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Posted December 26, 2018 Comments are off |Uncategorized

The Power of Dinner

 A 13 year old girl drowned. My 23 year old son John and his girlfriend Sarah, came over for dinner tonight to talk about it. We ate sitting on the floor at a short table that keeps everyone close and connected. The food was simple, the conversation was not. John and Sarah had been camping together over the weekend. The 13 year old girl, a stranger to them,  had stepped too far out into the river and got caught in a swift current which soon roared under a boulder. Sarah’s cousin grabbed her and pulled her away from a certain death. But minutes later, she was back in the dangerous area. John saw her and shouted for friends to grab her again. This time, they couldn’t hold on to her. She  was swept down the river and pinned under the boulder. Her parents screamed from the shoreline. It took a trained team hours to finally retrieve her body, the currents and rocks perilous for the workers John explained.

I sat and listened to them share the tragic tale.  I asked questions. I passed the food. We ate slowly. I listened some more. We talked about life, fate, God,  and choices. It didn’t matter that I am not Rachel Ray or Martha Stewart. What mattered was that we were sharing life’s basic elements, food, water, and our hearts. We eventually shoved the dishes aside and put my laptop on the table so they could show me pictures of the deadly river.  The table held more than our food, it held us together, cradling us as we helped each other bear the burden of the story.

The power of the dinner table has long been overlooked in our culture. Mom’s and dad’s are exhausted after a long day at work.  But the dinner table can be a soothing balm to the weary, a chance for each other to rest in the care of  those they love. Each can nurture the other. Our children need for us to hear them at the end of the day, and we need them to hear us too.  Dinner can be simple. But the conversation should be as complex as it needs to be.

If you have stopped having dinners together, do what you can to set aside a few nights a week to join each other at the table. Sit with open minds, open hearts, and relish the day you just lived. Share your truth and listen to the truth of others. No judgements, no unasked for advice given. Simply hold each other’s truth with respect. Put away the cell phones, and don’t look at the clock. Let the experience unfold as it needs to.

When John and Sarah were done with their story, I put the dishes in the sink. We sat on the couch, still not ready to leave the company of each other. When they did leave, I looked at the dishes in the sink. There will be time tomorrow to do them.  I wanted to simply sit and give thanks that my four children are still alive, and able to share simple meals and their truths with me.

My heart goes out to the family who lost their precious daughter.

I wish your family the peace and comfort dinner together can bring.

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Posted December 26, 2018 Comments are off |Uncategorized

Sexuality the New Swap Meet

Raising a teen daughter has never been easy. Now, with part-time lesbianism on the rise, parenting has gotten even harder. With lyrics from Katy Perry proclaiming to have kissed a girl and liked it, the taste of her cherry Chapstick… and a host of girl celebs now joining the ranks of girl on girl relationships, it  makes teen girls curious as to what they are missing out on. Swapping sexuality is becoming as common as swap meets for ski equipment, and seemingly just as acceptable in some circles.

London heads up one of the more lively spots to be a dyke for a day with no angst. Jasmine Gardner did a great job reporting the new trend of “Baby Dykes.” Read more here.   It seems it’s more acceptable for girls to now be “LUGS,” translation: lesbians until graduation, when they want to begin thinking of settling down with a guy in the traditional manner. 

It used to be the cool accessory was the latest designer hand bag. Now it’s holding hands with your girlfriend and meaning it, at least for a little while.

What can moms do if their daughter decides to play for the other team ? Same answer I give for most things teen girls do, don’t freak out!

1. The teen years are a time when exploration takes place. Our culture now encourages more sexual exploration whether it be with the opposite or the same gender. Moms need to begin talking to their daughters about sexuality long before girls begin exploring. Your daughter is going to hear the music, watch the movies or music videos that promote girl on girl exploration, so get a jump on the cultural messages with messages you want to promote. Otherwise, your daughter will be learning about sex from her Ipod, Internet or TV. None very accurate teachers.

2. Don’t shut the door on your daughter or her relationships. Alienating your daughter at a time she needs you the most is harmful to her psychologically, emotionally and spiritually. She needs you to be there for her. You don’t have to agree with her choices in life, but you do have to be available for her.

3. Some of the same sex exploration will be just be playing in the new cultural sandbox and some will be serious. Some of our daughters are lesbians, and they may know it already. Be supportive. Homosexuality isn’t a disease. It’s not a choice. It’s the way some people are hardwired. Would you turn your back on your daughter if she was diagnosed with MS? Don’t turn your back on her if she comes out that she’s a lesbian.

4. Keep the conversation alive about the cultural messages your daughter hears. Create a MySpace profile and surf around profiles. Listen to the songs on the profiles pages. Create an Itunes account and listen to the newest releases. Know what your daughter is listening to so you can talk to her about the lyrics. Tricky part is to talk about them in a way that fosters an open exchange, not a lecture from you. Careful there!

5. Be ready to hear your daughter’s confusion over some of the new cultural trends. If she has hooked up with a girl, and is now feeling out of sorts about it, be there to listen. Emotional trauma can happen from any type of sexual encounter. Be someone your daughter can confide in and get help healing her wounds. 

 As girls hook up with girls, and clothing styles creep towards more edgy masculine lines, it’s harder for our teen girls to deal with their budding sexuality. Traditional has gone out the window. With fewer guidelines, life gets more complicated.  The sexual swap meet may be more accepted, but the confusion over love, romance and the meaning of it all, will surely have some girls reeling. Hunch is we’ll see more Facebook  relationship status listed as “It’s Complicated,” because it is!

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Posted December 26, 2018 Comments are off |Uncategorized

Bexting the New Teen Trend

A high school in New Jersey reveals a new passtime for its students: “bexting:” placing bets with their bookies via a text message. Is online betting the new rage in schools across the nation? No word out yet that indicates it is, however, the New Jersey students were placing bets with kids in Florida.

Why the need to discuss this issue? First it is illegal, although authorities say that enforcement isn’t their top priority.

Second, the concern is that this type of betting, starting at a young age, will lead to a serious gambling addiction later in life. 

A state hot-line reported that last year it received over 400 calls from students under the age of 21. Their total amount of bets owed pushed $40,000.

What can a you do as a parent?

1. Calmly open the discussion with your teen about gambling. You may want to ask if they ever gamble, or do they know teens who do?  Find out what is true for you teen.

2. Keep the conversation open about respectful use of cell phones and other technology. The whole world is now available to your teen, make sure the two of you are talking about what they are encountering.

3. Use “COAL” as a guideline for having a conversation: Curiousness, Openness, Acceptance and Love. Use COAL to  create a relationship of trust so your teen can tell you the truth about their life.

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Posted December 26, 2018 Comments are off |Uncategorized

Advice From a Parent

Here’s advice from a parent  who wanted to share. Do you feel the same? Comment box at the bottom of the page. Chime in!

Discourage dating until late high school.  Make it clear that boys and girls are better off being friends until they are ready to have a mature friendship that can potentially become romantic.  Emphasize the immaturity of boys (who are almost always younger in maturity anyway) and that they make better friends at this age than boyfriends. 

Encourage your daughter to read books about serious issues like teenage bullying, saving sex until marriage, spiritual books of your faith and buy them for her.  Take her to the bookstore and point out some books that might be enlightening and get her to think about things that matter.  Girls love reading about real life issues and learn great lessons from the stories in the books.

Take your daughter out regularly for lunch; do your nails together; go shopping; go to the movies and any other fun mother/daughter activity you can think of.  Scrap-booking or making jewelry are other fun activities moms and daughters can do together.  Time together offers opportunity for sharing and communication. 

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Posted December 26, 2018 Comments are off |Uncategorized

Teens Get it Wrong 50 of the Time

Adults correctly name facial expressions in a photograph almost 100% of the time. Studies show that teens get them wrong up to 50% of the time. Why the discrepancy and what does it mean for our teen daughters?  And what can you do as a parent? A lot, actually.

Teens use the  limbic region of the brain to make decisions. That’s due to the fact that the “CEO” of the brain, the prefrontal cortex, the part responsible for logical reasoning, future planning, organizing and higher thinking is not fully matured until the late 20′s. The limbic system on the other hand,  is responsible  for what scientists call the four Fs. It’s responsible for fighting, fleeing, feeding and sexual reproduction. You can fill in that F. (Honestly, that’s how the science journals write it up!) The limbic region is all about survival and survival of the species.  The limbic system is not a great reader of facial expressions in others.

Another reason teens don’t do as well as adults may be tied to their use of technology. Some researchers feel that looking at a computer screen for long periods of time is actually eroding the ability to read facial expressions. That is not good news. Reading facial expressions in others is how we feel empathy and connect on meaningful levels with others. The way our brains scan for information on a computer screen is called  Continuous Partial Attention, CPA for short. CPA may be responsible for our weakening ability to read other’s faces. The technology designed to connect us, may be disconnecting us as human beings.

What does all this mean for our daughters? More drama in their lives. Imagine if your daughter looks at someone and she thinks they are angry when really they are sad or frustrated. She will most likely have an inappropriate reaction to the information before her. That causes a lot of drama in our daughters’ social lives. (The limbic system as steering wheel causes other problems…. I’ll post them in the future.)  According to some researchers, CPA is also responsible for our teens dwindling attention span. That too causes problems in many areas.

As a parent, you can help your daughter by explaining the way her teen brain works. Simply understanding that you don’t have all the tools needed to navigate the world properly helps you feel less stressed when you take a wrong turn so to speak. Parents can also help by listening compassionately when their daughter has drama in her social life. It’s best to listen as a neutral observer instead of giving unasked for advice, telling your daughter she shouldn’t feel the way she does, or in any other way make her wrong, or put her down. Ask her what she needs from you and do your best to provide the emotional support she needs.

Parents can also limit technology use. (I know, you are all rolling your eyes!) Put cell phones and computers away for the night. Invite more friends over to have face to face interactions and take the cell phones and computers away. Find ways for your daughter to play, laugh, have fun, and connect with her friends. The teen trend of multi-tasking, that is texting others when they are with friends, does not help them connect with others on a meaningful level.

As technology makes a tighter clutch on all of our lives, parents need to find ways to bring the humanness back into their daughter’s life. If you don’t know how to help engage your daughter in people oriented fun, email me for some free tips. 
Play, by the way, helps your daughter’s brain grow up in a healthy way! 

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