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Are You a Helicopter Parent? DIVORCE Parents, teens, and experts weigh in.





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PUBLISHER Marie Schwartz, President & Founder M A R K ETI N G Cara Ferragamo Murray Vice President of Marketing & Communications Camille Heidebrecht Director of Marketing & Managing Editor Mary Hawkins Manager of Search Engine Marketing




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CAREER TRACK: 21st Century Skills for the 21st Century Workplace By Chad Foster


MONEY SENSE: Financial Wisdom for Teens—Learn Now or Pay Later! By Chad Foster


FEATURE: Helicopter Parenting— Why It’s Not Good for Your Teen By Diana Simeon


VOLUNTEER SPOTLIGHT: Does Your Teen Want to Be a Samariteen? By Lesli Amos


CAMPUS CONNECT: Why Hire an Independent Consultant? An Objective Professional Can Pay Off in Many Ways

27 14

By Jim Paterson


HEALTH & WELLNESS: Media Literacy 101—Fortifying Teens’ Media Diets By Kimberly Wolf, M.Ed.


VIEW POINTS: The Dreaded “D” Word

In Every Issue

6 See page 7.


DIRECTORY: Programs and services for families with teens



DID YOU KNOW? New ground-breaking stats FAVORITE FINDS: Review the latest and greatest



Regional events in and around Boston. SUMMER 2012 LIFE WITH TEENS


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Welcome to

A New Quarterly Magazine For Parents of Teens! You asked for it—and we delivered! In response to interest from TeenLife members and parents of teens—like you— we recognized that you not only need, but want, more information and guidance to navigate the issues affecting teens today. As you know, these can be formidable years—and we want to be right by your side! Life with Teens aims to inspire parents to be better parents, and teens to be better teens. We also aspire to help your budding college student prepare for life beyond high school. To think about financial security, work/life skills, the value of giving back, and more. You’ll find our editorial is timely and offers valuable advice.Thanks to the team at Your Teen magazine for providing some of the content in our inaugural issue.

Our feature, Helicopter Parenting: Why It’s Not Good for Your Teen on page 14, resonated with me right away. I think we have all been guilty of micromanaging our teens. On page 31, we look at parent, teen, and expert perspectives on divorce and Kimberly Wolf, M.Ed. evaluates teen media literacy on page 29. In addition, we offer ways your child can manage their money (page 11) and apply “21st Century Skills” to their lives (page 8). In each issue, you’ll also find a Volunteer Spotlight (page 25), a Listings Directory of teen-friendly programs and resources (page 39), and Local Events (page 43) to add to your calendar. We hope you enjoy your first issue of Life with Teens. To keep receiving your free subscription, sign up at

Let me know what you think! This magazine is for you—comments and feedback are always welcome. And please pass it along to other parents you know with teens! Happy Reading,

Marie Schwartz, President & Founder, TeenLife Media, LLC

P.S. Spread the word! Connect with TeenLife on Facebook and Twitter (@teenlifemedia). Invite family, friends, and coworkers to subscribe to Life with Teens at

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Gummy Candy Soaked in Alcohol By Dr. Thomas Tallman, Director, Emergency Preparedness & Disaster Medicine at Cleveland Clinic. There are teenagers who search for an undetectable mind-altering experience. Some have found a new way to get an alcohol buzz without arousing suspicion— marinating gummy bear candy in vodka. The candy absorbs the vodka and becomes an alcohol snack. Teens eat them in order to keep a mild buzz going throughout the day with the thought of avoiding detection. But the teen, believing the fallacy that vodka is odorless and undetectable, is not fooling anyone.

GO RETRO! Obviously, if you are seeing gummy candies suddenly appear or disappear and alcohol is missing, you may have cause to worry. However, if you are waiting for telltale signs, you will miss your opportunity. Don’t wait for grades to slip and don’t ignore altered moods. Sit down and ask your kids whether they are seeing this behavior among their peers. Tell your kids that eating alcohol-laden candy promotes alcohol addiction. Have a frank discussion and hope for an honest reply. You may find an underlying reason for a desired “altered mood.”

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Some content reprinted with permission from Your Teen magazine. SUMMER 2012 LIFE WITH TEENS





Today’s Today’s teens teens will will spend spend at at least least 16 16 years years and and almost almost 20,000 20,000 hours hours in in classrooms classrooms before before heading heading out out into into the the real real world. world. So, So, how how can can aa parent parent be be sure sure that that this this lengthy lengthy journey journey provides provides their their teens teens with with the the necessary necessary tools tools needed needed to to sucsucceed? ceed? The The question question isis fair, fair, and and deserves deserves serious serious consideration. consideration. Education Education alone alone probably probably isn’t isn’t the the answer. answer. But But the the addiaddition tion of of summer summer jobs, jobs, community community service service work, work, educational educational programs, programs, and and even even internships internships can can help help fill fill in in the the gaps. gaps. Each Each of of these these experiences experiences will will teach teach teens teens the the vital vital 21st 21st Century Century skills skills necessary necessary to to prepare prepare and and succeed succeed in in work. work. So, So, what what are are these these skills? skills? Communication Communication Skills—Teens Skills—Teens must must develop develop the the ability ability to to talk talk to to people people from from all all walks walks of of life. life. “Don’t “Don’t talk talk to to strangers” strangers” makes makes great great sense sense until until age age 11 11 or or 12. 12. After After that, that, the the ability ability to to hold hold aa conversation conversation isis vital. vital. Questioning Questioning skills skills and and listening listening skills skills are are both both critical critical to to this this process, process, which which need need not not be be complicomplicated. cated. Whether Whether personally personally or or professionprofessionally, ally, teens teens should should be be reminded reminded to to ask ask simple simple questions; questions; listen listen to to answers answers and and incorporate incorporate them them into into their their next next quesquestions; tions; and and focus focus questions questions on on jobs, jobs, families, families, and and hobbies. hobbies. A A teen teen that that isis “interesting” “interesting” isis great. great. A A teen teen that that isis “interested” “interested” isis even even better. better. 8 8


Networking Networking Skills—Future Skills—Future teen teen employees employees will will need need to to master master the the skills skills of of meeting meeting and and effectively effectively communicating communicating with with aa lot lot of of people, people, getting getting to to know know those those people, people, and and then then staying staying in in touch touch with with those those people—maybe people—maybe even even hundreds hundreds of of new new contacts. contacts. In In actuality, actuality, teens teens are are all all quite quite familiar familiar with with the the concept concept of of “keeping “keeping in in touch” touch” with with aa large large community community of of people people via via social social netnetworking, working, so so the the transition transition to to aa proprofessional fessional application application should should be be fairly fairly smooth. smooth. Keep Keep in in mind mind however, however, that that teens teens must must be be reminded reminded that that all all of of the the technology technology in in the the world world will will not not change change the the age age old old premise premise that that “people “people make make people people successful.” successful.” Who Who you you know know will will always always be be just just as as important important as as what what you you know. know. People People Skills—In Skills—In aa practipractical cal sense, sense, the the ability ability to to get get along along with with others others will will benefit benefit teens teens in in all all aspects aspects of of their their lives—at lives—at home, home, in in the the classroom, classroom, and and in in the the workworkplace. place. However, However, statistics statistics show show that that people people skills skills in in the the workplace workplace are are often often the the toughest toughest to to master. master. A A whopping whopping 70% 70% of of people people who who quit quit or or lose lose their their jobs jobs do do so so because because they they can’t can’t get get along along with with their their bosses bosses or or coworkers. coworkers. This This isis clearly clearly one one

12 TIPS for for Teens Teens Preparing Preparing for for the the Real Real World World

1. 1. Find Find your your passion passion and and follow follow it. it. 2. Ask a million 2. questions. questions. 3. 3. Read everything you you can. can. 4. Meet all kinds of 4. people. people. 5. 5. Fill your address book. book. 6. 6. Stay in touch with everyone. everyone. 7. 7. Always Always do do the the right right thing. thing. 8. 8. Volunteer for community community service. service. 9. 9. Discover your natural talents. talents. 10. 10. Try Try aa few few jobs jobs before before and and during during college. college. 11. 11.Pursue Pursueyour yourdreams. dreams. 12. 12. Remember: Remember: mastery mastery of of vital vital 21stst Century skills skills leads leads to sucsuccess. cess.

Give your teen the confidence they need.

skill that is best not learned “on the job.” Success will depend on a teen’s ability to compromise and to resolve conflict—coupled with understanding the dangers of burning bridges along the way. Tolerance—Three-year-olds from diverse backgrounds play together peacefully on playgrounds across America. They do so because they have yet to embrace the poison of intolerance. Socially, intolerance is distasteful, but professionally intolerance can be fatal. Employees don’t have the luxury of choosing their coworkers, their bosses, and/or their customers. Teens who expect to survive and succeed in the global economy today absolutely need to learn how to live with, work with, and socialize with people from all walks of life. So, how can you as a parent help? Intolerance—a learned behavior— can be unlearned with the help of parents who recognize the dangers of this behavior and the future challenges that it presents. Choices/Consequences— There is no magic wand when it comes to helping teens always make the right choices, but they can be reminded to weigh data, think about risk, and consider the consequences of their choices. The key is for teens to develop processes and strategies that enable them to sharpen their foresight. “If I only knew then what I know now,” a comment often heard, reminds us that hindsight is always 20/20. Teens must understand that there is a dangerous correlation between making minor bad choices now and making major bad choices later. It is also critical for them to realize that just one destructive decision can easily destroy the best laid plans and highest hopes.

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Conversely, making positive “right” decisions can help them achieve their life-long dreams. Time Management—Organizational and time utilization skills are two of the most vital common denominators of highly successful people. The ability to multi-task is paramount to a successful educational, as well as workplace experience. Simply put, teens who cannot effectively manage their time and organize their daily schedules are certain to struggle. Every teen must have a system. Whether that system is implemented with an electronic gadget or an old fashioned manual process is irrelevant. If the system works, then it is the right system. Hint: the ability to say “no” can go a long way in the game of time management! Business Literacy—In today’s world of entrepreneurial businesses and start-up companies, the vast majority of today’s teens will not work for large corporations. Smaller companies will employ most—and the preparation is quite different from the preparation for a job in generations past. These companies typically do not have the time or resources to train basic workplace skills or teach the newly employed about the particular industry landscape. Employees who take initiative, deal with challenges, overcome obstacles, and solve problems starting in their teen years will have a distinct advantage over the rest. Business literacy is probably the difference between failure and success. There is ample time for teens to master the 21st Century skills vital to workplace and life achievement if they start now. They must get involved, communicate, network, organize, make calculated decisions, appreciate others, and learn business. LWT 10



Learn Now or Pay Later! What teens need to do now in order to become financially literate young adults. BY C HAD FO ST ER

very parent wants their teen to walk into the real world fully prepared to make wise financial decisions. But, for most parents, teaching their children how to do this is not—at all— easy. So, here’s some practical advice, mixed with a little bit of financial wisdom, that you can share with your teen about making, managing, and multiplying their hard-earned money. 1. MAKING MONEY—How will your teen get his or her money? Simply put, they can earn it, marry it, inherit it, or steal it! Since marrying money is unlikely, inheriting money can take forever, and stealing money is illegal, the truth of the matter is that the vast majority of today’s teens will have to do it the old-fashioned way. Earn it. Of course, your child—and many of the teens you might know—are probably earning money by babysitting, mowing lawns, working in retail, or cashiering at the local supermarket, which are all excellent ways in which young adults can make money. Obviously earning their own money not only gives them some cash in their pockets, but it also teaches them so much more. They begin to learn the correlation between working hard and getting paid for their efforts. And they can learn about supply and demand: after babysitting for a few families, they might realize how many families need childcare help— and thus an enterprising teen might seize on the chance to earn even more money.

And it can go even further. What they are probably not thinking about is how influential these jobs can be on their eventual career path. I like to remind parents and teens that the process of career exploration, preparation, and selection cannot start too early. As parents, encourage your teen to get summer jobs in various different types of work and intern (hopefully paid) during breaks. Not only will they be earning their own money, but they will also be exploring what they like to do. A love for animals is not enough to become a vet, but combining a love for animals with substantial time working in a vet’s office may lead a teen to that very career.

“Young savers usually end up as old savers.”



2. MANAGING MONEY—So, what happens when the cash starts to flow in? Will your teen spend it all? Save some of it? Give some away? Hopefully, the answer will be no, yes, yes. Yes, you are reading it correctly, I replied no, yes, yes. In passing my financial wisdom on to you, I honestly believe that successful money management can only take place if “the list” is in the right order. Give, Save, Spend. Let me explain. Giving. Granted, “giving” is not always an easy concept to sell to the average teen that has worked hard for his or her paycheck. But then again, who wants to have an average teen? Teens should be encouraged to give—this reminds teens at an early age that no matter who they are or what they have, there is always someone less fortunate. I like to put it this way: whether you are 16 or 60, and whether you give away $10 or $10,000, there are three things I can promise you. 1. It always feels good to give. 2. It helps others when you give. 3. Giving is the right thing to do. Teens who start giving at an early age typically become adults who continue the practice of giving later in life. Saving. Saving is important, and it must become a habit. Habits, good and bad alike, are hard to break. For this reason, young savers usually end up as older savers, which is critical to the process of wise money management. While still highly recommended, starting to save at age 25 or

30 simply will not be as effective as starting the saving process as a teen. The secret to saving is time. Spending seems to come quite naturally to most teens. After all, why work hard to earn that pile of money if you can’t turn around and spend some of it? The desire to spend for most teens is quite normal. But it is imperative that teens have a clear understanding of how much money they’re bringing in, and thus how much they can allow themselves to spend, both on things they need and things they want. As parents, intervene a bit; ask your kids before shopping if they actually need what they plan to buy—or just want what they plan to buy. Again, they will probably spend a little on both, but a clear problem arises when teens start spending money they don’t have on things they don’t need. When that line is crossed, a small piece of plastic has obviously


Ten Tips for Teens on the Road to Financial Freedom 1. Work part-time as a teenager. 2. Give to those less fortunate than you. 3. Learn to save money at an early age. 4. Understand the difference between needs and wants. 5. Develop good spending habits before you have big bucks. 6. Pursue a career you enjoy.

of college students carry credit card debt, with more than half of those students charging their cards to the limit.




7. Figure out how to make money while you sleep. 8. Pay off all credit cards every month.

year-olds that have declared bankruptcy has increased 96% over the past 10 years.

9. Protect what you own with insurance. 10. Recognize the need to live within your means.

worked its way into the process. Be aware, credit card companies target teens, too. And credit card debt, as anyone knows, can cause long-term financial ruin. In fact, colleges today report that they lose more students to credit card debt than to academic failure. 3. MULTIPLYING MONEY— Teens who explore rewarding careers for themselves and learn to effectively manage the money they earn are well on their way to financial success. Only the ability to multiply their money stands between them and their future, and complete financial freedom. As a wise man in West Texas once shared with an eager, ambitious teenage entrepreneur, “Until you learn how to make money while you sleep, you will never really get ahead in the financial process.” Teens who learn how to make money while they sleep, unearned money, are the real winners. The sooner teens are introduced to the process of investing, and the earlier they are taught to understand the power of unearned income, the better off they will be in the long run. No matter how the market performs, a safe, long-term stock will be more profitable the earlier your teen invests. Once again, time is a determining factor in the process. Adults and teens alike must understand, however, that investing is a skill, which must be learned and practiced in order to improve over time. Is there a sure-fire formula that works for every teen learning about money? Not a chance. But is it possible to send teens into the real world financially literate? You bet. As parents, encourage them to earn their own money; to really think about their career path; to give, save, and spend in the right order; and to multiply their money even while they sleep. Teach financial wisdom now or consequently they will pay later! LWT

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Story after story came… Spy hopping with the dolphins, kayaking in mangroves, meeting locals and traveling by bus. What became clear to me was how much Sam enjoyed being with authentic people from a foreign culture. When I asked him “Was it what you thought it would be?” His response was “Better, by far!” He was proud of the work he accomplished and all that he learned. He got more out of the program than I could have possibly expected.


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PARENTING Why It’s Not Good for Your Teen Haven’t we all had a helicopter moment? Perhaps it was a note to a teacher protesting a grade, or a call to a coach insisting our teenager gets to play in next week’s game. Maybe it was helping too much with an English paper or wrangling an invitation to a party. Whatever the reason, we stepped in and did for our teenager what they could— and probably should—have handled on their own.

by Diana Simeon Reprinted with permission from Your Teen magazine.






And when our radar detects trouble, we act. “Some parents hope to rescue their teenagers from getting a bad grade or from a social situation or from any of the pitfalls that can happen in life, believing perhaps that it will be too difficult for their teen to handle,” explains Amy Speidel, a Cleveland-area parenting coach. “We have a pessimistic attitude toward our kids that says they cannot do anything safely or successfully without our help,” adds New York City-based syndicated columnist Lenore Skenazy, author of Free-Range Kids: How to Raise Safe Self-Reliant Children without Going Nuts with Worry. So why do we do it? What’s changed from the handsoff parenting style of past generations to the enmeshed style so frequently found today? Why do we think that our teenagers can’t handle what we handled at their age? Well, according to the experts, there are several factors at play. First, foremost and most obvious, we love our teenagers. “We believe that no one has our teenager’s best interests at heart. That’s not self-aggrandizing. That’s truly love,” says Deborah Gilboa, MD, a.k.a. Dr. G, a Pittsburgh-area physician. “And as they move into adolescence, we’re also still in the habit of taking care of all their needs.” Anxiety for our teenagers’ future is another reason. “There is an apt recognition that the world is a more competitive place now,” notes Dr. Lisa Damour, a clinical psychologist at Laurel School in Shaker Heights, Ohio. “And that this generation will have to work harder to be as successful as their parents.” No doubt. Take getting into college, particularly a top-ranked college. It’s just much harder to do these days. 16


In fact, how many of us would get into the college we attended? The current economic climate doesn’t help matters; even attending a prestigious college doesn’t guarantee a job upon graduation for our teens. Then, there are our worries over driving and drugs and alcohol and sex and everything else that can go wrong—sometimes drastically so—in their lives. And, as if all of this weren’t enough, chances are we’re also acting out of guilt. “We feel guilty because it’s so much harder for our teenagers today or because we’re asking them to do so much or because we’re divorced or we work too much or whatever,” Gilboa says.

Wait, Should We Really Land this Helicopter? So, if the world has changed, if it’s that much harder for our teenagers, isn’t the appropriate response to be more enmeshed with them? Absolutely not, the experts say. “We can almost describe it like this,” Speidel says. “It is as if parents are attempting to help their teens develop an internal guidance system, but never allow the teen to experience the learning as their own. For instance, years ago, if you were 12 years old and nobody picked you up at the end of an activity, you had to figure it out. Now, teens don’t do that; they just make a call.” Yet, it’s this figuring out of day-to-day problems that teenagers need to grow successfully into adulthood, Speidel notes. “By giving children the answers, parents are actually creating a foreman-on-the-job response in their child that says, ‘I don’t have to bank this knowledge

because you will have the answer for me.’” In other words, when teenagers deal with a challenge, they learn how to deal with a challenge. When they, and not their parents, talk to the coach about playing in next week’s soccer game or to the teacher about a poor grade, then the next time a similar situation arises, they will have built the skills to do so. But, when a parent swoops in and takes charge, these skills won’t develop. “It can feel like a vote of no confidence. The parent is, in effect, telling the teenager: ‘I don’t think you can handle this, so I am going to handle it for you,’” Damour says. Then, there’s the tendency of many enmeshed parents to rescue their teenagers from the consequences of their actions. For example, the parent who calls to complain about a grade her teenager “deserved” is not helping her teenager at all. Why study next time if Mom or Dad can fix it for you?

“When your teenager comes to you with a problem, instead of providing a solution, just listen— and be curious.” “Consequences give our brain information that says: This worked well; I want to do it again. Or: This didn’t work at all for me; I want to avoid that or try something different. The brain actually wires itself around these experiences,” Speidel notes. What’s at stake? A lot. If parents don’t allow teenagers to take charge of their lives—and experience the positive and negative consequences of their actions—they will grow into

adults who lack confidence, and perhaps even the competence, to successfully make their way in the world. Meanwhile, our relationship with our teenagers is also at risk when we helicopter. “There may be kids who find this totally inappropriate and humiliating,” Damour says. “It puts them in the position of being angry with someone who is acting on their behalf.” Meaning you.

Coming in for a Landing Former New York Times and now Huffington Post columnist Lisa Belkin said it all when she wrote: “Our own quirks look, to us, like concern or prudence or love. It’s everyone ELSE who hovers.” Isn’t it true? It’s easy to “tsk, tsk” about instances of extreme helicoptering—like the parent of the Colgate University student who called the school to complain about the plumbing conditions in China, where her daughter was spending a semester—but when it comes to our own teenagers, determining how much is too much is not easy. “I think parents feel frustrated by this. They wonder: ‘So, I’m just supposed to let them sink or swim?’” Speidel says. “It’s the balance that’s so important. Are you giving them steps along the way to become that confident adult that you clearly want them to become? They are not going to become competent just because they reach a certain age. They become that confident adult because they have those experiences leading up to that, which tell them, ‘You are capable of this.’”

Here are some strategies to get you started: Listen (a lot) more than you suggest. When your teenager comes to you with a problem, instead of providing a solution, just listen— and be curious. “So, for instance, if


The Flip Side of the Coin? Thanks to Amy Chua’s bestselling Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, we now have yet another parenting moniker at our disposal: tiger mom. Tiger mom—or tiger parent—means a parent who pushes her children to excel, at times using strategies that may seem excessive to the rest of us. While it’s most often seen with academics, it also happens in music or sports or debate or dance or most any competitive activity in which a tiger parent decides, “My child will be the best.” At Life with Teens we wondered: Are tiger parents the same as helicopter parents? They are, after all, very involved with their children’s lives. So, we asked our experts to weigh in. “I would say those are mostly different dynamics,” explains Lisa Damour, a clinical psychologist at Laurel School in Shaker Heights, Ohio. “You can have superdemanding parents that expect a kid to manage, but the helicopter parent does not think their kid can manage.” What’s more, tiger parents want their children to experience hard knocks, says Harvard-affiliated sociologist Hilary Levey Friedman, author of the forthcoming Playing to Win: Raising Children in a Competitive Culture. “Competitive parents recognize that no matter how great you are, you are going to face adversity at some point in your life. If you learn how to deal with that at a younger age, and in a safer environment, that’s a good thing.” Reprinted with permission from Your Teen magazine.



ADVICE FROM OUR EXPERT Why do we helicopter? Because we love our teenagers and, at times, we’re afraid for them. But, says Deborah Gilboa, MD, a.k.a. Dr. G, a Pittsburgh-area physician who also dispenses parenting advice on HuffPost Parents and Twitter, we need to get over that. Letting our teenagers stumble is just what they need.

What do you think of the term “helicopter parent?” I prefer to say “enmeshed parent.” It is honest, but not as condemning. What are we doing when we’re enmeshed with our teenagers? We’re not building resilience. Our goal is to raise our teenagers so they can leave us; we’re important, but temporary. When we don’t teach our teenagers to manage problems on their own, they don’t learn resilience. And, if we don’t teach resilience, then we rob them of the self-esteem that comes from learning that they are resilient, that they can solve their own problems and make their way in life on their own. So what’s the alternative? Be engaged, but not enmeshed. Listen much more than you give advice. I read this great article years ago where the writer described how her dad responded when she came to him with a problem. He would say, “Wow, that’s a tough fix. I’ll be interested to see what you do about it.” And he was not being patronizing. He was saying, “I’ll be interested to see how you solve this problem. I have faith in you, and I want to hear how it goes.” Listen, listen, listen, so you can be engaged, but bite your tongue. Offer advice only a fraction of the time, even though you have the perfect piece of advice. Because the message when you don’t offer advice is that you have faith that your teenager has some good ideas about how to fix this problem on his or her own. Even if they mess up? The biggest gift we can give our teenagers is NOT protecting them from consequences. If your teenager is going to get benched because of a C in math, you should not argue with the coach or the principal or the math teacher; you should say, “How are you going to improve your grade?” If we protect them from consequences when they are teenagers—and don’t teach them resilience— they will be shocked and betrayed by the real world. We are not doing them a good service. That’s the danger of being enmeshed with our kids. We’re setting up false expectations for how they will be treated in every aspect of their lives. That’s hard to do for enmeshed parents. Yes, it’s hard but not impossible. It is very difficult to change how you feel, but how you feel is not as important as what you do. Parents can change their actions without changing their feelings. Change your goal from raising a teenager who is protected to raising one who is resilient.

Okay, so say my teenager never gets up on time for school? I would say, “Your ride to school leaves at this time. But I’m not going to yell anymore, because it ruins my day.” If they miss the bus, they miss the bus. However, you and your teen must agree on the consequences if school is missed. By high school, you can wait for the school to give consequences, but be cautious about inserting yourself between the child and the consequences. Your teenager may get an unexcused absence; they may have to take a grade hit. But, high school is a much better time to understand the cost of consequences rather than in college or at a job. I would also recommend you give your teenager three pieces of paper: three no-questions-asked rides to school. This can help you and your teenager ease into the program. A big project is due, but my teenager is doing a terrible job. What now? When it comes to a younger teenager, I encourage parents to think of themselves as a project manager, but not an employee. You can talk to your child about timelines and resources, but don’t do the work for them. Doing these projects is not really about, say, learning all the names of the planets in the solar system. They’re about learning how to manage timelines, manage frustration, etc.—all the tools we need to become competent adults. And, if you do the project for them—and especially if they get a good grade—they are not going to feel good about it. So, yes, let them fail if necessary. You are saying: “This is your work.” And, you let them see that one grade is not a reflection of who they are and that they have what it takes to fail and recover. For an older teenager, do much less. They should handle most of this on their own. Again, let them experience the consequences of their actions. What about the teenager who is not handing in homework day-to-day? This could suggest that your teenager has an organizational problem. But it could also be something else, like anxiety or social pressures. I always tell my patients that if they see a dramatic change in their child, that is not a time to be hands-off. So, if you see a dramatic change in grades or their friends, then in a very non-accusatory way, sit down with your teenager and say, “You need something you are not getting. There is a missing link for you, and we need to figure it out.” Promise yourself that you will not try to fix it in that first conversation, just be empathetic and listen. Walk away and sit with it for a few hours, then go back and say, “I’ve been thinking about what you said.” Then, you can start a conversation about next steps.

For more advice from Dr. G or to ask a follow-up question, visit her website at or tweet her @AskDocG. Reprinted with permission from Your Teen magazine.



your daughter comes home and says, ‘A friend is having a party, and I wasn’t invited,’ the tendency might be to say, ‘Well, are you having trouble with your friend? Did you do something? Do you want me to call her mom?’ In other words, ‘How do you want me to interfere?’” explains Speidel. “Instead, the first thing you should do is become curious about how your child is experiencing this situation and ask, ‘I’m wondering how you feel about this?’ It’s important for your child to know that the feeling is hers to own, not for you to fix.” Be a coach. Asking questions is also appropriate when it comes to supporting your teenagers through problems. “Parents should do a lot of thoughtful coaching. For example, if your teenager is having trouble with a teacher, you could ask, ‘Would it be helpful to email your instructor?’ or ‘What’s the appropriate verbiage?’ or ‘What are your goals?’” Damour


suggests. But, coaching your teenager on what to do with language like, “Here’s how to handle this,” is not appropriate. Start with low stakes—and don’t rescue your teenager from the consequences. Teaching our teenagers to fend for themselves means allowing them to make their own choices and experience the consequences of those choices. For an enmeshed parent, it can be gut-wrenching to watch teenagers stumble, perhaps even fall, which is exactly what they’ve been trying to prevent with their hovering. Mobile, Alabama, father of three, Tilmon Brown, knows this all to well. “My daughter is a lost puppy. So I have to decide: Do I let her flounder and make a mess of her life or do I get involved and help her succeed?” For those of us, like Brown, who struggle day in and day out with being enmeshed, it’s hard to know

Reprinted with permission from Your Teen magazine.

We polled our staff, readers, experts, friends, and family to bring you a TOP 13 of moments when our helicopter blades were whirling. While some may make you giggle or gasp, others may sound, well, uncomfortably familiar—proof positive of how difficult this can all be. The bottom line: if these moments are the rule in your home, and not the exception, it may be time to take a deep breath, review the tips from our experts and come in for a landing.

1. Recently, I emailed about 100 adults to ask them to be mindful of their behavior during an upcoming meeting that my high schooler was also attending.

2. I called my daughter’s college to complain about the food.

3. I called my son’s school because he missed the deadline to return a form that would allow him to participate in an extracurricular activity.

4. I can’t help myself. I attend my daughter’s rehearsals, take notes and then review with her the areas that I think need improvement.

5. I filled out my son’s applications for a summer job, and I called to schedule the interview.

6. I filled out my daughter’s college applications and helped her write the essay.

7. I called my daughter’s boss to ask for a better work schedule.

where to start. So, here’s an idea. “Next time your blades are spinning, ask yourself: ‘What’s the worst that could happen in this scenario?’” says Speidel. “And, if the answer is that your teenager ‘could be hurt, but it seems as if they will recover,’ then allow the possibility of hurt, knowing they can recover and do it differently the next time. Every time you allow your child to have a disappointment and recover, what you’re saying is: ‘You are strong. You can handle this. And, we’ve got your back.’” When our teenagers were toddlers, just learning to walk, we were happy to let them teeter, totter, and tumble because we understood that this is how children learn to walk— and eventually run. Our teenagers are not so different: They will wobble; they will trip; they will most certainly fall. But, if we let them do it enough, they will also fly. LWT

8. My son had to return a book to his college’s bookstore. There was a problem, so while he was standing in the store, he called me on his cell phone, and I talked to the manager.

9. I require my teenager to take a picture on her phone and text it to me, so that I know she really is where she says she is.

10. I check online daily to make sure my daughter’s grades are acceptable.

11. I went to my son’s school and held his spot in line to make sure he got into an activity he wanted to sign up for.

12. I drive my daughter to school 2 – 3 days a week because she can’t get to the bus stop on time.

13. And here’s one from the headlines. A house shared by seven Boston University students was going up in flames. Instead of dialing 911, one of the students called his parents, who in turn alerted the University’s police department. Reprinted with permission from Your Teen magazine. SUMMER 2012 LIFE WITH TEENS


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Does Your Teen Want to Be a Samariteen? BY L ESLI AM O S

Jess Kruger, junior at Framingham High School

he teen years can be extremely difficult with pressures from school, home, friends, and media, along with rapid biological changes. For many, it is often too much to bear. In these dire circumstances, parents and teens are extremely fortunate to have organizations like Samaritans ( with a mission to help reduce teen suicide: a very real—and serious—problem today. In a recent interview with Nate Baum, the Youth Services Manager of the Samaritans’ Samariteens Program, I was reminded that suicide is the third leading cause of death for people ages 15 to 24. Although I had heard that statistic before, it has only now truly resonated. Along with extensive community education and outreach to help young people who are depressed or suicidal, the core of the Samariteens Program is the “teen to teen” helpline: (800) 252-TEEN and the IMHear instant messaging program, which allow teens to confide their feelings to a peer. Baum explains, “Our helpline volunteers use a technique called ‘befriending’ as a way to actively listen and offer support for callers, without giving advice or passing judgment.”

“It provides a space for callers to have direct and honest communication with someone their age who will respect and listen to what they’ve been going through,” continues Baum. There is no better way to understand the impact of Samariteens than by meeting one of the 64 active teen volunteers. Jess Kruger (16), a junior at Framingham High who handles several 3:00–9:00 p.m. shifts per week, offers a teen perspective. As a teen who personally conquered her own struggles with mental illness, Kruger believes she “was meant to be a Samariteen.” Kruger explains, “Obviously each caller’s situation is different; we are trained to intently listen, not to offer advice. But it is an incredible feeling to be on the other end of the phone when someone really needs me.” Being a Samariteen offers benefits on both ends of the phone line. Followup calls from teens formerly in crisis reassure that the program works—and that meaningful peer relationships are imperative to recovery. On the listening end, Kruger notes that her interpersonal and active listening skills have flourished as well as her own self-worth. “I am a more patient and understanding person. I may even explore the field of psychology down the line,” remarks Kruger. Kruger explains that the most valu-

able lessons she will take from Samariteens are summed up in two quotes. One is, “To the world, you may be one person—but to one person, you may be the world.” The other is the Samaritans’ tagline: “You are not alone!” The most rewarding part of the Samariteens experience varies by volunteer, but Baum maintains that volunteers are making real differences in callers’ lives. “Our teen volunteers speak with individuals who are experiencing some very difficult situations. That said, it’s an incredibly meaningful experience where teens are directly providing help to those who are in great need,” adds Baum. Samaritans has other volunteer opportunities as well. Teens can participate in events like the 5K Walk/Run to raise awareness about suicide and prevention, or the annual Make Noise to Save a Life fundraiser. For teens who believe in the power of caring for others, who want real world experience in the mental or public health fields and the opportunity to make an immediate difference, the Samaritans’ Samariteens program is an ideal fit. Samariteens accepts volunteers ages 15 - 19, and requires a nine-month commitment for the helpline. Teens can sign up online at, or call (617) 536-2460 for Boston or (508) 872-1780 for Framingham. LWT

“TO THE WORLD, YOU MAY BE ONE PERSON—BUT TO ONE PERSON, YOU MAY BE THE WORLD.” Samariteens answering calls for the helpline.




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Why Hire an Independent Consultant? An objective professional can pay off in many ways


talented athlete joins the football team at a prominent Ivy League. A “late-to-bloom” graduate attends a major liberal arts school by means of community college first. A budding diplomat finds the perfect academic curriculum at a university in D.C. And a student with learning challenges moves from discouragement to a college that meets specific needs. Apart from being successes, all of these high school students have one other thing in common: they each hired an independent educational consultant (IEC) to match them with the perfect school—a college that was exactly what they were looking for. So, what does an IEC exactly do that parents, college-bound teens, and sometimes time-constrained school counselors can’t or don’t? Mark Sklarow, executive director of the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA, www., the nation’s leading professional organization for independent educational consultants working in private practice, says, “there are a variety of ways



Just as you want to find the best-fit college for your teen, you will also want to find the best IEC to help you. Here are some tips on selecting an Independent Educational Consultant, according to Mark Sklarow, executive director of the Independent Educational Consultants Association.

• The IEC you hire should be approachable and work easily with the personality of your family and your student. Each consultant has a different approach and different expertise, and should understand exactly what your family needs. • Select a person who does a lot of college visits and is current on the best information and trainings. • Keep an open mind about the information a consultant provides, even if it doesn’t fit your preconceived notions. • Don’t assume that the IEC needs to have worked as a high school counselor or in a college admissions office. • Find an IEC who is interested in the right fit and not just “getting your teen in.” • Look for someone who makes the student responsible. • Meet several consultants when your teen is a freshman or sophomore, so you can start working with your choice IEC right at the beginning of their junior year. • Make sure your consultant works an average of 20 hours with you and your student to keep the college admissions process on track.



consultants can help throughout the confusing and high-stakes process of choosing a college—by not only saving families time and money, but by getting students to think about their interests, as well as the vast array of options they have. A consultant can also recommend different career paths and rethink preconceived notions about a school.” Sklarow continues, “Typically, a consultant has the benefit of more time to research colleges compared to school counselors. IECs use that time to find a school where a student will thrive.” Lucia Tyler, a college consultantfrom Trumansburg, NY, explains, “In today’s rapidly changing environment, families value up-to-date advice on selectivity, applications, scholarships, programs, and facilities.” Tyler explains, “The public schools often have a tough time keeping up with the tsunami of information coming from colleges.” “IECs consolidate information to save time and frustration—and can provide specific data on other topics, such as unusual majors, special needs, or unexpected family or personal circumstances,” adds Tyler. Tyler also notes that beyond the data and paperwork, IECs are concerned about the student, “A major reason for students leaving school is a mismatch. When consultants tour, they pay attention to the types of students who attend and the activities that are deemed important so they can help their clients with that information.” Luisa Rabe, a partner at PruPruett ett Rabe Associates, an educational Rabe Associates, an educational conconsulting in Haverford, PA besultingfirmfirm in Haverford, PA believes lieves that have IECsextensive have extensive expethat IECs experience, rience, many campuses having having toured toured many campuses and and through the process gonegone through the process withwith many many other students. She about visits about other students. She visits 50 50 campuses a year is constantly campuses a year andand is constantly updating her knowledge base. “What matters to me and what I think matters most to my families are possibilities,” says Luisa Rabe.

“Working with me means that students will learn a great deal about themselves and what they want/need at this moment in their lives.” She notes that almost half of college freshmen don’t return for their sophomore year. A good IEC can increase a student’s odds of finding the right fit. Rabe says she keeps track of details such as “whether the labs are updated, the career center is well-staffed, construction projects have stalled, the new workout facility is complete, or there are internships or research options.” Families are often overwhelmed by the information about the academics, costs, and environment at various schools, but a consultant can help manage the information. “Also, family and student opinions can be strongly held, and a consultant can provide an objective voice—and being less close to the situation, can observe student interests, skills, or personality traits, and be impartial,” Rabe explains. Students often appreciate that other voice. Rabe says, “In an age when everyone gets a trophy for showing up, it can be helpful—and sometimes a huge relief—to have an educational consultant who is passionate about excellence.” In conclusion, Rabe states, “Family savings go up in smoke and often times students are facing debt that has not moved them very close to a diploma, much less a career. Making a mistake with college choice can be very expensive. I know dollars and cents matter. But saving my families money isn’t what makes me jump out of bed in the morning. Instead, it’s the possibilities for a successful student experience.” Despite the frustration the college search process can entail for both parents and college-bound teens, there are plenty of success stories in which students find the right match. And in many cases, hiring an independent educational consultant helped lead the way. LWT



Media Literacy 101

Fortifying Teens’ Media Diets BY KI M BER L Y W O L F, M . E D.

mart phones. Video games. Tablets. Laptops. Desktops. Magazines. Books. TV. Movies. Newspapers. Radio. You name the sources; the chances are your teen is consuming content from most or all of them on a weekly basis. According to Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8- to 18-Year-Olds, a 2010 study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, American teens spend over 7.5 hours using media each day, and because of time spent multitasking, they consume over 10.5 hours of media content within that timeframe. Media provides sources of entertainment, social interaction, and education. Teens love it. And now more than ever, media has tremendous influence over them. It helps shape their self-concepts, how they understand the world and their places within it. While a “healthy media” movement is on the rise

with organizations like and promoting healthier content and technological interaction for young people, much of the media adored by teens is full of unrealistic body images, gender stereotypes, focus on material possessions, and incomplete representations of health and wellness. With this makeup and the time that teens spend with media, the potential negative effects are many. Social withdrawal, underdeveloped conversation skills, poor sleep, issues with body image, and weight problems are just a few. For generations, parents have briefed their teens on the dangers associated with sex, drinking, drugs, and driving. Today’s parents should be adding media to their list of topics. If you want to help your teen navigate today’s media landscape in a healthy way, I suggest a multi-faceted approached. SUMMER 2012 LIFE WITH TEENS


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Educate yourself. With media use on the rise and more studies about media’s negative influence on the teen demographic, many organizations are actually taking the initiative to educate adults about “healthy media diets.” CommonSenseMedia. org—run by James Styer, a Stanford professor, lawyer, and media executive—has media reviews, parenting tips, and a customizable newsletter. Model healthy media behaviors. CommonSenseMedia. org encourages parents to “set an example by using media the way you want [your kids] to use it. Don’t bring your phone to the dinner table, and turn the television off when it’s not actively being watched.” Limit teens’ media exposure (when possible). Generation M2 points out the numerous decisions parents make in creating a “media environment” for their teens. You may not be able to control your teen’s media exposure beyond your home, but simple decisions like banning TV, computers, and smart phones from your child’s bedroom move the dial when it comes to reducing media intake. Teach media safety. Make your teens aware of media’s downfalls and how they affect all people, not just youth. Talk to them about recent studies or statistics about media use, and refer to their favorite shows or magazines as jumping off points for discussions around negative or inaccurate imagery and messaging.

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The influence of media on American teens can’t be discounted—and it doesn’t look like teens will be losing interest in media any time soon. The good news is that today’s parents have the opportunity to foster responsible media habits in teens, which will help them enjoy media’s benefits in more positive, healthy ways. LWT





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hen I got divorced, my kids were 14, 10, and 6. It was a painful time for all of us, but I thought that I was prepared for everything that would accompany this difficult decision. And to some extent I was. I knew how to handle most things that would change our lives from a two-parent household to a single-parent household. Once the divorce was final my kids and I began working together to move forward into a new schedule for all of us. The new challenges that I was not prepared for came when I began dating. Dating at 41 was very different than dating in my twenties. For starters, meeting single men was not the same as it was when I was younger. And before I got married, I only had to worry about my parents; now I had to worry about my kids. Of course I could not dictate what my ex would share with my kids, but I decided that I would not discuss dating with my kids unless it became serious. I had a few dates shortly after my divorce was final, enough to learn that there were any number of strange men I wouldn’t go out with again, let alone introduce to my kids. But when you go out as a single parent you have to decide what to tell your kids about where you are going. Plus, I also knew that I needed to be more responsible about dating and late nights than when I was younger; my teenagers would be learning from my example. One evening after a coffee date, I got home much later then I had originally planned to find my daughter waiting for me with a look of disdain. She said, “You cannot expect me to call you when I am going to be late, if you do not do the same for me.” Suddenly my daughter became the mother and I became the child. That was quite a reality check, and to some extent, she was right. So moving forward, I made sure to set the right example in my dating life. What also became clear to me was the change in how my children would see me and how I would see myself. I would always be a parent, but how do you balance that with also being a woman? Not so simple. Whatever decision I made could be the wrong one. This became abundantly clear when I met the right man a year after my divorce. It was certainly difficult to introduce him to my two sons, but the real challenge was introducing him to my teenage daughter. She was less than amused at the prospect of meeting him. I was not sure why, but it was a difficult first meeting. Over time, I learned that her discomfort about meeting him was connected to her fear of more changes in her life. At that point, I understood that the biggest anxiety in divorce is the fear of change. And no matter what, change was always going to be in the air. And kids will learn how to adjust.”



ith divorce, most dads are not the custodial parent, and therefore, the dad has little or no control over the daily decisions. For many reasons, dads may allow the mom to be the custodial parent due to financial necessity and lack of comfort with being the primary caretaker. Often attorneys and psychologists advise this traditional route. I believe that dads should do whatever it takes to get full joint legal and physical custody, even if equal splitting of time means not having a “primary” home. Many psychologists advise against this and recommend that the child should have a primary residence, but I disagree. Don’t be left out of your kids’ lives. Step up and commit to being available for your children right from the beginning. Be a steady influence in their lives so that when they are teens, and they pull away for their own reasons, you remain a constant enduring presence. I learned that no matter what it took, I needed to stay involved and be a steady presence. When my daughters got older and their feelings grew more complicated than a simple ‘I love my Daddy no matter what,” parenting became much more difficult. But, no matter what, I stayed present. Now, when they ask why they have to be at my house when all they do is stay in

their rooms or watch TV in the den (while doing their best to ignore me), I just tell them that their presence is important to me. Nothing can replace face-to-face interactions with my teenage daughters. Although I work in social media for a living, I never communicate with them through social media. I occasionally check Facebook to see what they are doing, but the last thing they want is their dad communicating with them in a visible format. When necessary, I send texts. And of course, I call them. Although they rarely check email, I always send one before I fly to tell them I love them, so they will always know. Our most important moments are in person, when I am truly paying attention and being involved in what they do. Due to my work in social media marketing, I’ve built deep, rewarding relationships with many mom bloggers. Because I reveal my status as a divorced dad of teenage girls, moms share valuable advice that I hope has made me a better, more sensitive and insightful dad. I have been asked, “If you had just one hour with your girls, what would you do?” At this point, I would choose anything that I could do “with” them. When they were young, and I had a real choice, I would choose swimming because it was so interactive. Now, I make myself available when any opportunity presents itself. Being an involved dad has changed my life. Everything I do is all about what I can do for my kids and how I can make the world and their lives better. In business, I preach about the importance of relationships. I hope to pass this legacy on to my girls: It’s All About Relationships. My dreams have changed because of being a dad. My dream day now is skiing with my girls and having them truly want to be physically on the slopes with me, just like when they were younger. I want my daughters to know that I love them unconditionally. And my hope for them is to make a difference in the lives of others, even if only with a smile and kindness.”

Commit to being available for your children right from the beginning.



ivorce does not always have to be a bad thing. While it can be very upsetting and challenging, attitude can make a big difference. When I was in seventh grade, my parents separated, and my mom moved out shortly afterwards. At first it was hard to bear, but then I got used to my living situation, and now I cannot imagine living any other way. It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon, and I was about to go over to a friend’s house when my parents sat my siblings and me down at the kitchen table. They seemed uncomfortable, and I knew something wasn’t right, but I tried to stay optimistic. Hesitantly, they announced that they were getting a divorce and that at the end of the school year, my mom



PROFESSIONAL ADVICE: By Dr. Amy Lee, Pediatric Psychologist at the Center for Pediatric Behavioral Health, Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital Reprinted with permission from Your Teen magazine.


s these personal stories illustrate, divorce is a complex and painful experience. Children live through so many emotions over the changes divorce brings to their lives: loss, conflict, anxiety, and sadness. Parents suffer similarly, and for all involved, these feelings can change over time. Despite the challenges, parents can reduce tension by helping their kids experience their own adjustment without involving them in the spousal conflict. Two factors that protect kids through divorce are consistent, loving relationships with their parents and protection from parents’ emotional conflicts. As the teens point out, many kids find their own form of resilience and forgiveness, but parents make the road easier when they manage their own emotions, take a child-centered approach to the divorce process, and seek collaborative ways to negotiate with their ex-spouse. Teens navigating divorce will often use resources outside of their immediate family for support, turning to supportive friends, coaches, therapists, or teachers who can offer understanding and validation. Children of all ages may feel the need to protect their parents from their emotions; so having healthy outlets for expressing their grief, anger, and sadness can relieve a great burden. Some teens might not work through their personal experience by talking about their adjustment. For these teens, involvement with friends and activities may be more helpful. Regardless of the path chosen, protecting teens from their parents’ emotional conflicts frees them to sort out their personal feelings about the changes in their family. Parents can learn to let go of their anger, hurt, disappointment, and sadness by allowing themselves to grieve as well. Parents should seek guidance with a trained professional if it becomes too difficult to manage alone. As the legal system can be inherently adversarial, it is also important for parents to seek legal advice that is more collaborative in nature. Mediation or a newer form of collaborative law may be the best option for



many families. When pain and conflict are too challenging for mediation, collaborative-minded attorneys for each parent can work together to resolve conflicts around parenting. Parents also eventually need to move on to develop new relationships. Some parents might re-enter the dating world, and some might even remarry. The needs of the children involved become very important here as well. Parents should care for their relationships with their children during and after divorce. Continuing to communicate with teens about their feelings and the changes in the family is critical. Parents may find it best to share their plans to begin dating before introducing their kids to anyone new. A child who is unable to discuss a parent’s dating is probably not ready to meet a parent’s new friend, but when the child is ready, introduce the new person gradually and according to the child’s needs. Although divorce is always difficult, it can result in new and healthy family relationships. Parents can find ways to navigate the process collaboratively if they place their children’s needs at the forefront. Children can emerge from the divorce experience resilient and able to cope with challenges that they will encounter in their own relationships.”

would move out. I was shocked; I hadn’t seen it coming. Sure, they fought sometimes, but I knew most parents fought one time or another. I managed to keep it together downstairs, but when I was back in my room the tears came like a flood. I called my friend immediately, but I was crying too hard to even get the words out. The next day at school, I told more of my friends. They were all very supportive, and by the end of the day, I was already feeling much better. The rest of the school year is sort of a blur to me—I don’t remember much. As soon as school ended my mom moved out. All of a sudden, the situation became very real. I had two houses, two rooms, and two separate families. While the change was difficult to get used to, I soon realized I didn’t have it nearly as bad as some other kids with divorced parents. First of all, my mom’s job forced her to travel a lot, so I was already somewhat used to not being with both parents all the time. For at least the past year, my mom had been out of town for roughly half of the week, so it didn’t feel unnatural not to be with both of my parents for the entire week. Transitioning between the two houses was more of a challenge, but my mom moved only two blocks down the street from my dad, so it was fairly manageable. My parents have also maintained a very civil relationship to this day; they’re not like some divorced couples who refuse to even speak to each other. The more I looked at my situation from a larger perspective, the more I realized how fortunate I was. Overall, I have come out with a relatively positive outlook on my experience. While the changes that came with my parents’ divorce were hard to accept at first, I came to realize that even tough situations can still turn out all right. I have been lucky enough to maintain good relationships with both parents, and the good relationship they maintained with each other made the transition easier on my siblings and me. In the end, I have learned that in situations such as this, I could dwell on how life could be, or accept how it is, and make the best of it.”

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The Bonus Parent

BY TAM I B UTCH ER Reprinted with permission from Your Teen magazine.

y 14-year-old freshman daughter enjoyed her first homecoming this fall. On the big night, she was giddy, so excited, and to top it off, the boy of her dreams asked her to go. I had forgotten those feelings until now. For me, it was a flashback to that special time during my own teen years. She walked down the stairs to a veritable sea of eyes— two grandparents, two bonus grandparents, one sister, one brother, neighbors, my husband, and myself. This was one of those moments I had talked about with my kids. I always told them how lucky they were to have so much family to help them celebrate those moments in life. Watching my daughter’s four grandparents—my own mom and dad, plus my bonus mom (father’s wife) and bonus dad (mother’s husband)—relish in the joy of her first homecoming, I felt that she was so lucky to have so many people who loved her so much. And, I realized then that I was also lucky, for as unorthodox and rare as my upbringing may seem to others, it was a gift to me. Surely this sounds strange. Yes, my 11-year-old life was turned upside down when my parents got divorced, but I can now describe this as “lucky” because I know that my parents were not happy together. Some people are just not meant to be. They married young and had three children under the age of three by the time they were 21 years old. They could have been unhappy for years, filtering that unhappiness down to my two younger sisters and me, making all our lives miserable. Instead, they broke ties early and let everyone get on with our lives. My parents made a commitment to make the divorce as easy as possible, especially for us girls. There were

no visitation fights; we saw Mom when we wanted and Dad when we wanted. No this weekend here, that Wednesday there. We lived in both houses and they never talked badly about each other around us. We actually thought they were still best of friends. They set their egos aside. It was obvious that they were committed to making our lives easier, and it worked. Mom remarried Ken. I found it difficult to love him at first because I felt guilty; I loved my dad so much. Ken understood and told us he was not our dad, and that he could never replace our dad. He just wanted to fill the parental void when our dad was not around. This communication was so important. Dad met Nancy when I was 14. She was nothing like Mom. Mom was a businesswoman, savvy and sleek. Nancy loved the outdoors, animals, and a great book. I loved her immediately. She exuded warmth to everyone she met. Nancy made it clear she was here to love our dad and us, not to replace Mom. I believe that once both my parents found happiness, life got much better for everyone. My mom never felt threatened by Nancy; she felt relief—relief that when she was called into work, Nancy could cheer us on at our softball games, relief that when State Legislative sessions fell into days with no breaks, Nancy had an eye on her teenage girls, making sure they were staying out of trouble and the boys were standing clear. The gaps of a working mother were filled in by the love of a stay-athome bonus mom, and we appreciated and noticed it. Mom was a successful businesswoman who taught us how to fill out a resume and run for Student Body

Tami Butcher, the author of My Bonus Mom! Taking the Step out of Stepmom, and her husband, Mike, have three children—ages 7, 10, and 14. For more information, go to



President. Bonus Mom Nancy was a stay-at-home mom who taught us the meaning of a handwritten card versus an email or text message. Mom took us to banquets for senators; Nancy took us to book signings and plays. Taking the great from both ladies, my sisters and I became strong, independent leaders in high school, who ran for Student Council but sat with the person at lunch who was eating alone. Both women molded us into the people we are today and shaped how we raise our children. That’s why I am the luckiest person in the world. I grew up with a bonus family, with all its bonus benefits that trickle down into the balanced environment I try to provide for my teenage kids. While most children of divorce have memories of sorrow and a sense of loss, I am the opposite. People think my life is unrealistic. I think anger and bitterness are a state of mind that we can change at any time. My upbringing showed me that I am in control of my own destiny and happiness, nobody else. My parents put their children first; their selflessness made me a better person. I am grateful for the many “bonuses” in my life and that I can pass them along as gifts to my own children.



ivorce was never real to me until my parents were actually filing. This experience solidified divorce in my world as something that can be both liberating and limiting. Divorce breaks the chains that hold people back from what they truly want, while creating new burdens that hadn’t existed before the break. When I first found out about my parents’ problems, which mainly were caused by my father’s affair, I was devastated and just shut down. I don’t know what I had expected to happen, but I only hoped that it was best for them both. They went to counseling, and I saw my mom really try to work things out, but this effort was in vain due to my father’s perception that he’d done nothing wrong. Once I realized his lack of remorse, I couldn’t hold back all of the anger I felt towards him. Throughout the whole divorce process, I felt hurt and sickened by him. He continued to be self-righteous, and sadly, on the Fourth of July, his affair, which we thought he had put to rest, was fully exposed as we returned home from a baseball game. That

night, I saw my mom pack up all of my father’s things and give them to one of his friends to take to him. After my father officially moved out of our house, he filed the divorce proposal, and the three-year court battle began. As the weeks played out, I saw my mom go to court over the things that she needed to take care of us that my father was trying to deny her. The whole process seemed endless, and as I watched it unfold, I saw my father put more challenges in front of my mom. My mom wasn’t fighting for everything my dad owned or anything absurd, she was simply fighting for what she needed to pay for health insurance, doctors and orthodontist appointments, and other basic needs. In the end, my mom was able to obtain the legal agreement that my father couldn’t run off and leave her to care for all three of us without his just contribution. However, that still hasn’t stopped him from trying to evade his responsibilities even now. I cannot truly say that I’m not mad at my Dad for what he’s done to my family, but I can say that I have forgiven him and moved on, despite all the pain he still causes me with his actions and attitudes. Even when things are really hard to deal with, I am thankful that my family is blessed enough in the simplest of ways. Even now that my family is small and broken, the peace that comes with the separation is something that would have never happened without the divorce.”

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The Camp-College Connection HOW OVERNIGHT CAMP PREPARES TEENS FOR COLLEGE By Lucy Norvell of the American Camp Association, New England A teen’s first experience living away from home builds a tremendous foundation for the transition to college. Summer Camps are intentional communities that are not only designed to foster optimal youth development, but also provide opportunities for personal growth in a fun, safe, and educational environment. Of course, there are many benefits to attending a structured camp program at any age, but here are four key ways they help teens prep for campus life: Separation—Whether the session length is two weeks or the entire summer, overnight camp provides a trial separation from parents. In many cases, campers will be living away from home for the first time, which can be a big step for many teens. This trial period can alleviate much of the emotional stress faced by freshmen “leaving the nest” and beginning their first year of college. Independence—It’s certainly a long journey from birth to full-blown independence. At camp, young people are charged with taking care of themselves and their belongings. In addition, they must organize their day-to-day activities and manage their personal relationships with peers. Simply put, the camp experience is all about youth independence, which makes for an easier transition to college. Your son or daughter will arrive at college with tried and true systems for not only managing their schedules and lifestyle, but also for getting along with others. And learning how to navigate emotional and social issues at camp is valuable groundwork for college friendships. Individual Decision-Making—Campers have to make both large and small decisions, and then deal with the consequences of these decisions. From the power to choose an elective activity (for example, whether to try something new or stick with a favorite hobby) or the ability to create a menu for the day,



camps provide authentic and meaningful decisionmaking opportunities for teens. All of these major—and minor—choices can be precursors to the types of decisions college students face. Collaboration—21st century skills are vital for teens to be productive members of society and the workforce today. The ability to collaborate with people who may come from very different backgrounds is just one of those skills. Living, playing, learning, and working together at summer camp provides excellent groundwork for group academic assignments that have become increasingly more prevalent at college. The Camp-College connection is significant. The “learning by doing” that summer programs offer is instrumental in helping teens navigate college—and beyond! To find a camp using the ACA’s online camp search tool and read more about why every child deserves a camp experience, visit

Lucy Norvell is the Director of Public Information for the American Camp Association, New England, a 501(c)(3) organization that serves as the leading source for summer camp information and resources in CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, and VT. Contact to discover how to find the best-fit camp for your teen.


Categories We are pleased to provide you with a comprehensive Directory of local and national programs, schools, colleges, and regional services and businesses that meet the needs of families with teens.

College Resources Colleges Dining Out

SMART TRACK™ TOOLKIT’S COLLEGE ADMISSIONS BOOTCAMP The Smart Track™ Toolkit helps high school families with the entire college admissions and planning process. Students will leave the Bootcamp with a completed admissions essay, list of schools, financial aid strategies, a head start on the rest of their peers, and more! Contact: Jay Robie, (508) 533-3055 x277, Location: Babson College, MA

Health Services Independent Advisors


Independent Schools Local Programs & Classes Overnight Summer & Gap Year Programs Recreation & Entertainment Shopping Tutoring & Test Prep COL L E G E RESOU R C E S AMERICAN COUNCIL ON EDUCATION (ACE) ACE is the only higher education organization that represents presidents and chancellors of all types of U.S. accredited, degreegranting institutions: community colleges and four-year institutions, private and public universities, and non-profit and for-profit colleges. Contact: Carolyn Stanek Lucy, Associate Director, National Initiatives, (202) 939-9358, Location: Washington, D.C. CITIZENS BANK Citizens Bank is committed to making education affordable by offering banking and borrowing products that help college students finance their education. Our TruFit Student Loan® is available with a fixed or variable rate option, and repayment options to best fit a student’s needs. Contact: Education Finance Specialists, (800) 708-6684,

BERKLEE COLLEGE OF MUSIC Berklee College of Music was founded on the revolutionary principal that the best way to prepare students for careers in music is through the study and practice of contemporary music. Contact: Admissions Office, (800) 237-5533, Location: Boston, MA ITHACA COLLEGE SCHOOL OF MUSIC Since its founding in 1892 as a conservatory, the Ithaca College School of Music has earned the reputation as one of the best in the nation. It offers world-class faculty, performance opportunities, updated facilities, liberal arts courses, and career placement. Contact: Thomas Kline, Director of Music Admissions, (607) 274-3171, Location: Ithaca, NY SCHOOL OF THE MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS, BOSTON (SMFA) One of only three art schools in the U.S. affiliated with a major museum—the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston—the SMFA’s mission is to provide an interdisciplinary fine arts education that values cultural, artistic, and intellectual diversity. Contact: Admissions Office, (800) 643-6078 or (617) 369-3626, Location: Boston, MA

DINING O U T UNO CHICAGO GRILL Uno Chicago Grill has been a favorite for delicious pizza, but we do so much more! Uno is proud to support local communities with our Dough Rai$ers fundraising program for non-profits. To date, we’ve donated more than $4 million dollars! Host an event at your local Uno and earn up to 20% of sales generated from guests to support your cause. Call today and start making money for your organization! Contact: Nami Zylbersztajn, (516) 504-8649, Locations: 25 Unos locations in Greater Boston

H E ALT H S E RVICE S THE LANDING AT MCLEAN HOSPITAL The Landing at McLean Hospital is a fourto six-week residential treatment program for adolescents (up to age 19) struggling with substance abuse and psychiatric illness. Individuals are treated by expert Harvard affiliated clinical staff. Contact: (877) 412-3445, Location: Belmont, MA

INDE PE NDE N T ADV IS O RS ACADEMIC LIFE COACHING Individually tailored for each teen, this one-on-one life coaching program empowers students with a set of skills and tools to help them become academically efficient, emotionally self-aware, and personally confident. Contact: Gina Halsted, (781) 258-9085, Location: Lincoln, MA




AMG EDUCATIONAL CONSULTANTS Counseling in college and independent school placement since 1988, Andrea Glovsky has successfully helped hundreds of students by matching their interests and abilities to the most appropriate school. Guidance is provided face-to-face or electronically by a combination of phone, email, and Skype. Local, regional, and international clients served. Contact: Andrea Glovsky, (978) 526-7809, Locations: Beverly and Manchester, MA

ARTSBRIDGE, LLC ArtsBridge is an educational consulting firm specializing in helping high school and and college transfer students in the performing arts navigate through the unique college application and audition process. Summer programs available. Contact: (855) 778-ARTS or (855) 778-2787, Locations: Various program locations in the Greater Boston area COLLEGE COACH College Coach is the recognized leader in educational advising, offering step-by-step guidance and insider knowledge from former senior admissions officers, to assist high school students and their families through the college admissions process. Contact: Erica Blades, Manager of Client Services, (877) 40-COACH or (877) 402-6224, Locations: Newton, MA plus 12 other offices nationwide ONE-ON-ONE COLLEGE CONSULTING One-on-One College Consulting is a private, comprehensive educational consulting service that specializes in guiding high school students and their families in exploring options, and making informed decisions regarding the college admissions process. Contact: Kim Penney, (781) 246-4111, Location: Wakefield, MA



POPP & ASSOCIATES, LLC Popp & Associates provides expert admissions guidance to college-bound students of all ages. We are committed to supporting students and families in a sensitive and honest manner, and personalize our services to address students’ individual needs and goals. Contact: Mindy Popp, (781) 859-9116, Location: Wellesley Hills, MA

BOSTON ARCHITECTURAL COLLEGE SUMMER ACADEMY Spend four weeks this summer exploring architecture and design through hands-on projects in the Boston Architectural College design studios in Boston’s Back Bay. Construct scale models and experiment with a wide range of materials and design methods. Contact: Nadine Gerdts or Jennie Pardoe, (617) 585-0101, Location: Boston, MA

I NDE P E N DE NT S CH O O LS LANDMARK SCHOOL Founded in 1971, Landmark School offers a full range of personalized programs for students in grades 2 through 12 with language-based learning disabilities, such as dyslexia. Landmark is situated on two beautiful campuses 25 miles north of Boston. Contact: Carol Bedrosian, (978) 236-3000, Locations: Manchester-by-the-Sea and Prides Crossing, MA NOBLE AND GREENOUGH SCHOOL The Noble and Greenough School is a rigorous academic community dedicated to inspiring leadership for the public good. Nobles is a coeducational, nonsectarian day and five-day boarding school for students in grades 7 through 12. Contact: Jennifer Hines, (781) 320-7100, Location: Dedham, MA

LO C A L PRO G RAMS & C L ASS E S BEAVER SUMMER PROGRAMS Beaver Summer Programs offer teens a variety of summer specialty camp opportunities through one- or two-week intensive experiences in the arts, athletics, or outdoors adventures. Specific programs include Simply Circus, Beaver Off-Broadway, High Adventure, and Extreme Sports. Contact: Nat Saltonstall, (617) 738-2750, Location: Beaver Country Day School in Chestnut Hill, MA

BOSTON BALLET SCHOOL Boston Ballet School has a long-standing dedication to excellence and access, and reaches more than 10,000 students ages 9 months to adult each year through classes, our Summer Dance Workshop, Summer Dance Program, Citydance, Taking Steps, and Adaptive Dance. Contact: School Administrator, Boston (617) 456-6260; Marblehead (617) 456-6380; Newton (617) 456-6263; Locations: Boston, Marblehead, and Newton, MA

ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE PROGRAM The Environmental Science Program is a unique camp for girls and boys entering grades 7 - 10. Students learn about the environment by hiking, biking, canoeing, doing an environmental cleanup project, and climbing Mt. Washington. Contact: David Backer, Executive Director, (617) 969-0288, Location: Newton, MA INTERNSHIP CONNECTION Internship Connection is a structured, educational program that provides high school and college students with real-world career experience through summer and gap year internships. Students live at home and work in part-time positions matched to their career interests. Contact: Dr. Carole Jabbawy, (617) 796-9283, Locations: Boston, MA and New York, NY

MEADOWBROOK SUMMER PROGRAMS: TEEN TRIPPING PROGRAM A series of one-week programs designed for young teens completing 7th or 8th grade. Join your teammates as you go on fun, challenging day trips such as sea kayaking, hiking, visiting Project Adventure, white water rafting, surfing, and more. Contact: Renee Mitchell, (781) 647-0546, Location: Newton, MA URBANFRAME SUMMER YOUTH COMMUNITY DESIGN/BUILD URBANFRAME offers teens a unique hands-on introduction to design and architecture. Based at MIT and under the guidance of an architecture professor and team of graduate students, youth design, build, and install real architecture for the community. Contact: Daniel Hewett, (617) 444-9904, Location: Cambridge, MA

Uno is proud to support the local communities it serves with our Dough Rai$ers program. To date, we’ve donated over $4 million to deserving organizations! Host a lunch or dinner at a local Uno and earn up to 20% of sales generated from guests.

Contact Nami Zylbersztajn at 561-504-8649 or START MAKING MONEY FOR YOUR NON-PROFIT TODAY.

WRITE FOR COLLEGE Write for College is a three-week, twohours-a-day writing course for students entering grades 10, 11, or 12. All forms of writing are covered, with emphasis on essays, plus preparation for SAT, ACT, MCAS, and for seniors, the personal college essay. Contact: Don Stewart, (617) 489-5662, Location: Belmont, MA

To showcase your business or service in the Life with Teens Directory contact SUMMER 2012 LIFE WITH TEENS


DIRECTORY OV ERN I G HT S U M M E R & GA P YEA R P R O GR AMS ASPIRE BY API Trek through jungles, climb volcanoes, and volunteer in Costa Rica! Explore the medieval cities, castles, and cathedrals of Europe! Brush up on the French, Irish, Italian, or Spanish language and culture, and potentially earn college credit before graduating high school! The opportunity is yours—experience the world with Aspire by API! Contact: Courtney Link, (512) 600-8921, Locations: Costa Rica, England, France, Ireland, Italy, and Spain CARPE DIEM EDUCATION Carpe Diem’s study abroad programs are designed to safely challenge every student. Through service, travel, and community and cultural exchange, our students receive a unique and personal insight into themselves and the cultures they live within and explore. College credit is available through Portland State University. Contact: Ethan Knight, (503) 285-1800, Locations: Australia, Brazil, Cambodia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Fiji, Honduras, Hopi Nation, India, Navajo Nation, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Peru, Rwanda, Tanzania, Thailand, Uganda, and Vietnam

PEOPLE TO PEOPLE LEADERSHIP AMBASSADOR PROGRAMS During Leadership Summits on the campuses of prestigious universities, students gain valuable leadership skills, explore careers, and prepare for college, while earning academic credit and making friends with students from around the globe. Contact: Natasha Porter, (888) 275-5061, Locations: Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Columbia, Johns Hopkins, Tulane and George Washington universities, UCLA, and University of Chicago

BOSTON BALLET Since 1963, Boston Ballet has been one of the leading dance companies in the world on stage, in the studio, and in the community. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Mikko Nissinen and Executive Director Barry Hughson, the Company maintains an internationally acclaimed repertoire. Contact: Box Office, (617) 695-6955, Location: Boston, MA

SUMMER ACADEMY IN APPLIED SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY (SAAST) The Summer Academy in Applied Science & Technology (SAAST) at the University of Pennsylvania welcomes highly motived and talented students to explore engineering at the college level, combining sophisticated theory with hands-on, practical experience in cutting-edge technologies. Contact: Paige Harker, (215) 898-0053, Location: Philadelphia, PA

THE MALL AT CHESTNUT HILL Taste, smell, touch, see, and shop The Mall at Chestnut Hill—intercontinental cuisine, fresh flowers, supple leathers, exotic perfumes, and fine merchandise at the only Bloomingdale’s in New England, Michael Kors, Tiffany & Co., L’occitane, Apple Computer, and more. Contact: (617) 965-3038 Location: Chestnut Hill, MA


EARTHCONNECT COSTA RICAN ADVENTURES EarthConnect is a fusion between a camp and abroad experience in one of Earth’s most splendid places. Each two-, three-, or fourweek adventure features cultural immersion, service, wilderness exploration, and education. Join us for an unforgettable summer! Contact: Wendy Brown, (800) 551-7887, Location: Costa Rica

5 WITS, FEATURING ESPIONAGE AND 20,000 LEAGUES 5 Wits is a one-of-a-kind attraction in Patriot Place, Foxborough. 5 Wits is an interactive adventure, offering multiple puzzles and obstacles in a real life, highly detailed environment. 5 Wits features two attractions: Espionage and 20,000 Leagues. Contact: Joe Botsch, (508) 698-1600 x607, Location: Foxborough, MA

EMERSON COLLEGE SUMMER PROGRAMS Explore communication and the arts in a summer program at Emerson College. Fiveweek programs include: stage design, musical theatre performance, acting, filmmaking, creative writing, and film production. The college also offers two-week programs in political communication and journalism. Contact: Tori Weston, (617) 824-8280, Location: Boston, MA

ARTSBOSTON ArtsBoston is the region’s largest and most comprehensive non-profit arts service organization. With innovative programs like and BosTix discount ticketing, patrons benefit from our commitment to keeping the arts accessible and affordable. Contact: Customer Service, (617) 262-8632 x229, Location: Boston, MA


T U TO RING & T E ST P RE P THE PRINCETON REVIEW No matter what your goals are, we have over 30 years of experience offering leading SAT, ACT, and PSAT prep courses and tutoring programs designed to provide a complete and personalized experience that fits your learning style, schedule, and budget. Contact: Shannon Shepardson, (800) 447-0254, Locations: Newton, MA; Online VERITAS TUTORS Veritas specializes in subject tutoring, test preparation, and college admissions consultation. With personalized coaching from outstanding educators at Harvard and MIT, as well as a staff of former Ivy League Admissions Officers, Veritas will help you achieve your academic potential. Contact: Adrian Jones, (617) 395-4160, Locations: Cambridge, MA; Online


Mark your calendars! Here are some family-friendly events to enjoy in Greater Boston this summer.



Thursday, June 28 – Wednesday, July 4 Boston Harborfest Various locations around Boston Boston Harborfest is a six-day long Fourth of July festival that showcases the colonial and maritime heritage of the historic City of Boston. The festival honors and remembers the past, celebrates the present, and educates about the future with reenactments, concerts, historical tours, and more.

Tuesday, July 3 Boston Pops Warm-Up Concert The Charles River Esplanade, Boston 4:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m Get a sneak peak at the Pops Goes the Fourth Spectacular at this free dress rehearsal performance by the Charles. Stick around for the huge fireworks display over the river in a grand finale.




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Sunday, July 8 Vintage Baseball Tournaments Georges Island, Boston 11:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Step into the 1860’s and watch Civil War-era baseball games played at historic Fort Warren with original rules and uniforms. Also running Sunday, August 19. park-calendar Sunday, July 15 – Tuesday, July 17 South Shore Arts Festival Cohasset South Shore Art Center Arts Festival celebrates its 57th year and showcases artists from New England and beyond. The Arts Festival features almost one hundred juried exhibitor booths, a juried art exhibition and members’ show, live music performances, artist demonstrations, children’s art activities, and a young artist exhibition. Wednesday, July 25 – Sunday, August 12 (Tuesday – Sunday evenings) Free Shakespeare on the Common: Coriolanus Parkmand Bandstand at Boston Common For its 17th season of Shakespeare on the Common, Commonwealth Shakespeare Company (CSC) is proud to present the political drama Coriolanus. The play charts the rise and fall of a powerful general as he battles enemies abroad, and a tide of popularity at home in Rome. Friday, July 27 – Sunday, July 29 Boston Summer Arts Weekend Copley Square, Boston The Boston Globe and WGBH have created the inaugural Summer Arts Weekend in Boston. Presented by Citizens Bank, this weekend event will celebrate the arts with a free festival, special offers around the city, and ticketed performances. With music ranging from classical and jazz to bluegrass and soul, along with dramatic theater and street performers, Summer Arts Weekend will showcase Boston’s thriving arts community. summer_arts_weekend/2012 Fridays throughout July and August Free Friday Flicks at the Hatch Shell The Hatch Shell, Boston The movies start at dusk, and are usually films that were huge box office successes, both recent and modern classics. The Hatch Shell lawn fills up on a first-come, firstserved basis. Bring a blanket or lawn chair and enjoy this family-friendly free event.



AUGUST Saturday, August 4 The City-Wide Book Sale Boston Public Library Central Branch 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. The City-Wide Friends of the Boston Public Library host a sale of donated books. All proceeds benefit the Boston Public Library. Saturday, August 11 1st Annual Boston Tee Party & Design/Artist Expo Boston Teacher’s Union Hall, Boston The Tee Gazette will join local and national indie t-shirt brands, designers, and artists at the first annual Boston Tee Party & Design/ Artist Expo to showcase their latest designs. Thursday, August 16 – Saturday, August 18 Boston GreenFest 2012 Boston City Hall Plaza Boston GreenFest 2012 is a festival filled with fun learning experiences to address the important changes we need to make in our daily lives and our neighborhoods. It will begin at Boston City Hall Plaza with a Kick-off Concert on Thursday, August 16, from 5:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. Events continue Friday through Saturday. Wednesdays and Fridays throughout August Summer Street Markets Downtown Crossing, Boston Downtown Boston’s largest outdoor arts and crafts market is expandeding to Wednesdays and Fridays through October. All original, handmade pieces: fine art, jewelry, clothing and accessories, artisan foods, photography, wood-, glass-, and metalworks, fiber arts, and more available.




The definitive source for all things arts in Greater Boston, including teen and family-friendly events year-round.


LIfe With Teens - June 2012 - Boston  

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