Debbie Gross, LCSW, Ltd. - Individual, Marital & Family Therapy

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Memories of Youthful Fun
As Thanksgiving Approaches
Top Five Parenting Questions
The Latest on Technology...


Entertaining Kids
Internet and Cell Phone Safety
Positive Behavior
Setting limits
Social Learning
Substance Use
Taking Care of Ourselves
Underage Drinking
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One Therapist's Reflections

Setting limits

Top Five Parenting Questions

From July 25, 2012

After spending roughly 25 years (now more like 30!) providing counseling services to children and families, I thought it would be interesting to reflect on the most common questions parents have asked during the course of counseling. 

1.   What caused this? Is it genetic? 
I think we’re taught from early on to look at cause and effect or problem and solution, so it’s natural for parents to want to get to the root of the problem when it comes to their child.

The Latest on Technology...

From July 11, 2012

Three years ago, I blogged about technology, and while so much of it still rings true, I realize that each year, younger children are accessing technologies, and we need to attend to what this means for your youth.
I will digress with a bit of history. When my twins were turning thirteen, we were purchasing their first cell phone. There was no camera, no internet and no texting. It was a phone. The intended purpose for them to have a cell phone was for those moments when they were out and about; they had an easy way to reach us.


From June 16, 2010

Quite a few years ago, I was involved in a wonderful organization that addressed teenage drinking and destructive decisions in the northwest suburbs. This is the article I wrote back then. Today, there are other wonderful organizations in each suburb addressing gun violence, underage drinking, and substance use and abuse. Take some time and see how you can get involved in your community and take action!

People have approached me and asked what happened to PROUD. For those of you unfamiliar with this, I was the co-chair of a wonderful community coalition, Stevenson Community PROUD (People Rallying to Oppose Underage Drinking) for several years. It was born out of concern for our youth after several students in a neighboring community died as a result of underage drinking. We did not want our community suffer a similar fate. This coalition, made up of high school students, parents, educators, and community leaders worked together to educate the community on the dangers of underage drinking. Four short years after its introduction, PROUD was disbanded. To all those actively involved, it was a sad time. We had worked together for four years and truly made an impact in our community. With guidance from the Lake County Lake County Underage Drinking Prevention Task Force, we worked to redefine the social norm around underage drinking in our community. We organized a parent folder to hand out during Stevenson’s parent open house, containing wonderful materials on the statistics of underage drinking in the north suburbs as well as educational handouts on the effects of alcohol on the developing brain. We collaborated with several other communities, Deerfield and Lake Forest/Lake Bluff, to share information and resources. We held 18 parent coffees where we shared concerns, stories, and strategies. And we helped the students find their voices – that being alcohol-free was a good norm to strive for. Five Stevenson seniors, who worked side by side with us from the beginning of PROUD in their sophomore year, earned Prominent Patriot awards prior to their graduation. This recognition of honor and distinction from their high school confirmed that healthy choices lead to positive rewards. I’m sure all those reading this are asking themselves, “So why disband?” In the Stevenson High School district, which is fed by more than five junior high schools, we have roughly 4500 students. Considering each family has, on average, two children, those students represent about 2250 families. While many parents applauded the work of PROUD, very few attended meetings. The work of PROUD was carried out by a very small group of highly dedicated people, and the volunteers who began the coalition lost their energy over time. Some had children who graduated the halls of high school and had moved on. Some community leaders found the lack of attendance concerning, and shifted their energy to other causes. The students who had begun this mission moved on to college, and it was difficult to bring new ones on board when the adult leadership was dwindling simultaneously. But the message of the coalition still remains an important one today, as I hear more and more stories of students as young as 12 years old drinking and mass arrests by our local police force of underage drinking parties and their host parents. With the increased use of cell phones by students, parents are communicating with each other less and less, and teens are empowered to embark on risky behavior without consequence. So, to those parents who have been asking about PROUD, look to other community groups that you can get involved with to address the concerns you have collectively! With the summer upon us, it is my hope that parents will find support and guidance to help their children live substance-free lives. If PROUD couldn’t rally physical support at meetings, perhaps in the virtual world of blogging, facebook, or twitter, we can create such a buzz about prevention that the mission of PROUD can live on, and therefore, so will our children. 

Teaching Resilience to Our Youth

From January 25, 2010

I was asked to speak to the Lake Forest/Lake Bluff parent community onResilience – How to Nurture and Develop Your Child’s Inner Self. They planned a series of discussions on "The Middle School Years:  A Parents' Guide”, offered through a wonderful community organization, LEAD™, a United Way agency whose mission is to support parents and other adults shaping the future of our youth and is dedicated to promoting healthy family relationships and preventing alcohol, tobacco, drug use, and other risky behavior by youth.

Negotiating the Relationship Between Parents and Teens- An Ongoing Discussion

From November 30, 2009

Many parents ask me how they can best communicate with and relate to their teenage children. It is a hard age, and a difficult time for both you and them. For the teens, they are working on their identities, trying to maintain a good sense of self-esteem, and negotiating the pressures of peers, schoolwork, and activities. They are exploring their independence, and with the added connectivity through the Internet and cell phones, teens also feel they need to be accessible 24-7 to their peers.

Hey Mom, What's for Dinner?

From October 12, 2009

One of the most important things we can do with our children is share a meal together. If you’re like many families, finding time to prepare, let alone eat a meal together, amidst carpools for dance, soccer, Hebrew School, CCD, and violin practice is nearly impossible. Yet it is one of the most connecting times you can spend as a family. Take a look at what you can do to bring the family together for dinner at least 2-3 times each week. And let’s talk about what you can do to create harmony in your family during these times.

Spoofing-Know the Term and Stay One Step Ahead of Your Teen

From September 9, 2009

When you are dealing with teenagers, sometimes we have to stay ahead of their game. I learned of something that is worth sharing on this blog. Typically, I have advised parents that if their teens are sleeping at a friend’s house, you should make sure that when they arrive, they should call you from the friend’s landline, so you can be sure your child is at that home. However, by spoofing a Caller ID, they can deceive you into believing they are one place, when they are actually in another.

How to Parent from Afar

From August 30, 2009

Many of you have just gotten back from taking your child(ren) to college. I, too, am in that group. Nikki & Jamie, my identical twins, are starting their sophomore year at University of Illinois. While this year was MUCH easier than last, I still have the 3 W’s -wonderabout how they are managing,worryabout their safety, andwishfor their happiness and success. So I thought this blog entry would focus on parents’ roles while children are away from home.

When children are little, parents really are problem solvers.

Am I in Control of My Technology, or is My Technology Controlling Me?

From August 4, 2009

I saw an interesting sign at the local service station, which uses it’s signboard to motivate travelers who pass by. The quote, by Joe Bob Briggs, said, “Apparently we love our own cell phones but we hate everyone else’s.”

We are annoyed when someone we are with spends “our” afternoon together texting others. We are bothered by the person standing in line at the bank carrying on a phone conversation as if she was the only person in the room. We watch the car in front of us swerve back and forth, only to pass him as he chats on his cell phone.

But Mom, EVERYBODY has one!

From July 22, 2009

There just doesn’t seem to be an end to the “I want” - when children just HAVE to have the latest, greatest toy. Most of the time, the toy gets put off to the side within a few days or weeks, only for the next “I want” to come along. How, as a parent, do you deal with this?

Our society bombards us with the newest, fastest, biggest, latest, greatest products everywhere we turn. It’s no wonder that our children get caught up in the frenzy. Whether it be a TV ad, movie prop, friend’s toy, or store display, our children are always wanting more, more, more!
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