Lessons from a Sexting Scandal

When it comes to sex education, parents have a lot of competition – media, the Internet, peer groups and Planned Parenthood style sex education. Sometimes the uphill battle can feel overwhelming, but surveys have shown that children actually prefer to get information about sex from their parents. Last month a school in Colorado suffered a sexting scandal that turned hundreds of nude photos into a competition about the students. As a parent or a teacher, how do you control this? This article draws on three very important lessons that were learned from this scandal. 1. Put a problem in the “too hard” basket and it will get worse. 2. It’s a tough call for parents to protect their children in a pornified, smartphone age, but the kids will be much better armed against it if they have a good relationship with mom and dad at home. 3. If text-messaging services and organizations like Planned Parenthood are the people forming the ideas of teachers and other public servants, the next, bigger sexting scandal can’t be far off. [16 Dec 2015,...

Meaningful Conversation with Your Family & Friends / How to Expect & Get Respect (2013)

CONVERSATION STARTERS: Promoting Family Communication How can we increase meaningful and enjoyable conversation with family and friends? The Art of Conversation is largely the art of asking good questions — ones that draw out others' thoughts, feelings, and experiences. The following conversation starters can be used in one-on-one interactions between parents and kids, spouses, and friends or as group topics at mealtime or any other gathering. 1.    What was the best part of your day? 2.    What was the hardest part of today? how did you deal with it? 3.    what is the good news and the bad news from today? 4.    What are you grateful for today? 5.    What's something you learned today? 6.    What happened today that you did not expect? 7.    What was an interesting conversation you had today? 8.    What something you've accomplished today? 9.    How did you help someone today, or how did someone help you? 10.    What is something someone in the family did recently that you appreciated? 11.    Who has a problem that the rest of the family might be able to help with? 12.    What an interesting book you're reading or have read recently? 13.    What are two things other people can do to make you happy? 14.    What is something you're looking forward to? 15.    If you could be granted three wishes, what would they be? 16.    How can someone help you get out of a bad mood? 17.    What is the most courageous thing you've ever done? 18.    If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? 19.    How do you know if someone is the...

Parents: Make Teens Strong

When faced with tough choices, will your child be self-confident? Teach your tweens & teens the “5 Knows and the 5 Nos”: 5 Knows 1. Know yourself. Think about who you are, who you want to become and what you believe in. Know your family’s beliefs and values. When faced with a difficult choice, ask yourself, “Does this fit with who I want to be?” “Does this fit with my family’s values?” “Would my family want me to do this?” 2. Know the facts. Some decisions can be based on simple facts. For example, smoking is addictive and expensive, and causes serious diseases. It’s illegal to sell cigarettes to minors. Sex can also be addictive emotionally, and can lead to serious diseases such as AIDS and cancer. Having sex with minors is statutory rape. 3. Know the situation. Before going along with friends, know what your’fe getting yourself into. Where are they going? What will they do? Who will be there? When and how will you get home? 4. Know when to ask questions. If you don’t know the facts and the situation, ask questions. Make sure you get clear answers. Don’t be silent when you feel uncomfortable about what’s going on. 5. Know how to get help. Everyone needs help at times. We are not islands. Think about which responsible adults in your life you can turn to for guidance and support when you need it [parents, ministers, teachers, counselors, coaches, etc.]. Asking for help is usually a sign of strength, not weakness. 5 Nos 1. Plain and simple. “No thanks.” Sometimes the most direct way is the simplest and...

How & When to Talk to Your Tween/Teen about Risky Behaviors

One conversation with your child about risky behaviors is not enough. Introduce the subject when a child is still very young, in simple language and with clear rules. As your child grows, repeat the message in more mature terms.  Here are some suggestions to help you decide what to say, when to say it, and how. Look For OpeningsKeep it light. Nothing turns off teens and preteens (tweens) more than a lecture. Don’t do all the talking. Ask questions and truly listen to your child’s answers. Be alert for opportunities to talk with your teen. Sometimes they say things which may actually be a veiled way of wanting to talk. If your child asks for permission to go to a party, talk about the situations that might be encountered there, and how s/he would deal with the. State your own values clearly. Younger children may respond well to simple rules, but as your child grows older, s/he will be more concerned about fitting in with peers. However, your child is still listening closely to what you have to say — even if it doesn’t appear that way! Focus on short-term consequences. As adults, we know that smoking leads to life-threatening illnesses such as heart disease, emphysema, and lung cancer; sexual activity can also lead to life-threatening disease such as cervical cancer, AIDS, and other life-long viral STDs. But most teens don’t worry about long-term risks.  So, you will catch their attention better if you focus on the immediate consequences of smoking — things such as bad breath, smelly clothes, yellow teeth, or poor performance in sports. For sexual risks,...

Talking with Your Teen: Giving Them Tools

See Through Their Eyes. Reassure your child that while friends will sometimes hassle him/her for not going along, many times they won’t. Either way, the most important thing is for her/him to make her/his own decisions. Adolescents also tend to overestimate how many people are actually involved in risky behaviors. For example, adolescents in a recent survey said they thought that more than 50% of teens smoke; the actual number is closer to 25%. Make sure your child knows that the large majority of both teens and adults simply DO NOT smoke. Set Boundaries. Your expectations must be crystal clear. Your rules must also be crystal clear, whether for negative behaviors such as smoking, drinking, drugs, sex, or for privileges such as driving and curfews. Involve your child in setting some boundaries and rules (curfews, for example), but always make it clear that YOU have the final say. Make sure your child and you both understand that the consequences for breaking rules will be enforced. Know Your Child’s Friends. Make friends feel welcome in your home – when you are there. If they are comfortable, they will spend more time at your home and less time in unsupervised places. Pay attention to how the kids interact with you and with each other. Are the relationships equal and respectful? Do your kids hold their own when they are joking or goofing around, or do they seem to be easily influenced by what their friends say to them?  When alone with your child, point out positive qualities of the friends as well as the negative ones, in an objective manner. Make...