Teens at dinner

Engaging with teens at dinner — even if they feel like they’d rather die than make eye contact with you or anything other than their phone screen — can provide valuable benefits in the sort term and the long run. Being involved in their lives can help protect teens from engaging in risky behaviors beyond typical teenage curiosity. The more you know, the better your relationships can be, which can reduce overall stress.

Family dinners should not be dreaded like an Algebra II exam. Let a teen pick the menu for a night or take over the kitchen to make what they want for the rest of the family.  If cooking isn’t their thing, still let them select the menu, whether it means a parent cooking, pizza or a Door Dash delivery. Sharing in simple, yet meaningful choices lets teens know you heard them and followed through.

Plan a weekly dinner when social lives are worked around the dinner, instead of the opposite. Sundays are a great day to recharge.  If daily activities prohibit that, pick a time and meal when everyone can be together and not flying out the door in five minutes or arriving at different times, necessitating multiple servings of the same meal in an evening.

Teen friendships can fluctuate like the weather, so asking specific questions about friends can be a touchy subject. It is easier to get conversations rolling when the answers to your questions involve more than one word: “Yes.” “No.” “Fine.” Teenagers have opinions along with their moods and are willing to share them if they are receptive to the questions.

Consider asking what the best part of their day was. Asking the same question every day may result in canned responses just to get out of talking. Yet remembering what they said previously enables you to build on a conversation next time by following up on a topic you knew already resonated with them.

Plenty of topics span generations and won’t make teens groan as though their parents are clueless. Marvel and DC characters have been around for decades.  Ask about their favorite characters is and what their own superpower would be if they could choose. Tell them about the first Top Gun movie when Iceman and Maverick became rivals and how viewers rented VHS tapes from video stores to watch the film once its theater run ended.

Occasionally, you see a family enter a restaurant and pile up their phones on the table, purposely ignoring them during their meal. Phone-free meals can occur at home, too. FOMO – fear of missing out – is a chronic condition for some, not a terminal illness.

Teenagers want their worth to be validated. Validation contributes to good mental health.   Asking questions for which there are not right or wrong answers – just preferences to be respected – will encourage teens to keep speaking their truth. What are your goals? What movie do you want to see next?  What was your favorite vacation? Where would you travel if you could? What recording artist do you want to see in concert? What happened today that made you laugh? Who is the Greatest of All Time (G.O.A.T.) drummer or hockey player?  These can generate friendly family debates full of passion. You could even create your own trivia game, featuring family facts and folklore. Which grandparent was a great soccer player or cheerleader?

You can always bond over the food you’re enjoying. What spice do you think is providing that flavor? Do you like this fish better fried or grilled?

Sharing promotes caring. The better rapport you have with teens, the more you’ll notice when something seems off beyond typical hormonal moodiness. Just as with safety precautions, when you see something, say something. Your teens may not be thrilled with having more restrictions than their more freewheeling friends, but a structured framework they find restrictive now contributes to the development of socially appropriate, well-adjusted adults later.

Family dinners can play a big part.

Feel like you are constantly buying clothes?

Here are some tips to help.

The average American spends about $1,800 on clothing a year
How to deal with constantly buying clothes? You are not alone. Buying new clothes can get pricey.
Giving and receiving hand-me-down clothes can be a win-win for all. The recipients save a ton of money that their child will quickly outgrow while the donors free up space in their kids’ closets. Typically pieces that sometimes don’t get worn out are sports, seasonal or specialty items. The best thing everyone feels good about giving stuff away and getting a great deal. 

What about when you do not have the support system for sharing clothes or your friend’s kids are all too old to share?

Buy Out of Season: It can be hard to buy kids’ clothes in advance. What if they grow a lot in the summer and don’t fit in the clearance winter jacket you want to buy now? When in doubt, go a size larger than you think you need. 

Shop garage sales: I have gotten great deals for gently worn clothes and shoes.

Thrift stores and second-hand consignment shops: This is a great resource to find some designer clothes for all seasons at a fraction of the price. On some days of the week, they have an additional percentage off the already low price.

Poshmark.com or Threadup.com: It has shoes from ten dollars and up. It works much like Ebay buys it now feature. It does charge for shipping and handling.

Retail store clearance: I have bought the end of a season or off-season clearance in larger sizes to maximize my dollar. JC Penny’s, Kohl’s and Target run regular online deals.

Buying for the fall season is sooner than you think and being prepared for it make end up being a huge savings in the long run,


Seven tips to reduce driving anxiety for families with teens

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Within weeks of each other, two of my children, ages 19 and 16, received their driver’s licenses. The past year has been full of stress whenever I have gotten in the car with them. There were several arguments regarding who was going to drive. One child needed experience, while the other needed experience and needed to fulfill state-mandated driving hours. My oldest child decided to wait until she was 19 to obtain her license. Some of her reasons included not wanting to have to take the time to go do them, the cost of the driving classes and frankly, she enjoyed having her dad and me take her to the places she needed to go. It was stress free for her. She didn’t have the fear of someone hitting her. She didn’t have to worry about being stranded in the car if something had happened to it. My daughter then went off to college. She decided it was time to get her driver’s license so she didn’t have to rely on others to take her places.

On the reverse side, my 16 year old couldn’t wait to get her license. She wanted that freedom early on. She wanted to drive herself to school, activities, work and to friend’s houses. She was determined to get through driver’s education classes quickly and get her license as soon as she could after she turned 16.

Having two drivers caused double the stress. I am not one to give up control of a motor vehicle easily. I want to be able to make the decisions on when to turn, how fast to go and when to press the brake pedal.

Here are a few suggestions to help deal with the stress of having a new and inexperienced motorist in your house.

  • Make sure your child takes driver’s education. I have had both a child who took it and one that didn’t. I believe the value of the classes and driving experience with someone other than a parent is paramount to increase their driving abilities.
  • Start slow. Let them drive in parking lots first. After that, take them on back roads. Main roads will come next, then freeways. Refer back to driver’s education. One plus, at least where I live, is that they must drive freeway and drive downtown. Having someone other than the parent is good for the child’s initial experience of driving in fast-paced traffic and congested areas.
  • Take a deep breath and relax. They have to learn sometime. By giving your child as many opportunities to drive, you are enhancing their driving experience.
  • It is ok to hold on tight to the door handle. It is a natural reaction. Over time, the tightness of your grip will ease up, I promise.
  • When you press the imaginary brake on the passenger side, and your child notices, that is ok, too. Just let them know you were trying to help them out. That too will stop in time.
  • When you arrive safely at your destination, sit for a few minutes, take a deep breath and decompress.
  • Lastly, make sure you tell your child what needs improvement. Also tell them what was awesome. They will appreciate both the negative and positive feedback.

Letting go is often difficult. You won’t be able to hold on to your child forever. Let them grow up. Smile at them knowing you have raised them to be responsible young adults. Driving is just another milestone in your teen’s life. Just wait until graduation and moving off to college!

Source: freedigitalphotos.net

How to Handle Jealousy Between Siblings

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Source:freedigitalphotos.net

We’ve all seen it and many of us have had to deal it with it – sibling rivalry, aka jealousy. In my house, the jealousy often comes from one of my daughters borrowing clothes of my other daughter, especially without asking. When one walks into the room wearing something of the other, the yelling and bickering begins. There has never been a knockdown drag-out fight, and for that I am grateful. However, I have had to intervene on occasion.

The following are some suggestions on how to handle these intense moments.

 

  1. Before I intervene, I try to see if the children are able to work it out themselves. I have taught them from an early age that they need to speak up about what is making them angry and how they are feeling. I also have encouraged them to try to solve their problems before I get involved. As adults, we are expected to do that, especially in the work place. It is called the chain of command. The people are to try to work out the problems before seeking the help of the next person in charge.
  2. If having the kids work out their problem with each other doesn’t help, I will make several suggestions. One suggestion I have given is to just put back the item that was borrowed and find something else. This often ends the problem quickly but the kids are still mad at each other.
  3. Something else I do is to have the kids negotiate. This comes down to stating specific items that can be borrowed. An example would be, if daughter one wants to borrow something of daughter two. Daughter two may ask to borrow something in return. If I let you borrow my red sweater, I’d like to borrow your blue one on Friday.
  4. My two daughters have come up with one negotiation that I really like. Sometimes they will offer to do whole loads of their sister’s laundry to be able to wear something of the others.
  5. At the end of all the fighting and negotiations, I make sure I remind the girls that they are lucky to have a sister, and if used wisely, they could in essence have a much larger wardrobe if they could share effectively.

 

When you have to listen to your children fight over belongings, it doesn’t make the day pleasant. By trying one of these strategies, it just might make the day better.

Remember, though, one day they just my start borrowing your belongings.