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If you bungle raising your children, I don’t think whatever else you do well matters very much Jackie Kennedy

Bah, Humbug! Or It’s Christmas!

New Year’s Resolutions for Parents of Teenagers

table of contents Research










Teens and Politics What Teens are Saying about the 2012 Presidential Election - Jade Robinson

4 Bah, Humbug! Or it’s Christmas! How Teenagers Feel about the Christmas Holiday

Quote of the Month

The FAFSA: Free Application for Federal Student Aid Parents Need to Know


So… Person Known as the High School Guidance Counselor and Should Care?

How Your Teen’s Diet can and does Effect their Moods and Behavior

12 In your Face, Skinny Girl! - Darla Noble

What You Should Be Reading?

16 New Year’s Resolutions for Parents of Teenagers

Autism and Exercise With Dr. Marjorie Solomon


Teens and Family Finances… Much is TMI

If you bungle raising your children, I don’t think whatever else you do well matters very much - Jackie Kennedy

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Teens & Politics What Teens are Saying about the 2012 Presidential Election? Jade Robinson

I’m writing this article mere days away from the 2012 United States Presidential campaign. The outcome is not yet known. But what we do know is that today’s teens have listened up and spoken out on the candidates. They have an opinion of who they want to run our country for the next four years


of these opinions are just thatopinions. The reason? Simple math-only a handful of teenagers will actually be able to vote. But whether or not their age allows them to be a part of the decision process, their opinions do matter. They matter because their ideas and views on life, liberty and the future of our country are what will be shaping the future of our country. So…let’s take a look at what America’s young people have to say. According to a report in the Junior Achievement USA survey, 57% of teens feel that both candidates are more concerned about getting elected than they are about doing something to make their future in this country more secure and a vast majority of teens (66%) are fearful that their college education will be nothing more than a ‘temporary fix’ to unemployment-that they’ll not have jobs when they graduate. Additionally, only 18% of them feel like the candidates have a sincere desire and understanding of how to help the ‘little guy’ (small business owners) resume their rightful place in the ‘Land of Opportunity’. Who said teenagers weren’t paying attention? Sounds like they have a pretty good handle on things, to me. Their concerns are the concerns of the majority of breathing, thinking Americans. Their concerns are the same as our concerns for both our futures and those of our children security and the freedom to live our dreams. As for where they are ‘getting’ these opinions from, most teens are fully capable and desirous to think for themselves. They do listen to Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, but they are no man’s puppets. They are listening to these guys because they can understand what these late-night guys are talking about. The issues are put to language they understand. And hey, these guys can be pretty funny. That’s all well and good. And it is great to know we are seeing a reignited passion in our young people for the health and welfare of our country. But what is this passion saying? Who are teens ‘voting’ for? The Scholastic Student Vote 2012 results show that this depends on: Where teens live The majority of teens living in the lower Midwest and southern regions of the country, as well as those living in the northwest

(with the exception of the coastal states) voted for Mitt Romney. Both coastal regions supported President Obama. The key states of Ohio and Iowa also went to the President in this mock election. What their religious and moral views are This should come as no surprise: conservatives voted for Mitt Romney and less conservatives voted for President Obama. It is interesting to note that the moral and religious issues teens care most about are fairly me - oriented. The issues we’re talking about here include lowering the drinking age to18 nationwide, legalizing marijuana, less government restrictions on the internet and piracy, protection of student loan funding, gay rights and job security. Do you see a pattern? They want the government to step in when it will bring them gain, but ‘back-off’ is the word when it comes to restricting them. Their parents The majority of teens surveyed in these reports were between the ages of 13 and 18 and still in high school. This naturally results in the teens’ being somewhat influenced by the views and beliefs of their parents when it comes to the economy, education, jobs and the war. When it comes to matters that hit them personally, they are thinking for themselves more and more. What economic status of a teen is Those teens who’ve had to leave their homes, give up extra activities or even change schools (public vs. private) for economic reasons are more likely to vote for Mitt Romney. They don’t have to listen to any debate or advertisements. They are living the results of the state of the present economy. For those whose lives have not been greatly affected, their votes go to the candidate they feel best reflects their views on other areas. Okay, I know you’re wanting to know who ‘won’ this completely mock election. Of course you do! The winner of the election by a 51% to 45% margin (4% other) was President Obama. Like I said, by the time you read this we’ll know if the kids knew what they were talking about. But for now...




Humbug! How Teenagers Feel about the Christmas Holiday

According to Papa Bear Berenstain, “...Christmas is such a special time that very special, almost magical things can happen….” And according to a report on how teens feel about family and Christmas holiday tradition, your teenagers couldn’t agree more


hard being a kid. The pressures they face from teachers, school counselors, college recruiters, sports coaches, teammates and friends is enough to make even the most grounded teenager a bit grumpy and obnoxious at times. So while your teenager doesn’t write his/ her letter to Santa anymore and doesn’t have any trouble falling asleep on Christmas Eve, that doesn’t mean they don’t get totally psyched over family, holiday traditions, cookies and Christmas ham, candlelight services at church and yes, gifts. • Family Your teenager loves you. And if you are providing a loving, safe and caring environment for them, they want to spend time with you - especially over the holidays. Teens see the holiday festivities and break from school as a respite from books, tests, studying and pressures to succeed. They crave the nurturing environment the holidays bring and the extra attention from you they have time to soak up. • Holiday traditions Everyone wants to belong to someone and something. Holiday traditions bring a tangible element to this sense of belonging. These traditions give family roots and branches all at the


same time. As a parent, you know how real the struggles of being a teenager are. They want to be treated like grownups… sometimes. They want to be treated like children… sometimes. We treat them like grownups… sometimes. We treat them like children...sometimes. Family holiday traditions allow your teens to reminisce, if you will, to a time of innocence and childhood. Leaving cookies and milk (soda in our house) under the tree brings back pleasant memories of waking up as a child on Christmas morning hoping Santa had enjoyed his snack. Hanging a stocking is just one of those things you do at Christmas no matter how old you are. Traditions also bridge gaps between generations. Knowing that ‘we’ve done it this way since Grandma was little’ connects your teens to Grandma. • Food The holidays are, in a significant way, about food. Christmas cookies, family meals and holiday gatherings filled with…food. This can be very stressful to teenagers. With the unavoidable facts about eating disorders, childhood obesity and healthy eating (talk about running the gamut), you need to take an attitude of enjoy-without-over-indulging when it comes to holiday food. To help, watch what you say and your attitude of holiday fare. Make sure you offer your family something to keep those sugar-overloads from disrupting attitudes, physical wellbeing and even self-confidence.


• Religious beliefs Reports by Barna Group and similar organizations show undeniably that over the last two or three decades, the number of teens turning away from traditional religious value systems or deeply personal relationships with God has Make sure THEY are fallen drastically. However… the report by the Family interested in the event. Education website clearly Don’t assume that shows that teens embrace the tradition and meaningfulness because you think it of religious Christmas would be great that they services and programs. will, too. Girls will also This is partially due to the symbolism and traditionalism enjoy a certificate for a and partially due to the make-over and spa day fact that teens do desire to embrace their faith.


• Last but not least…Gifts Teenagers are no different from anyone else in the fact that they love to receive gifts. The gift of choice for teens at Christmas? Money. They enjoy receiving money because their discretionary income is understandably limited, but their discretionary wants are endless. So…receiving money allows teens to cross a few items off their list.

Money isn’t the only acceptable gift in a teenager’s eyes, though



Your teenager will also enjoy Gifts that keep on giving Examples of this type of gift include magazine subscriptions, gym or sports clubs memberships, memberships to Netflix, movie theater passes, or paid tuition for lessons in their favorite hobby or pastime (photography, golf lessons, etc.)

Tickets to a sporting event or concert they are dying to see.

Gas cards If you have a teen that can drive, you have a teen that is always happy when their gas tank is full.

Gift certificates Take note (ask if you need to) of where they buy their clothes - or where they would like to buy their clothes and present them with a gift certificate or gift card to one of those places.



Christmas and teens

Don’t be afraid to get a little goofy and sentimental with your teenager over the holiday season because even though they may roll their eyes and let out huge sighs, they love it!



Free Application for Federal Student Aid



when the economy was in a healthier state than it is now, paying for college was something all parents worried about at least to some extent. So with the devastation of widespread unemployment and the rising cost of everything, the worries of paying for college are even greater. Hey - it’s expensive! The cost of a public college and university for a fouryear education has risen over 100%! over the last twenty-five years. And the cost of a private institution has risen over 66% over the same period of time. >> So what’s a parent to do? Dial, that’s what! The FAFSA is part of the U.S. department of Education. The FAFSA department within the Department of Education makes college education possible for nearly 15 million students each year to the tune of more than $150 billion in federal grants and loans. The federal grants given through FAFSA are free monies-meaning they do not need to be repaid…ever. Loans, however do have to be repaid once the student a) graduates from college or b) discontinues their education. The FAFSA office is responsible for more than ‘just’ disbursing funds for your teen/young adult’s education, however. The FAFSA office • Notifies schools and individuals of the requirements, timeline and availability of funds • Processes all FAFSA applications • Maintains the database of all FAFSA participants • Manages and oversees all payments to colleges and universities on students’ behalf • Provides free assistance to students, parents and schools for managing their FAFSA applications and accounts. 6

>> Free money… someone else keeping track of things… sounds good so far, right? It is. But even ‘free’ comes with criteria. The criteria for obtaining funds through FAFSA are: • Be a US citizen and in possession of a social security number (parents and children) • Applicants must show via the FAFSA application process the need for financial aid • Male student applicants must be registered with the selective service • All student applicants must provide the FAFSA school code for the college/university they have been accepted to and have enrolled in • Students must maintain enrollment and academic standards to retain their eligibility >> Done. You and your teenager meet all the requirements. Now you want to know how much money your student can expect to receive towards their education. There is no one answer to that question. FAFSA uses a formula to determine who gets how much. The formula uses the cost of attendance (COA) and the expected family contribution (EFC) to determine how much money the government will either give or loan your teenager to go to college. FAFSA will also take into consideration any scholarships your student is receiving. The COA is nothing more than the cost per year of attending college. This includes tuition, room/board and books. The EFC is the amount of money FAFSA determines that you as a parent will be able to contribute to your child’s college education. FAFSA determines the EFC



what Need to Know As a parent, one of the greatest concerns you have for your teenagers is that of their future. You want them to be able to realize their dreams, live up to their potential and be self-sufficient (YES!), socially adept and loving, happy adults. But what will the price tag be on your child’s future? And can you pay that bill? Should you be expected to pay the bill? >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> based upon the information you provide FAFSA on the application for free student aid. This information includes your income, the size of your family, income tax return, minority status and assets. Your student will also be required to provide much the same information about income and tax filing status. Once you and your student have completed and submitted the FAFSA application along with other documentation required, you will be notified of the amount received by both FAFSA and the college/university. >> Is your head spinning? Stop. Breathe in. Breathe out. Again. That’s better. It’s really not as difficult as it may sound. Trust me, I had three in college at one time…that’s three FAFSA apps a year. And I’m still here to tell about it. You can do this! There are likely still many questions running through your head about the FAFSA and how it works. The following brief snippets will hopefully answer most of these, but for a complete and thorough run-down of what you need to know and what you need to do, visit the FAFSA website. Your student’s guidance counselor will also be able to help you with the basics of FAFSA applications and the process as a whole.

Q How often do we have to submit a FAFSA? A Once a year. However…once you are in the system, you can manage, change and update your application using the password and PIN you set up during the initial application process.

Q Do I have to share my financial information with FAFSA? A If you want your student to be eligible for funding, yes. Only students who are over the age of 21 or who are under the age of 21 but are married and/or have a child do not need the information provided by parents on a FAFSA application. Q Do military families get additional funding through other government programs when applying for FAFSA? A Yes, as long as requirements are met. Information is available on the FAFSA website.

Q Is there any way we can know before going through the process of applying for FAFSA funding how much money we are eligible for? A The FAFSA4Caster will walk you through a process to estimate funding. The FAFSA does take a bit of time and effort to initiate. But time and effort, in this case, translates into dollars and cents for your child’s future.



So… Person Known

as the High School Guidance Counselor and Should Care?

Darla Noble with Tim Roettgen, High School Guidance Counselor, Camdenton High School

If you have a teenager in your house who attends public school, chances are you’ve either come into contact with or received a letter from the guidance counselor in their school. And if you are like many parents, you a) smile politely and move on to whomever you came to the school to see, or b) file any letters received from him/her in the infamous ‘File 13’.


fully, however, after reading what Tim Roettgen has to say, you’ll sit up and take more notice of the counselors in your teens’ school; communicating with them and recognizing them for who they are - someone who cares about your child’s education and future.

Tim Roettgen is one of thousands of high school counselors who devote their career to holding the hands of countless teens as they navigate the world of SATs, ACTs college entrance essays, applications and scholarship red tape. This is no small feat, to say the least. But it doesn’t stop there. These individuals are the ones who listen patiently while students vent about frustrations in the classroom, with friends or at home. They are actively involved in disciplinary measures taken in the school and in dealing with those students who are struggling with drug and alcohol abuse, pregnancy, homelessness and more. They are committed to ‘being there’ for your teenager. 8

Tim and counselors just like him all over the nation know your kids. They know what their issues are, what scares and stresses them out and what they want for the future. And since most parents lament that they can’t get a handle on what’s going on inside those teenage minds, we at decided to get the ‘low down’ from someone who knows and share it with you. When asked what he thought the most serious issues teens face today are, Tim (as well as his colleagues) didn’t hesitate to say the issues weighing most heavily on the minds of teens are lack of support (moral and emotional), substance abuse, social issues and depression/anxiety resulting from these things. These are all very adult issues-meaning teens are facing the same things adults face, but lack the ability (in most cases) to alter their surroundings or circumstances to alleviate the problems. They can’t and don’t usually have the maturity level to check themselves into rehab, realize the need for and ask for help with depression and anxiety or voice their fears about their future. This is especially true if their home life is a major factor in the problem(s)! That’s where people like Tim come in... “We do everything we can to support our students and get them the help they need in dealing with whatever problems they come to us with. We actively work with students who enter substance abuse programs to keep their classes going. By providing academic assistance and the ability to keep up, these students have something to focus on instead of all that is wrong in life. It gives them a purpose and makes them feel there is still some normalcy to their life.”

Education similar blue collar) job and got on with life. The end. But with the

“We also work closely with other economy being what it is and the fact that a staggering number of college graduates are unable to find gainful employment in staff members - school nurses their chosen field (but still have to pay back student loans), the question of whether or not to go to college is being asked more and the administrative staff - to and more. get students the help they need “I would never discourage a and deserve.” student from going to college, When asked about parental involvement, Tim said most but at the same time, it’s true parents are receptive to what he and his colleagues have to say when they have need to contact them. “Most parents care, that college is not for everyone. I hope,” Tim says. But as far as taking the initiative, parents do not seek out the school counselor. They just don’t see the need. I think we all have different And other parents, well, there will always be those parents who are more concerned with their own problems than those strengths and talents. And if of their children. Sad, but true. Having a qualified and caring counselor to go to has been a lifesaver for countless teens. If not for counselors, teens who can’t or won’t go to their parents with those strengths and interests can their problems would likely seek out advice from their peers. Peers still play a huge role in a teen’s outlook on their problems, be better developed in technical but by the time a young person reaches the age of 16, they have school or other training, then figured out that when it comes to the ‘big things’, their friends don’t know anymore about it than they do. They want someone older and wiser to tell them what they need to do. They may not that’s the route they need to act like it or show it, but they do. Tim agrees. He says there’s no take. We provide our students shortage of students coming into his office needing to be heard and really listened to. with resources for researching “I love it when a student who has come into my office, possible career choices their stressed and anxious about any number of things, leaves feeling and looking relaxed, resolved and satisfied with the outlook, the education and solutions we’ve come up with.” training needed, projected Among the biggest issues facing a high school students is their future - what they are going to do with their life once high salaries and such.” school is over. As a parent, I have to admit I was always a bit on the defensive when it came to the school’s push on making decisions regarding careers so early on. Selecting classes in your freshman year of high school that are going to be most beneficial college and their chosen career paths (which they are also encouraged to choose at this time) just didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. And as expected, this is something Tim and the other counselors I spoke to didn’t agree on. When asked if he saw this as a problem, he said,

Taking a practical and caring view, Tim tells students, “It takes all kinds of people to make the world go round and we need people in all sorts of jobs. Everyone who contributes is important. I tell students that when it comes to choosing their career, it should be largely based on what they are good at and what they enjoy doing.”

“Upfront and honest with students. I tell them that choosing a career path early on is wise-it gives them focus and goals to achieve. And everyone needs goals. But I also stress to them that changing that career path is okay. I’ve read statistics that show a high percentage of people change careers or jobs seven times in their lives. I share this with them to show them that changing their minds isn’t a sign of instability. It’s just life.”

Life isn’t easy. You know that. You also know that teens today have quite a bit more on their plates to deal with than we did at their age. But now you know that you’re not in this alone. You have the help of your student’s guidance counselor-the person who willingly and purposefully seeks your student out to encourage, challenge and yes, guide. And if that isn’t reason enough for having a decent level of communication and a huge amount of respect for the Time Roettgen in your life, I don’t know what is.

Another issue teens are facing is the ‘college or not’ question. This is also something most teens don’t feel comfortable in sharing with their parents. They feel like (and have often been made to feel like) in their parent’s eyes, there is no option. It’s college or bust. In the past several decades, it really didn’t seem to be a question. You either went to college or got a factory (or

ABOUT TIM: Tim Roettgen is a high school guidance counselor at Camdenton High School in Camdenton, Missouri. Tim is a loving husband and father with a heart for helping students realize their potential and for setting them on the path that will lead them to their life’s goals and dream.



How Your Teen’s Diet can & does Effect their Moods

and Behavior

It’s no secret that food affects our bodies in numerous ways weight, the ability or inability to sleep (caffeine), the various nutrients we get from it, different taste sensations, how our body functions (think diabetes) and even our moods. Think chicken soup, chocolate and mac and cheese - the mere mention of these ‘comfort foods’ sends warm, fuzzy feelings surging through us. That, and gets our mouths watering 10


ing these things to be true, it is only reasonable to assume that if food has this effect on you, it has the same effect on children. In fact, triggered emotional and physical actions/reactions are even more evident in children. This may be because children are more transparent in general. It may be because of the ‘concentration levels’the caffeine in soda or the sugar in a candy bar is the same no matter who eats it. But the size of the body it’s distributed to isn’t. When it comes to ‘food moods’, we are controlled largely by our blood sugar levels. Blood sugar is simply the amount of sugar in the blood stream sugar that brain needs to function properly. And our brains are kind of like mamma. You know, ‘if momma ain’t happy, nobody’s happy’. So when a person’s blood sugar level is too low, she becomes sluggish, incoherent and dazed. Oftentimes, this is mistaken for laziness, lack of attention and even learning disabilities. On the flipside, when blood sugar is too high, we become


irritable, fidgety easily distracted and begin ‘bouncing off the walls’.

teens’ actions and attitudes from a physical and metabolic viewpoint, they really can’t help themselves. But you can!

Sound familiar? If you’re nodding your head and thinking there’s a nanny cam hidden in your house, you’re not alone. But you need to remember that their actions are largely out of their control. Here is why: when blood sugar levels climb, our body’s handling hormones, cortisol and adrenalin, kick in. These hormones, which fight off stress, push kids (teens included) into action/energy overload. In other words, if you look at your

Several years ago, there was a popular catch phrase regarding our diets ‘Garbage in… Garbage out’. There’s quite a bit of truth in that little sayin. Keeping a close eye on what goes into your teens’ bodies and being pro-active in guiding and motivating them to eat a healthy diet of fresh, whole foods is your number one weapon against ‘food moods’ and the tensions that go with them.

What do you have to lose? Changing your family’s eating habits and diet can do nothing but make things better physically and emotionally for everyone. Here’s how…


Eliminate as many processed foods as possible. The chemicals and dyes used in processed foods wreak havoc on the body. It’s not realistic to expect your teen to give up fries and candy altogether or that there will never be another cheese curl passing over their lips. And that’s okay. An occasional ‘treat’ isn’t going to do any harm, but these foods should be the exception to the rule-not the norm.


Eliminate as much white flour as possible. Switch to whole-wheat or whole-grain breads, oatmeal or sugar-free cereals instead of sugar - laden cereals and wild or brown rice. If you do this at home, you’ll balance out the fact that the meals they eat at school.


Fresh fruits and vegetables should be included in all family meals and made available for snacking. Salads made from lettuce, arugula and/or baby spinach, carrot and celery sticks, cucumbers, apples, citrus fruits, tomatoes, berries... Steamed vegetables (plain or with cheese), fruit topped with nuts, honey and/or yogurt... Kids love these things. If they’re an option, they are usually chosen over the junk. Try it... you’ll see.


Protein is essential for a healthy diet. That means meat - but pepperoni and chicken nuggets don’t count. Again, you’re not going to keep your kids from eating these things, but if you balance them out with good sources of protein such as eggs, baked or broiled chicken, turkey and beef prepared at home without the additives and preservatives in pre-packaged goods. Yes, this takes more time and effort on your part, but it’s worth it. And honestly, it’s not that hard. Besides, cooking at home saves a LOT of money, which is never a bad thing.


Snacks don’t have to be boring. Popcorn, nuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, low-sodium chips and salsa (once in a while), cheese cubes, fruit, veggies, smoothies made with yogurt and fruit, frozen melon cubes and cookies you make from scratch using whole wheat flour and honey or brown sugar are sure to satisfy. These are all foods that will help to keep blood sugar levels in check and your teens in a good mood.



When it comes to drinks, water is always good, but the most popular drink with teens are sports drinks and energy drinks. YIKES! Sports drinks do replenish electrolytes lost when sweating excessively. But most of the sports drinks your kids consume have nothing to do with replacing electrolytes. They just like the taste. And that can be a problem when it comes to renal health. Studies show that the consumption of sports drinks on a regular basis and when not ‘needed’ causes the formation of kidney stones. OUCH! DOUBLE OUCH! As for energy drinks… those things should be banned. Tell me what’s good about sending your heart racing and your blood vessels squeezed tighter than Scarlett O’Hara’s corset and I’ll tell you about my meeting with Santa Claus and the tooth fairy.

Your teenagers have been eating for several years now, so they likely have several of their eating habits as well as their likes/dislikes established. But that doesn’t mean there is no hope for making positive changes. Most teens want healthy bodies and want to feel good. So by presenting the evidence in such a way that it will be beneficial to them to revamp their eating habits may be all it takes to banish ‘food moods’ from your house forever… well, most of the time, anyway. And don’t forget - your teens are watching you, so what’s good for them is good for you, too.



In face, skinny


The latest statistics show that approximately one quarter of the nation’s teens are obese. We’re not talking a bit on the chubby side or large-framed, with a little junk in the trunk. We’re talking obese health - threatening, body - imaging, depriving, exercising obese




’s wrong? Why this problem of obesity in America’s teens? There’s no one answer. The reason or reasons could be any combination of the following: } Poor self-image. That seems like a bit of an oxymoron, but it’s true. A teenager who looks at herself in the mirror and doesn’t see a perfect model-thin, touched-up image staring back at her takes comfort in comfort foods. Comfort foods pack on calories and pounds, so the problem only gets worse. } Stress. Teens have huge stress levels. Problems at home, pressures at school, the pressure of what to do with their lives, peer pressures, dating stress... Their source of comfort often ends up being food. It’s an escape-it tastes good and doesn’t ask anything of them. } Laziness. Yes, this is a generation of lazy teens. The amount of time they spend in front of a game console or computer is nothing short of sad and pathetic. Parents, you need to put an end to this. High school doesn’t require more than 2 semesters of physical education to graduate, so teens aren’t getting much exercise at school, either. Make physical activity a ‘must’ in your house. } Poor eating habits. Even if your teen plays sports, gets plenty of exercise and is confident in who they are (as much as any teen can be), if their diet consists of pizza, cheeseburgers, ramen noodles and Pepsi, they are setting themselves up for problems.

Everyone wants to feel good about the way they look and feel. But that’s not easy when your teen is having trouble breathing, sleeping or when they look at the skinny girls in magazines and have to sit across from them in Spanish class or have a gym locker next one of them. Knowing your teen is feeling so down should be enough to push you into actively helping your teen get a handle on their weight issues, but if it’s not, what about these facts:

} Obesity increases the chances of heart disease } Obesity increases the chances of stroke } Obesity increases the chances of diabetes reproductive and pregnancy issues } Obesity is often a factor in being overlooked for jobs } Obesity is hard on bones and joints

Talk to your teens. If your teen has a weight problem or is developing a weight problem, talk to them openly and honestly. Let them know you are concerned about their health and their safety. Commit to being their cheerleader and their partner in committing to being healthier. Don’t tempt them with poor food choices. Instead, take the initiative to offering healthy choices and helping them make positive changes toward a healthy diet. One thing you must NEVER do, however is try to shame your teen into losing weight. Comments about being prettier, more appealing to boys or girls or whatever… comments such as this is the same as pouring gas on an already raging fire. Letting your teen know that you love them for who they are - not for what size they wear is imperative. Your teenager needs to realize their value lies within their character not their looks, but that their body needs to be treated with respect and special care so that it can be healthy and vital.

The question many parents have is how to tell if their child is obese or overweight. It’s simple, really. By using the following formula, you can determine how much work needs to be done to get your teen back on track to being healthy and ultimately happy with who they are

BMI formula

The BMI (Body Mass Index) is the measurement of proportion of a person’s weight to their height/ frame. The higher your BMI, the more weight your frame is supporting. A BMI of 25-29 is considered overweight. A BMI over 30 is considered obese.

To figure your BMI

Your Weight in Pounds x 705

(Your Height in Inches)2 EXAMPLE

125 x 705 = 88,125






= 22



what you should be


If you have a teenager in your house you have questions running through your mind Darla Noble

If you’re blessed with a teenager who is responsible, respectful, healthy and all those good things, you’re probably asking yourself questions like these:

+ How did I get so lucky? + How long is this going to last? + Does this mean there really are aliens? + Can I honestly believe I’ve done this right? + Can I assume this will last through his/her lifetime?


Or if you are struggling to communicate with your teenager, have a teenager who is defiant, rebellious and possibly even a danger to him/herself and others, you are undoubtedly asking these questions:

- What did I do wrong? - Is this really my fault? - Why me? - He/she hasn’t always been like this... what happened to change them? - I need help - where do I go and what do I do?


The answers for those with inquiring minds There are multiple sources of help and encouragement available for parents of children of all ages of the most valuable being books on parenting From the time Dr. Spock’s book hit the shelves in 1946, books on parenting have become one of the most sought-after genres of readers everywhere. The subject matter has even been the premise of movies for generations-including the enjoyable and starstudded “What to Expect When Expecting” that made movie - goers laugh till they cried and recall their own experiences with fond memories. What’s that I hear? Groaning? A book, you say? Yes, books. Books on parenting can be life-savers for parents looking for help in:

Developing better and stronger relationships with their children Dealing with their child’s physical limitations Coping with the stress and extra measure of everything it takes to parent a child with limitations Building on a foundation that is solid so it will

not crumble Being encouraged by parents just like yourself Growing your parenting skills into those of an intentional parent Knowing what it is your teens are looking for, needing, desiring and searching for

Think about it…what other way would you possibly have to benefit from the wisdom of healthcare professionals, those who have dedicated their lives to understanding teenagers and other parents navigating these unchartered waters? It’s probably safe to say you don’t have their numbers in your phone or that you’re not Facebook friends.

Reading is easier than ever before / E-Readers are one of the best things to hit the world of technology since the microwave. No, seriously. E-books are less expensive, so much more portable and take up lots less space than hard copies. In other words, there is no excuse for not taking the time to read up on your parenting skills; get a few ideas, do a little commiserating and even learn a few things about being a teen that you’ve either forgotten or in reality didn’t exist when you were standing in your teen’s shoes. What’s out there for me / Admittedly it can be a bit overwhelming when you go to sites like Amazon or Barnes and Noble and see the pages and pages of titles to select from. And maybe you don’t have a lot of time to read the synopsis to find what you are looking for. That’s where we can help. Here is a list of recommended reading for parents of teens and a brief description of the book, allowing you to see whether or not it may be of help for your particular situation. Other valuable sources for knowing what to read include recommendations from other parents, the high school guidance counselor, your minister and teen mentors such as those in sports and after-school programs. Getting to Calm / by Dr. Laura Kastner and Jennifer Wyatt This book takes a physiological look at

what makes your teen function and the physical aspects of creating an environment that is conducive to positive behavior. I’d Listen to My Parents If They’d Just Shut Up: What to Say and Not Say When Parenting Teens by Anthony Wolf Book that combines humor with wisdom in knowing when and when not to talk to your teens and what to say so they’ll listen. Today’s teens live in a world of technology which they have literally attached themselves to 24/7. Parents need to know what it takes to get through to teens on their level. Mr. Wolf is also the author of Get Out of My Life and Cheryl to the Mall? Mr. Wolf’s books are among the most popular and widely-acclaimed parenting books in the nation. The Five Love Languages of a Teenager by Gary Chapman Teens are no different from anyone else - they want to be loved. By drawing from Gary’s advice on how to show your teen love and affection

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> in a way they understand and accept, you could save your teen

How to Talk So Teens Will Listen and Listen So Teens Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlis / This is a delightful, easy-reading book packed full of practical and realistic ideas on how talking less brings more results and strengthens your relationship with your teens. From the opening chapter, you’ll be hooked!

from disastrous and life-altering circumstances. Teens are no different from Waylon Jennings - they’ll look for love, even if it is in all the wrong places. The Power of a Praying Parent by Stormie Omartian One of the most effective and encouraging books ever written on the subject of parenting. Stormie leaves no subject untouched when it comes to being an intentional parent - one who invests heart, soul and mind into loving and raising a child to be the person they created to be. Parents of teens find this book especially helpful.

Seventeen Magazine That’s right. What better way to know why your teenage daughter feels so strongly about looking this way or that and why she just has to have that pair of jeans? The magazine is filled with advice for teens on boys, dating, sex, school and a plethora of other topics. Shouldn’t you be aware of how your daughter is being encouraged to handle herself and how she’s being influenced regarding the choices she makes?

Other great sources include books by Dr. James Dobson, Susie Davis, Carleton Kendrick and Kimberly Abraham

New Year’s

Resolutions for Parents of Teenagers It’s that time of year. This year, we tell ourselves, will be the year we lose 20 pounds, quit smoking, or give up or at least cut back on caffeine, and this will be the year when we take back control of our families. You tell yourself resolutely that 2013 will be the year that the fighting, petty arguments and sullen attitudes stop. Look at you go! Darla Noble 16



Don’t lose that momentum Make 2013 the year when you truly do live up to those commitments… well, at least a few of them… especially the one about taking back your family.

How to make a New Year’s resolution resolute

What resolutions should I make

The word ‘resolute’ means to be firm and determined to stay the course. That’s what you want to do, right? So let’s work together to make that happen

Resolving to take make things better between you and your teenager is a pretty generic statement. It leaves the door wide open for failure and neglect. Instead, be specific… very specific

1. Write your resolution down and post it throughout the house. Print it out on pretty paper or on a pretty note card and tape it to your bathroom mirror. Put it on your refrigerator along with everything else - just make sure you can see it. Write it on the inside of a pretty greeting card and set it on your desk at work. Frame it and set it by the kitchen sink where you’ll see it as you prepare meals and do dishes. 2. Make your resolution known to members of your household. If you are determined to take back your family and enhance your relationship with your teenager, let them know. Tell them you are committed to being a better parent (this tells them you are taking partial responsibility for any problems that exist between you) and that the changes you make are for the benefit of everyone involved. Ask for their cooperation. 3. Remind your family from time to time of your resolution and give progress reports. Mailing or emailing cards or messages to family members expressing thanks, concern or simply reminding them of your love and commitment to the family on a regular basis is effective and appreciated by all. 4. Don’t look at lapses as defeat. Every resolution has its setbacks. Don’t stress over it - just pick up and go on. It’s important to hold yourself and others accountable for relapses, but then put the past in the past and go forward. Remember… you need to focus on where you’re going - not where you’ve been.

1. We will set up a system of chores for each family member to be responsible for. This will give everyone more time to enjoy activities and will give each family member the opportunity to contribute to making our home run smoothly. 2. We will establish a family contract to be mutually agreed upon by all. 3. We will treat each other with respect and kindness at all times. 4. We will express our love and appreciation for each other on a daily basis. 5. Each family member will be expected to do a random act of kindness for another member of the family each week. 6. We will recognize and respect the fact that our family is a unit and that we belong to one another treating each other with the love, respect and appreciation we each deserve. 7. Yelling, name - calling, unkind words, and disrespect for each other’s property will not be tolerated. 8. Communication will be a top priority. We will inform one another of where our, who we are with, and when we can be expected to return home abouts at all times. No exceptions.

You will notice that the resolutions are not just a set of rules for your teen. They are family resolutions - holding every family member accountable. Making resolutions in this manner is not only a more effective way to produce the desired results, but it sends a clear message to your teenager that your intentions truly are to rebuild your family - not make their life miserable. So with all that being said… HAPPY NEW YEAR!



Teens and Family Finances…

Much is The economy is one of, if not the number one, concern of people across our nation. Unemployment figures are staggering and downright scary, college students are graduating without jobs to go to and student loans to repay, the cost of everything from gas to gum is higher than it has ever been (and in many cases still rising), and millions of Americans have lost their homes in foreclosure do a number of reasons 18


effect these things have had on our lifestyles is undeniable and cannot be hidden from our children. This was never more obvious to me than when I sat down in our high school cafeteria to fill out the familiar forms for my youngest daughter’s senior year in high school. At that point in time, I had had a child in our little community’s school system for 23 years (I know, pretty amazing, right and for the first time there was actually a box to check if your student was homeless. This really got to me. Sure, there were homeless people in the city, but in our little town of less than 15,000 there was no reason to be homeless. Or was there? As it turns out, over 50 of the high school’s nearly 1,000 students admitted to being homeless. Another 30 gave the local women and children’s shelter as their address. That was nearly 10 %! These sad and alarming statistics got me to thinking…how would I tell my teenage daughter (and her grown siblings, for that matter) that we were losing our home or that her father was unemployed - that there would be no money coming in?

Article How to break the news If you are among the thousands of people who have recently lost their jobs or whose unemployment will be running out and no job is in sight, your teens need to be told of changes that have to be made. This can be done without putting an actual dollars and cents figure in their heads, but they deserve to know how and why the changes will affect them. But when you do tell them: • Be honest; the plant is closing, the office no longer has the client base to justify operations, there has been a buy-out and the new owners are bringing in their own staff… • Don’t be bitter; this isn’t what we want, but nothing comes from being bitter or placing blame. • Be optimistic without making promises you cannot keep; it may take a while to find another job and we may even have to relocate to do so, but no matter what, as your parents we will do whatever is necessary to make this as disruptive to your life as possible. • Ask that the family be united in the efforts to go through the necessary changes; it’s not going to be easy, but if we all work together to make little changes, we can hopefully get through this without having to make major changes. Answers to their questions Teens are naturally curious about how their families’ financial situations may affect their lives. This shouldn’t come as any big surprise. But answering these questions sometimes leaves parents scratching their heads. Hopefully this will help… Q. How much money do you make? A. We make enough to pay our expenses and to be able to pay for food, clothing and a few fun things each month. We have enough coming in to pay for your sports fees and put some in savings each month. OR A. Because I’ve lost my job, things are pretty tight. We’re going to be able to meet our necessary expenses, but we’re all going to have to cut back. This means we’re going to have to ask you to…

How your teen can benefit They say there’s a silver lining in every cloud. Let’s look at what that lining can be in this situation… • Your teen will learn the value of relationships over material possessions • Your teen will learn valuable lessons in money management and budgeting • Your teen will learn to be sacrificial and selfless • Your teen will learn that love is give and take • Your teen will learn to be responsible and to contribute to the well being of the family Final comments Money isn’t an easy subject to talk about. It’s the number one cause of arguments in a marriage. But in today’s economic situation, money matters are unavoidable. So instead of hiding them or pretending they don’t exist, give your teen credit for being mature and responsible and make her part of the solution in reasonable fashion rather than robbing her of learning some valuable lessons that she can take with her into her own household some day. The Stockings Were Hung by the Chimney with Care… And All That Other Stuff - Darla Noble Christmas is quickly approaching - it’s only days away. Most of the shopping is already done, the tree is up and decorated and you’ve probably already indulged in at least a piece or two (or three or four) of Christmas fudge. Aahhh, Christmas. It’s that time of year when most everyone’s heart is in the right place and the spirit of good will toward men is the message of the day. So why not seize the opportunity to make this time a special one between you and your teens? Take this time to call upon their feelings of good will toward men; use it to ease or even erase tension between them and you and to remind them of what a special gift they are to your family.

Q. Will I be able to go to college? A. Yes, you will be able to go to college. You may need to have a few more student loans than we originally thought, but working together, we’ll make it happen. There are also several scholarships available we can apply for. Q. Why do we have to move? A. It’s not what we want to do, but the house payment is simply too much for us with the drop in income. Let’s try and make the best of things and remember that a house doesn’t make a home - family does.

Traditions The word ‘tradition’ means to a belief or custom to hand down or pass on along to the next generation. That would be you passing on a custom or belief to them. The ‘you’ and ‘them’ denotes interaction and communication.


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Don’t let those raised eyebrows, snickers, or eye-rolls fool you. Teenagers love traditions…as long as they can see a meaning or significance in them. Granted it doesn’t have to be a deep and philosophical meaning, but it does have to be relevant. Okay, so maybe they’ve outgrown the trips to the mall to sit on Santa’s lap. Use their teen years as a catalyst to start new traditions or include them in new ways in older, established ones. Something new New traditions you can start with your teens include • Volunteering as a family to serve meals to the homeless after you’ve had your family time together on Christmas morning • Making or purchasing small gifts to give to residents of a nursing home • Sending packages to soldiers overseas • Visiting a veterans hospital and sharing cookies with them while they tell their stories to young people who need to hear them • Having a Christmas Day family Olympics or board game marathon • Taking a family vacation over Christmas break and making that their gift

Including them in older traditions Including your teens in older traditions in a NEW (and more grown-up) fashion is a great way to let them know that you recognize who they are becoming as young adults and that you trust them to carry on the family traditions you hold dear. You can do this by putting them in charge of getting the tree and giving them free reign of decorating it, asking their help in wrapping gifts (not theirs), addressing Christmas cards, selecting a family photo for your card, doing the holiday baking, planning a family outing over the holidays or taking over such things as reading the Christmas story to the family, carving the ham or turkey or asking the blessing at the table. Bring it home Another way to make Christmas traditions special to your teens is to give them the history of established traditions. Why is that crumpled little paper angel the only one that can sit atop the tree? What’s so special about that plate the rolls are served on at dinner? Whose idea was it to give everyone a piece of black walnut and peanut butter fudge? What’s so special about the Christmas necklace you wear each year - the one that has a picture in it? Knowing the story behind what’s expected of them makes carrying on any tradition more satisfying and meaningful. So… deck those halls, hang that holly and bring on that Christmas cheer.


Autism & Exercise with Dr. Marjorie Solomon

The most recent statistics show that approximately 1 in 100 -110 children between the ages of 3 and 17 in the United States have some form of autism. Autism is a neurological disorder characterized by the limited ability or inability to socialize, limited ability or inability to communicate and repetitive patterns of behavior. 20

NOTE: Dr. Marjorie Solomon, Associate Professor of Clinical Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, CA. She has written numerous papers that have appeared in prestigious medical journals as well as co-authored chapters of books on subjects in the mental health field



the nature of autism, teens with autism are often less than physically fit. In fact, according to Dr. Marjorie Solomon, an associate professor of clinical psychiatry in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, California, autistic teens are often overweight… Dr. Solomon: Teens, as well as younger children, living with autism are overweight - some considerably so - due for a number of reasons. Some are overweight as a result of the medications they are on; some medications used to treat autism come with the side effect of weight gain. Other reasons have more to do with the nature of autism. Sports and exercise often include team participation, which is difficult to many teens with autism and impossible for others. Another reason for their lack of interest is their inability to comprehend the rules of the game and skills needed to play. In your professional opinion, do you feel schools should push autistic teens to participate in sports? Dr. Solomon: No, I don’t think they should be pushed. But to encourage an autistic teen to participate in physical activities on a regular basis for the purpose of maintaining a healthy weight and agility is important - as long as they’re encouraged toward the right types of activities for their individual situation. Right type of activities? Dr. Solomon: Autism limits a child’s ability to function in fast-paced social settings. They do not have the capability to play team-based sports where winning and losing is dependent on communication between players and cooperation between players. For instance, basketball, football, soccer, hockey… these are sports that require too much contact and interaction with teammates and have too many rules. On the other hand, swimming, horseback riding, track and skating are all great options for teens with higher-functioning forms of autism.

allowed to do their best and let it go at that - just like any other student. Each student - no matter what their limitations are or are not - should be encouraged to do their best and praised for doing so. Should autistic teens be coddled or allowed to just ‘do their own thing’? Dr. Solomon: No, they shouldn’t be coddled. You want to encourage social responsibility in those who are autistic. To excuse them from proper behavior that is within their proximal development zone is not doing anyone any favors. Proximal development zone? Dr. Solomon: Their potential - the maximum grade - level mentality they will reach. That makes sense. What happens when you push beyond that? Dr. Solomon: Frustration and emotional pain. Teens with autism want to build relationships - and they do…to the extent that they can. Autistic teens also feel emotional pain when they are excluded, made fun of and bullied. Their pain causes them to withdraw from society even more - making their condition even more evident. The school obviously shouldn’t bear the full responsibility of keeping kids in shape. What can parents do to help their autistic teens? Dr. Solomon: Parents know their children best, so they should definitely be involved. Parents know their teen’s strengths and weaknesses, their proximal development zone and what motivates them vs. what frustrates them to the point of quitting or giving up. Being an encourager and cheerleader of sorts to help them overcome some of their challenges is a major part of parenting any child - but even more so with someone These sports are good because they can be done alone or in small groups with minimal contact and competition - is that what you are saying? Dr. Solomon: Yes. Do you think schools do enough to meet the needs of autistic students in the area of providing suitable physical education opportunities? Dr. Solomon: I think that depends on the individual school funding, number of students needing such services and staffing and facilities. If special classes aren’t available, do you feel teens with autism should be integrated into classes with non-autistic students? And if so, should the autistic students be shown special or preferential treatment? Dr. Solomon: There really is no one definitive answer to either of those questions. I think this should be looked at on a case-by-case basis. If students are high functioning, then being integrated into the class of non-autistic students is likely to work out just fine. Yes, there will be some limitations depending on what activities are being played, but all in all, they should be

with autism. Parents should also work closely with teachers and coaches to make sure things go in a positive direction. And what about those who are severely autistic? Dr. Solomon: Children and teens with severe autism will be limited to activities such as walking, horseback riding, music and dancing and communicating through what is called picture exchange communication. But team sports of any kind will be impossible. What would you like to leave us with in regards to relating with autistic teens - particularly in regards to sports and exercise? Dr. Solomon: Students, teachers and people in general need to know that autistic children are bright, intelligent, talented and have feelings, hopes and dreams just like anyone else.


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