7 Strategies for Highly Successful Teens

FinalHighRes010-XL

A life changing program for your teens.

I am so excited to announce I have a new program for Teens, Parents and Teachers.

In this fun, entertaining and inspirational talk I go over the 7 strategies for highly effective teens.

This is nothing like your typical high school presentation.

Here are some highlights:

  • Groundbreaking research insights about the teen brain and behavior
  • Hilarious and inspiring videos
  • Immediately applicable action steps to motivate and encourage teens from all levels
  • Relatable stories for teens to feel engaged and understood

I can’t give too much away, but in this talk we delve into both the lighthearted and serious issues teens face including:

  • Effective communication with peers, parents and teachers
  • Mastering the online environment–preventing cyberbullying, staying savvy online and building a digital reputation that lasts
  • School – life balance, reducing stress and finding the right outlets
  • How to have healthy relationships with the important people in a teen’s life
  • Planning for the future, smart college applications, resume building and finding your life passions

I am stoked about this new talk and have already booked out January, February and March at High Schools, youth conferences and Parent groups around the US.

Please contact our manager Lynn Campbell for pricing and date availability:

 manager@radicalparenting.com

*Yes, of course, we have a tween version!

What’s Wrong With Asking, “What’s Wrong?”

This article is by our teen intern Layla. She is 14 years old from California.  She loves to read and spend time with friends.

Teenagers can have lots of problems, a fact they want everyone on earth to be aware of. These problems can vary from school-related issues to friendship woes and the touchiness concerning these subjects that seems to have lasted since the Dark Ages. So when parents sense that their teen may be troubled by something and want to help, they generally resort to asking, “what’s wrong?” which generally increases your teen’s testiness (I know it seems impossible but, believe me, it is) and decreases the chances of him or her actually telling you what’s wrong.

“What’s wrong?” can feel patronizing and slightly insulting- it makes teens feel like something is wrong with them. Personally, if my parents ask me what’s wrong, I roll my eyes and say, “Nothing. God.” And yes, I do that even if something actually is wrong. Why? Because in my irritable state, I feel offended and am less inclined to talk about why I’m upset.

However, not all hope at parent-teen communication is lost. Parents should try using different questions or methods for getting their teen to open up to them. But parents should also accept that sometimes, no matter how inoffensively they approach their child, they will not always talk to you. They may be keeping mum for a multitude of reasons: they want a little privacy, it’s not a major problem, etc.

Here are a few alternatives to “what’s wrong”:

1. “How was your day?”

Alright, so your teen probably (most likely) always answers this question in five words or less. But even if they don’t regularly give you a particularly detailed answer, your child is always forced to reflect upon his or her day for a moment or two when being asked about it. If something happened that day and you ask about it, your teen will think about their day and possibly feel up to talking about whatever transpired.

2. “We can talk if you’d like to.”

Reassuring your teen that you can always talk is a gentle invitation to conversation. It’s subtle enough to not sound offensive but also direct enough for your teen to understand you feel that something’s upsetting him or her and are free to talk. Your teen won’t feel pressured to talk to you but will be aware of the option.

3. “Is something upsetting you?”

If you feel like something is distressing your teen and they’re not talking to you about it, this is a to-the-point way to get him or her to talk to you. Though this question is very similar to “what’s wrong?”, the different wording will make your teen less at fault. “What’s wrong?” can make it sound like you’re asking, “What’s wrong with you?” But if you ask what’s upsetting your teen that places the (of course unintentional) “blame” elsewhere.

Real-estate agents say a deal is all about location, location, location. Parent-teen relationships are all about communication, communication, communication. However this can be very difficult in a world where teens are infamous for telling their parents, “OH MY GOD LEAVE ME ALONE”. They are so notorious for saying/yelling/screeching this phrase, in fact, that is has developed into a cinematic stereotype. But when your teen tells you to leave him or her alone, about 95% of the time they don’t entirely mean it.

Sometimes being left alone is great- it can give one time to think things through and come back to a situation with a fresh perspective. But other times, teens just want to talk but grow uncomfortable at the prospect of doing so. So, as a parent, it’s important to keep communication lines open and approach your teen gently and invitingly.

5 Best Parenting Books

What are the 5 parenting books that every parent should read? It is a mission at Radical Parenting to increase reading and literacy. We also love supporting authors.

Here we have selected our top five favorite books for parents:

top picks for parents, mom blog, recommendations for parents, website for parents, parenting website
All of our content is Teen Approved by our teen interns!

NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman

This is an amazing book for parents that uses scientific studies to bust parenting myths and help give tools that actually work.

Scream Free Parenting by Jenny Runkel

ScreamFree Parenting is a new approach to parenting that parents rave about. The focus is on creating responsible, caring adults through improving your relationship with your child rather than just trying to “get them” to do the right thing. It contains universal principles, which teach parents to become the calm, cool, and connected influencers in their homes rather than trying to simply be game wardens or gate keepers.

Sacred Parenting: How Raising Children Shapes our Souls by Gary L. Thomas

Sacred Parenting is unlike any other parenting book you have ever read. This is not a “how-to” book that teaches you ways to discipline your kids or help them achieve their full potential. Instead of discussing how parents can change their kids, Sacred Parenting turns the tables and demonstrates how God uses our kids to change us.

Real Love and Real Love in Parenting by Greg Baer, M.D.

Greg Baer holds nothing back. Some of what he says might feel a little harsh, but can be a real wake up call to be REAL about our responsibilities and our role in our kids’ lives. Tweens and Teens of parents applying these principles will love the change they see in their parents and how they feel happier, receive more respect, autonomy, and skills to prepare them for a lifetime of powerfully REAL relationships and happiness.

Just Tell Me What To Say: Sensible Tips and Scripts For Perplexed Parents by Betsy Brown Braun

This book provides hands-on, just give-it-to-me-straight tools so that parents gain the skills and confidence they need to handle the sometimes challenging situations that inevitably accompany raising children ages 2-6 and beyond. Hailed by the New York Times as a “parenting guru,” Braun’s down-to-earth advice is derived from her expertise working with thousands of children (from toddlers to teens) and parents for over three decades.

We hope you will consider bringing more books into your own home. Feel free to leave us your favorite books in the comments.

If you liked this post, you might also like our list of favorite books for parents at Radical Parenting.

An Encouraging Letter to American Parents

Advice for Parenting Teenagers: Help for A Teenage Break-UpThis article is by our resident school counselor at Radical Parenting. Check out her bio and other articles or submit a question at School Counselor’s Corner: Q&A with Dr. A.  

Is anyone else sick of hearing about what terrible parents we are?  How American children are poorly behaved, sugar-induced, self-serving, lost individuals, with little drive to do right?  With Chinese “tiger moms,” Finland’s high achievers, and superior French discipline all the rage in the media this past year, it’s a wonder our children manage to get their shoes on the right feet.  According to pop culture, Western parents should be ashamed of themselves.  We are obviously gluttonous, rude, lazy pushovers raising similar children, right?

Well, I am here to stand up for the American parent.  I am a psychologist, parent of 3, and work at an amazing school with children and their parents daily.  My opinion may not matter to many, but for what it’s worth, these are my observations about our above average American families.

American parents work hard.  We work hard at work, we work hard at home, and sometimes we work just so that our children can have the best.  And while sometimes that equates to material items, more often than not, our intention is to give them the best of opportunity.  We want our children to be pushed to their potential, but not over the edge; academically, socially, and spiritually.  We work so that our children can find inspiration and passion in experiences that you and I never dreamed of having at their ages.  All this while trying not to overschedule, maintain reasonable nutritional habits, and keep our family’s quality time intact despite their extracurricular activities.  We are incredibly involved, including the ever-neglected father, in the lives of our children and in the role modeling for our children.

We are good people trying to do right by our children and the world. We teach them good character and the importance of doing the right thing.  We teach them traits like integrity, generosity, and open-mindedness.  In a world where terrorism is all too real and frightening, we shield our children from the horror and try to convince them that the world is a good, kind place (but wear your seatbelt and don’t talk to strangers).  We teach them if we just practice tolerance and understanding, we can all get along and work together for a greater nation and a greater world.  We teach our kids to take care of the Earth and all that she grants us so that their children, our grandchildren, will get to a chance to grow up in a healthier environment.

Lastly, we teach them gratitude.  For all that we work for and give them, we want them to know that they are the lucky ones.  They are afforded opportunities and experiences only because of our sacrifices, but we can’t choose their destiny.  Their ultimate success will lie in their own hands and only with hard work, perseverance, and determination will they reach their own goals.  We will do anything and everything to give them the tools they need, but we can’t force them to use these gifts.

It is this kind of parenting, my friends, that has shaped our country.  Last I heard, the United States of America is still pretty well recognized as an internationally superpower, so we can’t be doing that badly.  Someone raised and educated our leaders and I’m pretty certain they were American parents.  So, while each country and generation degrades the next about how spoiled our children are, let them talk. The rest of us will continue to overindulge them with love, education, acceptance, and the capacity to think outside the box; to solve problems we don’t even know exist yet.  All I can say is that from my view, these kids aren’t doing so badly and consequently, maybe, just maybe, we deserve a small pat on the back.

This thought was confirmed as I sat listening to our valedictorian and salutatorian’s speeches at this year’s graduation.  They were emitting advice about not just following your dreams, but taking your dreams a step further and choosing to make an impact in this world; pushing themselves to choose greatness and in turn, making a positive change for the universe. Their words to each other are to reach for greatness and improve upon the life we have granted them.  Could it get any better?  I could not help but think, “Thank God for these kids.”  With all that we have worked to give them; they get it and they will do great things with it.  It is true that they are spoiled with opportunity and they are all the better for it.  These children are truly our future and unlike most people’s perspectives, this gives me great peace of mind.

So, hold fast American parents.  Here’s your “Attaboy!”  I know you are wondering if the sleepless nights rocking your infant, finishing that last minute project with your child, and worrying about your teenager’s whereabouts are worth it, but if these kids are any indication of our energy and efforts, the answer is clear.  Dig in, dig deep, and keep doing what your doing and take solace in knowing that we’re in this together.

15 Best Books for Young Adults and Tweens

books for kids, best books, best books for teens, summer reading, book recommendations for teens
These books are Teen Approved by our teen interns!

Finding good young adult books is a challenge–but getting the right book can encourage young readers and make for great reading escapes. Here at Radical Parenting we want to review some of the best books for young adults and tween readers. We try to pick the best three in each category.

Why is it so important for young adults to read?

We love encouraging young adult readers and tween readers because we think books are the way to teach kids life lessons and provide a safe brain stimulating activity. Here are some other reasons to get the tween in your life a life-changing book:

  1. Tweens Learn Best From Stories: Young adult readers love to learn from characters in their books. Some of the best books out there (including the ones we chose below) have amazing moral lessons, life lessons and characters young adult readers can look up to. As tweens read they are able to put themselves in the shoes of the character and decide how they would make decisions. This is a great mental lesson.
  2. A Safe Activity for Young Adults: As long as the book is appropriate, I can’t quite think of a safer activity for young adults other than reading. During summer breaks or weekends, there is nothing better than helping a tween dive into a great book.
  3. Awesome Books Inspire Awesome Thinking: Books encourage imagination and brain stimulation far more than movies or Facebook. When a tween or young adult picks up a good book their creative juices flow and their imagination is active.

Top Books for Young Adult ReadersBest Books For Young Adults and Tweens

We always choose the best three books in a category and then have our favorites in each category, teen pick and runner ups below. Be sure to leave your favorites in the comments or if you have reviews on our best books for teens.

1. Wings of Fire by Tui T. Sutherland

This is a wonderful book series for tweens and young adults. It is full of adventure and magic and works for both boy tweens and girl tweens as summer or fun reading. This book is great for young adults because it is the story of dragons and will entice lots of imagination and adventure.

2. Criss Cross by Lynne Rae Perkins

This is a lovely and inspiring story for your young adult reader. Debbie is the main character of the story who takes readers along with her on her journey. This is for ages 10 and up and has won a Newbery award as well as the hearts of may tween readers.

3. Hope Was Here by Joan Bauer 

Hope Was Here is a story of a young girl in a small town. The touching tale will bring out the sappy in any reader. Another Newbery Honor book, tweens will feel inspired and take home lessons from Joan Bauer’s story of a young girl from Wisconsin.

Fiction Books for Young Adult ReadersBest Fiction Books for Young Adults and Tweens

If your tween is looking for an escape, these best fiction books are the way to go. The stories are fun and relatable and your young adult reader will love them.

1. Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

Of course, we had to list Harry Potter as one of the best series of all time. Be careful, your tween reader will get totally hooked to these books and you might not be able to pry them out of their hands! These are also great books to listen to on tape with tweens or kids in the car on road trips and vacations.

2.  The Best School Year Ever by Barbara Robinson

This is a funny book of stories about misfits and all of their adventures. If you have a reader with a short attention span or a spunky attitude then this book by Barbara Robinson is for your young adult reader!

3. The Last Book In The Universe by Rodman Philbrick

This interesting book is set in the future and helps to get tween and young adult readers thinking about some bigger questions. What could happen in the future? How do we view reading? How do we value books? Great for both male and female readers The Last Book in the Universe is a great summer read.

Best Non-Fiction Self-Help Books for Young Adults and Tweens

Some tweens are looking for inspiration from their books. These non-fiction picks or self-help books for tweens can teach and inspire.

Non-Fiction Books for Tweens1. Chicken Soup for the Kid’s Soul by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Patty Hansen, Irene Dunlap

The Chicken Soup series are classics that will always resonate with readers–no matter what age. What I love about the Chicken Soup series is it uses real stories to inspire and teach lessons to kids and tweens.

2. Young Revolutionaries Who Rock by Dallas Jessup

This is a great “How-To Guide for Saving the World One Revolution at a Time” and sets out to inspire and motivate young tweens. Dallas Jessup is calling for youth activism and lays out grand plans in her fun book.

3. Questions Young People Ask, Answers That Work, Volumes 1&2 by Dr Andrea Frayser

This book provides honest workable answers to questions that kids and parents often wrestle with like: Why Don’t I Like Myself? How Do I Know if It’s Real Love? What If My Parents Are Addicted to Drugs or Alcohol? How Can I Protect Myself at School? Can I Be Happy In A Single Parent Family? and More. This is a great how to book that parents and tweens can read together.

Runner-Ups: Best Books for Young Adults and Tweens

1.Be Confident in Who You Are by Annie Fox

Sometimes worrying about what other people think can hold you back from enjoying life and from making choices that reflect who you really are. This book can help you dial down your Opinion-ator and trust yourself more. Fox is a seasoned expert in everything teen, tween and kid and her books and stories really reach young readers.

2. Conversations with Teen Entrepreneurs: Success Secrets of the Younger Generation by Ben Cathers

If you have a young reader with an entrepreneurial spirit than give them some older teens and mentors to look up to! This book helps inspire and give tweens and young adults an accurate view into starting entrepreneurial endeavors.

3. The Ultimate Girls’ Guide to Understanding and Caring for Your Body by Isabel and Emily Lluch

The book covers all the topics preteen and teen girls are wondering about but might not know who to talk to, or might not be comfortable asking an adult about, including hygiene, beauty, healthy eating, periods, bras, acne, social situations, and more. The best part: the book’s authors, Isabel and Emily Lluch, are sisters who are 13 and 16, so they know all about the changes and questions girls have during puberty. The girls give advice on these important topics, along with the advice from a panel of 6 experts in the medical and beauty industries.

Teen Pick: Best Book for Tweens and Young Adults

Here is one of our teen interns remembering which book was their favorite when they were a tween.

Holes by Louis Sachar

“I loved this book because not only was the story great, but it was thrilling and funny at the same time. Every tween has to read this book!” –Maggie, 15

Have you seen our other top picks? 

What are your favorite books for young adults and summer reading lists for tweens? Be sure to let us know!

Secrets of Body Language

Many of our readers have been asking me to post more in depth about how to read their teen’s body language. And I have finally answered the demand! I also know for our visual learners that videos are much more helpful in this regard. So I have made the Secrets of Body Language video course for you!

In this course, I will use body language videos to teach you everything you need to know about body language. We have talked about how important body language reading is for parents and some of the tips in the course will help parents tremendously in reading their child’s face and being able to spot deception.

This body language course is based on scientifically backed research on the how to read people’s nonverbal behavior and improve your own. Here are some topics the Secrets of Body Language course will cover:

  • The Foundations of Body Language
  • Nonverbal Communication and the Face
  • Emotions and Body Language
  • Human Lie Detection and Body Language

If you like reading and want this in book format, check out our book: Human Lie Detection and Body Language 101

In a ten minute conversation you are likely to be lied to two to three times. You might not even realize how often the people in your life are being deceitful. This body language book is based on scientifically backed research on the how to read people’s nonverbal behavior. In Human Lie Detection and Body Language 101 you will learn:

  • How to read body language
  • How to be a human lie detector
  • How to read people
  • How to detect hidden emotions
  • How to spot lies

Whether you are a business owner, parent, spouse, employee, human resources director, teacher or student, this book will change the way you interact with those around you.

NEW Book: Human Lie Detection and Body Language 101

Human Lie Detection and Body Language 101, how to tell when your teen is lying to you, teens and lying, lying teens, how to tell when your child is lyingGet Our Latest Book!

I have been working on helping parents with nonverbal skills and body language with teens, I finally have finished the guide to lie detection that is really relevant to anyone–parent, teen, teacher, counselor. If you have ever interacted with another person and want to understand body language I hope this book helps you!

In a ten minute conversation you are likely to be lied to two to three times. You might not even realize how often the people in your life are being deceitful.

91% of people lie regularly at home and at work

It’s time you get the tools to better equip yourself. Human Lie Detection and Body Language 101 will teach you how to spot lies as well as uncover hidden emotions in the people you are interacting with.

Most importantly, it will help you have more honest interactions with the people in your life.

amazon-buy-button_2

What is This Body Language Book About?

In Human Lie Detection and Body Language 101 you will learn:

  • How to read body language
  • How to be a human lie detector
  • How to read people
  • How to detect hidden emotions
  • How to spot lies

This body language book is based on scientifically backed research on the how to read people’s nonverbal behavior.

Who Is This Book For?

Whether you are a business owner, parent, spouse, employee, human resources director, teacher or student, this book will change the way you interact with those around you. Here are all of the people that can benefit from this book on body language:

  • Employers
  • Public speakers
  • Doctors
  • Human Resources Directors
  • Poker Players
  • Actors
  • Students
  • Employees
  • Parents
  • Teachers
  • Entrepreneurs

If you have ever interacted with another person, this book will be useful to you because our everyday interactions are filled with secret nonverbal cues just waiting to be uncovered.

Human Lie Detection and Body Language 101, how to tell when your teen is lying to you, teens and lying, lying teens, how to tell when your child is lyingWhat If It Doesn’t Come Naturally?

You do not have to be born with a natural inclination to read people. In fact, all people reading skills can be self-taught. Studies show that with beginner level training the average person can increase their accuracy at spotting deception from 54% to 90% accuracy.

Lying Myths:

Because this book is based in real science, it will debunk some popular myths about lying.

Lying Myth #1: If people look to the left, they are lying. If they look to the right they are telling the truth.

Although there is some science about eye direction, which we talk about in the book. It is not the most reliable form of lie detection. The book will show you more accurate (and easier) ways to spot lies.

Lying Myth #2: Liars can’t look you in the eyes.

On average, honest people will make eye contact during conversations about 60% of the time–way less than you thought, right? Liars actually look you in the eye more because they want to seei f you believe their lie or not.

Lying Myth #3: Emails and IM’s are filled with lies because it is easier to lie when people can’t see or hear you.

In the book, I will tell you which of the following have the most lies:

___Emails

___IM’s

___Phone conversations

___Face to Face interactions

I’ll give you a hint: Shockingly, we lie the MOST in phone conversations and the LEAST in emails.

Why Is Lie Detection Important?

It is important when we know we are being lied to because it can save us money, time and sometimes even our safety. This book can train you to get to the truth 80% to 90% of the time. That can save you money on a faulty house, from hiring a bad employee or making sure you know what is really going on with your child or significant other. Unfortunately, we are not good at detecting lies. We are only right about 54% of the time! That is a little better than a coin toss. We tend to assume the best in people and have a bias towards truth–“innocent until proven guilty.”

Interesting Facts About Lying

Human Lie Detection and Body Language 101, how to tell when your teen is lying to you, teens and lying, lying teens, how to tell when your child is lyingIn Human Lie Detection and Body Language 101 I give a number of real life examples and tons of practical tips that you will be able to use immediately. For example, wouldn’t it have been great to have known when Lance Armstrong was lying?

Lance Armstrong Lies

In his recent Oprah interview, Lance Armstrong’s body language was off the charts with lies and inconsistencies. He constantly made the “contempt” microexpression, which you will learn about in the book and showed how he really felt about the interview. He also showed a dominant and aggressive body posture and seating position. His words said far less than in his body. You can learn how to decode these popular culture segments on TV and in real life. Screen Shot 2012-10-19 at 10.29.59 AM

Presidential Debate Body Language

If you watched the US Presidential Debates with Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama you might have wondered what their body language was saying. Why did Obama do so badly in the first debate, but was perceived as doing so much better in the second one? You could have watched the debates on mute and learned just as much about each candidate. In the first debate President Obama cowered while looking at his notes, which you will learn in the book is submissive body language. In the second debate he stood up much straighter and was sure to get the dominant handshake in the very beginning, setting a more positive tone.

 

If you find these cases fascinating and wish you could begin to unravel the mysteries of body language, then get your copy of Human Lie Detection and Body Language 101 now!   

amazon-buy-button_2

 

 

Top Tips for Parents who Divorce

divorce, divorced parents, divorced couple, divorcingIndia is a 16-year-old from England. She enjoys painting, reading, writing and her favorite subjects are English, History, and French which she would like to study at university.

  1. Don’t force your children to take ‘sides’.

When you are divorcing or are divorced it can be really hard to try not to involve your children in your divorce and sometimes it can seem like they are siding with your ex-spouse. However, when you get divorced the most important thing your children needs to know and to be reassured is that YOU still love them. And the most important rule for parents is, NEVER moan or complain about your ex to them or blame them for what has happened in front of your children. And DON’T use them as a go between.

Even if your children seem very grown up and mature, they are not the grown-ups; you are, you are their parents and you have a responsibility to act like it. Whatever the excuse, you had a horrible divorce, he/she cheated, or you live far away, make time to speak to your ex even if it’s just to discuss arrangements. If you really can’t speak to them face to face, e-mail them. Build a solid and reasonably pleasant relationship as co-parents, not as ex’s, because you took the decision to have a child and you have a responsibility to raise that child and ensure they have the best start in life.

Building a solid relationship and an open dialogue with your ex is really important. I’m not saying you have to be friends or even like each other, just decide to put your differences aside and have an open channel of conversation about your children. In the future this will be really important, particularly for negotiating things like parents evenings, and if there are any worries or problems you have. For example, if you’ve noticed that your child seems withdrawn and more down than usual, talk to them and the other parent ask them if they’ve noticed the same thing if they have any notion as to why your child might be like this. It’s these channels of communication which will enable the best possible divorced parents situation for your child.

2.   Your time is not ‘your’ time.

If you have shared custody or visiting rights or even just an arrangement that your children visit you or spend a certain amount of time with you, unless there are extreme circumstances do not try and enforce this time rigidly on your children, particularly if they are teenagers. Teenagers are fickle and unfortunately a lot of the time they don’t need their parents as much, especially when they are trying to be cool or as they spend more time with their friends/girlfriend/boyfriend. This can be hard enough when you live with your child but if you share custody or have them to visit, it can be particularly difficult as you feel you are rejected in favour of the other parent who sees them nearly all of the time.

However, it is nothing personal and if your child drops you on a Saturday in favor of going out with their friends, or goes out in the evening when it was always ‘family time’, or your time together trying to force them to spend time with you or being rigid with your custody time will not endear you to them. Try to be flexible and show them that you are willing to rearrange and that you are there for them even if you don’t live with them. For example, if your sixteen year old wants to go out to the cinema with her friends on a Saturday night and traditionally that was something you would do together, don’t tell them you won’t allow them to because it’s your time together. Instead, you could offer to pick them up and say its fine but ask them to make sure that they spend the next Saturday night with you instead. Or organize special events with them. For example, offer to take them camping or to the beach, or take them to the theatre if they are studying a play for their exams.

Also, just because they are at your house it doesn’t mean you both have to stay in together and spend all your time together; allow them to go out with friends if there are any nearby or allow them to go out on their own, or encourage them to take a class or get them a gym membership. This shows them that you care about them and that they are very much part of your life and have permanent roots with you even though they don’t live there all the time. Make sure you listen to the little details in their lives to show them that you really do care about them and then adjust your timetable accordingly.

3.   Do not try to ‘outdo’ your spouse.

It may seem like the obvious solution, particularly if you are the parent with more money, to try and buy your kids love with lots of presents or fun trips or by trying to be the ‘cooler’ parent. Obviously, if you and you ex have different parenting styles, now that you are divorced you no longer have to do what the other one wants, but be respectful of each other. Try and sit down and come up with some basic rules, which are important to maintain, whilst your children are at the other one’s house. For example, with a fourteen year old, if mum says she should be in bed by ten o’clock on a school night and she is staying at Dad’s for the weekend and he lets her stay up all Sunday night watching TV and eating junk food, who’s the parent who’s going to have a child who is tired and grumpy the next day and who probably won’t be able to focus on school. Treating your children in this way will not do them any favours in the long run. What you have to think about is not what is going to make the child love you more and therefore punish/beat/show up your ex, but what is best for your child in the long run. Try to continue parenting as you would if you were still with your ex. If in doubt stop and ask yourself the question, if I was still with (my ex) would I still be allowing them to do this?

 

Photo Credit: Lasse Kristensen

Celebrity Divorces: How the Media Effects Teens’ Views on Marriage and Divorce

Onyeka is a 16 year old from Orange Park, FL. She loves running, meeting new people, and reading. Onyeka loves making friendship bracelets, she one day hopes to become an entrepreneur and sports medicine physician.

If you haven’t heard about Kim Kardashian’s 72-day marriage, you must be living under a rock.

Either that or you blinked and missed it. Though many predicted this outcome, I was devastated to hear the heart-breaking news. I really thought that they would live together forever, but that word– forever– seems foreign in the world of entertainment; worlds where celebrity marriages last as long as the fashion trends that come with them. It’s bad enough 50% of marriages end in divorce. What is a teen supposed to think when every magazine, website, and entertainment show’s latest celebrity news is about celebrity divorce? What is a parent supposed to do when their teen tells them they don’t want to get married because they’re afraid of divorce? A little girl’s dreams of her perfect wedding day stays just that, a dream. Teens are influenced dramatically by the media in the way we look, think, and speak. So when it is cluttered with celebrity divorce, it shines a negative light on the whole idea of marriage.

The national divorce rate is 50% according to the Divorce statistics collection from America’s Divorce Reform. I use the word arguably because there are many factors that contribute to this outlandish statistic, but I’m getting ahead of myself. Instead, let’s revisit some of the latest celebrity divorces. Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore ended their marriage after 7 years. Jennifer Lopez and the adorable Marc Anthony called it quits after 7 years, even with two beautiful twins. Mel Gibson lost half of his fortune to his ex-wife after 31 years together! Katy Perry and Russell Brand, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver, Heidi Klum and Seal. The list goes on and on. Though the national divorce rate is “50%”, this applies to the normal everyday US citizen who doesn’t star in blockbuster movies or have a #1 song on Billboard’s hot 100. Do you know what the average celebrity divorce rate is? 80%. That means roughly only 2 out of 10 Hollywood marriages survive. If that sounds bad to you, imagine how that affects a teen. It leaves us with little hope of ever having a successful marriage.

20 years. That’s how long my parents have been married. My parents never had to tell me how sacred the bond of marriage is, I just always knew. They never had to tell me that marriage is forever, no givsies backsies, though they’ve received countless eye rolls from trying to tell me who to marry. I think I’ll make the right decision when the time comes. My mother could never grasp the idea of celebrity divorces. She comes from a foreign country where a man has multiple wives or will even abandon his wife, family, and country for another woman. To her, divorce due to irreconcilable differences seems a tad bit extreme. Most, if not all, of my friends’ parents are either divorced or separated. In America where the divorce rate is already so high, and celebrity divorces just add fuel to the fiery, blistering furnace we call divorce.

Now, parents, what can you do to reassure your child that marriage is not completely hopeless?

Though you may be a divorcee yourself, you still want your child to be open to marriage and all of its benefits. Let them know that marriage is still important, and if they wish to spend the rest of their life with someone, then by all means so be it. Teach them not to be afraid of all they have seen and heard about the “dangers” of marriage.  Statistics don’t define relationships, never mind celebrities!  Don’t let celebrities discourage their view of marriage. Though the media portrays marriage as just something people do, and divorce as a quick fix to any marital problem, marriage is a huge deal. Marriage is a sacred, ceremonious joining of two people who want to spend the rest of their lives together- forever. Let them know marriage is not easy by any means, and divorce should not be a get out of jail free card. They’re going to have bad days, really bad days, and days when they just want to give up, but they should remember the vow they made, for better or for worse, till death do us part.  Married couples have the power to define their relationships and the media should not impact the way they do so. In marriage, they’re going to shed a lot of tears, and maybe even sweat a little too, but marriage is also a beautiful thing. These couples get to share their lives together and create a family. They get to be with each other for eternity! And to me, there’s nothing greater than that.

Though our modern world is relentlessly changing every day, we don’t have to sacrifice the revered age-old concept of marriage. Marriage has dated back to 1250 C.E and is recognized all over the world. Magazines, gossip sites, Hollywood access, and E! News may never realize how negatively they portray marriage, but you as parents can do something about that. You can make your little girl’s dream of one day walking down the aisle, a reality.

When Single Parents Date: A Teen’s Perspective

divorce, single parents, parents dating, dating advice

Catelyn is a 16 year old from San Diego, CA. She likes to dance and her favorite subject is English because she likes to write.

Its 11:30 on a Friday night and I hear the sound of the front door creak open. Yes, that should be the sound of me coming in from a late night but no, it’s the sound of my mother coming home. My mom seems to have more of a love life than I do, as a 17-year old, so Friday night is date night. When I tell my friends about my mom and how she is dating they always assume that it is the worst thing to experience. Honestly, it doesn’t bother me as much as people think it would. It’s nice to sit down at dinner and hear about her new guy drama instead of dull work stories. I love the moments where we can sit down the next day from a night when we both had dates and compare. I also love that we are kind of going through the same thing and that she relates to me as much as I relate to her… when it comes to guys, at least. Her dating definitely doesn’t change the fact that we argue about my grades or my never ending plans for the weekends. Since she has started to go back into the “dating game” we’ve became a lot closer. I see her not only as my mother but as my best friend too. I feel like I can tell her anything now and when something exciting happens to me she became the first person I want to tell instead of my friends.

Don’t get me wrong; her dating does get annoying from time to time. Sometimes it feels like she doesn’t have as much time for my brother and I. It is really antagonizing when she will leave for a date right before dinnertime and tell me I am responsible for dinner that night. It is also really irritating when I look over at her in the middle of me talking and I see her texting and grinning not paying attention to one word I am saying. I don’t know too much about what it’s like for a single parent to date, but one thing I know is how the teenager is going to feel about their parent’s decision. The kids should always still be the first priority when dating comes into the mix. Teenage years can be considered the most crucial in a person’s life so an abandoning parent can cause extra problems and issues in a teen’s life. A parent’s support is the one thing that can keep a teen going through all of the high school drama and pressure. Also, it isn’t good to introduce every person the parent dates to the child. I think that the parent should wait until they know this specific significant other is around for the long haul before introducing them to their kids. If the kids don’t like the parent’s boyfriend/girlfriend, then the parent should ALWAYS take that into consideration but it does not necessarily mean the parent needs to end it unless it is a legitimate reason as to why they aren’t a good match and why the kid doesn’t like him/her.

I put up with all of the annoying stuff my mom does when she dates because I know that she is happy. I know that I can put up with a couple inconveniences in turn for her happiness after all that she does for me. So teens, give your single parent some slack, and parents, have fun but not too much because you’re still expected to be a responsible adult because your kids’ lives are still in your hands.

 Photo by N!(K — loveforphotography — from Flickr