering when he skipped school; Dad lying to the police when he wrecked a car he didn’t have permission to drive; and increasingly large financial defaults. By the time Mom and Dad let Bill move back home after failing college (no questions asked), he felt entitled to every bailout that came his way. The bailouts just kept getting bigger.

Naturally, we’re all concerned about keeping our kids safe and happy. But we raise our children to fly, not flop around the nest. One day, we’re going to have to let go and, when we do, it’s a good idea to make sure they’re equipped and ready. Or they’ll end up like Bill: pushing 50 years of age and still suffering from failure to thrive. Expect more of them We all tend to rise to the level of expectation. A two-year-old can learn to pick up toys. A three-year-old can help to set the table. A four-year-old can take dirty clothes to the laundry room and learn how to operate the machine. The more, and the earlier, we train children to contribute, the more self-reliance will become a part of their DNA. Allow (managed) natural consequences Typically, there is no better learning tool than to experience the consequence of behavior. A five-year-old refuses to clean up the toys in the middle of the floor? The toys visit the attic for a prescribed amount of time. A ten-year-old curses? Get a dictionary, then handwrite five acceptable words that mean the same thing, plus their complete definitions. Establish a direct line between behavior and a real world result.

Be consistent Mom and Dad need to be on the same page because learning thrives where children know what to expect. When children understand that what they do or do not do makes a consistent and measurable difference in the quality of their life, they will become more likely to accept responsibility for themselves and work to impact the outcome more favorably. Be clear Leave no doubt as to the outcome when encouraging children to accept responsibility. Then having made ourselves clear, we need to follow through. This is why it’s important not to threaten beyond our willingness to enforce. If we say, for example, “If you do that again, I will take away your phone for a month,” but then only take it away for one day, we have created a problem. Trust them Having made ourselves clear, we must demonstrate trust by getting out of the way. We can’t expect a child to grow if we treat them as if they are incapable of doing what we ask. When they succeed, we congratulate. If they fail, we follow through on consequences because we believe they could have done better. ■

© 2015, Mark Merrill. All rights reserved. Originally published at


September 2015




The more, and the earlier, we train children to contribute, the more self-reliance will become a part of their DNA.




September 2015




Q. What should I do if a child discloses that he


or she is being (or has been) sexually abused?


Sexual abuse affects many families. It is estimated that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused before age 18. Therefore if we have children in our lives, it’s possible that they may disclose their own experience of sexual abuse to us. It is important for adults to understand that disclosure can be a scary and difficult process for children. Some children who have been sexually abused may take weeks, months, or even years to fully reveal what was done to them. Many children never tell anyone about the abuse. In general:

» » »

Girls are more likely to disclose than boys. School-aged children tend to tell a caregiver. Adolescents are more likely to tell friends.

Very young children tend to accidentally reveal abuse, because they don’t have as much understanding of what occurred or the words to explain it. Children are often reluctant to tell about being sexually abused. Some reasons for this reluctance may include:

» » » » »

Fear that the abuser may hurt them or their families. Fear that they will not be believed or will be blamed and get in trouble. Worry that their parents will be upset or angry. Fear that disclosing will disrupt the family, especially if the perpetrator is a family member or friend. Fear that if they tell they will be taken away and separated from their family.

Your reaction to the disclosure will have a big effect on how a child deals with the trauma of sexual abuse. Children whose parents or caregivers are supportive heal more quickly from the abuse. To be supportive, it is important to:

» » »

Stay calm. Hearing that a child has been abused can bring up powerful emotions, but if you become upset, angry, or out of control, this will only make it more difficult for the child to disclose. Believe the child, and let the child know that he or she is not to blame for what happened. Praise the child for being brave and for telling about the sexual abuse. Protect the child by getting him or her away from the abuser (if you are able) and immediately reporting the abuse to local authorities. If you are not sure who to contact, call the ChildHelp® National Child Abuse Hotline at 1.800.4.A.CHILD (1.800.422.4453; or, for immediate help, call 911.

Have a question? We cannot guarantee all questions will be published; however, we will do our best to respond to all questions submitted.


September 2015




The number of work days (8 hours a day) it would take for the average person to read the Terms and Conditions they agree to in a year.


Every second, Americans collectively eat 100 pounds of chocolate.


The amount of fuel a Boeing 747 airliner holds, in gallons.


The human heart creates enough pressure to squirt blood 30 feet in the air.


The average number of pitches that a major league baseball lasts.


The number of swimming pools you will fill with the amount of saliva you will produce during your lifetime.

RMDC, Inc. Head Start is enrolling for fall! Head Start is a quality preschool program serving income-qualified children ages 3-5 and their families at no cost.

Call 457-7308 for information about eligibility for children of all abilities and disabilities in Helena, East Helena, Townsend, Boulder and Whitehall.

Who wants to go to the dermatologist on a day off from school? You might want to if you have:

• Warts • Acne • Psoriasis • Eczema All of these skin problems can affect the way children see themselves. For your convenience, Associated Dermatology is offering openings on Monday Early Release days* and on No School days* Please call our office at 406-442-3534 to schedule your appointment! *limited availability

“Strong families, successful children.” Visit for more info.

Providing a stable, long-term, Christ-centered, traditional home for children who are in crisis and need of a safe and nurturing environment. PO Box 5193 • Helena, MT 59604 • 406-459-2885




September 2015


Teen Texting vs. Talking By mark merrill


September 2015




ave you ever tried to have a conversation with your child only to be quickly interrupted as they respond to a friend’s text? If so, you’re not alone. In the Merrill home, Susan and I have had more than a few conversations with our children where one of their friends butts in on our conversation with a text. It can be frustrating, can’t it? I’m sure there are many children who have experienced the same thing with their parents. To be fair, our kids have grown up with technology as a part of their everyday existence. It’s almost as if it’s part of their DNA. Yes, it is frustrating when they, or we, get too engrossed in phones and seem unattached and unaware of what’s around us, but we need to understand what’s behind it before we can do something about it. Before you assume the worst about your non-communicative child or grandchild, consider some of these reasons that may be behind their overuse of phones and other technology: Avoiding Awkward Situations and Conversations Children avoid awkwardness as much as they can. They often already feel awkward about themselves, their appearance, their place in the world. They may feel a sense of relief if they can avoid such feelings by being heads down on a chat or in a game. Generational Comfort in Digital Communication People find it so much easier to text than to talk, especially young men. They don’t see it automatically as an alternative to face-to-face communication, but simply one of many ways to communicate. ICYMI (In Case You Missed) ICYMI is an acronym for “In Case You Missed It.” It pervades social media and news media today. It’s used to trigger curiosity about news, marketing messages, and media announcements. But over time, the constant barrage of ICYMI messages creates a bit of anxiety in people, stirring a fear of being out of the loop on what everyone else is talking about and reacting to.

Set Values Discuss as a family what your values and priorities are and how they will that will impact your decisions, guidelines, and limitations. » Do this as a team. Let your family know that the guidelines you’re looking to create are to be developed and shared by everyone in the family, not just the kids. Talk with, not at, your kids and give them some say in the process. » Discuss how your family values working on relationships with family, friends, and people all around you face-to-face, not just through technology. » Develop a statement that expresses your family’s commitment to following your established guidelines in a certain way (e.g. respected, heard, and loved, etc.). Set Guidelines Decide the ways you’ll use and not use technology in your home. » Establish rules regarding the usage of social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other online activities. » Make specific times or areas of your house tech-free zones. Agree on whether or not to have phones in the bedroom, at the dinner table or other areas of the home. For example, phones are allowed at the dinner table during meals and Internet access is not allowed in the bedrooms. » Create a space for isolating smartphones and tablets, etc. Have a basket to hold electronics during tech-free times or when entering tech-free zones. For example, place one by the dining room table during mealtimes. No matter what procedures your family agrees on, remember to do so with patience and grace. ■

FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) In addition to viral “news” dominating the ICYMI trends in social media, Fear of Missing Out, or “FOMO”, creates a similar social anxiety in young people. Their tech is their connection to the outside world. If they fall behind in what’s going on with friends or in those social arenas, they begin to feel like they’re falling out of touch with people, causes and interests. Here are some important steps you can take to improve communication between you and your child or grandchild and get beyond texting to actual talking and relationship building. Set the Scene Sit down with your child and gently help them to understand why this issue is going to be addressed. » Review the reasons listed above, and ask your children which, if any, are true of them. Speak candidly, but kindly, about those struggles. » Be willing to recognize that you may struggle with some of the very same issues. » Discuss together what some of the long-term consequences might be for all of you: poor communication skills, shallow relationships, an inability to function in jobs or community, and fractured family relationships now and in the future.

© 2015, Mark Merrill. All rights reserved. Originally published at




September 2015


Students - Parents - Educators - Naturists - Gardeners - Explorers Tizer Nature Connection

(The educational non-profit organization based at Tizer Botanic Gardens & Arboretum) Offers engaging educational opportunities to explore local plants, trees, bugs, birds, butterflies, water and its critters and the changing seasons!

A bull's eye every time!

Let’s develop a program with you for your group! All ages and interests can learn about the wonders and workings of nature. See what really happens in a garden! We will develop a program just for your group – on bugs, birds, plants and lots more. Book today!

Richard Louv in his book Last Child in the Woods, Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder, demonstrates that:

•motivation and academic performance increase for all students who learn outdoors •students who are kinesthetic or who have attention deficit, anxiety or depression experience an increased ability to focus and self-regulate learning outside

Apple Fall Festival Sunday, October 4, 2015 1:00 pm – 6:00 pm Tizer Gardens

The Nature Connection Time Topic Upcoming Events 1:00 – 3:00 Apple cider pressing demonstration and

cider sampling – 5:00Non-Profit Apple sample aRotunda wide variety of SECGC1:00 Annual Fairtasting at the– Capital in Helena apples grown in Montana Sept. 28, 2015 10 am till 2 pm TNC’s SECGC #5086, Help us grow ! 2:00 – 3:00 Preserving apples 3:00 – 3:45 Scarecrow building demonstration APPLE-OOZA -l Apple Fall Festival 3:45 – 4:15 Apple pie sale Sunday, October 4, 2015 @ Tizer Gardens- 1 pm till 6 pm 4:00 (Montana – 6:00 Variety Wine & Cheese Taste Testing – sample some Apple Tasting, demonstration in cider pressing, local fruit wines from Montana wine makers preserving scarecrow techniques and more!) while enjoying a variety of Montana made Connect with Tizer Nature Connection for yourcheeses group’s next nature exploration.

Upcoming events conveniently located - only 20 minutes south of Helena on I-15

Tizer Gardens (406) 933 8179 TNC (406) 461 0428 22

September 2015




college prep It’s for Freshmen and Sophomores, Too By Carolynn Bright

eniors, seniors, seniors! It seems like when people talk about college preparation, they immediately focus their attention on high school seniors. That makes sense, but freshmen and sophomores can be proactive, too. “Obviously there will always be plenty of work to be done in the junior and senior years in high school,” said Greg Kolwicz, outreach manager for nonprofit Student Assistance Foundation (SAF). “It only makes sense to check as many items off the list as early as possible.” Here are some tips to get students started on planning: Identify a goal Ninth and tenth grade may be too soon for most students to select a career, but it’s a good idea to figure out whether college, trade school, or another path will be part of their future. Many decisions over the next few years will be made based on this goal. Check the map It is hard to reach a goal if one isn’t heading in the right direction. Have your child check with the school counselor regularly to make sure he/ she is taking the right classes and will have all of the credits needed to graduate from high school and meet the requirements for acceptance into the postsecondary program of choice. Explore opportunities Freshman and sophomore years are good times to refine goals by exploring all options available. Use websites like The College

Board’s to research interests, careers, postsecondary schools, scholarships, and more. This research will help to refine your student’s goals for the future. Help students get organized, manage their time, and learn to study These skills are going to serve them well throughout high school, college and into adulthood. Some suggestions include purchasing a daily planner to write down assignments, or spending time with a teacher or tutor who can help suggest effective study techniques. Have students challenge themselves High school is no time to coast. Encourage them to invest in themselves by taking rigorous core classes like Algebra II. Have them consider taking dual credit and advanced placement classes. Potentially, they could graduate from college sooner and save money on tuition to boot. Get them involved School isn’t all homework and tests! Encourage them to get involved in extra-curricular activities like yearbook, sports, band, or any other club. Not only do extra-curricular activities look good on college applications, they also allow teens to be a part of their high school community. Planning now for the future can make the transition from high school into adulthood smoother and less stressful. ■




September 2015


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September 2015






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Youth Connections 1025 N Rodney Helena, MT 59601

Prescription drug use is on the rise with our youth; 62% of teens say it’s easy to get and easy to hide from parents, teachers and law enforcement.

Rx Drug

Forum October 6, 2015 St. Peter’s Hospital Education Center

Why Should You Attend?

Because you are a parent, law enforcement officer, school counselor, teacher, prevention specialist, therapist, or community leader who is concerned about the safety of our youth.

Choose one or both sessions: Training • 1 - 4 pm: Andy Duran will speak on how to change the alarming trend of teen misuse/abuse by using effective prevention efforts. Dr. Marilyn Benoit will discuss the science of Rx Drug abuse and approaches to discussing Rx drug abuse with teens. ($20) Forum • 6 - 8 pm: Andy Duran, Dr. Marilyn Benoit and a panel of local experts will talk about how to keep our kids safe, why Rx are so harmful to kids, and what our community, parents and schools can do to help. Learn local drug trends, how to safeguard your home, and how to engage teens in conversation. (Free) Both sessions include: • Refreshments • Take-aways with valuable resources • Continuing education credits for educators, medical personnel and law enforcement

According to the 2014 Montana Prevention Needs Assessment: • Almost 8% of Helena teens report using prescription sedatives without being prescribed by a doctor. • Stimulant use by Helena 10th graders is up 37%. • 11.8% of Helena 12th graders have used narcotics without a prescription. Andy Duran is the Executive Director of Linking Efforts Against Drugs (LEAD) and the SpeakUP! Prevention Coalition. Andy has spoken in 20+ states about youth development, social media, prescription drug prevention strategies, and more. Marilyn Benoit, MD is Chief Medical Officer at Devereux, a national nonprofit behavioral healthcare organization. Dr. Benoit is board certified in Adult and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. She is a former professor of psychiatry and a past president of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

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Ycmag helenasept2015 issuu  

Ycmag helenasept2015 issuu