July/Aug. 2011 - Helping Your Teen Understand Physical and Emotional Dating Violence
By Lou Phelps
This takes place for guys as well as girls. Many Moms that have raised teenaged sons can share with you their version of the ‘girlfriend from heck’ experiences where they watched their son being manipulated, with their emotions twisted like a dish rage.
Emotional dating violence means threatening a partner or harming his or her sense of self-worth. Examples include name calling, shaming, bullying, embarrassing on purpose, or keeping him/her away from friends and family.
And sexual dating violence is forcing a partner to engage in a sex act when he or she does not or cannot consent. It’s important to talk with our kids about all three, and to look for signs of any of it taking place.
Unhealthy relationships can start early and last a lifetime. Experts say that dating violence often starts with teasing and name calling - behaviors that are teens often think are a “normal” part of a relationship. But these behaviors can lead to more serious violence like physical assault and rape.
Dating violence can have a negative effect on health throughout life. Teens who are victims are more likely to be depressed and do poorly in school. They may engage in unhealthy behaviors, like using drugs and alcohol, and are more likely to have eating disorders. Some teens even think about or attempt suicide. And, teens who are victims in high school are at higher risk for victimization during college when they’re away from us, and on their own.
Studies show that people who harm their dating partners are more depressed and are more aggressive than peers. Other factors that increase risk for harming a dating partner include:
Dating violence is a serious problem in the United States according to the U.S. Dept. of Health which states that many teens do not report it because they are afraid to tell friends and family, and:
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April 2011 - Dueling Hormones: When Puberty and Menopause Collide
By Ellen Sarver Dolgen
These days, households with both teens and moms entering perimenopause and menopause (PM&M) can reach an atmosphere of playoff intensity and become a place of hate and not love. That’s not a beneficial situation for anyone! I’ve heard so many stories that absolutely break my heart. From children going to stay with friends because neither child nor parent knew how to resolve the issues, to separation and divorce.
Sound familiar? You’re not alone.
The good news is that amidst all this chaos, there is an opportunity to turn this time into one of growth and connection. We can all get through this together, if we really get down to the business of what’s really going on. Often the anger or frustration that we send outward is really just an overflow, or misdirection, of that same anger and frustration that we might have toward ourselves. Working on yourself, your own personal growth, knowing your body and being prepared will help ease the tension you have in your relationships – particularly with those closest to you.
It seems as soon as our children begin puberty they stop talking. They begin pushing adult figures away in an attempt to achieve independence. This process is hard enough on mom, but if she is experiencing perimenopause and menopause (PM&M), it’s a dangerous combination. Often this leads to a lack – or complete loss of – communication between mother and child. When the communication lines are down, everyone suffers.
How do you fix this? Keep talking! Dig it out! A simple hug instead of a look of disgust is a good place to begin. To do this, both the menopausal mother and the teen need to try to stop personalizing everything each other is saying and doing. It is nobody’s fault. Everyone is dealing with her own personal challenges. Keeping this fact in mind can be liberating. Your teen may roll their eyes and look at you like you’re an alien from outer space, but just ignore that. It’s kind of how they look at everything; it’s really not about you. Keep communicating no matter what the response is.
Be the first to give. If you share your challenges openly, you show that you’re willing to be vulnerable. This can be an incredible example to set for a child who’s going through a tough and confusing time. When you reach out and share your struggles, you’re setting an example through your actions that it’s OK to not be fine, it’s OK to be confused and frustrated and it’s OK to reach out to your loved ones for support.
Look, teens can be total monsters (weren’t you?), but remember, so can a menopausal woman! Of course, every situation is different, and it may take some tinkering to customize this loving approach to fit your family structure, but the more we educate our loved ones and ourselves, the happier and more understanding the whole household will be.
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FEB. 2011 - Surviving Your Teen's First Love (and Breakup)
By Meghan Vivo
Even though the thought of your teen entering the world of dating and relationships may strike terror in you (you've been around long enough to know that early relationships can set the tone for all future relationships), you have an important role to play in preparing your teen to make healthy choices.
Research published in the journal Child Development shows that teens' choice of romantic partner as early as middle school has long-term effects on their emotional and social health.
Despite the fact that teen dating is dramatically different today than it was in decades ago (with Facebook, teen sexting and widespread promiscuity), a study by Stephanie Madsen, associate professor of psychology at McDaniel College in Maryland, shows that teens value parental input and tend to have healthier relationships when they get advice from their parents.
Though you can't protect your children from a broken heart, you can help guide them through the maze of teen dating by following these suggestions:
Also talk to your teen about what to look for in a boyfriend or girlfriend. They'll likely have their own ideas, but it never hurts to explain why dating the popular kid, the jock or the best-looking person in class might be overrated. Instead, encourage your teen to consider how much they have in common with their love interest, how smart and caring the person is, whether they enjoy spending time with them and how they treat others.
When talking with your teen, be as understanding and nonjudgmental as possible. It may have been many years ago, but you can still remember how nerve-racking, exciting and terrifying one's first forays into the dating world can be. Most adolescents fall in love for the first time and are convinced that it will last forever. You don't need to be the voice of doom, as most early relationships end before the school year is up.
Don't get discouraged if your teen doesn't respond the way you'd hoped. Chances are they're listening to what you have to say and are just too embarrassed to admit it.
Many parents insist that their children wait until age 16 to go on their first date, and some allow only group dates for a period of time. Talk to your teen about your concerns and expectations and establish the ground rules together.
This is also an ideal time to talk about sex and share your family's values and morals. Today's teens already know far more than the basic "birds and the bees" lecture, so you'll need to provide detailed, relevant and accurate information about sexually transmitted diseases, birth control and other issues. If your teen is feeling pressured to have sex, talk about the reasons waiting may be best and ways to say no.
Romantic love is intense and is a new experience for teens. Even if the relationship was obviously doomed from the start or only lasted a couple of weeks, your teen's pain is real and deserves validation. Show that you care by actively listening to your teen's feelings without badmouthing their love interest.
Let your teen voice her hurt in her own way, even if it seems irrational or overly dramatic (e.g., refuses to eat, cries uncontrollably, blares sad music or spends the entire weekend under the covers in bed). Because of their developmental stage, it is normal for tweens and teens to experience intense feelings of both elation and sadness that may seem extreme to you. If you're afraid your child is crossing the line into teen depression, seek advice from a therapist or other professional.
If your teen shows interest, talk about your own past experiences to show her she is not alone and that she will find love again. Breakups can bring deeper issues and insecurities to the surface, especially if teens have experienced past trauma, their parents' divorce, a death in the family or other distressing events. Healing takes time and can't be rushed, so be supportive for as long as it takes.
For some teens, their first love is someone they lose quickly but remember forever. For others, their high school crush may be the person they end up spending their life with. Whichever holds true for your teen, their first romantic relationship presents a valuable opportunity for you to share your values with your child and get him or her started on the right path toward feeling the joy and meaning of lasting love.
– Source: Byparents-Forparents.com
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NOV. 2010 - Teen Dating Violence: What You Should Know
By Leslie Davis
And while there's a very good chance that will be the scenario, you should be aware of the potential for teen dating violence -- something one in three teens will experience in an intimate relationship.
Most parents don't want to think about this happening to their child. About 80 percent of parents believe teen dating violence is not an issue or don't know if it is an issue, according to a 2004 survey in Women's Health.
Unfortunately, the majority of parents are wrong. Here are some statistics you should know about teen dating violence, from Break the Cycle:
The moment you think your teens may begin dating, inform them of the dangers of dating violence and what to do should they find themselves in an abusive situation. Encourage them to be open with you about their relationships and reassure them that you will not be judgmental about anything they tell you.
If you believe that your teen is a victim of dating violence, try talking to her about it. Find an appropriate time to start the conversation and act supportive, encouraging and caring as you elicit information. Don't be critical about anything your teen tells you because that may cause her to end the conversation and continue in the unhealthy relationship.
Depending on the severity of the abuse, you may need to take your teen to a doctor for a checkup and contact your local law enforcement officials. They may be in the best position to follow up on the abuse and take action.
Teen dating violence is a very real and very serious problem. Take time to education yourself and your teens about the threats and risks associated with teen dating violence and come up with proactive measures to avoid it. Keeping a dialogue open with your teens will give them a better chance of having that fairytale romance.
– Source: Byparents-forparents.org
TV Movie Spotlights Teen Dating Violence
What happens when a teenaged girl experiences abuse at the hands of her boyfriend is the subject of “Reviving Ophelia,” a Lifetime TV original movie airing Nov. 20 at 7 p.m.
In “Reviving Ophelia,” sisters Marie (Jane Kaczmarek) and Le Ann (Kim Dickens) have always leaned on one another through life’s challenges, but discover they need each other more than ever as they navigate the complexities of understanding and raising their teen daughters. Marie’s 17-year-old Elizabeth (Rebecca Williams) has the picture-perfect life, with a seemingly equally wonderful boyfriend. Meanwhile, Le Ann is raising 16-year-old Kelli (Carleigh Beverly) as a single parent and finds it difficult to relate to the pressures her daughter is facing with boys, friends and school.
When Kelli starts to suspect Elizabeth may be abused by her boyfriend (Nick Thurston), no one will believe her. But when Elizabeth lands in the hospital, Kelli’s surprising insights help Marie give Elizabeth the courage to leave her violent relationship.
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JULY 2010 - Teens Take BIG Risks Online, New Study Says
“The Secret Online Lives of Teens” Reveals Dangerous Behaviors and Online Trends
The study, conducted by Harris Interactive for McAfee, asked 955 American teens (including 593 aged 13-15 and 362 aged 16-17) about their attitudes on Internet privacy. The results are troubling for any parents of teenagers.
Sixty-nine percent of teens freely divulged their physical location 28 percent chatted with strangers.
What's more, girls make themselves targets more often than boys: 32 percent of the girl respondents indicated they chat with strangers online vs. 24 percent of boy respondents, according to the survey.
Mary Kay Hoal, a concerned mom and global media expert who addressed her Internet safety issues by creating a social network exclusively for kids and teens – www.yoursphere.com – believes that this is more than just a wake-up call for parents and teens.
“This study is Pearl Harbor in the war against Internet predators,” she said. “While the headline always changes from cyber bullies to privacy issues, what remains constant, and will continue to, is the risky behavior teens can participate in. If you don’t want your kids participating in certain behaviors offline, why would you permit them online? If you tell them not to talk to strangers at the mall, why allow it on the Internet? Parents need to take notice now, and they need to teach their kids about the dangers of predators. It’s very real.”
Hoal has been studying this issue for more than four years, having created Yoursphere as a response to her own daughter establishing profiles behind her back on social networking sites. Her goal is to create a positive place for kids and teens that offers all the best the Internet has to offer, without the dangers of predators, bullies and others who seek to use the anonymity of the Internet to victimize children.
“As parents, we need to do three things right now,” she said. “We need to learn about the online dangers for kids and teach our kids about them, just as we’d talk to them about drugs, sex, learning to drive a car or ride a bike safely. Next, we need to show our kids how to protect their online and offline privacy, so the predators and bullies are less capable of taking advantage of them. Finally, we need to set up a set of rules for our kids for their online lives that match their rules for their offline lives. The most effective litmus test is this: If the activity or behavior in question is inappropriate offline, then it is inappropriate online, as well.
The combination of anonymity and technology that exists online can create a wide variety of hazards for teens, getting in the way of all the good things that exist for them on the Internet. We need to be able to use basic, common sense safety guidelines to help clear that path.”
Holt is a mother of five children (both biological and adopted, ranging in age from 6 – 19 years old), and faces the same challenges every parent does. After researching the disturbing landscape of social networking sites — including endless inappropriate content and thousands of predators targeting youth —she founded Yoursphere.com, a free and positive place for kids and teens online as well as YoursphereForParents.com, where parents can find tools and information to create a safety-first experience for their families.
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