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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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!