When Popularity Really Matters

Sometimes kids swear.  Instead of being appalled, Michelle Thompson, Ph.D., JDsuggests we listen and by doing so we just might get more of an answer to how our teenagers are doing than simply “fine.”

 

I just spent the week away from my family and all went well.

For Veteran’s Day, my 13-year-old son had some friends over to play games with him and alleviate the loneliness of being an only child. And come over they did, some friends from his school soccer team.

My partner removed herself from the room to give them space to play.

What a great thing!

And she was appalled at the language they used. Yep, his friends are swearing (lest she thinks any foul language is my fault . . .), and they’re not interested in anything else aside from video games and their phones. No discussion of girls, pornography, or drugs.

We’re safe for the next 5 minutes. Then again, most of them are still pre-pubescent.

My partner was a little upset though because she chafes at foul language.

I LOVED using foul language the minute I could when away from home when I was 12.

But that’s not the point. No matter how difficult it seems to have these young people over, it is critical. For a family who has not the patience to homeschool, this is the only way we get a more unvarnished window into their lives. What matters to them? Why does it matter? What are the challenges? What are the joys?

I know that I can’t get answers to these questions asking “how was school,” as the proverbial “fine” gets me NOTHING. He won’t swear like a sailor when checking in!

But hearing how they play with language, what they are focused on, what they love, and what they hate matters.

Right now, they love foul language.

We get to debrief with James about what they’re saying and hear what he’s thinking.

I told my partner to think of this as a big old research project. She’s an academic. We love research. Let’s do it!

The window is closing in terms of us getting to have James and his friends with us. I want to keep it open as long as possible. I want our house to be where the kids hang out. I want to listen in on what they’re doing and saying. This could be the key to heading off any future difficulties.

Michelle Dionne Thompson, Ph.D., JD is the Founder and CEO of Michelle Dionne Thompson Coaching and Consulting, a primarily coaching business that works with women in law and academia to set and meet aligned goals sanely in the midst of insane industries. A recovering lawyer and a historian, she also teaches college and is writing her first book, Jamaica’s Accompong Maroons (1838 – 1905): Retooled Resistance for Continued Existence.

Connecting Deeply and Navigating Your Pre-Teen’s Emotions

Andrea Parker shares the beginning of her journey in navigating the many changes of having a tween at home.  She even includes some practices that she and her daughter use to stay connected.

 

I am Andrea Parker, founder of The Rejuvenation Grange. I am a mom, an innovator, a connector and a teacher who thrives in nature and wants to guide girls and women to lead from the heart.

My mission in life is to help people young and old create their equilibrium, become the best they can be and rediscover their passion through innovation and play.

I see myself as that boat that guides them across the turbulent waters or self-determination to that magical place where they can be uplifted and unchain themselves from their fears so they may thrive.

Come and Join Me at
www.therejuvenationgrange.com or my group Soulful Innovators on Facebook, www.facebook.com/groups/162523537608087/

Busy Bee Chase

 Katlin Puchalski  shares with us a picture of what it is like in her busy life, and how sometimes slipping into the orderly life of social gaming is just want she needs to put her oxygen mask on first before continuing on with her day.  Katlin says it better than me:

 

I don’t want to write. I don’t want to read aloud. I don’t want to cook dinner. I don’t want to fold laundry or clean the living room. I don’t want to harvest tomatoes or feed chickens. I don’t even want to pick up children from dance classes. I want to sit in my own clean, quiet, little bedroom and play Gardenscapes, or Two Dots on my phone. Yes, today has been a hard day; but aren’t they all? There is always something: a crisis, maybe big or maybe small, or a situation, an event, that needs my immediate attention.

There are so many shoes that need to be found or tied, homework that needs translation or to simply to be found, or some piece of missing clothing is necessary “right now” and nothing else will do. There are games and events to attend, as well as animals that need tending. Not to mention work, an actual paying job, that needs me to be able to focus and fix mechanisms and tools. There is wood to bring in and the lawn to mow, one more time. Oh, and there is a shower to be had, some time! I am in high demand all day, from my children, from myself, from the chores, from work, from the garden or the house. There is always SOMETHING.

I would like to retreat into my room, with my colorful wool blanket from Ireland. I would sit in the sunshine that is streaming onto the bed, or with the moon shining brightly through the picture window. I want to pretend there is nothing, (or not much), that needs my attention, if only for 30 minutes. I want to play mindless and ‘silly’ games, quietly, alone.

In my ‘silly games’ things are predictable and reliable, (even if that predictability is running out of lives). The outcome is easy to see and the steps fairly regular, (although with just enough twists and turns to hold my attention much longer than it should!). There are several ‘do-overs’, and helpful hints buttons. Real life doesn’t have those. Real life is messy and complicated and stressful. Real life goes fast and slow, and round and round, all at the same time. But real life also has love and cuddles and fairy kisses.

Real life has stories to read while snuggling all together, morning and night, in anticipation of the next plot twist. Real life is busy, but it is MY busy. My busy has moments of laughter and giggles, as well as times of quiet contemplation. I start my day with a cheerful breakfast, bonding with my 13-year-old. And at the end of my day is snuggling my nine-year-old, among all her stuffed animals and dolls and books. And the middle of my busy day is hearing about capture the flag at recess and the crazies of sixth-grade girls from my eleven-year-old, quiet, but steady middle daughter. Mountains are waiting to be climbed and rivers to be explored. Family adventures abound around here! One daughter has mastered a new piece of music today and another perfected a tricky dance step this evening, and a third is riding her ‘horse’, otherwise known as a bike round and round the house. And then there are so many bedtime stories and snuggles to be had, (before they don’t need them anymore). My day is busy and messy and crazy but full of energy and love.

Soon, I will go read the book, while helping with Algebra and cooking dinner. Then I will do some endless laundry, and drive somewhere for a practice pick up or drop off. And I will end the day snuggling each one and marveling at their growth. … But for now, I will slip away for a few moments, and plant some imaginary trees, or pop some bubbles or dots of varying colors, until I run out of ‘play’ lives. I will be refilled to happily rejoin the rest of my Busy Bee day.

Katlin Puchalski is a mother to three daughters, a professional gardener, a fixer of tools, a maker of dinners, lunches and intricate schedules (requiring cloning of herself), and also a worker of miracles. Over the past several years she has discovered the therapeutic healing in writing, honestly, about her daily struggles.
Like many mothers, she tries to do too much and often ends up struggling with balance, as well as taking time for herself. Writing, and then sharing that writing through her blog gives her the necessary time to herself, as well as a chance to reflect on the wonderfulness of her Busy Bee life.
You can find, and follow, her blog at Finding My Bees Knees.

Teen Depression Is NOT Normal

Today I am excited to bring you a reprinted post from Mary Herrington of Destigmatize.Me

Mary has just published a book From Stressed to Best that talks about our worst fears as parents – failing our children and how to avoid it.  Today Mary brings us a short article on how Teen Depression is not normal and how to avoid it.

As a society, we tend to think that anxiety and depression are a part of the tween/teen experience. Five years ago, I had a friend tell me: “All teens attempt suicide. It’s just part of being a teen. You just need to accept that.”

Yet, I couldn’t. At the time, her oldest child was only five years old. My oldest was 15 and was in a mental health facility for attempted suicide. I would NOT accept that teen suicide is normal. Her daughter is now 10 and our friendship has moved away from one another. Sometimes, my mind wanders back to her and that comment and I wonder if she will feel the same if, and when, her daughter attempts suicide.

Being the mother of a mentally ill child is difficult. The stigma around mental illness often prevents me from telling people, and when I do tell people, I often never hear from them again. They are afraid of my daughter. At 19, she has accomplished so much more than anyone had previously thought possible. All professionals had told me to expect her to be dead by age 18. Not by the horrible hand of cancer, but at her own hand. I had been told that her severe anxiety, depression and PTSD would cause her to give up and have no life to live. I was advised to make my peace with that and to make sure I had arrangements with a funeral parlor ahead of time because when it happened, I would be too distraught to handle it.

I hope you’re shaking your head in disbelief because as I type these words, that is what I am doing. Three little letters come to mind while I type and read that. They begin with a W and end with an F.

My oldest has not only graduated high school with a 3.89 GPA, she has started her own business, volunteers to help others with anxiety and depression, volunteers at church on their production team and has had a long term relationship with the same young man for almost 3 years now.

Yes, she has mental illness.

NO she is NOT her illness.

The stigma around mental illness is reprehensible! We hear about shootings at schools and the media immediately looks to see if the person suffers from bipolar, as if blaming the actions of a madman on a biological disorder of dopamine in the brain is an excuse for their behavior and choices. It is NOT!

Mental illness does NOT make someone violent in and of itself. Most people with mental illness, especially if untreated, are more dangerous to themselves than to others. Most parents, and tweens/teens, won’t even seek treatment for anxiety or depression until they are so entrenched in the illness that it takes much more medication and lifestyle changes to regain a sense of normalcy. When they do regain that normalcy, they live in shame and fear that someone will discover they use medications or a special diet or were “weak” and needed help.

We need to stop the stigma behind mental illness. It is not to be ashamed of, but instead further researched and explained.

In my new book, From Stressed to Best, features how self-directed learning is a proven method of not only education but also a way for tweens/teens to have a way to B.R.E.A.T.H.E. freely again. With self-directed learning, they will be:

  • B-etter Prepared for College and Careers
  • R-elaxed
  • E-nd Arguments (around homework & school)
  • A-ctively Learning
  • T-hinking for themselves
  • H-ealing Inner Pain
  • E-ducating Themselves for Life

Mary Herrington is an internationally published author, speaker, and Mom who has lived in the trenches with children who suffer from learning disabilities, anxiety and depression. She has used Self-Directed Learning since 2009 to empower her children. Max graduated with a 3.89 GPA and Sara is 2 grades ahead.  You can find out more and read an excerpt of her book here.