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January 2013




Quick and Healthy Breakfast Ideas for the Entire Family

Do they call you Grandma or Mom ? y h W

Life is More

Than a Game Interview with Dr. Edgette


hA t u r t e h t

g n i k c fi s x Traf

Se in

d Sta e t i n U the


Quote of the Month

Parents often talk about the younger generation as if they didn't have anything to do with it - Haim Ginott

table of contents Research


the truth About Sex Trafficking in theUnited States


Do they call you Grandma or Mom





Parenting Teens through the Dangers of Cyber-sex


Quick and Healthy Breakfast Ideas for the Entire Family




The Covering House Covering Young Women in Love and Protection


Healthy Eating, Healthy Body and Healthy Self-Esteem


Life is More Than a Game


How to Help your Teen Select a College

Death’s Other Victims

25 Vacationing with your Teen


They’re Watching You



the truth


Sex Trafficking in the United States

How many of you have seen the movie, “Taken�? This action-packed drama shows the lengths to which a father (played by Liam Neeson) will go to save his daughter from the clutches of sexual slavery.


NOTE: For the purposes of gathering these statistics, sexual trafficking is defined as the gathering, harboring, recruitment or obtaining a person (under the age of 18 for these stats) for the purpose of commercial sex.

His daughter, who thought she was going on an adventure to Paris with her friend, ends up kidnapped and sold for the purpose of being a sex slave-all because she talked to a cute boy outside the airport who was, in truth, on the prowl for innocent young girls to sell. But that’s just a movie, you say. That doesn’t happen in real life-and not here in the good ole’ U S of A. Wrong. The FBI and other major law enforcement agencies tell us otherwise. As a parent, it is your responsibility to be watchful-to warn your child against and protect them from such horrible, evil predators. How big is the problem Sex trafficking is the fastest growing organized crime and the third largest criminal enterprise in the world. It is estimated by the FBI that there are 300,000 child prostitutes in the United States on any given day who are forced to sell themselves for their pimp.


A staggering 46% of all traffficking in the United States feed prostitution. The average age of beginning in prostitution in the US is 13.* * Read more: End Slavery Now

Since 2000, there have been 17,000 to 18,000 women and children in the United States each year rescued from at least one source of human sex trafficking. Many of these victims are Americans while others are internationals brought to the country for such purposes. The traffickers are both seductive and forceful. Some use charm, good looks and the promise of stardom or fame in the modeling industry. Others use drugs, rape, domination and fear to control their victims. But how, you ask? How could someone coerce your daughter? Where are victims made The internet is the number one source or culprits (however you look at it) for sex trafficking. If your teen is visiting sites such as,, and (as well as many others), you need to put a stop to it immediately and contact the authorities. Also, look for words in messages sent to and by your teen such as ‘fresh’, ‘new’ ‘inexperienced’ and so on. Another cautionary note, there is a code word system in the world of trafficking and prostitution. Many times words such as ‘roses’, ‘hugs’ and ‘kisses’ are code for money earned for sexual acts and/or pimping.



What can you do Parents need to be watchful of who their children hang with, what they do on the computer and where they go. A careful parent can be the parent who sleeps a bit better at night. You also need to be forthright in talking with your daughters about the dangers of strangers. You may have thought that ended in middle school-that your kids were smart enough to not take candy from a stranger-but nothing could be farther from the truth. Good girls-the brightest and best-can be victimized. If you and your teen are having relationship difficulties, get the help you need now. Don’t let things escalate to the point of her running away or seeking acceptance in the wrong places. Likewise, if your daughter is seeking a father figure in her life, provide her with a strong, trusted, moral friend or family member to fill that need in the right way.

Don’t be a statistic The crime is real. It is growing and it knows no boundaries and does not discriminate. Be watchful, be vigilant and love your child into a trusting relationship where communication is welcome and easy (most of the time, anyway). Doing so will go a long way toward keeping your daughter safe from the hands of a

Pornography is a form of prostitution and trafficking. Check your teen’s camera from time to time as well as the photos they have in their computer. Teen boys are more likely to have porn on their computers than girls. If so, and the pictures are of a girl under the age of 18, your son is guilty of a crime. You need to take action immediately-for his sake as well as the victim’s. The internet has reduced the actual number or incidents in street walking and corner prostitutes. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t taking place. It’s just ‘quieter’ or ‘under the radar’. The incidence is higher, but it’s just not as obvious. In some places (Las Vegas, for instance) prostitution is legal. You can’t take three steps down the street along the strip in Las Vegas without being approached by men holding out cards for ‘their girls’. And these guys are wearing shirts that tell you they can have a girl to you in twenty minutes or less. It’s tragic and sad to think about the fact that many of these girls are under 18 or barely over. They are girls who thought they could hit it big in the city or who thought anything or anywhere would be better than home. I wonder what they think now-especially given the fact that their work is far from glamorous. Strip clubs and massage parlors are poor cover-ups for prostitution. The girls perform ‘services’ to the public but are also required by their boss (owner) to meet a daily quota for sexual services that bring in more cash.



Do they call you


GRANDMA or MOM According to the 2010 census, there are nearly 3 million households in which grandparents are responsible for raising their grandchildren-the vast majority of which are under the age of 18. We all know what a tremendous amount of energy it takes to be a parent. But as we get older, we also find that energy ebbing more than it flows. So how are these grandparents coping with the needs of their grandchildren? How are they finding it possible to relate to their teenage grandchildren on a parental level? Or are they? And how are the kids faring? Are they actually raising themselves because Grandpa and Grandma are simply too tired? Are they rebelling against the standards of their ‘old-fashioned’ grandparents; causing chaos and heartache in the home? Or are they thankful for the sacrifice and love of their

grandparents-people who didn’t have to step up and fill a role that needed filling? If you are a grandparent who is parenting…you have the undying respect and admiration of the staff at If you are reading this and know a grandparent-parent, take the advice in this article to heart and help make a difference in the lives of a multi-generational family today. Why Why are grandparents finding themselves in the role of parent? There are a number of reasons, really. Which one is ‘yours’? 1. Teen pregnancy. Your teenage daughter becomes pregnant and for whatever reasons, chooses to keep her child. She may have kept the child at your insistence-you want to raise your grandchild or she may have kept the baby without understanding the commitment and sacrifice required to be a parent (of course she didn’t know-she’s a child, herself).



2. Your daughter or daughter in-law becomes unable to care for the child : This may be due to their own poor choices such as addictions or breaking the law. A parent in rehab or prison will usually be required to place their child in the custody of a family member to avoid their child being put into the foster care system. 3. Abandonment : If your child abandons theirs, you are often left with their child to care for. In many cases, it is for the best. 4. Military deployment : When parents are deployed overseas, grandparents are often the interim parent. Of all the situations where a grandparent becomes a parent, this is usually the one that is a temporary situation; one in which everyone strives to make the best of a difficult situation. 5. Death of a parent : Life isn’t fair and sometimes grandparents are left to raise their grandchildren following the death of the child’s parent or parents. What you need to know If you are a grandparent who is parenting your grandchildren, it is important that you know full-well what your rights are in regards to custodial law. Merely taking the child into your home does not give you the authority to consent to medical treatment or give permission for their participation in activities. It doesn’t even give you access to their school records or give you the right to enroll them in school. Seek the counsel of a lawyer to make things legal. This will require the birth parent(s) to sign custody of their child over to you which,

depending on the situation, may not be pleasant. But it must be done. And the less interference from the state, the better. How You look into the eyes of your grandchild-realizing they didn’t ask to be born-tell them you love them, that you know you’re not perfect, but that you want to give them a home and a life they deserve. Then you just do it. You don’t have to dress like a 30 or 40 something mom or dad. You don’t have to coach soccer or baseball. You don’t have to ride roller coasters and water rides. But you do have to be present in their lives by rooting for them on the sidelines and letting them know how proud you are of their ability. You need to be involved in their school and track their progress. You need to let them to do things kids love to do (amusement parks and water rides). Just take one of their friends along too. You’ll all be happier that way. You need to give them the freedom to listen to teen music, wear teen clothes, eat a little bit of junk food now and again…in other words, you need to let them be a kid. You do need to be firm and consistent. Your grandchildren have had enough upheaval in their lives. Firm and consistent with the grace to compromise when possible-that’s the key to forming a strong and positive relationship. Don’t major in the minors. Entering into a family contract with your teen can


help. By putting everyone’s expectations and desires out there, a lot stress and confusion can be avoided. Don’t be afraid to ask for help If you are a grandparent-parent, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Talk to the parents of your grandchild’s friends in regards to helping with carpooling, occasional chaperoning for you to have a weekend away now and then and to keep up with what’s what in the world of a teenager. Don’t hesitate to rely on sources within the community or government for financial aid for athletic programs, extra-curricular programs and even college tuition. You are going above and beyond the call of duty. You deserve all the help you can get. And they lived… Alfred and Betty had the best intentions when raising their daughter in the strict but loving home they provided her. But she rebelled (as many kids do) and by 16 was addicted to drugs. By 17 she was a mother, a high school dropout and did little to care for her son. At age 19 she disappeared and wasn’t seen for six years. In the meantime, Alfred and Betty raised their grandson. They loved him, dealt with the physical and mental effects of having been in the womb of a drug addict and poured themselves into giving him the life they had wanted to give to their daughter. This time, they said, they would get it right. But Alex, like his mother, was addicted to drugs at an early age and by 16 was a father. His grandfather passed away, his grandmother

survived breast cancer and he came out of rehab twice-determined to be clean and sober both times. Today, in her late 70s, Betty is still won’t give up on her family. She now cares for her great-granddaughter during the day so her grandson and his girlfriend can finish high school-hopefully to make a life for themselves and their little girl. Time will tell. And then there’s Don, Samantha and Sophia. Don and Samantha’s daughter was a model child until her freshman year in college. She trashed her life with alcohol and sleeping with one guy after another. She came home on spring break just days before giving birth to Sophia. Two days after bringing mother and baby home from the hospital, they woke to hear the baby crying and their daughter gone. She’d left a note saying she couldn’t and didn’t want to raise a baby, but knew they would do right by Sophia. She apologized, thanked them and told them she’d sign anything that needed signing. She called three weeks later to set a time to sign over her daughter-never asking how she was. That was 10 years ago. Today Sophia is a loving, happy, well-adjusted little girl who knows she has ‘another’ mother, but is more than satisfied with the life she lives with Grandpa and Grandma and her special friend and babysitter, Olivia. Life isn’t fair and there are no guarantees. All we can do is our best and then hope and pray it’s enough.



Parenting Teens through the


of Cyber-sex

Sex is one of the most difficult topics of discussion between parents and teens. This seems strange, though, doesn’t it, since sex is how you got your teen in the first place? Thankfully, however, parents aren’t alone in their quest for teaching their teens the joys of a healthy and loving sexual relationship, the perils of premarital sex and unplanned pregnancy and parenthood and the dangers of porn and cyber-sex. Thankfully, teen counselor and author, Elizabeth L. Clark is dedicated to equipping parents with the knowledge and confidence they need to protect their children/teens from the predators lurking in the wireless world and from themselves. Ms. Clark’s book, Parenting Plugged-In Teens, is an excellent source of information and encouragement for parents committed to keeping their teens safe and secure. Let’s hear what she has to say….

“Whether we want to admit it or not, the wireless world is largely responsible for shaping a teen’s opinions of sexuality. And what they don’t get from the internet they get from their friends/peers.” “Parents canchange this, though, by having one small conversation with their teens. That’s right-while teens will never ask for help in the area of sex, they are thirsty for truth and wisdom on the matter. If parents will simply acknowledge the problem of their teen’s constant access to sexually explicit material and take the initiative to have a few short, sincere and direct conversations on the subject, they’ll see first-hand that their children want to talk to them and will actually listen.” Ms. Clark goes on to say that by having these conversations, parents can radically change their teen’s thoughts and attitudes about sex-specifically porn.


Honest and sincere conversations about sex can give your teen the confidence they need to expect more of themselves, more of others and to be more discerning in their relationships and their actions. And what’s more, Ms. Clark has proven over and over that teens whose parents initiate sex talks are parents whose teens later feel comfortable in initiating those conversations themselves. “One question I’ve been asked is ‘why’-why we should care what type of sexual experiences teens have. After all, they said, ‘We got through it just fine without going to our parents, won’t they?’ The answer to that question is that our sexual experiences impact all other aspects of our lives; our self-confidence, our friendships, our work performance, how we parent…everything. Sexually exploited people are insecure, unhappy people.”

“Is that what you want for your children?” But how? That’s the biggest questions parents have. How do you start a conversation with your teens about sex? Take a look at just a few of the suggestions Ms. Clark offers in her book, Parenting Plugged-In Teens. 1 Make your first conversation about a future conversation about sex. 2 Watch television and movies together and discuss how sexuality is portrayed. 3 Tell them that even though they may not have been exposed to porn, their friends and dates probably have. Explain they need to

arm themselves with the differences between porn and romance. 4 Stress that slow is better when it comes to sexual experiences and give them a clear picture of what a healthy sexual relationship is. 5 Help your teens come up with refusal lines such as “I just kiss” or “What do you think you’re doing”. 6 Impress on your teens the legal ramifications of sending sexual images over the internet or cell phones. 7 Don’t take away your teen’s technology. Technology isn’t the culprit. The users of technology are. Instead, teach your teens to be responsible, wary and pro-active in protecting themselves. 8 Become educated in knowing how to block calls, television channels and websites. Know how to monitor your child’s activity and do so. 9 Know the lingo. What may seem like innocent conversation may not be. 10 Unplug teens from their technology no later than 10 p.m. and try to do the same yourself. It’s a proven fact that the bulk of sexual predators, teen gossip, sexting, bullying and other unhealthy adventures happen between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. “Over the past ten years, I have found that most teens’ lives are negatively impacted by the porn-inspired sexuality that is so prevalent today. They are bombarded in the cyber-world and real life experiences. When I have short (twenty minute) conversations with them, they are attentive and grateful-two world seldom used when speaking of teens! And they instantly alter their behavior.”



Teens are still children-children searching for answers. And if parents don’t offer them, they’ll find someone who will. Unfortunately, that ‘someone’ is quickly becoming the porn and cyber-sex industry.

Stats on Teen Sex

In closing, Ms. Clark shared some statistics on teen sex that all parents, teachers and teen mentors need to be aware of and take to heart. By doing so, you can turn a teen’s life and attitudes toward sex and themselves around; making a positive difference in the life of one of tomorrow’s adults.

The average

age a child

61% of teens

see their first internet porn image 11

get their information about sex from their peers and the internet.

Teen boys watch an average of

15-20 minutes of porn per day

Over 30% of teens

have engaged in sending sexually explicit photos or dialogue over the internet or phone texting.

43% of teens wish their

parents would talk to them about sex

Using porn as a model for sexuality, many youth see sex as quick, disconnected, degrading and the type of sex the human body is designed for.

Elizabeth L. Clark has been counseling teens for twenty-five years. She’s spent the past ten years trying to unravel why teen sexuality has been so negatively impacted by their constant access to plugged-in technology. She has come to some simple and successful solutions on how to help teens navigate through the cyber-sexual landscape. Elizabeth is available for speaking engagements. You can contact her at



1,703 people like The Covering House

Covering Young Women in

Love & Protection “Although slavery was abolished nearly 150 years ago, it is still alive and thriving today, some say more than ever before. By taking a stand against the modern day slavery of the commercial sex industry and providing refuge for today’s young survivors, The Covering House is fighting for a world without slavery.” - Mrs. Dedee Lhamon Executive Director and Founder of the Covering House in St. Louis, MO.

Deedee’s passion for rescuing young girls ravaged by the trafficking of their bodies for sexual purposes began in 2008 after attending a presentation on the matter. Following her ‘introduction’ to the issue, Deedee laid the groundwork for The Covering House. Her dedication to The Covering House is both admiral and humbling. Listening to her talk about the program inspires me to help. I hope it will do the same for you.



What is the magnitude of sex trafficking? Is there really a need for places such as The Covering House? While sex trafficking is commonly envisioned in foreign locations, it also occurs in the US. The FBI estimates that there are up to 300,000 child prostitutes in the US, a figure that is purportedly growing. At least 75% of minors exploited through prostitution is controlled by pimps or traffickers according to the US Department of Justice. Locally, sex trafficking in the St. Louis area has been reported in numerous articles, highlighting how the St. Louis and Metro East regions are uniquely susceptible to sex trafficking. What is the meaning of your logo? Our logo is inspired by The Underground Railroad log cabin quilt pattern which served as a secret message of safety during those times. Quilts bearing the log cabin motif were hung in windows to indicate a Safe Home for those seeking refuge. Where is the safe home? In order to create a safe place for the girls, we do not disclose the location of the safe home. Can I visit or volunteer at the safe home? We do not accommodate visits to the safe home in order to maintain the privacy and dignity of the girls living there. We are dedicated to restoration of the survivors of sexual exploitation in our home. Short-term volunteers can be harmful if children form attachments to

volunteers who leave soon thereafter. Our highly trained staff commit to working closely with the girls over a long period of which is most effective in restoration. However, volunteers are welcome for a variety of needs we have. Our website ( outlines our volunteer opportunities. Where do the girls come from who enter the safe home? The Covering House has built relationships with organizations that rescue and/or receive sexually exploited girls into their immediate care. These organizations then place those girls in our safe home for long-term care. What services do you provide to girls living in the safe home? The Covering House provides a secure shelter and all-inclusive care for girls who are survivors of sexual exploitation and trafficking. Upon arrival to The Covering House, an extensive needs assessment is conducted. Each girl receives a comprehensive, customized plan to help provide healing, instill self-worth, and provide the necessary components to rebuild her life. This includes food, shelter, clothing, toiletries, healthcare, counseling, mentoring, education, vocational training, and recreational activities. Additionally, we are ready to start our new ‘life therapy’ classes. These classes cover a variety of topics to help the girls build a more constructive, meaningful and confident life. Here’s what it looks like:


Individual Counseling will be offered by clinically licensed counselors utilizing our Holistic Approach which incorporates Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Relational Cultural Theory, and Seeking Safety. Each client in The Covering House program will receive an individualized treatment plan developed by her counselor and treatment team. Group Therapy will be offered by clinically licensed counselors. The Covering House program is unique in that it was written by a social worker who is also a survivor of sex trafficking. The program is divided into two phases. The first phase explores the meaning of safety and self-care as well as feelings and fear identification. The second phase focuses on developing self-awareness and efficacy as well as establishing appropriate boundaries and connection within relationships. Healthy Living is a 6 week class which covers Health & Wellness topics such as Nutrition, Physical Fitness, Healthy Habits, First Aid, and Sexually Transmitted Infections. Financial Management is a 4 session class taught by Redevelopment Opportunities for Women which addresses Money & Power, Creating a Cost of Living Plan, Understanding Credit, and Banking & Investing. Growing Together Enrichment Workshop is a 6 week workshop which utilizes horticulture as a therapeutic method to promote individual confidence, teach participants a practical and socially responsible skill, and foster a positive social environment that engenders a sense of

community while promoting a sustainable future for The Covering House. Discovery Enrichment Workshop is a 6 week workshop that incorporates various exploratory activities to foster the discovery of individual strengths, explore personal purpose, and work towards creating a future career path. Outdoor Exploration Enrichment Workshop is a 6 week workshop which applies immersion in nature and outdoor activities to encourage empowerment of the individual, foster relationship-building, and promote enjoyment and connectedness within nature. Photography-Poetry Enrichment Workshop is a 6 week workshop which uses the arts of photography and poetry to promote creativity and expression. Beautiful Soles Enrichment Workshop is a 6 week workshop that explores concepts of beauty as they relate to today’s society.



How long does your program last? How long do girls stay in the safe home? There is no predetermined length for the program; it is unique to the girl and her needs. Once she has turned 18, has become emotionally healthy enough to be placed into a stable foster care home, or is reunited with her parents, a girl will generally leave the safe home. What services do you provide once a girl leaves the safe home? Once a girl leaves the safe home, we consider her part of The Covering House family and look forward to finding ways to involve her in our community. What’s your “success rate” of restoring girls’ lives? The Covering House has developed benchmarks we look to in considering our progress. A couple of these factors include the number of girls in our care and the number of girls who do not return to exploitative situations. More importantly, we aim to provide comprehensive restoration which is sometimes difficult to measure.

Is The Covering House a faith-based organization? The Covering House is not a faith-based organization. Dedee Lhamon, our founder, was motivated by her Christian faith to begin The Covering House and we appreciate the support of various communities of faith. Where do you get your funding? Funding for The Covering House comes from a variety of sources including private foundations, government support through the Department of Social Services, communities of faith, individuals, and fundraising events. Again, our website will allow you to make a contribution if you wish to do so.

Note: January is National Sex-trafficking Awareness Month. Please consider doing something meaningful to make a difference in the life of a young girl in need of hope and healing.



Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. Eating a breakfast that is packed with protein and other important nutrients is like filling your car up with gas before taking out across the open road. Without it, you won’t get very far before you start feeling sluggish. But simply eating something...anything isn’t enough. Eating the right kind of breakfast is what makes the difference. The right kind of fuel Protein fuels our bodies, builds and repairs muscles, cells and organs. Every part of our body from our fingernails to our hormones contains


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Quick, easy and delicious Getting the right combination of protein, vitamins and minerals to start the day may sound like a lot of work. It’s not. In fact, it requires very little preparation on your part. A trip to the grocery store and a few minutes of your morning are all that is necessary to start your day off right and keep you going until lunch time. t&HHTBSFQSPUFJOQPXFSIPVTFT'PSTFWFSBM years they were given a bad rap in the cholesterol department, but time and research have changed all that. Your grandparents and HSFBUHSBOEQBSFOUTLOFXXIBUUIFZXFSF talking about when they said eggs were the best way to start the day. )BSECPJMBEP[FOFHHTFWFSZUISFFPSGPVS EBZT&OKPZFBDINPSOJOHXJUIBTMJDFPGXIFBU UPBTUBOEBHMBTTPGKVJDFPSDPòFF :PVDBOTDSBNCMFBOFHHJOVOEFSNJOVUFT 8IJMFJUTDPPLJOH IFBUBøPVSUPSUJMMBGPS seconds in the microwave, spread a tablespoon of salsa and a tablespoon of cheese on the warm tortilla, add the scrambled egg, roll up CVSSJUPTUZMFBOEFOKPZXJUIBQJFDFPGGSVJUBOE coffee. %PZPVMJLFZPVSFHHTGSJFE 5IBUTPLBZ'SZBO FHHJOBTLJMMFUTQSBZFEXJUIOPOTUJDLTQSBZ QVU it between two slices of bread (or toast) with a slice of cheese, a slice of tomato and fresh spinach. t$FSFBMUIFIFBMUIZLJOEJTBHSFBUTPVSDFPG

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How to

Help your teen

Select a

College - Jade Robinson

If you’ve been listening at parent-student orientation meetings at the beginning of each school year or if you read the materials attached to the forms you and your student fill out each year planning their class schedule, you know what tremendous pressure your teens are under to plan their future as early as junior high. Teachers and counselors make no apologies for pushing students to select their elective classes based on what they want to do with their life (career-wise). Students as young as thirteen years old are given career aptitude tests to point them in the right direction. Talk about pressure! There’s nothing wrong with exposing students to a variety of career opportunities in the way of job shadowing, career fairs, guest speakers and so forth. But to put that kind of pressure on a child or to expect them to be mature enough at thirteen or fifteen to know what they want to do with the rest of their life is completely unfair and unrealistic. Think about it…you wouldn’t dream of letting your fifteen year old purchase a car on their own or handle the family’s finances, but yet they’re supposed to be charting the course for their future?

Choosing a college isn’t the same as choosing a career. Choosing a college is about choosing a learning environment that will provide a variety of programs and an advisory staff to help students recognize their strengths and passions. When it comes time to helping your teen select the college they will attend, there are a number of things to be taken into consideration. As you look through this list, take the time to jot down some notes; things you can discuss with your teen to help make the best decision for their education and future. NOTE: There is no ‘number 1’ decision to be made. What tops the list for one family may not be an issue for another. 1. Academic programs of study. Chances are the primary reason your teen shows interest in a particular schools is because of the school’s program for the area of study they wish to major in. That’s understandable. But if your


teen is like so many others, your teen’s career choice is likely to change. For this reason, it is wise to encourage your teen to select a school with a fairly wide range of academic programs. This shouldn’t be difficult. While some schools tend to specialize in one thing over another, most colleges and universities offer programs in general studies, teaching certification, science, math, business/accounting and computer sciences. 2. Cost whether you, as parents, are paying for your child’s college education or they are going to work and take student loans, cost should be considered. Other cost factors include in-state vs. out of state tuition, A+ scholarship programs, discounts offered to military families, minorities, or in-house tuition reduction programs for those who meet the qualifications. Sports and academic scholarships also play a major role in some students’ decision. Being offered scholarship money for athletic ability or other accomplishments can be very persuasive. 3. Family tradition do you expect your teen to attend your alma mater? If so, ask yourself why? More importantly, ask your teen if that is where they wish to go. 4. Where does your teen want to go to college? If your teen has their heart set on a particular school, you need to try to honor their wishes. If you intend to pay for their education and can’t afford the school of their choice, are they willing to work or take out loans for the difference? If so, let them go. If they are going to be responsible for the cost of their education, is their career choice one that will allow them to make enough money to

pay back larger student loans than if they went to a less expensive school? Are they aware of the commitment they’re making? If so, let them go. 5. Is the school a good fit ? Some schools are tougher than others. While all colleges and universities encourage their students to apply themselves academically, some schools hold their students to higher standards than others. And along those same lines, is the school’s atmosphere one your teen will do well in? For instance: what is the process for selecting roommates? What’s the process of switching if you’re incompatible? Are all the dorms co-ed or are there still male and female only dorms? What are the rules for freshmen having vehicles? Can underclassmen live off-campus (which can be less expensive)? Over and above all the ‘nuts and bolts’ of selecting a college is the emotional and mental preparedness you need to give your teen. They need to know you’re on their side and that it’s more than okay that they don’t have all the answers in regards to their future. For all the excitement and adventure they talk about, your teen is anxious and even a bit scared. In the whole scheme of things, that long. But those four years are among life. So while it is ultimately their decision to make, helping your teen make the choice of which college is best for them, is one of the most important aspects of parenting.



Death’s Other Victims NOTE: The following is an actual account. The names have been changed out of respect for everyone involved.

“It was Friday. Paige had spent three days in bed (or on the couch) with a horrible cold. Her boyfriend, Ryan, had faithfully come by every afternoon as soon as school was out to check on her and to bring her homework.” “Paige wasn’t the least bit concerned about the fact that she had a nose to rival Rudolph’s from all the blowing and sniffling, her hair had been in the same pony tail for a couple of days and that she was wearing a raggedy pair of sweat pants and an old t-shirt. Neither was Ryan. That’s just the way they were-simple, unpretentious and comfortable with one another. But then why wouldn’t they be-they’d known each other all their lives.” “Ryan’s parents are two of our closest friends and his dad is the minister of our church. Ryan and Paige had been in Sunday School, youth

group and school together all their lives. They had gone to the same summer camp, worked together on mission trips…they were completely comfortable around each other no matter what the circumstances.” “So after promising to come back later to watch a movie, Ryan left to stay with his two year old nephew for a couple of hours so his older sister and brother in-law could attend a funeral visitation for an elderly woman in our church-the same place my husband and I would be as soon as dinner was over. “John came in the door a few minutes later saying he’d had to take a little detour to get home because of an accident that had a street blocked. To this day I can’t put into words the feeling that washed over me at that moment. It only lasted a few seconds, but it was so clear. And the words ‘hope in spite of pain’ kept going through my head. I assumed it was because I was going to Letha Branson’s funeral


visitation. I didn’t know that in a matter of minutes our lives would change forever.” “Hi, Ruthie,” I heard Paige say. “No, he left here almost an hour ago. He said he was headed to your house to watch Logan. Dad just got home from work-he said there was a wreck that had a street blocked. Maybe he’s stuck there. Did you try his phone?” “I didn’t hear the rest of the conversation. It didn’t matter, though, because that’s when the phone rang in the house. It was Susanne, Ryan’s mom. She was barely able to speak.” “Jeanette...oh, Jeanette. It’s…it’s…Ryan. He’s been in an accident. The police called-Randy and I are on our way to the hospital. They say it’s serious-very serious.” “There it was again-‘hope in spite of pain’. No! Not Ryan. Please, God, no! I managed to tell Susanne we’d meet them at the hospital then hung up and ran to our bedroom to tell John.” “Paige knew something was wrong when her dad and I walked in together and sat down-her dad taking her hand. When we told her Ryan had been in an accident and that we needed to get to the hospital, she naturally had questions: ‘how serious is it?’, ‘what happened?’, is he going to be alright?’…. But we had no answers to give-only that Susanne had said we

needed to get there quickly.” “Paige didn’t even take the time to change her clothes. She slipped on a pair of flip-flops and out the door we went. Not a word was spoken on the way to the hospital other than John praying. When we arrived, Paige literally ran into the ER waiting room asking to be taken to Ryan and his family.” “The laws and regulations about privacy are such these days that the desk attendant was almost rude. After finding out Paige wasn’t family, the conversation was, for all practical purposes, over. I was finally successful in asking her to tell Randy and Susanne we had arrived, however, who naturally insisted we join them in Ryan’s room.” “Ryan was barely visible for all the wires, tubes, bandages and machines-including a machine that was breathing for him. It took only a second to know there was little hope for this wonderful, loving and amazing young man. I wrapped my arms around Paige to steady her-seeing Ryan literally took her breath away. When she’d regained her balance she reached out to touch him. Touching him made it real-that really was her Ryan. It was at that point



she dissolved into shaking, heaving sobs.” “Randy spent the next few minutes mechanically reciting the details of the accident they’d been given by the police: A semi-truck driver, driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol, had gotten hostile with the attendant at the truck stop where he’d just gotten fuel. The attendant had called the police, but before they could get there, the driver sped away just as Ryan was pulling in to get gas. He literally ran over Ryan’s car.” “Just as Randy finished speaking, the doctor came in holding the results of some scans and x-rays. John and I excused ourselves and started to help Paige up but she resisted.” “Let her stay,” Susanne said. “She’s the same as family. If Ryan could say so, he’d want her here.” “John and I stepped out of the room-John wanting to call the elders at our church to inform them of what had happened and to get things rolling in the way of helping the family in whatever way possible and to ask people to pray for Ryan. But we’d only taken a few steps when we heard the cries from Ryan’s room.” “Test results showed that Ryan’s brain was so severely damaged there was no hope for recovery. All of his major organs had sustained moderate to serious damage, as well. Ryan would never take a breath on his

own again, open his eyes, speak, smile…nothing. The doctor told Randy and Susanne they would need sign to have Ryan removed off of life support.” “Randy called us back into the room along with Ruthie and her husband who’d arrived just after the doctor had given the family the grim news. Watching Randy sign those papers-hand shaking so hard he could barely write-was heartbreaking. Listening to Susanne tell her precious son good-bye and trying to comfort my daughter who was in a state of shock and disbelief was the most horrific experience of my life.” “It took less than minute for Ryan to pass away once the nurse had switched the ventilator to ‘off’. No one knew quite what to do. Ryan was gone but none of us were ready to let him go or to leave the room. We knew leaving the room meant we knew Ryan would never be with us again.” “There are no words to describe the next few days. Getting through the funeral was difficult enough, but watching my once vibrant, loving and compassionate daughter dissolve into a state of depression and darkness was like losing both of them. We didn’t push the issue of her not eating and sleeping those first few days. None of us did much of either. But when she continued to simply pass through each day without barely speaking, caring little about school or her appearance, we became


concerned.” “We sought professional counseling, but nothing seemed to help. Three months after Ryan’s death, I heard a siren as I was driving home from the grocery store. And that’s when I heard it-‘hope in spite of pain’. I knew then and there that that’s what I needed to bring to Paige-hope in spite of her pain.” “Over the next few weeks I devoted myself to learning how to reach someone who is grieving a loss such as Paige’s. I decided that while the counselor had been trying to help, proper acknowledgement hadn’t been given the depth of Paige and Ryan’s relationship or the emptiness in her heart. The focus had been on the frailty of life and coming to terms with that and moving on. Paige wasn’t ready to move on. She’d not been allowed to experience her loss.” “When school was out, Paige and I took a trip-just the two of us. We talked about Ryan; recalling fond childhood memories and their feelings for one another. It wasn’t easy, but when she finally broke down and poured her heart and soul out as to the pain, sadness, anger and hopelessness she felt, I knew things were going to be okay. Allowing her the freedom to ‘let it all out’ provided her the strength she needed to see beyond the tragedy and into the future.”

“That was five years ago. It hasn’t been easy and there have been many painful moments. She hasn’t dated since Ryan’s death. She missed her senior prom. She didn’t have the ‘high school senior experience’ so many kids look forward to. But we’ve persevered. Paige will graduate from college in May and will then be leaving to work in overseas as a social worker in an orphanage. She’s not bitter or scared. She’s not depressed or withdrawn. She lives with the hope that through her pain she’ll bring hope to others in theirs.”



Vacationing with

your Teen

Family vacations…are they adventures or ordeals? Would your teen answer that question the same way? Don’t despair. Planning a vacation both you and your teenagers will enjoy isn’t as impossible you might think. Just take the following tips to heart, then pack your bags and head out. Oh, and don’t forget to take your camera because you’ll get some great shots with everyone smiling.

• Work together to select your destination. Most teens won’t turn down the opportunity to spend time on the beach, but if you’ve already done that more than a few times, you might want to consider something new and different. Sightseeing in some of our country’s major cities will have much to offer anyone of any age. Or if you’re more in tune to something more relaxing and

laid back (a quiet lakeside or mountain retreat), make sure you add a day or two of adventure in the plan for teens who see this a s boring. In other words…compromise. • Once the destination is chosen, give your teen the responsibility of planning a day or two’s worth of itinerary. Give them a budget for the day(s) and give them arrival and departure times. Working within these guidelines, the rest is up to them. And just like you expect them to be happy campers, you will be expected to do the same. • If your teen is an only child or the ‘odd man out’, allow them to take a friend along. Having a friend along can make any vacation more ‘vacation-y’. Quiet days on the lake will go from boring to times of making memories, having an adventure or just ‘being’ with a friend. • Choose lodging carefully. It may cost a bit more, but by staying somewhere that has a pool, gym and/or game room, you’ll give your teens something to do when you feel like doing nothing more than resting after driving for hours. If possible, select a hotel/motel that’s situated close to a popular tourist attraction.


- Swimming, fishing and picnicking on the river or lake - Working on a farm (helping with animals, gardening or putting up hay) - Visiting local museums or festivals • If traveling by plane or boat, allow your teen to participate in special activities geared for their enjoyment, but only with clearly defined rules and expectations. Predators consider such programs a haven for selecting their next victim. This isn’t to say there’s danger lurking any and everywhere, but better safe than sorry. • Don’t however, allow your teens to strike out on their own in a foreign country or even a large city in the good ole U S of A. Being a bit lax in household rules isn’t license for being negligent.

Planning your next family vacation no longer has to be a stressful event. Now that you know what to do to make everyone’s experience an enjoyable one. But if you are still in need of a little inspiration, visiting the following websites can help get you on your way:

• Let loose a little. If they eat more junk that normal it’s alright. If they are less than thrilled about a monument or battle ground memorial, it’s not a life-changer. If they sleep through the biggest ball of string in the world, it’s not the end of the world. Let it go. The ‘it’ being spats and arguments that are bound to happen when you’re riding in a car for several hours a day. Just forget about it and go on. Don’t let it ruin your trip. If you are like many whose vacations consist of visiting family members who live far away, make sure your teens don’t have to stay holed up in a house full of adults with nothing to do. Give them the freedom to go to the movies, shopping, the water park, a sporting event…whatever interests them. And if your destination is more rural with little to do in the way of entertainment, arrange for activities they aren’t accustomed to. Some of these might include: - Making home-made ice cream - Cleaning out Grandma’s attic or cellar (teens will likely find something they consider a treasure that Grandma will happily relinquish) - Demolition derby races - County fairs - Little league ball games

• •



e r ’ y e Th g n i h c Wat


No, not the FBI or CIA. Your teenagers and their friends, that’s who. Whether you realize it or not, your job as a parent goes so much deeper than discipline, provision and protection. Your job includes living a life that mirrors the character you want your children to have. And it’s not only your children but their friends, too. While your teenagers and their friends may or may not initiate conversations about the deeper issues of life, they will actively participate in conversations you initiate if you’ve done a proper job of mentoring them. A mentor is a trusted wiser, older counselor or confidant who is looked up to. A mentor is someone who provides a younger person with sound advice, a listening and non-judgmental ear, a sense of accountability, encouragement and praise or reproof when necessary. What it takes : To be a positive mentor in the life of a teen, you must, above all, be trustworthy. Your teenager and their friends need to know that unless their life is in danger or they’ve broken no laws,

you aren’t going to overreact to everything they tell you. Their secrets about guys or girls, what other kids do or if your teen’s friends confide in you regarding struggles with their own parents need to be safe. Be a good listener : Sometimes teens (especially girls) just need someone to let them talk. They don’t expect you to fix anything or solve their dilemma. They just want to be heard. Don’t interrupt or pass judgment on what they’re saying. Hold off speaking unless they ask you to or until they’re done. Then, it is the job of a good mentor to share your thoughts in a non-judgmental way and engage them in dialogue that allows them to reach a sound and mature conclusion to the matter at hand. Invest yourself into the lives of your teenager and their friends. Spend time with the teenagers in your life in a variety of ways-not just all fun and games and not just at their choosing. In addition to having fun with your teens, work with your teens in a number of settings, cheer your teens on in their quests for accomplishment on the sports field and in other areas, and share your life with your teens by sharing stories of your teen years and life experiences (good and bad) that you feel they could learn from.


Teenagers can spot a phony and insincere person a mile away. But by being real and sincere, you’ll reach their hearts and minds Why be a mentor : Being a teen isn’t easy. It’s harder now that it has ever been. The pressures and pulls of society are intense and unrelenting. They need someone who will listen, advise and encourage them in their dreams and goals, their faith and values and their relationships and self-esteem.

Who is mentoring your teens It’s unrealistic to think you will be the only adult your teen and their friends look to. For that matter, you shouldn’t be. But you do need to know who it is your teen looks up to and confides it. Is it a favorite teacher? Youth leader? Older sibling or other relative? Know the people your teen trusts and let them know you value and appreciate their investment in your child.

The value of a mentor : No one understands the true value of a mentor better than those who have one. This is evident by the statements of teens (and a few adults) who are reaping the benefits of having a mentor in their lives….

Kassie: I‛ve known my mentor most of my life. She‛s had teenage daughters of her own, so she understands what I‛m going through. She isn‛t afraid to tell me when I‛m wrong but she never does it in a mean or unkind way. She tells me because she really cares about me. And she‛s just as ready to tell me when she‛s proud of me. I‛m thankful she‛s in my life. I think every teenager needs a mentor-as long as they are someone who has strong values, morals and will not lead you down a wrong path.

Austin: I‛m 18 and have two or three mentors in my life-it‛s something I value greatly. I know I‛m far from perfect but I also know these people will hold me accountable without condemning me. The fact that they expect more from me makes me expect more of myself. I try to be a mentor to the younger kids in my church, too. I want them to have what I‛ve had.



Having a mentor is something I’m grateful for. When I’ve been confused about something, he’s always ready to help me figure out what’s what. He may not say more than two or three words, but by allowing me to voice the issues, I figure things out. My mentor is my grandpa, so I know he’s never going to steer me wrong. Travis:

Nicki: I had a mentor when I was younger-it was my stepdad. He was firm, but fair and he always believed in me even when I didn‛t. But then he died of cancer. I was only 15 at the time and didn‛t handle it well. My life has pretty much been a mess ever since. My mom tried so hard to help, but I refused to let her in. If my stepdad wouldn‛t have died, things might have been different for me. I know I have no one to blame but myself for my poor decisions, but hopefully I‛m finally ready to get this

DJ: Joni came into my life when I was a little girl. She is everything a woman should be; Godly, loving, compassionate, fun, smart, hard-working, kind, selfless…. She‛s had her share of pain (the death of her son and husband) and faced lesser trials, as well. But she‛s done it all in faith and with grace. I am thankful she‛s in my life. I have often called on her for advice and just to tell her thank-you for being such a great example.


Interview Dr. Edgette

Life is More Than a GAME

Dr. Janet Sasson Edgette is a prominent psychologist with over 25 years experience in family and child counseling. Among her many accomplishments is her latest book, The Last Boys Picked; Helping Boys Who Don’t Play Sports Survive Bullies and Boyhood; a book that encourages young people who are not athletically inclined to hold their head high and be the wonderful, unique individuals they are in a world where sports is often over-valued. NOTE: For more information on Dr. Edgette’s books and services, visit The need for physical activity for the sake of a healthy body and mind cannot be discounted, though, so where’s the line to be drawn? How much effort should parents put into encouraging their children to participate in sports?

Dr. Edgette: Most parents understand that it’s important for their children to sample a variety of sports before deciding they’re not cut out for that type of activity. It’s important, however, to have some idea of why your child might appear disinterested or try to avoid sports. For example, some kids just hate being ‘beginners’-even at something they’ve never done before and that no one would expect them to be able to do well. Some kids will avoid being beginners at any cost-even if that ‘cost’ is discovering an activity he/she would enjoy and possibly even excel in. In an instance such as this, it will help greatly if parents will share openly with their children about a time they were beginners at something (sports or otherwise)-the anxiety, self-consciousness and other feelings they had. Parents can share the process they went through of pushing forward to success OR not pushing forward. That’s right-not all lessons come from success stories.



Sometimes our kids do better when they hear about how their parents struggled when they were kids. Seeing you now and knowing you once struggled in much the same way they are, gives them self-confidence and removes some of the pressure they feel to be perfect. Another possible route to take to alleviate the ‘beginner syndrome’ is to give them the benefit of a few private lessons before joining a team. How hard should parents push their children to participate in sports? Dr. Edgette: I think that encouraging participation and discussing the child's aversions are important, but once that turns into repeated pushing, it's time to stop. Nothing positive will be accomplished by pushing forward despite a child’s unhappiness in participating in athletic endeavors. Children soon feel they have no voice in their own family or life-that no one is taking them seriously. Parents need to understand that not every child is meant to play sports. They do need physical activity-we all do-but physical activity is not the same as playing sports. Another important aspect of parenting non-athletic children is to make sure they are not feeling as though they have failed or disappointed you by not being athletically inclined. This is especially important if you, the parent, is athletic or the rest of the children in the family are. Parents need to actively address this issue-taking the initiative to tell their

non-athletic children how proud they are of their accomplishments and/or knowledge in other areas. Your children will probably not let on as though they crave your acceptance or approval of their academic or artistic endeavors, but they do. Absolutely! As I was reading your response to this question, my mind was immediately drawn to a family where the two daughters (3 years apart in age) couldn’t be more different. The older one is musically talented and more of a bookworm, while the younger one is equally intelligent, but a go-getter in the world of sports. Their parents also enjoy music, but the mom plays on a couple of city leagues and the dad is a radio sportscaster. Often times the older daughter has confided in me her feelings of being a disappointment or just not as loved because she doesn’t ‘do’ things. Dr. Edgette: That can be difficult. Some children don’t like being a part of a team; they just prefer working alone. This shouldn’t alarm parents or make them fearful they’re children aren’t socially adept. Children get plenty of ‘team time’ working with groups and partners in school. Some children aren’t so adverse to playing sports, but have no desire to compete. They don’t have the drive to push someone back to put themselves on top. And then there are those children who have learning or developmental disabilities or who struggle with visual-spatial skills. Hand-eye coordination as well as other motor skills and


balance are essential in many sports, so when a child lacks those things, they naturally shy away from them. Let’s expound on your comments about children not being adverse to being physically active, but not wanting to be an athlete…what suggestions do you have? Dr. Edgette: First and foremost, the sport or activity needs to be an experience in self-discovery. A child needs to feel they are learning, growing, accomplishing and enjoying what they are doing. If they aren’t, it’s time to stop. The most helpful thing parents can do is be easy-going about their child's "search" for the right sport or activity so that the spirit remains one of curiosity and self-discovery rather than "hurry up and pick one." If a child is enjoying what they’re doing, no matter how accomplished they become, they’re successful. But if they are being pushed and prodded, the whole situation will turn into a miserable experience for everyone involved and a demeaning one for the child; complete with resentment and tension. But if a child wants to be active, and likes the thought of the social aspects of a team but not the contact and intensity of team sports, you can suggest sports such as track, swimming, rowing, bowling, or even horseback riding. For those children who really are more of a ‘lone ranger’, activities such as martial arts, cycling, hiking, kayaking, marathon running, swimming, dancing, fishing, hunting and shooting sports such as skeet. Even walking works. In other words, you don’t have to be athletic, per se, to be healthy-I think it all comes down to giving those children who aren’t as athletic the same recognition and encouragement given those who play sports. It’s about giving children the right to be who they are-not what society tries to push them to be. Dr. Edgette: Parents need to be keenly aware of this and let their children know how they feel: “I know sports aren’t your thing and I want you to know I don’t need you to be involved in a sport to see how great you are. I’m happy watching you do something you enjoy doing.” Or if they’ve been trying the whole ‘sports thing’ but are clearly miserable, a parent could say “I know you gave it your best shot even though you weren’t crazy about playing. So let’s just forget it so you can put your energy into something you really enjoy.” Parents make mistakes, but overall, they have their child’s best interest at heart. But what can parents do about the obvious partiality shown to athletes when it comes to getting recognition in the way of awards and scholarships? But what about academic, musical and artistic excellence when it comes to scholarships? Dr. Edgette: This is a very important question and one that needs more attention from



parents and schools, alike. As the mother of twin boys (both high school seniors); one of whom was offered a baseball scholarship and one who dislikes sports altogether, this is an issue that is close to my heart. College sports are an enormous industry and an effective way for schools to bring in money for the benefit of both athletic and academic programs. Therefore, the sports scholarships

are the ones everyone talks about and pays attention to. That being said, there are a number of amazing scholarship opportunities available to students which are non-athletic in nature. Due to their non-athletic nature, they don’t get much attention, though, so finding them and applying for them is something students need to pursue aggressively.

Some of these include: • Scholarships from alumni or special interest groups • Scholarships for ethnic backgrounds • Scholarships for father’s occupation • Military family scholarships • Scholarships for handed-ness(!), hobbies and even your birthplace • Scholarships for areas of study Your student’s guidance counselor will also be able to point them in the right direction(s) for applying for non-athletic scholarships given by civic groups and businesses based solely on academic merit, leadership skills, community service…but not athletic ability. I think we can all agree that the ultimate goal of a parent is to love their child just because and to embrace their uniqueness and foster them to do the same. For more of Dr. Edgette’s valuable information, you can visit her website:

33 6



Sandy Van Aken, holds a masters in nursing and is the head of nursing for the Rolla, Missouri Public School System. Sandy was gracious enough to share her insight with on how parents can work with their teens and their school’s staff to help the teenage girls in your life focus on their self-worth rather than self-loathing. When asked if all the hype about teen obesity and eating disorders is real or media-driven, Sandy had this to say… “These problems are absolutely real and wide spread. They are problems that look so completely opposite one another but are essentially the same; poor self-image, self-confidence and a response to stress and false expectations.” We at couldn’t agree

Obesity and eating disorders-both are all to prevalent in the lives of our teenagers. They’re swinging on both ends of the pendulum and don’t know how to find that sweet spot in the middle called self-confidence and being comfortable in your own skin.

more. We were curious to know, however, what Sandy’s viewpoints were on the reasons for obesity and eating disorders, how to combat them, and how to reach these girls-to let them know their value is found not in their outward appearance but their inner beauty and their realizing the need to take care of their bodies. Here is what Nurse Sandy had to say: “Generally speaking, kids eat, exercise and have the same body-image perceptions as their parents do. Now that’s not to say that every teen who is obese or has an eating disorder comes from a home where the parents have the same, but there are strong family links.” “When it comes to changing the way teens (especially girls) view their bodies and eating habits, the schools have come a long way over the last few years in helping students become more food-conscious and make healthier choices. Our school system is only one of many that has switched to all whole grain breads, fresh salad bar offerings each day and no fried



foods are served. They’ve also lowered the calorie limits on meals. But schools can’t and shouldn’t be responsible for students’ diet and self-esteem 24/7. The responsibility ultimately lies with them (and their parents).” “It’s also important to remember that obesity and eating disorders are about a lot more than food. Both are often ways kids deal with stress at home, at school or within themselves. They are also cries for help in dealing emotional issues and cries for attention from emotionally absent parents. And let’s not forget the media and society. They play a huge part in trying to shape our opinions of ourselves. Their self-proclaimed decrees of what is acceptable and what isn’t have successfully sucked so many of us in” “As a school nurse and as the one who oversees the health program for the entire school system, I can tell you that eating disorders begin long before high school or the teen years. We are watching our elementary students for warning signs of eating disorders. When we see those signs, we notify the parents/guardians as well as keep an eye on them at school. On the junior high and high school level, we treat each case on an individual basis. I have followed more girls than I can count into the bathroom to keep them from throwing up. And I’ve sat at the table visiting with girls in the lunch room to make sure they eat. We have a great staff here, as well. They are keyed in on the signs of eating disorders and are an asset in keeping me informed. I don’t hesitate to contact the parents to offer information, advice and

support. We also have professional counseling services available, but I can’t force that issue. It’s ultimately up to the parents and the child.” We at asked Sandy what the signs of eating disorders are; what should parents be tuned in to? Signs of anorexia: • Drastic weight loss • Wearing loose clothing • Refusal to eat in public or in front of people • Hair loss • Irregular or ceased menstrual periods • Obsession with calories Signs of bulimia: • Binge eating • Fasting • Excusing themselves to the bathroom immediately after eating (to throw up) • Use of laxatives • Obsession with calories • Wearing loose clothing • Obsession with exercise Nurse Sandy goes on to say, “Parents have a huge responsibility to set an example of a healthy lifestyle and positive self-image. They need to build their children up-not tear them down. I have plenty of students who are a bit overweight, but are completely confident and comfortable with who they are and how they look.” As a mother of a teen who has suffered from eating disorders, I understand the complexity of the issue. One remark taken the wrong way by a friend, peer or family member can instill enough self-doubt to set them on a course of self-destruction. And it’s a self-destruction that takes a lot of hard work, determination, patience, grace and encouragement to overcome.


Nurse Sandy recommends parents get involved with their teen’s diet and exercise regimen. Be their cheerleader and partner. Get healthy with them and never, ever criticize their body or what they eat or don’t eat. “Remember… obesity and eating disorders are about a lot more than food.” NOTE: To help your teenager get fit and healthy, check out or

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