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Archive: Teens

Study: Nearly half of all parents wait too long to talk about sex

A year-and-a-half ago, on this blog, we talked about the right age to start talking about sex. The general consensus was the earlier the better, with the general concepts being OK to introduce in elementary school and more specifics about the consequences of sex in the tween years. Now comes...

By Brian Reid | December 8, 2009; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (84)

Let's make a deal: When is it OK for kids to swap stuff?

I stumbled across an unfamiliar stuffed animal in my eldest's room a few weeks ago, and I asked her where it came from. "Eve gave it to me," she said. "She just gave it to you?" I asked. "Yeah," she shrugged. That was about the moment that I started feeling...

By Brian Reid | December 2, 2009; 12:01 PM ET | Comments (13)

Cell phones: How early is too early?

It's only been in the last year that my 15-year-old babysitter got her own cell phone, and while I was happy to have a direct route of connection with the person who makes my date nights possible, my mind reeled at the idea that a kid who is still a...

By Brian Reid | November 10, 2009; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (45)

How do you raise kids who aren't bystanders?

A week ago, a 15-year-old California girl was raped and beaten by several people for 2 hours outside of a high school homecoming dance. The horror of the crime is almost too much for me to take in. In a case like this, no matter how much I think about...

By Brian Reid | November 3, 2009; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (30)

Reflecting on past -- and future -- Cabbage Nights

It was in about eighth grade that the late-October talk in homeroom began to focus on "Cabbage Night," rather than Halloween. Cabbage Night -- known elsewhere as Mischief Night and Devil's Night -- in my hometown was an opportunity for modest rule-breaking and low-level vandalism. Parents were fed cover stories,...

By Brian Reid | October 30, 2009; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (24)

Will the risk of brain injury dampen your child's gridiron dreams

Youth sports can be brutal. When I was a teen, I went to one of my sister's field hockey games. In the span of five minutes, three members of the opposing team had to be helped off the field after being struck by the hard-as-a-rock field hockey ball. A few...

By Brian Reid | October 23, 2009; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (40)

When Kids Control the Conversation

When I was a kid, parent-teacher conferences and back-to-school nights always made me feel like something was going on behind my back. I didn't have anything to hide, really, so I wasn't afraid my teachers were telling my parents anything incriminating. Still, I couldn't shake the knowledge that a couple...

By Jen Chaney | October 14, 2009; 07:09 AM ET | Comments (37)

More on Cars and Kids: Throwing Away the Key

My first car was a boat of an automobile: a 1975 Caprice Classic convertible that could seat about 10 high school kids on its ratty vinyl bench seats. The radio didn't work, and the top of the mammoth gas tank leaked, so I could only put half a tank of...

By Brian Reid | October 7, 2009; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (29)

Tough Parents and Good Teen Drivers

The great lesson of the first couple years of parenting is that it is hard to really, really screw up child rearing. Sure, the kids might be lousy sleepers or picky eaters or late walkers or too demure or too loud, but there's (usually) no permanent damage done. But that...

By Brian Reid | September 28, 2009; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (22)

Parents Drink Beer; Coach Fired

A Frederick County high school softball coach was fired recently for -- get this -- letting parents supply and drink beer at an end-of-the-season party that he hosted at his house, according to the Frederick News-Post Online. The coach, Brad Young, apparently violated a drug-, alcohol- and tobacco-free workplace and...

By Stacey Garfinkle | July 17, 2009; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (87)

A World Without Technology?

Can your kids handle a media fast? Can you? A simple rule at some outdoor camps makes them unappealing to a certain segment of today's totally plugged in, technologically connected teens, reports The Associated Press. The rule is no cell phones, iPods, or laptops. In other words, meet the people...

By Stacey Garfinkle | May 20, 2009; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (50)

Online Gossip Site Goes Too Far

An Internet gossip site frequented by high school students is at the center of a threatened attack on students at Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda. But this is not the first time the site, peoplesdirt.com, is at the center of controversy. The site thrives on students posting rumors about...

By Stacey Garfinkle | May 14, 2009; 02:55 PM ET | Comments (6)

To Snoop or Not to Snoop

By Rebeldad Brian Reid The hip thing among my daughter's friends is "password journals," the high-tech version of the lock-and-key diaries of yesteryear. Hers is locked down with some sort of voice-recognition software to keep out prying eyes. Right now, it's all good. She's too young to have any real...

By Brian Reid | May 14, 2009; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (59)

Travel Soccer ... or Baseball ... or Any Sport

At the risk of alienating the parents of tens of thousands of youth in the D.C. region and probably hundreds of thousands of parents elsewhere, I just don't "get" travel sports. The big story this week is about a bunch of parents banished from the sidelines of two of their...

By Stacey Garfinkle | April 22, 2009; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (67)

Yes, Mom, IPods Can Cause Hearing Loss

Amy in Germantown e-mailed a couple of weeks ago: "My teenage girls live and die by their iPods. Often I can hear their music from across the room. I think they listen to music turned up too loudly. My girls tell me that I’m just being ‘old-fashioned’. Is it crazy...

By Stacey Garfinkle | April 20, 2009; 07:30 AM ET | Comments (12)

College: How to Pay for It

The college decisions are mostly in and there's lots of good news for the high school class of '09: Many private colleges accepted more applicants than usual this year. The bad news is the reason why: the recession. Colleges this year are expecting the economy to affect the numbers of...

By Stacey Garfinkle | April 6, 2009; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (24)

Netiquette: Lessons from South Korean Schoolchildren

Word: Netiquette Definition: The rules for behaving online The rules are fairly simple. According to Albion.com, they involve such behaviors as "remember the human, adhere to the same standards of behavior online that you follow in real life and be forgiving of other people's mistakes." They are rules that many...

By Stacey Garfinkle | March 25, 2009; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (10)

Why Teens Sext

Did you see "The Tyra Banks Show" on Friday? The episode was all about teen sexting, and the few snippets I've been able to find are enough to make many parents cringe. On Jezebel.com, a video clip shows audience members reading some of the sexual messages that the girls on...

By Stacey Garfinkle | March 23, 2009; 09:45 AM ET | Comments (26)

Is Your Daughter a Supergirl?

By Liz Funk “On the first day of class, I would already have my books and by the first weekend, I would do as much homework as I could for the semester; I would read the books that would be assigned in November. I felt like I had to be...

By Stacey Garfinkle | March 11, 2009; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (47)

The Coaching Conundrum

By Rebeldad Brian Reid The ground is still frozen around here, making it hard to think of kids skipping over green fields chasing soccer balls or baseballs or Frisbees. But the local parks and rec department has begun hanging banners near local playgrounds soliciting for youth coaches. Even though we're...

By Brian Reid | February 26, 2009; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (20)

Are You an Extreme Parent?

Remember mean mom Jane Hambleton? Back in January of last year, she became the coolest mom by selling her son's car after discovering alcohol in the car. The ad that ran at the time was this: "OLDS 1999 Intrigue. Totally uncool parents who obviously don't love teenage son, selling his...

By Stacey Garfinkle | February 19, 2009; 01:44 PM ET | Comments (40)

Do Teens Need More Sleep or More Discipline?

By Rebeldad Brian Reid I have always aspired to being a morning person, but I've always been lousy at it. I have woken up early most of my adult life, but that hasn't been my choice. My first job required me at my desk at 6 a.m., meaning that I...

By Brian Reid | February 12, 2009; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (34)

Paying for College -- Now What?

Alright, so the market's gone bust and many folks have watched the value of 529 plans plummet along with any other savings in the market like those 401(k) nest eggs. So, what do we do now? Are 529s still the way to go? Yes, say both Joe Hurley, the founder...

By Stacey Garfinkle | January 14, 2009; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (33)

The Things Teens Post Online

These days, there are virtually no teens who aren't using social networking sites to connect with friends and share details of their lives. And the majority of those teens are sharing information publicly that may hurt their chances of getting admitted to colleges or securing a desirable job. That's the...

By Stacey Garfinkle | January 6, 2009; 08:00 AM ET | Comments (31)

Making the Most of Winter Break

The kids are excited; either their winter break has already begun or is about to. And that means a lot of time off school. Uh oh. For many of us that also means a whole lotta kids without many plans beyond holiday celebrations. That may be a welcome change for...

By Stacey Garfinkle | December 24, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (8)

Sex + Texting = Sexting

Sending nude photos via cellphone now has a name. It's called "sexting" and it's the latest talking point for parents of teens. In Seattle, sexting moved to the forefront in June when school officials at Bothell High School heard rumors of naked pictures of two cheerleaders circulating among football players....

By Stacey Garfinkle | December 10, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (40)

Take It Once, Take It Twice ...

The College Board's new Score Choice policy was supposed to make it more alluring to take the SAT test multiple times. The premise is that students can decide which scores to send to colleges. Many high school juniors have already taken the bait, according to Newsweek, and are taking the...

By Stacey Garfinkle | December 8, 2008; 01:00 PM ET | Comments (4)

College at Age 16

At the end of October, New Hampshire announced plans for "new rigorous state board of exams to be given to 10th graders. Students who pass will be prepared to move on to the state's community or technical colleges, skipping the last two years of high school," according to Time. Other...

By Stacey Garfinkle | December 2, 2008; 07:44 AM ET | Comments (41)

Melamine, Girl Scouts, Cheating Teens and a Sports Test

While we were all off spending quality family time, a few talkers hit the news. Here's a rundown: Melamine in Infant Formula Small amounts of melamine and melamine-related compounds have now been found in two samples of infant formula manufactured and sold in the U.S. The Food and Drug Administration...

By Stacey Garfinkle | December 1, 2008; 12:00 PM ET | Comments (0)

Teens and Technology: The Good News

Do your teens ... A: Spend more time multitasking technologically, with instant messaging, texting, social networking and gaming, than you think is healthy? B. Accuse you of not trusting them if you check up on their Internet usage? C. Spend too little time "learning" in a way that you consider...

By Stacey Garfinkle | November 24, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (3)

Hyperparenting and Private Schools

By Rebeldad Brian Reid So, apparently, it’s not just exasperated Brits who have concluded that American parents have a big problem with overparenting. According to a monster 5,000-word review in the New Yorker, there are now a slew of books out there dedicated to exposing the seedy underbelly of moms...

By Brian Reid | November 20, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (46)

The Homework Disconnect

By a stroke of luck, our elementary school thus far has had a somewhat progressive approach to homework. It doesn't go so far as to not give it, like one private school in Coconut Grove, Fla. In kindergarten, we had a monthly calendar of assignments, all of which were optional,...

By Stacey Garfinkle | November 19, 2008; 09:50 AM ET | Comments (57)

Safe Haven Law Reveals Bigger Problems

Little kids, little problems. Big kids, big problems. That's a phrase that's floated in my brain a lot lately as I've kept abreast of the kids being abandoned under Nebraska's safe haven law that we discussed last month. Today, even as a 5-year-old became the 35th child abandoned under the...

By Stacey Garfinkle | November 14, 2008; 02:30 PM ET | Comments (6)

Yes, TV Can Be Bad for Teenagers

By Rebeldad Brian Reid On Monday, The Post ran a front-page story with the blockbuster news that teens who see a lot of sex or sex talk in television are more likely to get pregnant. Though I found the association between the two fascinating, I can’t say I am altogether...

By Brian Reid | November 6, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (33)

The Financial Crisis and -- Gulp -- College Savings

By Rebeldad Brian Reid I’ve officially stopped looking at my 401(k) statements, having decided that -- with more than three decades to go before I step off the hamster wheel -- the day-to-day fluctuations of the market aren’t all that predictive of whether or not I’ll be a pauper in...

By Brian Reid | October 30, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (37)

Food Allergies' Emotional Toll

As we discussed last week, food allergies can have a huge impact on the practical side of raising our children -- all of them -- in a safe environment. But allergies also exact an emotional toll on the kids and their parents. Mom Tracy Rosenfeld has had to face those...

By Stacey Garfinkle | October 29, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (6)

The Case of the Missing Jacket

I think 6-year-old may have set a new household record for lost clothing. Like most, we've had the occasional winter hat walk off somewhere at school. And we've got our fair share of one glove in search for a partner. When socks get a hole, we save the good one...

By Stacey Garfinkle | October 15, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (22)

Chicago Thinks Gay-Friendly High School May Be Answer

In Chicago, the school system is trying to tackle a problem of harassment and violence toward gay students. The public schools CEO's solution seems simple: Open a "gay-friendly" high school. The school's curriculum would not differ from other schools. However, it would offer counseling for students and the curriculum would...

By Stacey Garfinkle | October 14, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (57)

Sports Make for Happy Families

Let's face it. Not all families are happy with each other all -- or even most -- of the time. But if your kids and you seem to be at odds more than not, you might want to look toward sports and exercise as a solution. That's just one of...

By Stacey Garfinkle | October 13, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (13)

Talking Through a Financial Disaster

By Rebeldad Brian Reid I had a heck of a time getting any work done on Monday -- frozen wide-eyed as the S&P Index dropped like a rock as the market imagined a world missing huge swaths of the financial services industry. Everyone I talked to was worried. Even if...

By Brian Reid | October 1, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (17)

A Good Busy or Overscheduled?

What a surprise: Some new studies about scheduling kids for lots of extracurriculars conflicts with conventional wisdom. CW -- which includes the American Academy of Pediatrics and social sciences professor William Doherty, of the University of Minnesota -- says that overscheduling can lead to anxiety, depression and lack of sleep...

By Stacey Garfinkle | September 29, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (24)

Teen Driving Age Revisited

In November, we had a spirited (as always) discussion about teen drivers and whether the licensing age should rise. The talk followed the deaths of seven teens on Maryland roads. Well, this week, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has weighed in saying that states should raise the legal licensing...

By Stacey Garfinkle | September 11, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (107)

A Lesson in Behavior

chicago sun times: http://www.suntimes.com/news/commentary/1144389,CST-EDT-skuledit04.article cdc: youth violence prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/dvp/YVP/school_violence.htm

By Stacey Garfinkle | September 10, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (95)

Lunchbox Winners

180 school days. That's the number of lunches times two that I'm packing between last week and June. And if my kids had their way, the types of foods in their bags might total about a handful. While some of us are old hands at packing lunch every day, higher...

By Stacey Garfinkle | September 8, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (105)

The SAT/ACT College Admissions Game

The school year might just be starting, but already the college hunt is on for high school juniors and seniors. Some high school seniors have already started turning in applications and resumes to their guidance counselors! An unbelievably large number of students, 3.3 million, are expected to graduate high school...

By Stacey Garfinkle | August 28, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (61)

Math: A Lot of Questions With Few Answers

T.C. Williams High School English teacher Patrick Welsh calls it the math meltdown. Montgomery Blair High School math teacher Eric Walstein calls the county's math program "narrow and shallow." And Fairfax County's Frank Atchison, who coordinates that county's math program, says that "in [the] end, it does look like a...

By Stacey Garfinkle | August 11, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (95)

Teaching Charity

The kids have a complicated allowance structure. It started when the oldest started clamoring for every Lego on the face of the planet. Meanwhile, his parents are more the save-and-save-and -save-again types. Half for spending and half for saving, we figured as we started our little lesson on fiscal responsibility....

By Stacey Garfinkle | August 1, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (142)

Overscheduled and Overstressed?

Down Time. When's the last time your child had some? In today's health section, reporter Sandra G. Boodman explores a problem that isn't going to end anytime soon -- overscheduled kids. "I'm always in a state of anxiety, but it only piles up every few months," Walt Whitman High School...

By Stacey Garfinkle | July 15, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Skin Protection 101

Ah, July. The weather in D.C. alternates between hot and sweltering. And about the only relief is to: a) stay indoors or b) swim All that time at pools and playing in water fountains means the kids get lathered with sunscreens, some of which contain ingredients I can't possibly pronounce....

By Stacey Garfinkle | July 9, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (62)

Salvia: A 'Drug of Concern'

Salvia divinorum is not your average herb. But it is easy to grow and dangerous to ingest. And because it is easy and legal in many places to obtain, particularly over the Internet, it has developed a growing market in young adults. The Drug Enforcement Administration has classified the plant...

By Stacey Garfinkle | July 3, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (30)

The Gloucester Girls

"Did you hear about the girls in Gloucester?" That line's come up several places over the past few days ... in the comments on Friday, at Shabbat dinner with friends. So, even though we just talked teen pregnancy with Baby Borrowers, this one's still worth more conversation. Here's the story...

By Stacey Garfinkle | June 23, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (100)

The Baby Borrowers: An Inside Mom's View

Remember high school sex ed when the teacher coupled us off and gave us an egg to "raise?" Crack the egg and you fail. Well, NBC, working with the National Campaign Against Teen Pregnancy, has turned that into a six-week reality TV show that begins airing at 9 p.m. Wednesday...

By Stacey Garfinkle | June 20, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

A Lesson of Death

"Every 15 Minutes" is a program designed to give teenagers a real-life view into drunk driving death. Here's how the program's supposed to run, according to Every15Minutes.com: During the first day events the "Grim Reaper" calls students who have been selected from a cross-section of the entire student body out...

By Stacey Garfinkle | June 17, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Bunk Bed Boo-Boos

With two boys ages 6 and 4, the idea of buying bunk beds has crossed our minds more than a few times. Friends have them and love the camaraderie the children feel sleeping top to bottom in the same room. At one house, the bunk bed has been more like...

By Stacey Garfinkle | June 3, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Mother-Daughter Spa Time

http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/BeautySecrets/Story?id=4881675&page=1

By Stacey Garfinkle | May 28, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (48)

Prom Fashion or Faux Pas?

Marche Taylor showed up at her Madison High School prom in Houston earlier this month wearing a barely-there dress. Not just semi-topless. Not just backless. But truly more skin than fabric. The 17-year-old told KHOU-TV, "I actually liked the dress, everybody else liked the dress." But not quite everyone. A...

By Stacey Garfinkle | May 21, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (79)

What Did Your Family Eat This Weekend?

Oh, the horror. Soccer ends for both boys, resulting in two parties/award ceremonies. Add to that two birthday parties, and needless to say, the weekend -- and the boys' bellies -- were filled with their share, and more, of junk food. Chips? Check. Pizza? Check. Donuts. Check. Cake. Check. Juice....

By Stacey Garfinkle | May 19, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Your Parents Are Watching ... and Watching ... and Watching

Mom: What did you do today? Child: Nothing Mom: Who did you play with? Child: No one Mom: What did x teacher do in x class? Child: Blah Anyone else have this conversation play out regularly in their house? The more detailed I can get in the types of questions...

By Stacey Garfinkle | May 7, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Will Travel ... With Kids

Are you planning a trip this summer? If so, you might want to take a few trip tips from Christian Science Monitor contributor P.A. Moed, who's been there, done that with a now teen-aged son since he was small. * Give your kids a taste of the culture you'll be...

By Stacey Garfinkle | May 6, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (51)

Do As I Say...

Ever pulled a moonie in public? Ever get so drunk the world spun? Ever sit around a frat house with a bong going around the room? Ever look at porn on the Internet? Ever drink and drive? While some may have lived squeaky clean lives, chances are many parents tried...

By Stacey Garfinkle | May 5, 2008; 07:20 AM ET | Comments (0)

Computer Time for All Ages

Welcome to On Parenting's occasional guest blog feature, where we welcome parenting bloggers from around the Web. If you'd like to join the guest blogging party here at On Parenting, please e-mail parenting@washingtonpost.com. By Leticia Barr Since I began writing about children and technology, I've been asked many questions. One...

By Stacey Garfinkle | April 15, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (13)

The Dangers of Sport

Four-year-old is the kind of child who jumps, tumbles and slides whenever -- and wherever -- possible. He's gone through phases of only brushing his teeth while doing a headstand on a couch and performing jumping somersaults off the couch onto the hard-wood floor. That's when I first coughed up...

By Stacey Garfinkle | April 9, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Plastic Surgery for Teens

On Saturday, an 18-year-old high school cheerleader from Florida died from complications related to plastic surgery. The girl was having surgery to correct asymmetrical breasts and inverted nipples, the Palm Beach Post reported, when she may have had a deadly reaction to anesthesia. Nearly 225,000 plastic surgeries were performed last...

By Stacey Garfinkle | March 28, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (74)

Judging Books

My greatest love when I was little was reading. I'd often have multiple books going at one time. Long after my parents had said goodnight, I could be found under the covers with a flashlight, unwilling to put a book down. At bookstores, I'd sit myself down between the aisles,...

By Stacey Garfinkle | March 27, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (57)

Home Is Where the Learning Is

On Feb. 28, the Second District Court of Appeals in Los Angeles ruled that school-aged children in the state of California are required to be taught by credentialed teachers. What has ensued over the past month has been a furor in the home-schooling community, with articles and editorials in the...

By Stacey Garfinkle | March 26, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (59)

STDs Are Prevalent in Teen Girls

Add sexually transmitted diseases to the list of topics you should talk with your kids about early and clearly more often. One in 4 teenage girls has a sexually transmitted disease. That's the latest information from research by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of 838 girls in...

By Stacey Garfinkle | March 13, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

Here we go again. Another kid suspended from school because of his hair. This time the offending child is 6-year-old Bryan Ruda of Parma, Ohio. Parma Community School apparently warned Bryan's mother twice before that his Mohawk violated the charter school's dress code, the Cleveland Plain-Dealer reports. The elementary school...

By Stacey Garfinkle | March 3, 2008; 07:10 AM ET | Comments (0)

The Languages We Speak

Forget music and gymnastics. The big "is-my-kid-keeping-up" trend these days is all about language; that is, how many languages your child is learning. The New York Times jumped on the trend in an article earlier this week: "If It's Tuesday, It Must Be Spanish." While no one knows how much...

By Stacey Garfinkle | February 7, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (40)

Bringing Up Voters

The election process. Presidential candidates are all over the news. Canvassers are arriving at our doorstep. One even blocked me from getting 4-year-old's bike out of the house over the weekend. Annoying "researchers" are calling daily during dinner. And still, I felt a small moment of pride the other night...

By Stacey Garfinkle | February 6, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Hurts That Stick

Not so long ago, I had one of those weeks we'd all rather forget. You know the kind: Ankle sprain, second-degree burns and a hit-and-run car accident. While recovery from the ills took much longer than the week it took to incur everything, there were some terrific side benefits. Let's...

By Stacey Garfinkle | February 1, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (8)

Dating Rules Do Apply

When it comes to dating in a world where teens text and post on each other's "walls," in a world where a comment on a Facebook or MySpace page can circulate to thousands in the blink of an eye, are there new rules we parents should contemplate? Bill Albert, the...

By Stacey Garfinkle | January 16, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (34)

Sibling Love and War

Before son No. 2 was born, husband and I spent a great deal of time planning to help his older brother welcome the new addition to the family. We talked with him about babies. We combed the library for sibling arrival books, eventually settling on and loving "Talk, Baby" by...

By Stacey Garfinkle | January 4, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (21)

16 and Pregnant

News Flash: Sixteen-year-old teen Jamie Lynn Spears is pregnant. Spears, the sister to Britney and "Zoey 101" star, told OK! Magazine that she plans to raise the baby. "I put myself in this position, an adult position, so I have to act like an adult and take responsibility for what...

By Stacey Garfinkle | December 20, 2007; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

The Start of a College Trend?

Last week, Harvard announced a new policy on paying for an education at the elite, Ivy League college. Some of the highlights: * Families with incomes between $60,000 and $180,000 will pay a sliding scale tuition up to 10 percent of income. * Grants will replace the usual loans in...

By Stacey Garfinkle | December 19, 2007; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (34)

Recording Memories

Ever since we became parents, people have asked whether we've shot video of fun childhood moments. Not just first roll, first steps, first words. But the kind of moments our kids might never believe. Like 6-year-old talking about his career plans to run Legoland and charge everyone $1 -- or...

By Stacey Garfinkle | December 14, 2007; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (8)

Get Your Game On

G. PG. PG-13. R. Do you know what I'm referring to? My guess is that most of us recognize these movie ratings and know what they mean. How about these? EC. E. E10+. T. M. AO. Chances are far fewer of us know what these are, according to the 12th...

By Stacey Garfinkle | December 6, 2007; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (14)

The Holiday-Birthday Mashup

With Hanukkah now in full swing and Christmas coming soon, it's easy to get caught up in that holiday spirit. But in our house, other big days are coming. Child No. 1 turns 6 this week, right in the middle of Hanukkah. Luckily, he's excited that he gets more than...

By Stacey Garfinkle | December 5, 2007; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (107)

In Crime, Some Teens Become Adults

One of the four men arrested in the murder of Sean Taylor isn't a man, yet. He's just a teenager. The 17-year-old is facing felony murder and armed robbery charges. Youth facing the adult criminal court system aren't that unusual according to the Associated Press, which reports that roughly 200,000...

By Stacey Garfinkle | December 3, 2007; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (27)

Kids Don't Come Cheap

A couple of days ago, many of you discussed issues that keep you up at night. Sarah started it off: I'm kept up at night wishing I could afford to stay at home with my kids instead of working, and still afford a roof over the head, to repay the...

By Stacey Garfinkle | November 16, 2007; 07:15 AM ET | Comments (74)

Driven to Distraction

So far this month, seven teenage drivers and passengers have died in car crashes in Maryland. And the reality is they are part of a worrisome trend that's been going on for years. Motor vehicle crashes are the top killer of teens, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration,...

By Stacey Garfinkle | November 15, 2007; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (52)

Parent-Teacher Conferences

The first marking period of the school year ended last week, which means parent-teacher conferences. And I've got to admit, the buildup to the conference has me a bit nervous. First off, the school has spent the past two months or so evaluating my son. The teacher has said that...

By Stacey Garfinkle | November 8, 2007; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Hovering's Not Always Bad

We've all seen them. Maybe we're even one of them. The dreaded "helicopter" parents. You know the ones: Per the stereotype, they hover over every homework assignment. They drive or walk their kids everywhere. They track kids cellphones and put video cams in cars and under couches to watch nannies...

By Stacey Garfinkle | November 7, 2007; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (25)

The Debate: Public vs. Private vs. Home School

Back in the early '70s, my mother had given up on public schooling, but my dad saw no reason his kids couldn't go to public school like he did. That lasted until my mother learned that my sister was sleeping through classes and getting straight A's and my brother was...

By Stacey Garfinkle | October 19, 2007; 07:30 AM ET | Comments (59)

12 Going On... 16

Meet Naomi. She's 12 going on 13. And if our children turn out anything like her, we could all do a lot worse. Naomi is the latest interviewee in onBeing by Post videographer Jenn Crandall. To Naomi, becoming a teenager means more expectations of maturity, more responsibility, more complex social...

By Stacey Garfinkle | October 12, 2007; 08:30 AM ET | Comments (11)

It's Off to School We Go

"Are you sad?" "Will you cry?" Those are two questions I keep hearing from moms who've been where I am today -- the first day of kindergarten. And one thing is certain: My 5-year-old is ready for this transition. At the school's open house on Friday, he happily roamed around...

By Stacey Garfinkle | August 27, 2007; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (14)

Family, Family, Where Art Thou?

Kids just want to spend time with Mom and Dad. That's the word from a recent poll on the subject, this one by The Associated Press and MTV. And that's just what this last week before school has been about for us. We bustled everyone into the car for a...

By Stacey Garfinkle | August 24, 2007; 11:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Can Your Kids Unplug?

An intrepid journalism teacher at American University made the following assignment to her students: Turn off all media for 24 hours and write about it. Her students were stunned. No phone -- cell or otherwise? No computer? No iPod? No radio? To our kids, life without machine is a lot...

By Stacey Garfinkle | August 6, 2007; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (42)

What a Chore!

Is getting your kids to do their chores a challenge? If so, check out Chore Wars, a free online game that launched this month. The game takes some setup time. The group administrator assigns points (i.e. minutes a chore takes) to different tasks. And then the war is on ......

By Stacey Garfinkle | July 30, 2007; 10:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

The Subjects That Are Left Behind

Bye, bye social studies. Adios, science. School these days is all about reading and math. Okay, maybe not all, but it sure seems that way. According to a Center on Education Policy report released this week examining school subjects since the beginning of the 'No Child Left Behind Act,' 36...

By Stacey Garfinkle | July 27, 2007; 06:22 AM ET | Comments (133)

Look Inside, Girls

Yet another reason to worry about obese girls. A new study by University of Texas at Austin sociologist Robert Crosnoe says that fat kids have more academic problems at school and are less likely to attend college. The issue is particularly pronounced in girls, Crosnoe says, particularly those who attend...

By Stacey Garfinkle | July 26, 2007; 07:30 AM ET | Comments (77)

Manners -- Are They Really Forgotten?

According to Sierra on Friday in the comments, "Manners have been out of fashion for the past 30 years but I hear they are making a comeback. I only hope and pray it is soon." Sierra's not the only one to mention a lack of manners in kids these days....

By Stacey Garfinkle | July 16, 2007; 07:20 AM ET | Comments (183)

Food Fear

Apparently, it's not just me who's noticed: More kids these days are being diagnosed with food allergies. According to Sally Squires's Lean Plate Club column today, 8 percent of kids aged 2 and younger have a food allergy. Some will outgrow them, some won't. In 2003, a leading allergy specialist,...

By Stacey Garfinkle | July 10, 2007; 08:00 AM ET | Comments (108)

The Debate: Teen Drinking

Whether we parents like it or not, many teens drink alcohol before they reach the legal drinking age. According to the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration, 51 percent of those aged 18 to 20 were "current" alcohol users in 2005. A look at those younger than 18 shows...

By Stacey Garfinkle | July 6, 2007; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Where Charity Begins

This week, The Washington Post launched a package called Worlds United about 11 teenage girls who are spending part of their summer in South Africa teaching girls in a poor town how to play soccer. The girls also will take HIV/AIDs classes with the girls in the town, Port Elizabeth....

By Stacey Garfinkle | June 28, 2007; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

When The Kids Turn Independent

"Once they're eight or nine, the ball is rolling down the hill. You'd better have taught them well by then," said colleague Chet in a conversation recently about teens and beach week. Chet is a father to four, including one son who decided not to go to beach week and...

By Stacey Garfinkle | June 20, 2007; 06:45 AM ET | Comments (97)

Facebook Friends

An amazing thing happened last week. My teenage niece and nephew actually allowed me to become their "Facebook" friends. It all started a couple of weeks ago when colleagues began building Facebook pages and looking at applications and groups. So, I figured it was time for me to better understand...

By Stacey Garfinkle | June 13, 2007; 06:45 AM ET | Comments (0)

How Teens Shop

Today, The Washington Post and washingtonpost.com publish an exhaustive look at teens in one of their natural habitats -- the mall. The stories, videos, photo galleries and unique interactive map are both enlightening and heartening. Here's what I learned from these 61 teenagers (60 of whom are girls): Teens are...

By Stacey Garfinkle | June 4, 2007; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (12)

The Debate: The Allison Stokke Story

Have you heard about Allison Stokke yet? Seen her picture? If not, you may be one of the few. Earlier this week, The Post's Eli Saslow wrote about how a simple photo taken at a high-school track meet has turned into an Internet legend -- and given the teenager much...

By Stacey Garfinkle | June 1, 2007; 07:10 AM ET | Comments (86)

Supernanny's 'Seeds'

"Supernanny" was in town this past weekend. No, not British nanny Jo Frost herself, but the show's casting producers. And a funny thing happened: The turnout at their casting call was slim pickings. The show put a good spin on it. Casting producer Kim Clevenger told The Post: "People usually...

By Stacey Garfinkle | May 24, 2007; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (31)

What Did That Bill Say?

Forget IM. Forget Facebook and MySpace. They may still be big with the teen set, but at least they don't hit your pocketbook like teen text messaging can. In Sunday's Washington Post, Margaret Webb Pressler tells of a high school junior who sent 6,807 text messages in a month, sending...

By Stacey Garfinkle | May 21, 2007; 07:30 AM ET | Comments (46)

Say 'Cheese,' But Don't Buy It

Drug dealers have devised some new tactics to entice kids to buy drugs -- they mix them into over-the-counter medicines or even candy and call them non-drug names. For instance, "Cheese" is a blend of black tar heroin and Tylenol PM, reports the Associated Press. And meth mixed into strawberry-flavored...

By Stacey Garfinkle | May 10, 2007; 07:15 AM ET | Comments (27)

Bullying Takes on More Forms

No matter how you slice the numbers, it's likely that you'll have a child who is subjected to bullying at some point. And that bullying can cause stress, a loss of self esteem and dropping grades. A recent Stanford University survey says 9 out of 10 elementary school students reported...

By Stacey Garfinkle | May 2, 2007; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (113)

iPods With the Answers

When it comes to school, kids cheat. They naturally look to others who know an answer when they do not. They did when my grandparents were in school. They did when my parents were in school. Our generation did it. Though it's not the right thing to do, today's students...

By Stacey Garfinkle | April 30, 2007; 07:15 AM ET | Comments (0)

There's No Miracle Cure for Obesity

"Breastfed infants grow exactly the way they should. They tend to gain less unnecessary weight and to be leaner. This may result in being less overweight later in life." So says the Department of Health and Human Services on its women's health Web site. A new Harvard study says nope...

By Stacey Garfinkle | April 26, 2007; 09:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Abstinence: All Talk No Action

Abstinence-only education programs don't work. So says a government study on the topic released late last week. Researchers set up intricate program groups that controlled for factors such as race, single-parent households and household income. They then separated like youth into two groups: a program group of kids who attended...

By Stacey Garfinkle | April 19, 2007; 07:10 AM ET | Comments (110)

Talk to Your Kids About Shootings

Words can't describe the loss suffered by the parents and families of the Virginia Tech students who were killed two days ago. Yet as parents, we need to find the words to talk to their kids -- particularly those who are school-aged -- about this tragedy. The Mental Health Association...

By Stacey Garfinkle | April 18, 2007; 12:01 AM ET | Comments (34)

Drive the Money Point Home

It looks like the topic of money and kids is one that's going to take on more importance over time, particularly as financial institutions get in on the get-out-of-debt act. In The Post's Sunday Business section this week, Margaret Webb Pressler writes about a pilot program called Finance Park that...

By Stacey Garfinkle | April 16, 2007; 07:10 AM ET | Comments (28)

Mothers and Daughters

Apparently, all those times my mother called my hair "a mop," it was out of love. And all the times she told me I was fat -- even though I was a competitive swimmer going to practice for four to seven hours per day -- that, too, was love. That's...

By Stacey Garfinkle | April 10, 2007; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

The Debate: Teen Curfews

Move over teens: Malls are for parents with toddlers, not you. That's the message that about 40 malls around the country are giving teenagers who try to hang around the mall without a parent on Friday and Saturday nights. Tired of teen fights and other behavior unbecoming the family retail...

By Stacey Garfinkle | April 6, 2007; 06:30 AM ET | Comments (62)

The Games We Play; Plus, Harry Potter

Do you know what games your kids are playing when you're not watching? Levi Draher's mom certainly didn't. In eighth grade, Levi learned the choking game. In ninth grade, to the dismay of a friend, he played the game a few times alone, according to the Cullman (Ala.) Times. Then,...

By Stacey Garfinkle | March 29, 2007; 07:07 AM ET | Comments (60)

The Debate: Do You Talk Religion?

My house is filled with singing these days -- mostly of Hebrew and English Passover songs that my son has been learning at school. This is a school that I adore in every way: great teachers, good projects, fabulous playground, really nice kids. But my children's classes are much more...

By Stacey Garfinkle | March 23, 2007; 08:30 AM ET | Comments (196)

Straight Talk for Teens

Long before Toni Weschler's new book "Cycle Savvy: The Smart Teen's Guide to the Mysteries of Her Body," became the talk of the mommy blogosphere, her 1995 bestseller, "Taking Charge of Your Fertility" was on the must-read list that I gave friends who were trying to get pregnant. It was...

By Stacey Garfinkle | March 21, 2007; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (32)

Peer Pressure

Peer influences can be hard to deal with, particularly as kids age and want to be seen as adults. Hence comes this question from reader George into the parenting mailbag (E-mail your own question to parenting@washpost.com.) "How do you keep a 12- and 13-year-old girl away from junk food, cosmetics,...

By Stacey Garfinkle | March 19, 2007; 07:23 AM ET | Comments (0)

Give Me Money!

My 5-year-old wants money. Well, actually, he wants to go to the store by himself to buy Legos. And he's planned an entire Lego party with his friends in which they all walk to the Lego store together when they are nine -- in his words "old enough to go...

By Stacey Garfinkle | March 8, 2007; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (102)

Summertime, Summertime

It's March. Do you know what your kids' summer plans are? The camp industry would have you believe that January's the time to get your camp sign-ups done. In truth, NOW's the time to sort through the details before all the camp slots fill up and you've got bored kids...

By Stacey Garfinkle | March 7, 2007; 06:45 AM ET | Comments (40)

HPV Vaccine: What Choice Will You Make?

Didn't vaccinating kids against diseases used to be a no-brainer? After all, who would want to inflict their child with the measles or the mumps when the diseases could so easily be prevented? I never recall my own mother questioning the pediatrician about vaccinations. We simply got the shots. But...

By Stacey Garfinkle | March 5, 2007; 09:00 AM ET | Comments (119)

Click. Your Teen Is at the Wheel

Parents have plenty of ways they can spy on their kids and child-care providers: Hidden nanny cams can record what goes on at home when they are not there. Daycare cams let parents see their children while the parents are at work. Cellphone trackers tell parents where their cell-carrying tweens...

By Stacey Garfinkle | March 1, 2007; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Boys vs. Girls

As I sit down to write, my three-year-old is playing in the next room first shouting "Chugga chugga choo choo!" with a train, then "zoom, zoom" with two racing cars. What gender is the child? I'm guessing most of you chose boy, and you'd be right. Before I gave birth,...

By Stacey Garfinkle | February 28, 2007; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (109)

Chew on This

Picture This: Visiting speaker enters high school class after high school class to teach teens about how sexually transmitted diseases are spread. To illustrate the point, speaker then asks the students to take turns chewing on the SAME piece of gum. Said piece of gum passes from mouth to mouth....

By Stacey Garfinkle | February 12, 2007; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (35)

 

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