Growing With Your Kids

Most of this blog, like most of my parenting experience, has focused on "balance" issues that arise when your kids are under 10. But what about the future? Soon enough "letting go" will become part of the balancing act.

The famous adage is "little kids, little problems; big kids, big problems." My oldest just turned 10 and I've gotten glimpses of what the saying means. His birthday present was a cell phone so he can be in touch when he's off by himself at sports practices or with friends. He doesn't believe in Santa Claus. The other night when our five-year-old daughter asked my husband what "divorce" means -- right when DH vowed that Mommy and Daddy would never get divorced -- my son rolled his eyes. He is beginning to not believe in us the way he always has.

As parents we have to let go a little bit more each day.

A few weeks ago, I walked into a framing shop in Georgetown run by a friend with older kids who I hadn't seen in more than six months. She told me, "My baby is driving now." That morning, her youngest, who recently got his license, dropped her off at the store and drove to school, despite the freezing rain and slippery road conditions. He needed to be in class, she needed to be at work, and she had watched him drive off by himself in the driving rain. "Having a teenager gives a whole new meaning to 'letting go,' " my friend told me.

Then I read A Teenage Solider's Goodbyes in The New York Times on March 4. The article told of a father seeing off his daughter 10 months after her senior prom -- to the United States Army, where she probably will be deployed to Iraq. It defies comprehension that only eight years ago he was celebrating his daughter's 10th birthday.

Juggling work and kids gets easier in some ways as your children grow up. They can brush their own teeth, dress themselves, stay home without a babysitter. Our horror stories about breastfeeding, childcare and toilet training become ancient nightmares.

But new challenges arise: if you child is too old for a babysitter or afterschool, how do you know they're okay in a world of Internet sexual predators and other risks, when you're at work and they are home alone? What about business trips -- do you trust them to stay by themselves or search for someone deft enough to oversee a teenager? As their world becomes larger, do they come to appreciate or resent your work? Soon enough, they will be working and facing their own work/life balancing act.

What "big kids, big problems" challenges -- and solutions -- do you see?

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  March 14, 2007; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Conflicts
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first

Posted by: First - Phila | March 14, 2007 6:35 AM

Seriously, there are many issues, maybe enough to fill out a guest blog on Tuesdays.

Things now seem to have much more severe consequences. Make a relationship mistake, get an STD. Make a financial mistake, ruin your credit. The roads are more crowded, leading to more accidents.

Everything costs more, too. Housing, food, cars, auto insurance, furniture.

Like toddlers, who constantly look back to make sure you are still there, you need to take little age-appropriate steps to letting go.

You will recognize them as they come up.

Discuss.

Posted by: First - Phila | March 14, 2007 6:44 AM

BIG PROBLEMS OF BIG KIDS

Inspired by a Midnight reading of Dante's inferno

Arrest & Prison (includes sex offenses and manslaughter DWIs)

Addictions (drug, sex, porn, gambling)

Eating Disorders

STDS

Child marries/mates with the wrong person

Your first grandchild given up for adoption

Warehousing/abandoning old/sick people in substandard care facilities

Pretty bleak

Posted by: Anonymous | March 14, 2007 6:51 AM

Age 10 is still a really nice time for kids. They are still sweet and most are fairly obedient. If you think you son's an issue now, you've seen nothing yet.

When kids turn 13, there is like a switch, suddenly, the mouth starts and the separation begins in earnest--they strain against your rules, ideas, your very presence. It's a lot of "I hate you" and "get out of my room". You can often still see the sweet kid there, but it's a phase that is mandatory for all teenagers. They are learning to navigate the world on their own and develop their own point of view. It's not a time to totally let go, but to keep appropriate limits while allowing your child developmentally appropriate freedoms--despite what comes out of their mouths. As long as you fully understand that this is a mandatory phase in a person's life, you'll survive it. I'm actually kind of enjoying it.

But I have a problem with 16 year old kids (especially boys) driving--and in icey conditions? It's not a problem if the kid kills himself (ok it is), but now this friend of yours has put others at risk too. Nice.

Posted by: mother of a teen | March 14, 2007 6:54 AM

Wow! I could write a book on this! Or a guest blog (Leslie, hint to look at your mail!) The worst thing is that phone call at 5 in the morning. As my sainted mother used to say, "When the phone rings that early in the morning, someone is in jail or the hospital!" Unfortunatly, I have been on both ends of those conversations.

Posted by: Fred | March 14, 2007 7:00 AM

Having been through it all (my son is now 21), I tell everyone that the toughest years begin at about age 12/13. They become too old for daycare and too young to stay home alone for too long. The summers are the toughest - the summer camps are geared toward younger kids and yet there are too many temptations and risks to leave them home alone all day every day. I believe being home with your children is much more beneficial when they're teenagers than when they're toddlers, yet all the focus seems to be on the infant/toddler years.

Posted by: AB | March 14, 2007 7:10 AM

I think it's important that kteenagers understand the effects of alcahol before they get to the point where they are tempted to drive after drinking with their friends.

Within the next year or so I suppose I should throw my almost 16 year old daughter her first "real" party. Any thoughts on this one?

Posted by: Father of 4 | March 14, 2007 7:14 AM

The tough thing about parenting a teen is that they suddenly have the ability to irrevocably screw up their lives by making even a small mistake. An impulsive sexual encounter becomes a pregnancy or an incurable STD; a stroll with a friend becomes a felony conviction when the friend sells some pot to a narc; taking a corner too fast on that icy road kills a pedestrian. Mommy and Daddy can't kiss it and make it better anymore. What makes it even worse is knowing that you were there, too, and remembering how you thought about all of the near-run things you did which seemed fine at the time and even turned out OK but which you can see, with the maturity you've gained, were appallingly risky. I don't have answers, except keep talking to your teens even when they try to shut you out, stay involved (but it's much more difficult and subtle now), enforce the limits, and get support from other parents. And here's a question for other parents: the experts say "know your kid's friends". OK, suppose you do, and you think one is TROUBLE. Then what? Telling the kid they can't see this friend only makes them more attractive; and the friend is at school where you don't have any control over the kid anyway. Short of transferring them to private school, what's a parent to do?

Posted by: LML | March 14, 2007 7:14 AM

Going into business for myself has been the ultimate answer to this dilemma for me.

I started my busines when my oldest daughter was 6 months old. In the beginning, she was in daycare but I have had a lot of flexibility over the years.

Now that she is 12, I am able to work the business around my family most of the time. I am home when they get off the school bus (most of the time) and even though I travel some, I am here much more than if I worked for someone else.

I am sure this will start a "discussion", but I believe being around for them when they're 11-17 is more important than when they are younger.

Being your own boss is a great way to do that!

Posted by: ParentPreneur | March 14, 2007 7:18 AM

A friend of mine is having to deal with these concerns; she's got a 16 year old daughter that wants to be an adult RIGHT NOW, and since she lives with her dad (two states away) all she can do is watch helplessly.

She's so afraid her daughter will make her a grandmother way too soon but doesn't know what she needs to do to help her daughter realize growing up isn't all it appears to be, and to take it slow.

Any suggestions I can pass on to her?

Posted by: John L | March 14, 2007 7:21 AM

Or, fred, someone has died. Not to be morbid or anything.

Posted by: atlmom | March 14, 2007 7:22 AM

Fo4: don't throw the party at home. If you must throw a party, have it at a restaurant: something like Dave and Buster's. Where they can play games, but they won't be served alcohol, they can't bring alcohol in, and best of all, you won't be liable. Around here, if you throw a party and someone sneaks in alcohol, you, the parent are thrown in jail. Every year, some parent is actually throw in jail with his picture in the paper.

Posted by: dotted | March 14, 2007 7:23 AM

I don't agree with the mother who let the teenager take the car to school on the icy roads, he should have taken the bus. It may not be cool but it is a heck of a lot safer for him and everyone else on the road.

This is just a general question, do kids really need cell phones at 10? My neice and nephew got them when they were 12 or 13, but 10 seems young.

I don't want to think about the tweener years (11-13). We are still dealing with some little kid stuff, like this morning my daughter wanted to wear shorts to school so I let her. As we are walking out the door she says she wants to change, not because it is cold outside but because a kid in her class teased her about having hairy arms and she didn't want him to say anything about her hairy legs. I really felt for her - I was kinda hairy at that age and mortified when snickering boys teased me. In the minute I had to talk to her about it I told her to ask him how he would feel if she made fun of his nose, or ears, or some other body part. If nothing else I said she should just say - don't make fun of me - it's not nice. She can't wear long pants all spring because of some kid in her class. Any suggestions from anyone?

Posted by: cmac | March 14, 2007 7:24 AM

"Having been through it all (my son is now 21),"

Really, how many unplanned pregnancies have their been?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 14, 2007 7:25 AM

"Or, fred, someone has died. Not to be morbid or anything."

Yes, this also, this is how I found out about the death of my sainted mother.

Posted by: Fred | March 14, 2007 7:25 AM

Father of 4 I second dotted's advice. My parents introduced allowed a glass of wine at a family dinner but never to my friends. Demystify alchohol to make it less of a forbidden fruit but this is one case where you don't want to be the "cool" parent. All you can really do is make sure she knows she can call home at 2AM for a ride with no judgement.

Posted by: Product of a Working Mother | March 14, 2007 7:28 AM

LML: one way to address the problem of "if one friend is trouble" is to ask your teen to define what a troubled teen is. Now you have to pick the time for this conversation wisely. This isn't something you can just do. I've had success with one by talking at the dinner table. Another the conversation had to be more private: in the car while driving to yet another sport activity. Okay, so your teen talks about characteristics. You then can counter back with "well, that doesn't describe some nice-friends-name". Then you light heartily talk about the foibles of nice-friend (how he maybe once snorted milk through his nose at your dinner table when he was 12 or something). Laughter. Then you can carefully segue to the troubled one. Carefully so he can pick up the clues himself. You can't say this guy is bad news. You can dance all around it. You may be surprised to hear your own child say "bad-guy is troubled isn't he". Then you can agree. From there, you can talk about what the child thinks about hanging with bad-guy. The key is what the child thinks and getting the clues to line up in his mind.

Posted by: dotted | March 14, 2007 7:30 AM

When we had alcohol, we always asked the children if they would like a sniff or a samll taste, starting at around 12.
They were revolted by both, and do not drink to this day (now ages 19 and 22).

They have also seen their share of hungover classmates.

Posted by: To Fo4 | March 14, 2007 7:33 AM

Anyone else notice the timestamp is still off by an hour?

cmac-11-13 is where boys are easier, imho. :))))) I would let her wear long pants if she wants. It won't kill her. Or else get some capris or something. Or else introduce her to the joys (not) of shaving. I remember being absolutely horrified by body hair at that age.

Posted by: dotted | March 14, 2007 7:34 AM

Down here in NC there was a recent tragedy involving one of those in-house underage teen parties. No parents were there (but an adult let teens use their ID to get alcohol), it got out of hand, and a teen was killed when the drunk driver leaving the party crashed his car.

The parents of the girl that had the party at her house swore up and down in front of the news cameras that they just didn't understand why their daughter had done this, that they had always stressed to her not to go to or hold an unsupervised party...

Posted by: John L | March 14, 2007 7:34 AM

(not criticizing Leslie at all here)

A parent buying a child a cell phone is no guarantee that the parent will actually be able to contact the child. When beepers were in style, I had see a parent beep a child. She just looked at the number, said it was her parents and continued doing what she was doing. Now the kids look at the caller ID.

This whole issue of telecommunications is changing the parent/child relationship. Back in the dark ages when I was overseas, there was basically no personal communication possible. My AF daughter is half way around the world right now. She called last night and talked to Frieda for 30 or 40 minutes. Just like they were next door to each other. I know this is very comforting to my daughter as well as to Frieda and me. But sometimes I wonder if this would continue a child/parent relationship rather than an adult/parent relationship. Way back when, if I had a problem I would have to work it out or write a letter, now children can call the parents for any small problem.

Posted by: Fred | March 14, 2007 7:35 AM

Just let your daughter shave her legs. It's no big deal and it's a good thing to be saved from social humiliation.

Posted by: to cmac | March 14, 2007 7:36 AM

Please, let's not be too dramatic. The teenage years are not a wild ride through adolescence. Instead, my daughters became mature responsible adults, as did their friends. The prospect of my daughter getting an STD at 16 was as slim as it was when she was six. People who tell you that this wild behavior is "normal" for teenagers are trying to make themselves feel better about their own children. I'm telling you, the majority of teenagers out there are kind, decent people, much more so than many adults.

Posted by: bethesda | March 14, 2007 7:37 AM

twenty-fourth. :)

Posted by: Anonymous | March 14, 2007 7:38 AM

bethesda:

hear hear!

well said.

Posted by: dotted | March 14, 2007 7:39 AM

Fred: that's how I found out about stepdad, 2 wks after mom died.
So whenever the phone rings in the AM, I get a little freaked, even tho it is usually the nanny calling to say she'll be a little late.

Having little kids, I don't have a lot to contribute. I just know it will get harder.

Posted by: atlmom | March 14, 2007 7:41 AM

Any suggestions for my friend?

Or is this only a self-help group for Fo4?

Posted by: John L | March 14, 2007 7:41 AM

She's so afraid her daughter will make her a grandmother way too soon but doesn't know what she needs to do to help her daughter realize growing up isn't all it appears to be, and to take it slow.

Any suggestions I can pass on to her?

When the daughter says that she needs to pill to control her irregular and painful periods, just go with this. You can moralize all you want but it only takes bad judgement for 5 minutes to change the life of the daughter andthe mother forever.

Posted by: a regular but anon for this one | March 14, 2007 7:41 AM

not all early am calls are bad! I had one from my sister to announce the arrival of her first. It was an exciting phone call.

Of course, there was the 2am phone call from the adult-child, now 24. She was drunk as a skunk. She was upset two of her friends were arguing in front of her and she wanted her father to tell them to stop it. We didn't know whether to laugh or cry. At least she was at her home.

Posted by: dotted | March 14, 2007 7:43 AM

"She's so afraid her daughter will make her a grandmother way too soon but doesn't know what she needs to do to help her daughter realize growing up isn't all it appears to be, and to take it slow."

A son can also make someone a grandmother way too soon.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 14, 2007 7:44 AM

'She's so afraid her daughter will make her a grandmother way too soon'

If there is suspicion that she is having sex, ask her. She might tell the truth. if she already is, or it is suspected that she is, she won't stop. put her on the pill.

Posted by: experienced mom | March 14, 2007 7:45 AM

At the risk of speaking too soon (my oldest is only 15), I want to second/third what bethesda said. I have my eyes wide open but it's sort of insulting to assume that every teen will go through rebellion, have sex, get knocked up, get a STD, do drugs, wreck the family car, and be generally difficult to live with. I didn't. My friends didn't. My husband didn't. His friends didn't. Why should we assume our children will?

And no, I'm not assuming they *won't*, before I'm accused of that.

Posted by: momof4 | March 14, 2007 7:45 AM

so sorry, John L. I didn't have any concrete advice to give earlier. Upon reflection, maybe your friend could try to arrange a lunch date with her daughter. A girl's lunch out with some fun shopping and laugher. It seem she needs to re-establish communication with her daughter before any thing else. Things are so far off the rails she needs to get back to basics.

Posted by: dotted | March 14, 2007 7:46 AM

Although I will say, w a 2 and 5 YO, my husband and I are already arguing abou getting the kids cars when they get their licenses-thankfully, they just increased the age to 17, I . Against DH is for (cars at 17).

Posted by: atlmom | March 14, 2007 7:46 AM

John L - have to agree with the person who suggested birth control - if the warning signs of early sexual activity are there, definitely don't ignore them. I'd also aggressively persue a conversation with her father to make set some standards but this would depend on whether your friend can work well with her ex.

Posted by: Product of a Working Mother | March 14, 2007 7:46 AM


"People who tell you that this wild behavior is "normal" for teenagers are trying to make themselves feel better about their own children. I'm telling you, the majority of teenagers out there are kind, decent people, much more so than many adults."

Posted by: bethesda | March 14, 2007 07:37 AM


Yes, bethesda, you are correct that the majority of teen are good kids. But even good kids make mistakes, some they can recover from and some they can't. 3 of our 4 kids were pretty average in this respect, they gave us some major heartburn but we all managed to survive. One the of kids was just plain hell as a teen and continues to have his moments to this day. All 4 from the same parents and the same continuing household. So go figure, I surely do not understand.

Posted by: Fred | March 14, 2007 7:49 AM

I have two - 18 and 20 - the 20 year-old (my son) had a particularly hard time - (lost his dad at 13). While he did very well in highschool, dropped out of college after a semester - and was very very angry. My approach was to say, I'll back you in whatever you want, but you have to figure it out - and then just got out of the way. This was really hard for me to do - but he did it, and is back in school and making dean's list. A few things I learned on the way (for what it's worth - I'm no expert).

RE alcohol and drugs - told the kids (and their friends) that it was illegal and that I tolerated nothing illegal in my house - no discussions of the morality - I found anything, and it promptly went in the trash. Did my son ever try anything? Oh yea! But he had to be pretty careful. My daughter, on the other hand, steers clear of stuff.

If there is a big issue that comes up, choose the time and place when YOU want to talk about it - makes them sweat a little, and gives you time to calm down.

If there is something you enjoy doing - do it. My son really loves to ski - it took money from other stuff and we couldn't do it a lot, but it was worth every penny to sit in a chairlift and have a good time - for one year, it was the only place we didn't fight.

Choose your battles - I didn't like the dreadlocks, but kept my mouth shut and finally a girlfriend said "Those are digusting!"

Don't rush in to make "everything better" -when something comes up, ask them what they plan to do.

Keep talking.

Posted by: RJ | March 14, 2007 7:50 AM

To mom of 4

"I have my eyes wide open but it's sort of insulting to assume that every teen will go through rebellion, have sex, get knocked up, get a STD, do drugs, wreck the family car"


You might want to check the stats on cars totalled by teens.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 14, 2007 7:56 AM

Thanks for the comments, all. My friend's in a tough spot; daughter lives with (divorced for 15 years) dad, three states away (can't count today), and only sees her at certain times of the year. Daughter is already exhibiting "warning signs"; smoking, possible drug use, probably already sexually active, and mom is very concerned. I'd think that she's already talked to her about BC, but if the girl lives with her dad I don't know how much that will help.

I don't think there's a lot of talk between parents; as I said, they've been divorced a long time, but the daughter does listen to her mom and wants to spend time with her. It's just that she has little day-to-day input and influence.

Posted by: John L | March 14, 2007 7:57 AM

Boy is this topic timely for me! I have a ten year old daughter. She has recently started listening to the radio to fall asleep at night. We love music in our house and the kids listen to all genres from classical to hip hop.

Has anyone heard the Ludacris/Mary J. Blige song "Runaway Love"? My husband and I listened to the song (constantly on the radio), watched the video, looked at each other and said, "sh**, what now?"

I've always felt that making certain types of music off limits to kids was a guaranteed way to turn them on to it. This song bothers me because it specifically calls out to 9, 10, & 11 year old girls living in extremely abusive situations, dramatizes how they have no choice but to run away, and doesn't take a clear stand on the consequences. Kids this age are just not mature enough to understand the subtlety of the conclusion. (and, it's just not a very good song, but that's beside the point!)

Has anyone else heard it? Opinions? Am
I overreacting?

Thanks.

Posted by: HappyMom | March 14, 2007 7:57 AM

Bethesda and momof4 are right -- most teens don't do the extreme rebellion thing. Teens today are extremely socially aware and pretty darn savvy. I have found the ones who experiment the most with their image (piercings, hair color, etc) are bright, thoughful and caring people. And frankly how can you argue with extreme hairstyles -- as my cousin said to his mother "you dye your hair" (this was when he had a green mohawk).

Posted by: Product of a Working Mother | March 14, 2007 8:01 AM


a Marxist look at upper-class SAHMs:

http://www.tnr.com/doc.mhtml?i=w070312&s=hirshman031407

Posted by: f00 | March 14, 2007 8:03 AM

"When kids turn 13, there is like a switch, suddenly, the mouth starts and the separation begins in earnest--they strain against your rules, ideas, your very presence. It's a lot of "I hate you" and "get out of my room"..."

Mother of a teen is so correct. One day you have your sweet angel and the next day this monster that hates the sight of you.

A bit of advice, the first time your child says "I hate you" it really hurts, but the next 5000 times, just let it roll off of your back.

Our teen shows his defiance by calling us Fred and Frieda. No matter how many times I say to call mom, mom or dad, dad, he calls us Fred and Frieda. If this is his worse defiance, we can easily live with it. (Not that we would tell him so) As bethesda point out, there are many good teens, we think that #4 will be one of those and much easier than the others.

Posted by: Fred | March 14, 2007 8:04 AM

For the mom worried about her teenaged daughter--definitely do anything you can to open lines of communication. If you think she is sexually active or thinking of becoming sexually active, find a good woman gynecologist for her. Go with her, tell the gynecologist that your first priority is your daughter's health, then leave them alone to talk after the physical exam so that your daughter feels comfortable talking/asking questions.

I haven't done the research, but I wonder if there are gynecologists who specialize in adolescent health. If you know any mothers of teenaged daughters, maybe they can give you a name of someone who works well with teens. Maybe it's worth getting some names from the high school nurse.

Posted by: Another Librarianmom | March 14, 2007 8:05 AM

Happy Mom -- WP had an article about the messages hip hop sends. Maybe some food for thought for you.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/10/13/AR2006101301426_pf.html

~POWM

Posted by: to Happy Mom | March 14, 2007 8:08 AM

OK, I have a few thoughts. Everyone knows my DD is very young, 3. But I was wondering, do you think it is possible to higher an older teen (say 16-18) to watch her after school when she is in middle school. I will probably be working 5 days a week, so I can be home by 4:30. But that still leaves an hour and 20 minutes after her bus arrives home. HS gets out around 2:30. I think by middle school they are too old for day care and really don't want to be around an in home baby sitter. But do you think it is reasonable to higher a teenager to sit with her for 5 afternoons a week. They would not have to drive her anywhere. Just be there to have a snack and chat until I get home. I would be willing to pay around $25/day. I think after that, in HS, I would just have to let her stay by herself. I can't imagine any HS child having a baby sitter. I am hoping at least part of the time in HS, she will be involved in after school activities. Lucky for us we live in walking distance to the HS. It is just about 4 blocks away.

JohnL: I can't imagine a parent allowing drinking at an under age party. If nothing else, there is liability issues. I would say definitely start talking to the daughter and explain the serious liability issues involved. Besides a scared straight tactic, I am not sure what else a parent can do. Parents are not gods and can't be every where at once.

I have to say lots of teens do not get involved with the serious stuff. I never did. But I think all teen parents worry about the impending dangers and their children's increased desire to be independent. I would only say keep communication open. So that even if your kid screws up, they feel they can go to you for help. Before the problem becomes outrageous. Like if your going to be sexually active, and I prefer that you are not, come to me about BC and avoiding STDs etc...

I think parents sweat the small stuff. Like I have this friend of a 14 year old teen age daughter. For the past 2 years, her parents have been the underwear police. Girl likes to wear thongs. Although I find that totally inappropriate for teenage girls. Instead of going full out wage war, doesn't it make more sense to say: OK this is really not acceptable for your age bracket outside the home. I understand that wearing them excites you and you are experimenting. How about just wearing them at home as a form of dress up. It is saying NO without exactly saying no.

Cellphones: I think the new fire fly phones are great. It fulfills the child's cell phone fantasies while limiting them to call parents and emergency numbers. No friends or stuff to get them into trouble. My only concern, discussed on parenting, is the cell phone allowed at their schools. Otherwise it is helping kids have a reasonable way to call parents but does not give them access to call every one they know. I don't think for one minute, it is a great way to keep dibs on your kid. They aren't stupid. They can shut the phone off.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 14, 2007 8:14 AM

Re: shaving

It is conventional and accepted that females will never have showing body hair. Especially if you yourself keep this standard, it's unreasonable to expect a daughter to act differently. If you do flaunt the standard, then you can provide an example for a child to follow about being proud of her body and not letting other people's conventions determine her grooming (it might not work and given how awful those years could be, I think forbidding shaving would be a very bad idea).

Posted by: Tara | March 14, 2007 8:15 AM

"A son can also make someone a grandmother way too soon."

Posted by: | March 14, 2007 07:44 AM

This is true but let me tell you about the reality that I see. Frieda has worked with pregnant teens for some 25 years. Mr. Wonderful is there for a while, sometimes he even shows up for the birth. But when he realizes the responsibility for a new child, he most often runs away very fast. The mother and her mother become the ones responsible. The parents of the boy are for the most part, nowhere to be seen.

I have also seen this firsthand with many of the girls that my girls grew up with. If you read the news, you will find that parents taking care of their grandchildren is a growing way of life.

Posted by: Fred | March 14, 2007 8:17 AM

I really like having a teen and a tween. The problems are different and perhaps more challenging for all of the reasons given by others but there are compensations..intelligent conversations and new perspectives. Fashion tips from my very hip tween and political commentary from the teen. True empathy when I feel overwhelmed.

I can only ask them when they are about to do something to look at what they are doing and ask if it puts another person at risk--physically or emotionally. Teens assume that nothing bad can happen to them but they are able to fear hurting a friend. I ask only that they take a few seconds to think about what they are doing (gossiping, driving, going to a party, etc) and how it could impact others. The goal is to get them to pause, at least, before acting. Like counting to 10. There may be room in there for them to think about the impact on themselves. Kids generally know what they should do..they just don't take the time to think about the consequences first. If they would just pause before acting, they will generally make a good decision. I tell them that I think they are smart and I will trust them as long as I see them making decisions with a "pause" first. They will make mistakes, but less (I hope).

Posted by: newtoblog | March 14, 2007 8:17 AM

I've been lurking around for a while, but not had time to join in until now.

I'm going to hop on the 'most teens are good people' bandwagon. I'm on the third of three now and none have been problems. They have their moments, of course, but on the whole our relationships have made it through the teen years without much turmoil.

To John L - since your friend's daughter lives at some distance, I'd suggest her choice of Instant Messenger providers (AIM, Yahoo, etc). They are free and can let mom and daughter talk at great length and (hopefully) privately.

Posted by: atlanta wallflower | March 14, 2007 8:19 AM

OK, at what age can a child choose their own clothes (obviously within limits)? I was thinking if your old enough to choose your own clothes each day, then your old enough to do your own laundry. So somewhere around age 10. My only exception would be church and family events. Clearly, I want a say in formal and semi formal functions. Does that sound reasonable?

Posted by: foamgnome | March 14, 2007 8:20 AM

I have to chime in the cell phone for kids issue. My 10 year old son received one for Christmas this past year - it is a kid-phone, i.e. can only call 4 pre-programmed numbers. It gives me comfort that I can call him when he is at a sports practice or with his friends. More importantly, he can call if he is in trouble. His grandmother loves to call him 'just to chat', which he enjoys also.....just my 2 cents.

Posted by: Michelle | March 14, 2007 8:24 AM

We let out kids choose their clothes, with guidelines. And they must sort their clothes for laundry day, and then when they received their folded clean clothes, they must put them away. I want to actually do the laundry, though......

Posted by: Michelle | March 14, 2007 8:26 AM

John L -
Tell your friend to talk to her ex. They should double team their daughter about sex and its consequences. Then they should make sure she is on birth control. Not the pill. Teenagers can't be trusted to remember to take it every day. But maybe something like Deprovera. What is she waiting for?

Posted by: Emily | March 14, 2007 8:27 AM

Foamgnome:

Yes, it is reasonable. A friend of mine in high school did this. Of course, most kids do not need the money anymore, so they are not doing it- but you shouldbe able to find a college student.

Posted by: atlmom | March 14, 2007 8:28 AM

Sniff, this is very timely since my dd is going to turn 11 in less than 2 weeks. She is fairly tall for her age, and started her "you-know-what" last October. She is now wearing the same shoe size as me, although she is still about 3 inches or so shorter.

She sometimes acts like a bratty teenager and sometimes like a little kid. But she still likes me tucking her in at night and snuggling. But she is embarrassed to have me show up at school. She hates smoking and drinking, and apparently heard on Nick News (thanks Linda Ellerbee) about online predators so is very cautious about that. We just got her a cell phone too since one of her best friends does not have a land line in their house. She is paying for it ($10 a month)

Posted by: librarianmom | March 14, 2007 8:30 AM

Fred

"If you read the news, you will find that parents taking care of their grandchildren is a growing way of life."


How many of the grandchildren are put up for adoption? How do the grandparents feel about that?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 14, 2007 8:32 AM

Two thoughts: First, I think the 11-13 years are actually easier than people give them credit for. Most kids, if raised properly, are still relatively polite and do what they are supposed to do. It's when they hit 14, 15, 16, that they can really start to be more rude to their parents. Usually, as they become seniors in high school, they start to mellow a bit. Obviously, though, this is just a generalization.

Second, I think that the use of cell phones (and before that, beepers) paradoxically creates more problems than it solves. I also think that giving a cell phone to a 10 year old is just stupid.

Cell phones make the parents FEEL like their kids are safer because these parents THINK they can get in touch with the kids any time. However, parents are incredibly naive and stupid. They do not realize that their kids are far smarter and far more about to outsmart their parents. The Washington Post did an article quite a while ago illustrating how kids were able to deceive their parents with the use of cell phones. They could convince them that they were somewhere else rather than where they should have been. Through the supposed safety granted by cell phones, they could convince their parents to let them stay out later and to do this at younger ages than kids without cell phones could do.

In other words, parents think cell phones add safety and so loosen their rules. Really, it's just stupid, but most wealthy parents who can afford cell phones for their kids (which is most people in the D.C. area) will do it anyway. Peer pressure and all that.

Posted by: Ryan | March 14, 2007 8:32 AM

Why is it that we get the bad calls at 5-5:30am? That is when I found out about my dad.
Now I have my mother to worry about but most of the time it is my car pooler calling (thank goodness).

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 14, 2007 8:33 AM

"When the phone rings that early in the morning, someone is in jail or the hospital!"

So true.

I'd add that as your kids get older that late night/early morning call is just as likely to be about your own parents, more likely the hospital than jail, than it is about your growing-up kids.

I think the whole thing works out. You get hit with all the little problems when they're little so when the big problems come along you've learned a little about handling them.

What's really wonderful is when you see your growing-up kids handle their own problems. Sometimes it's hard to wait but it's very rewarding.

When I got home from work yesterday I was greeted with the news that both children had applied for jobs. As the Chinese say, "long journey starts with first step."

Posted by: RoseG | March 14, 2007 8:33 AM

"You might want to check the stats on cars totaled by teens."

Posted by: | March 14, 2007 07:56 AM

My personal stat is 3 and counting. But here is a GOOD story about AF dau totaling a car. I received one of those 5 am calls but it was 10 at night. Dau started crying and said I am sorry for wrecking your Infiniti! I said OK but is anyone hurt? No one was hurt. How many in the car? There are four of us! I drove over to pick them up in the mommy van. The car was crushed! She had been following too closely, distracted by her friend and another driver had made an illegal U turn two cars ahead. Stuff happens. But all four kids had been wearing their seatbelts. All of my kids and anyone who is in my car always buckles up. So, I really was not mad at her. The big point of this post is that we cannot keep our kids safe from everything but by our consistent actions we can teach our children good behaviors and those behaviors do pay off in the long run. (but she never had another car!)

Posted by: Fred | March 14, 2007 8:33 AM

I'm glad Emily brought up the point about the mom talking to her ex. Of course, the father should be involved in his daughter's health care too. We don't know the details of the custody arrangement/health insurance situation either. I do think it's worth finding the best medical care possible, specializing in/with experience in adolescent care. This kind of health care provider would likely be able to help with smoking/substance abuse issues too.

Posted by: Another Librarianmom | March 14, 2007 8:34 AM

As teenagers, more than ever, they need you as PARENTS! yes, this is the time of their life where they are to be granted more independence, etc., but it is also the time of their life that they need guidance more than ever!

Also, this is the time of their life where your behavior as a parent has a resounding impact on the kids. If you say 'don't drink and drive' - you'd better not drink and drive. This is the time where kids can highly sense hypocritical behavior and can resent you for it... I know.. I live from experience on that one. You can be an excellent parent all their lives and then go thru a hard time when they are a teen, make a stupid judgement call on your own behavior, and it lives a lasting impact.

There is time later to be friends with your teenager; now is the time to still continue to be their parent.

Posted by: C.W. | March 14, 2007 8:35 AM

John,
I dated a custodial father of a troubled teen. It was obvious to me that her mother had a lot of clout over her. She worshipped her mother. This may have been because the mom wasn't around at all for about seven years, but being removed makes communication easier. It's possible that not being a part of her everyday life may actually work to her advantage here. The child may actually share more with the mom than with the dad.

If she can set up regular meetings and ask good questions, it's quite possible she can do a great deal more guidance than she thinks. The key is consistency and regularity, along with gaining trust. Be there, have fun, and don't always talk about the serious stuff. Work it in, but don't focus on it too much. Provide humility to her ("I totally screwed up when I did something like that..."), and be honest about good and bad things. Try to build her up as much as possible by asking her opinions and asking her to connect the facts to make a conclusion about decisions she's made in her life.

Good luck.

Posted by: kate | March 14, 2007 8:35 AM

cmac,
Let your daughter shave her legs. Or take her to get them waxed. Prepubescent boys (and girls) can be really cruel. I remember a boy on the bus in middle school calling out sasquatch and chubaka when a girl with hairy legs walked down the isle. I still cringe when I remember.

Posted by: Emily | March 14, 2007 8:36 AM

I let my 4 YO dress himself-he's been doing it at least a year. No guidelines. We tell him whether it is cold or not, what we think he should wear, and that's that. We tell him that if he's cold, he has to deal with it. Makes for some interesting combinations but who cares. He's 4.
He puts his clothes in the laundry room (closet really), and so does the 2 YO. Make 'em work, I say!

Posted by: atlmom | March 14, 2007 8:36 AM

"How many of the grandchildren are put up for adoption? How do the grandparents feel about that?"


Posted by: | March 14, 2007 08:32 AM

In Frieda's experience, she can count adoptions on 1 hand.

Posted by: Fred | March 14, 2007 8:42 AM

Happy Mom,
Yes, hip hop doesn't send quite a wholesome message. However, let me recall some tunes from my younger years: Afternoon delight, The Streak, I want to be sedated, Eighteen, don't fear the reaper, only women bleed, did yer make her, any clash song, killer queen, psycho killer, comfortably numb, changes ....

sex, drugs and rocknroll has been the message for nigh on 50 years at this point.

Posted by: dotted | March 14, 2007 8:44 AM

CMAC
When my sister went to Egypt her program discouraged them from bringing razors (because of the water) so the girls in her program found these plastic razors that work with a cream at the local drug store. They might be a good choice for a younger girl.

Posted by: Bookworm Mom | March 14, 2007 8:44 AM

Happy Mom,

Your daughter probably hasn't truly listened to the lyrics. She probably just likes the beat of the music. You should try talking to her about the lyrics, make her realize what they are saying. Ask her what she thinks about them. Just have open communication; don't accuse her or go in with the attitude that she won't be allowed to listen to it. I know I went through a period of time where I listened to hip hop music. One day I actually listened to the lyrics and was horrified. I stopped listening to it. You would be amazed how easy it is to find music lyrics on the internet; just google it and print it out for her to look at.

Posted by: Meredith | March 14, 2007 8:45 AM

Definately let your daughter shave her legs. I was a tall,hairy girl in elementary school and was ashamed of my legs. Even in the summer I wore knee socks.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 14, 2007 8:47 AM

more to Happy mom-
I forgot to add the whole point! What Meredith wrote is correct. I remember the first time I actually listened to Roxanne and realized it was about a prostitute. for years, I was singing the words and not realizing what I was saying. Good tune though.

Posted by: dotted | March 14, 2007 8:47 AM

Thanks. I'm fairly sure she's gone over the basics with her daughter already, but her comments make me think that the advice is "in one ear and out the other". Mom's a smart woman but she's got troubles of her own, and is feeling out of touch with her teen-but-wants-to-be-treated-as-an-adult-already daughter's everyday life.

I'll see if I can steer our conversation over to this subject delicately next time I see her.

Posted by: John L | March 14, 2007 8:50 AM

To John L and the advice I would give to your friend:

She needs to move close to her daughter. I can't for the life of me figure out why on Earth she'd live 3 states away for the past 15 years from her daughter. If it's for a job- who cares? Her daughter is in trouble. She's spent the last 15 years living a life she wanted while the father raised her child- it's time to step up tot he plate and be a mother.i'm honestly horrified that a mother would do this (I'm also equally horrified when a father lives so far away as well)

Posted by: to John L | March 14, 2007 8:51 AM

Dotted,

I recently heard that The Who is back on tour. Has the price of Metamucil gone up that much?

Posted by: Fred | March 14, 2007 8:52 AM

I love you Fred.

Posted by: dotted | March 14, 2007 8:53 AM

Without going into my friend's past and current life any more than is anyone's business here (including mine), suffice it to say moving closer to her daughter and ex-husband is impossible for many and varied reasons.

Posted by: John L | March 14, 2007 8:54 AM

more songs from the past: Fast Car (Tracey Chapman), Young Turks (Rod Stewart). The lyrics are nothing new...

Posted by: JerseyGirl | March 14, 2007 8:54 AM

What a timely topic. We had our first big issue with the 13 year old this weekend - she told us one thing, did something else (involved going to a movie, but she really just hung out outside the theatre). She didn't know that we'd been sitting in the parking lot (because we'd planned on picking her up after the first movie, which she did go to) and watched her the entire time she was 'going to a second movie'. It took her a day to admit it. She's feeling guilty to some extent, I think, but...

I am glad we bought her the cell phone. She talks to friends more than anything, but it is nice to call her when she's at 'other mother's house' and talk occasionally. Now if she would just call us occasionally...

Posted by: Rebecca in AR | March 14, 2007 8:55 AM

Dotted,

Just don't tell Frieda. Recall that she has promised me that she would relieve me of 2 important things if I leave her.

Posted by: Fred | March 14, 2007 8:55 AM

hey "to John L"
How do you know the girl's father didn't move away from the girl's mother? How do you know the girls' father wouldn't keep moving just to get away? This scenario seems pretty likely to me.

Posted by: dotted | March 14, 2007 8:55 AM

Re: The Who

Maybe the price of Depends. Anyone else remember the cover of "Who's Next"?

Posted by: Another Librarianmom | March 14, 2007 8:55 AM

Well, none of us here would want you to lose anything! ha ha!

Posted by: dotted | March 14, 2007 8:57 AM

Oh, damn, this conversation is going downhill fast. I may have to post my CTOTD a bit earlier!

Posted by: Fred | March 14, 2007 8:57 AM

Oh Lord! Some of you are being a little judgemental.

From Bethesad "I'm telling you, the majority of teenagers out there are kind, decent people, much more so than many adults."

Please you can be kind and decent and trying really hard and still be in a car accident. Do you really mean to imply that everyone involved in car accidents is somehow a bad person. You can also be kind and decent and have sex.

Really this is not extreme rebellion just life. So yes, we can educate or children on the dangers of sex and get lots of drivers ed. But good, decent kids can still have accidents and may just have sex before marriage. And we would all be wise to handle these situtions with love and compassion and not harsh judgement and ridicule.

Posted by: Tessa | March 14, 2007 8:59 AM

More lyrics
Jackson Browne, Rosie:
"But rosie youre all right -- you wear my ring
When you hold me tight -- rosie thats my thing
When you turn out the light -- Ive got to hand it to me
Looks like its me and you again tonight rosie"

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 14, 2007 9:02 AM

I have a few years to go, oldest is 10, but past experience is my greatest fear:
I was a great student, had a squeaky-clean image, and was a hellion. So much could have gone wrong - drinking and driving, sex, pot, sneaking out at night. I'm surprised I rarely got caught! I can only remember twice that I got totally busted. I don't know how made it through HS, honestly.

My mom and I talked often, and I assured her I didn't drink, do drugs, have sex. Did she beleive me? I don't know. But I didn't feel like 'the man was keeping me down'.

I came and went as I pleased, and the couple of times I got caught I was competely mortified and felt so horribly bad - but it's not like i changed my behavior. I just took extra steps to never get caught.

My point is.... how do we really KNOW that our teens are not misbehaving?

Posted by: Sneaky ExTeen | March 14, 2007 9:03 AM

Music Lyrics (Seriously)

I know what you mean about how the lyrics are demeaning and an affront to women. I am more than a bit disgusted by this. I asked my girls about this once. I said do you really understand that these "musicians" are calling women Ho's and worse? They both said now that you mention it, yea but we like the beat. So I made up my own little ditty to sing when an obnoxious song is playing. My ditty is titled "My Baby Ho" Not only can I not sing but my lyrics were terrible.

None the less, they both still listen. What can a parent do sometimes?

Posted by: Fred | March 14, 2007 9:04 AM

Fred- cultural tidbit is always good.

Back to the topic: for those of you with littlies, can you stand some advice?

Did you notice all this emphasis on talking with your pre-teen, tween, teen? Forming their own opinion and having them own it is key. Well, those of you with littlies: start talking now...like as soon as they can talk. Those talks you have about some fellow kid doing something inappropriate when they are 3 is *almost* just like the talk you have when they are 13. ALMOST, but not quite. When they are 6 and crying because someone hurt their feelings, hit their friend, whatever, you keep talking about inappropriate behavior and what it means to them to hang out with those exhibiting inappropriate behavior. If you start the habit now, it sure is easier later on to keep talking.

I'm not sure about the strength of my examples, but hopefully, I'm getting the idea across.

Posted by: dotted | March 14, 2007 9:05 AM

dotted,

That's what happened, actually. My friend has lived in NC for many, many years; it's her ex who moved away. Like I said, she can't move anywhere at this point, though, for other reasons.

Posted by: John L | March 14, 2007 9:07 AM

Re: the hairy legs - I also say let her shave them. She may ultimately do so on her own. That's what I did when I started to feel self-conscious about it.

Re: music -- one word "Grease." This was one of my FAVORITE albums growing up. My grandmother bought it for me as a gift and I would lip sync to it in the mirror with my friends. Of course, some of the words I didn't recognize or really know. Just sort of sang what I thought they were saying. It wasn't until many, many years later, listening ot the lyrics that I realized that they really are quite graphic in places. (Think "Greased Lightening" and the refernce to the car being a real "pu--y wagon."

Then, in High School, I listened to a little bit of rap. Eazy-E comes to mind. VERY graphic. But I didn't do drugs or yell "F the Police" or any of the other things mentioned in those songs.

I agree with the poster who says that many kids -not all- don't even really listen to the lyrics. If it appears that they are, TALK to them!

Finally, re: all the hard topics (esp. drugs, drinking and sex) I think that you have to keep the lines of communication open. Be honest about the consequences. Don't necessarily blow a gasket if they are honest about their actions . . .

I agree that most teens are not bad kids. They do make mistakes, however. We should not bury our heads in the sand. If my daughter were exhibiting some signs as mentioned by one poster today, she would be at the Gyn. for an exam and talk, and on BC aspap. That's just me though . . .

Posted by: JS | March 14, 2007 9:07 AM

"littlies"

sounds like small private parts - there must be a better word

Posted by: Anonymous | March 14, 2007 9:08 AM

Thanks for your comments. Yes, I agree that a lot of hip hop sends a dangerous and misogynist message. It's also here to stay. Some of it is also great social commentary.

She does listen to the lyrics, she told me she was going to run away after getting grounded this weekend. Then I listened to the lyrics and made the connection.

Her favorite shows are Wicked and Les Miserables, which have fairly mature themes. However, those pieces have more direct resolution so it's easier to have those difficult conversations about the music.

Lest, you think we're trying to keep her in a bubble: We live in a fairly small town, Flint, MI (Go Lakisha!) My kids go to a small (300 students) catholic school. She has classmates who are being raised by grandparents because the parents are on drugs or in jail. This week I attended the funeral of a classmate's father who was shot and killed during a robbery of his liquor store. In January we attended the funeral of a classmate's teenaged sister, killed in a car wreck driving to school with another teenager.

My kids see the world of the girls in this song every day.

Anyway, I'm ranting and turning in to Tipper Gore. I need to go to an Aerosmith concert.

Thanks for all your support!

Posted by: HappyMom | March 14, 2007 9:10 AM

cmac: teach the girl to shave. One of my camp mates had hairy legs and her mom did not let her shave them and she felt awful about it. Not worth the fight. Besides different kids develop at different rates. I mean, you would not prevent her from wearing a bra if she needed one at age 10? So shaving is really no difference. I think DD will be in the hairy leg catagory. She must get that from her dad.

On topic, how many of you adjust your work schedule so you can be home after school for your teen? I would love to work partime and be home by 3:30. But somehow, I have not found an employer willing to let me leave one hour later. DD will be in school till 2:35 through 5 th grade. But I would love to be home around 3:30 for teenage children. Even with the HS getting out at 2:30. If I could get home an hour earlier, it seems like it would detract some of the problems. Although some of my friends said being home by 4:30 worked very well. Most of their kids were involved in some activities after school, so they were not home alone too much. Do you guys really leave your kids home till after 6PM each night?

Posted by: foamgnome | March 14, 2007 9:13 AM

(Warning: long message. Skip now if you're not interested in this.)

Wow, so much stuff here today, and very relevant for me. (FWIW, I actually did submit a guest blog on this topic to Leslie several weeks ago.)

First thought - Peter Lynch, the legendary mutual fund maestro (Fidelity Magellan) retired early, in his early 40's, I think. One of the comments he made was that his daughters were teenagers, and they needed him more than they did when they were younger. While I don't have the money Mr. Lynch has and thus can't retire right now, I believe that his point is correct - in some way, my teenagers do need me more now than when they were younger. I switched to a job 4 years ago where I travel a lot less; I make sure I have a job with flexible hours so that I can be there when needed.

What do teenagers need from their parents? More than anything else, they need you to set an example. While they're listening to you talk, they're watching what you do much more.

My daughters attend Mt. Hebron High School in Howard County. You may have heard of it a few weeks ago. A set of parents let their senior child host an unsupervised party. It's apparently a fairly regular occurrence with that family. They want their son to experience life; they don't want to baby him - he's almost 18. So what happened? A bunch of kids came over, got all liquored up, and then went off to fight some kids from another part of the county. When it was over, one of the kids was dead - hit in the back of the head with a baseball bat.

The relevance? My freshman daughter didn't know anything about it, but my senior daughter knew most of the people who were there - the boy who died had been in her homeroom until he dropped out in December. My daughter had been at her best friend's house that night. The best friend's boyfriend came over and asked them if they wanted to go to the party. Thank God the girls had the good sense to say no; my daughter was home when the events happened. As for the boyfriend, he got away with only a citation for underaged drinking when the police raided the party. He didn't go along when the more thoroughly liquored up crowd was rounding up people to go off to the fight.

Other issues:

- driver's license. The kids get their licenses when I think they're ready. Oldest daughter got her license at 17; son is now 16 and has his learner's permit. 15-year old daughter will get her permit next year.
- cars: when they buy them. We have three cars - the Mommy van a la Fred and Frieda; my new Corolla; and my old 1991 Ford Escort with 254,000 miles on it. DD is allowed to drive the Escort to school and work; she has to chauffeur her sister. Other driving is on an "as needed" basis - if we need her to drive somewhere, she can. This provides us leverage - mess up and you're riding the school bus or being driven by Dad. Not cool for a senior.
- cell phones - the kids have one phone to share. (I have one I need for work; my wife has one which can also be loaned to children if two children need a phone at the same time.) Normally oldest daughter has it (that Escort really will break down sometime). If one of her siblings has a road game (softball, band, whatever), they get it. When oldest daughter goes away to college this fall, she'll get that cell phone and I'll get another one for the other 3 to share. I'm sorry, but 10 year olds have no need for a phone of their own. It's a nice "play pretty".

Sex, drugs and rock'n roll: The kids will mostly follow your example. Yes, as Fred has noted, some will follow their own muse no matter what you do. But the kids have learned: the girls that became pregnant during high school, and the boys that fathered children during high school, often descend from parents whose current behavior is not far off. (If Mom is known to be having sex with at least 4 different men, and has had 3 abortions in the last five years, it's not really a surprise when daughter winds up pregnant as a 16 year old. If Dad has fathered children by three different women, none of which he was married to at the time, it's not a surprise when son tries to break dad's record.) Similar lessons apply for alcohol and narcotics.

Sorry for the long-winded post, but this is my issue. And while we're a long way from perfect, my wife and I try to live by two rules right now:

- always let them know that you're there for them, even as you give them more independence
- be there and set an example, don't just tell them

Posted by: Army Brat | March 14, 2007 9:13 AM

Grease! You're right! Talk about a message... good girls never get the guy. Must rat my hair, wear tight clothes and smoke! Yes, that's what i need to do! :)

I've heard people say the High School Musical is the Grease of this generation. At least in HSM the girl didn't change for the boy.

Posted by: JerseyGirl | March 14, 2007 9:14 AM

Thanks, dotted. I'm already having some of these conversations with my 1st grader. I didn't think the mean girl stuff would start so soon. Already, she has a friend who has been getting in of trouble for picking on other kids. She picked on DD too. DD even got in trouble with this girl once. I think she thought if she didn't go along she'd be the victim.

I'm trying to explain that she will be judged by who she is friends with and that's it's wrong to join in. She should tell her friend to stop being mean and/or walk away. I wonder how much DD can absorb at such a young age, but I try anyway. I think some of it is getting through.

We've read some picture books about bullying. Most of the parenting books dealing with this seem to be about somewhat older girls. It's terrible that this stuff seems to be starting so young.
Of course, this is all part of character development.

Posted by: Another Librarianmom | March 14, 2007 9:14 AM

"dd is going to turn 11 in less than 2 weeks. She is fairly tall for her age, and started her "you-know-what" last October."

Good Lord! My 10 year old was having cramps this morning - but I was hoping for a couple more years before the actual period started! Is this normal? I think I was 13 or so . .

Posted by: to librarianmom | March 14, 2007 9:15 AM

"You might want to check the stats on cars totalled by teens."

And you might want to check the stats on teens that total cars.


Posted by: Anonymous | March 14, 2007 9:15 AM

"When the phone rings that early in the morning, someone is in jail or the hospital!"

My family is very practical midwesterners - If something awful happened you will need a good night sleep to deal with it. I know if the phone rings in the night, it is not my side of the family! They really wouldn't want to bother anyone! funny.

Also re: good teens, bad decisions. I don't think parents know what's going on often. I was an athelete, in AP classes and a pretty respectful kid who snuck out, drank with senior boys and got high in the parking lot with the son of the elementary school principal. My parents always talked to me and set a wonderful example, there were consequences for my actions etc... and I still made some pretty poor choices that could have gone either way. I was sneaky enough not to get caught. I think that is what scares me the most - you really never know.

Posted by: moxiemom | March 14, 2007 9:15 AM

An electric razor would be a safe alternative too.

Posted by: Re: girl shaving her legs | March 14, 2007 9:16 AM

Foamgnome: Do you guys really leave your kids home till after 6PM each night?

_________________

No. Okay, there are very rare occasions, but they are just that - rare. Why? One, we want to be involved in what our kids are doing. Two, we want to show them that we're still there. And three, they'll spend all that time IM'ing friends, watching MTV and playing video games - homework will never get done.

Fortunately, my kids are often involved in after school activities - oldest daughter is in the school play, which is next week, so rehearsals run late. Middle daughter made the softball team - YAY! - and doesn't get home until about 5:30. And son gets home from his Catholic school by carpool at around 4:30. So it's not too bad. But when there's nothing going on and the girls get home at about 2:30, we try to make sure that we're on them to get their work done.

Posted by: Army Brat | March 14, 2007 9:18 AM

My oldest daughter is 17 and a great kid. I often wonder what I did right and if I can repeat it over and over with all the rest. She gets good grades, she is responsible, she tells the truth, and she works hard . However, it hasn't always been like this-when her hormones kicked in at 11 she was so moody and emotional and that she was just unable to have a conversation without screaming or bursting into tears. Over time we have had the normal teenage testing of limits with curfew violations (I ground a day for every minute over curfew which fixed that fast) and some disrespect issues for which my husband just removes the cables for the TV and ipod and takes away her phone and her life narrows down really fast. Nothing too bad or offensive.

On the issue of sex I have always talked to my kids, from the very first questions all the way up to now openly, honestly and without judgement because I want them to know they can ask me. Sometimes I am screaming inside "where did you hear that?" but I want them to ask so I remain calm and answer, starting slow and vague and then listening to the questions to see if they want more information. My daughter uses the pill, not for sexual activity but for hormone control and control of her cycles. That may sound niave on my part but I trust her to tell me, she knows she can, and I took her to the doctor and we all three talked about it. (She has six younger siblings, the idea of having a baby scares her--good birth control)

Friends are a whole other issue. I say meet their friends, their friends parents, their friends boyfriends, know them all. Watch them all. My daughter has had a couple of friends self implode and it is so hard. I just try to help the best I can, we have had friends crash here after blow outs with their parents and then disappear. I just try to provide a safe warm place for my girl to feel secure. She had a friend that was really dragging her down. My DD was so moody and closed down for a while and it took some real probing to figure out this toxic friend was killing her self esteem, calling her names, being nasty about any accomplishments and just being hateful. One day they had been talking on the phone and my daughter came out of her room and slammed into the bathroom, she threw the phone on the couch--well it started to ring so I answered it--caller ID said it was miss toxic, and when I answered .she was screaming profanity at my daughter for hanging up on her. Mom doesn't take that and I told her so in no uncertain terms. She never called again and DD has thanked me over and over. This girl lacks basic respect for herself and others and is still abusing friends, and losing friends.

For music I have rules. DS is 12 he wants that offensive acid heavy rock loud music and I say clearly not in my house, not in your ears, not on the ipod. He says it is just music and I say no it is a lifestyle, an anger management issue, and filled with nasty hateful messages and I won't have it. Turn it off and throw it away. For the young girl that likes to listen to the radio buy CD's, they turn themselves off and you can moniter or burn her some of her favorites.

It is so hard. I do both, little ones that won't potty train, need speech therapy and teenagers driving in bad weather and freaking out over prom and college applications. I just keep going trying to keep us all together.

Posted by: magnificent7mom | March 14, 2007 9:18 AM

moxiemom: yes! that is exactly what scares me the most!

Posted by: Sneaky ExTeen | March 14, 2007 9:18 AM

In Grease there was a pregnancy scare.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 14, 2007 9:19 AM

Thanks, dotted, for the suggestion. DD#1 is always saying that adults stereotype her friends because of the way they dress and the kind of music they listen to -- so the next time this comes up I can ask her what a troubled teen does look like/do. I've always pointed out when kids we know have gotten into trouble -- the stroll with a friend example above happened to DD#1's best friend's brother, my stepbrother's stepdaughter (how about that?) is in alcohol rehab at 17 -- and especially where those consequences seemed unlikely at the outset.

I second (or third) the view that it's much more important to be home with your kids when they're in high school than it is when they're little. It's more fun and fulfilling for the parent to bond with the little ones, but they need you SO much more in high school. Who else can counsel them about how to manage their school work, deal with their friends, talk to their teachers, and ensure that they have the skills to go off to college or work?

Posted by: LML | March 14, 2007 9:23 AM

Army Brat

"And three, they'll spend all that time IM'ing friends, watching MTV and playing video games - homework will never get done."

Why do you let this crap in your house?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 14, 2007 9:25 AM

Army Brat,

AF dau totaled the Infiniti not the mommy van. Wait, she totaled the mommy van later. She also broke a Humvee but that is a different story.

So, AF dau doesn't even ask to drive the new Infiniti, #1 dau asked but does not get to either. I don't even let Frieda drive it.

(the totaled Infiniti did have 227,000 miles on it.)

Posted by: Fred | March 14, 2007 9:27 AM

Mom was SaH but never home when I got home from school. My sisters were, but by the time I went to high school, they were out of the house.
So I was basically on my own, had a few activities, but not to occupy all my time, was a great student, but made some stupid choices at times. Mom said years later that she always knew when I wasn't in schoolcause they'd call-but she covered for me (me, the geek wouldmany of those times be in the cafeteria doing homework/ studying, tho).

I think part of it is hoping u did the right thing and letting them make their own mistakes.

Posted by: atlmom | March 14, 2007 9:28 AM

Not to digress too much but . . .

I would also point out that "Danny" did change for "Sandy" too in Grease. Remember the end where he informs the guys that he lettered in track while they were out stealing hubcaps? That he'd do anything to win her back?

Of course, they both revert to the black leather wearing and groping shortly thereafter.

Posted by: JS | March 14, 2007 9:31 AM

Many an infant that screams like a calliope
Could be soothed by a little attention to its diope.

Posted by: Ogden Nash | March 14, 2007 9:32 AM

songs from the past - My Ding-a-Ling.

Army Brat - I'm Howard county also. The Mt Hebron incident is a sad story all around. The families of both boys have been shattered.

One thing I have found is that many, many parents give their children lots of freedom if they are kind, respectful, and get good grades. There are 17 year-olds who do whatever they want from the time they leave home until they get back home. As long as the grades are good and they make curfew, nothing is questioned.

My daughter hates being treated like a "baby". If she says that she is going to a party, we check with parents. If she says that she is at a friend's house, we have her call from the house phone. She actually came home one night when we said that she would have to call from the house or come home.

She has friends whose parents allow 'supervised' parties, but send all the kids downstairs and never walk down there while the party is going on. She has friends who are allowed to have co-ed sleepovers.

I also think that having more than one child helps in the teenage years. While they can, and often do, double team against the parents; there is also a little safety in numbers. I really didn't think my daughter would be having sex in the house while her little brother was hanging around.

Posted by: Just a thought | March 14, 2007 9:34 AM

I also think that having more than one child helps in the teenage years. While they can, and often do, double team against the parents; there is also a little safety in numbers. I really didn't think my daughter would be having sex in the house while her little brother was hanging around.

My older brother has lots of SEX while his younger brother and sister was around. He would pay us bribe money not to tell.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 14, 2007 9:36 AM

To: anon at 9:25: "And three, they'll spend all that time IM'ing friends, watching MTV and playing video games - homework will never get done."

Why do you let this crap in your house?

______________________

Because it's not "crap"; it's useful in context. Instant messaging is a very useful tool; I use it at work all the time. It's also a good way for the teens to chat with their friends and doesn't tie up the phones. Last night the 15-year old was working on a GT Biology assignment with her lab partner, communicating via IM. It was great, because I was using the phone to talk to my mother about her plans for coming up for graduation in late May.

MTV? Well, I'm not a huge fan of it, but in context there are worse things. I will say that I don't have HBO, Showtime, Skin-e-max, etc. in the house. But we do try to have discussions about what's on, what's useful, etc.

Video games - useful entertainment, in moderation and context. The kids used to love DDR, which is great exercise - my wife even used it as an exercise program for a while! The son is now into Guitar Hero and the middle daughter into SingStar (a karaoke program) - fun to watch them compete with each other.

In short, I allow it in the house because it's not, in my opinion, "crap"; but I do try to control it so that the proper context is maintained.

Posted by: Army Brat | March 14, 2007 9:36 AM

I really didn't think my daughter would be having sex in the house while her little brother was hanging around

Hopefully not your daughter but one guy on To Catch a Predator brought his son to the house for sex with underage girl!

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 14, 2007 9:37 AM

That is a scary part about teens being home alone - boys and girls. Even tho the show has been on for quite a while guys still keep showing up.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 14, 2007 9:40 AM

to: just a thought: I agree with what you say, and it sounds like we treat our kids the same way. The kids don't go to "friends' houses" unless we know who they are and who the parents are. And they know that we WILL call the parents on occasion just to check in.

My teenagers all like to talk about how they have no social life, no fun, etc. but the way they talk it seems to me that they're secretly relieved in some ways.

Now, if they start getting into college and going completely wild, I might regret not letting them have a little more freedom, but that's to be seen in the future.

Posted by: Army Brat | March 14, 2007 9:41 AM

Okay, here's a question for the rest of you with teenagers or older (or you can answer in your own case): how many of them rebelled against the parent of their own gender while maintaining better relationships with the other parent?

That happened in our family, with all three of the teenagers so far (youngest daughter is 10 and hasn't rebelled yet). Okay, the "rebellion" has been mild, but in terms of disrespect, backtalk, obstinance, etc. It seems that the girls get along much better with me than with my wife, and our son gets along better with his mother than with me.

I was somewhat shocked - I'd always heard that, for instance, the daughters have to break the bonds with me so that they can later form bonds with another man, but the pediatrician told us it's fairly common.

I'm just curious how common.

Posted by: Army Brat | March 14, 2007 9:45 AM

Ah, yes - college. ArmyBrat, not saying this is you - but my college roommate went crazy in college! It was the first time she'd been out of her little town with no supervision. She partied-hardy for the first semester. Every night out, barely made it to class. She was a mess! Never really recovered, either. Had to go back home and attend the town college to graduate.

Posted by: Sneaky ExTeen | March 14, 2007 9:45 AM

"I don't want to think about the tweener years (11-13). We are still dealing with some little kid stuff, like this morning my daughter wanted to wear shorts to school so I let her. As we are walking out the door she says she wants to change, not because it is cold outside but because a kid in her class teased her about having hairy arms and she didn't want him to say anything about her hairy legs. I really felt for her - I was kinda hairy at that age and mortified when snickering boys teased me. In the minute I had to talk to her about it I told her to ask him how he would feel if she made fun of his nose, or ears, or some other body part. If nothing else I said she should just say - don't make fun of me - it's not nice. She can't wear long pants all spring because of some kid in her class. Any suggestions from anyone?"

Yes--if she wants to shave, go ahead and let her. But also ask her this: how much does this persons opinion really mean to her? If he makes fun of her eyebrows, will she shave those too? How much is she willing to change for people she doesn't even really like? My daughter has hairy arms. So did I. I was also teased--told my mom, who had no good advice. But my daughter took it a step further--she shaved her arms. I took a deep breath, gave her my mini lecture, and told her that if she really wanted to remove the hair from her arms that shaving would be a pain and that she should use Nair. This was last year in 6th grade. She is in 7th and could care less about her hair follicles. The kid who was making fun of her? After our talk, she had this light bulb go on and said--"Mommy, he is fat, ugly, and smelly! And he has no friends! I can't think why I care about what he thinks! I must have been having a brain spasm (what we say when we do something lame).' Then she hurried to assure me that being fat is not what made him a loser--it was how he treated everyone. (I guess she has heard me complain a bit too often about my weight). I also disarmed him by telling her that people who are cruel to other people are usually in pain themselves. Nobody at school has emotional power over her anymore. I think that is a pretty big thing.

Sorry for the novel! Also, my kids have cellphones. They have had them since they were 8 and 10, and NEVER USE THEM! I have had to institute a new policy--if you leave the house, take it with you or be grounded. And turn it on. My daughter calls me as soon as she gets on the bus (and I still snuggle her, but don't kiss her at the bus stop anymore).

Posted by: anon | March 14, 2007 9:46 AM

"I really didn't think my daughter would be having sex in the house while her little brother was hanging around. "

Ha ha!

There's one born every minute!

I have some swampland in Florida to sell you!

Posted by: Anonymous | March 14, 2007 9:46 AM

My 2 cents: my daughter (13) knows that she will not get a cellphone until she learns to drive. It doesn't stop her from begging - many of her friends have phones. Some of the parents say to me that they now see it was a mistake giving a 7th-grader a phone. (My personal exception: kids with divorced parents who have to reach one or the other, or who live in two different houses.)

My personal theory on why God invented adolescence: if kids stayed as cute as they were when they were little, you'd never want them to leave home!

Posted by: Loren | March 14, 2007 9:47 AM

We never had a curfew, my mom just thought it would lead to fights. We were expected home based on the activities (just hanging out would be earlier than movies, when I was inplays, they knew I'd be late cause of cast parties- but someone would still have to drive me hom). My mom figured that everyone else had curfews, let then fight with *their* parents about it- and I'd come home since there was nothing to do if my friends all had to go home.

Posted by: atlmom | March 14, 2007 9:47 AM

"None the less, they both still listen. What can a parent do sometimes?"

Buy some Indigo Girls and hope some granola lesbian wears off on them?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 14, 2007 9:48 AM

ArmyBrat

Both my daughter gave my wife hell and would sometime actually talk to me. The older boy gave us both hell but would talk with his mother. The younger son (in mild rebellion) talks to his sisters (his real parents) more but will actually talk with both of us--so far!

Posted by: Fred | March 14, 2007 9:48 AM

I think the most frightening thing we've dealt with so far has been my 17-year old stepdaughter's naivete (sp?) about using My Space and other web sites to put up information about herself. Initially, about maybe 5 years ago, she put up a page with her first and last name, school, photos, etc. We discovered it purely by accident and then had a discussion with her about it. We gave her a book to read (can't remember the name of it, it was about a young girl who meets someone over the internet and when she meets him in person, is assaulted). We told her that if we ever discovered that she put anything other than her name on the page again, she would be banned for a month while using the internet at our house. She was good for a while, and then maybe 18 months later, we once again stumbled upon a new page. I thought my husband was going to THROW UP as he read the details she'd put on this new page, such as the date she'd first had sex (not even in an exclusive relationship), the last time she'd had sex (in her father's truck with this random guy she'd gone to the movies with the night before) and when she'd last had alcohol, etc. This from a girl who has always been well liked, though not "popular", and is in the top 5 of her class.

We had had frank talks with her about being sexually active, and she'd always denied it. She's been allowed to have a small glass of wine or champagne at family celebrations. We thought we had an open relationship with her, one that was based on trust. Clearly, we were wrong. You just never know with your kids.

Posted by: Chiclet | March 14, 2007 9:49 AM

Army Brat, I'm totally not ganging up on you, but MTV is truly garbage. All of that Spring Break stuff, date my mom (this may be the most horrifying of all - the way these moms act), NEXT really garbage that simply objectifies women and encourages ramant drinking and casual sexual activity. I'd rather my teens watch Rome and Entourage than that junk, geeze, at least they might learn some history from Rome!

Posted by: moxiemom | March 14, 2007 9:49 AM

My daughter is 16 this March.

If you've done a good job in the first 10 years, the next 70 are down hill.

What kids learn in the first 10 years of their lives will determine what they do who they become and how the handle themselves. Hence the phrase: Kids are sponges.
Sure, there will be other issues, problems, concerns. But if you have taught them to handle them and not spent the first 10 years shielding the child from them , your child will turn out fine.

Posted by: John Q | March 14, 2007 9:49 AM

I don't think there is ever one fit solution. My parents were completely out to lunch. I mean they packed up every weekend and went upstate (4 hours away) by themselves. Left 17 year old, 13 year old and 12 year old alone every single weekend. Both boys (17 and 13) did immense partying. Threw wild parties at home, 17 year old was having girls over for sex, and what not. I did absolutely nothing. Seriously, I was the biggest goody two shoes that existed on the planet. I did not do it out of fear or good will. My parents did not care enough to ground us or have any significant consequences. I also was not so wonderfully hearted. I just think those things never interested me. I did drink a bit in college but not till I was senior. Never got into partying or sex stuff. So you just don't know. BTW, all three of us turned out to be decent tax paying adults. No criminal records, only children with in marital bonds, and can hold decent jobs. So who knows.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 14, 2007 9:50 AM

I was outside with my kids one day, and some of the tween/young teenaged kids were out too. Two brothers were home alone with a preschool-aged brother with the rule that friends can't go in the house when a parent wasn't home. One girl asked the older brother who was outside where the middle brother was. He said, "He's on the computer chatting with some girl." I said, "How does he know it's not some 240-lb. bald guy." The kids were pretty surprised I would say that, but I could tell that it made a couple of them think.

I get the impression that some of these tween/young teen-aged kids are more naive than we think. They just aren't that savvy that the bad stuff could happen to them.

Posted by: Another Librarianmom | March 14, 2007 9:50 AM

It happened that way in my (female) teenage angst years too. My dad was definitely the one I saw as my ally, the one who "got it" - my mom and I got along but I definitely favored my dad. FF to my 30s and now mom and I are really tight...

~PWOM

Posted by: to Army Brat | March 14, 2007 9:52 AM

"When kids turn 13, there is like a switch, suddenly, the mouth starts and the separation begins in earnest--they strain against your rules, ideas, your very presence. It's a lot of "I hate you" and "get out of my room". You can often still see the sweet kid there, but it's a phase that is mandatory for all teenagers. . . . As long as you fully understand that this is a mandatory phase in a person's life, you'll survive it. I'm actually kind of enjoying it."


Neither of ours felt the need to express their rebellion and rules-testing with rudeness or meanness. It's interesting that certain posters believe rudeness is mandatory, not optional. That attitude lets their kids off the hook to a certain extent, and themselves for tolerating this junk, by characterizing rude behavior as mandatory.

It is common. It is prevalent. It is not mandatory.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 14, 2007 9:55 AM

There is a book "Get out of my life, but first drive Cheryl and me to the mall" that I found very interesting. It's about why teens are the way they are and how to deal with it. What I remember most is that the book will not change anything except your understanding of the teen behavior and your ability to cope with the behaviors.

I don't remember all details, but it does address the reasons for disrespect toward one parent more than the other. There was something asserting their growing independence in different way. Boys go off to withdraw either in their rooms or out with friends. Girls stay around more, but break their bonds with parents by fighting. The closer the bonds, the more they fight to break it. My daughter must love me a lot :-).

Posted by: Just a thought | March 14, 2007 9:56 AM

"Buy some Indigo Girls and hope some granola lesbian wears off on them?"

Posted by: | March 14, 2007 09:48 AM


Hey, I really like the Indigo Girls. Some really interesting and introspective songs. You know, some real thought and meaning to their lyrics! Oh, wait a minute, the beat is all wrong.

Funny story about #4, he was looking thru my MP3's one day while talking on the phone to his friends. He said, "I can't believe this, dad has some Led Zeppelin!"

Posted by: Fred | March 14, 2007 9:58 AM

Funny Fred!

Posted by: moxiemom | March 14, 2007 10:01 AM

Fred,
I'm surprised he knew who Led Zeppelin is?
And, does he know WHAT a zeppelin is?

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 14, 2007 10:01 AM

Momof4, "I didn't. My friends didn't. My husband didn't. His friends didn't. Why should we assume our children will?"

Well, as a teenager, I smoked and got drunk with my friends, did bong hits almost daily 2 years before my parents figured it out, dropped LSD and lost my virginity at 16 to a 15 year old who was babysitting at the time.

but I was still a good kid. I was an honor roll student, kind, maintained several jobs, did charity work at the nursing home. I belonged to the church youth group, (I didn't mind doing the Bible thing if that's what it took to get under a girl's clothes). To impress my date's parents, I played piano for them, took mom out for a ride on my motorcycle, and offered dad the keys. I was attracted to "goody 2 shoes" girls that usually had overprotective parents and realized early on that to get time with their daughters, I would have to go through them.

I was a nightmare! What should I expect from my own teenagers? I do know what to look for and can recognize trouble... I mean, the old saying, "It takes one to know one."

John L, I think you should email your friend a link to this blog.

Posted by: Father of 4 | March 14, 2007 10:01 AM

Fred

Isn't it about time Army Brat was led away to the cave?????

You are supposed to to be the Nemesis of those who exhibit hubris.

Are you on vacation?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 14, 2007 10:02 AM

Fo4,

I did send it to her some time ago, but she's never said if she visited or not. If she did she's not said anything either here or to me about it!

Posted by: John L | March 14, 2007 10:06 AM

Or the old saying, "Do as I say, not as I did!"

Posted by: RJ | March 14, 2007 10:07 AM

In regards to Zepplins.

#4 and I watch Mythbusters together. If you watch the show, you know what I mean.

And as for all of the late 60's and 70's music, the teenagers and young adults know all about them. The music is being recycled. #1 dau's friend is a hugh Doors fan. Sometimes, we groove out together to "Loves her madly!"

Posted by: Fred | March 14, 2007 10:07 AM

Fred,
"This is the end"

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 14, 2007 10:08 AM

Quick response to bethesda--of course not all teenagers are the wild-partying, promiscuous, purposeful risk-taking types and most are very kind, sweet etc. I was of the kind, sweet variety. The most "trouble" I ever got in was going to ONE of these underage house parties and it kind of freaked me out so I asked to be taken home. Sex was delayed until well into college, I studied hard, played sports and squabbled with my family no more than I had as a pre-teen.

Even so, I now distinctly remember so many occasions when I was in some pretty risky situations--but they only seem risky in retrospect. When you're a teenager, you're just starting to learn to face the world completely alone, and as such you're judgment has not been developed, or you're just ignorant as to risks/dangers. I never purposefully took risks (well, big ones anyway), but looking back, I wound up taking a lot simply because I didn't realize that there was risk involved. Unfortunately, Mom can't follow 15 year olds everywhere so I guess you just hope that it all turns out alright.

Posted by: Cate | March 14, 2007 10:10 AM

Fred

"Isn't it about time Army Brat was led away to the cave?????
You are supposed to to be the Nemesis of those who exhibit hubris. Are you on vacation?"

The caves are a joint responsibility between Megan's Neighbor and me.

I really don't see much wrong with Army Brat, he just has a different POV. I don't think that he has even been snarky or down right hateful. He maybe talks a bit much but WHO am I to say anything about that!

Posted by: Fred | March 14, 2007 10:13 AM

I have only been on the teenaged end of this, but maybe I can help. It wasn't that long ago for me, and in many ways I still feel like a teenager!

Quick background: parents divorced when I was young, moved in with bio father (with whom I had no previous relationship) when I was 15 (better school district); he was typical bachelor type, telling me out of one side of his mouth not to have sex and wooing some hot young thing out of the other side.

The best thing my mother ever did for me as a teenager was be my friend, and by that I don't mean buying me alcohol (though we both do enjoy a good margarita together now from time to time), but more teen-oriented activities like shopping, taking off our shoes and running down the beach, fixing each other's hair, giving each other manicures. Get involved, and don't be afraid of your kids. If they say they hate you and tell you to back off, don't. Talk to them--they will listen! (They'll pretend not to, though.) My mom and I became close when I was relatively young, so I'd say, if you're not painting each other's nails and giggling about boys by age ten or twelve, you should be getting started! Don't ignore them till they're seventeen and then when they start sneaking out at night suddenly try to get involved.

All kids are different for sure; I was a pretty good kid, quiet, nerdy, not interested in boys or sex until I was in college, etc. But I know that the guidance from my mom helped me a lot. It was parental authority mixed with sensitivity and the knowledge that she could go from mom to friend in 0.06 seconds when I needed it.

For dads (sorry to make this stereotypical; this also applies to moms who know how to do these things): teach her how to change the oil and tires on her car. Show her how to gauge the air in her tires. Teach her how to ride a motorcycle, replace an appliance, fix the toilet, and how to box (bullies don't always target boys). Make sure she knows how to stand up for herself and not to take any crap from any boys. There is no need for her to wait around for someone else to do these things for her if she can do them herself, and it will mean important bonding time for both of you.

(Side note: I almost wrote "bondage" instead of "bonding," in classic Mona foot-in-mouth fashion!)

For parents of boys, I'm sorry, I got nothing for you.

Posted by: Mona | March 14, 2007 10:15 AM

The comments about restricting music and throwing away CDs, etc. are cracking me up.

I as a pianist, so always had sheet music around. Back in the day, my parents read the lyrics to American Pie and I had to endure a twenty minute lecture on how it was sacrilegious (trinity catches the last train for the coast, etc.) before they tore it up and destroyed the album. Dotted provided a great list of songs that prior generations of parents thought were going to ruin us. Let's get out of the lather, rinse, repeat mode of parenting.

Let your kids listen to whatever music they like and read whatever books they want, encourage them to talk to you about what they like and why, and they'll be less likely to try to consume crap that offends you. I'm not suggesting that it is necessary for you to fund expenditures you find offensive, but if they want to save for a month or more to buy Snoop Dogg's latest CD, is that really where you want to be drawing the line in the sand? Take this issue off the table already along with hairstyles and colors, and piercings that don't carry excessive health risks. Merely my 2 cents as the child of non-sensically restrictive parents.

newtoblog: Wow. The following comment is the best piece of advice I've read here.

"I can only ask them when they are about to do something to look at what they are doing and ask if it puts another person at risk--physically or emotionally. Teens assume that nothing bad can happen to them but they are able to fear hurting a friend."

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | March 14, 2007 10:17 AM

To add to Mona's great ideas,
Teach your boys how to do something other than boil water (girls too) and how to grocery shop.
Teach them how to do the basics of housekeeping (laundry, making beds, dishes, cleaning toilets unless they are married to Fred).
Teach them about finances. Start early.
Teach them that it is not only ok to laugh at yourself but that on occasion it is a requirement.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 14, 2007 10:18 AM

hubris? What the heck does *that* mean?

(looks it up in the dictionary)

Ah, I see. Okay, well, I hereby sentence myself to attending a three-hour meeting with a prospective customer this afternoon. That'll teach me!

(But right after that I'm rewarding myself with watching the daughter's softball game.)

Posted by: Army Brat | March 14, 2007 10:19 AM

Fred, I'm sorry, but what is AF?

Posted by: Mona | March 14, 2007 10:23 AM

"You are supposed to to be the Nemesis of those who exhibit hubris..."

But the definitive line is to start dumping on CSS's

AF = Air Force like in my #2 dau in serving in the USAF, she is currently overseas in a very sandy place (but not Iraq).

Posted by: Fred | March 14, 2007 10:26 AM

I asked dh to teach ds NEVER to say you are going to call if you aren't! and just because you CAN sleep with a girl doesn't mean you should oh and if he's looking for a little south of the border action NEVER push on the top of a girls head (that was the quickest way to end things in my book). Hate those guys!

Posted by: moxiemom | March 14, 2007 10:27 AM

KLB, thank you for throwing in some tips about sons! Much appreciated.

Posted by: Mona | March 14, 2007 10:28 AM

"Ah, I see. Okay, well, I hereby sentence myself to attending a three-hour meeting with a prospective customer this afternoon. That'll teach me!"

Promises, promises......

How about finding a little humility somewhere?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 14, 2007 10:30 AM

Can someone with teenaged girls PRETTY please reply to my query about when one should expect their daughters to get "their monthly visitor?" My 10 year old daughter was complaining of cramps this morning, and I'm worried sick. I was 13 or so, but I hear that some girls start much sooner . . .

Posted by: Fairfax | March 14, 2007 10:30 AM

Frieda started at 9. Yes 9! My daughters started at, gee, I forget, some things a father just does not want to remember!

But seriously as far as I know 10 is not really unusual.

Posted by: Fred | March 14, 2007 10:34 AM

"Can someone with teenaged girls PRETTY please reply to my query about when one should expect their daughters to get "their monthly visitor?"

First, Pretty please stop calling it "their monthly visitor." Call it a period or a cycle or whatever, but get your head out of the 1930's.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 14, 2007 10:35 AM

Fairfax - a pretty quick google search tells me between 9 and 13 with the average age @ 12. I do know that extra weight can bring it a little earlier. I don't know what your situation is, but this could be it. Go and buy "Are you there God its me Margaret" post haste! Oops, I just dated myself. WE must, we must, we must increase our bust!

Posted by: moxiemom | March 14, 2007 10:35 AM

My 16-year-old daughter cuts and pierces her body and insists that she is a typical -- and normal -- teenager.

Cutting is not the best "coping mechanism," she says, but body piercing "is no big deal." She doesn't want to stop either one, however, any more than she wants to quit smoking.

Her first ear piercing was professionally done and then she pierced three or four more holes in each ear herself, one in cartilage. She put two studs in her tongue and one ring in each nipple. I let her get her bellybutton pierced for her 16th birthday after she promised not to pierce herself again, but she later did two eyebrow piercings and one in her upper arm.

Also, my daughter was diagnosed with depression 18 months ago and spent three days in a facility after she tried to commit suicide.

She is sexually active -- she has a steady boyfriend -- and is on birth control but says that she doesn't drink or do drugs. She has lied to me in the past, however, so I'm not sure I believe her.

We see a therapist together to work on trust issues, freedom of expression and other relationship problems, but she won't go alone anymore because she says she doesn't like therapists, doesn't trust them and doesn't think they do any good. She does see the psychiatrist who prescribes her medication. He has some sessions with her and some with the two of us, and I see a therapist of my own (or I'd be in the loony bin by now).

My daughter thinks her behavior is fine but I see a risk at every turn. She said it was a mistake to tell me about her depression, that she doesn't want or need medication or therapy and she will get rid of some piercings one day, if only to get a job. All this leaves me depressed, sad, upset, frustrated and very scared. I feel as if I am going slowly insane.

Posted by: slowly insane | March 14, 2007 10:35 AM

'My 10 year old daughter was complaining of cramps this morning, and I'm worried sick.'

I know someone who started at 9. Why would you be worried sick, even if she is a little young? It's a natural part of growing up.

BTW, the 9 year old was also the tallest kid in the class and was also developing breasts.

Maybe your daughter is just constipated.

Posted by: to fairfax | March 14, 2007 10:35 AM

anon at 10:30 (in Washington Post land where DST evidently won't take effect until the traditional April date), I've got no problems with Army Brat and don't think he's exhibited any LACK of humility, but you know, maybe I've missed it. On the other hand, if you do, why not call him out on specific comments if you have a problem with his posts rather than insult him anonymously?

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | March 14, 2007 10:36 AM

OK, I sentence Army Brat to an unpainted cave for a short stay.

Army Brat, are you the one that went to Purdue?

Posted by: Fred | March 14, 2007 10:36 AM

Fairfax: check the family history. We all started young. Mom was twelve, I was eleven, sister was twelve, aunt was TEN. I'm assuming there's some sort of connection between female family members. If she's in a house with several menstruating females, she'll start earlier (pheromones). It varies, but if it hasn't started by fourteen, I'd say talk to a GYN.

Posted by: Mona | March 14, 2007 10:36 AM

A little late on the hairy legs but my input:
My mom waxed my little sister's legs (below the knee) for her starting when she was like 7 or 8. She was really hairy and (unlike her older siblings) had very dark hair.

A friend of mine in 5th grade's mom gave her an electric razor one Christmas--same deal...very dark, thick, hairy legs.

I also knew a girl in high school (now, she WAS only 12 years old in freshman year) who wasn't allowed to shave until she was 13. We had uniforms--skirts. She took it in stride, and she turned 13 that fall and started shaving immediately.

I understand both sides--why should little girls have to conform to adult standards and how young is too young to shave (something kind of sexual about the whole bare legs thing). On the flip side, teasing can be bad, and shaving is a matter of personal hygene in teen and adult years and if she needs it--go for it.

I'd say that for safety's sake do not give her a razor or that chemical cream (I have frightening memories of some terrible cuts). Take her for waxing, wax (or shave) them yourself or give her an electric razor.

Posted by: Cate | March 14, 2007 10:37 AM

From The National Women's Health Information Center. U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services Office on Women's Health

(http://www.4girls.gov/body/period.htm)

"Puberty usually happens for girls some time between the ages of 9 and 16. There is nothing wrong with you if you get your period later or earlier than your friends get their periods."

Hope this helps.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 14, 2007 10:38 AM

fairfax, yes 9 years old is not too early, and I hear that celebrating with a red icing circle cake is becoming popular.

Posted by: Father of 4 | March 14, 2007 10:39 AM

to MoxieMom:

Sorry, "Rome" isn't completely a true story. In real life, neither Atia nor Octavia were loose women. Octavia bore two daughters to Antony and raised all of his children, as well as those of her first husband after Antony divorced her. She died a highly respected Roman matron.

Posted by: lurkville | March 14, 2007 10:39 AM

"First, Pretty please stop calling it "their monthly visitor." Call it a period or a cycle or whatever, but get your head out of the 1930's."

You are SO right! I call it a period with my daughters, but didn't want to offend some of the old fogies on this blog. :) No offense, Fred.

Thanks, Moxiemom, for the useful info. I just loved "Are you there God, It's me Margaret books!" I was born in the 70's, you're not dating yourself.

Posted by: Fairfax | March 14, 2007 10:40 AM

Well, I was 12, my mother was 10. Best friend at the time was 12 when she got hers, girl I talked to when I was in middle school was 11. So 10 is on the early end of the spectrum, but not abnormal from what I can tell (some girls get it as late as 16-18).

If you're really really concerned about it or if things are exceptionally bad (like cramps so bad she can't get out of bed or is doubling over for extended amounts of time), head for the pediatrician.

Posted by: FWIW, to Fairfax | March 14, 2007 10:40 AM

I have read the average age of beginning your period is still around 12 years old. Although some girls may begin as early as 9 or 10, it is still not statistically likely. If your daughter is younger then 9, you should consult a pediatric endocrynologist because early onsite menses is a trigger for a number of metabolic problems atypical for the general population. I would not fret about simple cramps because they could be digestional and because at this tender age your DD probably can't discern between a digestive cramp and menstrual cramp. If she does in deed start to bleed, I would take her to a gyncologist or pediatrician and ask for advice. 10 is on the young side but not completely un heard of.

Posted by: to fairfax | March 14, 2007 10:40 AM

Fairfax
I have boys, not girls, but I have read several places that while girls normally begin their periods at the same age as their moms more recently (last 15 years) girls have been getting their periods increasingly earlier because of environmental factors some of which can be controlled on the micro level and some which can't. Hormones in dairy products is apparently a big cause. My cousin has two little girls and her pediatric doc recommended she seek out hormone free dairy. Mine recommended the same for boys because even with out periods they can be negatively affected by the hormones too.

Posted by: Bookworm mom | March 14, 2007 10:41 AM

slowly insane, I wish there was some helpful comment I could make other than I feel for you and wish you and your daughter well. You have done everything to listen and get her help. How do you even sleep what with the 24/7 demand of worrying?

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | March 14, 2007 10:41 AM

Slowly insane - I'm really really sorry. I cannot imagine how painful it must be to see your daughter in such pain and trouble and be unable to help. I will keep you in my thoughts. Hang in there! Remember that depression is a clinical condition, just like if she had cancer. This is not your fault - it coud and does happen to anybody and in the best and worst of families.

Posted by: moxiemom | March 14, 2007 10:42 AM

Fred

"You are supposed to to be the Nemesis of those who exhibit hubris..."

But the definitive line is to start dumping on CSS's'"

What about the bozos who have a dumb ass opinion on every single solitary topic under the sun?

And haven't made one mistake in their lives?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 14, 2007 10:42 AM

slowly insane - my heart goes out to you and your daughter. I can think of nothing worse than being utterly helpless when it comes to prevent your child from being self-destructive.

Some children are who they are because of us, but most are who they are IN SPITE of us. It sounds like you are doing everything you can. Be strong, and be sure to take care of yourself through this difficult time.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 14, 2007 10:43 AM

"Maybe your daughter is just constipated." Ha! I wish! I wouldn't mind delaying the hormone swings of adolescence a few years, THAT'S why I'm "worried sick!" My apologies to those of you with health concerns not of the garden-variety growing-up type.

Fo4 - eew. :) A red icing circle cake. LOL, I think a mother-daughter day with a lunch, manicure and a new outfit would be more appreciated.

Posted by: Fairfax | March 14, 2007 10:45 AM

"What about the bozos who have a dumb ass opinion on every single solitary topic under the sun?

And haven't made one mistake in their lives?"

Usually Megan's Neighbor beat me to that (or are you just talking about me?)

MN, My punishment for Army Brat stands irrespective of your opinion. If you don't like it, let's take it outside!

Posted by: Fred | March 14, 2007 10:46 AM

I had the talk with my son about alcohol...that alcoholism runs in both sides of the family (at least two of his great grandfathers). I wish my father had told me...I think I would have had second thoughts about my underage drinking (and that's when the drinking age was 18).

Also, one time when we were discussing having children before marriage, it really got my son's attention that married or not, a father is responsible financially...and that means at least 18 years of child support payments. It really gave him pause. Of course, he knows that being a father is much more than that, but I think the enormity of the financial responsibility hit home with him.

So far, my son is nearly 17, a homebody and as far as I know, does not drink (or even date).

At first, I was concerned that he showed no major signs of rebellion, but as my neighbor, a family therapist, pointed out, things can change very quickly for a teenager, so it's important to be very aware.

My daughter on the other hand, who is much younger, already seems to be more adventuresome, and the one I may have to be more concerned about...she's very sweet, but I think she's also a novelty seeker in some ways.

Posted by: Kate | March 14, 2007 10:46 AM

slowlyinsane: I don't have any words of wisdom except my best friend had like 13 holes in her ears by the time she was 16. She did in deed grow up to be a healthy productive member of society. I hope your therapist can show you some parent support groups. I think that might help. But if she is not doing drugs or having unprotected sex, she is probably OK. But I hear you, I would prefer a non piercing or tatoo home as well. Hang in there. Depression is very common and a biggie.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 14, 2007 10:47 AM

"littlies" is what younger children are called in Australia/NZ. I have to say it is demoralizing to see people intentionally turn normal language into something somehow offensive.

Posted by: dotted | March 14, 2007 10:48 AM

Piercing and cutting and other tribal rites have been around for centuries. Today, though, they've become teenage fads, each satisfying markedly different needs.

Piercing is a sign of independence and perhaps rebellion for a teenager and it's a fashion statement, too -- much as she might make by dyeing her hair bright blue.

Cutting, though, is a serious psychological problem, which is becoming almost as common with teenagers as anorexia and bulimia.

Statistically, about 90 percent of the self-injurers today are white, middle-class females, and 61 percent have had an eating disorder; 56 percent have had problems with alcohol, and 30 percent have used drugs.

They often start cutting themselves in adolescence, because they feel unappreciated or think they've been treated unfairly or perhaps because puberty began before their brains and their emotions had caught up with their hormones. These teens may keep harming themselves for years unless someone insists that they get help. The sooner a self-injurer is treated, the easier it will be for her to correct her problem.

Scars aren't the only sign of self-injury.

Typically, a cutter -- or a burner or a scraper -- has low self-esteem, bouts of depression and a great need for love and acceptance. She also doesn't relate well to people or develop intimate relationships easily; she doesn't know how to comfort herself and she may not even think she deserves any comfort.

It is this inability to soothe herself that makes her cut the first time, and then she finds that the quick flow of blood gets rid of her pain and tension, gives her an immediate high and leaves her calm and in control of her anxieties and emotions for a day or even a week. That's why most therapists believe that people who injure themselves are really looking for emotional peace.

Cutting is always a problem, but piercing is only a problem if it becomes habitual and compulsive or if someone makes 15 to 20 holes in her body to attach her metal trinkets, as your daughter has done, instead of four or five. It can also spell trouble if these holes are made in her nipples or other sensitive places, because they could be a health risk, or in her tongue, because the metal could damage her teeth.

Do take your daughter to the doctor, to make sure she hasn't hurt her body, and to see if she needs shots to prevent hepatitis or tetanus. Make her stick with psychotherapy too, because she truly needs it -- and her medicine -- to prevent another bout of depression and both of you need help to strengthen your relationship.

Also read "Bodily Harm" by Karen Conterio and Wendy Lader, with Jennifer Kingson Bloom. It distinguishes between self-injury and piercing quite well.

Posted by: to Slowly Insane | March 14, 2007 10:52 AM

I wouldn't mind delaying the hormone swings of adolescence a few years, THAT'S why I'm "worried sick!"

Wait till you go through the hormone swings of menopause, which last years and years.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 14, 2007 10:58 AM

"...but didn't want to offend some of the old fogies on this blog. :) No offense, Fred."

I am only an old fogie to my kids I consider myself to be about 12 or 13. Now if I could only convince the IRS of this.

Posted by: Fred | March 14, 2007 11:04 AM

It is adversity, not easy success, that makes us grow.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 14, 2007 11:05 AM

and my knees!

Posted by: Fred | March 14, 2007 11:06 AM

Add me to the list of good kids (and successful adults) who avoided fiery automobile death in my teen years only through pure luck. It's not just a boy thing either; there's an article in today's Metro section about an 18-year-old girl on trial for manslaughter after she crashed a carload of her friends at over 100mph on the GW Parkway. Teen drivers have no sense of how quickly a car can slip out of control. I know it's hard to lecture about the lethality of the car without your child thinking that you are overwrought and alarmist, but do your best to get across the notion that even the best drivers can lose control of that two-thousand-pound machine in an instant.

Posted by: Tom T. | March 14, 2007 11:06 AM

fairfax: I remember this Cosby episode when their youngest child gets her period. The family tradition was to celebrate, women's day, by going out shopping and eating dinner out. I can't think of anything more embarrassing then my parents announcing that we are going to dinner at the OUTBACK because foamgnome got her period. ARe you there God it's me Margret is a great book to start the discussion if you haven't done so already.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 14, 2007 11:06 AM

"I can't think of anything more embarrassing then my parents announcing that we are going to dinner at the OUTBACK because foamgnome got her period."

Too funny, I remember that episode as well, and at the time wished that my mother cared enough to do something special for me other than buying me tampons.

As with birthdays, my daughters will get to pick where and what we do to celebrate - if they want to play lasertag instead of getting a manicure, fine by me! :)

Posted by: Fairfax | March 14, 2007 11:11 AM


Fairfax,

It's certainly time to lay the groundwork so your daughter knows what to expect and is prepared to handle a first period without fear or embarrassment.

My dd's juniors troop did a badge on puberty/body care last year. Most were 4th graders then, many had some signs of puberty already and 1 or 2 had already started a period (at 10). So it's time.

My dd's leader used _The Care and Keeping of You: The Body Book for Girls_ (put out by American Girl, we amazoned it). I liked it quite a bit. It's all about body changes and taking responsibility for care of your body (not just puberty, but basics on nutrition, hair care, dental care, etc --- covers the whole body but includes the changes that come with puberty, choosing to shave legs, etc) I liked it because it's tone is more matter of fact, taking charge of the maturing body you've got. It doesn't handle sex and relationships, and honestly, I think separating out and handling the body changes, period, etc is more than enough at 9 or 10 without commingling it with heavy issues of relationships and sex that feel way too early. I know I got all those topics at once (from my pregnant mom, no less, so the subject was way more concrete and unhypothetical than I would have liked) and the period stuff just seemed an afterthought compared to all the rest . . .

Good luck, it won't be the end of the world . . .

My dd loved the book, disappeared into her room to read it cover to cover.

Posted by: KB | March 14, 2007 11:13 AM

I guess I'm an old fogey, but why are you celebrating a girl getting her period? It's a part of life but not a momentous occasion. It's not something that she has worked for, studied for, practiced for, etc. In other words, it is not an achievement.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 14, 2007 11:17 AM

"I can't think of anything more embarrassing then my parents announcing that we are going to dinner at the OUTBACK because foamgnome got her period."

It's better for these issues to come out sooner than later and become common topics of conversation. Many men and women have died from cancer because they were afraid to bring up the subject, get testing, or feared the reactions/rejections of their loved ones.

Posted by: Trixie | March 14, 2007 11:18 AM

Hey Fred-- Good call on not letting the kids borrow your Infiniti after smashing up the first one. they are fine without it, right?

My child is very young, but i have to say that I am not at all as freaked out over the idea of becoming a grandmother when my child is still a teenager as i am over the idea of my child facing drug or alcohol addiction-- I put teen pregnancy on the same level as smoking. I'm an older parent and I just don't see what is so terrible about being a teen parent-- maybe I'd be of age to retire and care for the child while my child goes on to college, etc. I guess I am still in the mode where the conception and birth of a child is a reason for celebration-- not for remorse or regret. My child is a boy-- so maybe I would feel differently with a girl having to actually carry a child through a pregnancy. Even so, with parental and community support, it may be OK and even a blessing. Not something to encourage, but if it happens, why not embrace it and make the best of it? And I imagine "the best" of an unplanned pregnancy can be very, very good-- not the case with alcohol or drugs or ciggies!

As for driving-- we live in the city and don't play to buy a car for our child. Ever. He can borrow it after he has spent many hours behind the wheel with us supervising.

Posted by: to fred | March 14, 2007 11:22 AM

"I am only an old fogie to my kids I consider myself to be about 12 or 13. Now if I could only convince the IRS of this."

I'm truly sorry for any offense, Fred. My father likes Led Zeppelin, too!

Posted by: Fairfax | March 14, 2007 11:22 AM

FYI - today is the first day of the New Unit at my fifth grader's school, or sex education as we all know it. He's known all the basics for awhile. I hope it's all about STDs with horrible graphic photos, and that he gets some conversation-provoking information amidst the snorts and giggles of his classmates. At least he's young enough to come home and talk to me about the content, and interestingly enough is more likely to ask me questions than his dad.

Sigh. Fifth Grade. The boy who still loves his stuffed animals will be equally conversant on the topic of HPV.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | March 14, 2007 11:23 AM

"The Care and Keeping of You: The Body Book for Girls_ (put out by American Girl, we amazoned it)"

My daughter has it, read it, loved it. Great book!

Posted by: Fairfax | March 14, 2007 11:24 AM


Fairfax,

This is part of the problem with written communication. I was totally being humorous (except about the knees, they feel about 110 yrs today).

I will have to use some more :)

Posted by: Fred | March 14, 2007 11:26 AM

Re: the "Runaway" song...I actually like that song a lot. Catchy and sad.

I couldn't help but think of my teen years and my mom looking at a cassette of George Michael songs. She freaked out over "I want your sex" (remember that one?)

I was a good kid (good grades, etc.) and I'm a happy successful adult now, but back then, I snuck out at night regularly (although I did leave a note on my bed for my parents in case they discovered my absence -- I didn't want them to think I'd been abducted). I hung out mainly with teenage boys. We occasionally shoplifted little things. Once they broke into a local ritzy private school and stole some art materials (I was there but didn't really approve).

I never had sex as a teen (not until much later) and never drank or did drugs, but I came close to having sex many times right after school with my boyfriend at his house, with no parent home. The time right after school until a parent gets home is the danger zone!

In short, my parents had no clue about these things.

Posted by: Rebecca | March 14, 2007 11:27 AM

If you don't mind divulging, are you in FF county? My fifth grader will also have the 'New Unit' this year, but I'm not sure when. Maybe they all start around the same time. It is a little disconcerting, since he is my oldest. As for dealing with sex, drugs, alcohol, our motto (maybe naive) is talk, talk, talk.....

Posted by: to Megan's neighbor | March 14, 2007 11:27 AM

I can't think of anything more embarrassing then my parents announcing that we are going to dinner at the OUTBACK because foamgnome got her period."

It's better for these issues to come out sooner than later and become common topics of conversation. Many men and women have died from cancer because they were afraid to bring up the subject, get testing, or feared the reactions/rejections of their loved ones.


Posted by: Trixie | March 14, 2007 11:18 AM


Trixie:It is one thing to have an open dialogue about health related matters and another thing to have a family celebration about something that is deeply personal to some young people. But I agree that parents should let kids know that they are available to discuss anything they want. I just wouldn't have wanted a very public celebration. But that is just me.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 14, 2007 11:29 AM

I don't know, I think there's a big fat line between shame/fear of rejection by your family and not wanting the whole family to know and celebrate that you got yur period. I was so relieved when my mom offered to tell my dad. I think things can be accepted as a normal part of life without being a common topic of conversation.

Posted by: Charlottesville | March 14, 2007 11:29 AM

Sometimes it is hard to talk to your teens about things like sex, safety in cars, internet safety, drugs and alcohol without having them roll their eyes and tell you that they don't want to hear it. They think they already know it all.

If I find our discussions disintegrating into arguments or off-topic tangents, then I try a different approach.

I have found that emailing my thoughts and sending links to articles involving other teens and these issues can be helpful. They think I'm crazy, but they do read the information, and we avoid the "leave me alone, you don't know what your're talking about" arguments. If I want to tell them something without necessarily discussing it, the email says "we can talk about this if you like". If I definitely want to discuss it, the email says "we'll talk later". Then they have time to think about the subject and gather their thoughts before we discuss.

This works for us, maybe not for everyone.

Posted by: mom of teens | March 14, 2007 11:32 AM

I agree with the poster who said they weren't as concerned with teenage pregnancy. Although teenage pregnancy is not ideal and has some very lifelong consequences, it is not a death sentence. I am much more afraid of DD contracting AIDS then getting pregnant. And unless they use a condom each and every time, they are opening themselves to that risk. I wonder(not passive aggressive mind you) if people are afraid to even discuss the possibility of their teens contracting AIDS. I know this mom that put her 14 year old on the pill. She said she can rest assure knowing she is protected. I was like are you kidding? What about AIDS? She did not have any response.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 14, 2007 11:33 AM

"I can't think of anything more embarrassing then my parents announcing that we are going to dinner at the OUTBACK because foamgnome got her period."

How about, being last among your friends to get your period, because you skipped a grade, and having your best friend inform your (male) teacher in junior high that you'll be late to class, because you're in the bathroom having finally got your first period!

Sigh, it still seems so WRONG.

I vote for private, not giddy sharing.

Posted by: KB | March 14, 2007 11:34 AM

To foamgnome:

You're right, and not just AIDS. Many non-life-threatening STDs can have serious effects on a woman's reproductive health. Long-term health consequences for some STD are much more serious for girls than for boys.

Posted by: Another Librarianmom | March 14, 2007 11:38 AM

"I can't think of anything more embarrassing then my parents announcing that we are going to dinner at the OUTBACK because foamgnome got her period."

How about getting pregnant by an uncle because your parents were too embarassed to talk about sex or admit it existence?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 14, 2007 11:40 AM

"Hey Fred-- Good call on not letting the kids borrow your Infiniti after smashing up the first one. they are fine without it, right?"

Both girls are now adults so they have their own cars now. But the strategy for #4 is that we have the mommy van (creepy van) and he already knows that he will not drive my or Frieda's car. He is not even pressing for his learner's permit which he could have right now. We live in a small town without public transport so at some point he will start driving but we would like to delay that as much as we can.

Posted by: Fred | March 14, 2007 11:40 AM

Dotted: Are 9 year olds supposed to shave their legs? I think I was older, maybe 11 or 12. She is such a tomboy that shorts are almost a necessity in warm weather - she is outside running around all the time. Maybe for school capris would be good.

I told my husband about her hairy leg problem this morning and he is going to tell her not to be embarrassed and forget about what other people think. While that is good advise, he doesn't know how it is to be a girl and be so self conscious.

Ah - the perils of being a female.....

Posted by: cmac | March 14, 2007 11:41 AM

My late best friend was going to have a "menses" party for her daughter - I gently discouraged her from that and instead there was a Sweet 16 party...

As far as music goes, Rolling Stones are nothing if not misogynistic (not to mention racist). Ever listen to the words of "Brown Sugar"? Nothing in our generation is ever new under the sun

Posted by: librarianmom | March 14, 2007 11:41 AM

To foamgnome:

You're right, and not just AIDS. Many non-life-threatening STDs can have serious effects on a woman's reproductive health. Long-term health consequences for some STD are much more serious for girls than for boys.

Posted by: Another Librarianmom | March 14, 2007 11:38 AM

I agree. I just think some parents can't even think in those terms. Maybe because they still associate STDs with loose morals or the mortality of their off spring is way to sensitive a subject. But I really think some parents need a wake up call. And to be frankly honest, I don't think most teenage boys will be responsible enough to wear a condom each and every time. And most teenage girls will not insist on one. MY A-1 reason, teenagers are too young to be having sex. But I am preaching to the choir here.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 14, 2007 11:42 AM

I'm with you, foam. Unwanted pregnancy can be reversed, herpes is forever. :-(

Posted by: Mona | March 14, 2007 11:43 AM

Maybe driving very uncool cars is a good strategy for disuading teens from wanting to borrow the car on a Saturday night.

Fred, the term "creepy van" is so evocative. I would never want to see a picture of it because that would spoil the fun of imagining it!

Posted by: Another Librarianmom | March 14, 2007 11:43 AM

There is a billboard in Charles County that says " Go ahead and talk to your kids about sex. Everybody else is."

My BFF got her period in 3rd grade, poor kid, at age 9. I was a 14 year old freshman in high school.

My daughter saw a commercial for Valtrex on tv and asked what herpes was. I told her it is an STD, but I didn't really know what it was. I had to look it up on the net. Now I wish I hadn't!

Posted by: Anonymous | March 14, 2007 11:44 AM

"I can't think of anything more embarrassing then my parents announcing that we are going to dinner at the OUTBACK because foamgnome got her period."

How about getting pregnant by an uncle because your parents were too embarassed to talk about sex or admit it existence?

Posted by: | March 14, 2007 11:40 AM
Guys, I am not at all saying you shouldn't talk about SEX with your kids. I definitely think you need to talk openly and honestly about SEX. But it is one thing to reassure your child that your always available to discuss a sensitive subject, and another thing to tell every one in your family that you got your period that day. Guys there is a lot of room in between the two camps. Think of this way, would you want to announce to your neighbors that you were going through menopause? Or would you rather share that information on your own terms?

Posted by: foamgnome | March 14, 2007 11:45 AM

My daughter's 5 going on 15, so I am really dreading the teenage years. She has this huge independence streak, which shows up as anger, frustration, most recently smart mouth, etc. And she has this tremendous need for approval from other people, which I suspect will make her very vulnerable to hurtful girls and teenage boys -- but, of course, she already thinks she knows everything, so Lord knows she's not going to listen to boring old mommy on that.

I hope that humor and perspective will help get us through that. My family has always been pretty good at laughing at ourselves, and they never took my teenage angst too seriously. There were times I'd go off the deep end and intentionally say something offensive or hurtful. But instead of getting all riled up over it, they'd go into total English Professor mode -- take apart my statement like it was a student's paper, criticizing the triteness and lack of creativity in the language and debating other, more clever ways to say it. Drove me NUTS -- I mean, what's the point in trying to be offensive if they're not going to react appropriately? Talk about sucking all the joy out of a teenager's life. :-)

Posted by: Laura | March 14, 2007 11:47 AM

I was 9 and in fifth grade when I started shaving. It took three hours the first time, and that was with my older sisters help!

A great razor for a newbie is Schick Intuition. It is practically impossible to cut yourself with, gives a close shave, and has the shaving cream built right in. A little pricey, but I gave it to my niece at age 12 and she said it was the first time she had shaved without getting at least one nick. It is also a great razor for a 30 something, cause that is what I use!!

Posted by: anon | March 14, 2007 11:49 AM

Age 10 is great, but like all ages it comes with its own set of joys and problems. Parents who have a newborn aren't ready for the problems of a 10 year old...you have to grow into them. As the child grows, you grow. About the time you have it right, they're grown.

However, in all my child-raising experiences, nothing has prepared me for my child going to war. I'm a retired naval officer, and this by-far is the hardest thing I have ever endured.

Two weeks ago, he suffered a concussion from an insurgent artillery rocket attack. He chose to walk that day between a barrier and the compound wall rather than across the compound. He is alive becasue of that choice.

Posted by: JohnB1359 | March 14, 2007 11:51 AM

When I was in the fifth grade the teacher (male)sent me home with a note to my mother asking her to buy me a bra. He said it was distracting to the boys. Now I can't help but wonder if he was one of the boys. Not long afterwards I got my period.
Do talk to your daughters about periods because if they have terrible cramps they need to understand what to do.
I remember thinking "That's disgusting. I will never do that" when my mother told me about periods. Like I had a choice.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 14, 2007 11:51 AM

"Think of this way, would you want to announce to your neighbors that you were going through menopause?"

There is no need for an announcement. The mood swings, hot flashes and weight gain will tip off the neighbors soon enough.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 14, 2007 11:52 AM

"But I agree that parents should let kids know that they are available to discuss anything they want. I just wouldn't have wanted a very public celebration. But that is just me. "

My celebration will be just myself and my daughter. Not the entire family going out to dinner because my oldest got her period.

"why are you celebrating a girl getting her period?"

Because it's a rite of passage, you celebrate birthdays, don't you? I don't have any boys, but I think it's a shame that they don't have a similar physical "proof" that they are a man, unless it's a w*ttdream. I really wouldn't know.

Fred - I KNEW that you were kidding! Lots of :) headed your way!

"are you in FF county?" I am, my oldest daughter (the 10 year old with cramps) is in 4th grade in a Gifted and Talented program, sometimes the mental and physical aspect synch up, sometimes they don't - I wish I had more info about what they're being taught as far as "Family Life."

Posted by: Fairfax | March 14, 2007 11:52 AM

"I put teen pregnancy on the same level as smoking. I'm an older parent and I just don't see what is so terrible about being a teen parent..."

I respectfully and strongly disagree with this statement. We are talking about the effects on several lives for decades.

On of the main issues that I see with this is of poverty. Without a huge amount of support from the parents, teenagers can easily slip into poverty. In fact, often the grandparents have young children at home still complicating the issue further.

I am not at all advocating a return to the practice of years ago when pregnant teens were shipped off to Aunt Matilda in a distant city. Prevention by whichever means are palatable to the parents and child is much more preferable.

Posted by: Fred | March 14, 2007 11:53 AM

It is a little disconcerting, since he is my oldest. As for dealing with sex, drugs, alcohol, our motto (maybe naive) is talk, talk, talk.....

Posted by: to Megan's neighbor | March 14, 2007 11:27 AM

to the anon poster, we live in Wake County (Raleigh and burbs, NC).

Our son is our oldest child and we've talked about drug and alcohol use, and other addictive behaviors from time to time since age 8 or so. One side of the family has an extensive history of alcohol abuse and depression. As a byproduct of dealing with doctors in connection with behavioral therapy and meds relating to ADD, and the high correlation between ADD and substance abuse, we've had numerous conversations about being cognizant of your family history, your own personality tendencies, avoiding risks that play into either history or tendencies, and making smart choices. Driving to and from errands, sports practices, games, and MDs appointments have been good opportunities for these topics.

Last weekend there was a front page story of a teen that was killed by a drunk teen driver leaving a non-supervised drinking party. The incident happened a couple of months ago. The front page story was that they've discovered the other teens in both cars did not dial 911 -- ever -- but instead promptly called back to the party hostess to warn her to clean the house up. My husband and I were so incensed by the choice these kids made that their fear of their parents was more important than the life of this young man(I know they were scared, but . . .). It provided a great conversation starter with our son about what it means to be a stand-up guy and true friend, damn the personal consequences.

If we wait until he's 14 to have these talks, I fear it will be too late.

sorry for the rant.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | March 14, 2007 11:54 AM

"How about getting pregnant by an uncle because your parents were too embarassed to talk about sex or admit it existence?"

Did this really happen or are you trying to make foamgnome feel bad?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 14, 2007 11:55 AM

fairfax: I wasn't commenting on your celebration but the one on the Cosby show. In the show, the whole family knew the little girl got her period. And she wasn't thrilled about it. I would pretty much put it out to my daughter. Ask her what she would like to do about it? Did she want anyone else to know: Siblings? brothers? Sisters? father? best friend?etc... But if your daughter is cool with it and it is just between mom and kid, then I think it is a very nice gesture.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 14, 2007 11:56 AM

I have to agree with Fred on the "teenaged pregnancies aren't all that bad" attitude. Nearly all the girls I knew who got pregnant as teens ended up raising the children alone, or dropped them on their parents to raise.

Teen girls may have nearly mature bodies capable of safely bearing children, but that doesn't make the majority of them mature enough to handle all the responsibilities that come with those babies. The same maturity comment applies to teen boys as well.

Posted by: John L | March 14, 2007 11:58 AM

"Fairfax: I wasn't commenting on your celebration but the one on the Cosby show"

There's been no celebration yet . . . no period yet, but thanks! :)

Posted by: Fairfax | March 14, 2007 12:00 PM

"I have found that emailing my thoughts and sending links to articles involving other teens and these issues can be helpful."

What a great idea! Will not work for Frieda however as she is a Luddite.

What Frieda and I do is to buy a book about some subject and just place it on the child's bed. We don't say there is a book for you on the bed or anything. I seriously doubt that any book that we placed this way was ever unread!

It saves the teenager from the embarrassment of admitting that the 'rens might know something!

Posted by: Fred | March 14, 2007 12:03 PM

Strange that mothers who feel the need to tell the whole world the entire poop history of their kids, are suddenly concerned about "embarassment."

Posted by: Anonymous | March 14, 2007 12:04 PM

Thanks for all of your comments.

Rebecca - I'm glad you've heard the song. I agree that it's very sad and moving and I think it has a place. My concern is that it very specifically identifies extremely young girls as the protagonists (9, 10 & 11). It then end then ends with Mary J. singing "I will run away with you."

The ten year old who identifies with the character is more than likely not mature enough to understand the message.

I don't thinks it's smart to try and keep music from kids and I agree that song lyrics have been sex drugs and rock n/roll for years. That's why it's fun.
This is a little different.

On the lighter side: during our last road trip, the look of horror on my kids' faces as my husband and I belted out "Paradise by the Dashboard Lights" was priceless. Probably why they don't want us to control the radio anymore.

Posted by: HappyMom | March 14, 2007 12:06 PM

"I put teen pregnancy on the same level as smoking. I'm an older parent and I just don't see what is so terrible about being a teen parent..."

Well, I second what Fred said and will add that my 15 year old niece is pregnant. We tell her that everything will be okay, but to be honest, she is going to have it much harder than my other nieces in regards to her quality of life.

Where I come from some teens get pregnant on purpose because they see it as a way out. I think it is a big deal and the only way to overcome it is through education and free health services for girls who can't afford the pill and condoms. I see it as a huge problem because it is a cycle that often leads to poverty. Is it a death sentence, no, but it's not "no big deal either." I think my niece was looking for attention. I am very sad for her and would never have believed that I would be pregnant at the same time she was. My niece is getting attention in all the wrong ways, people thing she is a wh--- and the boy won't talk to her because he is afraid of being put in jail because he is 19.

Posted by: scarry | March 14, 2007 12:06 PM

Fred and John L., I understand where you're coming from, but am going to take a shot at re-expressing the "pregnancies are not that bad" viewpoint.

When I think of the scope of things my not-yet-teens could disclose to me and what I would find most terrifying, the most terrifying disclosures, to me, right now, relate to substance abuse, not only for the loss of control, generally, but because of the other poor life choices that tend to accompany substance abuse. We are in the position, as a family, to circle the wagons and work with either of our kids to handle an unintended pregnancy in a way that doesn't have to mean life is over, no college, lifelong poverty, etc. We cannot hover 24-7 and make sure our kids never do meth or heroin again.

Plus, my husband and I are in complete agreement about how we would react to teen pregnancy, and the level and nature of emotional and practical support we'd give our children and grandchildren. I can't say that our take on all other tough roads to hoe will be identical.

When I read comments akin to Slowly Insane's message above and compare that sustained worry to teen pregnancy, hands down, bring on the teen pregnancy. I can understand that others might evaluate all these things differently.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | March 14, 2007 12:06 PM

To Megan's Neighbor -
thanks for the response, and sorry for the anon post - I've been a long time lurker and am posting for the 1st time today (this topic is a good one!). It will be interesting to see what the sex ed in 5th grade amounts to, but I agree, we cannot rely on that to teach our kids the important stuff. I also agree that talking casually in the car driving to various practices/appointments - have had many great discussions with 10yr old driving in the car. He has confessed that his best friend and the friend's 'girlfriend' have kissed, and he asked what 'pot' is....good time to talk and be honest. It is never too early to start talking about all of this stuff.....like the charles county bb someone pointed out earlier - so true!!

Posted by: Michelle | March 14, 2007 12:09 PM

"However, in all my child-raising experiences, nothing has prepared me for my child going to war. I'm a retired naval officer, and this by-far is the hardest thing I have ever endured."

John B.

As a Nam vet and father of one in the service and one who has completed his duty, I know exactly how you feel.

I was so relieved last December when AF dau was being deployed elsewhere. I am your brother as well as the brother to your son. I think of all my brothers and sisters every day.

Posted by: Fred | March 14, 2007 12:10 PM

Wow, you all are scaring me! My kids aren't even tweens yet, but I'm already quaking at what's to come.

here's a question for you all:
I remember back when I was a Girl Scout leader, the moms who spent a lot of time with the kids in school used to say things like "That one's trouble. Just you wait and see," pointing to various members of the group. They seemed to think that the girl with the exhibitionist tendencies and the bad language and the disrespectful attitude when she was nine was the one who'd grow up to be the troubled teen. That attitude seemed to be that nobody would be terribly surprised if that one went astray.

Has that been your experience -- those of you whose kids are teens? Are there signs visible at a younger age that certain kids will be more rebellious as teens? Is anyone really ever terribly surprised when their teen rebels or is there more of a sense of "I should have seen this coming?"
Just curious . .

Posted by: Armchair Mom | March 14, 2007 12:10 PM

I'll look at the book for girls by American Girl, I am sure there are others out there as well.

Just commenting on the talking to your kids. I have a close relative (HS kid)that just went through rehab due to prescription drug abuse. The parents had no idea - it took weeks to unravel and it had been going on for months. In speaking with the parents they said you can talk till you are blue about sex, drugs, driving, but if the kids don't have the capacity to make sound decisions - it is worth nothing. Making the decision NOT to have sex and do drugs is what needs to be taught. Unfortunatley my relative was a kid that had parents that never allowed the kid to make any significant decisions and was not given any real responsibilities. It was really not a shock to me, but devastating just the same.

Simply put, it starts from day one.

Posted by: CMAC | March 14, 2007 12:10 PM

Fred, the term "creepy van" is so evocative. I would never want to see a picture of it because that would spoil the fun of imagining it!

Posted by: Another Librarianmom | March 14, 2007 11:43 AM

Can I at least tell you the color?

Posted by: Fred | March 14, 2007 12:11 PM

Show your children how to care, so that they can resist the temptation to be cool.

Our children saw how we cared for each other, and for them, and for our friends, and for the community. The best way to teach children to care is by example.

The opposite of caring is being cool. "Cool" means that you don't care, or at least, you are pretending not to care. That's why:
Smoking is cool.
Getting drunk is cool.
Taking advantage of girls ("scoring") is cool.
Shoplifting is cool.
Getting high on drugs -- from glue to heroin -- is cool.
Partying and tearing up your host's parents' home is cool.
Posting nude pictures of yourself on MySpace is cool.
Punching holes in your tongue or nostril is cool.
Driving too fast for conditions, with your friends in the car, is cool.
Hanging out with cool friends is cool.

All these things show that you don't care about yourself or your fellow human beings.

There are enough bad things that can happen to your children even if they are careful ("care full"). They don't have to increase their risk by trying to be cool. Our children are no dummies. They can read the newspapers and magazines. They see how often the cool people land in jail, or in the hospital, or in the morgue. We have told them about the sign on the lawn in front of the New Haven State Jail, the one that reads, "Anyone who asks you to do the wrong thing is never your friend."

Show your children that cool is stupid. It could save their good name, or even their lives.

Posted by: Matt in Aberdeen | March 14, 2007 12:11 PM

teen pregnancy not so bad.... is this a joke? This attitude is why our country is such a mess. Since there are worse things that makes it look like a smaller mistake???? That's like saying well as long as those innner city kids don't shoot anybody we're doing pretty well. Kids rise of drop according to our expectations. Creating a human life that is not planned, wanted or done by an adult who can care for it is a collosal mistake that will affect that both mother and child for the rest of their lives. UNBELIEVEABLE!

Posted by: Anonymous | March 14, 2007 12:12 PM

JohnB1359 I am glad that your boy is alright. I can't imagine how scared and worried your family is.

Megan's neighbor, I think we just found something in common. My uncle was almost killed by a drunk driver on his way to work at 7:00 in the morning. I don't understand why people give kids alcohol. The choice the kids made about not calling 911 in the story you told was the wrong choice and I think they should be punished.

Drunk driving is one of my biggest fears for all of my nephews and nieces. I can't ever think about that stuff now for my own kid because she is three.

Posted by: scarry | March 14, 2007 12:12 PM

Fred, let us guess.

I say medium blue.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 14, 2007 12:14 PM

"I put teen pregnancy on the same level as smoking. I'm an older parent and I just don't see what is so terrible about being a teen parent..."

Check out the inmate population in this country and get back to me. Check out the stats on poverty, child abuse, drug addiction, etc.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 14, 2007 12:16 PM

Harvest gold, Fred? :-)

Posted by: Another Librarianmom | March 14, 2007 12:16 PM

Fred - Forest green.

Posted by: Fairfax | March 14, 2007 12:19 PM

Article for slowly going insane,
I am so sorry you are going thru this. I was looking and found this article that may help you. One quotation that is particularly concerning:
"However, the strong relationship between self-cutting and sexual risk behavior observed in this study suggests that treatment providers must consider a range of risk behaviors in treatment planning, recognizing that impulsivity and affect dysregulation may take many forms. Self-cutters appear particularly vulnerable to harm given the association with impulsivity, hopelessness, and sexual risk behavior. "
I hope you can find a way to get some help for your daughter.
http://psychservices.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/content/full/56/2/216

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 14, 2007 12:20 PM

A Great Falls teenager testified yesterday that just before the car he was riding in crashed into an embankment along the George Washington Memorial Parkway at a speed of more than 100 mph, the front-seat passenger was egging on the 17-year-old driver, Saadet Muslu, to go faster and faster.

The passenger, Joy Goktepe, 18, whose mother owned the Lexus LS430 sedan, wanted to prove that the car was faster than the BMW 745 owned by Muslu's parents, said Edwin "Butch" Bastable III.

"The whole night . . . Joy was trying to entice her to go faster," Bastable, 18, testified in Arlington County Circuit Court. "She was trying to get her to test the limits of the car while we were still in McLean, see how much faster this car was."

Bastable's testimony came on the second day of Muslu's trial on an involuntary manslaughter charge. Jesse H. Little, 21, of Great Falls died in the Sept. 28 crash. Kimberly Stracka, 18, of Great Falls spent five weeks in intensive care. Bastable spent 13 days in the hospital with pelvic, leg and back injuries, although he has largely recovered. Muslu and Goktepe had minor injuries.

Prosecutors said speed, but not alcohol, was a factor in the crash.

In his opening statement, defense attorney Peter D. Greenspun depicted a chaotic, meandering night for the five friends in the Lexus, with constant cellphone calls and text messages and brief stop-offs at one place or another.

"Nothing was going on," Bastable testified. He said the group was looking for something to do.

Seconds before the car skidded off the road about 1 a.m., Bastable testified, Stracka, who was lying across his lap, lifted her head, and the two of them shouted to Muslu to slow down. He said Little told Muslu that "we're going to die." Goktepe, who had been pushing her to go faster, then shouted at her friend to stop.

In a videotaped police interrogation shown to the jury, Muslu said she then "freaked out," slammed on the brakes and pulled the car to the right, causing it to fishtail and crash.

In the videotape, Muslu, then a senior at Langley High School, acknowledged that she was traveling faster than 100 mph right before the crash. The speed limit on the parkway is 40 mph.

Bastable's mother, Deborah Bastable, testified that Muslu told her at Inova Fairfax Hospital that she had hit 130 mph and that "Joy made me do it." She said the teenager told her that she was trying to break Goktepe's record of 123 mph on the parkway.

Deborah Bastable said Muslu's father, who was in the room at the time, became upset. She said he threw his hands up and left the room.

Later, however, Muslu's parents testified that Deborah Bastable did not have a lengthy conversation with their daughter that night, that the woman only expressed sadness about the crash and reassured the girl that everything would be all right.

Prosecutors told the jury that Muslu was more concerned about herself than about her injured friends. On the first day of the trial, a witness testified that when she arrived at the scene minutes after the crash, Muslu was panicked and kept asking her, "What's going to happen to me?"

Greenspun concedes that Muslu was driving recklessly but says she was subjected to peer pressure.

During a break in the case, Muslu, dressed in a plaid swing skirt, with her hair pulled back in a ponytail and held by a sparkly thin headband, sat outside the courtroom with her parents, sobbing and speaking hurriedly in her native Turkish.

If convicted, Muslu faces up to 10 years in prison. Closing arguments are expected today.

Posted by: Teens and driving - from WashingtonPost.com | March 14, 2007 12:21 PM

"Show your children that cool is stupid."

Let us know how your approach works, Matt in Aberdeen.

As an alternative, why not redefine cool so that cool is positive?

Hanging out with cool friends who treat you well and respect you IS cool.
Caring about others is cool.
Being fit and healthy is cool.
Being responsible for your behavior is cool.
Having integrity is cool.
Being a good friend and treating everyone respectfully is cool.
Having a good time without drugs or alcohol is cool.
Driving safely is cool.
Being honest with your parents and standing up for your values are cool.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 14, 2007 12:21 PM

"Are there signs visible at a younger age that certain kids will be more rebellious as teens? Is anyone really ever terribly surprised when their teen rebels or is there more of a sense of "I should have seen this coming?"
Just curious . . "

IMO, you just never know. My daughter was always headstrong, and rebelled somewhat as a teen. She is now in college.

Two of the "good girls" from scouts dropped out of high school - one because of drugs, and the other to move in with loser boyfriend - she was 18 in January and moved out of parents house the weekend after her birthday - stopped going to her senior year classes by March. These were GT kids from 'nice' families.

Another high school acquaintance who was considered to be a good kid died of a heroin overdose two months after graduation. Another NHS friend got married to a loser at 18 - she's still in college but I'm not sure how it's going.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 14, 2007 12:26 PM

I swear, I remember reading Are you there god it's me margaret like it was porn! I felt like I was doing something so old and mature! Great memory :)

Posted by: Anonymous | March 14, 2007 12:26 PM

"When I read comments akin to Slowly Insane's message above and compare that sustained worry to teen pregnancy, hands down, bring on the teen pregnancy. I can understand that others might evaluate all these things differently." wrote MN

Excellent comments in your post. I think that you, John L., I and other are expressing a different facet of this complicated issue of teen pregnancy. No, the world does not end with a teen pregnancy as it might well with drug abuse but life is significantly changed for someone. Usually the child involved comes out on the short end of the stick.

I particularly like your point that your husband and you have discussed the "what ifs, what would we do" way before this could possibly arise. This is yet another great topic for the newly married or expectant couple.

Posted by: Fred | March 14, 2007 12:29 PM

I swear, I remember reading Are you there god it's me margaret like it was porn! I felt like I was doing something so old and mature! Great memory :)

Posted by: | March 14, 2007 12:26 PM

I KNOW - I read it in 5th grade and asked my mom for a bra the same way the charachter did. We went to the store together and got essentially a piece of elastic with fabric triangles attached, but in my eyes it was AWESOME. I should read it again to see what it looks like from this side. I always did feel bad for Nancy - like she just didn't know who she was!

Posted by: moxiemom | March 14, 2007 12:29 PM

scarry, I am very sorry about your uncle's near-miss. I also think if you are old enough to make big-a adult mistakes, you are old enough, and should have the integrity, to own the consequences.

Our son is entirely on board with not driving after drinking and not getting in the car when a driver's been drinking.

We have not yet come to terms with what our position is with respect to 21 being the minimum drinking age though. It seems as though Europeans have got a better handle on this than Americans, in terms of treating alcohol as a beverage and not some forbidden, exciting drug to be abused. I'd like our kids to have a healthy transition from youth into legal drinking, if they choose to drink at all. I was raised in a dry household and never assumed one had to drink to have fun. When the legal age was 18, it made sense to me to talk only in terms of what the law is, but 21? It makes being able to drink like this big prize at the end of the rainbow.

I'd like to hear how other parents have dealt with drinking/not drinking with their teenagers and whether their approach was successful. How do we facilitate responsible alcohol consumption and avoid a binging phase? We need some ideas because we're not really happy with the alternative approaches we've heard.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | March 14, 2007 12:36 PM

"essentially a piece of elastic with fabric triangles attached"

LOL moxie! I remember those. Ah, the good ol' days before "underwire" was part of my vocabulary.

Posted by: Cate | March 14, 2007 12:41 PM

No, certainly a pregnant teen isn't the end of her life as a possible drug overdose or driving drunk may become.

It puts a huge hit on their potential future, however, unless the family is in a financial shape to help the young mother take care of her child.

Emotionally, teens are rarely ready to handle raising a child, and if the family isn't able to assist her in raising the child, she'll soon find out that her life suddenly became much, much harder than she could ever have imagined.

It's that consequence that my friend is so concerned over for her 16 yo daughter. She's in no financial shape to help raise any possible grandchild, and from her comments I doubt she expects daughter's dad would do much to help either. That leaves either an abortion, giving up the child for adoption, or a near poverty level life for her mid-teen child.

Posted by: John L | March 14, 2007 12:46 PM

"Joy made me do it"

This is what is wrong with kids today. If she was driving, she did it. Kids need to understand and take responsibilty for their choices. If I ever did anything bad and my told my mom "Brenda made me do it." She would say that is to bad because Brenda's not in trouble. Of course, if I had crashed any car and killed or hurt another person because of my recklessness, after my parents saw that I was okay, they probably would have kicked my a--.

Posted by: scarry | March 14, 2007 12:51 PM

to anon poster who thinks teenage pregnacy is so terrible: No, we are not saying, or most of us are not saying, that teenage pregnancy does not come with real life long consequences. What we are saying if your kid is sexually active, and many of them are, STDs and AIDs in particular are far worse then teenage pregnancy. But society seems to harbor all its efforts on stopping teenage pregnancy. Your daughter could be on the pill or other forms of BC and prevent pregnancy. But unless she remains abstainent or uses a condom each and every time she is at HUGE risk for STDs-including AIDS. And I would much rather face my daughter having an unplanned pregnancy then her coming home saying she has herpes or AIDS. BC is a first line defense but disease protection should be emphasized. Also I think you are giving way to much credit to adults. A good number of children born to married couples are also unplanned. The only difference is adults can deal with the consequences of an unplanned pregnancy better. And no offense but if there we eliminate all unplanned pregnancies, we would also be eliminating all adoptions. I don't think that would be very positive for the world either. Teenage pregnancy sucks. And frankly for every one involved. But it won't kill your kid or the resulting baby.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 14, 2007 12:51 PM

"It seems as though Europeans have got a better handle on this than Americans, in terms of treating alcohol as a beverage and not some forbidden, exciting drug to be abused."

I think this is a common myth. I spent a great deal of time in Europe after college and even then was surprised by the very, very drunk 15 year olds in the same bar as me and how sad, scarry and inappropriate that was. I don't think there is a panacea and each family does their best. Again, my parents set an awesome example and I did the exact opposite. I feel extremely lucky to have made it out relatively unscathed.

Posted by: moxiemom | March 14, 2007 12:54 PM

Loved the first 7 years when
my son was so cute and sweet and smelled
good and was adoring toward his parents
and life was a fabulous adventure every day. I worried about what the teen years
would bring. Found there was really next
to nothing to be feared. He's now 23 and
a good, young man. The fear was mine. And
much of it was really about losing control of this cute little kid who sought direction and control. Easy up. The kids are all right.

Posted by: SF Mom | March 14, 2007 12:54 PM

"Wow, you all are scaring me! My kids aren't even tweens yet, but I'm already quaking at what's to come."

Armchair Mom,

Don't be scared because your teen can bring delight to your world and open your eyes to the world which have been closed by the mundane and the drudgery of life.

My #4 is really quite the wit with an evolving grasp of world and national affairs. When deep throat announced his identity, my son immediately said, "Forrest Gump is coming out!" And he definitely knows what a Luddite is.

But be aware of the million what if's and plan how to deal with them. All of these terrible things won't happen to you, just some of them.

You also will need to turn a blind eye to some things that are really not so significant. Hair color, studs and clothes come and go. Just don't give your kid a car that does over 90.

Posted by: Fred | March 14, 2007 12:54 PM

I have to say that the prospect of the teenage years does scare me, because like it or not, teenagers are often the victims of their own deficient judgments, and even when they are largely pretty good kids, they make some realy bad choices. I just have to look on my own teenage years to confirm this, and my parents would have told you that I was a gem as a teenager. I got good grades. I obeyed curfew. I had a job. I was generally pleasant enough. But on a few occasions, I participated in some activities that were just not very smart. My friends and I were just lucky that nothing bad happened, that we weren't caught, and that we did not have any accidents. I also had a steady bf most of high school, and my parents would have been pretty smart to put me on birth control, although they were convinced that both bf and I were too nice to do what we did. Luckily, I had read "Forever" and made sure I had birth control (which, along with my dexatrim that they also did not know about, I hid inside a dictionary from which I had carved the inside pages out (Shawshank Redepemtion style). In any case, I survived without any great tragedies. But I took some risks that in hindsight, I just shudder to remember.

Posted by: Emily | March 14, 2007 12:54 PM

Never did drugs. Never even tried smoking. (I lived with two smokers, and that habit just disgusted me from a very early age.)

Never got really drunk until I was a senior in college.

Video games don't interest me with the exception of Tetris and Galagaa.

Lost my virginity at 25 to the same man I married a year later.

Not all teens are bad or rebels. Not sure what my parents did differently. Just stayed involved, I suppose. And communicated, a lot. I think that was the key.

Posted by: J | March 14, 2007 12:55 PM

I wrote:

"Show your children that cool is stupid."

An anonymous reply at 12:21 PM:

"Let us know how your approach works, Matt in Aberdeen."

It worked for our children. There were no 5 AM phone calls.

"As an alternative, why not redefine cool so that cool is positive?"

My definition of cool -- "cool means you don't care, or at least, you are pretending not to care" -- comes from years of hearing how the word is used in the world. Given that the world regards smoking, getting drunk, etc., as cool, two parents are not going to have the power to redefine "cool" as a synonym for "good" or "positive," however much we might want to redefine it.

Posted by: Matt in Aberdeen | March 14, 2007 12:57 PM

Fairfax wins the color lottery. I guess it is that color but it has not been washed in so long.

Posted by: Fred | March 14, 2007 1:02 PM

Forever - wowee! My school had a dog eared copy that was passed around with the "good parts" underlined! I should re-read that too to see how tame it really is! This is like blast from the past day for me.

Posted by: moxiemom | March 14, 2007 1:04 PM

Rats! CTOTD?

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 14, 2007 1:04 PM

moxiemom:anything Judy Blume is a blast from the past.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 14, 2007 1:05 PM

"Are there signs visible at a younger age that certain kids will be more rebellious as teens?"

Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Some behaviors can be an early indication of tendencies that might lead to trouble if not managed properly (like I posed about my 5-yr-old). Or they can be signs of things like abuse, which could well lead to serious rebellion later on. But I hate those kinds of generalizations. Because when I was growing up, those kinds of statements were most frequently made about a poor kid, and were based on the kid's clothes and mannerisms rather than on any innate "goodness" or "badness."

I also think those kinds of characterizations are just as dangerous to the "good" kids. It's really tempting to think that, if we can identify the characteristics of the "bad" kids early on, and our kids don't do that, that they're "safe." Seriously, you hear about a kid in the news who has just crashed the car, or gotten caught drinking, or whatever -- and how many times do the parents say something like, "I don't know what happened, X is such a good kid"? Yes, they probably are good kids. But that doesn't mean they have perfect judgment or follow the rules 100% of the time.

Heck, I was straight-As, really non-rebellious, didn't go out much -- about as "perfect" as my mom could have asked for. And yet my senior year I decided to go along with some friends stealing street signs. THREE times. (About all I can say in my own defense is that I made them leave the traffic control signs alone). How stupid was the "smart" kid? The whole time we were doing it, I was terrified of getting caught, because I KNEW it would totally screw my college plans, which was what I had been working so hard for for years -- but I did it anyway, because it was "cool" and "fun" and "dangerous" ("seemed like a good idea at the time" and all that).

Posted by: Laura | March 14, 2007 1:06 PM

"Given that the world regards smoking, getting drunk, etc., as cool, two parents are not going to have the power to redefine "cool" as a synonym for "good" or "positive," however much we might want to redefine it."

What a cop out. The world isn't raising your kids. You are. Teach your values. Introduce them to other adults and families who share your values. Do your job. Don't blame the village.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 14, 2007 1:11 PM

Blast from the past indeed. I have never since been able to call anybody "ralph" with a straight face.

Posted by: Emily | March 14, 2007 1:11 PM

My oldest just got his learners permit and we started letting him drive with us. Quite frankly it scares me to death!! He's 17 going on 80 with the reaction time of a snail and all I can think is, can't he just ride his bike for a few more years?
My youngest is 6 - one just starting out - one trying to leave the nest...so bittersweet

Posted by: Paula | March 14, 2007 1:11 PM

Cultural Tidbit of the Day

The running of the bulls in Pamplona was more or less only known regionally until a Hemmingway novel was published.

"The Sun Also Rises" put this event on the figurative world map.

BTW Fred never really cared for Papa much, thought he was a bit boring but "The Sun Also Rises" is a spectacular book. F. Scott Fitzgerald is a much better writer. "This Side of Paradise" is a masterpiece. Besides, F. Scott's wife had a cool first name.

Tomorrow on CTOTD

Oh, I dunno, maybe Plato, Maybe Fred's Favorite Movie Quotes, maybe Opera, maybe I will just make something up.

Posted by: Fred | March 14, 2007 1:12 PM

Fred, How do you feel about Michener?
One of the best books I have read was "The Fires of Spring".

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 14, 2007 1:14 PM

Brad Patt: soon to be the father of 4.

Is it only poor people or non-celebrities who should limit their families?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 14, 2007 1:15 PM

I'm terrified to have a teenage girl. The thought of her getting drunk, having sex...my god, it terrifies me.

Because I did IT ALL. Between my husband and I, we've done every bad thing you can as a teen (though I miraculously never got pregnant or a disease)I had sex, did drugs, drank, snuck out, lied. Looking back, I was so sweet, just found some sort of glamour in it all.

What did my parents do "wrong"?? I have no clue. I suppose letting me go too much- I've always been fiercely independent and maybe they gave up fighting me tooth and nail on everything.

I was an amazing child, though. Very easy from age 3 until 13. So, I certainly wasn't labeled a "bad seed" at all- very much the opposite.

The only thing I can actually pinpoint waas that I was bored out of my mind. My classes weren't challenging enough, it was just boooooring. I still get bored very easily and constatnly have to either ask for more work or take college classes just to give me something to do. Maybe I was just bored and was looking for better stuff to do?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 14, 2007 1:18 PM

Concerned over a growing # of fatal teen driver crashes, a few years ago NC passed a graduated driver's license program for teen drivers.

I believe that the first 1.5 years a teen must have an adult in the car with them unless going to school/work, they've got restrictions on how many teens that can ride with them, and at what time of day they can drive. After they get through those first years without incident, the restrictions get a little less tough.

Of course, they only work if the teens actually follow the rules. Last year four teens died when they drove their mom's car at 120mph off a curved bridge signed for no more than 60mph (since reduced to 50mph). Then there's the drunken party that Megan's Neighbor and myself alluded to earlier where the driver killed his passenger in a crash and the others never called 911.

Posted by: John L | March 14, 2007 1:19 PM

"Brad Patt: soon to be the father of 4"

Technically, the adoptive father of three, biological father of one. Somehow I doubt he and Angelina's children are going to suffer for want of money or attention, though.

Posted by: John L | March 14, 2007 1:21 PM

I'm trying to convince my daughters that the best dads were dorky as teenagers, just like me. however, i caution them to not marry a person like their father...

Unless they want to suffer like their mother...

And always, always, always, always wear a seatbelt. You don't want to ever, ever have to pick your own teeth out of the dashboard or the seat in front of you.

And lastly, never break more than 1 law at a time.

Posted by: Father of 4 | March 14, 2007 1:22 PM

Just saw this show up on the newswire:

"The Texas House of Representatives voted today to overturn Governor Rick Perry's executive order that sixth-grade girls be vaccinated against the virus that causes cervical cancer.

The measure passed 118 to 23, according to Chris Cutrone, spokesman for House Speaker Tom Craddick. A similar bill in the Texas Senate has been sponsored by half the members. It's still under consideration by a committee."

Posted by: John L | March 14, 2007 1:24 PM

I would say you can't reliably tell which kids are going to get in trouble. I asked DD#1 if she had thought, of all her cousins, that E. would end up in rehab, and she agreed with me that, while E. wasn't perfect, C., who so far is clean, seemed much more likely to have gone that route. Her friend's brother is super-smart, had been an excellent student, went way downhill and then back up, and it was on the upswing that he got arrested. It's wreaked complete havoc on his family's life.

slowly insane, I feel for you! It's awful to do your best and still have such a tough time. What you're going through is what all of us fear. Hope the care and concern expressed on this board helps ...

Posted by: LML | March 14, 2007 1:25 PM

Can you pick the kid out who will get into trouble?
Not always but odds are the one who always has the newest IPod, cell phone and car and doesn't have to pay for a thing will, at some point, get into trouble or, at the least, need a good reality check.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 14, 2007 1:28 PM

father of four I married a dork, but guess what: they are smart and are good providers! Dorks unite!

Posted by: scarry | March 14, 2007 1:29 PM

Fred,
May I suggest reading "The Crook Factory" by Dan Simmons? It is about what life in Cuba with Hemingway was really like. Let's just say all the glorification of Papa from back in high school bit the dust of reality.

As cultural tidbits, may I suggest favorite music quotes that somehow fit the blog topic of the day? And if anyone quotes "having my baby"....

Posted by: dotted | March 14, 2007 1:31 PM

Matt at Aberdeen wrote:

"Given that the world regards smoking, getting drunk, etc., as cool, two parents are not going to have the power to redefine "cool" as a synonym for "good" or "positive," however much we might want to redefine it."
and Anon at 1:11 responded:

"What a cop out. The world isn't raising your kids. You are. Teach your values. Introduce them to other adults and families who share your values. Do your job. Don't blame the village."

Acknowledging that you can't redefine words in the common language isn't a cop out, it's reality. Kids are going to see what people call "cool", and then they need to decide if they want to work to be cool, or not.

I am told that the best thing to do to prepare kids for making good decisions is to steep them in your values and establish principles rather than rules, so kids are thinking about what they ought to do, rather than following instructions when they know you're watching. Oh and I try to be a good role model. But the teen years do scare me, not because I think my kids will be hellions, but because, as others have said, the cost of a mistake can be so high.

As for introducing your kids to families who share your values, the kids I knew in high school whose parents did that seemed to enjoy meeting other hyper-supervised teens. They exchanged tips for getting away with stuff that would have shocked the heck out of their parents. It reminds me of how prisoners teach each other to be better criminals.

I don't think you should or can pick your teen's friends.

Earlier someone asked what to do if your kids has a kid you think is trouble. Don't laugh at me, experienced parents, but could you sit down with them, and explain your concerns with your kid-- not villifying the troubled kid, but explaining why you think they're making poor choices? It might plant a seed for your kid not to follow him mindlessly, without making the other kid seem exotic and forbidden.

Posted by: YetAnotherSAHM | March 14, 2007 1:33 PM

"Loving You" by Minnie Ripperton?

Posted by: Fred | March 14, 2007 1:39 PM

Scarry, I married a goody goody 2 shoes and still haven't been able to corrupt her yet.

Posted by: Father of 4 | March 14, 2007 1:40 PM

talk to your kids. LISTEN to your kids. Advise and guide them. Tell stories of your life. Admit your own mistakes. Talk to your kids' friends. Be available when your kids want to communicate or set a time to talk soon and stick with it.

Posted by: experienced mom | March 14, 2007 1:41 PM

Emily - LOL
Fred, HUGE F. Scott Fitzgerald fan. Love Zelda too - wonder who wrote what???

The scarriest thing is that good kids make bad decisions and we are so very limited in our ability to control it. Do the best you can I guess and make sure you always say "I love you" when someone you love walks out the door.

Posted by: moxiemom | March 14, 2007 1:44 PM

Yeah, I second the "celebration" for menses. How strange...

Posted by: Meesh | March 14, 2007 1:46 PM

experienced mom so true what you said about admitting your mistakes. My sister gets pissed when I tell stories about her, me and my brothers, but I don't care, kids need to know that you were/are human too and that everyone makes mistakes.

I tell them so they can see that they don't have to do the same stupid stuff we did to have fun.

Father of 4 LOL! I only looked like a goody goody.

Posted by: scarry | March 14, 2007 1:50 PM

..."why are you celebrating a girl getting her period?"

Because it's a rite of passage, you celebrate birthdays, don't you?...

Are you going to celebrate losing her virginity?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 14, 2007 1:51 PM

OT to scarry: got to watch out for those cheerleaders! ;-)

Posted by: Product of a Working Mother | March 14, 2007 1:52 PM

Fred, you romantic you...

Posted by: dotted | March 14, 2007 1:54 PM

On the discussion of DD's first cycles my DD started at 12. I took her to lunch and had a mom and me day to let her know that I was aware she was changing, our lives were changing and that we were in this together. For all of you with daughters close to this age discuss the use of tampons with your pediatrician. Our doctor's recomendation was not before 16 for developmental reasons and also toxic shock risks.

On the topic of teen pregnancy my sister has a baby-she was 19 but NOT ready for motherhood in any way. She now is in a dead end job, with a gorgeous 17month old baby and she has had to get do not contact orders for the father who is verbally and mentally abusive and tries to hurt her mentally. She could have been or done anything, she is gorgeous, talented, great grades etc. and now life is so much harder for her. No teen pregnancy won't kill you like AIDS but it can suck the life right out of you.

Posted by: magnificent7mom | March 14, 2007 1:57 PM

Dotted (and others)

Just an FYI, I have read a lot of these books way after HS and college. HS and college wetted my appetite for literature. Art interest probably came from the good old college course Art Appreciation 101. My interest in Paganini springs (I know this is hard to believe) watching a rerun on a 1970's TV show last month! It was such beautiful music that I had to find out who wrote it! My point being that culture can flow from many things, not just two cities in the U.S. or a European country. Maybe culture is more an attitude than a location.

Posted by: Fred | March 14, 2007 1:57 PM

I'm sorry but celebrating your daughter's first period is beyond bizarre, imo. Don't get me wrong, it is not something to be ashamed about or tip-toed around (calling it the monthly friend and such). But, for a girl, it can be embarassing at first.

Unless this is something that your daughter is comfortable with doing and proclaiming to the world, I personally would not do it.

Posted by: JS | March 14, 2007 2:02 PM

what to do if your kids has a friend you think is trouble -

This is a tough situation. I thought the friend was trouble, but as time went on, I began to think my kid was the one who was trouble - this friend just happened to be the only one who would go along with my kid's adventures - my kid's other friends refused.

I still don't know which kid was the leader and which was the follower. They protect each other very well. My guess is that they egg each other on.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 14, 2007 2:03 PM

"Brad Patt: soon to be the father of 4"

Technically, the adoptive father of three, biological father of one.
Posted by: John L | March 14, 2007 01:21 PM

Distinguishing between adoptive and biological children is more than a little offensive.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 14, 2007 2:04 PM

I just remember back when I was 12, I would have been mortified to talk about my period in front of the male members of my family. I think the celebration is a little over the top.

Posted by: Emily | March 14, 2007 2:05 PM

*She now is in a dead end job, with a gorgeous 17month old baby and she has had to get do not contact orders for the father who is verbally and mentally abusive and tries to hurt her mentally.*

The problem seems to be more about having relations with an inappropriate person than getting pregnant as a teenager.

I know a couple who got married at 16 when she became pregnant. That was 27 years ago. They are still married and have 3 children. they have had their share of problems, but haven't we all. Careers aren't great in the eyes of some, but they are happy with their lives, so who cares?

Posted by: anon | March 14, 2007 2:08 PM

"Distinguishing between adoptive and biological children is more than a little offensive."

Nope, just a fact.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 14, 2007 2:12 PM

Fred, you romantic you...

Posted by: dotted | March 14, 2007 01:54 PM

No! NO! NO!, I hate that song!

Posted by: Fred | March 14, 2007 2:16 PM

I'm not talking about throwing a party for her - just having a little extra mother-daughter time to acknowledge the new phase or "period" of her life. :)

It's no more strange then having a sweet 16 party, which I never understood . . .

Posted by: Fairfax | March 14, 2007 2:25 PM

My wife was very open with our 2 daughters about her menses, and when their time came, they had some idea what to expect.

They each accepted our offer to go out for a celebration dinner to the restaurant of their choice for the dinner of their choice.

Posted by: Celebrbation - Yes! | March 14, 2007 2:25 PM


'"Given that the world regards smoking, getting drunk, etc., as cool, two parents are not going to have the power to redefine "cool" as a synonym for "good" or "positive," however much we might want to redefine it."'

"What a cop out. The world isn't raising your kids. You are. Teach your values. Introduce them to other adults and families who share your values. Do your job. Don't blame the village."

You've got that right. It is we, not the world nor any "village," who have been raising our children, and it is we who have taught them our values, not the world's. And according to our values, what the "village" regards as "cool" is, in fact, stupid and destructive.

If that's what we believe, why not say so? Should we be afraid of hurting the feelings of outsiders who pride themselves on being "cool"? On the contrary! If our children turn out to be caring, responsible citizens, and enough of the "cool" people suffer the consequences of not caring, then maybe the world or the village will learn from our and our children's example that COOL IS STUPID -- and they'll stop trying to be cool.

Posted by: Matt in Aberdeen | March 14, 2007 2:28 PM

To foamgnome,

"And unless they use a condom each and every time, they are opening themselves to that risk."

Actually they are still at risk of getting AIDS even if they use a condom correctly. They are only 98% effective. I understand what you mean and that you are well intentioned but why does the everyone seem to think that condoms solve the problem? They don't and never will.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 14, 2007 2:28 PM

fred
thank you. I was seriously scared and afraid you were, in fact, celine dion.

Posted by: dotted | March 14, 2007 2:28 PM

To Fred & Moxiemom:

I recall reading that F. Scott Fitzgerald plagiarized (with only slight modifications) vast chunks of Zelda's diaries in "This Side of Paradise." The two versions were displayed for comparison in a book I long ago read, possibly Nancy Milford's bestselling biography "Zelda."

Also, I recall another author positing that Scott was actually crazier than Zelda, but back then a husband could get his wife invountarily committed pretty much on his say-so. (Doubtless our resident Luddite trolls would approve.)

Or should we all be over on the Dirda blog this afternoon? LOL!

Posted by: catlady | March 14, 2007 2:30 PM

No, making the distinction IS offensive. It labels the adoptive children as second-class, something not recognized by the law. You adopt them, they are your children. Period.

That you don't get why it is offensive is sad.

Posted by: JS to 2:12 | March 14, 2007 2:31 PM

To Slowly Insane:

It sounds very much like you're doing all the right things for your daughter, namely acknowledging the problem and getting her into treatment, and staying on her case when it seems that treatment isn't working as well as it could. Teenagers can be very difficult in this regard, because they know what the adults around them want to hear, regardless of what they may really be feeling.

Your daughter needs to tell her psychiatrist about how she's feeling re: not wanting/needing to take pills - if he/she is worth the bucks you're spending on treatment, he/she will CHANGE her meds. Sometimes it takes a while to find the right drug or drug combo. If she doesn't have a good relationship with her therapist, maybe a change of therapist is also in order. The reality of treating mental illness is that it's a lot of trial and error, and a good therapist-patient relationship is crucial to successful treatment.

Hang in there with your daughter, and also keep taking care of yourself. That's important, too; it may not always feel like it to you, but you are her support system.

Posted by: BxNY | March 14, 2007 2:31 PM

As a former rebellious teen, my parents couldn't really do much to stop me. I think they knew most of what was happening but thought it was normal for a teen.

What kept me safe (besides luck) was good morals. I tried alcohol and drugs, but always made sure that I was somewhere safe and could get home easily. I knew I could call my parents and they would save the lecture for the morning. I was never with strangers. I was never far from home. I also didn't hang out with "bad" kids. The ones my parents thought were bad (and told me not to see--HA) were my best friends who cared about me. As someone else said, we egged each other on. The REAL bad kids were the ones I would never hang out with. They stole things, broke stuff in the school, and said nasty things to people. They were trouble, but my parents didn't see that.

So it helps to tell your kids that you won't judge them, that you will always pick them up, and to tell them how to stay safe away from home (always walk with friends, etc).

Posted by: Meesh | March 14, 2007 2:34 PM

Or should we all be over on the Dirda blog this afternoon? LOL!

Posted by: catlady | March 14, 2007 02:30 PM

it appears as though many of you do nothing BUT blog all day long.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 14, 2007 2:34 PM

"No, making the distinction IS offensive. It labels the adoptive children as second-class, something not recognized by the law. You adopt them, they are your children. Period.

That you don't get why it is offensive is sad."

Nope, still don't get it.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 14, 2007 2:35 PM

Brad Patt: soon to be the father of 4"

Technically, the adoptive father of three, biological father of one.
Posted by: John L | March 14, 2007 01:21 PM

Distinguishing between adoptive and biological children is more than a little offensive.

Posted by: | March 14, 2007 02:04 PM


One time that distinguishing between adoptive and biological children is NOT offensive is when you talk about people who adopt instead of overunning the world with their own more than 2 zero-Population-growht kids.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 14, 2007 2:37 PM

JS, most normal people will agree with you. Don't waste your breath on the anon jerk-off.

Posted by: Meesh | March 14, 2007 2:38 PM

First Period celebration is weird. I am not even going to mention a first for a boy that people can "celebrate."

As for kid's friends that are trouble. I had a friend in Jr. HS that was trouble, she was sassy and sneaky. My mother hated her - and rightfully so - I got in some trouble with her. However, if my mother had just calmly sat me down and talked to me rather than make snide remarks after the "incidents" started I may not have found this snotty friend so interesting. Luckily she moved to NM right before we went into HS, my mom sighed a big relief.

Sometimes it is an attraction to bad kids as a reaction to parents, does that make sense?

Posted by: cmac | March 14, 2007 2:40 PM

"Can you pick the kid out who will get into trouble?
Not always but odds are the one who always has the newest IPod, cell phone and car and doesn't have to pay for a thing will, at some point, get into trouble or, at the least, need a good reality check."

No, no, dear KLB, you are looking for the Clue-by-Four (tm)!

Posted by: MdMother | March 14, 2007 2:40 PM

"No, making the distinction IS offensive. It labels the adoptive children as second-class, something not recognized by the law. You adopt them, they are your children. Period.

That you don't get why it is offensive is sad."

Nope, still don't get it.

Posted by: | March 14, 2007 02:35 PM

There's ignorant and offensive, and then there's the man parents get to point at and say, "Look, honey, don't grow up to be an insensitive clod like John L."

I hope you are childless.

Posted by: to John L | March 14, 2007 2:41 PM

Posted by: | March 14, 2007 02:34 PM

Anonymous, you seem to be quite prolific on this board yourself -- trolling all day, every day, whereas Catlady just arrived. So your accusation holds no water, instead merely displays your true snarky colors. Why don't you just go kick some puppies?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 14, 2007 2:43 PM

"Can you pick the kid out who will get into trouble?
Not always but odds are the one who always has the newest IPod, cell phone and car and doesn't have to pay for a thing will, at some point, get into trouble or, at the least, need a good reality check."

That's one category. Another category is the bored, creative, underperforming smart child. His or her intelligence often finds its outlet in illegal, exciting and entrepreneurial activities.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 14, 2007 2:44 PM

"No, making the distinction IS offensive. It labels the adoptive children as second-class, something not recognized by the law. You adopt them, they are your children. Period.

That you don't get why it is offensive is sad."

Nope, still don't get it.

When you adopt them, you are, in effect, naming yourself THEIR PARENT. In fact, their original birth certificate used to become null and void, and a new one would be issued, naming the adoptive parents.

I don't know if that still occurs, but my SIL's second husband adopted her daughter, and the sperm donor (1st husband) magically disappeared.

Which was fine, as he had erased himself (thankfully) from their lives. He was an abusive SOB--her daughter used to go into paroxysms of hysteria whenever it was time to go see him. It wasn't until Mom was able to prove the physical and sexual abuse that a judge said the kid didn't "have to" go. It was a nightmare.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 14, 2007 2:44 PM

"Distinguishing between adoptive and biological children is more than a little offensive."


Only by people who are afraid of the truth.
"

Posted by: Anonymous | March 14, 2007 2:45 PM

First Period celebration is weird. I am not even going to mention a first for a boy that people can "celebrate."

Bar Mitzvah comes to mind. Today, I am a man! (Well, obviously not me, per se)

Posted by: Bedrock | March 14, 2007 2:46 PM

"There's ignorant and offensive, and then there's the man parents get to point at and say, "Look, honey, don't grow up to be an insensitive clod like John L."

I hope you are childless."

Wow, a little harsh, don't you think? Everyone is entitled to their opinion.

Posted by: jimbo jones | March 14, 2007 2:46 PM

I think there was a time when adopted children were considered second best, but that has changed. I think that now, adoption is seen a perfectly fine alternative, and no longer has the negative connotations it used to have, for the most part anyway. I also think that it depends on context. I don't think that the adjectives "adoptive or adopted" are always pejorative, but they can be. Sometimes, the description is useful and factual. Sometimes, it is a subtly implies that the an adoped child is somehow deficient for having been adopted. It just depends on how it's used. With Brad Pitt being the father of 4 kids, I don't think it makes any difference, in the context of that statement, whether the kids are adopted or biological. He's still their father, isn't he?

Posted by: Emily | March 14, 2007 2:46 PM

To foamgnome,

"And unless they use a condom each and every time, they are opening themselves to that risk."

Actually they are still at risk of getting AIDS even if they use a condom correctly. They are only 98% effective. I understand what you mean and that you are well intentioned but why does the everyone seem to think that condoms solve the problem? They don't and never will.

Posted by: | March 14, 2007 02:28 PM
You are definitely correct. But I will take 98% effective with a condom rather then 0% effective with out one. Unless every one is committed to being a virgin till marriage, a condom is the best we can do.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 14, 2007 2:46 PM

I remember very well when I got my period my mom came home that night with a bag of M&Ms and basically said that every month when you get your period you can (Should?) have M&Ms. Getting your period can make you crave chocolate and in this case you can give in! I loved it. It was a right of passage into Womanhood on a very tangible level. You're adult enough to realize that chocolate can really come in handy sometimes! I plan to do that with my daughter in a decade or so!

Posted by: Bad Mom | March 14, 2007 2:48 PM

I wonder how parents feel about "snooping" on their kids.

I think that I'd be so worried about sexual predators and inappropriate contact that I would be tempted to read their e-mail and IM conversations (those are saved, you know).

Have any of you ever secretly read stuff like that? Listened to phone calls? I think that I would be able to justify that to myself, but as a teen I would be so hurt if my parents did that.

Posted by: Meesh | March 14, 2007 2:49 PM

"Bar Mitzvah comes to mind. Today, I am a man! (Well, obviously not me, per se)."

My mind must be in the gutter. I was thinking wet dreams. Anyone want to celebrate that first with their family?

Posted by: Emily | March 14, 2007 2:49 PM

"Distinguishing between adoptive and biological children is more than a little offensive."


Only by people who are afraid of the truth.
"

Posted by: | March 14, 2007 02:45 PM
Yes the truth is that Brad Pitt adopted three children. But in the context of how it was being discussed, his DNA contribution was not at issue here. The only time it is when people actively choose to adopt rather then over populate the earth. And that may be considered a good thing. But if you think the truth is that his adoptive children are something less then biologically children, then you need more help then a blog can give you.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 14, 2007 2:49 PM

In case anyone noticed, I said "technically" when I said he was the adoptive father of three. Somewhere there's a biological father of those three, and it's not Pitt.

There is a difference and I'm sure both he and Angelina will explain it to the children when they are old enough to understand.

Does it make them "second class" because they were adopted and not created by Bradd and Angelina? Not hardly.

Unless you're already predisposed to think so, or get all hot and bothered by someone else making a distinction.

BTW, my wife was adopted by her parents.

Posted by: John L | March 14, 2007 2:51 PM

As for picking out the kids who are going to get into trouble... well, the most troubled ones I knew were raised in religious homes - by this I mean their families were observant beyond the community norm. Seems to me there's something in that lifestyle that kids rebel against big-time. Or maybe they just didn't like being constrained and made to feel different; it *was* a small town, after all. Granted, now that we're in our 30s, most of these individuals have grown into decent, responsible adults (one didn't - no morals at all), but a lot of them still don't share their parents' faith. And for a couple of them, staying out of felony trouble was more a matter of luck than planning.

Posted by: BxNY | March 14, 2007 2:53 PM

JohnL: Your originally post was misleading. You did not mention anything about their technically being a biological father out there. So I can see why people read it as an offensive post. BTW, if you have not already figured it out, most people touched by the gift of adoption, take it pretty seriously. And it is easy to step on their toes. In the future, best to clarify what you actually mean. As far as anon poster, he/she is clearly just offensive.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 14, 2007 3:01 PM

I'm not sure I'd do it, and luckily I was away at orchestra camp when mine came, but I can see why mothers want to acknowledge a daughter's first period (mother/daughter lunch or tea or something). Announcing to the neighborhood or male relatives...not so much. It provides a great way to counter all the negative things that girls/women say about their periods (dirty/the curse etc). It also is a great springboard for talking about values, responsibility that comes with growing older, respect for oneself, the fact that some things are personal, hygeine, etc. No it's not an accomplishment, but any reason you have to connect and have a quiet moment with your kid is a good reason, right? Also, it's not uncommon in various cultures and ethnic groups in the US.

Posted by: Stay Free! | March 14, 2007 3:05 PM

"OT to scarry: got to watch out for those cheerleaders! ;-)"


Ha, yes you do! especially so when they were fallen down drunk and mad as hell!

And I will tell my girl all about it. My parents were old and tired and couldn't catch me. I will be young and mean and will catch her or at least I will know what to look for.

Posted by: scarry | March 14, 2007 3:05 PM

Re onset of menstrual period: Had mild cramps all day, got home from school, discovered blood. Mother administered 2 adult aspirin (back in the days before parents were afraid), discreetly told my father what had occurred, and he let me watch TV that evening in his beloved recline chair (a real sacrifice, trust me!).

Must admit I was rather baffled the year before when I read "Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl," where she made so much hoopla over her first period, but I guess when 8 people are trapped in a secret annex in plausible mortal fear of the Nazis, a first period has a lot more meaning.

True horror story: In the wake of the Victorian era, maternal grandmother's 5 sisters and their mother NEVER said anything to her about their periods (they must've been awfully secretive when they were having them). Then, at age 13, Grandma discovered blood on her underwear, and became hysterial -- I know, poor word choice -- because she reasonably assumed she was hemorrhaging to death. Only when she went to her mother did she learn about menses (and one must wonder how poor an explanation THAT was). Poor kid.

Does anyone remember "Carrie"? Yikes!

So, things are decidedly better than they used to be. Although I'm with Foamgnome et al. rejecting the idea of a celebration dinner.

Posted by: catlady | March 14, 2007 3:11 PM

Foamgnome,

I'd say it should be fairly obvious that a biological father existed for each child Brad and Angelina adopted.

Posted by: John L | March 14, 2007 3:11 PM

scarry reminded me of a wall hanging in my grandmother's kitchen about mean mothers:

1. A mean mother never allows candy or sweets to take the place of a well-balanced meal.

2. A mean mother insists on knowing where her children are at all times, who their friends are and what they do.

3. A mean mother breaks child labor laws by making her children wash dishes, make beds, learn to cook and other cruel and unpleasant chores.

4. A mean mother makes life miserable for her offspring by insisting that they always tell the truth.

5. A mean mother expects her teenagers to be wise and sensible.

6. A mean mother can smile with secret delight and pride when she hears her own grandchildren call their parents "mean."

7. What the world needs now are more mean mothers ... and fathers!

Posted by: Product of a Working Mother | March 14, 2007 3:13 PM

JohnL: I know you said it they were adopted. And any reasonable person can assume their was a biological father out there. But wasn't obvious that you were stating they were adopted because you were talking about an unknown biological father choose to create this child. All your post said was he was the bio father of one and had three adopted children. Reading that statement alone, it can be misinterpreted. Obviously it was because several posters told you it was offensive. Sometimes you have to say more then you intend to just to get the proper meaning across.

Original post was something like only the rich don't have to limit their families. ( I am paraphrasing because I am too lazy to look it up).

You respondend: technically they adopted three and had one bio (again paraphrasing).
Left alone that could read, he didn't limit his family because he had only one "real" child.

See the difference? Again, I understand what you are saying but that is not easily discerned in argument as you worded it. Gotta go get the kid.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 14, 2007 3:17 PM

I meant to say he already limited his family.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 14, 2007 3:18 PM

I would not snoop through my child's things just to be nosy or because I was curious. When there was behavior or something else that caused me to question things that might be detrimental, you better believe I looked for the reason. Where there's smoke, there's fire.

Once, I was looking for an overdue library book that he said he didn't have. I looked under his bed since he wasn't the neatest child. There was a backpack under his bed and I found a bottle of liquour, not beer, in the backpack under the bed of my 16-year-old. A full search ensued. All privacy rights were lost.

We are not dictators, but at the same time, our family is not a democracy. The parents are the leaders. the children can voice their opinions, but they do not get an equal vote.

Posted by: me | March 14, 2007 3:21 PM

All your post said was he was the bio father of one and had three adopted children. Reading that statement alone, it can be misinterpreted.

Gee, I thought he pointed it out to ward off the comments about having too many children in an overpopulated world. I saw nothing offensive about it.

Maybe if we read comments with the underlying assumption that most people are positive, we would not see so much in a negative light.

Posted by: Just a thought | March 14, 2007 3:25 PM

Just a thought wrote: "Maybe if we read comments with the underlying assumption that most people are positive, we would not see so much in a negative light."

So true. But then again, our trolls would have nothing to put meaning into their pitiful lives.

Posted by: catlady | March 14, 2007 3:27 PM

"I meant to say he already limited his family."

i think you meant he limited his biological children. By saying he already limited his family, you are excluding any future adopted children, including the next one.

Posted by: to foamgnome | March 14, 2007 3:30 PM

John L - My apoligies. In the context of limiting families, your post was not offensive. It makes sense. I get it now. Was not reading carefully. Sorry.

Posted by: Emily | March 14, 2007 3:31 PM

Maybe if we read comments with the underlying assumption that most people are positive, we would not see so much in a negative light.

Posted by: Just a thought | March 14, 2007 03:25 PM


It's a blog, a words-only medium. We can only interpret what people post with the words they use. John L posted multiple times and the message never changed. It is not positive to call out adoptive children as not quite children for purposes of determining family-size and no amount of positive interpretation can eradicate the harm caused by making distinctions between legal adoption and other ways of expanding family size.

When someone uses the n-word, do you advocate that we assume that the speaker means positive thoughts and erred, or call him on the inappropriateness and hurtful nature of certain sentiments?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 14, 2007 3:31 PM

The n-word is a well known racial slur. I didn't know that "adopted" was a slur.

Posted by: Just a thought | March 14, 2007 3:45 PM

The n-word is a well known racial slur. I didn't know that "adopted" was a slur.

note to self: in future make sure to insult groups in ways well-known to Just a thought.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 14, 2007 3:50 PM

OK - I still don't see any insult. We just won't agree on this one. No hard feelings ;-).

Posted by: Just a thought | March 14, 2007 3:54 PM

why all the praise for limiting family size?

Posted by: huh? | March 14, 2007 3:55 PM

why all the praise for limiting family size?

Maybe because the world's been forecast to have over 9 billion people by 2050 & they'll all need safe food, clean water & air, education, basic health care, yaddayaddayadda.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 14, 2007 3:58 PM

"When someone uses the n-word, do you advocate that we assume that the speaker means positive thoughts and erred, or call him on the inappropriateness and hurtful nature of certain sentiments?"

I get your point, but disagree with your analogy. The word "adopted" isn't inherently offensive and can legitimately belong in some conversations (if I'm talking to my kids' pediatrician, bio or adopted is certainly relevant to inheritable disorders). The n-word is a slur that doesn't belong anywhere.

But I agree with the point: sometimes a fact can be true but not relevant, so continuing to harp on it makes it seem like you think it really does matter. It's more like if you were buying a car, and you kept referring to one of the salesman as black. It's true. The word itself isn't inherently offensive. But by always pointing out his race, you make it sound like race should matter in deciding whether to buy the car from him.

We always refer to biological kids as just "kids." But dang, whenever we mention adopted kids, someone ALWAYS has to point out that they're adopted -- as if that was soooooo important factor that it deserved consideration in any conversation. So yeah, that can be hurtful and offensive -- especially when you look at the long history of adopted kids being viewed as unwanted and second-best.

Posted by: Laura | March 14, 2007 3:59 PM

oh for goodness sake, how about you keep it zipped then because the love is all around my house.

Posted by: huh? | March 14, 2007 4:00 PM

Because some people out there think that it is harmful to the environment to have too many children. Adoptive parents, in this respect, are not adding to the earth's environmental burdens because all they are doing is raising children that already exist and that need a home. They are not creating more children to suck the life out of earth. I think that's the theory.

It's not so much about limiting family size, as limiting the number of people who are born. I think.

Posted by: Emily | March 14, 2007 4:02 PM

You can have good "love" with contraception. Even better, cuz there's far less risk of unplanned pregnancy.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 14, 2007 4:03 PM

oh for goodness sake, how about you keep it zipped then because the love is all around my house.

Posted by: huh? | March 14, 2007 04:00 PM


I'm curious. What in the world is this comment about? or to whom is it directed?

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | March 14, 2007 4:11 PM

as to whether or not you can determine if a child will grow up to be a "bad" child or not. my son, aged 6 1/2, has a friend that constantly pushes boundries & tests limits. what will he be like at 16? i can't say but he's a handful now.

i had a friend who was a straight a student, polite, friendly and was an all around "good" girl or was she? unbeknowst to her parents & mine, she drank & tried about every drug out there as well as being sexually active in high school. was she good or was she bad? were her grades & general personality a sign of who she really was or was the drug use & sexual activity a sign that she was really bad? i'm still not sure.

Posted by: quark | March 14, 2007 4:12 PM

HappyMom -- Very late check in here, but my 10 year old son loves "Runaway Love." I am similarly horrified by the sad lyrics. My husband asked my son why he likes it so much. The answers were fascinating -- that the sadness of the story made him appreciate his family, his friends and his general good fortune. So now we all like it.

Posted by: Leslie | March 14, 2007 4:37 PM

Quark, you sound like you know me so well!
I'm still like that, frankly--I'm a very hard worker with a high IQ but I have some really stupid behaviours. I don't know if I'm good or bad either. All I know is I'm the same person I was in high school, just a bit taller and with straighter teeth. My mom still thinks I'm good--because I have a great job and I married lovely Mr Bee and we have a house. If she knew that I still do shots with my buddies at rock shows, she'd have kittens. BTW, I'm in my thirties.

Posted by: worker bee | March 14, 2007 5:42 PM

"to suck the life out of earth"???? So having children is a selfish, unnecessary, anti-environment choice?

I think the solution to 'saving the planet' maybe a little more complicated than the number of children being born. The main population increase is going to come from underdeveloped countries; Europe is already reproducing at lower than replacement rates. The answer isn't to stop these countries from having children, it is educate and improve the quality of lives of the people living there NOW... education and economic development almost always lead to a lower birthrate.

Posted by: overreact much? | March 14, 2007 5:43 PM

Better late than never...I'm trying to balance life with a child with a newly broken arm. Good gravy.

HappyMom, I've heard that song and I don't like it, only because it's a downer to me. I don't let my kids listen to it. Some music is off limits to them, usually the music that focuses on themes they aren't mature enough to handle.

John L, any chance your friend can have her daughter live with her? Her daughter may just need her mom at this time. Fighting for a change in custody would be my suggestion.

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | March 14, 2007 8:26 PM

I'd like to know how I said that adopted children were "not quite children as not quite children for purposes of determining family-size".

I stated a fact; Pitt has fathered one child with Angelina and is the adopted father of three more. I wasn't making any statement about how they decided to have a four child family.

Posted by: John | March 14, 2007 8:34 PM

I remember not getting a lot of talks from my parents and older sister about sex back in the 70s. I got books instead. To prepare for that preteen girl rite of passage, I was bought a copy of "Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret." A couple of years later, I received a copy of "Our Bodies, Ourselves." Since I was receiving these handy reference materials, I figured my mom wouldn't mind if I got my own copy of "Forever" -- that was book that my junior high friends and I really liked to talk about.

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | March 14, 2007 8:36 PM

I read through all the comments, but haven't seen this issue addressed. I have twin 16 YO girls - don't really worry about drugs and pregancy. They and their friends are too busy. (OK, I can't breath when I think about them driving, but they have learner's permits). My nagging worry is suicide. They are both high achievers with big college goals and incredibly stressed. We do our best to help and have fairly good communication with both them and the school staff. I still worry that we'll miss a clue.

Posted by: Kris | March 15, 2007 9:29 AM

Someone said the "vast majority" of teens aren't using drugs/alcohol or engaging in otherwise risky behavior. In fact the data supports just the opposite notion, the vast majority of teens are trying drugs and alcohol and having sex. So there ya go. Sorry to burst your soccer mom fantasy world bubble.

The ones who say their kids don't have the time for any of that have wisely pushed their children to take on multiple A.P. courses and sports etc. to sap as much free time away from them as possible. Idle hands and all that. Just remember those kids are over achievers and do not, by any means, represent the norm.

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