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The Resource Publication for Parents with Teenagers

Not the Zombie Generation

...a 20-Something’s Thoughts on Teens & Technology

So You Want to Be a...

10 Tips on Whether or Not a Career is the Right Fit for Your Teen

Teen Resources

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The 411

So You Want to Be a...


Sex Positive To-Do List

Teen Resources




Shipping Your Teen Abroad

Screen Time & Teens


Morals & Ethics Not the Zombie Generation

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Talking to Teens About Substance Use

Balancing the See-Saw


Island Parent Teens, published by Island Parent Group Enterprises Ltd., is an annual publication that honours and supports parents by providing information on resources and businesses for families, and a forum for the exchange of ideas and opinions. Views expressed are not necessarily those of the publisher. No material herein may be reproduced without the permission of the Editor. Island Parent Teens is distributed free in selected areas.

Island Parent Teens

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Island Parent Teens 2017

Welcome to Island Parent Teens


tay tuned in and emotionally connected. That’s what new research suggests parents do when it comes to helping their children navigate the teen years. Now, more than ever, what teens need is an ally. According to a Wall Street Journal article, “What Teens Need Most From Their Parents,” there are four important phases in the development of intellectual, social and emotional skills that most teens will experience at certain ages. From 11 to 12, ’tween’s reasoning and decisionmaking skills often aren’t fully developed, writes WSJ’s Sue Shellenbarger. This is a time when parents can coach them in being organized and considering other points of view. From 13 to 14, teens are susceptible to social stress. Parents can help decode peers’ social cues and model healthy coping behavior, such as exercise or meditation. At 15 to 16, “thrill-seeking will never be more irresistible,” writes Shellenbarger. This is a time when reward receptors in the brain are blossoming. But parents can still make a difference, she writes.

“Encourage healthy friendships; show warmth and support.” Older teens, those between 17 and 18, can put the brakes on emotions and risk-taking, she writes. Their problem-solving and strategy-planning skills are developing, although they might need help deciphering ambiguous people and situations. As authors Gabor Maté and Gordon Neufeld have been saying for years, the teen years are not a time to step back; they are a time to “reattach” with our children. In their book, Hold Onto Your Kids, they explain why parents need to matter more to their teens than peers—and why they must not underestimate their own influence. As Susan Bonifant writes in her Washington Post article “The Surprising Way Teens Talk About The Parents They Seem to Ignore,” “If we [parents] can’t possess the knowledge of experts, or the peace of the experienced, we should remember that we probably do still rise in the morning with the tools to make the biggest difference: All-weather love, unfailing presence and a good flashlight to guide them [our teens] out of the darkness.” This annual issue of Island Parent Teens is filled

with valuable information, insights, and resources, along with words of wisdom/frustration/elation and support. You’ll find articles dealing with topics that range from the importance of having sex-positive discussions with your teen, the value of exchange

Sue Fast Editor’s Note programs and work-study opportunities, and why it’s still important to reinforce morals and ethics in the teen years, to how much is too much screen time, helping your teen decide which career might be the right fit, and how to talk to teens about substance use. There’s “The 411”—tips, facts, stats, and inspiration—along with Teen Resources listings, and the article “Not the Zombie Generation—A 20-something’s Thoughts on Teens & Technology.” We hope that Island Parent Teens helps you in the job of guiding your teens into young adulthood. We welcome any comments or feedback at editor@ We also welcome your ideas, thoughts, suggestions and stories for our upcoming annual Island Grandparent issue, on stands at the end of June.

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411 The

Writes of Passage

…Teens’ Top 10 books, according to Young Adult Services Association: • Alive by Chandler Baker (Disney/Hyperion) • All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven (Random House) • The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough (Scholastic) • Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo (Macmillan) • Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon (Random House) • Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone (Disney) • The Novice: Summoner by Taran Matharu (Macmillan) • Illuminae by Arnie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (Random House) • When by Victoria Laurie (Disney) • Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls by Lynne Weingarten (Simon & Schuster) For more reading ideas, visit

“Do all the other things, the ambitious things—travel, get rich, get famous, innovate, lead, fall in love, make and lose fortunes, swim naked in wild jungle rivers – but as you do, to the extent that you can, err in the direction of kindness.”

Talking With Your Teen About Careers

When Is It the Right Time to Talk About Careers? There is no wrong time to talk to teens about their interests. Some of the best conversations start with, “How was your day?” What are some of the things young people say they want to talk about with their parents? • Current affairs: what’s going on in the world or in their community and how they feel about it. • Personal interests: what’s important to them. • Family matters and decisions: what’s going on for their family and how they can be included in decisions. • The big whys in the world: why do people go hungry; why do we go to war? • The future: what it is like to graduate, to learn a trade, to pursue postsecondary studies and to be an adult. • Their parents’ lives: what their parents were like at their age; stories that show their parents are “real.” For more information, visit

Help Your Teen Keep a Healthy Mind • Find a balance between nurturing independence and setting limits. • Talk about positive and negative peer pressure. Help him develop relationships with good role models, friends, and peer groups. • Stay involved in your child’s learning by helping with homework and providing life experiences. • Discuss the media’s role in your teen’s world via books, the internet, music, advertising and TV. • Identify and seek help for mental health problems like depression and eating disorders. For more tips on parenting teens, visit


From writer George Saunders’s convocation speech at Syracuse University for the class of 2013

“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”  – Jane Goodall Tips on How to Take a Teen-Approved iPhone Photo From the teen:

1. Make sure there is proper lighting! This is key! Have your teen check for lighting by taking a practice photo to make sure the picture looks good in the light. 2. You have to focus on the faces and hit the box that is on your faces to focus. God help you if you don’t do that! 3. Then, immediately after you do that, you click the camera button to take the picture. This has to be timed precisely right or the picture will come out dark or blurry and you will have to deal with a bad picture and the wrath of a teen. 4. Be patient because you will not be taking 1 or 2 photos, try 5-6 and they will all be different poses. Be prepared to help come up with different poses if necessary. 5. Their phone will always be better than your phone to take pictures. Period. End of story.

From the mom:

1. Ask if you don’t know what to do, but be prepared to have a huge sigh and “OMG mom, you are so annoying”. 2. Do exactly as your teen instructs. 3. Practice makes perfect, You will get it after the 6th time! 4. Have a sibling—your other son or daughter—take the picture! They would do a better job than you. 5. Compliment the picture always. Teens need that reassurance or you will be taking pictures of them forever! From, “a site for parents grappling with sanity.” Mom: Raquel Alderman; Teen: Olivia Alderman.

Island Parent Teens 2017


Money Youth How can you teach your kids to value money when they don’t work for a living? When do you start an allowance and how much should it be? How do you start them saving for the medium- and long-term? Where do you draw the line between “wants” and “needs?” What do you do to help them make wise buying decisions? How can you be generous with your kids without spoiling them? For answers to these and other questions—along with an extensive, annotated reading list—visit Download Money and Youth’s Guide to Financial Literacy for information on: Goals, Values and Decision Making, Getting and Earning Money, Spending Monday and Taking Control, Borrowing Money and Using Credit, Saving and Investing Money, and Protecting Assets and Planning for the Future. The Money and Youth website aims to provide youth with information that will help them to better understand the world of money and enable them to take more responsibility for their financial future. You’ll find a Parent’s Guide, Money Q & A’s, and Financial Calculators, along with information on Money Sources, Buying Things, Budgeting & Planning, and Money Basics. Visit

Teen Vogue’s Top 5 Most-Read Pieces of 2016

In an interview with The Atlantic, Phillip Picardi, Teen Vogue digital editorial director, said the magazine’s two strongest traffic days in 2016 were November 9, the day following the U.S. election, and an op-ed by Lauren Duca titled “Donald Trump Is Gaslighting America.”(The publication’s traffic is up 208 percent over the last 18 months, reports The Atlantic; it reached 9.4 million unique visits in November.) But Picardi notes that the publication’s coverage of politics shares space with its coverage of fashion, beauty, and entertainment. Its top five most-read pieces of 2016 speak to the myriad subjects Teen Vogue covers, as well as the diverse interests of teen girls: 1. Donald Trump Is Gaslighting America 2. How to Apply Glitter Nail Polish the Right Way 3. Netflix Arrivals October 2016: See the Full List 4. Mike Pence’s Record on Reproductive and LGBTQ Rights Is Seriously Concerning 5. Dark Marks and Acne Scars: Your Complete Guide The September issue of Teen Vogue featured a personal essay by Hillary Clinton, a conversation between Amandala Stenberg and Gloria Steinem, and an interview with Loretta Lynch, reports The Atlantic.

The Good — & Bad — News About Today’s Teens According to the 2015 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), a survey of high school students conducted every two years, there are some trends that parents and everyone who spends time with or works with teens should know about. The confidential survey allows teens to admit to things they might not want to admit to their parents and teachers, reports Dr. Claire McCarthy on the Harvard Health Blog ( Some good news: Cigarette smoking among teens has dropped to its lowest level since the survey began in 1991. Back then, 28% smoked; in 2015, that number was 11%. Physical fighting is also the lowest it’s been since 1991; it has dropped from 42% to 23%. Fewer teens are having sex. In 1991, 38% of high schoolers reported having had sex; in 2015 that number was 30% (down from 34% in 2013). Some worrisome trends: While they aren’t smoking as much, they are using e-cigarettes more: 24% reported using one in the past month. This could lead to nicotine addiction and other health problems. They aren’t getting into fights, but they don’t necessarily feel safer: 6% of students reported missing at least one day of school in the past month because of safety concerns. They are having less sex, but they aren’t using condoms: after going up in the late 90s and early 2000s, condom use has dropped from 63% in 2003 to 57% in 2015. Not surprisingly, technology is leading to some risky behavior: Computer use for more than 3 hours a day (for non-school stuff) has nearly doubled, from 22% in 2003 to 42% in 2015. That’s a lot of sedentary time. Among teens that drive, 42% report texting or e-mailing while driving in the past month. That is terrifying. If you have teens in your life, talk to them about these issues. Find out what they are doing—and talk to them about making choices that keep them safe and healthy, not just now but in the future too. These aren’t easy conversations to have, but they are incredibly important. They could literally save lives. For information and to read the full survey results, visit

Teen Depression & Anxiety: Why the Kids Are Not All Right…& How to Help

Talk about the real stuff: Sometimes conversations between parents and teens can be all about achievements, schedules and chores, reports Susanna Schrobsdorff in Time. Go beyond that, she writes. Find out what keeps them up at night, and ask, “What’s the best part of your day?” Become attuned to their emotional world so that you understand what their dreams are, what they struggle with and how their life is going. Give them space, but pay attention: Give teens space to grow and separate from you, but also watch for changes in behaviour. Are they giving up activities they used to enjoy? Are they staying up all night or eating differently? If you’re worried, say so. Show interest in their internal life without judgment. Resist getting angry: If you learn your teen has been hiding something or is having behaviour issues, don’t get angry. Instead, see what’s going on. If they’re acting out or doing things like self-harming, skipping school, respond with compassion first. Say, “It seems like you’re having trouble, I’m here to help. Tell me what’s happening.” Don’t put off getting help: If you’re worried, talk to a school counselor, therapist or doctor. It’s better to get help early. Treat the whole family: When a kid is in crisis, it’s often not enough to treat the child—you have to change the family dynamic. Be open to getting family counseling if needed. To learn more and to find help, visit


So You Wanna Be a... 10 tips to discuss with your teen on which careers might be the right fit

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ecisions, decisions. Teens facing a life in the workforce likely fall into one of three categories: those who know what they want to do, those who are undecided, or those who are considering the new-age ideal of creating their own work or even being a serial careerist rather than sticking to one profession. Regardless of which option best represents you, you can’t go wrong with putting a little time and effort in now to work towards your future. Here are 10 ideas that will not only provide you with more information on whether or not a career is the right fit for you, but they may also earn you some of the skills and networks to get you there.

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Tell friends and family—Do those in your circle know about your interests and career desires? Don’t overlook this network; they can’t help if they don’t know. Add the old adage of six degrees of separation and you just may find yourself with a great connection for your immediate future or your distant one. Volunteer—Donating time is a wonderful way to make connections, gain work experience and try out jobs your curious about. Want to be a teacher? Consider tutoring younger students at your school, library, or local literacy organization. Do your own research or seek help in finding your fit with Volunteer Victoria’s Youth Advising Services. With the right help, there is an opportunity for every interest. If committing to an ongoing volunteer position isn’t feasible, consider asking for a one-day opportunity to job shadow. Conduct an informational interview—Do you have a career path in mind but you’re not sure what options are available or what you need to get there? Find a related business or organization and ask to meet with a manager or employee. Do some research on their website beforehand to demonstrate you’re serious and be respectful of their time and schedule. Chances are, everyone in your chosen career followed a slightly different path to get there so don’t make all of your decisions based on the information you gather from only one interview. If a career in the trades is what you are interested in, consider connecting with a trade union for an informational meeting. Invest in a membership—Professional associations or organizations often have a highly discounted student membership option. Memberships come with a variety of perks from free webinars, e-newsletters, job boards, networking possibilities and discounted workshop and conference registration.


Island Parent Teens 2017

Watch and read—It’s never been easier to access information. Read anything and everything you can about your chosen trade, occupation or industry: fiction, non-fiction, reference, magazines, newspapers, digital, blogs, etc. You may learn everything from the history of the profession to new trends and directions the industry is taking and even the new skills and education requirements you may need to consider. Look online for applicable TED talks. You may also be able to find related videos of conference keynote presentations, short films, documentaries or how-to videos. Engage with social media—Like and follow businesses, organizations or individual professionals on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. Just like personal interest pages, you’ll be kept abreast of the latest and greatest in your chosen field. Essentially other people are doing a tremendous amount of research for you and your newsfeed will begin to showcase interesting articles, podcasts, blog links, personal stories, professional development opportunities and more. To ensure you don’t miss any posts, tinker with the platform’s settings so certain sites you follow or pages you’ve “liked” show up first. Build on transferable and complementary skills— Your seemingly unrelated part-time job is likely not, in the bigger picture, unrelated. Paper routes, retail, and customer service are some of the entry-level jobs taken on by teens. These roles train and hone skills that are not only transferable to other careers but provide experiences and desirable characteristics future employers look for.

Every one

Create a club—If your school doesn’t have a club suited to your interests, create one. Chances are, there are other people in your school that will be interested in the same topic. Check in with a teacher or school administrator and find out what you will need to do to get the ball rolling. Approach them ready with your own ideas, a list of questions, a poster or two to hang up and a willingness to receive ideas and feedback.

Musi c for

Join a club—Does your school, local library or community centre have a club that is related to your career interests—writing, science, computers, art, etc.? Check out what the club time commitments are, what type of activities they engage in and if there are associated costs. Don’t underestimate the amount of growth and learning that can happen in the company of your peers.


Attend workshops and conferences—Larger centres like Victoria often host provincial, national and international conferences for many different topics and professions. Some of these offer one-day attendance rates, student rates, discounted, or free conference registration for volunteering your time before or during the conference. Look at those volunteer shifts not just as a way to attend the conference but also as networking and skill-building opportunities.

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Tackling all of these may be a bit overwhelming; try out what is realistic for you and your schedule. But if you fall into the category of those who have a strong sense of the career you want, try as many suggestions as you can. Tina Kelly is the Director of Learning at the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea. she recently attended an incredible three-day conference with all of the perks of paid registration in lieu of two short volunteer shifts.


Sex Positive H

ow many of you reading this article are still recovering from your own cringe-able experiences with sexual health education from your youth? My less-than-ideal experience wasn’t a product of our family discussions but rather from my only (as in singular!) sex education session in high school. I was in Grade 9 and the facilitator was, based on her rigid body, red face, and lack of eye contact, clearly uncomfortable discussing sexuality. Twenty plus years later, I am still trying to unsee those graphic images of what the nurse called “Venereal Disease/VD” or as we call them in 2017, Sexually Transmitted Infections. Among the not-so-silent screams of my peers, there was a very clear message that sex was scary and something to be feared. Cue the horror music and the obvious message that our typical teenage sexual curiosity was somehow wrong or shameful. This is now what I refer to as “fear factor education” and that we, in the sexuality education field, now formally refer to as a sex-negative approach. My 14 years of experience as a sexual health educator and 40+ years as a life learner have taught me that this approach limits everyone’s capacity to understand human sexuality. It denies the right of youth to develop their sexuality in a respectful, affirming and honest way. Countless research reports from around the globe back this up and prove that open and ongoing dialogue about sexuality becomes a protective factor in sexual decision making. If we as parents and adult allies give our youth honest, accurate information and we support them in their decision making with resources and a sex-positive approach, they are more likely to engage in consensual, respectful, and satisfying experiences with sexuality.


Island Parent Teens 2017

Jennifer Gibson

To-Do List

For parents and adult allies What exactly is a sex-positive approach? A sex-positive approach means that we intentionally root and develop our understandings of sexuality with curiosity and positivity and the belief that sexuality has the potential to be affirming and empowering at all stages of our lives including adolescence. What then does being a sex-positive parent mean? Does it mean buying your teenager an endless supply of condoms and allowing their partner to sleepover? In my experience as a sexual health educator, the foundation of sex-positive parenting is to develop an approach that specifically works for your family values, beliefs and practices through a series of open, honest conversations throughout their adolescence. Being a sex-positive family means we share the core value that sexuality is a natural, healthy and positive part of the human experience and that each person has the right to make choices about what that experience will look and feel like for themselves. It means acknowledging that the majority of our children will grow into adults who become sexually active with a partner and we commit to support them through this process with accurate information, resources, and unconditional affirmation and spectrum of their sexual identity. Sounds simple, right? If this feels like really BIG life stuff and overwhelming to you, steady on because my experiences with youth and their adult allies tells me that we are doing a better job of this than we often give ourselves credit for.

In case you feel like you need some direction, here are 7 ingredients for your sex-positive to-do list as a parent/ family/adult ally:


Reflect on your own experiences with sexuality conversations as a youth. Thinking back helps remind us of what worked for us, what was missing and what we as adults would like to do differently for our youth.



Ask yourself “What are the most important and valuable messages about sexuality that you want your youth to receive?” Then ask your youth “What are the most important and valuable messages you think youth should hear from adults?” These questions are at the root of sex positive families; they help us to remain aware of everyone’s values, beliefs, and needs and practice empathy.


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Remind your adult self and your youth that sexuality (however that spectrum is personally defined) has the potential to be an affirming and empowering experience throughout a person’s life when boundaries, respect, and expectations are clear. This reminder helps to frame all conversations in a positive light, prevent our conversations from becoming a fear factor list, and be open about our personal values and rules as a family.


Affirm consent as a non-negotiable basis of all healthy, positive relationships. Help your youth talk openly and comfortably about how they feel and how to ask for what they want and need in all life situations. Strategize ways to accept situations when we don’t receive what we want, need or ask for. Being aware of what a person wants is as important as knowing what they don’t want in a sexual situation. We must be prepared to support our youth around shared responsibility in knowing how to say and hear yes or no from a partner, current or future.


Include pleasure, physical and emotional, in your conversations at every opportunity. Youth often ask me why adults are so negative about sex and embarrassed about the fact that sex can feel good? I remember one youth saying to me “If sex is really as scary as adults make it out to be, why do many people want to do it?” Great question! Talk about how pleasure is more than the physical side of sex; connect pleasure to feeling confident in decisions, valued in relationships and knowing what feels pleasurable for their own bodies with and/or without a partner. Also let youth know that if they don’t feel like sex could be emotionally and physically pleasurable, that’s cool too.

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Island Parent Teens 2017


Utilize the expertise of youth to help you stay current on today’s sexuality topics: spectrums of gender identity; sexual and romantic orientation and consent are areas that many youth are extremely well educated and passionate about. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of asking what your youth think. This helps you to share the knowledge and power in sexuality education and builds trust and intimacy in your relationship.

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Supply resources for youth based on their needs. Are they exploring or questioning their gender identity or sexual orientation? Do they have “a friend” who is in need of safer sex supplies and/or birth control methods? Connect them with your greater community: youth drop-in groups, local sexual health or youth clinics. Consider getting safer sex methods (condoms, dams, gloves, lube) and keeping them somewhere they could access them if that fits with your family. Would it be helpful to have a book about sexuality? A current favorite book with the youth I work with is s.e.x. by Heather Corinna. This is a great way to provide youth with accurate and relevant information to grow their knowledge in a safe and respectful way. So when you think about having sexuality conversations with your youth, try to think of it as a list of do’s not a list of don’ts. Communicating about sexuality with youth can feel overwhelming and may cause us to either avoid the topic or minimize the conversations into a very specific and scary don’t list. These big life conversations aren’t always as easy or comfortable as they could be, but the more you actually talk about it, the more comfortable it becomes and the more likely you’ll become more sex positive and your youth will make positive choices. As a bonus, it may help to make those memories from your own youth a little less cringe-able.

Jennifer Gibson, MA, is also known as “The Sex Lady” to the thousands of amazing youth and adults she is lucky enough to educate and learn with through her job as the Coordinator of Community Education at Island Sexual Health. She’s passionate about making sexuality education as positive, fun and non-cringeable as possible.


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Teen Resources Dance/Drama

Saanich, and the West Shore. More information and registration available online at Bridge Program for high school graduates designated with the BC Private Training The Comox Valley Youth Music Centre Institutions Branch. 716 Johnson Street. (CYMC) turns 50 this year. It all started as a summer camp for the Vancouver Junior Kate Rubin Theatre & Drama Studio of- 250-590-6752. Symphony and rapidly expanded from fers young people with a dramatic interest there. John Littlejohn is leading the String or passion special programs. Courses and Orchestra Academy with Dr. Corey Hamm camps run fall, winter, spring and summer. Distance Education from UBC accepting six students for Piano The studio is highly regarded in Victoria for Intensive. Dan Craven directs the week long running quality theatre programming for Island Jazz workshop with stellar faculty youth. We offer something for all levels. from the Island and Vancouver. This year’s At the end of each term, students will have musical theatre production is “Catch Me If an opportunity to perform their work for an audience! Groups are small for qual- Navigate offers cross enrollment for stuYou Can.” ity instruction. For more information, call dents in grades 8-12, allowing them to take Kaleidoscope’s Performing Arts Studio 250-386-7536 or email kathleen@skam. individual courses online while attending provides exciting and comprehensive explo- ca. their current school. This is a great option ration of fundamental acting techniques in for students wanting to earn extra grad a fun and safe learning environment. With Victoria Academy of Ballet was estab- credits, resolve a timetable conflict, or take over 40 years of experience, discover why lished in 1990 and is under the ownership one of 23 international languages using the Kaleidoscope has been Victoria’s choice in and direction of Bleiddyn Del Villar Bellis, Rosetta Stone platform. Navigate accepts professional theatre education for young FCSC-CICB. VAB offers specialized dance new students throughout the year giving people since 1974. Offering classes in act- instruction to children ages 3 to Profes- them the chance to work at their own pace, ing, musical theatre, film, and television and sional level. VAB is a registered Vocational choose their own schedule, and graduate more. Locations include Victoria, Sidney, Institution with its two-year, full time

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Celebrating 40 Years of Remedial Learning!

Island Parent Teens 2017

upon completion. or children, teens and adults (age of clients: five to fifty). The reading process can be a 250-337-5300. frustrating struggle for my clients; most times it is affecting their daily lives. As Education Services & Programs a reading specialist, I use strategies that make the reading process fun and easy. Achievement testing is done to determine the areas of the reading process which are of the greatest concern. My programs have changed the lives of many. Pediatrician recommendation. For your free consultation, The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is a contact Brenda Osadchy, B.Ed. M.SpEd. 778leadership program available to youth ages 440-0997 or totallearningservices2014@ 14-24. Not all learning happens in the class- room, and we equip young people for life by providing meaningful opportunities for all youth of all abilities to develop passion, Family Fun self-confidence, and challenge themselves to become the best possible versions of Winner of BC’s Remarkable Experience themselves. Achievement of an Award even Award, the Horne Lake Caves is a natucounts as high school credit. For more infor- ral jewel and one of the coolest family mation or 250-385-4232. adventures on Vancouver Island. This park has wild adventure both above and below First Impressions Matter. Preparing to ground. Start with a video in Canada’s only apply for a job can be confusing, frustrating Cave Theater and then hike and explore the and intimidating. Each person is unique. crystal-filled caverns. Tours depart every Each person learns differently. That’s where day, year-round. Prefer your adventures we come in. We help teens to understand, an- above-ground? Try a rock rappelling session alyze and tailor themselves to the emerging job market. Visit our website and let’s start the conversation: firstimpressionsmatter .ca. Or email us at: firstimpressionsmatter@ READ Society. Learning, skills and confidence—that’s what parents and guardians tell us the READ Society means to them and their children. Starting with a nationally recognized Level B Academic Assessment, READ teachers design individual learning plans that build on strengths and close gaps. In small classes, using a wide range of learning tools, students are inspired to explore new ideas and ‘how’ to learn. As READ enters in to its 40th year of experience delivering remedial learning programs, chances are that you know someone who has benefited from attending READ. Find out more about after-school learning programs at and see the latest activity ideas on our Facebook page: Victoria-READ-Society. 250-388-7225. Total Learning Services (TLS) is a unique tutoring service in Victoria. TLS is dedicated to improving quality of life through effective clinical reading programs for

designed for beginners. Lakefront camping and canoe rentals are also available within walking distance.

Parent Support The Cridge Centre for the Family is a place where people can find hope and direction when they are the most vulnerable and in need…a community of caring individuals who believe there’s more to social services than providing programs…because love is the bottom line. 250-384-8058. Life Dances Counselling. The struggle in parent and teen relationships often creates a ripple effect of wide reaching consequences. Strengthening that relationship is a critical step in navigating teenagehood successfully. Life Dances Counselling is a Private Practice specializing in critical awareness, tools and practical resources for struggling parents and their teens. Check out our website for a free parenting webinar or to learn about our online parent program. For more information, please email:

Little Steps Therapy Services offers the following services for all children: Little Learners therapeutic program for school readiness. Connections therapeutic groups for school-aged children. Connections therapeutic groups for children who are homeschooled. Clinical services including behaviour consulting, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, speech-language therapy, art therapy and feeding therapy. Contact our offices at 250-386-1171 or by emailing 15

Party Planning Victoria Bug Zoo Welcome to the amazing world of live tropical bugs. Discover over 40 species of many-legged critters. Knowledgeable tour guides provide a fun, safe, hands-on experience. Do not miss this unique adventure when in downtown Victoria. Party room available for rentals. 250-384-2847.


Let your child experience everything you hope for them. Camp Pringle is more than just an amazing week of fun; our trained and screened leaders provide safe place for children to develop socially, mentally, physically and spiritually. Spring Break Camp for ages 7-15 at only $460 + GST, Sunday to Friday with meals provided by our dietary Chef Lorri; you will love Camp Pringle. Visit for easy online registration or call 250-743-2189. Camp Qwanoes is a youth-oriented highadventure Christian camp celebrating a 50year tradition of excellence in camp ministry on Vancouver Island. We are fully accredited and maintain standards of the highest quality. Choose from week-long co-ed camps for Juniors, Junior Highs, and Senior Highs, plus Family Retreats. Seeking to encourage, challenge, and develop the entire person, our well-rounded programs include over 75 activities, stimulating speakers, music & singing, Bible study, firesides, and of course pure fun! Qwanoes is an ideal place for fun-filled, life-changing adventure. For a

free brochure or more info: 1-888-997-9266 and include bike safety gear and lesson. Kids and teens are known to love this sport or for its adrenaline pumping excitement. Groups, birthday packages, summer and spring camps. Open year round. TuesdayFriday, 11am-8pm or dusk, Saturday and Sunday 10am-5pm. 2207 Millstream Road. Outward Bound Canada. Get Out. Look 250-590-8088. In. Since 1969, Outward Bound Canada has made it our mission to cultivate resilience, West Shore Parks leadership, connections and compassion, & Recreation ofthrough inspiring and challenging journeys fers wide range of of self-discovery in the natural world. Out- programs for all ward Bound Canada has challenged over ages. If you are look150,000 Canadians to step out of their ing for quality youth programs check out comfort zone with our unique outdoor the teen section of our Activity Guide. Get adventures. We pride ourselves on offering your babysitting credentials, update your transformational journeys that encourage resume or take an Aspiring Artist workshop. participants to push beyond their limits and There is always something fun happening discover their true potential. 1-888-OUT- in the West Shore. For information on teen programs and Friday Night Drop-In email WARD (688 9273). acooper@westshorerecreation or call 250Scouts Canada: Adventure and Leadership 478-8383. Find us on Facebook; facebook. Development. Scouts Canada promotes com/westshorerecreation. West Shore youth leadership and empowerment Parks & Recreation 1767 Island Highway, through its unique programming that Victoria BC. teaches life and outdoor skills, friendship and the value of community involvement. The coed program offers opportunities rang- Retail ing from international travel, vocational programs like medical services, and fun Dr. Joslin, Dr. Morin & Associates. For Scouting activities like hiking, camping, over 26 years we have provided comprehenscuba diving, climbing, and sailing! To try sive eye health and optical services to the the program for free, visit and click growing West Shore and Sooke communion “Join” to connect with a group near you. ties. Our team of Doctors of Optometry and Certified Staff work together to provide Westshore Motorcross Park offers dirt patients with an exceptional experience in a bike rentals and lessons for all ages. Learn caring environment. We believe that prevento ride programs range from $35 to $50 tative eye care is an important part of total health care, starting with an infant’s first eye examination at the age of six months. #105-814 Goldstream Ave. 250-474-4567. Also in Sooke #5-6726 West Coast Rd. 250642-4311

Schools Aspengrove School in Nanaimo teaches the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum, a gold-standard in education worldwide, in junior K through graduation in grade 12. The IB is outstanding preparation for university, teaching independence, organization, and perhaps most important, the ability to live and work in community. Students graduating with the 16

Island Parent Teens 2017

IB Diploma can see their work recognized by universities such as UVic and UBC for up to a full-year of credits. Learn more about our entrance Scholarships on February 20th. St. Margaret’s School is an all-girl, pendent, day and boarding school located in Victoria. Established in 1908, SMS provides Get credit for what you’re empowering education for girls from Junior interested in! At Oak Kindergarten to Grade 12. Our rigorous and Orca School and academic program emphasizes STEM and DL, we work to connect leadership at all levels, and is supported by your interests to the BC rich experiential learning and co-curricular curriculum—for credit. Through inquiry-based learning, students opportunities. New 5-day boarding option and teachers work to co-create a program for nearby families. Ask us about our enunique to each individual. Bring your pas- trance scholarships for local teens (Deadline: sions and together we will design a school April 7, 2017). 250-479-7171. admissions@ experience where you can explore what you love and work on skills tailored to your plans. Options on-site in Victoria and at Start your journey at The High School at home. Special education students welcome. Vancouver Island University. We are a BC certified independent high school uniquely 250-383-6609. situated on a university campus. As the only Pacific Christian School invites you to high school in BC that is directly connected come and explore “Educational Excellence to to a university, we expose our students to the Glory of God” from pre-school through a multitude of post-secondary programs. grade 12. We strive to nurture students in Experience small class sizes, individual atChrist-like living, critical thinking and joyful tention and intercultural understanding. service to be faithful citizens in God’s world. Qualified graduates are directly admitted Call us for a tour today. to VIU. Accepting applications for grades 250-479-4532.

10 to 12. 250-740-6317. highschool@viu. ca. Steve Wallace of Wallace Driving School has been teaching people all over British Columbia to drive for over a quarter-century. Wallace Driving School is ICBC certified and offers the GLP (“Graduated Licensing Program”) course, which is an in-depth driver training program that covers all aspects of driving. Successful completion of the GLP course entitles a learner to two high school credits, and offers a six-month reduction off their “N.” Patience is our virtue. 250-3837483. Westmont Montessori’s Middle School helps students learn how to learn and trust their own ability to discover and think logically. Fostering curiosity and self-motivation, we challenge students to become independent thinkers, to think deeply, and to think about others. Westmont’s Montessori Middle School program connects students with themselves and the world around them. Visit, or better yet, come past our beautiful campus on Thursdays to see our program in action. 250-474-2626.•

Register NOW for Amazing Adventures Find a group near you at or 1-888-726-8876


Shipping Your Teen Abroad

Does your child have difficulty reading? • can’t read words just read earlier • letter reversal • symptoms of dyslexia • “sounds out” words but can not blend them correctly • confuses similar sounding words • avoids reading/poor speller I offer an effective program that works! Call for more information or to arrange your individualized one-on-one tutoring solution.

Brenda Osadchy 778-440-0997

Send Us Your Stories! Island Parent is looking for articles for upcoming issues. Some of our best content comes from people just like you—Vancouver Island parents who are passionate about their families and are dealing with the day to day issues of raising children in our community. Share your experiences, your thoughts on a particular issue, your ideas on places to see or projects to do— anything related to parenting. Check our Writer’s Guidelines at for specific information on submissions. We’d love to hear from you. Please email submissions to



t’s one of the most vivid memories I have of my summer abroad: I am in a stairwell taking refuge from the blistering 30°C heat. One cheek is resting on the cool cement wall, the other still clammy with a film of sweat. It is not my sweat. It was deposited there by the adolescent boys gathered around me when they greeted me with the customary Spanish cheek kiss. They are grilling me on my pop music knowledge, and I am failing miserably. It wasn’t the first time this scenario played out. In truth, I spent much of those two months in Aguadulce feeling like I didn’t measure up. The exchange student before me, a portly Latino kid, spoke far superior Spanish (shocker!) and was reportedly “muy gracioso” (funny). But there are also delightful moments from that summer lodged in the recesses of my brain: tucking into a steaming plate of paella while the Tour de France b l a re d f ro m t h e family television. I feigned interest in the sport as I gazed across the table at my older host brothers, ever so slightly smitten. These were boys who had a full social calendar, thanks to a much later curfew than that shared by me and my host sister. Their teenage appeal was further enhanced by the mopeds and jet skis at their disposal. I left Spain that summer with less linguistic confidence than I would have liked, but with a far superior mix tape collection. I eventually mastered Spanish, and I had the great fortune to revisit that feeling of linguistic inadequacy more than 20 years later when my family and I relocated to France for the year. It was there that I met Ella, our 16-year-old neighbour who followed us back to Victoria to spend a semester at Esquimalt High School. For Ella Van Neilen, and for our children,

who enrolled in the French school system, the greatest cultural shock came at lunchtime. Those who have seen Michael Moore’s “Where to Invade Next?” are familiar with the leisurely lunch that is served to French students. “Oh the lunch!” cries Ella, with typical French flair. “Here everybody brings their own lunch. In France, we all eat at the cafeteria and we have a real meal with appetizer, dinner, and dessert, which is awesome, even though I’ve always been criticizing it. Now that I’ve been to Canada, I recognize the luck we have!” In France, my son had two hours to eat his lunch. Here, he is given 15 minutes to scarf down his food before he is shooed out of his classroom (which doubles as a dining area)

to play. Eating at a desk is taboo in France. And that’s not all that is frowned upon in French schools. “I was really surprised that cellphones are allowed in class, and that students could listen to music and wear a cap or hat, even a hoodie,” says Ella. “And that you could come to class really late and the teacher would still be happy to welcome you. I mean, in France, if you are not in class before the teacher closes the door, you have to go to the school office with a good excuse! And if you’re more than 5 minutes late, you better not go to class at all.” Ella says she looks forward to working with pen and paper again when she returns to France. She finds the reliance on devices Island Parent Teens 2017

in the Canadian classroom opens the door to distraction, explaining that it is difficult to stay off Facebook when communicating with her teachers via Google Classroom. Sammy Ross, a Canadian student at Esquimalt High, spent three months in France in 2015. His initial shock came when he observed the students standing at their desks until the teacher signaled them to sit

Kate Wiley down. He found the lectures much more formal, too. “The teachers did a lot of talking. You were writing as quickly as you could and then regurgitating it for a test a week later.” He prefers the Canadian approach, where teachers are more accessible and cater to different styles of learning, breaking the topic down, if something is not well understood. “I like having a connection with my teachers,” he says, adding that the respect between students and teachers feels more mutual here. Ella says her Socials teacher at Esquimalt was the best she ever had, and the support of the teachers and counsellors was phenomenal. Aside from the rain, she doesn’t have a single complaint about her experience in Canada. Despite missing her family and leaving a boyfriend behind, she thinks high school is the perfect time to live abroad. “It’s a great opportunity to see the differences between your country and another educational system. It widens your horizons and prepares you for adult life. I’ve learned a lot about this country, about the school, about the culture, and especially about me! It definitely changed my life.” Life changing or not, it will most certainly give your teen a greater appreciation for the wonder that awaits her at home on Vancouver Island, where she has the luxury of tuning into her teacher…or the playlist her foreign friends compiled to remind her of all the epic adventures abroad. Cue the melodrama. Kate Wiley lives in Langford, works downtown, and shuttles her kids everywhere in between. She longs for the simpler life she left behind in France. But is very pleased not to be living in her native USA at this juncture in American politics.

Exchange Programs & Work-Study Organizations OSEF (Organisme de Séjours Educatifs Francophones), a Belgian association, promotes linguistic and cultural exchanges between France, Belgium and Spain and all Canadian provinces. Choose from one month summer home stay programs, or from 9- and 11-week school programs. YMCA Summer Work Student Exchange Program is a national exchange program that brings together 16 and 17 years olds from various communities across Canada. Participants improve their second official language skills, and gain employment experience through a work placement while on their exchange. AFS Interculture Canada offers high school study abroad programs, language learning exchanges, volunteer abroad positions, and gap year opportunities in 99 countries. There’s environmental volunteering in Spain, community service in Bolivia, and Danish sports folk college, to name a few. Financial aid is available. Children’s International Summer Villages offers educational programs for children and young people from 11 years old and up. There are volunteer opportunities, interchanges (some for the entire family), the International People’s Project and Mosaic, among other “learning by doing” options. ASSE International Student Exchange Programs maintains 38 offices in 31 countries and accommodates more than 30,000 high school age students (15-18 1/2 years of age upon departure) in its programs in countries around the world. Lattitude Global Volunteering (formerly known as Gap Activity Projects) is an international youth development charity that aims to to educate and develop young people worldwide through global volunteering. You must be 17 by the time you start your placement. Canada World Youth Students provides a variety of programs, in over 20 countries around the world for youth between the ages of 15-35 looking to gain leadership experience through participation in community-driven development projects. SWAP Working Holidays provides a wide range of programs for young Canadians who want traditional working holiday programs, teach abroad positions, or volunteer abroad adventures. SWAP helps participants find work, get settled, and take care of the paperwork and other details. Youth Exchanges Canada supports a number of Canadian organizations in offering reciprocal exchanges for individual youth or groups of youth, generally between the ages of 12-17. Youth from different parts of the country are paired according to their ages and interests, then each participant takes a turn hosting their “twin” in their home. YES Canada offers high school exchanges and immersion programs—Classic, Group, Summer and Boarding—ranging in length from one week to 10 months, along with post-secondary experiences lasting up to one year where you can opt to stay with a host family or in a dorm stay. Projects Abroad sends 10,000 people abroad each year on a variety of service projects and internships overseas. High School Specials are specifically designed for volunteers between the ages of 16-19, and provide them with the opportunity to explore the world and do something different in a safe and supervised environment.


Healthy Families, Happy Families

Child, Youth & Family Public Health South Island Health Units Esquimalt Gulf Islands

250-519-5311 250-539-3099

(toll-free number for office in Saanichton)

Peninsula 250-544-2400 Saanich 250-519-5100 Saltspring Island 250-538-4880 Sooke 250-642-5464 Victoria 250-388-2200 West Shore 250-519-3490

Central Island Health Units Duncan Ladysmith Lake Cowichan Nanaimo Nanaimo Princess Royal Parksville/ Qualicum

250-709-3050 250-755-3342 250-749-6878 250-755-3342 250-755-3342

Port Alberni Tofino

250-731-1315 250-725-4020


North Island Health Units Campbell River 250-850-2110 Courtenay 250-331-8520 Kyuquot Health Ctr 250-332-5289 ‘Namgis Health Ctr 250-974-5522 Port Hardy 250-902-6071 20

Screen Time & Teens


hen I passed the local bus stop this morning, all I saw was the tops of heads, faces down, everyone looking at their phones. Concern about how much time people, especially youth, spend on screens is common these days. A recent report of Canadian children found that the average 5- to 17-year-old spends 8.5 hours being sedentary each day, and a whopping 91 per cent do not get the recommended 60 minutes a day of moderate to vigorous-intensity physical activity. Parents and health professionals are starting to pay attention. They are voicing concerns, and providing suggestions on how to manage screen time.

Why does it matter how much time we spend on our phones, computers or TV?

food and beverage choices. It’s no surprise that screen time is linked with unhealthy food choices, obesity and diabetes.

Keely Kastrukoff & Janet Krenz Ch ild Youth & Family Public He alth

Another concern is that too much screen time decreases time for physical activity. Many studies have proven that physical activity is linked with better physical and mental health. Too much screen time limits time for kids and youth to become physically literate. Physical literacy is when kids and youth have the skills and confidence to be active in lots of different physical activities such as jumping, running, balancing, and throwing/catching balls. If children and youth don’t learn these skills, they are less likely to have confidence in their physical abilities, are more likely to be sedentary and are at higher risk for health issues. Lastly, screen time is cutting into valuable sleep time. About 43 per cent of youth ages 16 to 17 years old are not getting enough sleep on weekdays, and 36 per cent of 14- to 17-year-olds find it difficult to stay awake during the day. Not getting enough sleep is linked with irritability, anxiety, depression, and difficulty with learning and problem solving.

Screen time affects you and your teen in many ways, including their physical health, their mental health, and their relationships with others. Brains develop according to how they are used. With many hours of daily screen stimulation, the brain gets good at processing large amounts of visual information and switching between activities. However, the brain can also come to expect excitement and instant rewards, so focusing on a single task or something that requires more thought may become harder. Also, screen time affects nutrition and food choices. Advertising aimed at children and youth often promotes less healthy choices and markets these foods as fun and “cool.” What are the recommendations? The more screen time they watch, the more TheCanadianSocietyforExercisePhysiolothe advertisements they see influences their gy (CSEP) recommends for 5- to 17-year-olds:

Resources • • • • •

Media Smarts Live 5-2-1-0 4 Hour Movement Guidelines Participaction Kelty Mental Health (Nutrition, Sleep, Stress tips) healthy-living • Canadian Paediatric Society, Tips for limiting screen time at home: Island Parent Teens 2017

• SWEAT—60+ minutes a day of moderate to vigorous physical activity with a variety of aerobic activities. Vigorous activities and muscle and bone strengthening activities at least 3 days per week; • STEP—Several hours of a variety of light physical activities • SLEEP—Uninterrupted 9 to 11 hours of sleep per night for ages 5 to13 years, and 8 to 10 hours per night for those age 14 to 17 years, with consistent bed and wake-up times • SIT—No more than 2 hours per day of recreational screen time. Limit sitting for extended periods Following these guidelines is linked with better fitness (heart, breathing, muscle), school achievement, emotional regulation, pro-social behaviours and overall quality of life.

How can we support our teens (and ourselves) to use less screen time?

Tips for Parents: • Model healthy screen use. • Sit with kids when they’re watching TV or other screens, and talk with them about what they’re watching. • Talk about commercials and advertising, what’s real, what is the ad trying to convince them to do or feel? • Establish consistent family rules limiting screen time for everyone. • Keep all screens (phones, tablets, computers, TVs) out of the bedrooms. • Get on the social media sites your kids are on. • Create screen-free times: have family meal times play active games or go for walks together play a sport active transportation to school or work: walking, cycling, skateboarding. There you have it. By limiting our teens’ recreational screen time to two hours a day they will be able to use that extra time to be more physically active, to sleep well and to make healthy eating choices. The result is that teens will feel happier and calmer, be healthier, look better, be stronger, smarter, do better in school and have an overall improved life. And remember, they’re looking to us adults as role models. Good luck!

Keely Kastrukoff, RN, Public Health Nurse, and Janet Krenz, RD, Public Health Dietitian, are with Child, Youth & Family Public Health.

First Impressions Matter Coaching Services for Teens

Joanne Kimm

Owner and Coach 250-213-6103

KATE RUBIN NOW at THEATRE SKAM Studios (250) 386-7526

Unmasking creativity

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LifetimeFriendships… Lifetime Supports… Lifetime Networks. At Lifetime Networks we understand the importance of relationships. We build Networks of Friends, provide Continuing Education, Community Engagement Support, and Employment Preparation to enhance the lives of people with disabilities. Within inclusive, safe, welcoming settings we also offer groups for social opportunities, cooking, music and art. Lifetime Networks is an organization we are proud of and that makes a difference in our community. Wendy-Sue Andrew, Executive Director

#102–4090 Shelbourne St, Victoria BC 21

Morals & Ethics It’s an uphill climb in a cynical world


our child is a child no more. You’ve noticed the difference, and it transcends the obvious physical development that accompanies their transition from child to teenager. There’s a change in attitude as well, a change both exciting and frustrating as parents try to understand why their previously pliant child now seems to have a mind of their own. It’s a natural part of growing up, but for parents, it’s perhaps the most important challenge they will face. And it happens just as they thought they had it all figured out. When children are young—those ages between about two and 10—parents are called upon to teach their little darlings what is good and bad, but those good/bad distinctions are pretty basic. Not hitting a friend or sibling, not throwing toys or destroying property; they are pretty much no-brainers

for parents and there isn’t ever much of a challenge in explaining the rules to the child. It gets a little more complex when parents have to move into the realm of behaviours like telling lies or being mean to others as those values are the beginnings of morality. Even so, telling a seven-year-old not to lie because it’s a bad thing to do seems simple enough, and for the most part, children will not argue the point with their parents, teachers or caregivers. But then come the teen years when the active questioning of adult values and the moral standard you’ve tried to impress upon them becomes a natural part of their development. Teens become more empowered and independent. They find themselves able to try out more actions and choices—both positive and negative—and measure the responses those choices by their own measuring sticks.

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It’s all a part of the ability to think in terms of abstract principles, to consider not just whether they’ve been taught that something is right or wrong, but to act on principle on previously unencountered situations by extrapolating their moral teaching to those new situations. And the whole question becomes even

Tim Collins more complex when a parent comes to realize that teens will often fail to follow the moral values they have been taught. It’s all very confusing. A 2004 study on teen behaviour at the Josephson Institute of Ethics surveyed 25,000 high school students and found that, while 98 per cent of students said it was important to be a person of good character, 62 per cent said they had cheated on a test, 82 per cent said they had lied to a parent about something significant, and 27 per cent had stolen something from a store—all in the previous year. So what is going on, and what can parents do to improve the odds of their children developing positive moral and ethical standards? Perhaps the first thing to recognize is the fact that your teens are no longer limited to what they are told at home, particularly when it comes to ethical behaviour For example, common wisdom has always held that modelling behaviour at home is the most important factor for shaping your child’s view of the world. If you are honest, decent, accepting, friendly, and generally a good person, it’s far more likely that your child will follow those standards as they enter adulthood. That is still true—to an extent. Recognize, however, that your teen is inundated with information, opinions and examples that will often fly in the face of the very standards you are trying your best to impart. The recent presidential election is a case in point. For months most teens were aware of messages promoting fear, hatred, racism and sexism that were being spewed on a daily basis by a variety of candidates to the south. They were also very aware that promoting these negative behaviours could still be a precursor to success. Teens have been told Island Parent Teens 2017

by the highest office in the United States that lies aren’t really a big deal, they are simply “alternative facts.” And the negative influences aren’t limited to the United States. Racist and fear motivated politics are rising in Canada and around the world as a sort of nativism takes hold in the political environment. Nor are those influences limited to just political news stories. Teens today carry mobile devices that link them to a plethora of information, misinformation and opinion. They are facing a world where universal connectivity has changed the rules on behaviour in a way that most parents today could never have imagined. So what is a parent to do?

Have conversations with your teen

least responding to—some of the worst of take advantage of that fact and model some positive behaviours by sharing your own what’s out there. experiences with your teens in an honest and open manner. Be a good role model Sure, you’re swimming upstream here, but teens pick up on hypocrisy faster than Praise them when they’ve done any other characteristic. If you want your something right teen to be tolerant…be tolerant. If you want When your teen manages to do the them to believe in the equality of people right thing, or even when they comment regardless of sex, race, sexual orientation, on someone’s bad behaviour in a negative etc., you have to find that tolerance within way, let them know how proud you are of yourself and show them how that’s done. their insight. There’s nothing like positive reinforcement of good values to keep them strong. Serve others together Teens learn values when they experience the values in action. This doesn’t mean you Be honest about the rough road have to make weekly visits to help out at the ahead local soup kitchen (although that’s not a bad The truth is that good behaviour won’t idea), but it might mean working together always be rewarded and often it will seem to package extra warm clothing at home that the bad guys win. It’s a fact of life, but to deliver to a shelter. “It” can also include parents need to let their teens know that, modelling simple behaviours like holding in the end, it’s not short-term victories that doors for someone else or giving up a seat matter…it’s being able to live with yourself on a bus to an elderly person. with pride and self-respect.

It’s important to have frequent conversations about values in your household. Don’t make the mistake of talking about values only when something has gone wrong—that discussion can come about as a result of a news story or an entertainment feature. And don’t use the “Parent tone” when you start Share your past that conversation. Keep it light and listen If you think your teens don’t already to their opinions on the issue. In that way, suspect that their parents weren’t perfect you might have a shot at shifting—or at as teens themselves, you’re mistaken. So

Tim Collins is a writer and freelance journalist living and working in Victoria.

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Not the Zombie Generation ...a 20-something’s thoughts on teens and technology


hould we worry about our kids becoming addicted to technology?” That’s a question plaguing many parents these days. Unfortunately, as I see it, it is a question with no easy answer. Studies abound on how the use of electronic devices and technology has exploded over the past few decades. I’ve heard the endless quips from the older generation about us kids and our phones. But if you ask me, owning an iPhone or a laptop computer is not as big of a problem as it might seem. I think technology is both good and bad—for different reasons. Some of what we hear and read can lead us to believe that cellphones and other devices will bring about the decline of modern

As a teen, I was not as absorbed by my phone as my younger sister. In fact, I didn’t get an iPhone until just last year and even then, I wasn’t interested in getting the latest model. But I enjoy having technology around me and I spend far too many hours on my laptop. It’s a little worrying to me just how much time can disappear while essentially sitting in a chair and staring at a screen. Yes it’s still important for people—especially younger children—to experience the real world and go outside every once in a while, but I also appreciate how technology can educate and unite youth in an age where people are supposedly more despondent than ever. And I can see both sides of the argument that technology is—and isn’t—

society. Take, for example, newspaper and magazine articles accompanied by photos of unresponsive teens staring at their phones and a headline like “The Zombie Generation” or “Are Your Kids Addicted to Technology?” While those kinds of articles often make me roll my eyes, I can’t deny that our close relationship with technology has indeed brought about many societal changes.

making us smarter. All the information we could ever want is at our fingertips. Does that mean we’re getting lazy, or does it mean we are getting smarter because of all the potential knowledge available to us? When it comes to how electronic devices affect creativity, I’d say that technology has made great strides in fueling the creative community. Now more than ever, we have


the ability to share our work and the works of others, and to connect with other creative people. Many careers have been launched thanks to social media, and as an artist, it can be easier to find support online than in the outside world. Technology can also support recreation and schooling, though there is always the risk that research sites might actually end up doing our homework for us, or dupe us into believing they are reliable sources, based on one hundred per cent fact. Also, the internet can give students the

Emily Collis opportunity to learn about a certain subject in the way that works best for them; if a student absorbs facts more easily on, say, biology by watching a video, that video is probably somewhere online, free to use. In my experience, young people often use technology and social media as a means to meet in person, and to create social events. Having so many forms of communication means people can always be connected and, if you ask me, this is a good thing. If you see a group of kids on their phones who aren’t talking to each other, remember that they might be researching movie times at the local theatre, or looking up bus schedules, or trying to organize a meeting place with their friends. Or maybe they don’t actually like talking to each other all that much and are trying to avoid an awkward silence. Most of the time, I’d bet, when people are staring at their phones, they’re doing something with that device. And, chances are, that “something” is potentially productive. Nineties’ kids, such as myself, have witnessed a rapid change of technology since we were born. Many of my peers, those between 18 to 25, long for the time before the “takeover of technology,” which begs the question: are we letting iPads and smartphones take over our lives? The older generation, thinking back to life before the internet and the smartphone, might feel a sense of loss and fear that the simple pleasures of playing outside and reading books will be lost forever. This fear is legitimate, but just because technology has entered the picture does not mean there’s no more room for reading or outdoor adventures. (The biggest difference is that there Island Parent Teens 2017

will probably be a few photos on Facebook to show for it!). The reason why kids might roll their eyes at the “You teenagers and your phones…” lecture is because they can’t fathom life completely devoid of technology. They are growing up differently than the previous generation—technology, for better or worse, has become deeply engrained in their lives and when they hear complaints about how kids used to go ride their bikes for entertainment instead of playing Candy Crush, not only does it make them feel like they’re doing something wrong, it also makes them disengage from the conversation. The way I see it, devices like iPads and cellphones are tools—tools we all use and can’t imagine living without. I would like to think that what we are addicted to is not just staring mindlessly at a cat video but instead the ability to instantly communicate with friends, share discoveries on social media, research important topics while on the go and generally be able to make some sense out of our chaotic lives. Modern technology is an amazing thing. We have the power to research, socialize, create and do so much at the touch of a button. It isn’t hard to understand why people become fond of their little wondermachines. Who wouldn’t want to be able to talk to their friend in Germany while waiting for their doctor’s appointment, or play a game to pass time? These days it’s almost impossible to avoid some sort of interaction with technology. And where technology is concerned, there will likely always be a gap between the older and younger generations. In the future, we young people will be complaining about how “Back in our day, there were no interactive video games, oh you young kids are so spoiled and lazy, you never have to get up and turn on your Xbox like we had to back in the 2000s!” And that young adult generation will sigh and roll their eyes at our technological incompetence. Whether technology is assisting or controlling us is anyone’s guess. But if you ask me, the trick is to try to establish a healthy balance between screen time and “real time,” and in turn, a healthy relationship with technology—and the people and pursuits we love.

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Talking to Teens About Substance Use


n the period of one year, British Columbia experienced a total of 914 overdoses. Of those, 155 occurred in the Island Health community. This number is significantly larger than previous years, and it is higher than all other provinces in Canada. This spike in overdoses is partially due to a frequency of fentanyl being found in most street opioids, along with many other illicit substances. This “overdose crisis” is created and fueled by a lack of awareness and understanding of substance use and addiction, and the tendency to treat substance use as a crime, and not a health epidemic. There is no legal age limit for substance use. People don’t simply turn 19 or 21 and decide to start using legal and/or illicit drugs. For this reason, we need to start looking at substance use, dependency, and addiction at a young age, so that we can start to put prevention into this complicated equation. Not just prevention of substance use—we can’t always prevent use—but also the reduction of preventable harms that are associated with substance use. It is important for us to stop perpetuating the harmful myths that people who use substances face. Substance use is a complex social and health issue. It is enmeshed in prejudice and misplaced blame. Since the beginning of the school year, one of Victoria’s local high schools allegedly lost two teenage youth to overdoses—teens who were engaged in the school system and in their family unit. This has been an eye opener for many parents who considered there to be a difference between teens who may be experimenting, and some of the more entrenched substance users that we may see on the street as we are driving downtown. There is no difference. That entrenched person was once a teen or a child, trying a drug for the first time. Everyone is someone’s child. Parents in our community are concerned and they are asking questions, and want to know how to speak to their children about substance use. While there is no script one can follow, no magic solution to prevent our youth from becoming entrenched in substance use, there are a few things that parents can consider when navigating substance use and their children. Prevention. If we can build resiliency in children and families, we can better address

substance use that can lead to addiction. Dr. Gabor Maté, who studies addiction, stress, and childhood development, posits that childhood factors such as a sense of belonging and healthy attachment create strong resiliency factors against addiction, because in the absence of these factors, children become adults who seek to alleviate emotional pain and loneliness.

Lorna Mace Knowledge. Information is power, and teaching children and youth about substance use at a young (but appropriate age) is key. With a sense of self-worth and information, a youth is going to be more likely to choose the safest options for themselves and their body. In B.C., we are seeing more cases of the opioid fentanyl occurring in pill and powder form, and it’s not just being passed off as heroin. When a youth is in a social situation and is considering experimenting with a drug, it is key that they understand the growing risk that the powder or pill may not be what it has been sold as. A non-judgemental willingness to listen. Generally, our society is unkind and judgmental to people who use and are addicted to illicit substances. I will often meet youth who are scared to disclose their substance use to those close to them, because they feel shame. They don’t want to disappoint, or scare their loved ones. If children are raised by parents who express empathy and humanity towards people who are living with substance use and addiction, their children and teens will see this and may be more likely to come forward with their own questions, curiosities, and concerns—whether it is about themselves, or a friend or loved one. Lorna Mace is the outreach worker at Victoria Youth Clinic, located at 533 Yates Street. She works alongside a diverse youth-focused team who are dedicated to providing comprehensive health care in a safe, judgement-free environment. Island Parent Teens 2017

Where to Find Help Victoria Youth Clinic

Community-based, integrated, primary health care services with a multi-disciplinary team, in a safe, welcoming and youth-friendly environment for youth between the ages of 12 and 24. 533 Yates St (back of building), Victoria. 250-383-3552.



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Discovery Youth and Family Substance Use Services

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Specialized Youth Detox— Youth Empowerment Society

Voluntary, non-medical withdrawal management program for all youth who want support with detoxification from alcohol and other drugs. 533 Yates St, Victoria. 250-383-3514.

Umbrella Society—Society for Addictions & Mental Health

Working with anyone for whom substance use has become a problem. There are no fees. A peer outreach-based program. 250-380-0595.

Toward the Heart (website)— Working Together Reducing Harm

Resources and information about harm reduction and your community—a project of the BC Provincial Harm Reduction Program.

Know Your Source (website)— A Canadian Overdose Resource

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Island Parent Teens 2017

Balancing the See-Saw


t’s the first day of my six-week class, Parenting Children and Teens. The participants are all looking hopeful and excited. It’s a relatively small class so I’m able to work directly with them and hear what their goals are for the course. One person bravely admits that she wants to control her anger. Hearing that, I feel appreciative of her courage and vulnerability. The comments continue with examples of issues like kids not wearing their coats or not doing their homework. Others are bewildered that their very bright teen’s bedroom is an absolute disaster. I worry that I’m a little blunt with my approach and while I try to behave myself, it is hard not to say things like, “Your kid is no fool, if he’s cold he will figure out if he needs a coat. He’s how old? Twelve! You have bigger fish to fry and as for his homework if you are nagging him, he is just going to resist you!” Oops, too blunt. Where is my internal editor when I need her? On the first day of my courses I cover group guidelines regarding the group experience. I cover the usual stuff around no sideways conversations and no advice giving. While participants seem to accept that they aren’t in the class to give each other advice, I often notice a look of disappointment when I say I won’t be giving them any pat answers either. I explain that I don’t know them, their kids or their situations so my role is to help them find their own answers. Many years ago, I felt the pressure to fall into that trap. I don’t anymore because I know the deeper knowledge is what creates lasting and meaningful change. Some parents start to look a little perplexed, “I came here for answers. What do you mean you aren’t going to tell me what to do?” I feel myself flush a little when I hear this and give myself a moment to breathe. This is what experience has taught me to do. I remind myself that people often feel so overwhelmed that they lose their own internal editor. “You would really like some clarity and I imagine you are feeling overwhelmed. It’s bewildering when our bright kids seem to be so irresponsible.” People relax a little. At least they know I get it. As I move into the communication material, I can see and hear some resistance. “Connecting with my kid like this isn’t going to get her to clean her room!” Or, “My kid would laugh at me if I talked like this. It

doesn’t work!” I ask for patience and openness. If you skip over this part, the rest won’t fall into place. It’s hard for people to slow down to take the time to work on how they connect with their kids. It’s an act of self-awareness and personal growth, the one thing we have control over. Facilitating this has its challenges. I mean, I have lots of ideas I could share but they aren’t nearly as good as the ones the participants come up with once they work with the material. I don’t know their kid, remember? We move into pairs to practice listening. Just listening, which means hearing how the person feels and why they feel that way and getting curious about their partner’s needs. People finish the exercise and talk about how tempting it was to give advice. One participant said he wanted his practice partner to tell him what to do. In my mind I’m thinking about his life partner and that she was in the course because things weren’t working out for her at home. I see two things: a person thinking that somebody else must have a better solution than he does, and somebody wanting to fix the other person’s problem. This is boundary confusion which reveals itself in communication. When we fix, give advice, praise and sympathize we aren’t connecting. In our intimate relationships, when we tell somebody to calm down or dismiss their feelings, the other person starts to feel unstable. Little kids will hit and tantrum more, teens will distance and lash out and when we do this in adult relationships, the other person starts to feel crazy! It’s called the see-saw effect. What you suppress, others close to you may express. Or what is suppressed in the other, you may express emotionally. In adult relationships, if one partner has been taught to suppress his feelings, his partner will start to take them on. This can drive the partner into a state of over-emotionalism and irrational behaviour. The more suppression in him, the more reactivity from the other. Apply this to the parent-child relationship. The more we deny our own feelings, the more our kid’s express them for us. When we are feeling overwhelmed, worried or annoyed, we have to find a healthy way to express and own these feelings. Thus, “I Statements,” probably the most misunderstood skill on the planet. When we shove down our kids’ feelings, guess what? We get bigger behaviour! Could it be that the mis-

taken idea that we have to be nicey-nice to preserve our kid’s self-esteem has backfired? The mom who had concerns about her anger is stuck in the guilt/anger cycle. Expressing

Allison Rees herself effectively will take her out of this and it will teach her child, within time, how to do the same. We do have to consider boundaries and what we share but kids need to experience honesty and integrity from us. The moms who are worried about their kid’s responsibilities will notice more accountability in their kids when they stop criticizing and nagging and when they mind their own business. As an educator, I, too, have to watch my boundaries and mind my own business. I won’t carry the responsibility of my course participants to get it or do the work. Allison Rees has two books available, “Sidestepping the Power Struggle” and “The Parent Child Connection.” See

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Island Parent Teens 2017

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