Sunday, January 30, 2011

Mistakes Parents Make with Teens and Tweens

It is probably one of the hardest and most rewarding jobs there is.  Although there are many times you have to look hard for those rewards, as they can become hidden during those teen-hood and pre-teen times, you will eventually see them. 

WebMD put together five mistakes that parents make with teens and tweens.  As second semester is progressing, there are many parents struggling with their kids to understand the importance of finishing school and doing well in it.  As with many adolescents, they see their social life is more of their priority.

Teen Parenting Mistake # 1: Expect the Worst
Teenagers get a bad rap, says Richard Lerner, PhD, director of the Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development at Tufts University. Many parents approach raising teenagers as an ordeal, believing they can only watch helplessly as their lovable children transform into unpredictable monsters. Expecting the worst sets parents and teens up for several unhappy, unsatisfying years together.

Teen Parenting Mistake #2: Read Too Many Parenting Books
Rather than trusting their instincts, many parents turn to outside experts for advice on how to raise teens. “Parents can tie themselves into knots trying to follow the advice they read in books,” says Robert Evans, EdD, executive director of the Human Relations Service, Wellesley, Mass., and author of Family Matters: How Schools Can Cope with the Crisis in Child Rearing.

“Books become a problem when parents use them to replace their own innate skills,” Evans tells WebMD. “If the recommendations and their personal style don’t fit, parents wind up more anxious and less confident with their own children.
Use books (and articles like this) to get perspective on confusing behavior and then put them down. Spend the extra time talking with your spouse and children, getting clear about what matters most to you and your family.

Teen Parenting Mistake #3: Sweat the Small Stuff
Maybe you don’t like your daughter’s haircut or choice of clothes. Or perhaps she didn’t get the part in the play you know she deserves. Before you intervene, look at the big picture. If a certain mode of self-expression or set of events does not put your child at risk, give her the leeway to make age-appropriate decisions and live with the results.

Teen Parenting Mistake # 4: Ignore the Big Stuff
If you suspect your child is using alcohol or drugs, do not look the other way. Parents should address suspected drug or alcohol use right away, before it escalates into a bigger problem, says Amelia M. Arria, PhD, director of the Center on Young Adult Health and Development at the University of Maryland School of Public Health.

The years when kids are between 13 and 18 years old are an essential time for parents to stay involved,” Arria tells WebMD. Parents might consider teen drinking a rite of passage because they drank when they were that age. “But the stakes are higher now,” she says.

More drugs are available today, illegal drugs and legal medications. For example, cough remedies with DXM (dextromethorphan) have become a new drug of choice for some teens. DXM is easy to get and teens and parents alike underrate its potential dangers. Studies show that between 7% and 10% of U.S. teens have reported abusing cough medicine to get high. Although safe when used as directed, DXM can cause hallucinations and disassociations similar to PCP or ketamine (Special K) when used in excessive amounts, as well as rapid heartbeat, unconsciousness, stomach pain, and vomiting.

Watch for unexplained changes in your teen’s behavior, appearance, academic performance, and friends. If you find empty cough medicine packaging in your child’s trash or backpack, if bottles of medicine go missing from your cabinet, or if you find unfamiliar pills, pipes, rolling papers, or matches, your child could be abusing drugs. Take these signs seriously and get involved. Safeguard all the medicines you have: Know which products are in your home and how much medication is in each package or bottle.

Mistake #5: Rule With an Iron Fist, or Kid Gloves
Some parents, sensing a loss of control over their teens’ behavior, crack down every time their child steps out of line. Every day brings a new punishment. The home becomes a war zone. By contrast, other parents avoid all conflict for fear their teens will push them away. They put being a cool parent ahead of setting limits and enforcing rules. For these parents, discipline is a dirty word.

To read the complete report by Joanne Barker, visit

It is very easy for outsiders to judge and give advice about raising our teens.  Remember, each family is unique and each child is different.  Although some people believe in the tough love approach, it is diffcult to employ when your teens are still minors.

In Broward County there is a Florida’s Children Trust Line at 2-1-1 that can offer you resources and information to help you help your family.

Be an educated parent, you will have safer teens.

Continue reading on 5 Parenting mistakes with teens and tweens – Fort Lauderdale Parenting Teens |

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Springbreak Destinations

Part of allowing your teens to “grow up” and spread their wings can be scary, but eventually they will leave the nest.  Most teens love to hit the beaches of Florida or some coasts with water.  But what happens if they don’t want a beach break?

20 Spring Break Ideas for People who Hat the Beach

Let’s face it: spring break is pretty played out. We’ve long since passed the point where doing anything depicted on MTV’s Spring Break coverage looks like fun; there are only so many red Solo cups full of trashcan punch one can drink before wondering if there isn’t something better out there. The answer for college students is yes, yes there is. There are dozens (if not hundreds) of ways to spend your spring break that have nothing to do with beaches or any of the stereotypical destinations that attract most visitors. If you hate the heat and sand, are tired of the same old thing, or are just looking for a more personalized experience, consider one of these trips.
  1. Las Vegas: All the same basic levels of debauchery, just with better food and drink options. Las Vegas, like any good addiction, is always ready to take you back after you’ve been away for a while. It doesn’t matter if you drive all night to get there or take a quick flight; Vegas makes for a great way to blow off some academic steam for a few days. You don’t even have to be a high roller. Hit the cheap tables, kick it old school on Fremont Street, and enjoy yourself.
  2. New York City: New York is not without its flaws, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a great place to get away for a few days. Obviously, NYC is not an ideal spring break destination for anyone looking to escape crowds. But if you’re tired of the beach scene and looking to ornament your March holidays with good food and smart culture, you could do a lot worse than New York. Pro tip: eat at The Meatball Shop.
  3. Road trips: What’s more collegiate than a road trip? Everyone from Otter Stratton to Homer Simpson has taken one. The beauty is that you don’t need to do much planning. Aside from making sure you’ve got enough cash and supplies, and that your car can survive a week on the road, this is one of the least structured and most spontaneous spring break plans you can make. And thanks to the proliferations of smart phones, it’s even easier to navigate yourself out of potentially confusing bits of wilderness. The journey is the destination here.
  4. The Grand Canyon: No one can ever be prepared for how staggeringly huge the Grand Canyon is. It’s almost 300 miles long, stretches up to 18 miles wide, and goes as deep as a mile down into the Earth. A legit contender for Eighth Wonder of the World, the Grand Canyon is one of those things most Americans think of fondly but never take the time to see in person. Don’t make that mistake. Whether you road trip out to the desert or stay in a nearby town (and there are plenty to choose from in multiple states, thanks to the sheer size of the canyon), it’s worth taking a week to get out there.
  5. Big Bend: Big Bend National Park is located in that weird crook out in west Texas that dips south and then north again along the border of Mexico. The park covers more than 800,000 acres and boasts geographical and temperate extremes that make for interesting visits. It’s one of the largest parks in the U.S. but also one of the least visited, meaning a spring camping trip here is like getting your own private planet.
  6. Disney parks: Yes, Disney parks are located near beaches (Anaheim, Orlando), but they’re so huge that you’ll never see the sand. These aren’t mere theme parks, either, but full-on vacation experiences. Pony up a few bucks to stay at an on-campus hotel (or one of the resorts), and you’ll start to forget there’s a world outside. Just don’t eat too many treats before going on the Teacups.
  7. Washington, D.C.: Our nation’s capital makes for a great destination for students, mixing compelling history with even more compelling free tourist spots. Tons of museums, restaurants, and chances to get a feel for how the country got its start.
  8. Wisconsin Dells: Wisconsin Dells only boasts a metro population of 5,000 people, but it bills itself as the water park capital of the world thanks to the indoor and outdoor parks that cover close to 70 acres. The outdoor ones are probably closed during spring break — even if they aren’t, it’s probably too cold in Wisconsin in March to use them — but that won’t stop you from using the indoor parks. A great spring break destination for anyone who just wants to take a week off and be a kid again. Seriously.
  9. Dude ranches: Granted, the phrase “dude ranch” tends to call to mind superficial, cheap tourist traps or the kinds of gimmicks seen in films like City Slickers. But getting away for a week on an actual ranch can be a great way to see the country and rack up experiences far more interesting and affecting than just going to a beach town and partying. Yes, you’ll probably wind up doing some actual work on your holiday, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth it to do something outside your normal routine.
  10. Theme park resorts: It’s not just Disney’s world any more. Staying at a theme park resort is tricky but not impossible on a student budget, especially if you go in with several friends to split the costs. Better service and much cleaner than your standard spring break beach vacation, which should be more than enough to sell you on the prospect.
  11. Ski trips: Mid-March isn’t too late to get some skiiing done. In fact, you can often get milder temperatures and a nice snow pack. It’s late enough in the season that you can avoid most other tourists. Plus how often does anyone think of going skiiing for spring break? The fact that it’s outside the box means you’re likely to have a lot more fun and make more lasting memories than the students who slog down to the beach like everyone else.
  12. London: If you haven’t been using Student Universe, you’re missing out. The site verifies you’re a student and offers accordingly lower air fare, which makes spring break getaways to places like London feasible for those with typically skimpy student bank accounts. Crash in a hostel, see some historic landmarks, and travel to a place you might never see again.
  13. Italian countryside: If you’re looking at Europe, consider Italy. Tons of small towns and villas to visit and stay in, affordable (and amazing) food, and gorgeous weather. Just don’t forget to go back to school when the week is over.
  14. See the Mall of America: Because what’s more American than paying homage to mass consumerism? Although it’s the second largest mall in the country in terms of actual floor space, it’s the biggest in terms of stores, boasting more than 520 retail outlets ready to take you off your coin. The movie theater has motion seats. There’s a flight simulator and a roller coaster. It demands to be seen and reckoned with.
  15. San Diego Zoo: If you’re into wildlife, the San Diego Zoo is a must. With more than 4,000 animals across 800 species on 107 acres, the sprawling facility is one of the biggest and best in the world. Popular exhibits include the panda research station and monkey trails.
  16. The Thing: Located in the middle of the Arizona desert of I-10, there’s a rest stop and convenience store with an attraction titled simply The Thing. The Thing isn’t necessarily life-changing — it’s surrounded by rooms of similar junk — but half the fun of seeing it is getting there. Makes for a great road trip idea. Speaking of trips…
  17. See weird American landmarks: … there’s often nothing better than hitting the open road to explore just how weird the country can be. If you’re looking for road trip ideas, or if you just want to see unusual sites near where you live, sites like Roadside America can help you come with up good ideas. Trips like these are always way more interesting than beach vacations.
  18. Graceland: There’s carpet on the ceiling. On the ceiling! Graceland is still preserved to look the way it did when Elvis died in August 1977, which means it’s shag-tastic and gloriously tacky. There are different levels of tours you can take, so you don’t have to blow all your cash on the King, but this cornball American palace is not to be missed.
  19. The Appalachian Trail: The Appalachian Trail is more than 2,100 miles long; needless to say, this is not something you can just breeze through during spring break. But it covers so much ground and is easily accessed from so many states that it’s perfect for weekend- or week-long excursions. The official site can help you plan your trip.
  20. Volunteer: If you want to do something really different with your spring break, you can volunteer your time and give back to your community. There are dozens of charity groups that organize spring break campaigns for college students (Habitat for Humanity is just one), and your counselor can direct you to more. It’s a great way to share your time with those less fortunate.
Special contributor: Florine Church of College Crunch

Saturday, January 22, 2011

2011 Be Money-Wise National Financial Poster Contest

As a parent, you know your children will learn the importance of making smart money choices through experience. But did you know financial experts agree that starting early in life is one of the keys to later financial success? I’m contacting you today on behalf of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) to alert you and your readers about a fun chance for children of all ages to get a head start towards a smart financial future!

In an effort to increase interest in financial literacy to our nation’s youth, the NFCC is once again sponsoring the 2011 Be Money-Wise National Financial Literacy Poster Contest and has chosen “Be a $uperhero! $ave Money!” as this year’s theme. The contest is a great way to get young students thinking about how to manage money effectively, and offers them a creative outlet to demonstrate their knowledge. The contest also provides the opportunity for local and national recognition for student artwork, and rewards the winners with US savings bonds as well as other prizes!

Do you have a child or children in mind that you feel has the talent and creativity to win? All school-aged children in grades 3-12 are eligible to enter with local and national winners to be chosen from each of three grade categories. Students from public, private, and home-schools are welcome. Entries will be judged by expression of the theme (above), artistic style, creativity, and must be submitted through an NFCC Member Agency for judging. *The submission deadline for poster entries is in February 2011, varying by each specific member agency. 

National finalists will be judged in Washington, DC in mid-March and placed in contention for three national awards, one per each of the three grade categories. An overall national winner will then be chosen from the three category winners. The winner will be presented with the national award plaque as well as a $500 savings bond during Financial Literacy Month in Washington, DC at the JumpStart Coalition’s Annual Awards Dinner in April!

Parents are encouraged to visit to find rules, entry forms, and submission details. I look forward to working together to get the word out about 2011’s contest.

Encourage a child to get involved today!

Join them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter!

Check out the 2010 winners!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Fake Cocaine and Bath Salts

Be an educated parent.
Bath salts are being misused as 'fake cocaine' and Florida teens are going to the hospital after using these bath salts.

According to the Florida Sun-Sentinel, "We're seeing teenagers experiment with this," said Dr. Nabil El Sanadi, chief of emergency medicine for Broward Health. "They will do stuff that they wouldn't normally do, like dive from a third-story window into a pool. It's very, very dangerous."

Users usually snort the powder and experience effects similar to cocaine and crystal meth, Dr. El Sanadi said. But the euphoria often leads to paranoia, chest pains and irregular heart beats.

"They come in confused, disoriented, with high blood pressure," said El Sanadi, who first noticed the trend in spring 2010. "I guarantee you most parents don't even suspect their kids might be doing it."
As we read about this latest trend with teens and drug use, it reminds us of the last year's craze of K2 Spice.  This is a very serious concern as there has been at least two suicides in Louisiana, 21 calls to Florida poison control centers and dozens of hospital visits in Central and South Florida in the past year that have links to the use of bath salts as a drug.

A DEA ban is in the works for synthetic marijuana chemicals found in incense blends, which made headlines in 2010 as thousands of smokers of brands such as K2 and Spice were hospitalized across the country. Federal officials announced plans in November to outlaw the drug, and local authorities say retailers may be looking at fake cocaine as a new way to make money.

Raising teens today is challenging and when we have these types of worries and concerns it makes it twice as hard.  These are times that communication is your key to prevention.  Remaining in a state of denial can only further the danger your teen could be in.  Even if you believe they would never use this or participate in this sort of behavior - continue to talk to your kids about the dangers of substance abuse.

Of course, "not my kid" is a common answer - but just imagine it is your kid.  Never take anything for granted.  If it's not your kid it may be a friend or relative.

Be an educated parent, you will have safer and healthier teens.

Sources: Broward County Sun-Sentinel

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Parenting: Ten Reasons Parents Need to Worry About the Internet

Be an educated parent.
According to the results of one survey I read, 46.9% of internet users are under the age of 25.  Taking those results, this article should be an interesting one.  While part of that percentage is probably in their twenties, that leaves a big number below the age of 18.

It is wonderful how new technology has brought us closer to all points of the world.  Technology, especially the Internet has made our once big world small; Insomuch that at any given time we can talk to China or Australia and never leave our home in rural America.  While for the business world that may be a good thing, it goes without saying that for our children, it is a little much for them to be experiencing so much of the world so soon.

I enjoy watching the TV show “To catch a predator”.  Maybe enjoy isn’t the correct word, but it is interesting to say the least.  Maybe the part I like best about is to see the would be pedophile caught, and watch him squirm.  Also knowing it is a foiled attempt to actually meet a young innocent teenager. I like watching as they are hauled off to jail to stay awhile and think about what they are doing or were about to do.  How many are actually rehabilitated is a million dollar question.

The outcry from parents has been so loud against pop-up pornography sites that the Microsoft people have played a big part in stopping most pop-ups.  As careful as I am about certain sites my PC got viruses and I had to have it commercially cleaned.  I was appalled at what they found – so thankfully it was removed with no harm done except the fee I had to pay for getting it cleaned up.

Without thinking young people fill in applications for this or that, leaving themselves open to the world with all their information; from age to sex to likes and dis-likes.  Nothing is hidden on the WWW.  Parents beware of what your children are telling about themselves.  Spammers are good at what they do.  And once Spammed is too late to keep it from happening.
A recent article about parents in China, showed that 42.6 percent of the parents surveyed “strongly oppose their children’s use of Internet” or “relatively oppose”, while as high as 78.4 percent say they worry that surfing Internet could adversely affect children’s study. Another 44.9 percent worry about their children’s exposure to pornography online.

I remember when CHAT was the thing back in the 90’s.  It was weird to get on a chat with people one did not know just to talk (chat) awhile.  It opened up an exciting venture for teens to introduce themselves and chat with people around the world.  Now the truth is – were they from down the street?  Across town?  Was their name really Jack or Mary?  There are a lot of messed up people in the world and children are not mature enough to know the difference in real versus crazy people.

Now there is the ChatRoulette which is supposed to be for viewers above18 years or older, however there is not a place to enter the birth date of the viewer.  By the name Roulette, it gives us a good picture of the content.  It is easily accessible using Skype and what the viewer sees on the screen is anyone’s guess and from what I read it can get pretty graphic even porn-a-graphic.

One thinks of the internet as a place to do research and study.  Invariably it has taken place of my set of World Book Encyclopedia’s.  However not everything on the Internet is true. Just because it is in print and somehow got on the internet, does not make it Gospel.  Everyone has an opinion.  Opinions are not History.  History is an actual accepted record of what happened at a certain point in time.

Kim Komando of CyberSpeak,  brought up an interesting subject with the following:  “We all know that music can alter your mood. Sad songs can make you cry. Upbeat songs may give you an energy boost. But can music create the same effects as illegal drugs?"

This seems like a ridiculous question. But websites are targeting your children with so-called digital drugs. These are audio files designed to induce drug-like effects.  All your child needs is a music player and headphones.”

Do you find this as scary as I do?   I wish I were knowledgeable enough to even discuss it, however it would bear great urgency for Parents to check it out.  I found the information on the USA Today site.  Very informative.

Then there is U Tube, the place where a megabyte of fame is worth everything.  Kids have excess to cameras every day; on their phone or mini video cameras.  In a moment when a young lady has let her guard down can change her life forever.  Or for that matter a young man, being teased can be shown on the WWW and he is embarrassed for life.  What may have started out as a joke, may wind up as being harassment.
We cannot keep our children locked up for short seven years of their teens.  The Internet is technology that is here to stay.  And from the youngest of ages, our children are being exposed to the World Wide Webb.

Warren Buckleitner, editor of Children’s Technology Review says, “Kids are surrounded by screens in a way like never before, at home, in their pockets, in the minivan, and they know how to use them at younger and younger ages and Parents must be a part of it.”   He goes on to say:  “”If you’re going to allow your kid to go to a website or play a game, you have to first check it out yourself.  Think about it, you don’t let your child eat a meal you’ve never tasted before.”

Special guest contributor: Kate Crosten of Internet Services

Monday, January 10, 2011

Life After Birth: A Memoir of Survival and Success as a Teenage Mother

Order today.
Life After Birth
By Summer Owens

Going to school, hanging out with her friends, and being a normal teenager was all Summer knew until her fifteenth birthday changed her life forever. Nine months later, she was a mother and didn't even know the father of her baby. Overcoming embarrassment and depression, she made the decision to go on with her life and pursue the dreams she had before taking on the responsibilities of motherhood. In Life After Birth, Owens depicts the real-life struggles she faced as a teenage mother in hopes that her transparency will encourage and inspire other teenage and single mothers. By sharing how she managed to give her son the best childhood possible while at the same time finishing high school, combating emotional issues, graduating from college with honors, building a career and buying a house all as a young, single mother, she demonstrates that life doesnt have to end when a child is born to a teenager.

About the Author


A mother at age fifteen, Summer Owens knows firsthand the challenges teen mothers face. Owens holds a BBA from the University of Memphis and an MBA from Belhaven College. Owens is a Senior Marketing Specialist at FedEx and resides in Memphis, Tennessee with her son, Jaylan. A mentor with the Adolescent Parenting Program, Owens enjoys traveling, interior decorating, reading, and spending time with her son.

Order on Amazon. 

Visit for more information about discouraging teen pregnancy.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Teens Oversharing - How will it effect their future?

Talk to your teens, what they send today....
Is your teenager sharing too much of their information online?

In a recent survey on, 94 percent of readers polled said that teenagers should be more concerned about privacy on the Internet.

Social networking sites, such as Facebook, has become a go-to site for college recruiters as well as employers.  Does your teen know the consequences of posting their party pictures, or language they should only be using privately (if using at all)?

Do you recall a recent Examiner article, Employers now asking for your Facebook link when applying for a job?

Although it can be nearly impossible to control or monitor everything our teens do, it is imperative you stress the importance of the lasting effects that an innocent photo or a questionable action that is posted on your Facebook page can result in - years from now.

Many kids are not able to grasp that two to five years from now is really not a long time.  Like many kids, it seems like forever - so why not post these cool things they are doing.  The problem is, what they consider cool, some may consider crude.

What may seem humorous to you and your friends, could be offensive to others.  Privacy is a gift, and how much you want to give is up to you.  However give with caution!

Order today!
Don't learn the lesson the hard way, "Google Bomb! The Untold Story of the $11.3M Verdict That Changed the Way We Use the Internet," a story everyone needs to read. 

Ironically when our children were young, most taught and encouraged our children to share.  Now we have to redefine sharing and give it boundaries.

Be an educated parent, you will have safer teens.

Watch the video.
Read more.