Navigating the Teen Years

Posted Aug 6, 2020

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Summary

It is normal for teens to feel sad, irritable, or discouraged. Being a supportive influence on their lives can help. 


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Welcome, everybody. My name is Wendy Walner. I'm thrilled to be here today to talk about teen years. We're going to talk about more than just managing conflict. We're going to talk about anything and everything that you would like to. First I want to thank you for joining. I really always I'm honored to talk about parenting. Just a little bit about myself. I spent some time teaching high school social studies at various schools here in New York State, then went to work at colleges for a number of years in Student Services, Residential Life and career planning, and ultimately became a parent educator.


But I really have to say probably, I think the most qualified I feel on this topic is being a mom. I was a single mom, I have three children, they dared to grow up now. They're 27, 29 and 31. They have certainly educated me along the way. I want to thank you for joining. This is a little different than our regular seminars for you who have joined us. We do this super interactive. I promise I'll get you out nice and early, but I'm going to ask that you not multitasking and really, truly think about the questions in the comments and really engage in a conversation about how do we navigate during these teen years.
 
I really feel that it's incredibly important. I've been doing these programs for a few decades now. But I've never felt quite as compelled to have conversations than I have now. Because my heart really is going out to all of us, but especially the teens during the pandemic. They're missing out on things that they'll never get back. I feel for all of us that are parents. It will also be the longest time that I have not seen my children, my adults. For those of us that might be separated, or in any form or fashion have been affected by the pandemic, I want to make sure that I really acknowledge it and send out our thoughts.
 
It's certainly a very, very, very unusual time. There's no rules about today, we just use the chat feature if you wouldn't mind. Not the Q&A. It's just easier for me to monitor one. I never read your name out, you're just sending it directly to me. I'm the host [inaudible 00:02:19]. We're going to have a discussion. Don't feel like you need to wait to the end. Surely don't feel like you need to say right here. This is a class we put together about talking and helping our teens be as absolute successful as they can be, but especially mindful during the pandemic.
 
Ready to go. How are we feeling? Pumped, good, everybody's ready? I've got my raspberry tea here. I'm ready to go. Everybody ready to go say me. There we go. We've got some ready. Good. That's what we want to hear. I'm dating myself here a little bit with Ann Landers, but you might remember the advice column guru, children are constantly testing attempting to see how much they can get away with. How far you let them go and they secretly hope you'll not let them go too far.
 
I think we all speak to this idea, especially now when we do feel badly. We do feel incredible empathy for what teens may be missing out. Maybe we say yes. I absolutely... I think saying yes is incredibly hard for us as parents and I think saying no is incredibly hard. One of the things that I started doing pretty early on was having my children write me letters. Gratitude letters. Somebody saying they think their son wants to be a lawyer. You know that they have the gift of gab, they probably have the gift of negotiation, and it can be incredibly difficult to win something with them.
 
My oldest son is a surgeon. He was a very good student at a very young age, quite frankly, way better than I was. He was doing my bank account by the time he was 10. It was really hard to relinquish part of that and acknowledge that he was just simply better at things. Really when I look at... Okay, my camera's a little off there, I'm not sure how my video is, if you let me know. I have my kids write me letters on occasions, on birthdays, and Mother's Day, Father's Day. I'll say, "I want to talk about what we're grateful for."
 
Over the years, my kids have written things like thank you for letting me hate you. I think it's important to know that when we're talking about navigating through teens, it is going to be a very bumpy ride. We are absolutely seeing more and more children that seem to be more addicted to the phone and the Internet, and Xboxes and they are unsupervised and they feel lost about that. I want to start with today by taking a deep breath. I want to remind all of us that I know a lot about parenting. I'm happy to answer anything, but I always sort of shiver a little when people say I'm a parenting expert.
 
If anybody's saying that right now, that they're a parenting expert during a pandemic, I want to remind you about three things. Best part about my job and the best part about of all our jobs is we're never lost, never over and there's always a new beginning. I mean that. Our relationships with our children are the one thing in our life that will go up and down, up and down, up and down, up and down but we believe in unconditional love. For this moment, where they're feeling lost to an internet, lost to a screen, or lost to a boyfriend or girlfriend, or even in the worst extreme when they might be lost to drugs.
 
Certainly dealt with many parents who've had that horrible. The good news is that there's always another chance. Whatever behavior that you're worried or focusing on, that's what we're here to talk about. I think many of our children today are using too much screen time. Do I think there's going to be a long term effect on that? I really don't. I think that there are technique, I think it's just like anything with healthy food or exercise we need to redirect them. But I also think the name of the game today is being incredibly compassionate.
 
I appreciate the feeling of being totally lost. I share that with parents all the time. But that's why we're here today to give us some real tools to make sure that we say, you know what, it's been five months now, we're into six months on the pandemic. Unfortunately, some of the numbers are not better. Matter of fact there worst. We're going to set some new limits. So let's dig in.
 
Okay. We're going to talk today about your objective. I put the closed captioning on. I didn't even really mean to do that. Let me escape that. There we go. Get that back. Is weird. From current slide. Sorry about this. There we go. Somebody's saying that they sit in front of... If you could tell me how the screen looks, that would be great. Just want to make sure that it's okay and that you're only seeing one thing not two because somehow it split. Okay. I see your notes, which is not what I want to do. I'm going to take this off, and hopefully that will make it go away.
 
I'm going to go back for a second re-share it. Don't we just love technology. There we go. So, when we're talking about setting limits, we don't want to start by going through everything. We don't want to start over and over and over. We certainly don't want to be where we're going to say what you did yesterday was so wrong, and that it's going to be all different today. We absolutely want to make sure that [inaudible 00:08:13] telling me what to do. I love it. Yeah. It's just not letting me [inaudible 00:08:18] for some reason.
 
I love that you guys are helping me. I appreciate that but I really think I'd rather focus on us just moving forward though. There we go. Is that better. Okay, there we go. Pick our conflicts. Thank you for your help here. It's really important to be able to say we're going to pick and choose our conflicts. I think for many of us, the Internet, and certainly not managing the amount of time, that is a worthy conflict. But it's not going to be as good as you want it to be. In all of the things that we're talking about, in everything we're talking about, I want to be clear that it's not going to be the way that it normally would be if the pandemic were not around.
 
We have to parent differently. We absolutely need to look at our conflicts and say, is this worth it? Are we understanding what they're going through? We're saying they're a little late. If you could tell me, if you could hear me okay that would be great. I do know we are having some really challenging weather so I'm going to try to work that out. Okay, perfectly. I'm very serious about this slide. I am very careful about picking my conflict. There are real things we're going to talk about today, when to speak, when not to speak. Absolutely whether this is worth it, and whether they'll grow out of it.
 
Let me just tell you a little bit about our teenagers that we love and adore so much. The first thing that you need to know is that their prefrontal cortex is not fully formed. A boy is about 25 and a girl is about 23. So they're changing constantly. I want you to enjoy that. I really want you to enjoy that. As a matter of fact, I know that you're going to get information about introverts and extroverts and learning and how the pandemic is affecting them. But even that can change.
 
When you're picking your conflict, you're not picking them as if this is battle that is going to be going on for a year or 10 years or three years or whatever it's going to be. It's a moment in time. I really want you to think about what is a battle worth fighting over? Send me some examples. What is a battle worth fighting over? Give me an example. What do you think like absolutely, Wendy, this battle totally worth it. Cheating. Okay. A breaking of value system. I love that. Absolutely. What else? Drugs, lying, dishonesty. Okay, keep going. Being on the internet doing something productive, so too much internet time. Social distancing, which is the health issue. That curfew responsibility.
 
We do not need to agree upon that. If you're co parenting, you and your co parent, your partner, should agree on it. Not planning for future, disrespect, to be in a girlfriend's house and that could put a family at risk. Outside social influences, talking back when reminded of chores, dealing with difficult friends. Trespassing laws, okay. You can see, there's a lot of us on this call and we don't always agree about the battle. You're going to pick your battles, and you're going to make sure that you and your partner if applicable have decided on these are the battles I'm worth.
 
I want you to tell that to your children. I want you to say listen, you need to know something about me. I'll use a personal example. How many of you would like to hear a story? Who's in first story? Nice of you there. My parents about 10 years ago, right around the time my children were learning to drive, were in a terrible car accident. Horrific car accident. They did live although it ended up being the beginning of the end for my father, they were helicoptered to a local trauma center.
 
You can imagine how traumatic it was. But it was mostly traumatic then when my children started to drive. I realized that I was going to have to set different rules with them. I had anxiety, there were justifiable anxieties and I needed to raise my three children to understand those anxieties. I don't think those anxieties will ever change. They're much older now. They still are very respectful to mom needs to know when they're going on a long distance trip, when they're leaving and when they're coming back.
 
That's the only way that my anxiety can actually really take a step back. Truly, I want you to do a lot more homework than you may be doing. I don't want you to wing this. I want you to take a step back and say, what are the battles? You'll know you're doing your job well if you're willing to take some off your list. I really mean that. If you're willing to say, my daughter's nose ring, that used to be on my list. Do you think it's on my list anymore? Do you think it's worth having an argument about a nose ring? What do you think? How many of you think yes.
 
No, it's not worth it. But in the moment it did seem worth it to me. Some parents have said tattoos, and maybe even... Look, I'm all about doing everything that the law says and no underage drinking. It could be because it's temporary. It doesn't matter. But it's about a parent analyzing how are they willing to change? We're raising independent adults and we have to know that across the period of time, we need to... Just make sure you guys can still hear me okay because we're getting a little tornado here. That's pretty interesting. We're really getting to a place where we need to understand that we're not going to have the same conflict.
 
A good rule of thumb, by the way is every six months, your child is maturing and the leash should be getting longer and longer and longer. That's what we mean by we're going to win the battle. I will tell you I have a bias. The bias about this battle is that we keep them alive. I'm not being overly dramatic. I unfortunately, when I do speaking, I speak with parents whose children have died in over years and the parents will share stories about things that they've learned. Letting them drive during a terrible storm. Letting them go to parties that we know may not be the right parties to go to because we don't want to give in on it.
 
Proms, you talk about social distancing, letting them go to concerts where you know that the people are not going to be wearing face coverings. Those are the wars, right? You've got to... I mean, those are the battles. You can lose the nose ring battles, the wars, but you don't want to lose the big battle. Everything that you're thinking about should be in the brace of are we keeping them alive? For that I want to give you a source. All of our children should be raised to look at the CDC guidelines. They should be looked at what does it mean to stay safe?
 
One of the most difficult questions I do get is if your teen has been dating someone for a period of time, how do you let that relationship continue during a pandemic? I don't have one word of advice on that. But there's not one answer. It's a period of time when you feel comfortable and your family feels comfortable that both parties are being as healthy as possible. Any questions about that? Just the first two bullets. That's really all we're at. Any questions or comments? The third bullet is very fun.
 
Sponge parenting which we all may not know the name but we all for sure have had it is your kid will in the morning or at night will just dump on you, totally dump on you. My son did this this morning, working, girlfriend he just dumped on me. He walks away feeling great. Let me ask you a question. How do you feel after the dumping has occurred? How do you feel? How do you feel after they just loan everything on you?
 
You feel absolutely exhausted, exhausted. You do, but you should... I love that because somebody got it exactly right. You should feel happy because they opened up. That's really part of it. Part of it is not solving anything. Part of it is just saying I'm just here for you to dump on. I'm just here for you to share some disappointment. The homework number one from this class, the homework number one is to let them be... Oh, someone is saying they're worried about how much you're trying to help.
 
Actually, we really don't need to help. We need to empower them to help themselves. The first homework is to ask them how they're doing during this time. I would like you to ask them what their biggest disappointment has been. What have they missed that has been the hardest thing for them? What are they most worried about the school year coming up? But what I'm looking for here is exactly what one of the parents just said, I don't want you to fix the issue. I just want you to empower them to fix the issue.
 
That's when it turns into a battle because you're thinking, oh my gosh, I know how to solve this. I know what to do. They're not looking for that. They're simply looking for the idea that I get to tell you and then you get to say to me them, you know what, I think you've got this. Now look, if they come back of course and say I don't, my teen say they can't talk to me, does that mean I don't make an environment to dump? I think what it means is... I think that's too strong to say that. Teens are not wired to come... Because their prefrontal cortex is not fully formed. It's very, very, very difficult for them to open up and share.
 
That's true for introverts or extroverts by the way. Don't confuse that. It's a process to get them to understand that they can tell you anything. It's a process for them to truly really take a step back and say that you know what, I am going to be okay with whatever you tell me. Lots of friends are doing the same and parents don't care. So you want to be unsupervised. Peer pressure doesn't ever go away so let me be clear about that. I happen to be single. I can tell you, I'm 58 years old. I've had more peer pressure and dates to drink and drive than you can imagine.
 
Peer pressure is going to stay for them forever. What you need to convince them and you need to convince yourself is they only need to look at their inner choices. We are never, especially now... I mean, the country is totally divided about how to handle the pandemic. I don't think it'd be fair to let teenagers think that they can do that. For those of you who are sharing, saying that they don't talk to their kids as much as they would like, I absolutely love the parent who said, you share stories of your own life. You share times when you had a dilemma. You share with them your biggest worry.
 
The more vulnerable you'll be with them, the more vulnerable they'll be with you. It may not be tit for tat, it may not that moment. I am making some assumptions here. I'm making assumptions you're the best parents in the world because [inaudible 00:19:59]. I'm also making an assumption that you truly want to be the go to parent. That you want to be the parent where they can come home and say, Listen, I went to a party and I know you told me not to drink, but I did. Or, I know you told me not to do this but I did.
 
That we're going to be a trained response. The first thing that we say is thank you for telling me. I have a favorite parenting movie. I'm going to send it off here. I watch it all the time. It's called finding Nemo. I'm thinking that you might know this line. It's a great parenting line. The father can't find Nemo and he's literally freaking out and he says to the ditzy Dory, "I promise nothing would ever happen to him." The ditzy Dory says, "But if nothing ever happens to him, nothing will ever happen to him." What does it mean? Why is it right?
 
If nothing ever happens to him, nothing will ever happen. They need to have experiences and you need to have conflict. It's part of our job. It's part of the journey. It's part of our way, the value of closeness. Nothing good and nothing bad. I told my first to tell me what they want before vent session, vice sounding board sets me up to do what they need. Love that. Score the day at the end of the day. Today was a 7.5, what do they need to get to a 10. They'll not have any experiences to learn from potential mistakes.
 
I agree mistakes and experiences are valuable but how do I get him to care about what he's doing and outcomes? When I give him feedback, he always indulges. It's just he's not quite ready yet to see the big picture. That's okay. That doesn't mean he's not learning from these. He may take a month or six months or nine months later. It may take a process for him to get that but don't give up. Don't think that he's not learning from it. You can't overprotect. He seems like he doesn't care. That's his job. Apathy is their job. It doesn't mean that they are apathetic, it means that they haven't developed the skill set to show you that they care.
 
I have a really good example of that. My son was 13 in the story, and they had gone on this overnight at school. He gave me a lot of rules about picking him up from the overnight. Mom, stay on the other side of the street. Don't come too close to me. Mom, don't do this, don't do... I did every single thing he said, every single thing he said, and he was furious with me. Furious with me. What did I do wrong? What do you think I did wrong? I did everything he said. I didn't hug him. I didn't kiss them. I didn't over... I go on about him being gone. I did everything he said. What do you think I did wrong? What do you think he really wanted?
 
I did what he said, instead of what I knew I should have done. Actually, what I should have done was been true to my voice, and that's the purpose of this slide, I wasn't me. I am a huggy kind of... That's me. I'm, "Oh my gosh, I missed you." I switch and I style shift to him and he really felt like I didn't care. I want you to think about... I'm so passionate about this idea that we spend so much time thinking about so much other things. He really wanted me to mother him. That's exactly right.
 
You always have a choice and there are really three basic kinds of parents. I know there are other ones today but the end of the day, we all know there are people who are permissive all the time, and there's some that are authoritarian and then there are some that are authoritative. Of course, we want people that can relax. We want people that 80% of the time is saying, hey, here's some guidelines. I'm me. I'm going to sit with me, I'm going to be here. Having said that, I just know that there are times where you just say, I'm going to let you do something I don't think you should do.
 
As long as it's safe, as long as it doesn't involve something with an automobile or with drugs or drinking, but maybe it is letting them stay up late or right now, everybody is being more permissive about the internet. It's breaking everybody's heart that we are, but it is the way it is. We're all being more permissive. I also think that we have to be able to sometimes just say no. All of you have a primary style. All of you, it is a very difficult line between two and three. I will tell you my bias. It is just my bias and so you will find your own. Two is always when there's a chance of danger.
 
It means that as long as they are part of your family unit, which usually means they're living at home, or you're paying for their existence, you have the ability to say no, and I'm not going to even tell you why. It's very clear that in our world, they're things like, if they're going to a party right now and you're concerned about social distancing and it's just not right for you. You have the reality and the right to be able to say I'm saying the no card. You want to look at the noes in comparison to the yeses.
 
Oh, I can absolutely repeat. Teens prefrontal cortex. Let me just go back and tell you the prefrontal cortex is the part of the brain where the synapses comes together, where things really connect. 23 for a young woman, 25 for a man. What's really important about this is that without it being connected, we really don't understand everything. For instance, if you say to them clean your room, and they do a few little things, but they really don't clean the room. It's not because they're being defiant. They don't know what you mean by cleaning the room.
 
On a very serious note, they also don't really understand death. They don't understand the finality of their own death. They just biologically neurologically can't. That's why sometimes we just simply have to say no and they have to hate you. They just have to hate you and you have to live with that. My youngest son was obese. It was a real challenging time. I was smart enough to know it wasn't about mom. It was about bringing him to a pediatrician. Pediatrician helped him lose weight. But I can tell you he probably didn't talk to me for six weeks.
 
Very little interaction. He's now a marathon runner, and it's always interesting, 10 years later he says that he doesn't remember. He literally doesn't remember the fights that we had about going to the doctor. In his brain, he got healthy. In my brain, it was six weeks where I barely talked to my son. I want you to think about, are you evenly split and that may not be the right thing. We're really trying to look at being as permissive and understanding when they've lost out on a birthday or.... Particularly for kids that are losing out on things like proms or graduations. Really what I mean by life cycle events which you never get back. Never.
 
I do want us to think about what can we do. Not to overcompensate, but to understand what we might be able to do to make it that much better. Unfortunately, that's going to involve the internet. Any questions or comments about these different types of parenting and maybe which style. Many of us really live only in permissive, although there are a lot of parents who actually only live in authoritarian as well.
 
It's interesting. After an argument or conflict and there's yelling, you recover the relationship by saying the lessons learned. I love the people that are living in all three, that's really what we're going for here. The recovered relationship means this conflict matter. Let's look at that. The first one is that you've done all of the work on your own to accept who you teenager is. Not who that you want them to be, and I think for those of us who have more than one, we know it's so unbelievable how different they can come out. We literally are growing to learn who they are.
 
I often think about these parents like Michael Dell, or Zuckerberg. I'm not... Just these college dropouts. I think, wow. Somewhere along the line, they came to their mother and father and said, "Yeah, I don't care. I got into Harvard. I'm dropping out and I'm going to be successful." I can imagine at that moment in time, that conversation probably was a little bit more challenging than we would have. It's part of being authoritative. You should always explain the whys and consequences so they can reason when you're not around. I agree with that.
 
Tell them absolutely this is why. It's absolutely not only possible to change parenting style, it's not that difficult. It's absolutely simply... Just go back for a second. It's simply a matter of using these words. I'm going to be permissive. I'm going to allow you to do something. I am going to focus on this moment in time where we're going to let you do something or I'm going to say no because... I'm going to use this language, absolutely possible to change. It is ingrained. But I really think that as our kids get older, when we start looking at it, we're going to literally change on a more regular basis.
 
The longer the pandemic goes on, the more we're going to have to style shift and look at how is this affecting our teens, I want everyone to think about the mental health issues for our kids. Those of you who do have extroverts know that they're missing even more that in person commodity than maybe are introverts. You want to ask, what are they missing and what can we do? What can we do? We're still in summer. There's still a lot of things we can encourage them to do. Golf and tennis and hiking and running. I recently started running to deal with just the whole anxiety issues.
 
I really think it's funny because the more I talked about running, the more my kids started to run. My youngest son got me into it now my daughter's into it. You want to talk to them. You want to ask them how they're doing. You really want to talk a lot more about what can you do to separate what the behaviors they're doing versus who they are as a person. This is just parenting one on one. You never ever, ever, we love our children no matter what, we may not like the behavior they're doing, but we love our children.
 
I feel like being a good parent is always training for them to be a good parent too. That's interesting. Luckily, all My Children thank me for being the parent I was. I thought I was the worst parent ever. I love that. I think that's a great way to look at it. That you're really focusing on who you want them to grow into being. What about a teen that none of the current work on? I'm used to [inaudible 00:31:42] a day. Interesting, that may be too much style shifting for some kids.
 
You may need to pick a prominent stands right now and you may need to really make sure that they're staying with that one. I would think if you're changing several times a day, that's inconsistent parenting. Again, when we go back to the parenting styles, we want to pick a style, who's our primary style? We want to be clear that they know who that is. So try to see if you can get on one. How much explanation do we give? I really think it depends on how big the no is.
 
If the no is something about spending money or the no is about watching a movie that you think is inappropriate, or the no is about staying up too late, I don't think you need to offer them a huge explanation. Every kid is going to be different. There's a great book, I'll send it off, called the Strong Willed Child by Stanley Turecki that will say, if you've got a strong willed child, you're going to have to give more of an explanation.
 
Get listening mode is a key word. The key word is to start the conversation by setting limits and telling your child, "I'm not going to talk, I'm going to listen and I need you to help me do that." I'm okay with them tapping me on the shoulder or even giving me a little kick and saying, "Mom, you said you were just listening." I'm also okay with the Native American way where they have the talking stick. One thing I do is I have a very introverted and very extroverted, totally different styles. I make sure that we even the playing ground. Whoever holds the talking stick is the one that gets to talk more.
 
It is also more than okay to be angry. It's normal. It's part of our process. I think everybody's feeling angry right now. I think that part of the issue is that we need to allow anger. Look, I love the teaching movies. How many of you saw inside out? One of the best... Another great parenting movie as well as... Or the Toy Story movie. Use these, loved it. Yeah. I loved it. I think we need to come back to it because it really allows us to feel sad. So many parents are trying to cheer their children up right now. I don't know if that's the right thing to do.
 
They're missing part of their life. Don't you think they get the right to just feel sad. Kids do not feel more comfortable with moms and dads. So let me tell you the gender studies are very clear about that. It has nothing to do with the gender, it has to do with two things. One is vulnerability. One is really how comfortable the parent is. It's a great question by the way. Sorry [inaudible 00:34:43].
 
Let's talk a little bit about they are sad of not seeing their friends. I really think that what's inside out as well and what we know as educators are, we just need to validate that. They are not going to get this time back. However the school year starts with that... The author is Stanley Turecki. Whatever happens in September, we know it's not going to be the normal way for them. For some, it'll be a hybrid, some not. Obviously, it'll be different. What we do know is that we have a balanced game here.
 
I want to add something about [inaudible 00:35:29] our children have too much fear about the pandemic. One thing we know that they need from us, so we'll get to what not to do in a minute, but one thing that we know that they need from us is to be inspired. They need belief. They really need ultimate, that we believe that they're going to turn out fine. That no matter what, no matter their age, or their apps, that they have the inner ability to rise above their challenges. That they're resilient. It's restorative practices that take the talking piece.
 
We need to be able to let them have their bad moments, their sad moments or hard moments, and we need to be their coach. We need to be that person who's saying, how can we move you forward. When you're not feeling that way, that's when you know you need as a parent to take a break. I rarely say this, but one of the tricks that I've learned is, unless it's a dire emergency, if I've had a really hard day at work, or really challenging something going on and they want to talk, I've learned to shift a little bit to say, give me three minutes.
 
I know what I need to do to get my head in the right place. I don't want to say or do something that I'm going to regret. It's really, really clear that we need to make sure that we are in the right place. It also means we need to make sure that we're the right person. I started the conversation with my talk in anxiety about cars. I realized very quickly I was never going to be the parent to teach them to drive a car. I simply couldn't control my own anxiety. I was smart enough to get them a driving teacher.
 
We have to be more what we say as well. That's monkey see monkey do. I do believe it's called authentic parenting. It's absolutely... The reality is that if you want them to read, you read. If you want them to be healthy, you're healthy. I am pretty strong about this. I don't buy not healthy food in my home. It's not something that I do. I know they eat not healthy food, they have so little, but I don't need to make that part of our routine. I go to bed early. They know I value sleep.
 
The key components of stress management are sleep, eating and exercise. We want our children to be healthy. I want you to ask yourself, I'm not telling you I've never had a glass of wine in front of my children. I have. It took them till they really turned about 25 before I felt comfortable having more than a glass of wine with them. Now, that's Wendy. You should absolutely not listen to what I do. But you should make sure that your behaviors match your actions, match your word. For those of you who are in a committed relationship, or married, or have a co partner, absolutely.
 
I hope that you are fighting in front of your kids. I hope you're showing them that there's negotiation skills, and that there's disappointment, and that there's anger and then there's a place where you get better. For those of you who like me might be divorced. Of course we all know the rule of don't speak badly about the person but on the other hand, you're allowed to say I want to let you know how I feel. The younger that you start, the better but here's what I want you to hear me say. This is the best thing about being a parent. It's the thing I love the most.
 
You got to do over every single day of every minute of every life. I really don't care what happened at all yesterday. Even this morning. Maybe there was an argument about chores in the house and it didn't go the way you wanted. You take a class like this and hopefully something I say or something somebody else says says, You know what, I'm going to be more patient or I'm going to be kinder, or I'm going to be more fun. That was one of my goals for the pandemic is to be more fun.
 
We've been trying to do funnier things. Dancing in the kitchen and being sillier and telling funny stories and watching videos of past vacations, camping, things that you can do now that are safe. Focusing on what we can do to be positive is part of that. Let me stop before we do the last slide. Questions, comments. How are we doing so far? How are we feeling? I don't... Guilt is the idea that you have pressured them into doing something. I want to define guilt for a minute. There's functional guilt, which is what we actually want to.
 
I hope there's more work to do. I certainly know I have more work to do. Having a son as a doctor has been a really interesting challenge to me because I don't know very much and he did a amputation the other day and I have to tell you, I didn't know what to say to him as a parent. I had no idea what to say, I can't even imagine that. I said, I don't know what to say. Help me understand what I should say. I want to be the parent that you call. I want to be the parent you tell this, but I don't know what to say.
 
I thought it was really... I don't know why I didn't think about that earlier. That was the perfect thing to say is, I don't know what to say. I absolutely know that teens don't play like they did when they were younger. We know there's something called Google brain. Anybody that's under 18, their brain is totally different than ours. We get our kids to open up, if it's dad or a mom, by opening up to them. By allowing them to give us a little bit and then what we want to tell them is, I so appreciate you telling me that story. I really want to thank you for that. It meant a lot to me.
 
Versus, how come you don't talk to me. I know Sam talks to his mother and you talk to your mother. I know people are saying you can argue but not about discipline. Look, kids are very smart. I learned this on a very personal level. After September 11th, I worked with children that had been down at the World Trade Center and in that area. We wanted to shield them, very young children. I learned very quickly that the shielding was not working at all. They knew way more than we wanted them to know, but they knew it.
 
I absolutely believe that kids, especially these ages, from five, seven, 10 and up, they can say, hey, listen, mom, dad or co parents, whoever it is. We have different ideas about discipline? I'm trained as a positive parenting, which means I don't believe in negative discipline. We use... I'll send off a great resource. The greater good from Berkeley. It talks about the idea that I'm going to share with you that you have two parents, we don't agree upon the discipline. Let's talk about discipline.
 
Discipline and conflict should only be when they learn something from it. There are many games to get kids talk. I actually think the best one and there's no making fun of me is monopoly. Game of Life and monopoly. Scrabble is really good too. I know there are a lot of card games that are out. There not among my favorite. I think that the classics monopoly is an amazing game to talk about the value of money and the value of the different properties and how nice and how cunning and how competitive you're going to be.
 
I think the game of life it's maybe antiquated in some ways, the babies and everything, but they're fun. The last one which we bought out recently for my teenagers at the time was Candy Land. It was hilarious. It was very fun. Remove it from that and do something like family night as well. No one will ever play a board game with me, not even my wife. Interesting. I would actually then tweet that and say will they play online with you? Are you willing... Because all those games are available online? There's a game, Who Knows Jack? It's like a trivia game.
 
No matter what you're going to throw at me, I want to tell you, they won't do this, then do this. They won't do that, then do this. They won't do this, then do that. Now, I will tell you, as we're nearing towards the end, I do four times a year, not as much right now during the pandemic, what I call mandatory fund. That are not negotiable about. Thanksgiving is a mandatory fund. I'm divorced. It's in my agreement. I've never missed a Thanksgiving. It's my holiday. We talk about it, we plan it. I'm fanatic about it.
 
My children know even when they have a significant other in their life, that's me. Mandatory and fun means literally you suck it up and you come. Apple picking, a hike. They know it's not negotiable. That's the authoritarian parenting in me. Four times a year, they will get in that car and usually they're complaining for the first 20 minutes or 30 minutes or 40 minutes. Then they say it was one of the best things ever. Somebody asked me that Stanley Turecki, he is an author that wrote the Strong Willed Child.
 
For those of us who have strong willed children, it's a great read. I will tell you one parenting style, forced family bonding. Love it, same thing. Greater Good is not a book. It's actually a resource online out of Berkeley. If you google Greater Good, I think it's .org, you'll come up with the resource you'll see. You also want to be sure that when the conflict is over, it's over. We really don't go back in time. Our kids have messed up. That's it. It never, ever, ever should be mentioned again.
 
I can tell you it's very, very difficult to do. Everybody has a chance to mess up and throw it away and move on. Any pointers for parents of teens have trauma and attachment issues? I do. First of all, PTSD is what you're talking about, post traumatic stress disorder or PTSS, Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, a little bit less. We're all going to have that after this pandemic. We're all going to, when if ever normal comes out, there's going to be a feeling of can we really go in. The best way that we know today to walk through any trauma attachment issues is talk therapy. Talk, talk, talk talk.
 
My daughter was at the Boston Marathon. She was at the finish line. I can tell you it was a year before she told me even one thing that she saw. Then it was another six months before she told me something else. It's been bits and bits and bits and bits and bits of pieces. It's about allowing them to share in their own timeframe. Reactive attachment disorder, OCD, has ramped up. I'm not surprised you're any of this. People that have any kind of these... She's refusing therapy at this moment of time. But again, we're going to keep bringing it up.
 
I would also encourage you to look at telehealth. Using internet for the right reason is great. A 16 year old with serious medical issues, had an emergency heart surgery. We choose to fight the battle taking medicines and going to appointments. We struggle to get the basics like eat, sleep and participate. I think there... Oh boy. I think first of all, I started this and I'm going to say, for anyone that's gone through anything during this time, we have to be so much more compassionate. I would pick the smallest little thing, smallest little thing to work on.
 
We're not going to fix everything. Our kids are going through a really tough time. In this situation, it may be as simple as just take your medicine. I have a client whose kid eat pizza, breakfast, lunch and dinner. We figured out a way it works. It's not great. It works. He eats pizza. That's what he likes. I believe he's going to change. I think it's a power struggle to a certain extent. I think it's something he can control. It's very important to control things. It makes sense to me. There's so much of their life that have been ripped away from them but it makes sense to me. Try anything, which also includes telemedicine.
 
Let's talk a little bit about suicide. Every parent needs to have in your tool bag the conversation about have you ever thought about harming yourself or anyone else? I've certainly asked my children on a regular basis. It's part of my conversation. It's been part of my conversation. My children had the unfortunate experience to lose children to suicide and to drugs and to drunk driving. We talk about it and we ask them why they're talking about it. We show them that we're compassionate. We also show them that we're serious. We also show them that we're here because we have help.
 
We want to make sure that we are open to getting them the help that they need. I made a list of my lectures [inaudible 00:49:28]. Eat one day a week at our table and do something fun. Okay, so you've had no takers. Malcolm Gladwell said not yet. No, this is a time of constant rollercoaster. We've all made mistakes saying I don't want you to see that friend anymore. I just want you to do this. Everybody's made those mistakes of trying to control our kids and make sure they're safe.
 
We just have to move on from that. We have to learn from that. We have to trust. We go back to say, this whole class is a conversation about trust and relationship. Trust and relationship means that we're learning to really fall in love with our kids as they grow and change. It also means that there's going to be many days along that journey that we're not going to agree with them and we're going to have challenges.
 
It's how far are you willing to go? I'm a visual learner. During the storm, there's this willow tree. If you've ever seen a willow tree. Even in really the worst storm, it'll bend over. It looks like it's going to break. It's such a good analogy for teenagers. It doesn't break. It always comes back stronger because the roots are there. Those classic lines that you hear about, I want to be the parent to drive home at night. I'm the parent that drives home at night. I'm the two o'clock in the morning phone call parent. I'm the one that has swallowed and said, probably not the time to have the conversation even though I'm really anxious too.
 
We have heard that more screen time is okay and sleeping in is a little bit more. The good transition point is most of your schools will be deciding in the next week or two what their school year is going to look like. At least what the first three months. I would start then. I will tell you, I have one thing I would like. I do think that reading is very important. I don't care what they read, I don't care if they read a comic book. I don't care if they read the closed captioning. I don't care what they read.
 
What I do know is that reading is a great focal point. We will post this recording and I would encourage you to share it with your children and let them make fun of me and say, "Oh, that parenting person knew nothing mom." It's a great way to redirect them. Should I try to redirect him to other kids that aren't unsupervised? I don't think so. By the way, not everybody should assume that every parent is reliable either. I wouldn't generalize whether they have to be supervised.
 
I think what we want to talk about is do I trust my child? Are they making good decisions? Look, my older son, the one that's a surgeon, he couldn't stay home alone. Five years later than his brother who's three years younger just because they were such different points. Websites for mental health for adults and children. I love the national suicide helpline. I think it's an amazing website. I think it's excellent. I also think the Office of Mental Health in each of your states is excellent. The CDC has done an amazing job with mental health issues during the pandemic.
 
High risk inner kids that wear mask and armor I deal with it learning my kids in and out of school. What's interesting about when we deal with high risk kids, we we really have to peel the onion more so they've learned for better or for worse, they've learned how tough life can be. We all know the amazing stories of inner city kids who have soared and scored and done unbelievably well. It does go back to... I was watching blindside the other night and I just found that movie so inspirational as a parenting movie.
 
I know I mentioned a bunch of movies, which is the last thing you probably want to hear on this call, but I do think we all need some inspiration from time to time, and we also need to give ourselves a break. The last two minutes I want to remind us, for me to be the best mother that I can be, I'm the happiest human being I can be. I am pretty selfish. I go for my run. I eat healthy. I have my raspberry tea. I take a lot of deep breaths. I take very good care of Wendy.
 
I learned very early on that being a martyred mother was not going to be a healthy environment. I would encourage you to listen, to think, but also to re-evaluate on how well you're doing taking care of yourself. Billy gets a sip as late as he want and do anything he want and get anything he want. That's just part of the teenage experience. I think we just need to be patient to understand that that's always going to be the test of time. That the Jones is next door. If we're all honest about that, we look to the Jones's next door who has a nicer car, nicer pocketbook.
 
I don't think we should even take that seriously. I know it's hard not to. Social media has made that really hard to, but I think that it's really important to just let that go. Oh, boy, thank you so much. Stanley Turecki wrote The Difficult Child. Yes and James Thompson wrote the Strong Willed Child and actually I meant both of them. So no. I actually meant both of them. Thank you for doing my homework for me. I really appreciate that. I'm always embarrassed when I'm wrong but it's a great example of how cool the internet is.
 
Yes, this session was recorded, and we will be sure that you will get the recording within the next few days. I want to thank you all so much for joining today and sharing with me and I hope everyone has an amazing and wonderful rest of the summer.

 

 

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