Bigger Kids. Bigger Fun.
WHAT TO EXPECT:
The Social Lives of Teenagers
PHONES & DRIVING A DANGEROUS MIX
Plan Now to Save Money
Is My Middle Schooler Too Babyish?
When Teens Stop Asking Permission Should I Police My Daughterâ€™s Outfits?
VOL. 10 ISSUE 4 MARCH-APRIL 2018 $ 3.95
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FEATURE: What to Expect: The Social Lives of Teens and Tweens p. 32 Photo: Beth Segal
Recipe: Coconut Curry Chicken p. 21
In a Minute: Do Good to Feel Good p. 16
In the Spotlight: Liz Claman p. 22
9 Bulletin Board We asked teens
17 Move-Out Skills Getting around without GPS
25 Science Rocks Volunteering means real-
#ParentHack Book recommendation By the numbers
18 Did You Know? Why teens need a sense of
12 Stuff We Love 16 In A Minute Crazy hair
Teens helping strangers
21 Recipe Coconut curry chicken 22 In the Spotlight FOX Business News anchor
world experience and life lessons
27 Book Review Down the Mysterly River 29 Study Skills When they say they need
technology for school
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CONTENTS MARCH-APRIL 2018
30 Family Matters Should I let my daughter dress
32 Feature The social lives of teens and
48 Money Matters Saving on prom costs 51 Connections Bringing teens with
38 Crossroads How to help teen sexual
52 Tween Talk Is my middle-schooler too
40 Perspectives When mom is a recovering
54 Tech Talk Put the brakes on
43 Ask the Doctor Helping teens manage chronic
56 Hot Topics Wendy Mogel, author
disabilities and typical peers together
of Voice Lessons
45 College Corner Graduation doesnâ€™t need to
58 Small Stuff When teens donâ€™t ask
mean quitting high school passions
47 Saving for College The tax benefits of 529 plans
60 Snapshot The courage to fail 62 All About Me
Brought to you by Grand River Academy, helping young men activate their academic, emotional, and social potential and prepare them for lifelong success. Learn more at grandriver.org. 4
p.48 Want more from Your Teen? Sign up for our weekly newsletters to get regular updates on middle school, high school, and everything else about raising a teenager. YourTeenMag.com/Sign-Up/
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March-April 2018 Volume 10, Issue 4
LOV E F RO M O U R FA N S . . . Nothing brings out the mama bear like finding out that someone’s been mean to your teenager. @YourTeenMag hit the spot as usual. All about listening rather than telling... —@askapsy AskAPsychologist.net
PUBLISHER & CHIEF REVENUE OFFICER
The fabulous Your Teen provides such a huge service to teens and their families! I'm honored to be connected to them. —@LDamour Lisa Damour, Ph.D., bestselling author of Untangled
PUBLISHER & EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
Susan R. Borison
Thank you for all the information that you share about teenagers. It is a big help! —@leap4ed LEAP Education
SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER
SPONSORED CONTENT EDITOR
MORE CONTENT AT& shares! We thank you for all of yourONLINE great content —@JacksonFDN Jackson Foundation
Mindy Gallagher Jessica Port
DIGITAL MARKETING MANAGER
Shari Silk, Joan Fortman
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M O R E @ YO U RT E E N M AG .C O M
CIRCULATION CIRCULATION & DATA MANAGER
Mary Helen Berg, Cathie Ericson, Phyllis Fagell, Whitney Fleming, Sandra Gordon, Margaret Hetherman, Bryan Johnston, Keith Klostermann, Rebecca Lavoie, Julianna Manes, Yvette Manes, Julie Marsh, Tacy Marsh, Nancy O’Connor, Peggy Orenstein, Jane Parent, Jennifer Proe, Olivia Proe, Laura Richards, Ken Schneck, Jaimie Seaton, Diana Simeon, Lucas Sorensen, Tara Sorensen, Linda Wolff, Kristina Wright
ADVISORY BOARD Elise Ellick
Teen Counselor in the Division of Adolescent Medicine, Department of Pediatrics at MetroHealth.
Lauren Rich Fine
Managing Director at Gries Financial.
Julian Peskin, MD
Cleveland Clinic staff member, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Sylvia Rimm, PhD
Psychologist, Director of Family Achievement Clinic, Clinical Professor, Case Western Reserve School of Medicine.
Michael Ritter, CPA Retired Partner, Ernst & Young LLP.
Ellen Rome, MD, MPH
Pediatrician, Head, Section of Adolescent Medicine at Cleveland Clinic.
Founder and owner, GardeningKnowHow. com and mother of five.
Regional General Manager, Digital at The E.W. Scripps Company.
My Daughter Didn't Go to College
She had other dreams.
Certified Parent Coach at Senders Parenting Center.
Sonni Kwon Senkfor, MBA
Independent Consultant. Facilitator with The WIT Group and MAC Consulting.
Lucene Wisniewski, PhD, FAED Adjunct Assistant Professor of Psychological Sciences at Case Western Reserve University
President of Zapis Capital Group.
Your Teen, Vol 10, Issue 3, March-April 2018 is a publication of Your Teen, Inc., a bi-monthly publication, $3.95. Bellefaire JCB, 22001 Fairmount Blvd., Shaker Heights, Ohio 44118. ©2018 by Your Teen, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may be reproduced without the written consent of Your Teen magazine.Your Teen 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 Your Teen.
When to Call Another Parent
We didn't check on the teens in the basement.
Juicy gossip? Reports of drinking? Here's what to do.
Contact Stephanie Silverman at 216-337-1374 Your Teen Media P.O. Box 21083, S. Euclid, Ohio 44121
| MARCH-APRIL 2018
TAKE SUMMER TO NEW HEIGHTS WITH PROGRAMS AT GRA! JULY 1ST - AUGUST 3RD
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FOR BOYS ENTERING SIXTH THROUGH TWELFTH GRADE
Have your son take learning to new heights while earning credit in a specific subject. GRA’s Summmer Academic Camp provides your son the opportunity to focus on one topic outside of the traditional school year while developing leadership skills and participating in summer activities.
Let your son’s inner inventor escape! Hands-on discovery and creation of robots, drones, and game design are just a few of the topics covered alongside trips to science centers between Pennsylvania and Ohio.
DISCOVER MORE AT SUMMERATGRA.ORG 440.275.2811
Sixth grade was a tough year, particularly for my three daughters. When the first one started to feel a seismic shift in friendships, I was devastated. She’d been friends with these girls since birth. Our families were friends. The tension in her social life extended to my friendships and our family; it had a ripple effect. I suffered like I was the one in sixth grade. I was entirely unprepared for this sudden new stage. I didn’t even know it was a stage. And rather than stepping away from my daughter’s struggles and helping as an observer, I was sharing her pain and inflaming the drama. I said things like, “She said that? And then what did you say?” The following day, assuming things had not died down, I would say, “How was so and so? Did she say anything mean?” When my second daughter hit sixth grade, there was a lot of drama in her class, too. This time I was a little prepared, so I was less emotionally charged than the first time. I stepped away (a little bit) and asked more constructive questions. “Are you okay?” “Do you need my help?” Four years later, it was my third daughter’s turn. She entered sixth grade, and she
and her best friend began testing a new dance: They love each other. They want new friends. They hate each other. Then they love each other. It was hard to keep up. The best friend’s mom would call me to discuss how we could help fix the problem. She was suffering from her oldest daughter’s friendship breakup. I was not. I had seen this before. I told the mom, “This seems to be normal. We should let them figure it out.” Three times and I’m seeing a pattern. I spoke with one of the sixth-grade teachers and asked, “Does this social stuff happen every year?” Her answer surprised me. “Oh yeah. I see this every year in every class. Girls start to test out new friendships and break up with old ones.” Wow. That was comforting—and shocking. Comforting because it seemed to be normal and predictable. Shocking because I felt entirely caught off guard. No one had ever told me what to expect. That’s why we’re so excited to bring you Your Teen’s first annual What to Expect feature in this issue. We all anticipate the terrible twos. We know what to expect. When it comes to adolescence, all we really know is “big kids, bigger problems.”
But many behaviors are predictable—and this year in What to Expect, we fill you in on the typical arc of social development from the tween into the teen years. After reading the feature, we hope you’ll feel better prepared. The first time your tween comes home from school crying about her mean friends, or your teen has joined the drama club and has a whole new crew, you’ll remember that these are developmentally appropriate behaviors. There’s plenty more you won’t want to miss in this issue, from the trivial (like when your tween still loves their blankie, page 52) to the serious (when the #metoo movement hits your house, and your teen is the offender, page 38). It’s all part of the ups of downs of parenting through adolescence, and we’ve got the expert advice and the sympathetic ear to help you through it. Enjoy the Read!
is the anchor of FOX Business Network’s highlyrated Countdown to the Closing Bell. Your Teen talked with her about being a woman in media, as well as our favorite subject— raising teens. See page 22.
is a clinical psychologist and bestselling author of The Blessing of a Skinned Knee. Catch up with her and find out about her latest book, Voice Lessons for Parents, on page 56.
is a children’s television programming executive, but no one ever said you can’t like TV and books. Together with her seventhgrader, Sorenson reviews the middle-grade novel Down the Mysterly River on page 27.
is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Girls & Sex and Cinderella Ate My Daughter. Her book of essays Don’t Call Me Princess was published in February. On pages 30-31, read her smart take on girls and dress codes.
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BULLETIN BOARD WE ASKED TEENS...
What’s a time when you were discouraged or down, and your parents did something that helped?
he most important thing my parents do is listen. And I don’t mean listening to reply, or listening to judge. Just listening and hearing and loving, and being present with me in the moment. Most of the time I don’t really need advice; I just need someone to hear me and show that they love me.” Emma, Orem, UT
hen I first started high school, getting into new study habits was very hard. It was difficult to keep my grades as high as I wanted them, and at times I felt very discouraged and bad about myself. My parents were able to encourage me to work harder, while telling me stories of their own high school mistakes. They assured me that I had plenty of time to improve my grades—not only this year, but throughout high school.”
used to be convinced that my younger sister was better than me in everything. She was the more talented actress, musician, student, athlete, etc. One day I was really upset, and my mom sat down next to me. ‘So what if she’s better at all those things,’ she said. ‘You’re one of the most compassionate people I know, and I think that’s better than being talented.’ Of course, she also told me she didn’t think my sister was better in all those things, but it’s the part about being compassionate that really stuck with me.”
Aliza, Cleveland, OH
was really dragging one night as I was finishing an assignment, and my mom came in my room to check on me. It was pretty late at night, but seeing the stress on my face, she said, ‘Come on, let’s go have a bowl of Cheerios in the kitchen.’ It may sound strange, but we literally sat together in almost silence for 5-10 minutes eating our cereal. Then I went back to my essay and really got into a rhythm with it.” Jeanne-Marie, Cranston, RI
Madelynn, Manila, Philippines
ne day I was having a very bad depressive swing and was feeling really down, and I was crying. My mother simply gave me a hug and said that in time, things would get better. I know the advice is pretty generic, but it’s nice to be reminded in dark times that the sun is coming and nothing can stop it.” Marissa, TX
Lock Down to Buckle Down Like a lot of parents, I’m frustrated by my younger son’s addiction to his iPhone—especially when he’s supposed to be focused on something else, like homework or cleaning his room. Luckily, the iPhone itself has a built-in feature that helps me out, even when I’m not at home and can’t just take the phone away. I’ve activated the “Find my iPhone” feature on my kid’s phone, not to track his movements, but because of the handy “Lost Mode” feature. Lost Mode can be activated remotely and locks down the phone, so that even the phone’s owner can’t use it. It has a custom message feature that is designed for actual lost phones—it’s a way to say “Hey, if you find this, call Rebecca at this number.” This messaging feature is what makes Lost Mode so great. If I’m just worried my son isn’t doing what he’s supposed to after school, for instance, I can activate it from work and write, “I’ll unlock your phone when your brother sends me a photo of your completed homework!” This is super effective, probably because he still actually has the phone in his hand, and would do just about anything to get those YouTube videos rolling again. Rebecca Lavoie gives out parenting advice on Slate’s Mom and Dad Are Fighting podcast, and also hosts the podcasts HGTV & Me and Crime Writers On. She lives in New Hampshire with her teen sons, Henry and Teddy, and her stepdaughter, Lily.
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A MESSAGE FROM THE A MESSAGE FROM THE SAY STUDENT A LEADERSHIP COUNCIL MESSAGE FROM THE SAY STUDENT LEADERSHIP COUNCIL SAY STUDENT LEADERSHIP COUNCIL
Accept All, Include All, Neglect None • Think before you speak; “Is this kind?” Accept All, Include All, Neglect None • Don’t use mean nasty words toAll, describe a person. None Accept All,orInclude Neglect • Think before you speak; “Is this kind?”
• Would these actions or words make me feel upset or sad? Don’t before use mean nasty“Is words describe a person. • Think youorspeak; this to kind?” • How would I feel if someone stared or pointed at me? Woulduse these actions or words me feelaupset or sad? • Don’t mean or nasty wordsmake to describe person. • Talking quietly about someone’s difference doesn’t mean they can’t hear you. How would if someone at me? • Would theseI feel actions or wordsstared make or mepointed feel upset or sad? • We are all unique in our own way. Talking quietly about someone’s difference doesn’t mean they can’t hear you. • How would I feel if someone stared or pointed at me? • Can I be helpful here? We are quietly all unique in our own way.difference doesn’t mean they can’t hear you. • Talking about someone’s • Stand up for others. Can are I beall helpful here? • We unique in our own way. • Put yourself in others’ shoes. Stand uphelpful for others. • Can I be here? Put yourself others’ shoes. • Stand up for in others. • Put yourself in others’ shoes.
SAY – Social Advocates for Youth is a school-based prevention and early intervention program of Bellefaire JCB for students in middle and high school. SAY services are offered in eight east suburban school districts in Cuyahoga County: Beachwood, Chagrin Falls, Cleveland Heights-University Heights, Mayfield, Orange, SAY – Social Advocates for South Youth Euclid-Lyndhurst. is a school-based prevention and early intervention program of Bellefaire Shaker Heights, Solon and JCB for students in middle and high school. SAY services are offered in eight east suburban school districts SAY – Social Advocates for Youth is Chagrin a school-based prevention and early intervention program of Orange, Bellefaire in Cuyahoga County: Beachwood, Falls, Cleveland Heights-University Heights, Mayfield, JCB for students in middle high school. SAY services are offered in eight east suburban school districts Shaker Heights, Solon andand South Euclid-Lyndhurst. in Cuyahoga County: Beachwood, Chagrin Falls, Cleveland Heights-University Heights, Mayfield, Orange, Shaker Heights, Solon and South Euclid-Lyndhurst.
Get Involved! SAY Student Leadership Council is open to all high students. SAYschool Student Leadership Council is open to all high SAY Student Leadership To learn more about how school students. openteen to allorhigh toCouncil involveisyour to get school students. further information about To learn more about how the SAY Student Leadership to involve your teen or how to get To learn more about Council, go to: about further information to involve your teen or to get the SAY Student Leadership further information about bellefairejcb.org Council, go to: the SAY Student Leadership
Get Involved! Get Involved!
Council, go to: bellefairejcb.org bellefairejcb.org
Chris Ruma-Cullen, LISW-S, CDCA Director of SAY Chris Ruma-Cullen, LISW-S, CDCA Chris Ruma-Cullen, 216.320.8203 Director of SAY LISW-S, CDCA firstname.lastname@example.org Director of SAY www.e-say.org 216.320.8203 email@example.com 216.320.8203 www.e-say.org firstname.lastname@example.org www.e-say.org
B O O K R E C O M M E N D AT I O N
By the Numbers...
of teen boys have made new friends online by playing video games (compared with just 13% of girls who have done so).
Shame Nation: The Global Epidemic of Online Hate
PEW RESEARCH CENTER
by Sue Scheff with Melissa Schorr Nearly every day, there is another story in the news of someone who has been harassed, bullied, or shamed on the internet—and the results of this online hate can be devastating. Sue Scheff, a parent advocate and internet safety expert, and Melissa Schorr, a journalist and young-adult author, tackle the digital epidemic of cyber-shaming in Shame Nation. The stories of cyber harassment presented in Shame Nation are harrowing and often familiar: mean mom groups, parent and teacher shaming, sexting scandals. The authors demonstrate that no one is immune to the reach of the internet. A single tweet or Facebook post can change, or even ruin, someone’s life. For parents who grew up before social media was even a thing, directing teens in their social media use can be confusing and frustrating. The book offers plenty of advice and tips on managing social media. The authors provide guidelines on what to share and what to keep private, as well as advice on dealing with trolls and how to recover from being cyber-shamed. Scheff and Schorr shine a much-needed light on the issues that teens, as well as adults, have to consider every time they log on. Shame Nation is a terrific parenting resource, one that combines real-life cautionary tales with practical solutions for every scenario. This is a must-read in the digital age for anyone who has an internet presence, especially as teens are generally more vulnerable to cyber shaming. —Kristina Wright
of women and 6% of men have been a victim of stalking during their lifetimes. One in seven ninth graders report being a victim of stalking. NATIONAL CENTER FOR VICTIMS OF CRIME
of teenagers say they “know who they are” and are confident in their self-identity. STAGE OF LIFE
of U.S. students plan to spend their spring break working. STATISTA
79.5% of high school students have very specific food memories associated with their grandparents’ home. STAGE OF LIFE
| MARCH-APRIL 2018
STUFF WE LOVE
Something Special for Mom Mother’s Day is coming. Don’t wait until the last minute. (She can tell.) Pangeabed copper pillow
We all know how important the right pillow is to a good night’s sleep. This pillow has more support and is more breathable than conventional foam. A copper-infused layer keeps everything antibacterial and antifungal, ‘cause nobody’s got time for that. $125, pangeabed.com
Snooz white noise machine
Drown out all the things keeping Mom from getting her beauty rest. This one’s a dream, with a soft whirring fan, adjustable power, and sleek modern case with no blowing air. She’ll sleep so soundly, she might not even know if you made curfew! $79.99, getsnooz.com
Recoup Fitness Stinger cold massage roller
Doesn’t Mom deserve relief from all those aches and pains? This massage roller ball combines foam rolling and ice therapy so you can soothe those sore muscles at home. Stays cold for up to six hours! $39.95, thegrommet.com
Wolf quilted jewelry travel case
A handmade, quilted leather and suede-lined jewelry case to keep your baubles safe and tarnish-free, whether on your dresser or on a plane. $69, thegrommet.com
Precidio Design Kafé in the Box water bottle It’s hip to be square! With a unique square design and double-walled insulation, this one is light but super tough. The spout is sculpted to “hug” your lip as you drink, because coffee spills down your shirt are the worst. From $15.99, precidio.com
Get Out There! Spring is coming, we promise.
The tech gadgets you didn’t know you wanted. You’re welcome.
This ultimate umbrella, designed by Rick Reichmuth, national TV meteorologist, withstands up to 55 mph gale-force winds. It also has a Bluetooth tracker and app to remind you of rainy forecasts before you walk out the door, and to locate your umbrella if you lose it! $65, weathermanumbrella.com
Kryptonics 24” Mini Cruiser with light-up wheels
Get that kid outside and active with a cool, graphic skateboard. And no one is ever too old for light-up wheels. $39.99, toysrus.com
SwiftStream Robo Buddy™
Who doesn’t want a wireless remote control car with two-way audio that allows you to hear and speak? Use it as a baby monitor, a home monitor, or a delivery vehicle for your adult beverages! $99.99, amazon.com
Thousand Heritage Collection bike helmet
Sleek, minimalist design for the modern bike enthusiast. Your Teen staffer Eca loves the little gadget on the helmet that you can use to lock it to the bike after your ride. $85, explorethousand.com
Live Out There Chamonix down jacket
This new brand of outerwear was launched by two-time Mount Everest climber Jamie Clarke to deliver the highest quality outdoor gear at the most affordable prices. It’s also so warm and fashion-forward, even if you’re just running errands. $149.99, liveoutthere.com
SwiftStream™ Z-9 Camera Drone
Hovers forwards or backwards, and this drone can even flip. With a Wi-Fi camera that streams up to seven minutes of live video from any smartphone. Hours of creative fun for teens (and even bigger kids, too). $99.99, amazon.com
| MARCH-APRIL 2018
STUFF WE LOVE
Looking Good While Doing Good When you donate to help where it’s needed most, receive a gift for yourself or someone you care about. World Vision Infinity Scarf
Embrace the Difference black agate beaded bracelet
Designed by the mom of a special needs child, each unique bracelet is designed to spread a message of kindness and acceptance. $30, embracethedifference.org
World Vision Wraparound Ring
This handcrafted wraparound ring is made by fair-trade artisans in India. $65, donate.worldvision.org
World Vision Silver Vines Cuff
This gorgeous adjustable bracelet with intricately laced vine pattern will add subtle detail to any outfit. It is designed by artisans in Old Delhi, India. $85, donate.worldvision.org
This beautiful accessory with an array of alternating patterns and colors is made by weavers in South India, who earn sustainable income from their handiwork. . $85, donate.worldvision.org
AT WA L S H J E S U I T H I G H S C H O O L , among a caring, faith-based community, we not only prepare our students for college, we prepare them for life. Throughout their high school journey, students find themselves inspired and open to new possibilities, active, engaged and supported. Walsh Jesuit students will discover what they can contribute to the world and they find themselves becoming a man or woman for others.
7th Grade HSPT Prep Class / Parent Program Saturday, April 14, 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
April 22, 11:00, Mass followed by Open House
7th Grade HSPT Prep Class / Parent Program Saturday, May 12 and Saturday, May 19, 9:00 am – 1:00 pm
For information on admissions, financial aid, entrance exams and private tours, please contact Rob Eubank at 330.929.4205 ext. 103 or email@example.com
Find yourself 14
BROADWAY SUMMER CAMP A musical theater camp unlike any other for teens (14-19) who love to act, dance and sing. Includes master classes with Broadway professionals.
LAKE RIDGE ACADEMY
LAKE RIDGE ACADEMY BE CHALLENGED. BE KNOWN. BE A ROYAL.
The West Side’s Premier K-12 College Preparatory School • 8:1 student to teacher ratio • A globally focused college preparatory curriculum with over 30 AP and honors classes • Award-winning performing and fine arts programs • Significant financial aid and merit scholarships available • Transportation and after school programs available
Sunday, April 15
DISCOVERY DAYS AT LRA
Presentation Starts at 1 pm RSVP 440-327-1175 ext. 9104 or at www.lakeridgeacademy.org
Spring Nature Walk April 21 • Ages 4-5 Online Registration Required
37501 Center Ridge Road • North Ridgeville, OH 44039 • 440.327.1175 • www.lakeridgeacademy.org
| MARCH-APRIL 2018
IN A MINUTE
Help! My Kid Wants a Crazy Hairstyle A pastel hair hue. An undercut. Sometimes your teen has their heart set on a hairstyle that’s more “creative” than you might like. What’s a parent to do? Assuming there are no restrictions set by the teen’s school, job, or other obligations, perhaps nothing, advises Sue Groner. Groner is the founder of The Parenting Mentor and author of Parenting: 101 Ways to Rock Your World. “By allowing your child to control decisions about their appearance, they are less likely to be rebellious in other ways,” she says. After all, teens crave individuality, and clothing and hair choices are one of the few ways they can be expressive. But that doesn’t mean you can’t discuss their out-there idea. You might suggest they
try something temporary first—maybe a wig in a similar style or a rinse-out color. And while you don’t have to like the result, try to avoid sharing your negative opinion in so many words. Some nonjudgmental responses Groner suggests are, “It’s always fun to try new looks!” Or, “I think you are beautiful no matter what your hair is like.” The one time a parent should intervene is if the hairstyle being selected has negative connotations, like a “skinhead,” Groner cautions. In that case, ask why they want that cut and if they know what it represents. They may not. But if they do, you have a much bigger issue to worry about than a crazy hairstyle, she says. —Cathie Ericson
Photo: Beth Segal
Do Good to Feel Good Have you been prodding your teen to become more helpful to others? It turns out that helper teens may benefit as much as the recipients of the good deeds, according to a new study from Laura Padilla-Walker, professor in the School of Family Life at Brigham Young University. Padilla-Walker found that teens who participated in “prosocial behavior”—that is, actions intended to help others— experienced a boost in selfesteem. The catch? The behavior has to be directed toward strangers, not family or friends.
It’s not that you don’t count—rather, it’s that good works on behalf of strangers are generally seen as being higher-cost, Padilla-Walker says. Helping friends and family is typically expected as part of a relationship, but helping those you don’t know is optional. “When teens go above and beyond to help someone else, they feel like they are making a difference and that they are needed, which influences their moral identity and their selfesteem,” she says. Sometimes young people
are hesitant to get involved in service projects, so PadillaWalker recommends parents help teens find a cause they can get behind, whether it’s volunteering at a soup kitchen or at a school for disadvantaged kids. “The key is that youth see the positive impact they are making and also how good their life is relative to others, which helps them feel gratitude,” she says. Padilla-Walker has found other benefits, too, including that it helps teens stay out of trouble. And—wait for it— service to others also improves
familial relationships. So there’s hope that after volunteering at the senior center, teens may also bring home some of that feel-good glow. —C.E.
Getting Around Without GPS Smartphones and GPS have become the norm for getting directions. And they’re great–except when you can’t get a signal, or lose battery power, or get lost in a place without streets. Does your teenager know how to find their way without GPS? Here are a few tips you can share. Invest in a paper map
Go old school and make sure you have a paper map in your glove compartment or backpack. Familiarize yourself with the major freeways and surface streets you can take to get home. Paper maps always work without internet access and don’t require a battery charge. If you don’t know how to read a map, now’s a good time to learn. Additionally, if you're only worried about not having internet access, download offline versions of maps of your area. For example, you can cache parts of Google Maps in both Android and iOS.
Memorize directions Instead of just entering addresses into Apple Maps and following mindlessly, look up written directions and print them before you leave home. That way, you’ll remember street names, freeways, and other landmarks to help get where you want to go. Review directions before and after each trip, to help them stick in your mind. After one or two trips, you probably won’t need them anymore.
Use your surroundings
Ask for help
You can always use your surroundings to locate north, south, east, and west. Note the position of the sun and the time of day to determine east from west. Use rivers or notable landmarks. If you’re in a city, learn the layout of the streets. Grid layouts (like Manhattan) are fairly easy to navigate as all the roads point north-south or east-west.
Don’t be afraid to ask people for directions. A gas station attendant probably can’t tell you how to get back to your house, but he can certainly tell you how to get to the freeway that’ll take you there—and with your paper map, you’ll know exactly which freeway that is. —Jane Parent
Photo: Beth Segal
| MARCH-APRIL 2018
DID YOU KNOW?
Light Their Fire How healthy teens develop a sense of purpose By Margaret Hetherman
t’s a rare parent these days who doesn’t worry about their teen’s endless hours on screens. Years ago, it was TV that glued us to the couch, while our parents yelled at us to do something with ourselves. Something. Anything. So perhaps it’s won’t be surprising to parents that only about 20 percent of young people reported leading fully purposeful lives, according to a study led by Professor William Damon, director of the Stanford Center on Adolescence. Purposeful life was defined as having a vision and a commitment to something they believe in, and doing something about it. That’s not many teens, but Damon isn’t sounding alarm bells. Most of the youth in his study actually had a dream, or some great ideas— the teens just hadn't had the chance to put those visions into action. Teens need time and space to identify and reflect on what's important to them. It's natural that it takes a while to sort out what matters, and to take steps toward making an impact, Damon assures parents. The important thing is to be moving forward—trying new things and learning from experience, says Damon. And that’s true wherever purpose is ultimately found: in a political or spiritual calling; a commitment to family, community, or career; or a passion such as art or sport.
PURPOSE IS HEALTHY
Kendall Cotton Bronk, a professor of developmental psychology at Clare-
mont Graduate University in California, studies how young people discover purpose. Bronk finds that individuals with purpose report being physically healthier than non-purposeful peers. Purposeful individuals “report lower levels of stress, less chronic pain, and better sleep,” says Bronk. “Not only are their lives longer, but also more fulfilling. Individuals with purpose are less depressed, anxious, and lonely, and more hopeful, more satisfied, and happier than individuals without purpose.”
A supportive adult can help a teen identify what matters most. Varda Yoran is a Brooklyn-based sculptor who, as a Russian-Jewish émigré, lived through the Japanese occupation in China in the 1930s and World War II. She later married a Holocaust survivor. When her teenage grandson, Neo Wastin, asked her about the purpose of life, she spoke frankly about the people she had seen in the world—those who had made a strong positive impact, and those who had done great harm. Finally, there are some people who just don't do much. "There are people who go through life and out, and it didn't make any difference whether they were there at all," said Varda. Neo knows he wants to be, as he puts it, “one of those people who make a good difference in the world.” For him, that has meant starting a fundraising drive to provide music to elders with Alzheimer’s.
PARENTS CAN FOSTER PURPOSE
Bronk offers concrete ways parents can help teens who haven’t yet found their purpose:
Model purpose. To spark ideas, talk with your teen about what gives your life purpose. Does raising children fill your life with meaning? Perhaps your career allows you to make a difference in the broader world?
Focus on your teen’s strengths. Purpose emerges when young people apply their strengths to make an impact. Point them towards activities and interests that suit them.
Emphasize gratitude. Reflecting on blessings and the people who have helped them naturally prompts young people to consider how they want to give back. Express gratitude as a family—maybe as a daily practice at the dinner table or in notes on a kitchen chalkboard.
Talk about the far horizon. Longterm thinking helps teens focus on what they want out of life. What do they think will be important to them in the future? Why? It takes a village. Encourage teens to reach out to friends and family members—and encourage family and friends to reach out to your teen. Other supportive adults can share the good qualities they see in your teen, and nurture them towards vision and action.
Photo: Beth Segal
Coed Preschool-Grade 12
UPPER SCHOOL OPEN HOUSE Sunday, March 4 at 1:00 pm
Grades 9-12, Gates Mills Campus
LOWER & MIDDLE SCHOOL OPEN HOUSE
to do school differently.
Sunday, April 15 at 1:00 pm Preschool-Grade 8 , Lyndhurst Campus
Learning spaces and curriculum designed to ignite curiosity and inspire passion.
To RSVP and for more information RSV 440.423.2950 (Preschool-Grade 8) toda P y! 440.423.2955 (Grade 9-12)
For more campus visit dates go to hawken.edu/admission
Tour our new state-of-the-art upper school building.
COCONUT CURRY CHICKEN WITH SWEET POTATOES Serves 4
INGREDIENTS: 1 whole chicken (3½ lbs), cut into 8 pieces 2½ tsp kosher salt, plus more as needed
meal all by itself? New York Times food writer and cookbook author Melissa Clark writes the popular column “A Good Appetite” and appears in a weekly
1 can (13.5-oz) unsweetened coconut milk
2 tbsp peanut, safflower, or vegetable oil
2 medium sweet potatoes (1 lb total), peeled and cut into 1½-inch chunks
1½ tbsp grated peeled fresh ginger
1 tbsp black or brown mustard seeds
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Fresh cilantro leaves and stems
1 lemongrass stalk, trimmed, outer layers removed, inner core finely chopped (optional)
Lime wedges, for serving
1. Heat the oven to 325°F.
Changing the Game, each
2. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season with the 2½ tsp salt and with black pepper to taste.
recipe is meant to be dinfantastic
¾ cup unsweetened coconut flakes
cooking video series. In her new cookbook Dinner:
2 tbsp Thai red curry paste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
¼ cup finely chopped scallions (white and green parts)
What’s better than a delicious entree that is an entire
1 to 2 jalapeño or serrano chiles, to taste, seeded and finely chopped
that is so satisfying and
3. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When it is hot, add the oil; it should thin on contact. Once the oil is hot, brown the chicken pieces, in batches if necessary, until golden all over, 6 to 8 minutes per batch. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
flavor-forward it can stand alone—or be paired with a simple salad or fresh bread on the side. In this creamy stew, a tender chicken is braised with deeply aromatic Thai red curry, spices, green
4. Add the scallions, ginger, garlic, lemongrass if using, and chiles to the Dutch oven, and reduce the heat to medium. Cook, stirring, until soft, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the curry paste and cook for 1 minute. Then stir in the coconut milk and sweet potatoes.
chiles, and rich coconut milk. Chef Melissa says, “the sweet potatoes add a velvety texture to the sauce along with their wonderful plush sweetness, and a hit of lime juice at the end keeps things from turning cloying. Then, for a little crunch and heat, I garnish the stew with fat coconut chips toasted with piquant
5. Arrange the chicken pieces on top of the potatoes, placing the breast meat on top. Pour in enough water for the liquid to reach halfway
mustard seeds. It may seem like one step too many, but it adds a lot in terms of texture and taste.”
up the sides of the chicken (about ½ cup). Bring to a boil. Cover the pot and bake until the chicken is cooked through, about 40 minutes. 6. While the chicken cooks, heat a 9- or 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the coconut flakes to the dry skillet and toast until golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the mustard seeds and toast until they begin to pop, 1 minute more. Transfer the mixture to a small bowl and season with a pinch of salt. 7. Transfer the chicken and sweet potatoes to a platter. Return the Dutch oven to the stove and simmer the cooking liquid over medium-high heat until it has thickened to a saucelike consistency, 5 to 10 minutes. Pour the sauce over the chicken and potatoes, and sprinkle the coconutmustard seed mixture and the cilantro on top. Serve over barley or rice, with lime wedges alongside.
| MARCH-APRIL 2018
IN THE SPOTLIGHT
...with Liz Claman
As the top-rated female business news anchor, Liz Claman is living her dream. At the same time, the FOX Business Network host is active in philanthropy and passing on these values to her two teenagers, Gabby, 16, and Julian, 13. We sat down with her to discuss being a woman in the spotlight and parenting teenagers today.
YT: How do you deal with nasty online comments as a woman in media? LC: When my children were younger I had to ban them from Googling me. There were a plethora of comments on [my body]. That didn’t bother me because since the beginning of time people have commented on others’ looks. However, it has gone so far as anonymous people photoshopping my photos. They cut my head off and put it on a different body having a wardrobe malfunction or showing nudity. I stopped trying a long time ago to get that scrubbed from the web because the more you try, the worse it gets. That stuff has actually hurt me from getting opportunities in the past because people think it’s real. YT: What do you think the workplace is like for young women today? LC: My niece said she feels like she has to be an “alpha female” if she is going to make it in the working world, but also this softer creature if she is going to have men in powerful positions consider her for a higher promotion. That saddened me. I have been a member of the Feminist Majority Foundation for decades. For me, being a true feminist means we should be gender-blind in the working world, and people should be judged on their merit only. That is still not realistic today. In the ‘60s and ‘70s, my dad would say my sisters and I didn’t need a man to strengthen ourselves—that we should just do what we wanted to do in life, and a relationship would come. He was absolutely right. YT: On top of your role as a journalist, you are also an involved philanthropist. How did you get involved with Building Homes for Heroes? LC: I was reading an article in the New York Times about the first U.S. soldier to survive losing all four limbs in the Iraq/Afghanistan war. The article mentioned a group that was building a custom home for him. I offered to help them, and they asked me to emcee their gala.
YT: How do you pass this concept of philanthropy on to your children? LC: This is not easy. I brought Gabrielle, my daughter, to a home presentation about a year after I started working with Building Homes for Heroes. As I was bringing her in the car, I said she was going to meet some people who have lost fingers or can’t walk. I said, “I want you to reach out your hand and shake theirs. I want you to look them directly in their eyes even if it looks scary to you.” That is the beginning of philanthropy. It’s not just writing a check but showing up, hugging these people. YT: How does your professional focus on business and investing impact how you teach your own children the value of money? LC: When they asked for something, I would say, “Let’s figure out how many hours at minimum wage it would take
to make enough money to buy that.” I would make them calculate how hard someone would have to work to purchase that. I’d say, “Once you calculate that, do you really still feel that you need that? I know you want it, but do you need it?” It makes them stop and think and take stock of immediate gratification. YT: What kind of a parent are you? LC: Imperfect, but perfect in my attempts. As far as I’m concerned, we are born as parents with two piles: a pile of yeses and a pile of nos. If you use up all the nos too early, when you are ready to say yes, your kids will have been long gone. They won’t listen. And if you use up all your yeses too early, they won’t listen when you say no. So I balance. n Interview by Susan Borison
| MARCH-APRIL 2018
NOW OPEN flying reptiles that ruled the prehistoric skies.
Ever wonder why fireflies shine like stars in the dark of night? Or how certain fish illuminate the darkest depths of the ocean? Join the Museum on an adventure to uncover the facts behind natureâ€™s glowing mysteries at Creatures of Light at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.
FEB 17 - AUG 12 They flew with their fingers. They walked on their wings. Some were gigantic, while others could fit in the palm of a hand. Millions of years ago, the skies were ruled by pterosaursâ€“ the first vertebrates to achieve flight. Not dinosaurs, birds or bats, pterosaurs were flying reptiles that lived in the world of dinosaurs 220 to 66 million years ago. This exhibit from the American Museum of Natural History, New York, showcases rare fossils, lifesize models and activities to bring pterosaurs to life.
Pterosaurs: Flight in the Age of Dinosaurs is organized by the American Museum of Natural History, 1 WADE OVAL DRIVE, UNIVERSITY CIRCLE, CLEVELAND, OHIO 44106 New York (www.amnh.org)
1 WADE OVAL DRIVE, UNIVERSITY CIRCLE, CLEVELAND, OHIO 44106
Step Into the Real World The 8 key abilities teens develop from volunteering By Nancy O’Connor
High school junior Henry Buchan was working the “Please Touch” cart one Saturday, encouraging museum visitors to touch shark teeth, a dinosaur rib, and other prehistoric relics, when a young boy approached his station. Henry wasn’t prepared for what came next. “He had come with his parents from the hospital,” says Henry, a volunteer Junior Docent at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. “He told me he had cancer, and that on his day away from the hospital, he really just wanted to go to the Natural History Museum to learn about dinosaurs. I felt really lucky to be working with the cart that afternoon.”
It’s About Connecting
Alice Schwallie, who manages volunteer programs at the museum, sees firsthand the positive relationships her teen volunteers develop with visitors. They also make valuable connections with the other volunteers, as well as with museum educators and curators. “Our Junior Docents learn how to interact with a hugely diverse audience, as the museum attracts visitors of all ages and every background,” says Schwallie. In the process, she notes, “they build transferable skills in personal responsibility, public speaking, and time management.”
Eight Skills for Life
The empathy Henry experienced interacting with the young cancer patient is just one of the attributes teens develop through volunteering, says Marilyn Price-Mitchell, a developmental psychologist and researcher who has identified eight key competencies teens gain from meaningful volunteer work.
“The benefits of volunteering go way beyond a college resume,” PriceMitchell says. “A meaningful volunteer job can be transformative to a teen’s identity and personal growth, developing abilities like curiosity, creativity, resourcefulness, integrity, and empathy. “It can also improve a teen’s social skills, self-awareness, and resilience. These combined competencies cultivate success in all aspects of school and life.” While volunteering benefits all teens, Price-Mitchell believes, it often especially helps kids who struggle with low self-esteem, poor grades, or underdeveloped social skills “because it gives them exposure to meaningful activities outside of home and school, and to potential adult mentors.”
How Parents Can Help
Parents can guide their teen toward a meaningful volunteer experience by helping them zero in on what interests them most: Children or the elderly? Animals or the environment? A potential career in medicine or education? Helping the underserved or furthering a cause they believe in? Whatever the interest, PriceMitchell offers these three guidelines for selecting a good volunteer activity:
Real World Skills
Henry’s interest in the natural sciences made volunteering at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History a, well, natural fit. “I like science, and I enjoy being able to teach kids about various items that are featured at the museum,” he says. Despite being busy with schoolwork, varsity sports, and robotics competitions, he happily fulfills his twoshifts-per-month commitment. “I’m often worried about homework or school or practice,” says Henry. “Having this time where I only focus on others just leaves me in a really good mood.” Henry also appreciates having a more “real world” setting in which to explore his interests and interact with peers and adults. “I was attending a very small school when I started, so I enjoyed meeting a lot of different kids in the Junior Docent training program,” he says. Whether your teen is shy or gregarious, bound for college or the workplace, volunteering can help them explore their interests now, and cultivate skills that can benefit them for a lifetime. n
hhThe activity should be intellectually or emotionally challenging to your teen. hhIt needs to provide an emotional connection and meaning so your teen finds it fulfilling. hhThere needs to be adult support. Adult mentoring provides the necessary scaffolding for teens to learn new skills and believe in themselves.
Brought to you by the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. Learn more about volunteer opportunities at cmnh.org/teenvolunteers or call 216-231-4600 x 3252.
| MARCH-APRIL 2018
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 7, 6 p.m. Learn more about the advantage of an independent, Catholic school and see how your student will do more than succeed- theyâ€™ll thrive.
GILMOUR ACADEMY Educating the mind Empowering the heart
Gilmour Academy is an independent, Catholic, coed school in the Holy Cross tradition. Montessori (18 months - Kindergarten) and Grades 1-12 34001 Cedar Road | Gates Mills | OH | 44040
At Baldwin Wallace, youâ€™ll experience personal and professional growth in a supportive community that challenges and inspires you to succeed.
Berea, Ohio 44017 www.bw.edu Baldwin Wallace University does not discriminate on the basis of race, creed, age, disability, national origin, gender or sexual orientation in the administration of any policies or programs.
Down the Mysterly River Bill Willingham’s middle-grade novel is an otherworldly page-turner.
Down the Mysterly River is a story about a boy who wakes up in a strange world with strange inhabitants. Bill Willingham’s book follows a young detective named Max “The Wolf” as he journeys to find out more about this strange land and how to stay safe from the dangers that reside within. It is a story of mystery, drama, and fantasy that borders on classic fairy tales. When Max finds himself alone in the woods, he is unsure of how he got there or even where he is. With detective blood in his veins, he sets off on a mysterious journey, hoping to find his way back home. Along the way, Max makes some new friends: a badger in the military, a sheriff who happens to be a bear, and a not-so-domesticated house cat. Looking for sanctuary, Max encounters a prophet by the name of Prince Aspen who offers him sage advice by revealing a safe destination, providing directions to its secret location. Max encounters other interesting characters on his adventure and questions their integrity, including: The Eggman, a strange man who delivers eggs; a mystical larger-than-life dragon by the name of Lady Slider; and The Blue Cutters, with swords powerful enough to change the essence and memories of those afflicted by their blades. The dark and powerful Cutters are pursuing Max and his friends, so they must reach the sanctuary as quickly as they can for fear of losing their lives. I didn’t want to stop reading Down the Mysterly River. I finished it in one day because every chapter posed questions that I was compelled to find answers to—even the epilogue raised more mysterious questions about Max’s journey. Although I wished for a more compelling character arc for Max, the characters themselves are each distinctly unique. The real excitement for me was the overarching mystery, which unfolds in a dramatic twist at the end of the book. Overall, Down the Mysterly River is a solid book. It reminded me of a few other classic tales including Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. I would highly recommend the book to friends who like similar actionadventure and fantasy genres, as well as people who don’t mind losing a bit of sleep because of how addictive this book is. Once you’re pulled in, you can’t be pulled out of this adventure.
I was excited to read a book with my son. Reading together is something we stopped doing when he was in first grade since he no longer required his mommy’s help. I must admit, though, I was slightly nervous to partake in a tandem reading assignment. My son’s natural gravitation is to heavy duty sci-fi/fantasy—mine is not. Some of his favorite reads include D.J. MacHale’s The Pendragon series and Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance series. Lucas is a voracious reader, and of course he finished Down the Mysterly River overnight. He prompted me to start the book when he dropped some hints which piqued my interest. “Mom, you’re going to enjoy the read—it reminds me of Wizard of Oz, but I don’t want to ruin it for you.” And so I dove in head first. Down the Mysterly River follows Max “the Wolf,” an accomplished Boy Scout. He holds all the qualities I see and admire in my own children—he’s inquisitive, unafraid, confident, and ultimately a determined problem-solver. The author describes Max as a detective, which sets the reader off on a cryptic mystery. You see, Max has no idea where he is in a setting that should seem all too familiar for a Boy Scout. As he tries to secure answers to his whereabouts, he comes upon some woodland creatures. They seem like typical forest inhabitants, but his new acquaintances can speak! Like Alice chasing answers as she chases the White Rabbit, Max, too, is thrust into a topsy-turvy adventure. With few answers and hundreds more questions which arise at every turn, Max methodically pieces each one together. While I don’t want to give away the ending, the M. Night Shyamalan twist brought about a philosophical discussion with my son that I couldn’t have predicted, either. With elements of Oz, Alice in Wonderland, and Tolkien’s quests, Down the Mysterly River provides the reader with curious characters, heightened drama, and an unusual twist. It should come as no surprise that Bill Willingham is a comic book icon and known for his fairy tale mash-ups. His pen and ink drawings at the beginning of each chapter pay homage to Sir John Tenniel’s Alice illustrations. Down the Mysterly River is an adventure story for the whole family, not just mother and son.
Lucas Sorensen is a seventh grader who attends Manhattan Beach Middle School in Manhattan Beach, California. Lucas is a competitive swimmer and obsessed with Fortnite, but his real addiction is reading. Lucas’s favorite book series is Inheritance Cycle.
Tara Sorensen is a kids’ television programming executive with stints at Nelvana, Sony Pictures Television, National Geographic, and Amazon Studios. Tara’s all-time favorite book is The Giving Tree, or anything else she gets to read alongside her children.
| MARCH-APRIL 2018
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Parenting in a Pixelated World Teens use technology all day at home and at school. How do we help them create a healthy balance? By Ken Schneck
But I’m using my phone to do my homework! If you’re the parent of a middle school or high school student, you’ve likely heard these words when you ask them to put away the phone and get their homework done. As technology invades every corner of our kids’ lives, both at home and at school, it has become increasingly difficult to help them develop a healthy relationship with it and use it for good instead of Instagram. (Okay, so we all like a little Instagram now and then.)
Navigating Educational Technology
The fact is, your kids probably do need technology to do their homework—at least some of the time. The trick is to help teens recognize when technology is helping them study, and when it’s just derailing their productivity. Consider educational apps. The educational technology sector is booming with apps designed to help kids master new concepts. Looking for an app to help with algebra? There are hundreds. But that doesn’t mean they are all helpful to your child. “There’s a lot of garbage out there, especially with people out to make a quick buck,” says Emily Levitt, Vice President of Education at Sylvan Learning. Sylvan’s teachers are trained to help engage students using interactive technology. “For example, your child might have a project on photosynthesis,” Levitt says. “An app might hit on the buzzword you’re looking for, but not the content they need. Having reviewed hundreds of pieces of educational technology, our
tutors can provide recommendations to parents that will actually support their child’s learning.” Rather than using apps that just require students to memorize information and take quizzes, educators suggest looking for ones that encourage students to analyze information, make judgments, or create something new with their knowledge.
When working on a project that involves internet research, students naturally gravitate toward their smartphones. However, if you have a student who struggles to stay on task, Levitt recommends putting the phone in another room during homework time. “The phone is always beckoning with texting and social media,” says Levitt. “If possible, have the student use another computer or tablet for homework, one that is not connected to the student’s personal apps.” What about those dreaded group projects? Rather than texting back and forth, encourage students to use a collaborative platform like Google Docs. “This allows every student to contribute and see others’ changes in real time, and it can also allow a teacher to see the history of everyone’s participation,” says Levitt.
are creating at least as much of their own original content for academic and creative purposes as they are consuming what is available to them,” advises Hicks. “To put that in concrete terms, for every hour viewing YouTube or playing a video game, a student should spend another hour creating their own video or learning to code.” And although it may feel impossible to keep up with all the latest technology platforms, parents need to stay clued in to the role these innovations are playing in their teens’ lives. “Ask your children thoughtful questions about their personal and academic uses of technology,” recommends Hicks. “Rather than lecturing them about the negative effects of technology, engage in a dialogue with your children about their media use.” The goal is that they—and not parents—“will be much better able to make the critical decisions we would expect of them as they become responsible adults.” Technology is here to stay, for work and for play. The goal is to help our kids be aware of its role in their teens’ lives so that it serves them well, rather than the other way around. n
Create, Don’t Just Consume
Parents should consider that what children are doing online is just as important as how much time they are spending doing it, says Dr. Troy Hicks, an associate professor at Central Michigan University who focuses on education and technology. “Any ‘balance’—either in school or at home—would demand that students
Brought to you by Sylvan Learning, helping families take the stress out of testing. Contact your local Sylvan Learning center for a free practice ACT or SAT test; some restrictions apply. Learn more at sylvanprepresults.com.
| MARCH-APRIL 2018
You Want to Wear That? Every morning when I pick out an outfit, I go through the same process of walking downstairs to ask my mom if it is appropriate and wait for her to tell me to go change or reluctantly allow me to wear it. On the days my is “iffy” (usually TEEN outfit leggings or an off-theshoulder top), my mom instructs me to bring a change of clothes just in case a super-strict teacher gives me a dress code violation. It’s not that I am trying to break the rules; it’s just that many of the clothes that are in style today don’t meet my school’s dress code. I own a few crop tops, denim shorts, corduroy skirts, rompers, ripped jeans, and off-the-shoulder shirts—basically, the identical outfits my mom and all of her friends wore in high school in the ‘90s. But for some reason, outfits that were okay to wear to school 25 years ago are considered “inappropriate” today. I think it’s really unfair for girls wearing sleeveless or off-the-shoulder tops to get called out at school for being “too revealing”. What is so inappropriate about the upper part of the arm? Are teachers afraid that the boys in my classes won’t be able to pay attention because they can see my shoulders? It really doesn’t make any sense. I don’t choose these particular outfits for any reason—not to make a point, be rebellious, or impress anyone. I only wear them for myself because I like the style, and because I feel pretty and confident in them. I still try to be respectful of my parents’ wishes and always pair my crop tops with high-waisted jeans, wear shorts under my skirts and dresses, and never wear tops that show off cleavage. But there are still times my mom and I don’t agree with what is appropriate, and secretly I wish she would loosen up just a little bit. I know that my mom is only being overprotective because she doesn’t want me to get in trouble at school or for people to think badly of me. But, I also feel that teenagers aren’t really given enough credit or the chance to make our own decisions. We need to be allowed to express ourselves, especially when it’s about something pretty safe like fashion. I wish adults today didn’t make such big deals about innocent things. Julianna Manes is a high school freshman. Her favorite things include Broadway musicals, going to concerts (especially Panic! at the Disco), and all things related to makeup and fashion.
“Mommy, does this look okay?” It’s a question I get almost daily from my 15-year-old daughter, Julianna, about her outfit. Typically, it refers to a pair of shorts that might be slightly shorter than I would prefer, or a top that, MOM if worn with jeans of the non-high-waisted variety, would expose an inch of midriff. Leggings are another point of contention: Are they or are they not pants? If someone would have told me 10 years ago that I’d become the clothes police, I wouldn’t have believed them. We live in Florida, the state where I was born and raised. Other than an unfortunate period in middle school when “Jams” shorts were in style, teenagers here have always worn short-shorts, flipflops, and crop tops. But, over the last few years, stricter school dress codes and opinionated parents have made me second-guess what I allow my own Floridian teen to wear. It started when she was about 8 years old. We were on vacation when a parent at the pool complimented my daughter’s tankini. She then proceeded to tell me that her own daughter wasn’t allowed to wear twopiece swimsuits until she was 13. I was annoyed and slightly offended, but must confess that I didn’t let Juli wear that two-piece again for the rest of the trip. When she started middle school, there was a big dress code meeting. For boys: No saggy pants. For girls: No tank tops, no shorts more than 4” above the knee, no leggings, no exposed shoulders, no cleavage, and no midriff. Half of Juli’s existing wardrobe was out, and the only shorts that met dress code made her look like a delivery truck driver. The subliminal message was clear: “Girls need to be covered up and frumpy in order to receive an education.” Intellectually, I knew that this was ridiculous, but a part of me began to wonder if I was too permissive when it came to her wardrobe. Maybe those shorts are too short. And, those exposed shoulders? Maybe they would put her in danger or keep her from learning. So, little by little, I became that mom. Now in high school, the dress code is slightly more lax. But, those mornings when she walks out the door wearing an off-the-shoulder top and looking stylish as heck, I can’t keep myself from wondering if I should’ve sent her back to her room to change. Yvette Manes is a freelance writer and a mother of two teenagers. She loves binge-watching TV, listening to audiobooks, and singing along to showtunes in the car.
PRO I sympathize with Yvette and Julianna’s skepticism about school dress codes. There are good reasons to consider what kids wear to school—but unfortunately, the reason given for girls to “cover up” is most often that they “distract boys.” That is unsupportable. Boys are responsible for their behavior and reactions. They should not be entitled to comment on girls’ bodies regardless of what girls wear. Not ever. They should not be the arbiters of what clothing is acceptable and what makes a girl fair game and what means she is “asking for it.” Not if we want to change the culture so that our daughters won’t have to say #metoo. And really, where, exactly, is that line? Is it when a girl wears a knee-length skirt? An ankle-length skirt? A burqa? As every woman knows, you may be catcalled, harassed, or groped, no matter what you wear. To that extent, protesting the policing of girls’ bodies and dress is important. With this in mind, Yvette and Julianna could consider petitioning for a different kind of dress code. However, there’s another side to this, and it seems that Yvette is sensing this in her reluctance to let Julianna wear just anything. Today’s girls are encouraged to self-objectify and selfsexualize—to define themselves from the outside in rather than the inside out, to view their
bodies as the objects of others’ desires and judgment—at everyounger ages and to call that “empowerment.” However, in its landmark 2007 report on the sexualization of girlhood, the American Psychological Association linked self-objectification to poor self-esteem, depression, body dissatisfaction, eating disorders, self-harm, and compromised cognitive function. So, simply making the “right to bare arms!” into a feminist rallying cry can be a trap. Where does that leave parents and schools? With a mandate to educate—not stigmatize—students. Telling girls to “cover up” just as puberty hits teaches them that their bodies are inappropriate, dangerous, violable, and subject to constant scrutiny and judgment, including by the adults they trust. It also does not help them understand the culture’s role in their wardrobe choices. For Yvette and Julianna and other families locked in this dilemma, there’s a great article about dress codes on the SPARK web site (bitly.com/ sparkdresscode), as well as lots of opportunity for your daughter to get involved with a girl-led, girl-positive movement. Among the “Universal Dress Code Rules,” it suggests that students have input into their school dress codes. That’s a great place to start the discussion, but, really, if we want our girls to have true power and pride, we have to get beyond the “Is she ‘basic’ or is she a slut?” conversation and talk about the mixed and often harmful messages about body and beauty that bombard girls. That starts with discussing all of these issues frankly with our daughters—and our sons.
Peggy Orenstein is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Girls & Sex and Cinderella Ate My Daughter. Her book of essays Don’t Call Me Princess will be published in February.
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Photos by Beth Segal
WHAT TO EXPECT:
SOCIAL LIFE Move Aside Family– Make Room for Friends By Mary Helen Berg
While an 18-year-old guest cheerfully helped me with the dishes one night, my 13-year-old son, who had remained silent and surly during dinner, dropped his plate in the sink and walked past us without so much as a grunt. “Don’t worry,” said the sage guest, sensing my distress. “He’ll be back,” he assured me, and promised that by 17, my son would reconnect to the family. Without realizing it, the older teen had schooled me on a typical stage of social development—the period when adolescents often distance themselves from the family unit. Family is the most important influence and social group for children, but relationships shift in adolescence as teens and tweens struggle toward independence and try to establish their identity as individuals, according to the American Pediatric Association. This shift away from family and toward peers is normal, but whether it’s subtle or dramatic, it can be “kind of a shock to parents,” says Dave Walsh, a psychologist and author of Why Do They Act That Way: A Survival Guide to the Adolescent Brain for You and Your Teen.
“A lot of times in the preteen years, kids enjoy doing things together with their parents, and then come the teenage years and it often seems like they don’t want to have anything to do with their parents,” Walsh explains. “Part of that is very appropriate developmentally, but it can be difficult for the parents.” When your teen chooses peers over you, don’t let it hurt your feelings. According to “The Teen Years Explained,” a Johns Hopkins University guide to teen development, adolescent brains perceive social acceptance from peers to be as rewarding as eating ice cream. And what parent can compete with that? In this year’s What to Expect, Your Teen explores adolescent social development and offers a guide to some changes you can anticipate during the tween and teen years.
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WHAT TO EXPECT
FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS TWEENS
Many tweens swing between seeking closeness with their parents and being in conflict with them. Although your tweens are still dependent on you, they may start to withhold information, avoid family excursions, and dodge previously cherished siblings. Many will begin to confide more in friends, favor private time in their rooms, and spend interminable stretches on social media, says Dona Matthews, a psychoeducational consultant who blogs about adolescence for Psychology Today. “Some tweens are very angry and sullen and rude with their family,” says Matthews, who is also the author of Beyond Intelligence: Secrets for Raising Happily Productive Kids. “They close up, they go to their rooms and say ‘I never want to see you again.’ Others are lovely through the tween years, so you get this full spectrum.”
Even parents who think of their teen as a best friend should assume they’ll spend less time together. Parents will experience some pushback as the teen asserts independence and becomes more involved with school activities. Think of this as a good thing, says Jill Emanuele, a clinical psychologist and a senior director at New York City’s Child Mind Institute. “There are some teens who are attached at the hip to their parent throughout their whole entire childhood, and that’s an extreme that’s not so great,” she says. “You want them to become more independent, functioning on their own, being able to manage their social interactions, their shower, their homework.” While it’s normal for your adolescent to push you away—and you should loosen your hold—don’t let go completely, adds Walsh. They still need you, even if they sometimes don’t realize it. “The kid’s job is to ask for a divorce,” Walsh explains. “A lot of parents make the mistake of granting the divorce. The art of parenting teenagers is to figure out new ways to stay involved.”
Help your adolescent understand that disagreements are okay. Use conflicts to model how to respectfully and thoughtfully present different points of view.
Remember: Some sullen behavior is normal, but sudden or prolonged changes in appetite and sleep patterns, complete withdrawal from family or friends, and extended periods of melancholy could indicate depression, substance abuse, or other problems, cautions Emanuele.
If you disapprove of your teen’s friends, don’t criticize them directly because your teen will feel compelled to defend them, advises Walsh. Instead, address unsafe behaviors in terms of your family’s values and beliefs.
When your tween dumps you for a new crew, he’ll probably experiment with a variety of new relationships—and the process may be dizzying as he tries to figure out where he belongs. “In middle school you see a lot of shifting friendships with different friend groups,” Emanuele says. “You see kids really struggling to figure out who they are and searching to find a peer group that really matches them.” Tweens generally choose same-gender friends, and relationships become newly intense as their brains mature and “allow them to genuinely care for each other in a way that younger children just can’t do,” says Matthews. “You’ll see the child working really hard to have sustaining relationships with friends,” she says. “Their hearts will be broken when friends betray them or leave them behind in order to make friends with other people.” As peers become more important, so does the need to conform, adds Walsh. “Tweens and teens will often do things with their peers that they wouldn’t do on their own,” Walsh says. “The audience for the tween and teenager is the peer group, and that’s often whom they’re trying to please—and that becomes a lot more important than pleasing parents or a teacher.” This tendency toward groupthink among tweens contributes to the formation of cliques and can lead to bullying, says Walsh. And while this age group is particularly susceptible to bullying, tweens are more likely to participate in bullying than to be victims. “For every one victim there are multiple perpetrators,” Walsh says. “It often happens in groups. It doesn’t mean these kids are bad kids. It means they’re going along with the group, and the pressure to conform with the group becomes very, very great.”
Friend groups tend to settle after the tween years, and young teens will often stick with one group of friends. Call them cliques or tribes. These social groups seem most evident during the teen years, but they’re part of human behavior at all ages, says Emanuele. By about 14, your teen may begin to refine their relationships and connect more with those who share common interests, Matthews says. Older teens still hang out in large groups, but often gravitate toward intimate relationships with one or two friends. Don’t worry too much about how many friends your teen has or whether they are popular. In fact, popular teens are more likely to engage in risky behaviors. “Teens will experiment and get involved with peer groups where they egg each other on and try drugs, try alcohol, and it’s up to the parent to protect their child and put restrictions on those things,” adds Emanuele. Though they are gaining independence, the teen years do not mean it’s time to grant complete freedom. Get to know your teen’s friends and, according to your family’s values, set limits on what your kid can do, where they can do it, and with whom.
Remember: The number of friends your adolescent has is less important than whether they seem happy with those relationships. However, if it seems your adolescent has no friends, encourage them to join clubs, camps, teams, or extracurriculars that will expose them to peers with similar interests.
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WHAT TO EXPECT
DATING TWEENS If tweens are dating at all, they will usually hang out as a pair within a group of friends that all go out together as a crowd. At this stage, tweens are “trying dating on for size,” says Emanuele. Some couples will simply announce that they’re “going out” without any other sign of actual dating. But a few may peel off from the group to experiment sexually. “You can have kids who get pretty sexually involved at a very young age, well beyond an understanding of what they’re really doing, and that’s very concerning,” cautions Emanuele.
TEENS Older teens may casually date or engage in long-term monogamous relationships. While it may be hard to see your teen grow up—and you worry about them becoming sexually active—remember that dating helps adolescents understand their sexuality, expand their social skills, and learn how to manage intimate connections. “You want them to be exploring relationships and how they work, finding out why they’re hard, what works better, and how to be in a relationship,” counsels Matthews. It’s perfectly okay, too, if your teen isn’t yet interested in romance. Don’t push. If your teen falls head over heels, try not to cringe or roll your eyes at their mooning, and treat their relationship with respect. Just make sure you’re alert to the signs of an unhealthy liaison. “People can get so involved with the person they’re dating that they start to lose themselves a little bit,” warns Emanuele. “They might get involved with a person who’s controlling or abusive, and a lot of kids haven’t been educated about what that looks like or what the warning signs are. If your kid starts to really hang around one person and is isolated and stops hanging out with their other friends, that’s concerning.”
Banning a specific relationship outright often leads to rebellion. Work with your teen—and perhaps a counselor—to reach a solution.
Remember: Teen breakups aren’t trivial. They represent a serious loss to your teen and can trigger depressive episodes or even suicide attempts.
Watching your adolescent retreat from you and family life in favor of their peers can be painful. But if you stay connected, keep communication open, and seek professional advice when needed, you’ll help your adolescent learn skills they’ll use to develop healthy relationships throughout their lives.
“All through the adolescent years, your job really is to love them, respect them, enjoy them, and be available for them so that they have a safe home base to come to when everything falls apart,” says Matthews. “And things do fall apart for kids. That’s a healthy part of development.” n
CPH EDUCATION PROGRAMS
Finding My People My middle school and early high school years were mostly friendless. So, when I started having people over towards the end of my sophomore year of high school, my parents were excited for me—and maybe a little relieved. They were as happy as I was to see me find my place. My friend group was a motley crew, seeing as we all had been the misfits. But we found a place with one another and spent our Friday nights gossiping and drinking sodas in my basement. I got my driver’s license the summer before my junior year. After that, I was a part-time resident in my own home. If I had a night off, I’d spend it shopping with the girls or playing video games with the guys. If I had friends over, we’d disappear downstairs. My parents didn’t mind at first. Later in the year, though, I felt myself losing touch with them. Family news seemed to bypass me. I wouldn’t hear about things as small as my mom’s haircut or as large as my grandmother’s surgery until they had already happened. Feeling frustrated and a bit spurned, I remember snapping at my parents, “Why don’t you ever tell me anything?” To which they replied, “It’s because you’re never around!”
I didn’t distance myself because I loved or valued them any less. In hindsight, it was because I was scared. I came to the realization that I was gay during my junior year of high school and barely understood it. Explaining my feelings to my parents was too great a task for me at the time. H o w e v e r, a l l o f m y friends were in some way LGBT. They were able to empathize with me and stand steadfast while I discovered myself. In a way, they served as a family during that time. They were never a replacement for my parents or younger sister. Instead, they supplemented my family’s love and supported me in a different way—especially before I came out to my family. Now, I find myself missing both my family and friends in my first year of college. Their pictures hang above my dorm room bed, and not a day goes by that I don’t think about them. I’ve blossomed because of all of them and owe them all my newfound confidence. They’re both my families— whether by birth or by choice.
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When Your Teenager is the Sexual Offender
By Jaimie Seaton
It’s natural for a parent to worry about their child becoming a victim of sexual abuse. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as many as one-fourth of girls and one-sixth of boys are sexual abuse victims. But what’s less well-known is that juveniles are the offenders in 23 percent of reported cases of child sexual abuse. What if that offender is your kid?
Intervention Can Help
What to Look for
While it’s commonly believed that juveniles who commit sexual offenses grow up to be pedophiles, that is not always the case, and it’s not even the correct terminology. “The use of the word pedophilia is inappropriate when talking about juveniles,” says William Ballantyne, a Vermont-based psychologist who specializes in the evaluation and treatment of juveniles with sexual behavior problems. “We may be talking about kids that act out sexually, but that’s not pedophilia.” Statistically, very few kids who act out sexually in childhood end up as adult pedophiles, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need help.
When it comes to troubling sexual behavior, parents should watch for these signs that their child may need help:
A g e d i f f e re n c e . S ex u a l i n t e r est in much younger teens or even younger children is a red flag, says Ballantyne. The concern here is not with typical teenage romances, even if there is some age difference or one party is under the age of consent (which is at least 16 in every state). It’s more about age differences that suggest a developmental and power
differential, like a 16-year-old showing interest in a 12-year-old. “That would send up red flags,” says Ballantyne. “For one thing, if there is any follow-through, that is clearly illegal. If we’re talking about a 16-year-old and a 12-year-old, that’s a really concerning age span. “Those who feel powerless [in other areas of their lives] may try to gain power in ways that are not acceptable, and included in that would be sexual activity with somebody much younger.”
Will My Child Get in Trouble? By Shari Nacson, LISW-S
Teens may experiment with peers, just as young children may “play doctor” with their peers. Neither situation is cause for panic. However, young children cannot truly give consent when the other child is older—that is, when they are not peers. “An 8-year-old isn’t a peer of a 12- or 14-year-old,” says Shari Nacson, a social worker in Ohio. “That’s not consensual, they’re not cohorts, and there is a power difference.” Cognitive differences. If one child in a sexual interaction is mentally impaired or disabled, or particularly vulnerable for some reason, parents should step in. Excessive secrecy. Keeping secrets is part of a teen’s job, developmentally, so this is a tricky one. Secrecy that is paired with a sense that your teen is acting out of character or seems otherwise unwell—this may signal a problem. “That does not mean that parents should go digging through their teens’ drawers,” says Nacson. “It means that parents need to address the secrecy.” Addiction to pornography. “Whereas curiosity about sexuality is normal in children and adolescents,” says Ballantyne, “the cultural saturation of pornography can lead to being overfocused on that subject.” An obsessive interest in pornography needs attention.
Getting Help As daunting as it may be, if a parent notices any troubling behaviors, or just has a gut feeling that something is off, they need to reach out for support—not only for their own child’s sake, but to protect other children.
Parents with questions may want to consult with their pediatrician or a therapist in their community, says Nacson. “Feel out the question and say, ‘This is what I’m noticing. I can’t tell if I should be concerned or not.’ If you are mulling it over, that’s a good time to consult someone.” Ballantyne agrees that parents should err on the side of caution. “Any adolescent acting out sexually needs to be evaluated by someone who is experienced (see sidebar), and that behavior needs to be taken seriously.” It’s important to note that if your teen has acted out sexually, they may also have been a victim at some point, says Nacson. It could be abuse or something they’ve seen that they found overwhelming or disturbing, but most kids don’t suddenly act out sexually. This is also something to discuss with your pediatrician or a therapist.
It Can Get Better The good news is that with early intervention, the teen has a high probability of self-correcting, according to Ballantyne. Staying silent or shaming your teen will not make the problem go away, and could likely make it worse. If kids don’t learn to manage their impulses, they grow up to be adults without impulse control. “It’s never a good idea to do nothing,” says Nacson. “It’s not going to go away by itself. Ask for help, that’s the most important thing—and that’s actually what your child wants. If you have a funny feeling about anything your child is doing, it’s important to talk to someone about it.”n
The best helpers for children who are acting out sexually are those who have trained specifically to work with juveniles. While not every community has a private therapist who specializes in this topic (check www.aasect.org), every community does have access to the expertise of social workers and therapists working for their local child protective services (CPS). What most people don’t know is that asking for help from CPS does not always mean legal repercussions. When a parent calls to request help, it is seen as a voluntary inquiry. CPS focuses on family strengths, which means that a forthright family that is engaging well with or seeking to begin work with community helpers is seen as cooperative and less likely to be treated in a punitive way. Mandated involvement of CPS typically comes into play for families who are either not taking the steps to stop abuse, or in cases where the severity requires court oversight (in which case, parental cooperation can make for a less punitive court experience). When a child has engaged in behavior that seems to be a form of sexual abuse, parent fears about legal consequences are understandable. However, covering up sexually inappropriate behavior only leads to bigger acting out, harm to others, and a larger possibility of court involvement. Early and invested intervention is the only way to break the cycle. Through our parental response, we teach our kids that all troubles can be spoken about and managed—even the ones that feel really sad, scary, or ugly. We teach them to own their mistakes, to make reparations, to explore why it happened in the first place, and that they can control themselves to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
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When Mom is a Recovering Alcoholic TEEN By Tacy Marsh My mom has been sober for seven years now, and I am so proud of the journey she is on. Although I am too young to remember when she wasn’t sober, I can tell how important her sobriety is to her, through her pride and thankfulness. I’m grateful that she chose sobriety—and not because her drinking negatively affected me, but because I can see how sobriety has positively affected her. It has also been a good influence in my life because there are people in my life who drink until they’re unconscious, so having a role model to show me that there are other ways to live life and that you can enjoy yourself just as much without alcohol has been so important to me. When my mom decided to stop drinking alcohol, I was only 8. So I don’t fully remember life when she wasn’t sober. However, I don’t think it is all about my personal memories of her drinking—I have heard stories
of her drinking when she was younger, and I see she is a different person now that she doesn’t. I can see how alcohol has affected her life, like when she recently had to have tooth surgery because of a time years ago that she was drunk and fell and knocked her tooth out. It helps me realize that drinking can go too far, and it’s all up to you to recognize it in your life and change for the better. My world can be filled with peers making bad choices around me. I don’t go a week without hearing about someone else getting drunk. It’s hard to concentrate on swimming and school with many people around me making bad choices. However, it’s been helpful to have my mom as an example of someone who still maintains her friendships and has all sorts of other accomplishments in her life—all without alcohol. It shows me that I can still have friends and do fun things without drinking, and that ultimately I can still reach all of my goals, too. It’s inspiring to see someone who recognized a problem in their life, took the initiative to solve it, and has contin-
ued to stay proactive in their solution. Tacy Marsh is a high school sophomore, a competitive swimmer, and a passable tennis player who spends her days wishing she got more sleep. She strives to make good choices as she excels in school in pursuit of her goal of going to college in a place where it rains a lot.
PARENT ByJulie Marsh Last November, I celebrated seven years of sobriety. In fact, November is nearly the only time of year that I think about being sober. Because I don’t follow a program or attend meetings, I’m rarely confronted with my choice not to drink. When I go to parties with friends or out to dinner with my husband, my sobriety is a non-issue. I’m not even the default designated driver. Thinking about my past drinking brings up uncomfortable memories. This
isn’t unusual; remembering the reasons we stopped drinking is key to remaining sober for many alcoholics. However, it’s not helpful for me. I attended one meeting shortly after my first anniversary of not drinking, and I left the meeting feeling worse than I’d ever felt the whole year prior. Though it helps many people, I’m better served by looking ahead, not back. In those early months of sobriety, close friends asked me why I stopped drinking. They were curious because nothing in my life seemed amiss. I was fortunate that my drinking never had legal, financial, or marital consequences, but that’s only because I stopped before my luck ran out. Or so I thought. Because when I read my daughter’s companion piece to this essay, I realized my drinking did have consequences that have affected me intermittently over the years. In the early 1990s, I was away at college, and like many college students, I binge drank. One October night I fell, and I didn’t have the presence of mind or reaction time to break my fall. My left front tooth took the brunt of the impact, and snapped near the gum line. I can still feel my left hand jammed in my mouth as
I held what was left of my tooth in place. It’s been more than 25 years since that accident. I’ve had a root canal and three different crowns cemented in place. Two years ago, my most recent crown came loose, and my dentist warned me that its days were numbered. When I returned to her again late last year, it was time to begin consultations for an implant. I’m typing now with a temporary tooth in place while the implant heals for the next three months. My bank account might take a while longer to recover. Perhaps it’s my tooth, which was only mine for less than a third of my life, that reminds me every time I look in the mirror that remaining sober is my only option. Because the consequences of my drinking stare me in the face daily, that’s all I need to remind me that I don't want to return to that phase of my life. Instead, I think about how glad I am to wake up feeling good every morning. I can safely drive my kids to and from evening activities. I talk with them openly about the reasons not to drink while they're young, and the reasons to drink in moderation once they're of legal age. My kids don’t remember much of my drinking days, but maybe my ongoing
dental disaster will help them understand the seriousness of alcohol problems. If my broken tooth can serve as a deterrent to drinking, it will make all the pain and expense worthwhile. Julie Marsh is a project manager, a digital marketer, and a parent of three who spends her days figuring out how to get stuff done as efficiently and effectively as possible. She cares deeply about global health, clean bathrooms, and the proper use of apostrophes.
EXPERT By Keith Klostermann Julie and Tacy’s stories are incredibly powerful and speak to their individual strength a n d re s i l i e n c y, and to the value in addressing alcohol-use problems. What if Julie hadn’t gotten help? The effect of a parent’s alcohol misuse on the family can be devastating.
Photo: Beth Segal
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A PLACE TO
Begin your college career in a women-focused, supportive environment where you will develop the leadership skills and confidence to thrive.
It is difficult to admit a problem, but sometimes the parent’s motivation to finally seek change is to be a role model for their own children Approximately 7.5 million U.S. children (i.e., 1 in 10) live with a parent with an alcohol-use disorder. A large and growing body of research indicates that children of parents who abuse alcohol are at risk for developing emotional, behavioral, and social problems. In addition, impaired family dynamics are more likely to lead to alcohol use disorders for children when they reach adulthood. With many teens experimenting with alcohol, the effects on the next generation’s patterns of alcohol use may crop up sooner than parents expect. It is difficult to admit a problem, but sometimes the parent’s motivation to finally seek change is to be a role model for their own children. Julie may not have realized it at first, but quitting drinking has had positive effects on her daughter, even years into her sobriety. Tacy clearly admires her mom’s toughness and her example of a healthy, full life without drinking. Whether or not a parent with an alcohol problem gets help, it is important that family members seek their own treatment during what can often be a very difficult and complicated time. Alateen, a part of the Al-Anon Family Groups, is a fellowship of young people (mostly teenagers) whose lives have been affected by someone else’s drinking. Alateen is free and secular and provides
a space for teens to meet other teens with similar situations. A family physician may also be able to work with the family to help encourage treatment. Although many adolescents may act like they don’t need attention from their parents, this is a critical period in their development when they do need guidance. Sadly, a person with an alcohol-use disorder is often barely able to maintain him or herself, much less take care of a child. M o re o v e r, a l c o h o l misusing parents may not understand the impact on their children. As Julie noted, she didn’t fully realize the consequences of her drinking until she read her daughter’s essay. It is critical that children and adolescents seek help and try to alleviate the damaging effects of parental alcohol misuse: in other words, to break the cycle. Julie and Tacy are an example of how this can be done, and how a history of alcohol misuse can become a positive, impactful opportunity to speak openly with children about the dangers of underage drinking, as well as the importance of drinking responsibly when reaching the legal drinking age. Keith Klostermann, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy programs at Medaille College in Buffalo, NY. He has extensive experience in treating substance abuse.
ASK THE DOCTOR
Managing Chronic Conditions Some teens and kids live with chronic health conditions ranging from asthma to cerebral palsy. When should teenagers begin to manage their own health? How do you know when they’re ready? We posed these questions to Dr. Terrill D. Bravender, Jr, professor of adolescent medicine, pediatrics, and psychiatry at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan. What is a chronic condition? A chronic condition can describe a whole host of health issues, from something which only requires attention on a couple of occasions a year (like minor asthma) to something very dramatic with serious complications, such as cerebral palsy or a cancer diagnosis. Caring for each chronic condition, like caring for each child, is going to be unique. Two kids with the same condition may be completely different—as one may be very self-sufficient, and the other may need more help to manage it. How much should a child know about their condition? Any time a child is ill, tell them what is going on with their body. These conversations should begin as early as possible. If they need medicine for an illness, even something as simple as a cold, tell them what is happening to their body, what the medicine you’re giving them is for, and why. They should be aware of their condition and the importance of ongoing care, but knowing all the possible longterm concerns down the road simply doesn’t have a lot of immediacy to teens. My emphasis is always on how they are going to feel today. If I have a patient with diabetes, I’ll talk about how they are going to feel generally lousy if they don’t take their insulin. If sports is something that is important to them, I’ll tell them they will experience fatigue and not perform their best if their blood sugar is poorly controlled.
What is the right age to expect a teen to be able to manage their condition? Adolescence is not going to happen at the same age for every child, but by age 13-15, your son or daughter should take on significant responsibility for their own health care. We can do a more formal assessment in a doctor’s office of when to begin transitioning care from parental control to the teen. There is a fantastic website called gottransition.org, which is a program run by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau and The National Alliance to Advance Adolescent Health. It has assessment questionnaires to evaluate when a teen is ready to transition to becoming responsible for self-care, as well as recommendations and strategies for families. What role should parents have? A teen’s response to taking care of his own health can run anywhere from not wanting to deal with it at all, to wanting complete control. Similarly, we have some of the same issues with parents. It’s about finding a balance that everyone can agree on. Some days a teen may be very conscientious, and some days they may not. It’s important to remember this is not an all-or-nothing phenomenon. Parents should check in. Offer support and encouragement without being judgmental if a teen is not as consistent as he or she should be. You want to have a problem-solving approach instead of
one where you get frustrated and blame the teen. And remember, this is a learning process. It’s not going to be mastered in a few days.
How can parents help without taking over? Parents can help a teen have reminders and a support system in place. Most teens have a phone, and it’s pretty easy to program a reminder alarm onto your child’s phone to tell them when to take their medications. You don’t want teens to feel that they’re going to get into trouble, but parents can emphasize that the more you do for yourself, the less you have to rely on us. What advice do you have for parents about transitioning care? At some point you have to let your kid manage this. It’s a positive thing that you have a good knowledge of your child’s condition and the ability to help him or her manage it. But at some point you have to ask: How long can I do this? You need to have a transition plan, and the earlier the better. It’s better to have this learning process happen while they are still at home living with you, than at college or when they’re on their own with no support. Interview by Jane Parent
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Quitting Time? College doesn’t need to be the end of high school passions. By Linda Wolff
Regrets, I’ve had a few. There were many childhood activities I eventually let go, but the one I’m most sorry I didn’t stick with is dance. My weekly ballet classes, punctuated by Saturday morning dancea-thons in front of a mirror while watching “Soul Train,” were the highlight of my week. Now, I wistfully watch graceful dancers perform and wish I had stuck with the dance lessons instead of dropping them when they felt like a burden that cramped my social life. Early morning and late afternoon practices shape the lives of many families and govern their calendars. But here’s the irony: By the time they get to college, some students feel burned out by the very passion that may have helped them gain admission. They donate their dance shoes, stash the trumpet in the closet, or ditch the sport that once dominated every spring or fall weekend.
IT DOESN’T HAVE TO END
What to do when your child has poured blood, sweat, and tears—not to mention your hard-earned dollars—into an activity, only to think of abandoning it? There are some good ways that they can continue nurturing their passion. They don’t have to give it up completely. "You can still pursue what you love in college even if you decide you want to try other things,” says Cecilia Castellano, vice provost for strategic enrollment planning at Bowling Green State University. “Often, after years of pressure, students feel a need to find
other ways to get involved at a much lower level of commitment.” To dial it down—but stay involved— Castellano advises taking college courses related to the teen’s passion, joining clubs, or trying intramural sports. “My daughter participated in many things in middle school, but fell in love with color guard in high school,” says DC Stanfa. Stanfa’s daughter continued on with color guard through college. Now at 25 and working as a teacher, she still makes time to coach a high school color guard team. “It became a lifelong passion for her,” says Stanfa.
TIME TO TRY SOMETHING NEW?
Colleges offer myriad opportunities for interested students, which can make those years a logical time to try new things. But continuing with a beloved activity or sport can ease the transition to a new school and help students feel more instantly connected. It’s also a great way to meet kids with similar interests. “Students can take tremendous comfort in staying connected to familiar activities and interests, given that there is so much uncertainty baked into the transition to college,” says Lisa Damour, psychologist and author of Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood. In this way, a childhood passion can offer continuing stability. “When college students are living in a new place, meeting all new people, and pursuing new interests, they can welcome the long-
known rhythms of playing their instrument, practicing the same soccer drills they learned in high school, or refining their long-developed skills as a dancer,” says Damour. And if that activity no longer appeals, or isn’t available on campus? “There are ways to remain involved if you keep an open mind,” says Castellano. Perhaps instead of playing their instrument, your student may want to learn to sing or explore musical theater instead. “Students who don't find what they are looking for might join classmates with similar interests to develop a new club or program,” adds Damour. While I regretted giving up dance, we all know that sometimes it’s the parent who misses the activity, not the child. So, if your child is truly ready to hang up their cleats, don’t pout. Gently encourage them to find other ways to nourish what they once loved about their activity, and cheer them on when they try something new. That’s what college is all about. n
Brought to you by Bowling Green State University, a mid-sized university with more than 200 majors and 320 student organizations. Learn more at bgsu.edu.
| MARCH-APRIL 2018
THIS IS MY. . .
feeling good about the future
COLLEGE SAVINGS PLAN No matter the age of your child, Ohio’s 529 Plan — CollegeAdvantage — is how forward-thinking parents make college doable. Use our online tools and calculators to build the 529 plan that suits your family’s needs. Start your taxadvantaged college savings plan today at CollegeAdvantage.com/YourTeen
CollegeAdvantage is a 529 college savings plan offered and administered by the Ohio Tuition Trust Authority, a state agency. To learn more about CollegeAdvantage, its investments, risks, costs, and other important information, read the Plan’s Offering Statement and Participation Agreement available at CollegeAdvantage.com. If you are not an Ohio resident or taxpayer, learn if your home state offers state tax or other benefits for investing in its own 529 plan.
SAVING FOR COLLEGE
Save on Taxes While Saving for College
Fund Your 529 with Your Tax Refund
Why 529 accounts are a smart savings strategy By Diana Simeon
here are many ways to save for college, but why not pick the way that will also save you money on your taxes? That’s a big reason most experts recommend a 529 plan. 529 plans are tax-advantaged accounts that help families save for college. Think of them like IRAs, but for education. Money invested in a 529 plan is taxdeductible to some extent in 34 states. Usually, contributions have to be made to your own state’s plan to be deductible. In Ohio, for example, residents who contribute to CollegeAdvantage, Ohio’s 529 plan, can deduct up to $4,000 per year per beneficiary for 2018. This is an increase over the 2017 amount of $2,000 per beneficiary. Withdrawals from 529 plans—regardless of your state—are also tax-free when used for a qualified college expense, including tuition, room and board, books, computers, and supplies. Wondering how this could play out for your family? Consider this scenario. Several years ago, the Smith family of Cleveland opened a 529 account for their fifth-grader. They picked CollegeAdvantage, Ohio’s plan. Every year since then, the Smiths have saved $2,000 in their 529 account. And every year, they’ve deducted that $2,000 from their Ohio income taxes. What’s more, when it comes time to start using the money, the Smiths’ withdrawals—including any gains in the account—will also be tax-free. If the Smiths had saved the same amount each year in a regular savings account, they would not have received the $2,000 tax deduction (or the up to $4,000
per year per beneficiary deduction starting in 2018). Rather, they would have had to pay taxes on any interest earned. With the average savings account in the United States paying less than 1 percent in interest a year, money in a regular savings account tends to grow slowly. By contrast, money in a 529 account can be invested in mutual funds, which have historically outpaced savings accounts when it comes to returns. That can add up to more money towards college tuition.
TAX BENEFITS FOR GRANDPARENTS, TOO
It’s not just parents who can take advantage of the tax benefits of 529s. Grandparents and other family members may also be eligible. “Grandparents can also take the deduction for contributions to a CollegeAdvantage account, if they are Ohio residents,” explains Timothy Gorrell, executive director of the Ohio Tuition Trust Authority, which manages CollegeAdvantage. In Ohio, there are no familial restrictions on who can make and deduct contributions to Ohio’s 529 plan. “Once you have a 529 account established, then you, grandparents, even aunts and uncles can put money in and it will have no bearing on the tax write-off,” Gorrell says. Meanwhile, wealthier families can use another provision of the tax code to fund a 529 account for a beneficiary. “A key benefit of 529 plans is the fiveyear gift tax averaging,” explains Mark Kantrowitz, president of Skokie, Illinoisbased Cerebly, Inc., and a leading expert on paying for college. “Normally, one can
Here’s an idea to get your 529 started—or give it a boost. If you’re getting a tax refund for 2017, consider investing it in a 529 plan. In Ohio, the average tax refund was $2,460 in 2016. According to research by the Ohio Tuition Trust Authority, families who invest $2,500 a year in a 529 account will be able to cover about 40 percent of the cost of an Ohio public university (based on 18 years at 6 percent growth). “If you are able to do that annually, then you’ll have saved almost half the cost,” says Timothy Gorrell, executive director of the Ohio Tuition Trust Authority.
contribute up to $15,000 per year without incurring gift tax. As a couple, Grandma and Grandpa can give up to $30,000 per grandchild. But, 529 plans let them give up to five times this amount—$75,000 each or $150,000 as a couple—in a lump sum and have it treated as though it were given over the next five years.” And if you contribute more than the allowed deduction in a given year? “You can roll the excess amount over to deduct the next tax year,” explains Gorrell. n
Brought to you by Ohio Tuition Trust Authority, administrator of College Advantage, Ohio’s 529 College Savings Program. Helping families save for college for more than 25 years. Learn more at collegeadvantage.com.
| MARCH-APRIL 2018
Big Dance, Big Money
Handling Prom Costs By Laura Richards
Going to prom is often seen as a must-do rite of passage, but it can wind up being a very pricey evening. “Prom costs have definitely skyrocketed in recent years as prom events have become more elaborate,” says Lindsey Bennett, who designs dresses and studies trends for Azazie.com, an online special occasion dress company. “What was once a dance in a gym has now become a formal affair at an outside venue with pre-parties and after-parties.”
LESSONS ON BUDGETING
For most teens, the prom is their first formal event, and how much is spent comes down to individual budgets. Some parents opt to pay for expenses, while others don’t have the financial means to do so—or, regardless of parental resources, they expect their teens to foot the bill. Colleen Hildreth, a m o m f ro m Fr a m i n g h a m , Massachusetts, has two teen daughters who have attended two proms each. Hildreth was willing to pay for these special occasions—to a point. “I buy the dress and shoes, and then I pay half for some of the rest, such as hair, makeup, nails, and transportation,” says Hildreth. “The tickets, flow-
ers, and after-prom activities were the responsibility of my daughter and/or her date.” Barbara Greenberg, a clinical psychologist who specializes in working with adolescents, recommends this kind of cost-sharing approach for several reasons: • It helps teens learn to budget and prioritize different desires. • If teens contribute, they will feel more engaged with and place more value on their prom experience. • Even if they grumble, paying for things with their own money gives teens a sense of empowerment. • Teens will learn to talk about—and negotiate— finances, “an invaluable skill” that Greenberg says many adults lack.
HOW TO SAVE
You might want to sit down for this number: In 2017, teens spent an average of $600 each on prom. Of course, costs can vary by region, with major metropolitan cities costing more for limo rentals and tickets compared to more rural areas.
Nevertheless, the spending categories—attire, beauty treatments, transportation, a n d t i c ke t s — a re s i m i l a r everywhere. Below are some common costs and areas where money can be saved. The dress: The dress is one of the biggest contributors to the price increase on overall prom spending through the years, says Bennett. Online shopping, though, is a way to compare prices and potentially save on costs. Hildreth agrees, recommending the site promgirl.com, where there’s an entire section of under-$100 dresses. H i l d re t h a l s o re c o mmends local online yard-sale sites. “People sell their $600 dresses—which they probably wore once for five hours—for half price.” Beauty and accessories: Teens can save by doing their own hair, makeup, and nails, and by skipping the spray tan. Turn this into a fun occasion by hosting a pre-prom primping party—the girls can help each other get ready. They may also want to get a fresh
(and free) new look by bringing goodies from home to share in an accessory swap. Transportation: Driving yourself to the prom is the cheapest option. Another idea that’s cheaper than a limo, says Hildreth, is dividing the cost of a party bus. The tux: Most guys will rent a tux—the classic prom look for boys—since they’re still growing. But depending on their location and budget, they can always go with a suit or a more casual outfit, says Bennett, such as a blazer and slacks. Parties: Finally, consider ways to keep a lid on pre- and postprom costs, says Bennett. “Kids should consider hosting a parent-approved celebratory party with friends at home, which is definitely cheaper and more intimate.” With a little creative thinking and careful budgeting, prom costs don’t need to be outrageous. As Bennett says, “Teens shouldn’t have to break the bank to enjoy their big day in style.” n
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Does Your Teen Need Service Hours or Just Want to Volunteer? At Youth Challenge teen volunteers and kids with physical disabilities come together to play adapted sports, create, have fun and make a difference. Flexible volunteer opportunities are available year-round all over Northeast Ohio! Check our website for training dates.
(440) 892-1001 • youthchallengesports.com East: 19910 Malvern Road, Shaker Heights // West: 800 Sharon Drive, Westlake Bowling • ZumBa • arts • Fitness • Cheer & DanCe • Photogr aPhy • swimming • hiP hoP arts YOUR TEEN | MARCH-APRIL 2018 yoga • BasketBall • sleD hoCke y • tennis • anD more!
Including Everyone is Good for Everyone Pairing up teens with disabilities and typical peers is a win-win. By Jennifer Proe
hen Zoe Douglas started volunteering at a program for youth with disabilities as an eighth-grader, she was a bit nervous. “Although I had close friends and family members who had disabilities, I was still unsure what to expect,” says Zoe. She needn’t have worried: She ultimately found a “supportive, uplifting, and welcoming group” of people she came to call her family. Sarah Perez-Stable is thoroughly familiar with this kind of transformation. She works as director of volunteer services at Youth Challenge, a program which brings together volunteers ages 12 to 18 with young people who have physical disabilities. Together, they participate in adapted sports and recreational activities outside of school, such as bowling, swimming, rock climbing, or arts and crafts. “Some volunteers admit they initially came for the service hours, but stayed because they found a second home here,” says Perez-Stable. “Some of our volunteers talk about it being life-changing. They started out shy and reserved, and it took them out of their comfort zone.”
Teens who have not had any prior experience with a friend or family member with a disability may feel awkward at first. But that shouldn’t keep them from getting to know kids who are different in this way. At Youth Challenge, the staff provides a two-hour training session to new volunteers to help them understand what will and won’t be expected of them. As part of that training, they cover some basic guidelines for interacting with peers who have disabilities, as developed by the United Cerebral Palsy Association. This helps put everyone at ease. (See tips below.) “There is often an initial hesitation, which is true of any new experience, but that nervousness goes away quickly,” says Perez-Stable. “The more they get to know one another, the less the disability matters.” It helps that the organization views volunteers and participants as equally important to their mission, which underscores the idea that the experience is about making friends, not just service. And thanks to Instagram and Snapchat, it’s easier than ever for these newfound friends to stay connected, just as any other teens would do.
Tips for Meeting People with Disabilities •
When meeting a person with a visual impairment, always identify yourself and others who are with you. Be sure to let that person know when you are exiting the conversation.
Don’t assume a person needs help. If you
offer assistance, wait until the offer is accepted. Then listen and ask for instructions.
• Do not lean or hang on
a person’s wheelchair, which is considered an extension of the user’s personal space. Placing yourself at eye level helps
to make the other person feel more comfortable.
When talking with a person who has difficulty speaking, wait until they are finished speaking rather than correcting or speaking for them.
INCLUSION BENEFITS EVERYONE
Making these kinds of connections, says Perez-Stable, “makes you a more empathetic person; you see the world differently. It makes you realize we are not so different from one another.” Eric Forman, an educator with many years of experience teaching in an inclusive classroom, says, “I deeply believe in the benefits of a blended program for all peers. Typical peers learn about the diversity that exists in their community, and students with disabilities get to learn their own strengths.” In Zoe’s case, those connections turned into solid friendships that she maintained throughout high school and beyond. Not only did she make lifelong friends; she may also have found a calling in life. Now a freshman in college, Zoe works as a paid intern at a law firm that specializes in disabilities, elder law, and special education. In fact, Perez-Stable knows of several former Youth Challenge volunteers who have been inspired to go into related fields, such as occupational or physical therapy, special education, or nonprofit management. More friends, more fulfillment, and more empathy in life: Who wouldn’t benefit from that? n Brought to you by Youth Challenge, Bringing together young people who inspire each other through adapted sports, recreation and social growth activities. Learn how to get involved at youthchallengesports.com.
| MARCH-APRIL 2018
Is My Middle Schooler Too Babyish? The sometimes-surprising staying power of childhood pastimes By Whitney Fleming
ecently my tween daughter returned home from a friend’s house. The two have been classmates for years but had only recently started hanging out together. “Did you have fun?” I asked. “What did you guys do?” “I had a blast,” she replied enthusiastically. “We jumped on her trampoline for most of the time, but I think she really wanted to play with her American Girl dolls.” My almost-12-year-old daughter’s doll collection has been sitting on the top shelf of her closet collecting dust for the past three years. Her interests now include watching YouTube videos about crafts, makeup, and hairstyles, and hanging out with her friends. “What did you say about the dolls?” “Not much. I just kept saying that I never get to go on a trampoline, so we stayed outside. I wouldn’t mind changing a couple of outfits, but I didn’t want to play with them,” she responded.
Not a Child, Not a Teen
The tween years are a time of odd mashups in interests that can be confusing for both kids and parents. One minute your daughter wants to go shopping and to Starbucks, and the next she is behind closed doors having a tea party. Your son may not want you around his friends when you are out, but he loves showing you his latest Lego creation at home. Sometimes your tweens are pushing for independence, and other times they snuggle up
with you on the couch to watch cartoons. According to Sheryl Gould, a parenting coach and founder of the National Organization of Moms of Tweens & Teens, it is normal for parents to experience a sadness about their children growing up, while at the same time worrying that they may not be maturing at the same speed as their peers. “In a world where our kids are bombarded with cell phones, sexually charged music, mature-rated video games, TV shows, and social media, studies show that our kids are growing up faster than ever before,” says Gould. “There is a tension we must hold between helping them not grow up too fast and also supporting them as they move towards independence. Each child develops at their own pace, and we need to allow them to hold on to those things that create feelings of safety for them.” For many kids, the transition from childhood to adolescence can be difficult and destabilizing emotionally and cognitively, so returning to familiar activities and soothing objects can be reassuring.
When Parents Worry about Immaturity
So, how should parents react when children still cling to their younger ways? The first step is to ask, “Why does this bother me so much?” Michele Kambolis, clinical therapist and owner of Harbourside Family Counseling Centre in Vancouver, British
Columbia, says that parents may worry “that their child will be bullied, or is developmentally delayed or emotionally struggling.” But if your child isn’t concerned, for the most part, you shouldn’t worry, either. “Celebrate who they are,” says Kambolis. “While it’s always important to listen to your natural parenting instincts and check out any questions about overall development, in most cases children simply enjoy the activities of their childhood.” Sometimes, however, immature behavior such as thumb-sucking or extraordinary attachments to babyhood objects (like blankies or other lovies) can indicate a more significant issue. Kambolis suggests taking the opportunity to check in with your child as they navigate the transition to teenager. “Naming fear and simply talking about it openly is the most powerful tool we have to help our children integrate all the changes happening within their mind-body system,” she states. “From there, they may give up their beloved childhood objects naturally, and begin to forge ahead into the teenage world.” Some “young” tweens will become more interested in their peers’ activities with a bit of gentle guidance from parents towards new interests. But don’t push too hard. Allowing your child to keep one foot in the door of their childhood while exploring other interests can provide a stable foundation that will support them through the teen years and beyond. n Photo: Beth Segal
Rebecca Wolkoff Co-captain, Beachwood High School Robotics Team - 2009 University of Michigan, BSE, Electrical Engineering - 2013 Engineering Intern, Tesla Motors - 2014 Stanford University, MS, Mechanical Engineering - 2015 First woman hired as Technology Lead, Demand Energy, Inc. - 2016 Mentor, Tigerbots all-girls high school robotics team - 2016
Beachwood High School - CLASS OF 2009
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| MARCH-APRIL 2018
Put the Brakes on Distracted Driving Using apps is as dangerous as texting By Sandra Gordon
It used to be fiddling with the car radio that distracted drivers. Today, glance around at any red light, and you’ll see a different problem—drivers on their phones. A 2017 survey by Liberty Mutual Insurance and Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) found that a staggering 71percent of high school seniors report that they use their phones while driving. It’s not a minor problem. Roughly 3,500 distracted driving fatalities occur annually, with teen drivers accounting for the highest proportion of them, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Texting is still a problem, but app usage is also dangerous and becoming more prevalent,” says Dr. Gene Beresin, executive director of the MGH Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds and professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Consider this: 67 percent of high school seniors surveyed admitted that they use apps while driving—for instance, posting to social media or glancing at their phone for their playlist. But because they’re not texting, teens don’t view app usage as distracting. But using an app, just like sending or receiving a text message, can take their eyes off the road for five seconds. At 55 mph, that’s long enough to travel the length of a football field—without looking where they’re going. “Unless you wrestle sharks or tightrope between skyscrapers for a living, driving is the most dangerous thing we do in our lives, statistically,” says Bob Ragazzo, a certified driving instructor and founder of the Parent’s Coalition to Stop Teen Driving Deaths Now.
Teaching Focused Driving
To drive safely, teens (and parents) should avoid all forms of distracted driving. Here’s how to convey this important safety message to your child:
K Have conversations, not just contracts. Having your teen sign a contract promising not to text or use apps while driving is a nice idea, but it’s not enough. Contracts should be a discussion starter rather than a complete solution. Talk with your teen about what you’ll both do to avoid distracted driving.
periodically for practicing safe driving habits. “Rewards work better than punishments,” Beresin says. All told, safe driving requires focus. Your teen is operating a 1- to 2-ton machine. It’s a big responsibility. There’s no time to check their playlist, text, tweet, Snapchat, or FaceTime. n
KWatch your own habits. “Teens want things to be mutual,” Beresin says. Agree together, for example, that if you’re expecting an important text, you’ll pull over before checking your phone. Or, put your phone on “Do Not Disturb” before hitting the road and move the phone out of reach, perhaps in the passenger’s side door pocket. Then, follow through on your end of the bargain. You are your teen’s strongest safe driving role model.
Driver’s Ed Doesn’t End
KListen up. Train your teen and yourself
❶ Check speed.
to listen to directions instead of reading your navigation apps.
The Liberty Mutual/SADD survey shows that dangerous driving behaviors such as speeding and distracted driving actually increase from sophomore to senior year of high school. “Getting a license is a license to learn how to drive,” Ragazzo says. Whenever you’re in the passenger seat, remind your teen to:
❷ Check the space. There should be
K Plan ahead. Both teens and adults
two to three seconds between them and the car in front of them.
should make a habit of setting playlists ahead of time.
❸ Scan mirrors every three to five
KSet limits. What happens if your teen
❹ Look ahead so they know what’s
texts or uses apps while driving—and gets caught? Establish clear consequences, such as requiring them to help pay for the increase in the insurance premium if they get in an accident or lose access to the car. Also, praise your teen
down the road.
❺ Ask themselves what if, as in:
What if that deer on the shoulder runs in front of me?
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Wendy Mogel Clinical psychologist Wendy Mogel is known for The Blessing of a Skinned Knee and The Blessing of a B Minus, her books on avoiding the trap of overparenting. This spring, she has a new book out, Voice Lessons for Parents, in which she gives parents practical ways to transform their communications—and relationships—with their kids. Your Teen: Why did you decide to write this book now? WM: Most parents are perfectly fine communicators—unless they’re talking to their children. The minute they started talking about interfaces with their kids, their voices and posture changed so dramatically. The way they spoke changed so much—and I would say that I wouldn’t listen to them either if they talked to me that way. They sounded indignant, frightened, and unconvincing. It was clear that what happens is that it turns into sibling rivalry between the parents and the child. The children just tune out the parent or it turns into a deposition, and then a trial, and the child wins. So much of this is unconscious, but parents tend to jab their fingers and point at the child.
YT: In your book you talk about teenagers as the "only being with the power to nearly kill you yet also leave you humbled, more self-aware and possessing of some authentic wisdom.” How can parents move towards selfawareness and wisdom? WM: You have to pretend this is not your child. That you don’t care that much about this child. That this child’s behavior wasn’t caused by you and can't necessarily be changed by you. If you can develop a relatively cordial relationship with your teenager, you get to see what the world looks like through their eyes in 2018. Treat what they are excited about or upset about seriously, and show compassion—but do not think of it as urgent and catastrophic. Think of them as spirit guides.
YT: How has parenting changed over the years? WM: We used to have a romantic version of parenting—the kids just went out the door and didn’t come back until dark in the summer. Now, kids live in a Supermax prison where they are being watched all the time. Because of technology, they kind of walk around with a convict's bracelet around their ankle. There is so little privacy and freedom. Parents have far too much information. The school portals—where parents can see every assignment, test, and grade, often before the kids see it—gets them involved in a very sticky way. YT: What would you say to these overbearing parents? WM: Good, effective parenting that will
result in resilient, resourceful, self-reliant, exuberant children will feel like neglect. This is how it is supposed to be; I’m sorry. He is not going to admire, like, or appreciate you right now. He is trying to separate from you, build a set of skills, identify with a good peer group—and if you want to worry you can, but I’m not going to. The kids are quick, flexible, open-minded, and original. Watch before you step in or try to take over.
YT: Why do parents freak out about small things like their teen getting one B-? WM: Parents are kind of down the rabbit hole of dread about every single grade—even on a quiz—predicting their child’s whole future. A B- means there will be no future; the child is doomed. I think this is a displacement from our collective feeling of anxiety about the unsettled state of the economy, the daunting swift changes in technology, our own mortality. There are all these things we have no control over, so parents focus in on a very narrow, concrete way on what defines failure, which in some cases is a slight look of unhappiness on their child’s face.
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YT: When your teen texts you with what they think is an urgent question, how should you respond? WM: See if you can be more involved with the process than the product. Ask the child, “What have you considered? What is your plan? What ideas do you have?” before you step in with the solution or guidance or going over their head to get another adult involved.
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YT: What's your top advice for parenting teens? WM: When things start getting heated, just stop and listen to the sound of your voice. Say to a teenager that you need to think something over a little bit—instead of trying to just get it over with—and then really get back to them. Don’t hope it blows away. This is about moral integrity, which is something you really want them to develop. You need to demonstrate it. n
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When Teens Don’t Ask Permission By Bryan Johnston
Remember the saying, “Better to ask for forgiveness than permission?” Well, at some point, it will be our kids who decide to do something without asking for our blessing. It’s a subtle milestone in their growth—a gentle reminder that they’re not little kids anymore. “It really is about kids needing to move from that dependence on parents to the independence of adulthood, and so they begin to start relying on the so-called wisdom of their peers,” says middle school counselor Maria Hurtado. From a parent’s perspective, that’s scary. Your teen is more concerned with impressing their buddy—maybe a kid who shaved off part of their eyebrow because they saw someone do it on YouTube—than you. “It’s the job of a teenager to make mistakes and try these things, and our responsibility to guide them through it,” says Hurtado.
‘I Have Plans’
Educational psychologist Michele Borba, Ph.D., author of Unselfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our AllAbout-Me World, says parents’ first concern should be safety. How to handle a teen’s statement of intent—rather than their request for permission—depends on what they’re planning to do. “It’s almost a green light, yellow light, red light thing.” Borba explains:
GREEN. “If your teenager says, ‘Hey,
mom, I’m going next door,’ you can respond with: ‘Great, thanks for telling me.’ Green light.” That works for issues that are not a big deal, says Borba.
YELLOW. If parents feel a gut-level whoa—that wishy-washy feeling of unease—when teens announce their plans, it’s time to stop and talk. “If they say, ‘I’m staying out until midnight,’ Whoa! Yellow light! That needs a little more discussion,” says Borba. RED. When teens say they’re going somewhere that you know is a bad scene, or they act defiant, or they say they’re doing something whether you like it or not—it’s time to hit the brakes. Says Borba, “You are completely within your rights to say, ‘Nope, not gonna happen.’”
Keeping Your Cool
It’s easy to feel that teens are being disrespectful when they stop asking permission. Parenting expert Rosina McAlpine, Ph.D., recommends a three-step approach
to staying calm. When a teen says, for example, “I’m going to a party!” and this upsets you, try the following:
gers by asking questions and listening to their answers. Make it clear you love your child and just want them safe.
STOP. Take a breath before you react and respond.
When You Find Out Later
EMPATHIZE. Show you understand that your child is growing up. “I know parties are great and you really want to go …” EDUCATE. Ask your child important questions. “… but first I need more information. Will a parent be there? Who is the designated driver? What if they drink?” Educate your child on the possible dan-
Suppose you’re faced with an after-thefact situation—your teen did something without permission, and you’re just now finding out. The same green-yellow-red rules can apply. When it’s a yellow or red situation you didn’t know about, use this instance to collect information about your teen’s maturity (or lack thereof). Consider how the teen handled this trickier situation on their own and what kind of judgment they showed, and adjust their future freedoms accordingly. Say, for example, that your kid went to a friend’s house without permission. Before grounding them for weeks, you might ask yourself questions like: Did they have a safe ride there? Was there a parent at the house? Were they drinking beers, or were they just playing board games? Did they forget to call, or were they trying to hide something? The green-light zone—when teens get to make decisions on their own, without you—should expand gradually as teens demonstrate good judgment. During this process of growth, though, parents still set the parameters. When your teen does something without your permission, it can be a rude awakening for you as a parent. But it’s a normal developmental step, and it shows that you’re raising who you’re supposed to be raising—an independent child on the way to adulthood. n
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| MARCH-APRIL 2018
By Phyllis Fagell
“There’s no way I’m leaving vacation early to try out for tennis,” my 14-yearold daughter Emily said. “I doubt I’ll make the team.” She had just finished 8th grade, but the high school coaches ran JV tryouts in late summer. “Do you want to be on the team?” I asked. “I do, but I’ll probably get cut.” Her brother Ben, then 15, looked up from his phone. “Well, you definitely won’t make the team if you don’t try out,” he said. As a little girl, Emily loved to sing songs for strangers and share stories she “wrote” by stringing random letters together. At least once a day, my husband or I would say to our fearless daughter, “Oh my god, don’t eat that!” But like many middle schoolers, she’d started to become more cautious and less willing to make mistakes. We encouraged her to put herself out there—to take risks, own her goals, and learn that she could bounce back from disappointment. Still, I held off on buying plane tickets. I hoped that Emily would reach a decision on her own. But when we were still going in circles several days later, I booked our seats. This did not go over well. I dropped the topic, but then her brother had an epiphany. “You know, you should try out for the varsity team,” he told her. This turned out to be an inflammatory suggestion.
“Are you out of your mind?” Emily asked. “If I’m worried about making JV, why would I try out for varsity?” Ben explained that kids who are cut from varsity start out higher on the ladder for JV tryouts. “I wish I'd done that,” he said. “I would have ended up on JV anyway, but it’s a smart strategy.” Somehow, he convinced her to tell the coach that she might try out for varsity. The night before varsity tryouts, the coach emailed the players. Apparently, he had missed the critical word “might” in Emily’s email. She was listed on his roster and was expected to show up the following morning. The coach explained the process: Each day, he wrote, the girls could challenge the person directly above them on the ladder. At the end of the week, the top 12 players would make the team. Emily came downstairs to show me the email, highlighting one data point in particular. “I told you,” she said. “I really am ranked the lowest. Number 25 out of 25 players. “Look on the bright side,” I said. “You’ve got nowhere to go but up.” I finally got a laugh. The next morning, I drove her to the school courts and headed to work. She sent her brother a text after she arrived. “Just so you know, I’m going to get crushed,” she wrote. “Go down
fighting,” he replied. And then we heard nothing. When I picked her up that afternoon, she was noticeably calmer. “I beat Number 24,” she said. Over the course of the week, she continued to challenge up. She beat everyone she played, ultimately landing at Number 19. The coach pulled me aside one afternoon. “She had no business beating the other players,” he said. “They’re all technically better, but she fought for every ball. If you keep signing her up for lessons, she won’t have to work so hard.” Later that day, he cut Emily from varsity, but she didn’t care. She had overcome her fear, accomplished more than she expected, and discovered she was pretty scrappy. She transitioned to JV tryouts and landed the third singles spot. That’s when I finally exhaled. As a parent, it may be harder to push our kids out of their comfort zone than to take risks ourselves. n
Phyllis L. Fagell, LCPC is the counselor at Sheridan School in Washington, D.C. and the author of Middle School Matters (Da Capo Press, forthcoming 2019). She writes columns on parenting and education for the Washington Post.
Hoping can’t help a kid struggling with drugs. But together, we can. We partner with parents and families to get help for kids whose drug or alcohol use threatens their lives with addiction. We provide the science-based information parents need to understand substance use and programs to help parents effectively engage with their teens and young adults. Our counselors will listen to parents and provide one-on-one guidance for families struggling with their son or daughter’s use. And we offer support from a network of families that have successfully faced this disease.
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| MARCH-APRIL 2018
ALL ABOUT ME
The Things We Protect By Stephanie Schaeffer Silverman
My sister has this funny habit of mailing random things to me. It’s typically unexpected and always hilarious. Items over the years have included old pictures, clippings from magazines or newspapers, and funny items from past vacations. Usually she attaches a Post-it Note and some snarky remark. This week I opened an envelope that contained a single blackand-white photo. It was a picture of my mom—an adorable (already-married!) 21-year-old, offering a treat to her begging dog. I had never seen the picture, and of course, the Post-it Note said something about teaching an old dog a new trick. I looked at it a few times during the day, and it wasn’t until the third or fourth time that something caught my eye. In the background were the couches from my grandmother’s house, where the photo was taken. Oh, how I remember those couches—well, not the actual couches. But what the couches were wrapped in—thick, clear plastic. More specifically, I remember the sound that was made on a warm day as I got up from the couch. Who could forget the noise of skin peeling away from plastic. Ick. Why were the couches cov-
ered in plastic? Was she so worried we would spill things on the couch? More frightening to me—did she think it looked good? Was it the trend? I needed to go straight to the source— Google. I started typing: Why Grandma had... I didn’t need to type further. Why grandma had plastic covers on her furniture Followed by: Grandma's plastic covered couch And then, should I decide I needed to keep the tradition: How to put plastic on furniture (with a YouTube link) It got me thinking about this entire idea of protecting things, and why we choose to protect the things we do. This was the generation that allowed
their kids free rein: playing outside (yep, that’s where you walk through a door and explore things outside your house) until dark, riding bikes to the corner store, walking to the playground with the giant metal slide (think thigh burn, sharp corners, tetanus shot), and donning metal roller skates equipped with a metal key so you could lock them to your shoes. Good thing we’re protecting the couch, ’cause that could be totally dangerous. At the same time, back in the ‘50s, parents actually had the time to sit down, versus now when we are driving our kids around from activity to activity. Why would I need a couch protector? I hardly sit on the thing. If anything, I should be putting plastic on my car seat, phone, laptop, and key ring. My couch would be the last thing I would protect. Maybe this funny disconnect is what it always looks like from generation to generation. I look forward to my future granddaughter sending a picture of me in my pink ski helmet and goggles to one of her siblings for a good laugh, as they experiment with augmented reality and time travel. I just hope the seats have good protection. Stephanie Silverman is the publisher of Your Teen.
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What to Expect: The Social Lives of Teenagers