When Teen Music Went Silent

Mary Dell writes: At last week’s ceremony for the new Nasir Jones Hip-Hop Fellowship at Harvard, honoree rap artist Nas remarked  “Hip-hop is important like computer science. The world is changing. If you want to understand the youth, listen to the music. This is what’s happening right underneath your nose.” Though the value of computer science and the eternal bond between youth and music are indisputable, hip-hop is not anywhere near my nose. In fact, once Steve Jobs invented the iPod in 2001, the teen music we shared in our home went radio silent.

nas, lifeisgood, hip-hop music

 

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The Real Reason I Love Longhorn Football

Mary Dell writes: Fall is my favorite season. Along with the just-turning foliage comes the return of my preferred spectator sport – Longhorn football. My passion stems from the Friday Night Lights elements of my upbringing and the four years I spent in Austin as a student at the University of Texas.  I am a genuine Texas fan and spent many happy game days at DKR – Texas Memorial Stadium.  But the real reason I love Longhorn football is that our son is a big fan, too.  Now a fun and shared pastime, following the sport during his teenage years was more like a lifeline that kept our relationship afloat.

UT Football, Longhorns, college football, UT stadium, Texas Longhorns

While he was in high school, he developed the evasive skills that all teenagers acquire fielding questions from well-meaning neighbors, family members, and perfect strangers. Where do you want to go to college/ have you taken your SATs/ what do you want to major in? Against that backdrop of inquisition, we had moments when our disagreements over studying, tests, and college applications would have made for excellent reality television.

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A Last Lesson on the Importance of Friendship

Gabby, a Grown and Flown friend, writes: One of the good things about being a parent three times over is that I am more focused on life’s ordinary moments as my last child inches her way toward leaving the nest.  Recently, I was packing to go away for a rare “girls weekend” when my daughter sat down on the edge of my bed and asked me about the friends with whom I was traveling.  Ultimately, our conversation shifted into a philosophical one about her own friends and the importance of friendship.

I will readily admit my many failures as a mother but one of the things I am most proud of is the way I have communicated through action (and words) how much my friends mean to me.

importance of friendship, friendship, high school friends, high school girls

I am inordinately grateful and comforted when I look at my two older children who have already “flown the nest” and see the kinds of friendships they have established.  They demonstrate to me that they understand how to be loyal, inclusive, trustworthy, forgiving, and supportive in times of trouble.  They accept and celebrate differences. I am wowed by the way that they have chosen their inner circle (with an extended selection of friends beyond this)  based on “matters of the heart”  and common values.

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Mothers and Daughters, the Teenage Years

Mary Dell writes: Teenage girls travel in packs, migrating between friends’ houses. Over time, mothers and daughters from each family get to know one another well. When it is our turn to host a Friday night sleepover I am delighted. On Saturday morning, while serving pancakes, I pull up a chair with my daughter and her friends and join them for a chat.  Learning how to be welcomed (momentarily) into my daughter’s group, yet heeding the cue to disappear, are lessons I learned from my mother when she was the one wielding the spatula.

I recently asked my oldest girlfriends about their memories of those long ago school days. Here are some of the things they remember:

mother and daughter, teenage girl and mom in the 1970's

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Ready to Go?

Lisa writes: After high school, many of our kids go on to college.  Unlike in other countries, this transition is made seamlessly and without more than a summer break.  We send our eighteen year olds off to their next stage, often without knowing if they are ready to go.    Many have the option to stay home and attend a local university or community college but legions march off into dormitories every year for their first real taste of living alone.

When my older kids made this journey, I was, at first, unsure as to whether they were ready to go.  I looked at them over their high school years and could not fathom their independent life.  But then things began to change.

How did you know your kids were ready to go?

ready to go?, little child walking alone, child

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Prom Commandments

Mary Dell writes: As the mom of a teenage daughter, I occasionally feel like I am parenting on a separate planet from my friends who have teenage sons.  At Lisa’s house, sports are in full swing, and the mountains of standardized tests and specter of finals loom ahead.  At my house, we have all of that plus what can only be referred to as high season for the high school prom.

For Lisa, it has been three sons, three trips through 11th grade and barely a word about the prom.  Fifteen minutes to rent a tux, a five-minute phone call to order a corsage and yes, the sum total of time boys spent on the prom…twenty minutes.

With the biggest attire decision a boy has to make is peaked lapel or shawl, there is little to talk about except for the invitation. The onus of asking, despite so much about our gender roles changing, still lies with boys so whom to ask and how, are the important questions concerning young men.

But at our house, talk of the high school prom pops up with my daughter’s group of friends with the regularity of a favorite TV show which, at times, the conversation resembles.

 

prom commandments-prom date-high school prom

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11 Ways Social Media is Turning Us into Teens

Lisa writes: Facebook was developed by teenagers, for teenagers and I wonder if it, and its cousins Pinterest, Twitter, Reddit and Google+, are not turning us all into adolescents. Adults conduct their social interactions differently than teens and young adults but social media invites us to sound like our youthful selves. Social media is caught in time, in the student years, when most of us cared desperately about others’ opinions and were far less secure about ourselves.

With maturity we have less need to brag, and more need to deeply connect with others. Our ability to communicate has evolved and improved but the constructs we use in social media have not. Even as adults, we are using the tools of teens to communicate as we venture into social media, not always to the best effect. Here is the challenge to keep social media from turning us into teens:

1. On social media we clamour for the attention of those we barely know while, because of  its allure, we can overlook those seated at our own dinner table. The last time I ignored the people I lived with I was fifteen years old, the next time was when I got on Pinterest.
Facebook, twitter, social media ways of communicating
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Teaching Teens to Drive is Driving Me Crazy

As we write this we are teaching our youngest children to drive.  This is a path we have been down before, but as our impulse for self-preservation is undiminished, we still find it a bit frightening this last time. Learning to drive may be one of the great adolescent milestones but, for parents, it represents a major push back from our kids as they claim their independence from us. Truthfully, the whole process is driving us crazy.

Learning to Drive, inexperienced drivers, driving age

Mary Dell is teaching a daughter and Lisa is teaching a son, so in effect we are living on different planets. The one thing we share is the deep scary realization that we are placing a lethal weapon in the hands of children we love, but who we know to be only part way on their journey to maturity.

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Surviving High School, It Begins in Sixth Grade

 

middle school challenges, junior highLisa writes: Ahhhh…the beauty, the certainty of 20/20 hindsight.  As my youngest nears the end of high school, I have reflected upon what qualities allow kids to perform at their best and enjoy their four years to the fullest. What were the most important things I could have done for my kids, starting in perhaps sixth grade, that would have impacted their chance of surviving high school and beyond?  Not surprisingly, they were not the things uppermost on my mind as my kids turned 12. If I had it to do again…

what to do in middle school

 

I would make sure that my child, if possible, was above average at a sport, music, art or another activity.  Not get-recruited-at-a-D1-school good, but get-picked-for-the-JV-team good. Part of high school is finding your place and that is much easier to do if you are selected for the field hockey team or given a role in the school play.  I know educators often advocate the benefits of being well-rounded, but competence and accomplishment breed self-esteem and social well-being.

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Nothing to Fear

Sponge Bob, Junk Food, World of Warcraft, Austin PowersLisa writes: I recently read a great post on Mom 101 on how sometimes giving a kid a lollipop is just giving them a lollipop, not an exercise in regulating sugar or expressing our family’s values. She mentioned that “no” was sometimes her reflex response and that really struck a chord with me. Sometimes we have nothing to fear.  It took a while before I realized that my kids were people, not a medium for expressing my worldview.

I was a mom who said no–it was my default position for all the junk my kids wanted to buy, eat and see. I came into motherhood with the view that we owned too much, our culture was slightly toxic and most of the things my kids were going to consume visually and intestinally were poisonous. [Read more...]



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Why are Mommy Bloggers so Young, Clever and Inexperienced?

Mommy bloggers, mashable, Why are mommy bloggers so young, clever and inexperienced? And, we wonder, is taking parenting advice from a young mommy blogger a bit like getting directions to a far off, and difficult to reach locale, by someone who traveled part of the way there, once.

ABCnews.com recently published an article about disciplining kids and how to avoid spoiling them.  The author, a mother with a very young child, interviewed a number of parents whose children were all under 10. Each gave her considered advice on how her style of punishment had worked.  If you are still parenting on the easy side of adolescence, how do you know your method of discipline has worked?  Isn’t the test of parenting what happens as our children escape our grip?

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A Hotel Room of One’s Own

Hilton Hotel, Blogher, A room of one's own, room serviceI feel like I should preface this with telling you how much I love my husband and kids but am going to skip straight over that and tell you how much I love staying in a hotel without them.  This little lick of luxury does not happen very often but when it does, I savor every minute.

What’s so great?



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Note to Self

Parenting teens can be an emotional whirlwind and in the heat of the battle it is easy to forget lessons learned the hard way.  So, note to self…

Note to Self, Teen age son, son surfing

It is not your life, it’s his.

Your mother thought she knew what you were up to.

Sometimes it really is better if they don’t tell you.

Only spy if you really want to know. And answer that question first.  You can’t unknow something. [Read more...]



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Weathering the Teen

Mary Dell writes: The weather took a nosedive during Memorial Day Weekend.  Tropical Storm Beryl was the uninvited guest at our family get-away during the short overlap of our college and high school kids’ impossible schedules. By day two, high wind and torrential rain put the kabash on outdoor activities and we were under house arrest; soon we would be weathering a storm. While my husband fretted about broken tree limbs and flooding, I grabbed the laptop, as my inspiration was in the room next door- our two children (21,16)  who sweetly slumbered through the worst of the morning deluge.

rainbow, teens, teen moods, weathering a storm

How Weathering a Storm and Parenting Teenagers Feels the Same:

1. The anticipation was much worse than Beryl herself.  From my vantage point, as a nearly empty nester, I can say the same thing about parenting teens. The National Weather Service, with their interactive storm trackers, issues unending warnings.  Similarly, when you are a mom of young kids, the drum beats of parenting advice for the “scary” teen years become louder and louder the closer your child is to thirteen.

2. From behind slammed doors, “You are the worst parent. I hate you. You don’t know anything!” Our voices climb in escalating shouting matches. Sound like anything that happens at your house? Congratulations on having your very own personal parenting squall.

3. Sometimes terrible storms cause terrible damage. A torn ACL before football season, class officer election lost to best friend – disappointments add drama to the teen years. We were lucky with Beryl and extremely fortunate with our children – they are healthy and their setbacks have given them perspective, not robbed them of opportunities.

4. Trees, giant, sturdy trees, sway unbelievably yet (most) remain upright. Once the blue skies return, there they are standing, quite still.  When hormonal surges take over your home, try to think about those trees. Consider their almost contradictory qualities of strength and flexibility the next time you are faced with a totally out of control teen (or you find you are behaving like a totally out of control parent.)

5. The sun eventually emerges, sometimes in a shockingly beautiful way. Teenagers do not grow up along a straight line; there are fits and starts from adolescence to adulthood. They move from infuriating cold to cuddly cute, as the storm passes.



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Empty Nest: Fired, a Year Ago


From a Grown and Flown friend: A year ago, my daughter got her driver’s license.  It came as a bit of a surprise, having failed two driving tests prior to this important right of passage.  We had an extra car waiting in the driveway for her and, the next day after procuring her passage to freedom, she was ready to drive to school; she promptly scooped her sister into the vehicle and waved goodbye.  At that moment, I realized that I had been unceremoniously fired, and would begin to see the empty nest in sight. 

Empty Nest, teenage daughters, high school girls driving

For the past 17 years, I have busily organizing their lives, schedules, and transportation to and from school; athletic events; after school activities; doctor’s appointments; and trips to see friends, to name a few.  This was often in fifteen-minute increments, several times a day, while fitting in my life (as it were.)  I complained about it constantly, feeling exhausted and stressed at the thought of making another 45-minute round trip to school on the Boston Post Road, a two lane country road that pretends to be a four lane highway.  It a competitive driving experience at all times. [Read more...]



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