Tag Archives: Teens

Turning Off Your Humanity

We’ve talked before about how I am basically a teenage girl trapped in an adult body – I watch TV shows and movies geared toward this population, read their books and listen to their music. Many will chuckle and assume all this stuff is really juvenile and offers little insight into “real life”, but you might be surprised.

Case in point: There is a TV show called “The Vampire Diaries” on the CW. I won’t bore you with all of the details, but needless to say, it is a show about a bunch of teenage/young-adult looking vampires and how they interact with each other and humans. Exciting stuff, right? Anyway, on the show the vampires all still experience strong emotional reactions including sadness, loss, love and anger. These same vampires have the option of “turning off their humanity” which means they no longer feel pain or sadness or guilt. They are willing to do anything to anyone and experience no remorse. That is until something happens and their humanity is turned back on which causes all of those emotions to come flooding back. Interesting concept, right?

Now, we “regular people” do not have the option of turning off our humanity to stop experiencing our feelings – no matter how much we may want to avoid them. What I have observed in my practice is that people start using drugs and alcohol to achieve the same result. Something happens in their life that causes them so much pain that they will do anything not to feel it anymore. As long as they continue to use the drugs, the feelings are kept at bay.

An addict almost has to “turn off their humanity” in their efforts to continue their drug use. They cannot feel remorse about the people they might hurt or the crimes they may commit. They are so focused on getting and keeping the high, all other feelings would only interfere with that pursuit.

Sobriety is when their humanity gets turned back on. Not only must they deal with whatever it was that chased them into drugs in the first place, but now they must also deal with everything they did while using drugs and alcohol as well. This flood of emotion is typically overwhelming and frightening. It is one of the many reasons I recommend that individuals in rehab or who are working on their sobriety also participate in therapy. They can benefit from the support and need to develop appropriate coping skills to deal with all of these negative emotions. All too often, clients have told me they are unable to manage the feelings and escape back into their addiction.

So… the next time someone belittles your entertainment choices (go teen fiction!), remember there are amazing insights everywhere – you just need to know where to look.

So… Your Friend is Transgendered – Now What?

I have gotten a number of emails, phone calls, tweets and general comments over the past couple of days about the tragic suicide of a transgendered young woman, Leelah Alcorn (born Joshua Alcorn). Much of the focus of discussion has been on this young woman’s suicide note (you can link to it here if you haven’t read it or want a refresher http://lazerprincess.tumblr.com/post/106447705738/suicide-note), her transgender status and/or her Christian parents’ refusal to accept/acknowledge that transgender status. I’ve been listening to criticism of her parents and debates over whether or not transgender is real. I don’t really care if you think transgender is legitimate or not (though I can tell you as a mental health professional it is), but what I can tell you is this young woman was in immense pain.

We need to do a better job of taking care of each other – especially our children who may not have adequate coping skills to manage life’s challenges. I am not going to jump on the bandwagon and rip her parents apart. If what has been has said about them is true, I do not agree with their parenting choices and wish things had been managed differently, but that isn’t what I want to talk about today. I want to talk about the need to keep an eye on one another.

What can you do if someone in your life is dealing with transgender identity (even if the person isn’t talking about suicide)?

  1. Talk to someone. I am not saying “out” them, but if you need to process through your own thoughts and feelings – talk it out. You can maintain their confidentiality while working things through. You may not know what to do to help. Ask for help! Talk to a teacher, a parent, a school counselor, a priest, I don’t really care who, but talk to someone until you get guidance. All too often, we avoid things that make us uncomfortable – you can’t do that here. This is too important.
  2. Be there. Talk with your friend or family member about what all of this means for them. Even, as in Leelah Alcorn’s situation, you are not “supportive” of transgendered identity, there are still “safe” topics of feeling lonely, sad, and isolated. This is still the same person they were before you learned they are transgendered. If he is a good friend, she will be, too.
  3. Refer to support groups (not just for your loved one, but for you, too). Knowledge is power!
    1. http://community.pflag.org/transgender
    2. http://www.glaad.org/transgender
    3. http://www.transgender.support/
    4. http://susans.org/
    5. http://www.iamtransgendered.com/SupportGroups.aspx

These are but a few of the online, national organizations available to provide information and support, both to the individual and to their loved ones. There are also countless programs available within your own community. When I worked at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles (CHLA), I became acquainted with their amazing program (http://www.chla.org/site/c.ipINKTOAJsG/b.7501767/k.5FBA/Transgender_Services__Adolescent_Medicine__Case_Management__Health_Education.htm#.VKSWvCvF_EY). Check out what might be available in your town.

  1. No matter what you might think or feel about transgendered individuals, do not make fun of, attack verbally or physically, or shame them. Doing any of these behind their backs still sucks – it’s just more cowardly. Remember life is hard enough for each of us without some jerk making worse. Don’t be that jerk.

Did I miss something important? What else might you recommend? As always, I am open to suggestions.

Drama only Belongs on the Stage

We’ve talked about toxic people in the past, you and I, and the toll they can take on you and your relationships. But when I asked my daughter for suggestions about this blog, she asked that I write about drama and the people who seem to enjoy creating it. It is kind of sad, really, that my 9-year-old is already picking up on this in others, but maybe that’s because she seems to enjoy creating it herself at times and that helps her to recognize it in others.

There are a number of different types of drama queens. (I use this term non-gender specifically, as there are just as many male drama queens as female – maybe more):

  1. The attention whore – This drama queen needs to be in the center of attention at all times. She always has an exciting story to share at the top of her lungs, so you couldn’t ignore her even if you tried. She is often extremely entertaining, so most of the time you don’t mind at all. She can be tiring over long periods of time, though.
  2. The chronically ill – I don’t mean people who are legitimately sick. This drama queen always has a headache or an upset stomach or a hurt foot or a sore back. You get the idea. There is always a complaint and she loves sharing it with you. It gets to the point where, instead of saying, “Hi”, you want to say, “So, what hurts today?”
  3. The pot stirrer – Ooooh, this queen is a sneaky one. She creates the drama behind the scenes. She tells Person A something about Person B and then tells that reaction to Person C. She then sits back to watch and see what happens. She doesn’t want to be involved in the fireworks, but sure enjoys the show.
  4. The exaggerator – I don’t think this drama queen even realizes she is doing it, but everything that happens to her is HUGE, at least when she tells the tale. Every date is epically good or bad, all disagreements are explosive, and all successes deserving of a parade. Her life is one of extremes which is exhausting to all involved.

If you see a queen, you don’t necessarily have to run screaming in the other direction – remember, sometimes they are fun. What you do need to know is with whom you are dealing. Know if someone in your life is a drama queen. It will help you to decide how best to interpret what she shares with you. Do you take it at face value or do you need to translate it through some anti-drama program to get the real deal? You may save yourself unnecessary time spent in an emotional wringer.

What do you think? Did I miss anyone? I’d love your suggestions about any underrepresented drama queens.

Introduction to Life Lessons for the Teenage Girl

Final Cover

In my professional life, I’m a psychologist and frequently get the privilege of working with teenage girls like you. I’m constantly amazed by the strength you show in overcoming life’s difficulties. Sometimes, though, you get just a bit lost. I know you’re not stupid. You’re far from stupid as a matter of fact. You’re so much savvier than I was at your age (eons and eons ago, but, despite what my daughter thinks, there were no dinosaurs). Despite your obviously superior smarts, many of the challenges I faced during my teen years continue to frustrate you and your friends today. A primary struggle may be knowing which people you can believe in and trust. Who can you look to for advice when you’re struggling? Often you may not want to discuss your problems with your parents—it’s OK; that’s how it’s supposed to be. You’re learning how to find your own way and can’t do that if you’re looking to your mom and dad for everything.

I frequently hear that parents can’t relate any longer and are too old to understand. Unfortunately, your parents do sometimes know what they’re talking about, and you may miss out on that guidance. It may be incredibly hard to believe, but your parents were actually teenagers once dealing with love and friendships, parents, and problems much the same as you are now. Your mom may be able to understand what it’s like to get your heart broken and tell you how she got through it when it happened to her. You dad might have had a jerk teacher who treated him like crap and may be able to talk with you about how he handled it.

So, if not your parents, where else can you turn? Can you look to your friends? Well, they can be a source of phenomenal support and may be insightful in many ways—they’re in the trenches with you and can relate in ways others may not be able to. The trouble is that they don’t necessarily have any more life experience than you do. There’s something that can be gained from learning from those who have gone before you. So…where do you go?

Frequently, this insight may come from celebrities. These can be people older than you who have had more life experiences than you—all good, right? Well, maybe. The problem is that articles about them rarely contain any real advice. In interviews they are asked about fashion, how they stay thin, and the details of their love lives. These topics may make you feel worse rather than better. All too often the details of the celebrities’ lives are glamorized, which may cause you to feel as though your own life is insignificant. Articles discuss the exciting places where they travel or the other celebrities they date. Some will discuss the fitness regimens the celebrities use to stay in shape, but it will fail to acknowledge their personal trainers or chefs who prepare their meals.

How are you supposed to feel like you can compete? Celebrities are also rarely asked real questions in their interviews that real people can relate to. Maybe they’ll be asked what guidance they might give someone who is trying to break into their industry. Helpful to some, but most of you are not planning a career in the entertainment industry. It also fails to account for women who have achieved success in other industries (for example, business, politics, and sports).

That is where I got the idea for this book. I wanted to ask these successful women what advice shaped them during their teen years or for a piece of advice they wish they’d received when they were teenagers. I left the topic wide open for these women—they were free to write about whatever they wanted. I wanted this book to include women from a variety of industries as well as backgrounds. I wanted to include women whose names might be immediately recognizable to you because they’re actresses (like Kat Graham) or musicians (like Elie Golding), but I also wanted to include women you may have never heard of but definitely should, including politicians (like Janet Nguyen or Mimi Walters) and businesswomen (like Becky Quick).

You may be wondering how I picked these specific women in the first place and how they went from my dream list to actual participants in the book. This was trickier than you might think—it definitely was harder than I thought it would be. Initially, I brainstormed a list of women who I thought would have something useful to contribute. I searched the Internet and picked the brains of my friends and family. I made a list of their agents, business managers, public relations team, attorneys, personal assistants, and corporate contacts.

I then did something somewhat boneheaded. I mailed these contact people a letter explaining the project and why their person should participate. Interestingly, I learned almost no one reads letters anymore—especially unsolicited letters from a complete stranger (me). When I received little feedback from the letters, I realized email would be simpler. I again scoured the Internet to get contact information for those same agents, managers, and publicists, etc., and emailed a similar letter explaining the project. A few more responses began trickling in. Then I remembered the joy that is Twitter. I began tweeting like an idiot, trying to explain the project in 140 characters or less to women who have thousands of followers. This was key. Responses began flooding in.

So why would these amazingly successful women take time out of their busy schedules to participate in this project? Well, it definitely wasn’t for the money. There was none. They didn’t get a dime for their time and efforts. They did it for two reasons: First, they care about you. These women wanted to offer guidance to you as you navigate the difficult teen years. They also wanted you to know that you are not alone in your struggles; they’ve been there too and made it through to the other side. You can survive it too. The second reason was these wonderful women care about charity. I’m donating 50 percent of any royalties received to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA).

CHLA is a nonprofit hospital that depends on generous donations to help heal children in an environment that lets them thrive. Each year, more than 96,000 sick children come to the hospital for care. I worked at CHLA for a number of years and was consistently awestruck at the quality of care they were able to provide, and I wanted to find a way to contribute to that care. These women saw contributing to this book as a way to also contribute to CHLA. Follow the examples of these amazing women and find ways to give back. You can volunteer your time (or money) to a good cause (anyone you like) and Pay It Forward. You too can positively impact the lives of others.

All of the direct quotes that appear in this book appear entirely as I received them. They weren’t edited for content.

Young Adult Apathy

A colleague and I were talking recently about the number of clients we were seeing with a similar complaint – uncertainty about what the hell to do with the rest of their lives. These are typically people in their early twenties who had either finished or nearly finished an undergraduate degree of some sort. Often, they studied some general type of program, like Communications or Psychology, and had no current plans to attend graduate school. Because of this, their degrees may not have prepared them for any specific career path. These patients often present for treatment with a mixture of anxiety and depression and are looking for some help determining the best direction. They live with their parents (or are supported by their parents outside the family home) and rarely are working for any type of pay. Every possible career option is quickly shot down with complaints of not being interesting, being boring or “not sounding very fun.”

What do we have to say to these young adults? Get a job – any job. I don’t care where – Target, an office, the library, a restaurant – anywhere. You need to be doing something while you are figuring it all out. Your temporary job may help you figure out what you want to do (or at least what you don’t). You are not likely to achieve clarity sitting at home playing video games. You do not get to be a burden on society or on your parents. Sitting at home will only make you more depressed. Get out of the house.

Actually this is a good rule for life – if you aren’t 100 % sure what you should be doing, take small steps until you figure it out. Even if you aren’t taking long strides, short steps keep you moving forward.

When Letting Go is Good for You

I have been talking with clients a lot lately about the importance of letting     go. (Please do not break into a song from frozen – I have a 9-year-old and, therefore, have heard it too, too much.) What I have been noticing is we hold onto things unnecessarily for a number of reasons, but, most of the time, the unfortunate outcome is damage to ourselves. What I want for you is to take a moment and carefully think about what you are holding onto so tightly and really think about whether it is negatively impacting your life.

  1. Are you holding onto a past relationship (either because it was so good or because it was so bad)? This happens… a lot.
    1. When a prior relationship was a good one we can focus so much on the positives we received from it that we have no hope of being satisfied by any future relationships. I see this especially when a spouse or partner passes or when a relationship ended against our wishes. We have a tendency to create a fantasy memory of this relationship and focus only on the good and seem to forget the bad. What future relationship (with real life human people – farts and all) can ever hope to compare to a fantasy?
    2. When a relationship ends badly we have a tendency to get so lost in our hurt and anger we cannot move on. There are many revenge fantasies about how to get back at the partner who wronged us. I see this most often when a partner is recovering after a partner has cheated. There is such a focus on retaliation that the person gets stuck. There often is no room for anything (or anyone) else in their life.
  2. Are you staying in a battle just to win even though the outcome isn’t terribly important to you? This can be big or small.
    1. If you are a parent – you have probably faced this…often. Imagine my daughter and I in an epic stare down over whether or not she can stay up an extra five minutes to watch the end of a TV show. You can imagine which side she was on. This battle can last much longer than the contested five minutes and end up about being right rather than getting enough sleep for school.
    2. Many times these disagreements are much larger – arguments with friends and family about politics or religion or money. These can turn to epic battles with each person being so set on convincing the other they are right, they end up destroying the relationship in the meantime. Choose your battles – what matters more the relationship or being right?
  3. Staying in a situation when its expiration date has clearly passed. This includes staying in an unhealthy relationship because you “don’t give up”, staying at a job where you are miserable, and maintaining friendships that cause you hardship and pain.

How do you let it go? Well, the first and most difficult step is deciding to let it go. Sounds simple, right? Not really. If it were that easy I would have a lot fewer patients on my caseload. Many people view letting go as “quitting” or “losing”. This is not the case.  Letting go comes from a place of strength, not weakness. You are choosing the healthier life where you are able to look to the future and not be stuck in the past. Focus on yourself, not those who have done you wrong. Decide what is most important to you and work toward strengthening that path.

Why I am Thankful for a Social Media Free Adolescence

There is at least once a week where I take a moment to give thanks that social media did not exist when I was in high school or college. I wasn’t a bad kid (well at least not a terrible kid), but I was no saint. I was young and impulsive and, at times, full of my own convictions and beliefs which I would have had no problem sharing with the world. I can just picture myself sitting back waiting for the adoration to roll in about how profound and insightful I was. Gah – I was a dork. So… there are many reasons why I am glad my teens and 20s existed in a social media free zone.

  1. Embarrassing pictures. No employer I have or will ever work for has been able to search tragically embarrassing photos of me on the internet. There are pictures out there, but they are not digital and, fortunately, the friends who are in possession of them are now mature enough to recognize posting them would be traumatic and hurtful. There is also the fact it would be a mutually destructive act as I have just as many photos of them. 😉
  2. Bullying sucked when I was a kid. I was lucky and survived relatively unscathed, but the bullies of my era had to know you personally and say it to your face. It was still terrible for those who experienced it, but it did not approach the scale of nameless, faceless people attacking you by the thousands. There is such a cowardice to online bullying and so many are never able to identify or confront their attackers.
  3. The public forum of your life. People know who is dating or breaking up or where they are going and with whom. There is no privacy in the world of social media. Teens typically lack the impulse control not to “overshare” and, therefore, everyone knows everything about everybody.
  4. Social media becomes a popularity contest, but it is an artificial one. The battle can be who has the most friends on Facebook or followers on Twitter or Instagram as if this means there is a genuine relationship. We know this is artificial and, unfortunately, it can turn people away from real relationships with flesh and blood people.
  5. Peer pressure is hard enough to overcome face-to-face. Now pressure can come from multitudes who are not always acting with your best interest at heart.

Look, even without social media during my teens and 20s, I still have no chance to run for President of the United States. There are enough skeletons in my closet and I have friends who know too much, but at least it is not easily accessible though an internet search. I am happy social media became a presence in my life once I had already learned some restraint and became aware of the value of my name and “reputation”. I wonder how that is going to work for today’s teens and young adults as they have already put too much online and there is no way of taking it back. Will it matter or will it become a moot point since they will be on an even playing field with all of their other classmates?

Sisters Before Misters

“Bros before hos” – everyone has heard this clever phrase about how men are supposed to have each other’s backs at all times, most especially when the ladies are concerned. I like the idea of this (maybe not the “ho” reference, but the idea that there is a guy code). On my run this morning, I tried to remember if there is a female version of this saying. I’d heard a few, but was shocked at the number available out there:

  • Lasses before asses
  • Sisters before misters
  • Venus before penis
  • Friends first, losers later
  • Mates before dates
  • Dolls before balls
  • Hos before bros
  • Chicks before dicks
  • Holes before poles
  • Ladies before mateys
  • Friends before mens
  • Besties before testes

OK – they are not all winners, but the idea is an important one. We ladies need to stick together and not throw each other over for the first guy who comes along. What does this mean?

  • Don’t date, sneak around with or hook-up with your friend’s ex. Ever. Such a bad idea
  • Avoid married (or otherwise committed) men at all costs. You may not know his wife (or girlfriend), but she is a person and does not deserve what you are considering doing to her. If he is that unhappy, he should extricate himself from that relationship before pursuing you. How can you ever trust someone who cheated to be with you?
  • There are lots of guys out there – even when it doesn’t seem like it. Try not to fight with your friend(s) over one of them. I had a friend in college who would call “dibs” on every guy we saw. I call “BS” on this – the shotgun approach to dating is not fair to others. BUT, if there is someone special your friend is totally crushing on, move on and find someone else. Guys may come and go, but a good friend is with you forever.
  • Try to stay true to who you are no matter what relationship you are in. Do not dump your friends just because you are in a relationship. Spend time with your boyfriend (absolutely), but make sure to carve out time with your friends, as well. Balance is so key here. They were here for you before him and, if this relationship ends, you want them to still be here. Take care of all of your relationships, not just the one with your man.
  • Support each other. Stand up for one another if you hear someone disrespecting one of your own. Don’t let others call your brethren names like “slut”, “ho” or “bitch” (not to mention the “c- word”). If they disrespect other women, they are in truth disrespecting you at the same time.

Please remember we can be each other’s best advocates and support systems. We can choose not to disrespect each other and not to stand by while others do so. We can refuse to participate in cheating on our fellow women with their partners. We can put each other first and, thereby, put ourselves first.

Protect the Possibilities

Your life is filled with endless possibilities and one of the most important things you can do is avoid limiting those possibilities before you are ready. Consider this – when we are born, the world is vast before us. We could grow up to be so many different things. As we grow and develop, some of those possibilities begin to fall away naturally. For instance, I am “almost 5’3” tall. It quickly became apparent I was never going to reach a sufficient height to become a great basketball player, so that possibility dropped off for me. Fortunately, I did not have aspirations for the WNBA, so the loss of this possibility was not deeply felt. This process continues throughout our lives as we begin to hone our interests and abilities. This is a natural and healthy process.

What I want to caution you about today is to avoid limiting your possibilities prematurely. You may be depriving yourself of something potentially amazing. How do these possibilities get unnecessarily limited? Here are a few ways:

  • Dropping out of high school. Blowing off your education limits your career path tremendously. This doesn’t have to be a permanent limitation (you can always go back to school), but it is always harder to go back than you might expect.
  • An unplanned pregnancy. I love kids. I have a kid and think she is absolutely amazing (I am a little biased), but having a child when you are unprepared limits the other options available to you.
  • Getting arrested. A criminal record can follow you for the rest of your life and limit your choices. If incarcerated, you are limited in your selection of even the most basic things (what to eat, where to go, when to shower, etc). Even if you aren’t imprisoned, this record can limit the types of jobs you can obtain and who would be/might be willing to hire you.
  • Drinking and/or doing drugs. If you are one of the lucky ones who are able to “dabble” in drugs and not become addicted, you are still restricting your future opportunities. Your relationships can be damaged by your substance use, you can suffer financial hardships, you can get arrested (see above) and you can lose focus on the things that matter in your life. What if you are not one of the “lucky ones”? You get to look forward to possible alcohol or drug overdoses and addictions. Your life will be constrained in so many ways.

Do your best to keep your options open. It is almost always better to have too many alternatives available to you rather than too few. Protect your possibilities. They have value and so do you.

How to Raise a Teenager without Ending up in the Loony Bin (Technical Term!)

There are few things that terrify parents more (other than bringing a brand new baby home from the hospital) than the thoughts of one day parenting a teenager. Teenagers strike fear in the hearts of parents everywhere. Winston Churchill once said, “It is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma: but perhaps there is a key.” He was talking about Russia during World War II, but it appropriately applies to teenagers as well.

Here are some suggestions about how to best survive the teen years with your sanity intact and your child still speaking to you:

  1. Develop freedom and trust gradually over time. You are going to have to be the lead on this. Teens cannot prove they are trustworthy until you give them a little room. Parents often default to the “trust is earned, not given” theory of parenting. This becomes impossible to satisfy. Give them some freedom and see how they do. If they behave responsibly, give them a little more. Their independence is directly related to how well they have managed in the past. If they are responsible, they earn more freedom. If they are inappropriate, they earn less. Have this conversation with your teen – better yet, start having this conversation when they are even younger. Discuss the importance of checking in. Most teens have phones at this point – establish the rules about when you would like to hear from them while they are out.
  2. Encourage open communication with your teen. This means you may hear things you do not like and/or do not want to hear. This may be uncomfortable, but it is OK. You can survive discomfort. You want your teen to have a sounding board that has more life experience than his or her friends. They may not always follow your advice, but you definitely want to be one of the voices they consider.
  3. Remember you are their parent first and foremost. You are not their friend. You should not be their friend. It is great if you and your teen enjoy spending time together and have similar interests or hobbies, but at the end of the day you are their parent. They need friends their own age. You need to maintain the parental hierarchy. You are the final word on what is acceptable and what is not. They need to know that someone has expectations for them and will hold them accountable for their behavior. They may rebel against you, but you are what makes them feel safe.
  4. Do not get into debates with your teen. Unless you are arguing the finer points of Team Peeta vs. Team Gale, once you enter the debate, you have already lost. How? They can keep up the argument forever! It is great to have a discussion with the sharing of ideas, but once you have made a decision you have to stick to it. You teen needs to learn that no means no – it doesn’t mean argue harder or louder. It is important for your teen to learn to respect you as an authority figure as they will have to respect future professors and employers.
  5. Encourage your teen to be involved in extracurricular activities. Ideally this activity will have some form of group dynamic (school play, sports team, band, etc) because this will help them learn to work with others toward a common goal. You will also have the comfort of knowing where your teen is after school each day – Yay! – which leaves less free time to be having sex, doing drugs and drinking. (They still could be engaging in all of the above, so be vigilant.)
  6. Know the kids in your teen’s life. Know their friends. You are NOT one of the crowd, but you want to know who they are and what they are into. Have good snacks at your house. Be open to them spending time at your home. You will learn so much about your child by watching them interact with their friends. Do not cross the line though – never be the parent who throws wild parties for their teen’s friends or buys drugs or alcohol. Remember you are not their friend, you are their parent.
  7. Be involved at school. There are rarely the opportunities to volunteer at the high school on the same way there were in elementary school, but you can know your teen’s teachers. Go to Back to School Night. Attend Parent-Teacher conferences. Keep an eye on your child’s grades and contact the teachers if there is a problem. Most schools have an online parent portal where you can keep track of things like grades, homework completion and classroom attendance – check it.
  8. Find ways for your teen to earn money. I understand – academics are tougher now than ever before and many teens cannot manage school, extracurricular activities and a job, but you can find ways to make money more meaningful for them. Have chores available to earn extra money. Encourage babysitting for neighbors. Have errands your driver can do on your behalf. This will allow two important things for your teen: an awareness that money has value and doesn’t “grow on trees” and some extra cash in their pockets for fun with friends.
  9. Give your teen a good once over every day. You want to notice any changes in how they look, how they act or how they are feeling. This can be your first warning sign a problem may be developing. Ask how they are doing and what is going on in their lives. Be interested.
  10. Choose your battles. There are an infinite number of things you can battle with your teen about on a daily basis. Don’t. You will be exhausted and so will they and you will only be driven further apart. Identify what matters most to you and your child and choose those battles that are central to those issues. You may decide loud music is tolerable while falling grades are not.
  11. Talk to your teen about the dangers of being a teen. Talk about drugs and alcohol. Talk about sex and relationships. Go one step further and help them problem solve possible solutions to situations in which they might find themselves. Brainstorm solutions they feel like they could live with (and still return to school on Monday).
  12. It is 100% OK for your kids to feel bad sometimes. If they have done something wrong and now have to face a consequence, do not feel you have to rescue them. If they have hurt someone’s feelings, let them sit with the guilt – it may prevent them from repeating the same mistake in the future. You can tell them you still love and respect them, but it is natural to feel guilty when you have done something wrong.
  13. Most importantly, remember, just like your teen, you are not perfect. You will make mistakes. Acknowledge them (if needed, apologize for them) and move on hoping to do better next time.