Parent tips for the roller coaster ride of raising teens

img_5272

We’re past the roller coaster ride of the teen years. Onward to the quarter-life crisis.

Has any parent not witnessed the eye rolls, backtalk or even a door slam? Most of the time my kids were wonderful. But we had our moments. I especially remember a tough period with my son where I said things I would love to take back. I didn’t mean those words but I was frustrated beyond belief with his behavior. That’s not an excuse, but it’s a pretty accurate assessment that I felt out of control. I heard from one friend that when our kids get ready to leave the nest they work on pushing us away.

Today I read “3 Myths About Your Teen’s Bad Attitude” in Time Magazine by Alan Kazdin and learned that our kids are not acting out on purpose. “Alan Kazdin is Sterling Professor of Psychology and Child Psychiatry at Yale University and director of the Yale Parenting Center; he is a former President of the American Psychological Association and teaches a course open to the public on Coursera: Everyday Parenting: The ABCs of Child Rearing.”

According to Kazdin, our young adults are going through development changes and are not in control of how they treat us. Of course, we’d all prefer civility and want our child back, but give it time and space and they will once again be the people we love to be around. In the article, he gives a few tips on how to make the situation better not worse. He says to focus on the positive things and don’t be heavy-handed with punishment. If we rely too much on punishment, our kids may resort to worse actions to escape punishment or pull further away from us. His third tip is to compromise. Find something that you previously said “absolutely not” to and give in. Kazdin also makes the point that the developmental changes take place at different ages with adolescents.

His tips may seem contrary to what you’d like to do, but he says they are effective. Our goal is to change the annoying and troubling behavior of our teens and bring them closer to us, not make it worse.

Here are some excerpts about three myths Kazdin brings up about our adolescents:

3 Myths about Teenage Attitude

1. Your teenager’s behavior is deliberate.

It may be of little consolation, but your teenage daughter has little control over the bad attitude. She is not manipulating you on purpose or spending all that time in her room scheming about new ways to annoy you. In fact, she too is a victim — of all sorts of biological and psychological changes over which she has little control. She is going through a rollercoaster of adolescence, and you are on the ride with her.

As an important example of what is going on, the brain changes are extensive: more rapid development of the brain areas and functions that increase impulsivity, risk-taking and being influenced by peers. Those areas of the brain structure and functioning that we wish would be well established, such as self-control, restraining oneself and making decisions rationally, are coming online more slowly and will not be more fully developed until later adolescence.

2. Reasoning with the teenager will help.

Reason rarely persuades anybody to do things we know we should do — such as exercising or avoiding fast foods. It is even less likely to work with your teenager, considering all those developmental changes.

However, it is wonderful to be reasonable with your teen. It demonstrates for them a way of thinking, handling conflict and solving problems, and it can have longer-lasting effects on how your eventual adult approaches life.

3. Punishment will change the behaviors and attitudes you want to get rid of.

Teenagers may simply isolate themselves even more and have even less time with the family and in the presence of a parent. That will decrease the chances of a positive influence.

IMG_8813

Hiking with my son this past summer. 

How do you handle it when your young adult is rude and no longer wants to hang out with the family?

Advertisements

Who is the worst sports parent ever?

 

12768251_10209127311323711_1087820356060339429_o

College sports include cheering for teammates.

Have you been keeping up with the real-life drama of the Ball brothers and their outrageous dad LaVar? Noted to be one of the worst sports parents ever, LaVar Ball dad of basketball players has been in and out of the news. That’s probably his goal since he runs a reality show on his FaceBook page. But seriously, what is this guy teaching his kids? If you haven’t heard of LaVar Ball here’s the scoop: his kids are Los Angeles Lakers guard Lonzo; LiAngelo, who was enrolled at UCLA briefly with a basketball scholarship; and LaMelo, who he pulled out of Chino Hills High School recently.

I’m not a basketball fan, nor a fan of the NFL, but I can’t escape hearing about LaVar Ball. I ran across a snippet on Fox Sports 1 with Cris Carter who asked after hearing that LaVar was pulling his son out of UCLA because he isn’t being allowed to play. Carter, a former NFL star, commented that UCLA receives more applications than any other university in the country and why would he want to take away that opportunity from his son? He said, even if his middle son LiAngelo plays for the NBA, and starts at age 20, he’ll most likely be done with his career by 28 or 29. “What’s he supposed to do with the rest of his life?” Carter asked.

 

You can watch the video from FS1 here on ‘Cris Carter responds to LaVar Ball pulling LiAngelo out of UCLA: ‘What kind of parenting is this?’

In case you haven’t heard, the reason the middle Ball son was suspended by the Bruins basketball team was because he shoplifted in China and wound up in a China jail along with two of his teammates. It took the POTUS to get him out of jail and returned to the United States. LaVar didn’t think shoplifting was any big deal and didn’t condemn his son’s actions. Now LaVar isn’t letting him take the punishment that UCLA decided on, but instead will take LiAngelo away from facing consequences and completing his college education at UCLA. Why was he shoplifting in the first place? Was it a game? Was it for thrills? I have heard this adult-aged kid drives a Ferrari, so it certainly wasn’t because he didn’t have the money.

“Tipsheet: LaVar Ball is the worst basketball dad ever” written by Jeff Gordon of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has some quotes from LaVar Ball that show his arrogance and inability to acknowledge the wrongdoing by his son.

“We learned today of LiAngelo Ball’s intention to withdraw from UCLA,” Bruins coach Steve Alford said in a statement. “We respect the decision he and his family have made, and we wish him all the best in the future.”

(And the unstated P.S. was “Good riddance!”)

As Donald Trump correctly noted, shoplifting in China can be a really big problem. The President had the back of Ball and teammates Cody Riley and Jalen Hill and helped get them home after their arrest.

But LaVar has steadfastly downplayed his son’s crime and whined about his punishment. “I’m not sitting back and waiting,” he told ESPN. “He wasn’t punished this bad in China.”

And . . .

“We get back over here and the consequences were even stiffer than China. So basically they’re in jail here.”

And . . .

“I’m going to make him way better for the draft than UCLA ever could have. He’s not transferring to another school. The plan is now to get Gelo ready for the NBA draft.”

That will be a heavy lift. “He’s not on any of our scouting lists — even the extended lists,” one NBA general manager told ESPN.

So this withdrawal is no great loss for UCLA.

Younger brother LaMelo could become a NBA player like big brother Lonzo. But his personal sneaker deal and his dad’s antics make it unlikely LaMelo will play at UCLA or anywhere else on his way to the pros.

Here are more details about the crazy Ball family in an article called “UCLA basketball got exactly what it wanted out of the Ball family” by Mike Rutherford for SB Nation.

 

download

LaVar Ball in a photo from SB Nation.

 

“The relationship between the Ball family and UCLA basketball appears to have reached a premature end. One side came out as the clear winner.
After one exhibition game appearance and one international incident, it appears the LiAngelo Ball era at UCLA has come to an abrupt close.

In various interviews with a number of national outlets Monday, LaVar Ball revealed he was pulling his middle son off the UCLA basketball team and withdrawing him from the university. LiAngelo Ball had been indefinitely suspended since he and two freshman teammates were caught shoplifting during UCLA’s trip to China last month. The incident made international headlines and resulted in a public war of words between the patriarch of the Ball family and the President of the United States.

This marked the second time in 2017 that LaVar Ball has abruptly pulled one of his sons out of school.

In October, LaVar announced that his youngest son, 16-year-old LaMelo Ball, was being pulled out of Chino Hills High School and would be home-schooled. LaVar reportedly had issues with first-year Chino Hills boys basketball coach Dennis Latimore, who had yet to coach his first official practice at the school. It was also revealed that LaMelo, one of the top players in the class of 2019, was being given his own signature shoe via LaVar’s “Big Baller Brand,” making him the first 16-year-old ever to own such a distinction.

On Monday night, Yahoo reported options were being explored to send both LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball overseas to begin their professional careers. Essentially, the turbulent relationship between the Ball family and UCLA has come to an end years before the pair had originally intended.

That’s probably just fine with everyone in Westwood.
The relationship between the Balls and UCLA, which officially took effect in January 2014, was always primarily about Lonzo Ball. The five-star virtuoso point guard was bound for greatness regardless of where he played in college and regardless of how preposterously one of his legal guardians chose to behave. He was the type of player who could transform UCLA basketball, even if he was only a Bruin for one season.

LaVar Ball was always going to be a distraction, but he was a manageable one for UCLA when Lonzo was the son in question. With LiAngelo, things were bound to be more difficult. Play the kid too much, and it might cost you team chemistry or even a couple of wins. Don’t play him enough, and get ready to see his dad’s criticism as the top story on your ESPN scream-at-each-other show of choice the next morning. It would be hard to blame Alford, and anyone else caught up in the situation, for looking to find a way out.

Now they don’t have to.

As a sports parent myself, I am sorry for these young men and that their dad isn’t allowing them to learn the life lessons that sports can teach. I guess the family’s goal wasn’t to be the best they could be, learning good sportsmanship, time management, perseverance and the ability to pick themselves up after defeat. No, I think the lessons LaVar Ball is teaching his sons include that they are better than everyone else and the rules don’t apply to them. Also, that money is their almighty savior.

 

img_6227

My daughter learning about being part of a team.

 

What lessons do you think LaVar Ball is teaching his kids and those who may look up to them?

 

 

 

“LESS IS MORE”

 

robertbaby

My son at the beach.

My husband said that under his breath last night. He was talking about a client who tries to time the market, buying and selling stocks and bonds–and make decisions that are too complicated. It made me think about our upcoming weekend plans where we’ve promised to clean out our closets and throw away stuff. It was 25 years ago we moved into our house! Yes, it’s time to clear out junk and go with the mantra “less is more.”

“Less is more” was first credited to a poem, Andrea del Sarto, by Robert Browning in 1855.

 

“Who strive – you don’t know how the others strive
To paint a little thing like that you smeared
Carelessly passing with your robes afloat,-
Yet do much less, so much less, Someone says,
(I know his name, no matter) – so much less!
Well, less is more, Lucrezia.”

Later, a German-American architect Mies van der Rohe used “less is more” describe a stripped-down style of building design.

While researching “less is more” I ran into an article about a “less is more” Christmas plans for young kids in the Washington Post in “Trying to tame holiday gift excess? Here are 4 alternatives to a mountain of toys” by Lindsey M. Roberts:

When family life counselor Kim John Payne published “Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids” in 2009, he was warning us about how our supersize lives were affecting our kids. He was seeing kids who were unable to play by themselves in rooms full of toys, throwing frequent tantrums caused by overscheduling, and being diagnosed with behavioral disorders they didn’t have. He knew something needed to change.

“The too much, too soon, too sexy, too young — it’s become ubiquitous,” he says.

It turns out he was onto something with that “less is more” approach, particularly when it comes to holiday toys. Each year, as minimalism grows in popularity, Payne sees more parents embracing the call for less stuff and more time together.

The article interviews four people from a blogger to a book author about how they have pared down Christmas giving with their kids.

I remember our first Christmas with our baby boy. We had a Christmas tree that almost touched the ceiling and presents stacked almost as high. It was ridiculous and decadent. I also remember our son being fascinated with a bow and playing with it for hours on end. He completely ignored the Little Tikes blue car, the Playmobil table and chairs, and other creative brain-enhancing toys we purchased for him. It was an eyeopening experience and after that, we dialed it back. I also asked the grandparents to not overdo the gifts—and if they’d prefer—they could contribute to the college fund we had set up.

In Embracing “Less Is More” For Better Health, in the Idaho Senior Independent, an article by Carrie Stensrud talks about how “less is more” is important for those on a later end of the life spectrum, too.

From “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up:”

“Minimalism is a style of extreme spareness and simplicity. Originally demonstrated in expressions of music or art, minimalism has gained momentum as a lifestyle, inspiring folks to keep only a minimum amount of belongings and sell or donate the rest. Some have taken the idea so far as to leave their homes and move into “tiny homes,” downsizing from a traditional house to spaces as small as 400 square feet.

“Despite varying degrees along the minimalist spectrum, the bottom line remains: ‘Less is more’ is better for your physical and mental health.

“To compound the problem, general disorganization results in not being able to find things when you need them. The risk of falling increases with rushing, worrying, and losing focus.

“Clutter around the home also creates places for bacteria, dust, and mold to collect. Exposure to increased levels of environmental hazards can aggravate allergies and other respiratory conditions, cause generalized inflammation, and even lead to chronic illness.”

I’m convinced. “Less is more” and I’m tackling my closet tomorrow.

 

robertbaby 2

The blue car and Sherman the cat.

What are your thoughts about “less is more?”

 

When should we jump in to defend our kids?

When they were young.

I was always a stickler for what was right or wrong and I never shied away from addressing any issue. I would go to bat for my kids whenever I felt they were being slighted. Looking back, I see that is a trait of helicopter parenting and I might have done more good for my kids by letting them fight their own battles.

Here are a few battles I took on when I thought my kids weren’t being treated right:

I wrote an email to my son’s AP History teacher to complain about his grade. He was .05 off an A and I felt the teacher should round it up. I got a note back explaining that if he were to round up my son’s grade, he’d have to go back and do the same thing for every other student in his grade book who was a fraction off the next higher grade. (Not a bad idea, I thought!) My son was being passed over for his school’s nomination for the coveted National Merit Scholarship award because of the B, but he lived through it.

When I felt a coach was picking on my son, I made an appointment to complain about it, only to find out that he had earned the “coach’s award” for best attitude and effort. That surprised me and I’m embarrassed about that meeting to this day.

When my daughter was given five days of after-school detention for forgetting to bring the photocopy of Christmas song lyrics to music class, I complained that the punishment was over the top. In fact, other kids were given two nights detention, so there was a definite crossing the line by the music teacher—in my humble opinion.

There are countless other incidents where I went to battle for my kids. I do believe I taught them the difference between right and wrong and that they should stand up for themselves. At least that’s what I told myself at the time.

I couldn’t understand why other parents would stand by and let bad things happen to their kids. I do now. Sometimes it’s better to keep your mouth shut and shrug your shoulders. I’ve found that some of the things that would have bugged me to no end, will soon disappear on their own within a few days or weeks. By making an issue out of little things, they can turn into big ones and burn a lot of energy and create angst.

My daughter complained to me last night that during a meeting with students on a group project, the guys were complaining that all the women coming forward about sexual harassment were “just looking for attention.” That infuriated my daughter to no end. I asked her if she was going to put up with it or wanted to go to the professor or counselor and complain. She decided to let it go. She’s a week from being done with the class and just wants to get through it. I told her I would stand by whatever she decided.

When my son received a letter telling him he was kicked out of school during the summer after his freshman year for bad grades, I was horrified. But, then I stood by and watched him research his options online. He wrote a letter to contest the decision and got hospital and doctor records to substantiate his unfortunate circumstances of an injury and surgery which caused too many missed classes. He was let back in without me doing a thing. After that, he earned As.

Me and my boy.

One thing I know about parenting is all we can do is try our best. It’s been my goal to raise kids who know the difference between right and wrong and will try their best as well.

What do you think about parents fighting battles for their kids? Are they helping or hurting them by getting involved?

A Word of Advice for Sports Parents: “Chill”

 

 

22467369_10214959340600798_888670668886879138_o

Our gorgeous Palm Springs pool.

I volunteered a couple hours at my swim team’s big November meet. It’s been three years since I’ve had a swimmer at that meet and the distance of time allows me to look at parents and swimmers through a different lens.

Wow. Do parents ever get worked up watching their kids swim! I observed some parents running around the pool deck, yelling and visibly shaking. I was worried a few would have heart attacks. I acted exactly the same way years ago and I still get nervous and worked up. But I don’t show it as much, anymore. I believe it’s newer parents who are the most anxious because it’s all new to them and confusing. Give them a few years, and they’ll probably relax a bit.

One woman frantically came to the admin tent and said in a panicked voice—bordering on hysteria—“I can’t find my son! I don’t know where he is! Help me find my son!”

My friend, who was running things for the parent volunteers under the tent, asked in a very calm voice, “Please, tell me how old is your son?”

“Twelve.”

“Twelve,” my friend repeated. We managed to keep straight faces. If it was a child of say five or six, there might be a reason for a mom to panic. Well, not a real reason to panic, but the anxiety would be more understandable.

“Do you know where he is supposed to be?” my friend, who is also a psychologist, asked. Her calm approach led me to believe she faces many hyped-up parents in her practice. The frantic mom said he was swimming the 200 fly and she couldn’t find him with her coach or warming up. She asked us to have him paged to report to the admin tent.

“Do you want to give him a little time? If we announce for him to come to the admin tent to meet his mother, he’s going to be embarrassed,” she told her.

“Really? Why would he be embarrassed?” the mom asked.

We didn’t have an answer to that. We had a deck marshal assist the mom walking around the pool deck and into the men’s bathroom to help find her son. I never heard a word after that, so I’m assuming her son made it to his event and back to her side.

Another thing I noticed this past weekend was that the space behind the blocks can get really hectic. That sign that says “Swimmers Only” means just that. It doesn’t mean “Swimmers Only and Me the Swimmer’s Parent Because I’m an Exception to the Rule.” It’s amazing how many parents ignore the sign, have to be told to leave the “Swimmers Only” area and a few want to argue about it. Once again, it’s interesting to look at this from a distance, when a few years ago, I was the one trying to stand behind the blocks with a water bottle and towel for my kids.

I’m reminded of advice I received from Ref Paul on more than one occasion, “Relax, have fun. It’s just a swim meet.”

 

 

12273525_10208427893038691_1604096537155212606_o

The pool deck during a meet with the “Swimmers Only” area behind the blocks.

 

Why do you think we get so worked up over our children’s athletic performances?

 

 

 

 

 

#SistersInSweat tells young women to keep playing

Screen Shot 2017-11-20 at 11.00.52 AM

 

During my morning walk, I checked out what was trending on Twitter and saw that #SistersInSweat was up there. It turns out it’s a hashtag and video created by Gatorade featuring tennis superstar Serena Williams with her baby girl.

You can find it on twitter under the hashtag, but if you’re not a Twitter fan, here’s a link to the emotionally moving video.

Some of the phrases that caught my attention were:

“Sports will teach you to be strong.”

 

“You’ll discover the power and grace of your body.”

 

“You’ll learn to move and you’ll learn to move others.”

 

“Keep playing.”

 

This is a great video to empower young women, and in my humble opinion, playing sports is helpful for everyone — boys, men and middle-aged women like myself, included.

Since it’s Thanksgiving week, I’ve been thinking about what I’m grateful for in my life. Today I was writing an article for SwimSwam.com about gratitude and came up with a list of all the ways the sport of swimming has impacted our family in a positive way. Then after watching the #SistersInSweat video, it really put in perspective how swimming and participating in a lifelong sport has shaped my daughter. She’s strong, sometimes scary, confident, understands what it is too put in hard work. She appreciates the rewards but also understands that life offers her no guarantees. Yes, all of that was learned and experienced in the pool. My son also learned those lessons in the pool and although he’s not swimming, he has a love of fitness and works out and has developed an interest in “erg.”

38050_1556243309815_8302301_n

My daughter in her “Girl Power” cap getting ribbons and medals and an attaboy from Coach.

I believe we need to follow our passions and that participating in youth sports can help our kids learn many life lessons. Also, if it’s music, art, theater, writing—whatever they love–can do much of the same, except for the physicality part. There’s something to be said for feeling physically strong, for being fit and carrying on healthy habits throughout your life.

One of the things Serena Williams says is there are many reasons to quit. And there are. I have seen very few kids stick with swimming all the way through four years of college. In fact, I’ve read a study from National Alliance for Youth Sports that 70 percent of kids quit organized sports in the U.S. by age 13. Their number one reason for quitting is that it’s no longer “fun.”

Screen Shot 2017-11-20 at 9.33.24 AM

Why do you think sports empower young women?

Top 10 Life Skills Kids Need Before College

IMG_5886

My son on his “Snow White pony” at Thursday night Village Fest.

Talk about failing “Parenting 101.” My son called me throughout his freshman year of college with the most trivial questions—like how to address an envelope to how to pay for gas with cash. What happened during his 18 years that he made it through in one piece without basic life skills?

I’ll tell you what happened. I was rushing to school with forgotten homework, packing his lunch and swim bag. I picked up after him and did his laundry. He was, after all, way too busy pursuing the title of Valedictorian to be bothered with mere mortal pursuits of day-to-day life. I was the enabler. But, I learned from his questions and made sure my second-born was ready and prepared to leave home.

 

One of my best friends lives 30 minutes from his university. She called him his first weekend at school and said if he ever needed anything, please call. Was she surprised when he said, “Could you bring me some laundry detergent? The thread count is so low on the sheets Mom bought me and they’re itchy.”

She said, “No, I’m not your mother and when I said if you needed anything I meant in case of an emergency. You can find your own laundry detergent somewhere on campus.”

13417585_10210063407525531_6987965472607988093_n

My son during his graduation night speech.

 

Here are 10 basic life skills kids need to know before they leave home:

ONE

Banking skills. Know how to write a check, make a deposit face-to-face with a teller, fill out a deposit slip, and use an ATM card for deposits and withdrawals. Balancing a check-book falls under the banking list.

TWO

Laundry. Have your kids do their own laundry so they know how to sort white and colors, hand-wash, hang dry, and fold–and what it feels like to be out of clean clothes. The clean underwear does not appear by magic! 

THREE

Cooking. Teach your child some basic cooking skills like scrambling eggs, making spaghetti, baking a chicken, steaming vegetables and cooking rice. 

FOUR

Grocery shopping. Just like clean underwear, the food in the fridge doesn’t appear out of thin air. Teach how to make a list, look for coupons, find sale items, and learn how to read unit pricing on shelves.

FIVE

How to get to and from the grocery store. This may seem obvious, but I’ll never forget the phone call I got from my son: “Mom. I’m at Costco and how do I get home with cases of water, yogurt, and Top Ramen on my bike?”  Hmmm. Good question.

SIX

Budgeting. If your child hasn’t worked at a job and you provide their basic necessities, they lack budgeting skills. My son got his first paycheck working a summer retail job. The check was for $175. He bought his girlfriend a dress for $110 and spent the rest on dinner for the two of them. Very romantic, but not practical when he needed to eat the next week and month.

SEVEN

Theft. At college, thieves are everywhere. My first week of college, I hand-washed some sweaters and hung them out to dry in the bathroom. Within minutes —gone. I had a bike stolen from my sorority storage room—and a locked bike stolen when I used a restroom during a ride around Green Lake in Seattle. My son’s laptop was stolen when he left it in a study area in his dorm. Make sure they have “find my laptop” activated and never leave anything unattended! Don’t use a chain or cable lock for your bike—use a solid bar type. 

EIGHT

Professors. They set aside office hours and only one or two students bother to stop by per semester. They are thrilled to help and meet students face-to-face. This can help for future referrals, references, internships—and grades. Have your kid meet with each professor at least once, every semester. It can’t hurt!

NINE

Cars. Basic things like checking tire pressure, oil and water levels, changing tires and pumping gas. Maybe they won’t have a car right away, but at some point they will and car maintenance is not an instinct. It’s a learned skill.

TEN

Learn to say no! College means hanging out with friends, listening to music, parties, dances, rallies, job opportunities, football games, intramural sports, going out to eat, etc. Studying is priority number one. Learning to say no will help your kid stay focused.

What other essential life skills would you add to the list?

386218_2819987102620_2110173964_n

My beautiful son when he was three.