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Parenting: It’s a Brand New Chapter for the Teen Years

Being needed, wanted, and adored is the parenting trifecta that gets us through the sleepless nights, the relentless demands, and the bodily functions of early childhood.  The helpless dependence, passionate attachment, and jubilant ardor offset the challenges associated with parenting youngsters. Moreover, we are in control. If our child isn’t complying, we usually can “make them.” This sense of control, coupled with those wonderful feelings, define what parenting is typically about before the tween and teen years. 

Even though we all know adolescence is inevitable, we often remain under the delusion that somehow our wonderful parenting or our child’s easy-going disposition will prevent the door slamming, sullen silences, reckless button pushing, poor decision making, and disrespectful dialogue typical of the teenage years. We hope that through studied intervention we will remain in control throughout our child’s at-home years.

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Teens Don’t Think Like their Parents, and Parents Don’t Think Like their Teens

As parents, we are often frustrated that our teenagers do not get it. The it in this case is usually some version of adult responsibility or point of view. I am often struck by just how disparate the teenager and adult worlds are, yet, we grown-ups forget what it feels like to be a teen, and at the same time, expect teens to know what it feels like to be an adult, even though they haven’t experienced adulthood yet. Additionally, what drives, motivates, and worries adults is different than what drives, motivates and worries teenagers.

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The Cousin Concept: Some Thoughts on Parenting After High School Graduation

Pomp

Circumstance

Family Photos

Diploma

Congratulations! You have a high school graduate in the house, and although there is much to be excited about, the teenage years are far from over.

In fact, many parents are surprised to find that they are still raising a teenager, even if their teen is an adult in the eyes of the law and is ready to take on college, a real job, or whatever “grown-up” experience comes after high school.

In order to survive life with your older teenager, expectations of the parent-child relationship will need to shift. Your ability to control their behavior and choices will become increasingly impossible, yet, take heart that the hard work you have done parenting them in years prior will be reflected in how they live out their adult years.

In order to live comfortably with one another, I suggest you consider treating your older teenager and college student like a wonderful, beloved cousin who is spending some extended time in your home. What follows are six examples of the cousin concept and how they might translate into reasonable expectations. (more…)

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The Early Years: Five Ways to Help Your Little Explorer Become a World Citizen

I am the mother of three Puerto-Rican bred, North American girls who are also bilingual. And so my husband and I focus on developing their cultural literacy in age-appropriate ways on a regular basis. We can’t assume, though, that they will become global citizens solely by virtue of their cultural and linguistic heritage. Over the years, I’ve acquired some wisdom on this topic and will share what I’ve learned in a three-part series of articles that will help you teach your children to be global citizens at different developmental ages.

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The Dating Dilemma: Four Tips on Helping your Teen and Yourself

Anyone who has ever been married or in a long-term partnership, whether successfully or not, can attest to the fact that good relationships take time, effort and practice. It may be hard to imagine that the mercurial nature of your teenager’s dating experiences may actually be helpful and healthy.

Yet, the teenage years potentially provide a variety of rehearsal relationships. Here are four ways to support your teen as they navigate this new, and challenging social territory:

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When Teens Lie: Dos and Don’ts

As a dean at an independent school, I sometimes have to call parents and tell them their child is in my office and has broken a major school rule. Sometimes, in their shock and dismay, a parent will say something like “how do you know it was my child?” and I can typically report back that their child told me the truth about whatever situation we are dealing with. Teenagers need quite a bit of room in order to tell the truth. Ironically, those parents who insist their child never be interviewed alone, or that their child never lies to them, are often surprised to find out that it is easier for me to get to the truth than it is for them. The only magic in my method is that I am not their parent, and perhaps I give them more space for honesty. First, let’s explore why teenagers lie in the first place:

 

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How to Tolerate the Costs of Saying No to Teens

One of the primary differences between parenting now and parenting when we were growing up is our current fixation on the “relationship.”

The measuring tool we use for this is what I refer to as “closeness points.” In some families it manifests itself in just how much free time the parents are willing to sacrifice for their children’s activities. In others, it is about how often your teenager texts or calls you per day. Independence used to be the goal of parenting, but now in many ways we foster dependence.

I would assert, perhaps unpopularly, that more important than the present relationship you have with your teenager is the future relationships your teenager will have with you, their employer, partner, children, peers, and even humanity. Often, building responsibility, independence, and integrity in your teen will require times when they feel frustrated, upset, and even angry with you.

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How to Talk About the Weather: Climate Change and Kids

Explaining tough topics to our children can be world-shifting moments for them, and as parents we have to be careful to find language that’s appropriate for their ages and sensibilities and that gives them a sense of how they can engage as helpful, caring people. Although we don’t want our children to be anxious about the future, we do want them to be part of the solution, not the problem.

Here are some simple ways to discuss climate change with your youngster:

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Creating Adaptable Adults Means Allowing Disruptions for Teens

In our swiftly moving and shifting world, adaptability is a skill our children will need in order to find gratification and success. As the job market becomes increasingly competitive and the speed of life feels as if it is aligning with the speed of light, most of us need to work longer hours, juggle multiple responsibilities, and master new technologies. How can we help our children learn to adapt to the continuous changes they will encounter as well as weather the disappointments and unpredictability that modern life inevitably delivers?

Here are some ways to help your teenager attain the survival skills they will need:

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Six ways to help your young children learn another language

Back when most parents in the United States were in school, they took “Foreign Languages.” Most students stuck with them for three or four years, but few became fluent. Most got stuck in the thorns of conjugations and grammar confusion.

Not so today. Multilingualism is an increasingly necessary skill set in our globalized world. And it starts early. Second language proficiency is a life-long learning experience that begins on average during the ages of six and nine years old around the world .

Contrary to common misconceptions, research shows that a child’s brain can discern and negotiate up to three different languages from birth to the age of three. Research says that at that age the child’s brain shifts into a mode that imprints one of those as the first-language and the other as the second. So, the earlier you begin language exposure at home, the stronger your child’s disposition to become bilingual will be.

So, how can parents support world language acquisition at home? Some refer to their own limited exposure to foreign languages during their school years while other parents might draw upon their heritage language speaker experience to approach language learning. Regardless of your exposure to language or experience teaching your child a world language, it is something you can do and feel empowered to endeavor.

Although it can seem as a challenging task for many parents, I offer a series of practical approaches that should make the process genuine, attainable, and fun for the whole family.
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