budget blunders – bad news for teenage parents.

The Australian Government has released it latest budget and although it claims to be helping teenage parents,  it seems teenage parents are the losers.

http://www.pm.gov.au/blog/helping-teenage-parents

Prime minister, Julia Gillard,  and Ms Ellis, who is Minister for Employment Participation and Childcare and Minister for the Status of Women, seem out of touch with the people. While it is true that there are many people who abuse the welfare system in Australia the new govt rules won’t only affect the ones who abuse the system. It will affect all those young parents, and their children. If a government is going to make demands on teenage parents about either working or going to school, they need to ensure there are resources available for those young parents to access those things. i,e, day care at school and work friendly workplaces.

It is once again young women and not men who are penalised for a situation that both are responsible for creating. If a young women becomes pregnant and the father does not support her and the baby, there are few options apart from government benefits.  Does a teenage male who fathers a child have to either work or study too?
The other issue with this part of the budget is that young mothers will have to put their children into childcare. Although the government claim that this is a positive for both mother and child, the reality is that many studies have shown that children placed into outside of home care at an early age are more likely to suffer from low self esteem, anxiety, depression, aggression and a host of other problems.
Although some will disagree, in my experience many young women who get pregnant do not set out to abuse the welfare system. They get pregnant many times because of a lack of sexuality education along with low self esteem. Perhaps the government would be better off spending some of the budget on better quality sexuality education in schools.
We need better education for our young people. Better teaching of social skills. Unplanned pregnancy, teenage mothers and abuse of the system needs a multi-pronged approach to fix it. Throwing some money into extra child care and sending young mothers off to get academic qualifications without giving them better life skills is just a recipe for the repetition of the problem.
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Retaliating is not inspiring!

Justin Beiber is currently touring Australia and last night at his concert he called up onto the stage Australian teenager Casey Heynes. Justin Beiber went on to say that Casey is an inspiration and that he stood up for what he believes in.So is Justin saying that Casey Heynes believes in revenge?

He then asked him to introduce his song – never say never. Casey shot to fame earlier this year when a youtube video of him body slamming another teenager who had been bullying him. Now I don’t agree with bullying but I also don’t agree with retaliation. What Casey did was react, he ‘snapped’ after relentless bullying that had gone on for a long time. That does not make him a hero though. And the Casey worshiping that has happened since does nothing to help Casey develop better strategies or to help other children who may be in Casey’s situation.

When celebrities like Justin Beiber hold up what Casey has done as the act of a hero, it does nothing to stop bullying in schools. Holding Casey up as a hero and the other student involved in that incident up as a villian does not help either of those boys, or any other students who witnessed the incident, to develop better skills to cope with taunting, bullying and personality clashes.

Teenagers who look up to personalities like Justin Beiber and are suggestive may take this as a sign that the answer to being bullied is to body slam the person doing the bullying. Is that what we want, a society that deals with problems this way. do we want a society that teaches teenagers this is what we do so when they are adults they can be charged with assault? Or do we want a society that deals with things by having a discussion, teaching better social skills and teaches everyone to take responsibility for their actions? Personally, I want the latter. I would love to hear what you think

Nobody’s perfect.

While watching a movie tonight, someone in the movie made the statement ‘nobody’s perfect’. To hear some parents speak with their teens though, you might think otherwise. Some parents think that lecturing to their teen about what they are doing wrong or what will happen if they continue down their present path will stop them from doing things. In my experience, if you lecture to your teenager, what they hear is ‘blah blah blah’. They tune out. As a uni student, if I am listening to a lecture that I am not interested in, I also tune out. We all do this at some time. So how do we talk so teenagers will listen. Here are just 3 tips that will help.

  1. Don’t lecture – Like you and I they will just tune out if someone is talking about a subject that they consider boring. And let’s face it, telling me what I am doing wrong is not that exciting. A better way is to engage them in a conversation about their dreams, goal and hopes. Then you can lead into a discussion about what they think it takes to achieve those goals.
  2. Don’t compare – Your children are not you and they are not their siblings, their cousins or anyone else. They are themselves, unique, beautiful and perfect in their own right. Allow them the space to have their own interests, style and dreams.
  3. Don’t live vicariously through them – let them live their life. It may be great for your ego to have a child who is a doctor, lawyer or teacher (all great professions) but if they want to be an artist, musician or writer (also great careers) who are you to say ‘no, that’s not a real job’. I have heard parents argue this point even with grown children.  Would anyone say that Michelangelo didn’t have a ‘real job’?

Let them find their own way. Your children are more important than what others think of you. Their happiness is more important than what you believe they ‘should’ be doing with their lives. Love them, just as they are, and enjoy a more peaceful relationship. Life is too short.

Please feel free to leave us a comment.

If you would like to work with a parenting coach go to http://www.inner-rhythym.net to find out more.

defence against bullying

How nice it would be if we lived in a world with no bullies. This is not the reality though and over the last few weeks in Australia there have been some terrible incidents of bullying. One that got a lot of publicity was where the child being bullied hit back, well picked up the bully and threw him down, and many people applauded the actions of this young man. It has been alleged that he was bullied over a long period of time and this day he just had enough and fought back. So should we be applauding or disgusted by this behaviour?

Well, I believe that generally those who bully others have low self-esteem and that they bully others to make themselves feel more powerful. Often this only makes them feel worse and they continue to bully others in the hope of getting a ‘buzz’.  The feeling of power that they may temporarily get from bullying soon passes and  to get the ‘buzz’ of feeling powerful and to not feel the anxiety that often accompanies low self-esteem, the cycle continues. So how do you help your teen to defend themselves against bullies without resorting to some sort of violence themselves?

Here is just one tip – teach your children why people bully. If children (and adults, let’s face it, it happens in the workplace and home as well) understand that those who bully others are people who don’t feel great about themselves, the will look at them differently. If someone hurts themselves physically, caring people will generally do what they can to help. Likewise if someone is hurting emotionally, and this is true of most bullies, then if the bullying is reported is it ‘dobbing’ or helping someone who is in pain? While this is not true of every bully, it is true of most.

So have a chat with your teen, ask them about how they cope with bullies or if they have bullied others. Have a dialogue and see what they think about bullying, how common it is, how they deal with it and how they see others deal with it.  Give it a shot and let me know how you go.

the talk about sex!

Many parents stress out about talking with their teenager about sex and sexuality. Many parents confuse sex and sexuality and put all things sexual in the same basket. These things are not the same. A good and healthy discussion about sex and sexuality is about tolerance, respect, self love and is as much about saying no to things as it is about saying yes.  Many more think it is the job of the school to give children and education about all things sexual and some parents think that children don’t need to know those things and if they do well they will come and ask you. I believe that the discussion is ongoing and that children learn so many of their attitudes, beliefs and values from those around them. With that in mind here are a couple of tips for talking sex with teens.

  • Start early, speak often – We live in an age where sex and sexualised images are in abundance. Rather than just stating something like ‘music video clips are just soft porn and sexualise girls’ , you could open up a discussion about what you teen thinks about some of the video clips.
  • Don’t expect the worst – many parents will expect that because many teens are having sex, that their child must be one of those. Half of all teens have not had sex by the time they turn 18. If parents expect that they are having sex before, they may be putting undue pressure on their child to be a sexual person. Just because your teen looks like an adult does not mean they are. They still need a safe place to be a child.
  • Let them be the guide – Don’t discuss things that your teen is not ready to hear. They generally do not want to hear about your sex life – ever!! Many parents cross boundaries thinking it makes them the ‘cool parent’. It does not. It makes your teen feel embarrassed.
  • Find out what they know. You will both feel embarrassed if you are trying to explain something to your teen that they already know. Too much or too little information is just as bad as no information.
  • Discuss sexual tolerance and differences – there are many opportunities to talk with teens about diversity and tolerance of others. Teach teens that exclusion due to someones sexual preferences is a form of discrimination.
  • Teach respectful rejection – Often parents and schools teach teens about contraception, disease and pregnancy but not about how to say no. Teach your teen that it is ok if propositioned to say ‘thank you and I am flattered, but I am not interested. Respect for themselves is the greatest gift you can give them.

There are many more tips. These are just a few. Please feel free to comment or contact me if you want to discuss any further.

you call that music???

I often hear parents complain about the music that teens listen to. They complain that its too loud, too aggressive, too provocative or that they lyrics promote violence, promiscuity and drug use.  And then there are those video clips.  Young girls getting around in next to nothing and some of the clips verge on the edge of being classified as soft porn. So, are parents right to be worried? Well, I don’t think so and I will tell you why.

The generation gap when it comes to music is not a new phenomena. Many of us listened to music that our parents did not approve of and some us may even have turned it up louder if we knew that was the case. Music is a form of expression for the artist and the interpretation of music and lyrics can tell you a lot about what is going on in a person’s life. Clever parents will use the music to open a dialogue with their teen rather than drive a wedge into the relationship. I am sure that your music tastes have changed and your teens will too. They probably won’t still be listening to death metal when they are in their 40’s and if they are there won’t be much you can do about it then.  So let’s look at a couple of the different genres and the most common complaints about them.

  • Metal – probably the music that creates the most anxiety for parents. It can be loud, aggressive and the lyrics can often be violent. That said, how many of us have felt angry at something sometime and danced, screamed, yelled or exercised it out of our system.  There have been claims that metal music is associated with suicide but the opposite could also be true. That by singing, screaming or dancing the tension out of the body a person may feel better.
  • Dance, house, electro – often associated with drugs and illegal dance parties.  Not everyone who goes to a dance club or party is a drug user. Yes some may be and there may be drugs available at such venues. That has nothing to do with the music. Personally, I love this type of music (and I am definitely not a drug user) and I love the clubs and parties that play it. My mind tends to be very active and always on the go and I find this music soothing. It has more beats per minute than my brain can keep up with and therefore, for me, is a form of meditation.
  • Country – usually seen as depressing and with lyrics often about heartbreak and despair. More recent artist have changed that though and more and more lyrics are positive.
  • Pop – the music commonly played on commercial radio and the one most commonly accused of poor lyrics, soft porn videos and the sexualisation of women.  Pop deals with many issues that teens are facing. It gives many teens a voice through a pop icon to express troubles and issues.

There are many genres many sub-genres and I have discussed only a couple. Rather than complain about the music your teen is listening to, why not try a conversation about why they like a certain song, artist or style of music. You will learn a lot about what is going on with them through their answers and their choices. Not all teens who listen to metal have a violent bent. Research has shown that those who like metal are generally more artistic and more reserved personalities than those who listen to other music. So your young metal lover may be an artist in the budding.

I welcome your feedback and your comments. This blog is just the tip of the iceberg for this topic.

have a sensational day

till next time…

Sherry

finding strengths.

Teens often don’t know what they want to do with their life. They aren’t alone in that, I know many people in their 30’s and 40’s who still don’t know what they want to do with their lives.  The best thing we can do for ourselves and the young people in our lives is to help them develop their strengths. Our desire to use our strengths is so strong that if not nurtured in positive ways, strengths can quickly develop in negative way.

So, what is a strength? Well, contrary to popular belief, strengths are not just things that someone is good at, although that may be the case. Strengths are those things that make you feel energized. When you are working in your strengths, you will notice that time goes quickly, you have more energy after finishing it and you can’t wait to do it again.  Some people may feel strengthened when interacting with lots of other people while another may feel strengthened by spending time alone. This could translate to whether they may be better at team sports or track and field events when selecting which sport they would like to do.

Another student may have strengths in maths while their classmate has a strength in English. wouldn’t it be nice to see both students using their strengths and helping one another.  Let’s face it, we are all good at different things, we all enjoy different things and that is what makes the world so interesting. Let’s work together with our teens to find where their strengths are and help them to have many opportunities to use them.

Getting teens to lend a hand.

 

Homes are not kept tidy, meals are not prepared and shopping and other household chores are not done in isolation. So, how do you get your teenagers to help you out? Well, it might be easier than you think. Sometimes just tweaking the conversations we have with teens can make home a whole lot more peaceful and teens more agreeable and helpful. So here are my top 5 tips for getting teens to help around the home.

1.      Watch what you say – How you say something is just as important as what you say. Ask for help in a respectful way rather than telling your teen what you want. If you rephrase what you say the results may surprise you. For example, if you want a teen to clean their room, you could ask if there is anything you can do to help them. They will probably not want you in their room going through their things and do it on their own. Another example might be if you want them to put out the rubbish, you could ask if they want to do it right away or after dinner. This will help them to establish some degree of personal responsibility.

2.      Pick your battles – there is no point in picking a battle over every little thing. Sometimes it can be tempting to lash out if we are tired or stressed. Some things are worth getting upset over and some things won’t even matter after we have had a good night’s sleep. When you feel yourself getting worked up, try to just breathe for a moment and ask yourself if it is really your teen’s behaviour that has you rattled or is it something else. Are you embaressed about their behaviour, or how they look? Sometimes it is easy to get into a battle because we don’t want others to judge us by what our children wear or the music they listen to. All teens will go through phases until they discover their own style. Chances are that this too will pass. Save the battles for the big things like illicit substance use, lying, violence and other things.

3.      Give them some choices – teens are generally trying to find their own style in all sorts of things. They may be experimenting with fashion, music and food. So wherever you can, give them some choices and encourage them to make good decisions. One of the easiest areas to do this in is with food. Encourage them to cook one night a week. Ask them what their favourite dinner is, take them shopping (or send them) and let them cook dinner. You may want to supervise the first few times but after those few stay out of the kitchen leave them to it. Encourage them to try new things. This will build confidence and teach them about the effort that goes into the evening meal. With clothes, maybe agree on a budget and definite no-no’s and then let them do their shopping and with music, if there is music they love that you hate, ask that they only play that music when you are not in the room.

4.      Explain the power of more. Give them a maths lesson at the same time as encouraging them to help. If there are 4 people in the house and everyone has a room or two to clean and you set the time at one hour, that is the equivalent to getting a cleaning lady in for 4 hours. If they don’t like that they can hire the cleaning lady. Cleaning lady @ $25 per hour = $100 per week. You are only asking for 1/168th of their time. That’s how many hours are in a week. Not much at all really.

5.      Tell them how awesome they are. When you catch them doing something without being asked, acknowledge it. Don’t make the mistake of telling them that they ‘should do that anyway because it is their responsibility’. Just acknowledge the initiative and tell them how much it helps you out when they help out.

I hope these tips help you. They have certainly helped me and continue to do so.

Respect goes both ways.

I cannot tell you how often I have heard or overheard someone say ‘kids these days have no respect’. While this may be true it is also true that many adults do not show respect to young people.  Long gone are the days when children should be seen and not heard. In the fast-moving times a person is exposed to an enormous amount of information every day and children will have many questions to ask and ideas to share. When you listen to your child you are not only showing them respect but are also teaching them respect by your example.

Some other ways you can show respect to your child is to respect their privacy. As your child becomes a teen they may keep a diary or have a password on their computer or phone or want a lock on their bedroom.  While I don’t agree with locks on bedroom doors (from a safety perspective) I don’t think that parents should have open access to information that a teen may want to keep private. Often a diary is a stream of consciousness attempt to understand the world around them. A teen may write something in a diary that could cause alarm bells if read out of context. We have all had bad days and vented in some way and a diary is often a chance to do just that. If you go snooping and your teen finds out, they may feel they cannot vent at all and this could allow emotional stresses to just build up so that they are overwhelmed.

If you continue to have open, honest discussions with your teen you should have no reason to go snooping through their things. As an adult you would feel violated if you found that your teen had been going through your things. If you feel they are hiding something or that there is something that may be troubling them,  you need to have a discussion not a hunt for evidence.

I hope these couple of ideas have helped you.

till next time

sherry

Published in: on January 5, 2011 at 8:24 pm  Leave a Comment  

Pick your battles.

When teens start to rebel  and flex their emotional muscles, they can be distant, hurtful, vague or aggressive.  You may wonder what happened to that wonderful boy or girl whose company you had enjoyed for the last 13 years or so. Well, nothing has happened to them that isn’t natural. Puberty and all the associated fluctuations in hormones are natural (just like menopause).

So when they are being uncooperative or rude and you feel the heat start to rise up your body what can you do. One thing you can do is to ask yourself if this thing that you are disagreeing over now is going to matter in 24 hours, 1 week, 1 month, 3 months or 3 years. Sometimes we get into a battle because we want to be right or we think we know best or maybe we just want to maintain the control within the home.

By taking a moment to ask yourself if the battle is an important life lesson, you mentally switch from your own perspective to a more global perspective. There is not much point in raising your voice to a teen because they drank the last of the milk. It may be easier to give them some money to walk to the shop and get some more.

If they are breaking the law in some way, doing illegal drugs for example, then that is an important discussion that must be had. However, if you are going to have that battle, then do it when everyone is straight and sober. Illegal activities are generally a sign that something else is going on. It may be peer pressure, abuse of some kind or bullying. I will cover this in more detail in a future blog.

For today though, just take a breath, ask the question and pick your battles carefully.

have a great day.

Sherry