by Stephanie Partridge

No one ever said that being a parent was easy. Sometimes we get so busy that our children fall to the wayside. Other times, we get so frustrated that we just want to strangle them! My point is, sometimes we just forget to let our kids know just how much they mean to us.

If you haven’t been very expressive to your teen, or you are experiencing a distance, these activities may help bring your teen closer to you. Keep in mind, though, if your teen isn’t accustomed to this type of treatment, they may be apprehensive at first. Don’t give up.

Now, here are some ideas of things we can do. Commit to giving your teen:

1. An Unexpected Card

I do this for my kids when they least expect it. I will leave a card on their pillow or on their computer or even on the fridge. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just a simple “I love you,” “I’m proud of you” or “YOU ROCK!” Notes are also good. I just learned that my kids have kept all of the cards and letters that I have given them over the years.

2. A Hug

Hugs are the greatest. Psychologists say that a 30 second hug is actually healing. It elevates the mood and strengthens the bond between people. Reach out and give your teen a hug. There doesn’t have to be a particular reason or a special occasion, just do it to let them know that you are there for them and that you love them.

3. Praise

Too many times we forget to praise our kids – but we are often quick to criticize them. I praise my daughter and son for doing their chores without my asking them. I thank them for the things that they do (even if I have had to get on to them to get it done). Kids are people too and acknowledgment of the things they do right is very important. If all they ever hear is what they do wrong, they will be less inclined to do anything at all.READ More on Ways to Show your Teen that you Love Them

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by Stephanie Partridge

An estimated twenty percent of teenagers will experience depression at some point before the reach adulthood. Twenty to forty percent of those teens will experience more than on depressive episode within a two year period and an incredible seventy percent will have more than one depressive episode before they reach adulthood. These are very sobering figures, but they should serve to put parents, teachers and others who work with young people on alert. Teen depression is a serious matter, not to be taken lightly. As our teenagers are placed under more and more pressure by a society the moves fast and lives hard, we should keep a watchful eye and be ready to intervene when things get out of hand.

We are all well acquainted with so-called “teenage angst.” Television shows us the “typical” teenager (which really isn't typical at all), dressed in black, a sullen look on their face, lying around doing nothing and we told that this is normal. To some degree, this is normal teenage behavior, but we need to be cognizant of any changes in behavior or habits. Ideally, parents should maintain open lines of communication between themselves and their children, but this is sometimes easier said than done. So let's take this one step at a time, examine depression, its symptoms, it causes, preventative measures and what you, as a parent or influential person in the child's life, can do to help.

Depression or “Just the Blues”?

If we did not have sadness, we could not appreciate happiness. By the same token, if we did not have sadness, we would not have depression. Persistent sadness is one of the most prevalent, common symptoms of depression. Everyone feels sad now and then, including teens. But common sadness is generally a natural emotional response to an upsetting event, such as a death, a breakup with a boyfriend or girlfriend or failing a test. Sometimes, stress or fatigue can cause someone to feel “down in the mouth.”READ More on Teen Depression: Is it More than “Just the Blues”?

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Mom amd son talkingby Stephanie Partridge

How do we, as parents, know when it is time for our offspring to leave the nest?  And at what point should we push them out of the nest?  This dilemma has been plaguing parents for ages.   But the bigger question is how do we prepare our children for independence?  If you have seen the comedy, “Failure to Launch,” about an adult man who still lives with him parents, you may have chuckled a few times, but in the back of your mind you were probably thinking, “That could be me!”

The confusing thing about this is that if you ask ten different parents you will get ten different answers.  When it comes to raising kids, parents tend to have strong opinions.

The adult child in the movie was equipped for the “real world,” but had little motivation to “launch.”  His parents made his world cushy and he had no motivation to leave the nest.  As parents, it is instinctual to try to do things to make our children’s lives easier.  We want them to be happy and we don’t want them to experience discomfort or pain.

Unfortunately, life isn’t so kind – and we won’t always be around to shield them from the harshness of reality.

This means that it is our duty as parents to prepare them.  We have to teach them the value of hard work, just how far a dollar really goes and that not everyone is as nice, forgiving and accommodating as mom and dad.  And the pain from that growth is almost as hard on us as it is on our children.  But it is very, very necessary.

I had an “easy” life when it came to chores, money and “stuff.”  I didn’t have to do chores, my parents gave me money whenever I wanted it and whatever “stuff” I wanted or needed was supplied to me with little or no effort on my part.READ More on Parenting Your Teen Towards Independence

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Every American knows that one of the most pressing issues in our country is related to the greasy hamburgers and fries that our citizens wolf down on a daily basis: obesity.  Recent statistics have shown that obesity is present and continually growing in our country, with over 25% of Americans being considered obese.  While more present in adults, American children are not immune to obesity.  In fact, in the past 30 years, childhood obesity rates have more than tripled, from just of 5% to nearly 20% of children aged from 6-19 being characterized by obese.

The problem should be of utmost interest to parents of young children.  In a society where obesity is seemingly the natural progression of growth, parents are becoming more and more aware that the responsibility lies on their shoulders to encourage their children to live a healthy, active lifestyle.  While many children have no interest in sports or exercise, there are many other ways to keep your children active and healthy.  For example, children playing with their peers on a playground get enough exercise for their growing bodies.  Exercise, like the aerobic workout of playing tag, can help children develop stronger muscles and bones, decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes, lower blood pressure, and prevent obesity.READ More on Keeping your Kids Active

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The first boyfriend/girlfriendby Jennifer Shakeel

It does not matter how you feel about your child and romance you are probably not going to be ready for them to have a boyfriend or girlfriend.  That time will be here before you know it and as the parent you have the privilege of setting the tone and guiding your young person through this exciting time in their young life. It just recently happened to us; our 15 year old daughter had her first boyfriend. As much as you know the time is coming, it takes your breath away when it does happen.

Some tips may help you and your child navigate this milestone and draw even closer in your relationship.

1. You first need to admit that this day will come and prepare for it, long before it gets here. Before your young person jumps into the romance pool, you will have had the chance to set the platform for their romantic relationships.  Help them make friends of sexes, modeling the standards of your family and labeling the good qualities in the friends they bring home. If your family is socially responsible, values faith and education then help your kids appreciate those qualities in themselves. Liking themselves and knowing where they stand, before they fall into a romance gives them a good framework for healthy relationships.

2. When your child comes home with the spark of romance in their eyes, talking about the person she “likes” or “loves” be positive. This is not the time to ridicule your child, and tell them they are too young or make fun of the object of their affection. Instead, celebrate with your young person that they can know such a wonderful person and share such exciting feelings. This will keep you in the loop, and you will continue to have open lines of communication. If your ten year old tells you she is “going out” with the boy down the block, do not just jump in and declare “You are not going anywhere!” but instead get a feel for what this means to her. It might mean sitting on the bus together.READ More on Parenting and Surviving the First Boyfriend/Girlfriend

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S-T-R-E-S-S – Helping Your Teen Deal

by Stephanie Partridge

Our kids are stressed.  Study after study is confirming this, citing a wide range of stress related complications such as sleep problems, anxiety, depression and eating disorders.  Our kids are growing up in a world that is much more stressful than the one we knew as teens.  And it is having a significant impact on them.

My kids have expressed to me the various stressors that they have in their lives.  My daughter, who is 17, will be graduating in June.  She is looking at colleges right now.  While she seems to take everything in stride, she has, from time to time, talked to me about the stress she is under.  School, grades and finding a good college are all areas that cause her worry.  Her teachers adore her and her grades are exceptional, she is even in college prep courses that she loves, but she admits to feeling stressed out sometimes.

My 15 year old son, on the other hand, tends to show his stress more.  He has a learning disability which makes an already stressful classroom situation even more difficult.  He does well in school and is very popular, but he worries about everything.  He won’t broach the subject, but we all spend time in the evenings talking as a family and many times those worries rise to the surface.  He worries about me, about my health, about the fact that I am “alone” (despite my telling him that I am very happy being single), about our finances (I have a good job, but what little child support I get is sporadic at best) and so many other things.  He worries about school, his sister, his friends.  Sometimes even I am overwhelmed.READ More on Stress and Your Teen

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50 Ways to know when you graduated to parenthood!

Ah, the joys of parenting! It is the most wonderful job you will ever have. It is also the most frustrating, gross and exhausting. Take a break and enjoy a chuckle over these 50 ways that you know you’re a parent.

My kids are 15, 17 and 19 and they still freak out over number 29. Number 27 is one of my favorites too, gets me every time!

  1. You can’t remember the last time you were able to go in the bathroom, close the door and not be interrupted.
  2. You know the book “Goodnight Moon” – by heart.
  3. You have actually acquired a taste for strained peas.
  4. A full night’s sleep is a luxury – and something you haven’t had in so long you can’t even remember.
  5. It takes you two days to shave your legs: one leg one day and the other leg the next day.
  6. You have never been so frustrated and so in love with anyone in your life.
  7. You are at dinner with a friend, they spill something on their shirt and you reach into your bag and pull out baby wipes to clean up.
  8. You not only carry smiley face bandages with you, you also carry antibiotic ointment.
  9. You have at least one story of how your child cut their own hair.
  10. The three second rule isn’t set in stone, sometimes it’s five seconds, sometimes even more.
  11. You realize that you are now one of those annoying people who carries a “brag book” of photos of your kids and corners unsuspecting victims with “cute” stories about your offspring.
  12. Pregnancy and birth stories are interesting.
  13. You have traded in your silk, wool and cashmere for the more practical cotton and polyester.
  14. Baby talk is not reserved for just your children.
  15. You have stayed up till 1 am making cup cakes for an entire class of first graders.READ More on You Know You’re a Parent When…

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