Long before the teen years, teach your child to think critically about the media images she’s bombarded with: Do all girls look like the ones on TV or in ads? How much time does it take Blake Lively to look like Serena van der Woodsen? How realistic is that life? What are makeovers and what’s the troubling message being driven home?
Push activities that encourage self-discovery, not rote achievement, says Hinshaw, and that encourage a wider sense of community, especially volunteer work. Spend time together, not just driving to yet another tournament, but actually talking and connecting.
Talk about the realities – that 25 percent of young women have experienced major depression, attempted suicide, indulged in binge eating or cutting, says Hinshaw. “We’ve got to talk about the problem and deal with it.”
Watch for Supergirl warning signs, says Funk: Is your daughter constantly tired? Irritable? Drinking too much coffee or Red Bull in the morning? Does she berate herself?
Encourage your daughter to take time for herself. Let her know you value her for herself.
Lower the pressure on college apps. “Today’s teens have pressure on them to score well on the SAT tests,” says Funk, “build an impressive activities resume, get perfect grades, and investigate their chances at getting into the best colleges, coming from all angles.” Don’t add to it.
It starts in a haze of happiness: A new guy, a new love, sweet affection and blinding jealousy. What happens next can range from tears and misery to violence and even death. It’s not just lurid headlines about Rihanna and Chris Brown. Teen dating abuse and violence are reaching epidemic proportions, with 1 in 10 American teens, ages 11-19, being physically attacked by their boy or girl friends, and 1 in 4 verbally or emotionally abused. Read Sunday’s story about what’s happening to our teens, then read on for a list of red flags and things parents can do to help, with advice from experts including Tatiana Colon (photo above), chairman of the Alameda Task Force on Teen Dating Violence, and Elizabeth Miller, pediatrics professor at UC Davis Medical Center.
RED FLAGS FOR TEEN DATING ABUSE & VIOLENCE
Occasional arguments are one thing. But patterns of manipulation, emotional abuse and violence can quickly spiral from mental distress to physical harm. One red flag is a warning. Several mean your teen needs help if his or her boyfriend or girlfriend:
* Belittles your child and makes him or her feel bad.
* Tries to control where she goes, wears or does
* Exhibits signs of extreme jealousy or possessiveness
* Frightens or intimidates
* Threatens harm if your child tries to end the relationship
* Isolates him or her from friends and family
* Has broken or thrown something at him or her in anger
* Has ever hit, slapped, shoved or kicked your child, or forced him or her to have sex
— Excerpted from LoveIsRespect.org
Ahhh, forget AIG, economic gloom and all those other grim headlines. Read this story instead:
Hearts were low in Danville last Saturday after Monte Vista High’s boys basketball team fell 46-43 to Oakland’s McClymonds High in the NorCal Div. I championships. The Monte Vista coach was just crushed, as were his boys. And then, he got a call from a team family who had heard that McClymonds’ team couldn’t afford to go to the state championships this weekend in Sacramento. Why not, the family asked, turn this defeat into something wonderful? Why not rally Monte Vista’s Mustangs and raise the money so McClymonds’ Warriors could go? Within hours, they’d raised $1,100 from players and parents from both their girls and boys’ teams.
“I think it speaks to the spirit of competition and what it’s really all about,” coach Bill Powers told the Times and Trib’s Jimmy Durkin. “You certainly went in there trying to beat them, and it was a good basketball game. But at the end of the day, somebody needs a little help, and this is the spirit of giving…This is just respect for a team that deserves to go up to Sacramento first class.”
McClymonds coach Brandon Brooks was stunned when he got the call: “That’s amazing, that the team you beat in NorCal, their parents want to help out with your cause,” he said. “That’s unheard of.”
The Warriors will face off against Westchester-Los Angeles in the Division I state title game this Saturday. And yes, that photo shows McClymond’s Will Cherry, #22, right, hugging Monte Vista’s Zack Ertz, #32, after their game.
The spectacle of a pregnant Bristol Palin – the teenaged daughter of the vice presidential candidate – on the Republican National Convention stage last summer was one of those mindboggling “who’d have thought??” moments. But she looked happy, holding hands with the baby’s daddy, young Levi Johnston. Now, as everyone on the planet knows, their engagement has been called off and the paparazzi are circling. So there was Good Morning America’s Neal Karlinsky this morning, blithely saying, “We caught up with Levi Johnston …” “Caught” being the operative word. The GMA crew dashed up to the poor kid’s pickup as he was trying to leave for the gym, then started firing their incisive, deeply serious questions – ok, who instigated the breakup? got any pictures of the baby? Sheesh.
But it’s noteworthy, at least for those of us who fret about teen pregnancy rates, that Johnston said the breakup was because “It’s just us… me not being mature enough or something.” Well, that would be the issue, yes? Now can you please go tell the same thing to all your peers?
Here, watch the clip, then click “comments” and tell us what you think.
Do you know any teenage girls dying to go to prom, but for whom financial distress has made it an impossibility? Schools offer discounted, even free prom tickets to students whose families cannot afford them, but as any fairy tale lover knows, you can’t go to the ball in street clothes. So the Bay Area’s Princess Project is playing fairy godmother again. Girls can come to their Oakland site on March 21 and San Francisco on March 28, and receive an absolutely free, taffeta dream of a dress. Because every girl deserves to be a princess at least for one night.
(And if you’re still hanging onto a gorgeous prom dress, 2002 vintage or later, that you’d like to donate, check the Princess Project web site next January for donation information.)
You know those graduated drivers license laws teens gripe about so much? The ones that don’t allow new drivers, ages 16-18, to drive between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. or have teenage passengers in the car for the first 12 months, unless there’s a licensed driver over 25 present? A new AAA study says those laws are having tremendous impact. Death rates for 16-year-old drivers dropped by 38% in states with those types of laws, and the effect is probably even more profound for other people. That’s because the majority of deaths in traffic accidents involving 15- to 17-year-old drivers weren’t teen drivers. Some 63% of the people killed in those accidents were passengers, occupants of other vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians.
Got tips to share on how to cultivate safe teen drivers? Click comments!
Gap Year programs are becoming an increasingly popular option for teens who are not quite ready for college – or who’d like to take a year off from the intensity of college prep and spend some time traveling, learning a foreign languauge or doing community service in another part of the world. It’s an idea that’s supported by colleges too, because a good Gap Year is well planned and filled with enrichment. And there are dozens of Gap Year companies out there to help you figure out how to do that.
If you’ve got a child who’s interested in exploring Gap Year options – filming a documentary in New Orleans? exploring Mayan heritage in Guatemala? studying Italian culture in Siena? – you might want to check out the Gap Year Fair in San Francisco next week – Sunday, March 1 from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Jewish Community High School of the Bay, 1835 Ellis St. Speak with reps from Dynamy Internship Year, Carpe Diem Education, i-to-i Meaningful Travel, Sojourns Abroad, and nearly 20 other Gap Year companies. Hear a talk by Holly Bull, who’s been organizing these trips as president of the Center for Interim Programs in Princeton, New Jersey, for the last 20 years. Oh, and the fair is free. It’s a win-win.
Need more general info on Gap Year programs? Check out Planet Gap Year, a portal for planning advice, gap year fair dates, program information, etc.
The baby’s birth is the top article on People.com. Even before his birth, the baby had receive thousands of gifts from around the world, according to his great grandpa. About the only thing clouding this picture is the fact that the baby in question belongs to the teenage daughter of former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. The articles gush about how the family is so excited, and we certainly don’t want to begrudge them their happiness. But let’s not forget that Bristol Palin is part of an alarming statistic — an astounding number of unwed (for now) teenage moms.
By propping her up, highlighting the celebrity factor and glorifying all those baby gifts, we send mixed messages to other teens. What they see is the fun stuff, not the lifetime commitment, the financial hardships and the reality checks that come with being parents while still essentially kids themselves.
You may have seen that alarming Rand study earlier this month that found that teens who watch a lot of sexy TV shows are twice as likely to become pregnant over the next three years as peers who stick to tamer entertainment. Researchers think racy content, which has doubled on television in the last few years, and rarely shows contraception efforts or risks, is promoting unprotected sex at earlier ages. In other words, you get a skewed view of sexual risks if your health ed consists solely of Chuck Bass and Blair Waldorf‘s couplings.
Is your teen headed abroad for the first time? Patrick Evans of STA Travel — the world’s largest student, youth and budget travel organization — offers five tips for making the experience easier and safer.
1) Establish a Contact Schedule – It can be difficult to reach your child overseas on the spur of the moment, so establish a contact time when they will call or e-mail you. Keep in mind time differences and their schedule when creating a plan. Your child will likely have access to an Internet cafe or an Internet connection at their hostel or hotel, so e-mail may be the easier option.
2) Use a credit card – If your child doesn’t have a credit card, get them one specifically for the trip to take advantage of the better exchange rates credit cards offer. Visa and Mastercard charge a 1-3 percent fee for using their card to pay in a foreign currency, but the fees are offset by the improved exchange rate the companies negotiate. In an emergency, it is easier to use a credit card than trying to complete a wire transfer to your child.