SUMMER MAGAZINE2014FORPARENTS PUBLISHEDTeenLife.comVOL.III.,Issue2BY An LookIn-depthatTeen SUBSTANCEABUSEUNCONSCIOUSCOUPLING The New Way to Divorce GOOD NEWS! YOUR TEEN IS NOT SPECIAL According to author McCullough,DavidJr.
Search, find, and connect with teen opportunities— all in one place. TeenLife.com provides parents and teens with the information and tools they need to find the perfect outside-the-classroom enrichment programs. OUR MISSION IS TEEN SUCCESS
SUMMER 2014 LIFE WITH TEENS 1
Summer is finally here!
Congratulations to all of the 2014 high school and college graduates!
May is a month full of high school and college graduations—a perfect time to have David McCullough, Jr. on our cover, a high school teacher who went viral after he gave a graduation speech dubbed, “You Are Not Special.” In our exclusive interview on page 12, David discusses his new book, and gives candid advice to parents and teens alike. Will your teenager be making an income this summer? Whether your teen has a paid internship or a job, our article on page 6, Encourage Your Teens to Spend Their Money Wisely This Summer, explains the ways he or she should spend or save their money. These tips also apply to parents!
Unpaid internships are just as educational and beneficial as a job, we explain in The Value of a Summer Internship for Teens on page 8. Your teen will experience a wide range of short and long-term benefits such as connecting academics with real world experience, identifying with a mentor, and building a professional network. Teens have a huge amount of free time in the summer, which would normally be filled with homework and extracurriculars. Unfortunately, free time can be associated with illegal party filled activities. Educate yourselves on the dangers of substance abuse by reading our feature It Can Happen to Your Child: Teenagers and Substance Abuse on page 16. It’s always better to be informed of the risks of drugs and be prepared in case something happens to your teen. Other informative content in our summer issue includes Putting a Healthy Twist on Summer Eating on page 28, Taking the Disagreement Out of Divorce on page 25, and The Hot New Major: Entrepreneurship on page 10. We hope you enjoy our summer issue as much as you enjoy the beautiful weather. Please share it with other parents you know at your school and in your community. It’s easy to sign up for a free subscription at LifeWithTeensMag. com/subscribe! I welcome your feedback and ideas on what you’d like to see us feature, so please don’t hesitate to email me at Camille@teenlife.com.
CamilleBest, Heidebrecht Managing Editor
Copyright © 2014 by TeenLife Media, LLC Published by TeenLife Media, LLC, Brookline, MA
OPERATIONS Maria Kieslich, Vice President of Operations Alice Bergin, Manager of Operations TECHNOLOGY Max Indelicato, Chief Technology Officer Lenny Pratt, Software Developer CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Sophie Borden, Debra Bradley Ruder, Kristen Licciardi, Randi Mazzella, Vicki Ritterband, and Elizabeth Suneby ART & PRODUCTION Kathryn Tilton, Designer EDITORIAL Camille Heidebrecht, Managing Editor MARKETING Brock Bair, Chief Marketing Officer Lesli Amos, Marketing Manager Sophie Borden, Marketing Associate ADVERTISING SALES Peggy Iafrate Sr. Director of Sales, firstname.lastname@example.org April Kennedy, Outreach Manager Christine LeMaire, Outreach Manager PUBLISHER Marie Schwartz, CEO & Founder
TeenLife.com 2 LIFE WITH TEENS SUMMER 2014 The Teen Gift that Lasts a Lifetime! “The school that prepares teens for college...the experience that prepares teens for life.” and college credit 6-week Summer programs 8-week School year programs 4-month Semester programs Find us on: and fun An International High School Academic Adventure IN ISRAELS IN CE 197 2 Alexander Muss High School in Israel www.amhsi.org Adventure and fun An Academic High School Study Abroad in Israel The teen gift that LASTS a LIFETIME! The school that prepares you for Thecollege…experience that prepares you for life International March of the Living and AMHSI Combined Program 8-Week School Year Sessions 18-Week Semester Programs 6-Week Summer Sessions Info@amhsi.org800.327.5980Findusonamhsi.org email@example.com • 800.327.5980 PUBLISHED BY Life with Teens, Volume III, Issue 2 Summer 2014 is published four times a year by TeenLife Media, LLC, 1330 Beacon St., Suite 268, Brookline, MA 02446, (617) 277-5120, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.teenlife.com. LIMIT OF LIABILITY TeenLife Media, LLC, (TL) does not verify claims or information appearing in any advertisements contained in this magazine. While advertising copy is reviewed, no endorsement of any product or service offered by any advertisement is intended or implied by publication in Life with Teens No part of this magazine’s editorial content may be reproduced without written consent by TeenLife. TL is not responsible for the accuracy of any description, or for mistakes, errors, or omissions of any kind, or for any loss or damage caused by a user’s reliance on the informa tion contained in this publication. Information is subject to change without notice, and readers are advised to confirm all information about an organization before making any Trademarks:commitments.TeenLife Media, LLC and related trade dress are trademarks or registered trademarks of TeenLife and/or its affiliates in the United States and may not be used without written permission.
4 Did you know? New groundbreaking stats 6 Money Sense: Encourage Your Teens to Spend Their Money Wisely This Summer BY SOPHIE BORDEN 8 Career Track The Value of a Summer Internship for Teens BY SOPHIE BORDEN 10 Campus Connect: The Hot New Major: Entrepreneurship BY KRISTEN LICCIARDI 12 “You’re Not Special” is an Encouragement David McCullough, Jr.’s Famous Commencement Speech Now a Book for Teens and Parents BY ELIZABETH SUNEBY 16 It Can Happen to Your Child: Teenagers and Substance Abuse BY VICKI RITTERBAND 21 SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION Residential Treatment: The Next Step to Conquer Teen Substance Abuse BY CAMILLE HEIDEBRECHT 25 View Points Uncoupling Gwyneth Style: Take the Disagreement Out of Divorce BY VICKI RITTERBAND 28 Health & Wellness Putting a Healthy Twist on Summer Eating BY DEBRA BRADLEY RUDER 30 Timely Topic New newMcCullough,BIShowcasesDocumentarythemportanceofMother/DaughterRelationshipsYRANDIMAZZELLADavidJr.’sbookinspiresgraduatesandtheirparents. Page 12. SUMMER Contents2014 LifeWithTeensMag.com STAY CONNECTED! Photo Credit: Brian Smith Photography
4 LIFE WITH TEENS SUMMER 2014 KNOW? DID YOU 11 MILLION tons of clothes are thrown out annually. DoSomething.org 1.5 million Total number of home schooled students in the U.S. Source: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics Donate Your Wears to a Good Cause! 83% of teens cite their parents as the leading influence in their decisions not to drink. -Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility
SUMMER 2014 LIFE WITH TEENS 5 2.8 million teens found formal summer jobs last year, an increase of 13% compared with 2012—and the percentage is trending to go up this year! U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is the perfect time to study for the standardized tests! The national average for the SAT is 1500. For the ACT it’s 20 - 21. The Princeton Review 65% of high school and college students get money to shop from their parents. Compared to 27% who use their own money from a job. StageofLife.com
6 LIFE WITH TEENS SUMMER 2014
arents should commend their teenagers for getting a summer job or a paid intern ship. Although they probably aren’t being paid as much as they’d like, working for an hourly wage teaches teens the real value of money. Before spending $20 on a video game, they may just consider how much time it took them to earn that amount—probably two hours or more. Teenagers who earn their own money will certainly understand the old phrase “money doesn’t grow on trees,” in its true context. Plus, you can bet they’ll gain a stronger appreciation for the money you spend on them! To further this financial responsibility, parents can advise their teens to spend their money in a certain way. Learning about money early on will also ensure a healthier, more responsible relationship with money as adults.Atthe beginning of the summer, create a spending and savings plan together. The following are smart ways to divide a teen’s summer earnings.
YourEncourageTeensto Spend Their Money Wisely This Summer
BY SOPHIE BORDEN Necessities. If your teen is making a fair amount of money, they should be primarily responsible for necessities, other than housing and food. For example, if they empty the gas tank, it’s perfectly reasonable to ask them to refill the tank at least half way. And if they use up the last bit of shampoo, they should go to the store and buy more. Holding them responsible for these expenses will make them think twice before driving all over town and throwing away a half-empty shampoo bottle. Social activities. Your teen will undoubtedly want to spend any free time with their friends going to movies, shopping, and eat ing out. Your teen should also be expected to take care of these fun little extras. He or she just might be more inclined to enjoy family meals and have movie nights with friends at home instead of the theater. Having less money to spend on social activities will make them wiser about what is a “necessity” versus an “extra.”
Source: Wells Fargo Save. Teens should always put at least 30 percent of their summer earnings, , if not more, of their paycheck into a savings account. When they go off to college, they will be thankful. Remind them that once they move out, they will have to spend a lot more money, and will not necessar ily have time to work during school. It is also important for teens to learn not to spend frivolously and to always consider the future when spending money. Start a retirement account. If a teen starts investing in an individual retirement ac count (IRA), the money will have much more time to grow before retirement. Instead of opening an IRA at age 40, opening an account when only 15 will result in a lot of money when they’re ready to kick up their feet and retire. Furthermore, if money is withdrawn from an IRA for buying a first home or paying for college, it is tax- and penalty-free. Big bonus. Invest. The stock market is confusing and overwhelming to many teens (and many adults, too). If you have a lot of knowl edge about investing, then offer to help your teen make smart decisions. If you are also looking to invest money, it could be fun to learn about the stock market together. You really only need a few hundred dollars to start out, and this will definitely be manageable after a summer job. While investing is more risky than a savings account, there is also a great chance for success. Just think if your teen opens a mutual fund at 15, by 25 and out of college, he or she will already have 10 years of financial growth. Give. Giving to charity is an amazing feeling, for teens and adults alike. Encourage your teen to research local or na tional organizations, and find one that they are passionate about. Even if they can only donate $100 at the end of the summer, this small amount of money will mean the world to the organization and to your teen. If your teen can’t afford to donate any money, they can always volunteer theirYourtime.teen will benefit immensely from financial education early on—and why not start with summer? Of course, all of these tips apply to adults as well. If your teen is financially literate before he or she goes off to college, they will have a head start in living life responsibly. Plus, they will learn to live off of their own money instead of yours!
Tips for Teens to Manage Their Money: 1. Keep accurate records of deposits and withdrawals. They should record all transitions, including deposits, ATM withdrawals, and debit card purchases.
3. Safeguard their personal account. Remind your teen that they should never give out account information unless they initiate the contact and to never leave their statements out in the open where others may see them. They should also protect their online purchas es by shopping on reputable sites and saving online receipts.
LWT SUMMER 2014 LIFE WITH TEENS 7
2. Make sure they don’t spend more money than is in their account to avoid overdraft fees. This may seem obvious, but again, it is imperative that teens adjust their written record against their available balance shown by the bank. They should review their account state ments as soon as they get them to make sure the numbers match up.
from observing the work place. But I was also a mem ber of the group, which helped me comprehend the goals and challenges of the company.” Nate finished his summer internship with a clearer vision of his future career in business through real-life experiences.
Immediate Benefits In the short term, a summer internship can help your teen further understand his or her goals for college. While most teens are underqualified for professional jobs before college, a summer internship can get them “in” with a company and provide them with professional experience. Not to mention, beginning to build a resume in high school is a good idea. Future employers are looking for as much professional exposure and experience as possible—and an internship counts! Every summer, TeenLife hires high school interns, and the experience is positive for both the company and the student. Nate Giess, a past TeenLife intern, recalls, “As a future business student, I found it fascinating to observe how this growing media company functioned and to be a member of a team creating a real product. Working in an office was like living in a case study, as I was able to learn
8 LIFE WITH TEENS SUMMER 2014 CAREER TRACK
igh school can be the perfect time for a teenager to intern: teens aren’t presented with too much financial responsibility, have several months off from school, and are eager to get some work experience before college. A summer internship can benefit your teen in both the short and long term.
Current labor laws state that if an internship is unpaid, it must contain a learning aspect and be beneficial to the intern. These laws protect teens from being treated like an assistant, instead of a professional intern.
The Value of a SUMMER INTERNSHIP
Sarah Burrows, Director of Internship Programs at Lasell College in Massachusetts, is a strong believer in internships, even if they are unpaid. She encourages her students to pursue an internship, even though “Many teens are reluctant to do an unpaid internship.” She goes on to explain, “But what [teens] gain is marketable experience, which will enable them to land a job later. There are federal labor laws governing unpaid intern ships, so participants should know their rights as well.”
BY SOPHIE BORDEN
6. The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for time spent in the internship. Securing a Teen Internship Teens can learn about internship opportunities through their teachers, parents, schools, and guidance counselors. Other resources include these internship search engines: www.idealist.orgwww.hirefulture.orgwww.internships.com
Long-Term Benefits In the long run, internships are an important way of meeting and interacting with adults in a professional setting. Burrows explains, “Getting to know adults other than teachers and parents is a growth opportunity. A teen may come to see that their parents aren’t really that crazy, compulsive, or rules-driven, as their boss at an intern ship.” It is important for teens to know how to dress, act, and talk around employers before they enter the “real” workforce after college.
• Connecting academics with real world experience
Before a student enters an internship, they must think about their goals, which include self-knowledge, selfassessment, and self-confidence. In other words, a teen must know what they like, know what aptitudes they have and what they’re good at, and feel optimistic that they can make a difference somehow, someway, somewhere. Being engaged at an internship is important for a teen’s profes sional and personal goals.
• Identifying with a mentor
Other benefits of teen internships include:
Burrows emphasizes the importance of an intern’s attitude in the workplace. She calls this “Maximizing Opportunity,” explaining in a Lasell College informa tional pamphlet, “To make the most of an internship, a student needs to maximize the opportunity. Ask ques tions; show up on time; dress for success; take initiative. Prove to your supervisor that you are interested not only in your future, but the organization’s future. Prove to your employer that you are worth mentoring and taking on responsibility. Every day matters.”
Choose Experience Over Money
• Enhancing future employment opportunities
Special Offer for TeenLife!
The U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division set the following criteria for unpaid internships:
• Creating a personal portfolio of projects and work
1. The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment.
2. The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern.
4. The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded.
SUMMER 2014 LIFE WITH TEENS 9
• Developing 21-century skills and marketability
• Increasing self-confidence
• Contributing to a business organization
• Building a professional network
Nate, who will be attending Emory University in the fall, knew he wanted a career in business, but his summer internship solidified this choice. He notes, “Though I have taken a number of business courses over the past few years, nothing has taught me more about how business is really conducted than my TeenLife internship. Ultimate ly, my internship was a window into a potential lifestyle, as well as an opportunity to gain real world experience and on-the-job skills.”
3. The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff.
5. The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship.
Whether teens earn money or not, at the end of the summer, they will have experienced a work environment like never before. After an internship, your teen will be able to build a better resume, gain understanding of a particular career or profession, and have more confidence in their abilities. No matter how big the company is com pared to the intern’s role, he or she is an important piece to the professional puzzle. Remind your teen to thank their employer and co workers when their internship is completed! A colleague or boss during the teenage years will undoubtedly provide important references in the future. LWT
s it any wonder that entrepreneurship has become a hot topic on college campuses? Americans are fascinated by Internet success stories like Mark Zuckerberg, who co-founded Facebook fresh out of college. Businessthemed reality TV shows like Shark Tank prove that we can’t get enough of real-life entrepreneurs striking it big.
BY KRISTEN LICCIARDI
And now teens want a piece of the action: tech-savvy high schoolers are designing mobile Apps and striking deals with Apple, according to a recent New York Times article.
Suddenly, it seems, everyone wants to be part of the startup scene. It’s not surprising, then, that college campuses are stepping up their commitment to all things entrepreneur ial—offering new courses, majors, and even establishing entrepreneurship centers and business incubators. But this movement is more than a passing fad and goes beyond traditional business school programs, according to Wendy Torrance, entrepreneurship director at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. “It’s very likely that if you’re on a college campus today, you’re going to be exposed to entre preneurship,” she Entrepreneurshipsays.programs are expanding and mor phing to match the unique identities of colleges, adds Torrance. “A wide variety of institutions are engaging in teaching entrepreneurship, from liberal arts colleges to large state universities.” Syracuse University, for instance, has a formal department devoted entirely to entrepreneur ship; many other institutions are creating entrepreneur ship minors, extracurricular programs, and seed funds for innovators and creative thinkers. Case in point: Hampshire College, a small, selective liberal arts college with a progres sive reputation, recently announced a $1 million program called the Seed Fund for Entrepreneurship and Innovation to inspire current students and recent graduates to develop new ventures.
The Hot New Major: Entrepreneurship A Hit on College Campuses
10 LIFE WITH TEENS SUMMER 2014 CONNECT
Some of GCC’s biggest supporters are former students turned successful entrepreneurs, like Bill Goldfarb, who completed coursework at GCC after a stint in the working world. Goldfarb, who was 24 at the time, said GCC’s emphasis on practical business skills like accounting and economics gave him the confidence to develop a business plan and move his fledgling beer brewing business out of his basement and into a retail outlet in 2010. Fast-forward four years, and he’s coowner of Greenfield’s Lefty’s Brewery, producing hand crafted beer with distribution in 130 bars, restaurants, and liquor stores in the western Massachusetts region.
Hands-On College Minors Inspire Go-Getters
Goldfarb learned the importance of community and local, handcrafted products through his smaller entre preneurial program at GCC. Other students may prefer a larger, more global perspective on business, which can be offered at the larger universities. Either way, an entrepreneurship major or minor will provide crucial knowledge for college students interested in business.
So if your teen is contemplating a career in entre preneurship, encourage him or her to investigate the many options available at colleges, small and large. Start by exploring individual institutions’ websites— when you’ve developed a short list of target schools, make sure you and your teen dig deeper and ask both students and professors alike about entrepreneurship initiatives during campus tours and interviews. You may be surprised by the wide selection of opportuni ties that encourage and support creative thinkers and innovators. LWT
SUMMER 2014 LIFE WITH TEENS 11
How does a large university tackle a broad topic like entrepreneurship, and teach it in a meaningful way across departments and majors? Pennsylvania State University is meeting that challenge with a new interdisciplinary minor established in July 2013 and called ENTI (short for Entrepreneurship and Inno vation). Any Penn State undergrad can enroll in the program. “This isn’t just for business or engineering students,” explains Liz Kisenwether, assistant profes sor at Penn State’s School of Engineering Design and director of the ENTI minor. Students take three core entrepreneurial courses followed by in-depth studies in one “cluster” they are passionate about, such as New Media or Social Entrepreneurship. “The Entrepreneurship and Innovation minor broadens our students’ view of the world and what they can do,” Kisenwether says, and allows Penn State students with a variety of majors and career goals to flourish under one program. Some students are interested in starting their own businesses, while others want to learn how to be “intrapraneurs”— innovators inside a traditional company, Kisenwether notes.But, beyond reading about entrepreneurship in textbooks, are students putting business ideas into action? At Penn State, the answer is a resounding yes. Just ask junior Nicole Kelner, who started a tech accessories company, now called Nicole Kelner Designs, in her freshman dorm room. After teaching herself to sew, Kelner created the first SmartPurse (a wallet/handbag that doubles as a waterproof smart phone carrier). SmartPurse sales took off when she launched an online shop on Etsy, said Kelner via email. Product mentions and accolades from the likes of Vogue UK ensued. Kelner credits her startup success with the hands-on business skills she has developed at Penn State: “I was able to pitch my business to the class, work with a team to tackle problems, and get con stant feedback,” she says about of one of her favorite courses, Entrepreneurial Leadership. Kelner also pointed to Penn State’s supportive extracurricular programs including Innoblue, Penn State’s entrepre neurship club, and Lion Launch Pad, an on-campus business accelerator program that offers mentoring and seed money for student teams with viable busi ness ideas. Kelner is now planning to expand her line into surf shops this summer. Customized Coursework Appeals to Millennials At the other end of the spectrum, entrepreneurship programs are growing at small community colleges, too, notes Wendy Torrance of The Kauffman Founda tion. A prime example: Greenfield Community College (GCC) in Greenfield, MA. Like many larger universi ties and colleges, GCC added its Entrepreneurship Certificate program in response to students’ increasing interest in startup ventures. Community colleges like GCC offer flexibility, allowing students to participate in an associate degree program, certificate program, or transfer credits to a baccalaureate degree college. This customization, along with the desire to “be their own bosses” appeals to Millennials, states Kathy Vranos, a business and marketing professor at GCC and co-chair of its business and information technol ogy department. For this generation, entrepreneurship is appealing because “There’s a desire for flexibility in their lifestyles, as well as individuality,” she explains.
12 LIFE WITH TEENS SPRING 2014
n a sunny afternoon in June, high school English teacher David McCullough Jr. delivered the 2012 high school commence ment address to the graduating seniors of Wellesley, Massachu setts, a suburb west of Boston. McCullough intended his fond farewell to be uplifting words of advice. Much to his surprise, his speech turned into a worldwide social media sensation dubbed, “You Are Not Special”—hardly the sound bite McCullough intended to deliver. His heartfelt goal was to inspire graduates to believe that they all could make their lives matter if they chose to do something special with their talents and McCulloughadvantages. explains, “The substance of my remarks came from a growing concern about what I’ve been seeing over the last several years, in my classroom, around school, across the culture, in my own household. Spurred by well meaning but all too often micromanaging parents with resources to expend, teenagers in great number are becoming ever more preoccupied with conspicuous achieve ment—often at the expense of important formative experiences.”
“YOU’RE NOT SPECIAL” IS AN ENCOURAGEMENT
David McCullough, Jr.’s Speech Now a Book for Teens and Parents BY ELIZABETH SUNEBY
Life with Teens interviewed David McCullough to gain his perspective on how to best raise well-adjusted, successful teens. McCullough offers insights gained from fathering three teens (and one soon-to-be teen) and from teaching high school students for close to thirty years. “If I can pretend an expertise, it’s on your standard kid. It’s been fulfilling and fun to draw from and make intellectual capital of how I’ve been spending my days these last few decades,” he acknowledges humbly about his credentials for penning this book.
Q: How can parents help kids focus on the joy of learning versus treating every assignment or test as a stepping-stone to college admission?
A: By giving them room to handle their responsibili ties themselves, and, with a light and dexterous touch, supporting them as they persevere. Quite understandably, kids want to feel they’re in charge of themselves. Their successes will mean all the more to them because they’ll know they’ve earned them themselves. And of course all the benefits of the experience will be theirs as well. More importantly, teenagers… well, all of us, really… need to know they’re appreciated for the qualities of their charac ter and not their list of accomplishments.
Q: Why do you believe teens are victims of parents’ good intentions and why are parents afraid to let their children “learn from their mistakes”?
Photo Credit: Brian Smith Photography Listen to David’s Inspiring 2013SpeechGraduation
A: Because in everything the stakes always seem so high. One little wobble, we fear, and all the cultural plums will go to someone else. A misstep, an oversight, a mistake, a miscalculation, poor timing, an experiment gone awry, a perfectly human little screw-up…these can pretty quickly look like catastrophe.
Advice to teens and parents McCullough took a sabbatical in the 2012 - 2013 school year to write a book expanding on the mes sages in his speech. With You Are Not Special and Other Encouragements, McCullough hopes to reassure families that a fulfilling, productive life is in every teen’s reach and thereby relieve the intense pressure on high school students today to excel. “You are not special” is indeed his “encouragement” to kids and parents to recognize that while very few students are truly extraordinary, virtually all have the ability to “roll up their sleeves and do something useful with their advantages.” He writes, “Every student needs to be valued for herself or him self, irrespective of the circumstances of upbringing and features of genetics. Or, for that matter, aptitude.”
Q: With all the accolades, support, and attention teens receive today, why do you believe many are stressed and harried?
A: Because with the accolades, support, and attention come expectations of achievement, of, even, excellence, and the opportunities people assume they will bring. Kids feel forever spurred, scrutinized, and judged. The adults invested in their success are keeping a close eye on every thing they do. Meanwhile, it’s a statistical inevitability that most of us are average… but in today’s climate to be thought of as average is pretty heavy condemnation. So the arms race is on, for grades, for impressive resumes, for general approbation, for admission to a prestigious col lege. To protect children, then, and make likelier desirable outcomes, we soften standards, inflate grades, and throw ever more confetti when they succeed.
SPRING 2014 LIFE WITH TEENS 13
1.parents: Provide your children a happy house hold. 2. Love them, support them, and allow them room to grow.
Q: Given that more students are vying for a relative ly static number of seats at high-profile colleges and uni versities, how do you advise families to relieve the pressure on gaining acceptance at one of these elite institutions?
A: Make learning the point of school, and not compil ing a GPA and resume with which to impress. Parents should remind their teen to be who they are, do what they do, and let people think what they will. To trust them selves and their abilities. Also, to find a sensible list of colleges that seem right for them. Work hard for selfrespect’s sake. Accept the reality that there are hundreds of truly excellent colleges and universities out there... and remember education is one’s own responsibility anyway.
Q: Why do you believe cell phones and other electronic media thwart teens’ ability to think and communicate?
A: The impulse to communicate instantly, briefly, and widely leaves little time for reflection and careful articulation. In their electronic communications kids seem willing to sacrifice substance in favor of immediacy and fluency for a kind of shrugging practicality. To be active in social media can feel like, but is not the same thing as, popularity. This tends to promote narcissism… here the “selfie” seems emblematic… and superficiality and neediness of affirmation. Participants can become like birds on a wire chirping.
3. Understand their responsibilities are theirs. 4. Remember what you do, how you behave, rings far clearer to them than anything you might say.
5. Clean your room. Top five pieces of advice for
Q: How can we encourage teens not to consider acceptance at certain colleges as a proxy for their value as a student or the determinant of success or failure in life after college?
DAVID MCCULLOUGH JR.’S Top five pieces of advice for teens:
Q: What perspective can you offer teens on the im portance of developing human (vs. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) friendships?
1. Think for and believe in yourself, and follow your interests.
2. Keep an open mind, a sense of per spective, and a sense of humor.
A: Become educated for the sake of a more satisfying life being educated affords. Learn for the sake of learning. Learn to become a contributing citizen of the planet. Trust that admissions people will make sound and just decisions.
3. Care about and respect others, and do what you can to be helpful to them.
4. Make every day matter.
A: Literature is wisdom with examples artfully ren dered, created, often, by very smart people with interest ing perspectives and rich experiences from which to draw. Literature is human capital, the repository of all we’ve learned through the ages. Literature allows us to live in other people’s skin, to see what they see, feel what they feel, experience what they experience, and then add all that to our own consciousness. Literature is powerful art that shows us of what the mind is capable. Literature exercises the brain in useful ways. It explains what it means to be human. It expands the experience of being alive.
Q: Why do you encourage teens to read, read, and then read some more?
14 LIFE WITH TEENS SPRING 2014
A: People are far too complex and dimensional, and friends too important, to let online interaction suffice in developing friendships.
5. Don’t skimp on the ice cream. You are not special” is indeed McCullough’s “encouragement” to kids and parents to recognize that while very few students are truly extraordinary, virtually all have the ability to “roll up their sleeves and do something useful with their advantages.
Q: Why do you end your book with a chapter about mortality titled, “So Live?”
Q: Instead of grades and accolades, what do you view as the most important characteristics of a teen’s net worth?
A: The fact that life is brief and finite gives it urgency and meaning. Childhood is brief and finite, so too are all the other stages of life. We should, then, savor every day, and find ways to be useful, and love what we love and who we love with all our might. LWT Elizabeth Suneby is an award-winning author of books for teens and children. Her latest title, Razia’s Ray of Hope: One Girl’s Dream of an Education, was just selected as a Jane Addams Peace Award Honor Book. In addition to books, Elizabeth is a regular contributor to TeenLife, and writes for many companies and magazines. www.elizabethsuneby.com
Exercise free will and creative, indepen dent thought not for the satisfactions they will bring you, but for the good they will do others, the rest of the 6.8 billion— and those who follow them. And then you too will discover the great and curious truth of the human experience is that selflessness is the best thing you can do for yourself. The sweetest joys of life, then, come only with the recognition that you’re not special. Because everyone is. Congratulations. Good luck. Make for your selves, please, for your sake and for extraordinaryours,lives.
SPRING 2014 LIFE WITH TEENS 15
A: A warm heart, a sturdy spine, a quick, agile, and power ful head. Humility is important, too, and curiosity. And quiet confidence worn lightly. And empathy. And an ability to laugh. And a spirit of adventure.
Excerpt from the ending of McCullough’s Wellesley High School graduation speech
16 LIFE WITH TEENS SUMMER 2014 BY VICKI RITTERBAND
When they arrived at the Colorado airport, two counselors from the program met Carneal and her daughter. Rather than accompany Stephanie through the admissions process, Carneal opted to say goodbye at the airport. “You’d think I would be sad and torn, but I had no doubt this was the right thing to do,” Carneal recalls. “I was relieved.”
“I’ve always been a nurturing parent who tries to connect with my kids,” says Carneal, who lives in Maryland with her husband and three teenagers. “But when we decided to send her to the program, I was so done, so ready. You finally get to the point where you realize something drastic has to happen. You aren’t able to manage this alone.”
It Can Happen to Your Child: Teenagers and Substance Abuse
SUMMER 2014 LIFE WITH TEENS 17
18 LIFE WITH TEENS SUMMER 2014
Teens Are Using In Large Numbers
Pellettiere adds that in her neck of the woods, teen agers’ drugs of choice are the old standbys: marijuana, alcohol, and all sorts of over the counter and prescription pills—especially the sedative Xanax and opiates like Oxy Contin and Vicodin. Maria, the mother of a 16-year-old in Pellettiere’s program, says her daughter would take a few pills in the morning from a baggie of pills someone would bring to her high school, not even knowing what she was swallowing.Synthetic marijuana (called Spice, K2, Mean Green and Syn) is also popular in her area, although use has waned a bit in the last year, as teens have started to un derstand the danger, says Pellettiere. “I saw clients using them and having seizures, imagining psychotic things like their head was on fire, begging police to shoot them and ending up in the emergency room,” she recalls. The fact that these synthetic cannabinoids are not detectable through traditional drug tests also contributes to their popularity. Heroin Use is Rising In communities across the country, including Long Island, New York, heroin use has reached epidemic pro portions, according to New York-based addiction special ist John Venza, Vice President of Adolescent Services at Outreach, a drug and alcohol treatment program. Heroin users are also getting younger: kids trying heroin at ages 15, 16, or 17 is no longer an anomaly. In the past, because heroin had to be injected, teen agers drew an imaginary line around it that they were unwilling to cross. But that line has been erased, as heroin can now be snorted, smoked, and taken in pill form. “The taboo is gone. And seven out of 10 users will transition to a needle because they’ll start looking for a more intense high,” Venza notes. Another common trajectory for teenagers is to start off with opiate pills, then switch to heroin because it is cheaper and more accessible, he adds. Gateway Drugs Compared to heroin, marijuana seems benign to many parents, but they are mistaken, Venza advises. To day’s marijuana is much stronger than it was a generation ago. It saps teen users’ motivation, arrests their emotional development, and often leads to abuse of more dangerous drugs, according to experts. “There are very few kids who use opiates who weren’t smoking pot on a regular basis first,” explains Venza. “Pot was their training ground for addictive behavior— buying, rituals around using, and
Like many parents of teenagers with substance abuse problems, Carneal and her husband struggled to get to the root of their daughter’s unhappiness, and tried everything—a new private school, therapy—but noth ing worked. By the time mother and daughter were en route to the three-month wilderness program that turned Stephanie’s life around, she had been smoking Spice—a synthetic form of marijuana—every hour on the hour.
The brain is still growing and changing into a per son’s early 20s, making teens particularly vulnerable to addiction. That’s because the prefrontal cortex, whose job includes impulse control and reasoning, is not yet fully developed. Meanwhile, the teen brain’s reward circuitry is operating on overdrive, making it harder for adolescents to say “no” to drugs and alcohol than it is for adults. And research shows that these substances are changing the elastic teen brain in ways that are still evident years later. The age of the user has psychosocial implications as well. “When you put an adolescent with substance abuse problems into treatment, you have a child who is way be hind,” explains Molly Pellettiere, a chemical dependency counselor at Crittenton Children’s Center in Kansas City, MO. “They may have dropped out of high school, be two or three years behind their peers. In contrast, as far as re covery goes, adults will have more experiences under their belt and more resources to fall back on.”
Teen substance use is rampant. Some 75 percent of high school students have tried an addictive substance— tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine—and one in five meets the medical criteria for addiction, according to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University. Marijuana is the most commonly used drug: in 2013, more than 36 percent of 12th grad ers had used pot in the previous year, according to the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future Study, which has been tracking legal and illicit drug use in the U.S. since 1975. While alcohol use among teenagers is still extremely common, binge drinking has been on the decline for the past decade. However, traffic accidents are the leading cause of death for teens, and roughly 1/3 of these accidents involve alcohol or another substance.
Teens are Vulnerable to Addiction
Look Out for These Problematic Signs of Teen Addiction
Dr. Raskin also says he has seen a fair number of teenagers abusing Ritalin, the prescription stimulant used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). They may use it to stay alert for exams or merely to get high. “Doctors are overprescribing it and kids are taking it from their friends,” he explains.
• Large increases or decreases in money.
• Changing appearance: perhaps they’re losing weight or looking ill kempt or wan.
Because substance abuse and mental health disor ders often go hand in hand—and share some telltale signs—it might be difficult for a parent to figure out exactly what is going on. “It’s probably a good idea to get a professional involved at this point to do an assessment,” says Pelletierre. “If you’re not sure drugs are involved, you may want to do a drug test at home if you’re worried about having it on your insurance records. But watch your kid do it because there are a gazillion ways around them.”
relationships. All of this gets learned and practiced from pot smoking.” Alcohol plays a similar introduc tory role for many teens, he adds. And they’re getting creative with alcohol— “smoking” it by vaporizing all sorts of spirits with dry ice or a flame, then inhaling it,” says California-based addiction expert Damon Raskin, MD. “It goes to the lungs and then the brain and it’s easy to overdose be cause the body doesn’t have the warning mechanisms it has when it goes through your stomach—feeling sick and vomiting.”
Emphasize the social and physical consequences of alcohol and drug use. Some experts suggest appealing to your child’s vanity by stressing the toll cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs take on one’s physical appearance. Stay in volved in your teen’s life, model a responsible relationship with alcohol, and state a clear no-drugs-or-alcohol policy with consequences if the rules are broken. Never host a party for minors in your home where alcohol is served. In some states, even if you were unaware of the alcohol, you can be held liable.
The illicit use of ADHD medications, however, has declined significantly since 2009, the year the Moni toring the Future study began tracking these drugs.
SUMMER 2014 LIFE WITH TEENS 19
• Loss of interest in things your teen used to be passionate about: they may be spending an inordi nate amount of time just “hanging out.” They may also be having academic trouble, perhaps for the first time.
What Parents Can Do How can parents protect their children, given the plethora of drug options and their relatively easy acces sibility? First of all, warns every expert interviewed for this story, abandon the belief that it won’t happen to your kid, because it could. Start talking to your kids early and regularly about drugs and alcohol; contrary to what some believe, it will not pique their curiosity. It’s likely they already know more than you think.
• A healthy child suddenly saying he doesn’t feel well a lot: parents often focus on what kids look like when they’re high, but forget that their physical state the following day can often be a clue.
If your child asks you whether you used drugs or alcohol when you were young and you did, don’t lie, but decide what you are comfortable sharing. Keep the focus on them and the need to keep them safe. If you do share your own experiences, tell them that you hope they’ll learn from your mistakes, experts advise.
Here are some definite signs that something might be amiss, especially when several of these symptoms happen at once, including:
“It’s less of a ‘gotcha’ game if this is brokered on the front end. It becomes part of the family culture, how things are set up,” says Venza.Carneal, the mother whose daughter attended the Colorado wilderness program, asserts that her husband has no qualms about checking cell phones. Looking at their son’s texts revealed he was experimenting with various substances after his older sister’s travails.
Other rather simple suggestions include keeping your alcohol locked up. Never ask your teen to handle your tobacco or alcohol—letting them grab it from the fridge for you leaves it top-of-mind. And definitely monitor your prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Dispose of old medications, too, if not used. Explore the Treatment Options
Know your child’s friends, experts urge. “I can’t overemphasize the power of peers,” says Pelletierre. “It’s really important to know who your kids are hang ing out with because they’ll end up doing the same kinds of things they are doing. They’ll tell you they won’t, but they end up going down the same road.”
Because so much of teenagers’ drug and alcoholrelated activity gets discussed online these days, check their electronic communication channels—texts, Face book and Instagram—regularly.
20 LIFE WITH TEENS SUMMER 2014
And no more sleepovers, she adds: “Spending the night at someone’s house is one of the riskiest behaviors you can allow a kid to do. That’s when stuff happens because they don’t have to come home in the evening and look mom and dad in the eye.” Pelletierre advises that when parents no longer know whom their teens are hanging out with, they should take note.
If it’s determined that your child has been abusing drugs or alcohol, there are a lot of options for treat ment, ranging from counseling and outpatient pro grams, to residential treatment programs and wilder ness therapy programs. While the best approach needs to be tailored to the individual teen, many experts agree that any treat ment plan should involve the whole family, address the emotional underpinnings of the addiction, and offer staff with expertise in both adolescent development and substance abuse. They also say that short-term in tensive treatment—anything less than a month—tends not to work well because the root causes of a teenager’s addiction can be multi-layered. Unfortunately, insur ance rarely pays for longer-term care, so most families end up paying out of pocket. Like many parents, Rebecca Lown got treatment for her son Benno, who was addicted to marijuana, close to their home in New York City. But he was continuing to use. So she made one of the toughest decisions of her life: to send her 16-year-old to a residential treatment program in Utah, where he ended up staying for seven months. Today, he is a college freshman, majoring in jazz guitar and performing regularly at New York City clubs. Stepha nie Carneal is also faring well. Substance-free, she is about to finish her first semester of college and will be starting a summer job. LWT Here are a few good resources to learn more about teen substance abuse:
American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) www.aacap.org The Partnership at Drugfree.org www.drugfree.org National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) www.drugabuse.gov
SUMMER 2014 LIFE WITH TEENS 21
BY CAMILLE HEIDEBRECHT
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Residential Treatment: The Next Step to Conquer Teen Substance Abuse
aving personally witnessed the struggles of battling teen alcohol and drug addiction in my own extended family, I understand first-hand that successful substance abuse treatment involves many factors. Of course, it is imperative that each teen’s treatment plan is not only individualized to their specific needs, but also involves a great deal of individual and group therapy, support by the entire family, a long-term plan involving the community, and the right residential treatment center.
Residential Treatment: The Next Step to Conquer TEEN SUBSTANCE ABUSE
Justice Resource Institute’s (JRI) clinically sophisticated, specialized boarding and day schools allow students who face unique challenges reach their maximum potential. Our students are as varied as the range of services we offer, including students with academic struggles, trauma histories, complex medical issues and/or severe developmental disabilities. to Success exceptional schools, community based & behavioral health programs / 781.559.4900 ext 3316 Russ Pryor, Associate Executive Director of Uinta Academy and LCSW, explains, “Most teens are struggling with identity and are trying to fit in. Teens who are typically experimenting with ad dictive substances are spending time with other peers participat ing in the same negative behaviors. One of the biggest factors in treating a teen’s substance abuse problem is by creating a ‘so ber support team’ that includes parents, friends, and programs in the community along with residential treatment.”
Choosing the right residential treatment program will likely be one of the most difficult decisions a family has to make on behalf of their child. It has significant implications not only in the imme diate future, but also long into adulthood. Finding the right match can be daunting for parents, given the many options and subtle differences in facilities, mission, and areas of specialty.
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What to Look for When Choosing a Residential Treatment Center
Jeffrey Brain, MA, CTS, CEP of The Family Foundation School, who has visited more than 100 boarding and thera peutic programs, has developed a comprehensive list of things parents should consider when looking for the right residential treatment center.
It is important for parents to understand that the focus of resi dential treatment centers is to offer both clinical and behavioral support—that substance abuse is not usually the root problem.
22 LIFE WITH TEENS SPRING 2014
Learn more about our
These facilities generally treat adolescents with serious psycho logical and behavioral problems in which they use illegal sub stances as a coping mechanism. Programs are typically highly structured, offering a variety of treatment options, but typically include recreational activities and sometimes academics. With less than 30 students, smaller residential programs are also an option for teens; they offer a close-knit, family-like setting and generally incorporate life skills training. Because there are a plethora of residential treatment cen ters across the country, Kari Beserra, Vice President of Justice Resource Institute and LMHC, explains that when looking for a residential treatment center, it is important for parents to, “Tour the facility, interview the staff, find out each clinician’s role, and ask what support services are offered beyond their stay. It should also feel like they are providing teens with a homelike environment, not just a treatment center.”
JUSTICE RESOURCE INSTITUTE provides sophisticated educational and clinical services helping to prepare students for a strong, healthy future.
• Insist on interviewing present and past teen residents— alone. Allowing parents to talk to other teen participants provides honest, peer-to-peer insight, and also shows there is nothing to hide. Also, secure parent references of both current and program alumni.
• Be sure to discuss how the program develops a teen’s aftercare plan once on-site treatment ends.
• Spend time just observing. Take some time to just hang out—observe the campus. Watch students change classes and engage in recreational activities to get an overall feel for the treatment setting.
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• Consider innovative and progressive treatment programs such as outdoor therapeutic or wilderness therapy programs.
• Make sure you understand their treatment philosophy. What is their mission, focus, and approach?
• Check to see if the program is appropriately accredited or licensed and if it belongs to any professional organizations that give them validity.
Aftercare is extremely important. Beserra explains, “It is one thing that sets our program apart. We take pride in our pro gram’s commitment to the greater wellness of our teen residents who spend anywhere from 9 to 12 months in-house. Beyond the clinical treatment they receive, rehabilitation continues with home visits and day-to-day intervention with family and community resources.”Beserra continues, “At Justice Resource Institute, we are devoted to a teen’s long-term success; we want them to feel like they are in a safe, comfortable environment while here, but also when they return to their everyday life. We provide the skills nec essary for our teens to manage their stress and triggers, as well as make healthy decisions, and look positively to their future.”
Some of his recommendations include:
SPRING 2014 LIFE WITH TEENS 23
Although not primarily a substance abuse treatment center, Uinta Academy is a great example of an innovative treatment program. Uinta Academy uses equine assisted therapy to teach young girls struggling with anxiety and depression, many with chemical dependencies, how to build self-esteem and indepen dence that fosters recovery.
• Parents need to be open-minded. Finding the right fit may require parents to abandon their understanding of “what works” in order to find a place that will foster their teen’s success.
• Review the credentials of the staff and faculty. How well versed and qualified are they? Has anyone on the staff person ally experienced addiction and recovery for teens to relate?
• Ask admissions staff what their strengths are, as well as, their weaknesses. All programs will promote their strengths, but good programs should also be willing to tell you what they are working on to make improvements. That shows honesty and builds trust.
• Request “transparency” which allows for unscheduled visits and unannounced check-ins. Even if your child is not permitted to see family for a period of time, you should still be able to observe what’s going on.
Source: Independent Educational Consultant Association, IECA.org.
Again, aftercare at Uinta Academy is also important. Uinta takes distinctive steps to its therapeutic plan, with girls spend ing 12 to 14 months in treatment, and 4 months in a transitional residence where they go home 7 - 10 days a month and are gradually reintroduced to their everyday environment.
UNITA ACADEMY uses equine therapy to help young girls realize their true potential.
There are many outstanding residential treatment centers for teens. Knowing what to look for and discovering what sets them apart will lead you to the right facility where your teen will prevail.
Uinta Leading Multi-Dimensional Program for Girls Struggling with: Attachment/Relationship • Trauma • Anxiety Depression •Identity Development • Substance Abuse Progressive and Innovative Treatment Programs: Intense Clinical Therapy • Family Involvement • Equine Therapy Cultural Arts Integration • Yoga & Healthy Lifestyles Experiential Therapy • Horticultural Therapy www.uintaacademy.com • (435) 245-2600
Pryor adds, “Humans communicate through speech, horses through body language. By taking on the responsibility of caring for a horse, our girls learn a lot about communication, trust, reciprocity, tolerance, and showing concern.”
It is profoundly fascinating how attachment therapy through horsemanship works. At Uinta, girls are given their own horse to take care of throughout their stay. They have to groom and feed it daily, but they are never permitted to ride their horse. Pryor explains, “It is about relationship building, not about a dominant relationship over the horse. Girls do, however, get to ride once a week with our riding horses in an arena and on mountain trails, which are not at the Uinta campus in the summer. “
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In many ways Barone’s divorce decree is like most documents dissolving a marriage—outlining division of assets, custody arrangements for children, and the like— but with a very loving twist.
SPRING 2014 LIFE WITH TEENS 25 here is a line from Pat Barone’s divorce settlement agreement that goes like this: The parties have agreed to emotionally and spiritually support each other’s future lives and endeavors and to show respect for each other and their 23-year marriage.
GWYNETHUNCOUPLINGSTYLE: Taking the Disagreement Out of Divorce.
Conscious Uncoupling in Real Time
As Paltrow’s guru Habib Sadeghi and his wife Sherry Sami explained on Paltrow’s website, Goop.com, “There are no bad guys, just two people, each playing teacher and student respectively. When we understand that both are actually partners in each other’s spiritual progress, animosity dissolves much quicker and a new paradigm for conscious uncoupling emerges, replacing the traditional, contentious divorce.”
Barone, a professional coach from Wisconsin, refers to it as “happy divorce.” Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin call their version “unconscious coupling”—to much derision. The philosophy is surrounded by this notion: the dissolution of a marriage is not a failure but rather an opportunity for learning—a perhaps painful, but precious steppingstone to growth. It’s a reimagining of divorce, marked by good will, generosity, and respect for one another. And it’s framed by an acknowledgment that because people live far longer than they once did, it’s unrealistic to presume a relationship will endure for 30, 40 or 50 years.
It’s predicted that somewhere between 40 and 50 per cent of American marriages will end in divorce and many will leave financial and emotional devastation in their wake. While research is all over the map about the longterm effects of divorce on children, most experts agree that the immediate impact can be mitigated if parents split in a thoughtful, amicable way. In the past decade or so, there has been a growing movement of people trying to take the “contentious” out of divorce and post-divorce life.
BY VICKI RITTERBAND
In addition to trying to minimize the physical disruption of kids’ lives post-divorce, Florida-based divorce and parenting coach Rosalind Sedacca advises
It’s also important to remember that your ex may have let you down as a romantic partner, but still has other admirable qualities. “People will be disappointed in their romantic life and then tear down their former spouse as a parent,” says Barone. She’s careful about how she speaks to her ex-husband and about him, even to the point of being a little overprotective, she admits. “It was surprising how many people wanted me to badmouth him,” she recalls.
The Kids Are Alright In addition to the couple themselves, their children are huge beneficiaries of these alternative ways of divorcing, say Paltrow’s advisors Sadeghi and Sami. “It’s only under these circumstances that loving co-parenting can happen. It’s con scious uncoupling that prevents families from being broken by divorce and creates expanded families that continue to function in a healthy way outside of traditional mar riage,” they wrote on Paltrow’s website. While divorce has historically been viewed as a tragic breakdown of the traditional family structure, advocates of conscious uncoupling believe that what will grow in its place can be sustaining and healthful for the children, albeit a bit more complicated.
Brenda Fredericks Marino, a sixth grade teacher from Long Island, is proud of the post-divorce relationship she’s forged with her ex Tony, whom she split from a year and a half ago after 21 years of marriage. In fact, they are so amicable, he recently moved into the first floor apartment of her house. They share a kitchen, regular dinners with their 16-year-old son Jeremy, and a commitment to nurture their kids—daughter Hailey just finished her freshman year of college—together. “We’re partners for life, no matter what form it shows up,” says Marino, whose approach to her ex has come through a lot of spiritual and emotional work, as well as yoga. “What’s important to me is that we’re commu nicating, running a house together, and parenting together.” They both are in romantic relationships with other people, but are careful to respect boundaries. When one of their new partners spends the night, they give each other fair warning so they can make themselves scarce.
26 LIFE WITH TEENS SUMMER 2014
When Jae Sparks and his wife Michelle divorced in 2010, she moved their two daughters to Massachusetts from their home in Pennsylvania for a job opportunity she couldn’t turn down. Sparks was determined to see his daughters, one of whom has special needs, as much as possible. He’s made good on the promise, and flies to Boston every other week, sleeping in a basement bedroom in Michelle’s home. He has custody of them most holidays and during the summer as well. Stay ing in his ex-wife’s home was a little awkward at first, but he wanted to provide their daughters with as much consistency as possible. “The big driver was to make sure the kids were taken care of first. No matter how hard it would be for us to be with each other, we had a priority and responsibility that outweighed that,” explains Sparks. But along the way, something unexpected happened. “We patched up our own issues… Michelle has every freedom to do what she wants from the moment I get there, but sometimes she’ll cook dinner for all of us or we’ll go out as a family. It did take a while to build that trust back up with each other.” He admits that he has a very understanding girlfriend, with whom he lives, back in EricPennsylvania.Schopmeyer, a divorced dad from Oregon with a four-year-old, is very familiar with subterranean living. For a year after he and his wife broke up, he lived in the basement of their home as a transitional step and to save money. Now he rents a house four doors down from her and is buying a home around the corner. “I wanted our daughter to have a single neigh borhood—one neighborhood but two houses. I really like where we live and didn’t want to leave. Buying a place around the corner seemed like a great solution.”
Barone had been coaching individuals and couples through happy divorces since 2005, before splitting from her husband a year ago. And she practices what she preaches. “I had a 23-year marriage. I will always honor my marriage. It gave me the opportunity to grow, learn about myself, develop a family and partnership,” says Barone. “Appreciating the relationship—no matter how long it was—for all of the good things is so much more productive thanLingeringblaming.”on what went wrong and pointing the finger at your ex slows down the process of getting to the next stage, explains Barone. “If you are proactive about moving on, you’re more likely to be honest with yourself and your part in what happened,” she notes. “The minute the other guy is the bad guy, there is no place for growth or self ex amination. You’ll go out and pick the same person again.”
Schopmeyer and his ex-wife are on good terms and have continued to play together in a band. “We fight a lot less now during band practice,” he quips.
• Keep life as consistent as possible—afterschool activi ties, friends, and family routines—and try to maintain similar rules in both households. Allow teens to have considerable autonomy in how they split their time between parents.
providing positive, new experiences for children to offset some of the inevitable feelings of loss. “Change is inevi table and this is another chapter in the life of a family,” notes Sedacca, who split from her husband when their son was 11. “We can create new memories and experi ences and wonderful times with mom and dad without fighting or tension. Kids, even teens, value quality time with you both.”
• Be a role model by showing them how you behave in a stressful situation. “They’re watching you. You want to show them that life is filled with challenges but life goes on,” says Sedacca. “Parents shouldn’t use their children as confidants or force them to choose sides. It robs them of their childhood.”
SUMMER 2014 LIFE WITH TEENS 27
Nothing New Under the Sun Growing up in Massachusetts in the 1980s, Susanne Goddard was used to knocking on a shared wall if she wanted her father to come to her mother’s apartment, since they shared a two-family house. Although she and her three sisters lived full-time with their mother, they visited often with their dad. He would drop by regularly for dinner and they always spent holidays together. Her mother took care of her father as he was dying of cancer, and would sit by his bedside for hours to keep him com pany. Goddard is touched and amused by what he told her mother at the end of his life: “I’d marry you again so you can get my benefits,” he told her. “But then I’d be afraid I would live.”
• Be honest about the potential financial impact: your teenager has the right to know how the breakup may affect his or her future options.
Other ways to minimize the negative impacts of divorce on teenagers:
Is conscious uncoupling simply a trend that will pass? “Who knows.” But as long as people have been getting divorced, they’ve been doing it in ways that try to minimize the damage and even build an alternative family structure from the fragments. LWT It’s
• Listen, empathize, and expect anger. “Try to have com passion for what you’re putting them through. Divorce can be awkward and embarrassing for teenagers,” notes Sedacca. “They’re moving from home to home, leaving their homework at the wrong house…You need to be willing to see things from their perspective.”
• Make sure children understand that the divorce was not their fault. “Most kids will blame themselves,” says Se dacca. “Tell them how much you love and value them and how you’ll always be there for them.”
Here are some ideas for putting a wholesome spin on these warm summer months:
BY DEBRA BRADLEY RUDER
ow that farmers markets are in full swing and summer grilling season is here, it’s a great time to encourage nutritious eating and drinking habits that can benefit your teenTeenagersyear-round.need a healthy balance of nutrients—proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals—to support their growth and devel opment, provide fuel, and promote digestion and skin health. Good nutrition can help protect against obesity, osteoporosis, cavities, and chronic conditions down the road. Eating well can also help teens feel better right now. We know youths in this country don’t eat enough vegetables and fruits and consume too much sugar, salt, and processed and fast foods. Researchers from the National Cancer Institute found that grain desserts (such as cakes and cookies), pizza, and soda are the top sources of energy for young children up to 18 years old. And many teens, especially girls, don’t come close to meeting their calcium needs during these prime bone-building years.
• Sip sensibly: Staying hydrated is essential, but watch out for sugary beverages like soda and energy drinks; a typical can of cola has about 150 calories, or the equiva lent of 10 teaspoons of table sugar. Diet soda may seem like a better choice, but there’s mounting evidence that artificially sweetened beverages raise people’s risk for diabetes, heart disease, and other medical problems—and even contribute to weight gain. Experts believe sweettasting drinks, no matter how they’re flavored, make us crave sweets even more. As a healthier option, registered dietitian Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD, CSO, LDN, suggests perking up your own water bottle with a squirt of fresh lemon or lime or a small splash of 100 percent fruit juice.
Putting a ONHEALTHYTWISTSUMMEREATING
• Eat breakfast: Family routines change in summer, but breakfast is still the most important meal of the day— even though as many as one-third of U.S. adolescents usually skip it. Research suggests eating a morning meal
28 LIFE WITH TEENS SPRING 2014 HEALTH & WELLNESS
Resources for Healthful Eating
• Nourish the skin: Along with wearing sunscreen and avoiding peak sunburn hours, eating fruits and vegetables helps enhance our skin (an organ especially important to teens!). Cucumbers, for ex ample, reportedly have properties in their
Debra Bradley Ruder is a Massachusetts-based freelance writer specializing in health care and education issues, as well as a mom of two young men. with healthful carbs, protein, and fat may help teens perform better in school and sports and control their weight. A whole some teen-friendly summer breakfast might feature a piece of whole grain toast topped with natural almond or peanut butter and banana slices, or a bowl of whole grain cereal garnished with fresh fruit and low-fat milk.
• Relish family time. Encourage your teen to help with shop ping and meal prep. “Being able to follow a recipe and being comfortable in the kitchen is an important life skill for teenag ers to learn,” Londino notes. And dine together whenever you can. “Studies show that family dinners have many benefits, including lower rates of obesity and depression and higher grade-point averages and self-esteem,” she adds. “They also provide a time for families to bond.”
• Harvard School of Public Health Nutrition Source www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource
• Let yourselves linger: Teens are used to racing through meals to get to class, activities, or homework, but the summer pro vides an opportunity to eat at a more leisurely pace. Experts say there’s a benefit to eating slowly, as your brain has a chance to register fullness and you don’t overeat. Other “mindful eat ing” strategies include using a smaller plate, taking a modest first serving, chewing thoroughly, and avoiding munching while watching TV, driving, or otherwise distracted.
• Dietary guidelines from the U.S. government www.choosemyplate.gov
• Snack well: Take advantage of summer’s bounty to stay hydrated and energized. Make a smoothie with fresh fruits and vegetables, which are low in calories and contain natural health boosters called phytonutrients. Serve strawber ries or watermelon chunks (both high in nutrients like the antioxidant lycopene, which gives them their red color) or raw veggies with a dollop of hummus or yogurt-based dip like tzatziki. And keep healthful bite-sized snacks in plain sight so your teen reaches for the cherries instead of the chips.
• BodyWorks: A federal program to help families eat better and exercise more www.womenshealth.gov/bodyworks
• Shop wisely. Read nutrition labels carefully—the sodium and sugar levels may alarm you—“and avoid foods that contain ingredients you don’t recognize,” says Tonya Londino, MS, RD, LDN, a nutrition teacher at Newton South High School in Massachusetts. “For example, choose a banana over an energy bar before a workout.” Each meal should have a balance of high-quality protein (such as grilled fish or poultry), complex carbohydrates (preferably whole grains like brown rice or whole wheat pasta), and healthy unsaturated fat (such as nuts, avocado, or olive oil). Every meal should also feature ample vegetables and/or fruits of assorted colors.
SPRING 2014 LIFE WITH TEENS 29 peel and flesh that promote clear complexion, and research indicates that carotenoids—the colorful pigments plentiful in carrots, cantaloupe, and other produce—“give your skin a healthy hue and glow,” says Kennedy, who practices in greater Boston and recently co-opened Stacy’s Juicebar in Needham, MA to deliver the type of nutritious products she recom mends to patients.
• Sugary drink FACTS from Yale’s Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity www.sugarydrinksfacts.org
• Weight-control Information Network’s (WIN) Take Charge of Your Health; A Guide for Teenagers win.niddk.nih.gov/ publications
• Think big picture. Eating a nutritious diet, getting enough sleep, and staying physically active are key ingredients for teenagers’ health. Parents are their kids’ best role models, so don’t forget to pay attention to your own eating, sleeping, and exercise patterns—as well as to the marketing messages aimed at children and teens. Establishing healthful habits have im portant, long-lasting benefits for your teen—and for you.
he mother/daughter relationship is a complicat ed one especially during the teen years. Debo rah Tannen, author of the book, You’re Wearing THAT? Understanding Mothers and Daughters in Conversation, explains, “Mothers want a close bond, and daughters want this too, but they also want to be independent.” SuEllen Hawkins, PhD and co-author of the book, The Mother-Daughter Project, adds, “A mother may want to control her teen daughter’s choices, but they can’t. Instead, she has to support her daughter’s journey as she evolves into who she is becoming.”
A mother may want to control her teen daughter’s choices, but they can’t. Instead, she has to support her daughter’s journey as she evolves into who she is becoming.
Women who lose their mothers when they are young share a common bond. Rosie O’Donnell, an executive producer on the film, remarks in the film that, “It’s like a club. You’re initiated, you get a tattoo, it is not goingTheaway.”film profiles three women who lost their moth ers and are now at a cross roads in their own lives. Their stories are told through interviews, family photos, and videos. In addition, the film includes insights from celebrities who also experienced the loss of their mothers when they were young, including O’Donnell, Molly Shannon, and Jane Fonda.
30 LIFE WITH TEENS SUMMER 2014
BY RANDI MAZZELLA
New Documentary Showcases the Importance of MOTHER/DAUGHTERRELATIONSHIPS
But what happens when a teen loses her mother dur ing this pivotal time in her life? This is precisely the topic of HBO’s new documentary. Directed by Carlye Rubin and Katie Green, The Dead Mother’s Club, takes an indepth look at how losing a mother as a teen affects the life of the daughter left behind. Rubin herself was just eleven years old when her mother died of cancer. Like many women who lose their mothers as children and teens, the loss has had a big effect on her life. Rubin recalls, “When I was a teen, I felt isolated not having a mother when everyone else my age did. Even though I had support from my two aunts, I withdrew.”
Advice from SuEllen Hawkins, MD and co-author of the book, The Mother-Daughter Project.
Understand This is Not Your Journey
Both mothers and daughters want to be heard. The key for mothers that want to have a good relationship is communication and really listening to their teen daughters without judgment. Try to Persuade, Not Control Hamkins says, “Mothers may want to control their teen daughters’ actions but they can’t and this can lead to conflict. Instead, mothers can try to persuade their daughters. Most teens value their parents’ opinions.” Ultimately, you want to give your teen the message that you have confidence in their decision-making.
For many mothers and daughters, the teen years are a time when the relationship tends to be difficult. Tannen asserts that mothers tend to be ex tremely critical of their daughters at this age—and while they do this because they ultimately care and want to protect their daughters—all the daughter hears is, “I am not good enough the way I am.” Yet, first-time director Rubin explains, “There is a tendency to romanticize the relationship when your mother is gone. You think you wouldn’t fight with her or take her for granted.” Women tend to compare themselves to their mothers throughout their lives. Tannen continues, “In interviews, daughters will say, ‘I am exactly like my mother,’ or ‘I am nothing like my mother,’ but in either scenario they are measuring themselves against their mother.” Hawkins adds, “All mothers have a vision of the life they want their daughter to have. It is important to understand that these might not be the same dreams the daughter has for herself.” As adults, motherless daughters may wrestle between being the person they want to be and being the person they think their mother would have wanted them to be. It is difficult because there isn’t an opportunity for the relationship to grow and change over time. Although the title and subject matter of the film may sound depressing, the filmmakers’ goals were the opposite. Rubin hopes that the audience will find the movie inspiring. Rubin notes, “Grief is a long process. You don’t get over it, but you can move forward. For teens and adults who have lost a mother, we hope they will see themselves in these women’s stories and not feel so isolated. For those teens and mothers who do still have each other, we hope they will appreciate this relationship and real ize how fortunate they are to have it.”
Give the Right Kind of Space Hamkins explains that teens may say they want space, but really they don’t want too much space.
It is hard, in some cases, for a mother not to see her daughter as a “mini me”. Mothers may want their daughters to either follow in their footsteps or be an even better version. But what daughters want is to follow their own path and know that their mothers support them no matter what they choose. Have Thick Skin
For more about Rubin and Green and the film, go to www.smokeandapple/about-the-club.
One of the women profiled in the film is a teen ager named Jordyn, whose mother died when she was 12 years old. Now 17, Jordyn is experiencing all those special teen moments—college applications, prom, and graduation—without her mother by her side. Rubin says, “Being a teenager is such a vulner able time. You are going through so many changes physically and emotionally and the guide for these changes, the person that would typically help you through them, is now gone.”
Of course it is upsetting to a mother to hear her daughter say, “I hate you!” Hamkins says, “Usually when a teen lashes out at her mother, it is because she is upset about other things going on in her life. Teens know how to push their mothers’ buttons and tend to forget that their mothers are people with feelings.” Rather than yelling back, Hamkins advises mothers to keep their cool by going for a walk to calm down and trying to connect with other people (mothers, friends, their spouse) for support.
SUMMER 2014 LIFE WITH TEENS 31
Hamkins advises, “Give them time to calm down and then bring them a cup of tea. Let them know you are there if they need you. ”
LWT Tips to Help Mothers and Daughters Build a Strong ListenRelationshiptoYourDaughter
You don’t have to be perfect to be a perfect parent. There are thousands of teens in foster care who would love to put up with you. 1888 2004005 • adoptuskids.org
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