Teenagers. They are full of Anguish, Hormones and Attitude. AHA. Except it ain’t so satisfying.

“Empty the dishwasher,” says me.

“Okay mommmmmm, I will!!! You like already told me like 12 times!”

Exactly.

“Hey, there must be a nice place in your room to put your shoes,” says him.

“Hee-hee. Dad, you’re so funny!”

It’s 10pm on a school night. I really want her to go to bed because it was getting late. “Are you done with your homework yet?” I ask.

“Geez, mom. NO! I’m trying, all right?? I have to finish THISSSSS!!!!” I think I actually saw her head spin on her shoulders.

“Umm, love bug? Maybe you should go take a shower and get ready for bed now?” says him.

“Okay, dad. I think I may not wash my hair tonight so I can get to sleep early.” Hmm. Why didn’t I think of that? And I swear I actually heard her eyelashes flutter.

What’s up with that?

Who spent…okay so I wasn’t in labor for an eternity like some women. But still. She passed through my lady parts and ripped all kinds of shit. And it hurt. But who gave her life? Okay, so I couldn’t have done it without the sperm part. But I nourished her and carried her and got fat for her.

Who feeds her chicken soup when she has a cold and holds her hair when she’s puking? Who helped her bathe after her accident when she could hardly move? Who does she go to for girl advice? Or when she needs a shoulder to cry on?

Me. That’s who. So, she’s a little snappish. So what. She’s just like me. Full of hormones and attitude. I’ll take her like this. She may be daddy’s girl, but she’s my girl too. And really, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Okay, maybe a little less of the head spinning…

This post was originally featured on Maureen’s blog, Momfeld. Photo via.

Relationships get really interesting during the teen years. And I’m not just talking about romantic relationships (although, those get REALLY interesting) I’m talking about ALL relationships from friends to parents to siblings to teachers.

But the one thing that is consistent about relationships is that they’re typically between two people and rely heavily on communication and interaction – which is not always easy for teens to process at this young(er) age. Watching my daughters struggle with dealing with some people and how they change in an instant, I thought it would be helpful to offer them some tips on dealing with people and relationships – no matter what level it’s on.

1.) Once a liar, always a liar

I don’t care if you are 5, 15, 35 or 65 – if a person lies to you once, they’ll lie to you twice. And then again after that. You know the old saying “fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”? This is the reason that was written. We know it’s really, really hard to believe that someone who you love and/or confided in and called your best friend or boy/girl friend could ever lie to you and wouldn’t it be so easy just to forgive them this one time? Sure, but what’s your plan for when they do it again? Will you be strong enough to walk away then?

2.) Cheaters gonna cheat

Along the same lines as lying, but typical more in romantic relationships,  if someone cheats on you and you find out, you better run for the hills and never look back. Because now they’ve lied AND cheated and if you let them back in, the only thing they’re going to do is get better at not getting caught. Someone who doesn’t respect you enough to stay faithful doesn’t deserve your time much less your attention.

READ MORE: 6 Reasons You Shouldn’t Kill Your 12 Year Old

3.) “You can’t tell me who I can be friends with”

I see this a lot with the girls and their friends. It’s this game of “I can be friends with this person but you can’t”. If you are dating someone and there is some reason why they would get upset that you’re friends with someone (another guy for instance.. maybe one you used to date), that’s a bit of a different story. If you have a true relationship and you’re both committed, out of respect for each other this “rule” is okay. But other than that, it’s possessive and not acceptable.

4.) It’s okay to argue

That means you’re both still passionate to care about the relationship. Now what you have to figure out is how to argue, discuss why you’re arguing and – heaven forbid – understand that the other person has a point and may actually be right. This time ;) What you have to watch out for is when arguing starts to be the MAIN thing that you do. If that’s what’s happening, then there is a larger problem there than a one time difference. Another thing to watch for is if the other person won’t listen to your side of the argument. This means they’re only concerned about themselves and that’s not a healthy relationship.

5.) Love does not hurt.

This one should go without saying, but sadly there are so many people who think that abusing someone – either physically or mentally – is acceptable in a relationship. Young girls especially tend to be very insecure and easily manipulated by boys in their lives.  And boys can be as well, but it’s definitely more common in girls. Our kids need to be taught to not hit each other as well as how to get out of an abusive situation and how to ask for help and not fear being judged.

6.) Keeping score is for the football field.

Unless things have become really out of whack with one person doing more than the other, there’s no reason to keep a score on who’s done what, who’s bought what etc. In a relationship you give because you want to and when you start feeling like it’s becoming unbalance, then that’s the time to have a discussion. Plus all adults know that there is ALWAYS $20 floating between two friends.

READ MORE: An Open Letter To Teenagers, Especially The Girls

7.) Don’t lose touch with others.

When you’re in a new relationship – whether it’s a BFF or a new BF – it’s hard to imagine that you will want to spend time with anyone else but you need to. At some point – whether it’s a breakup or a fight –  you’re going to need your family and your friends and if it’s been 6 months since you even picked up the phone to talk to them, they’ll be there for you but that’s just not fair to them. Boy/girlfriends and besties are special but not at the expense on those who’ve been there for you forever.

This post was originally featured on Kristen’s blog, Four Hens And A Rooster.

Since I became a mother, life has been a series of firsts. I have photo albums filled with those memories of the milestones my children have met. This year has been different. This has been a year of lasts. My oldest daughter is a senior, so this is her last year of high school. It was my last “first day of school” picture for those photo albums. Granted, it wasn’t exactly a Kodak moment. No longer dressed up or smiling widely while proudly holding a character book bag, my darling daughter’s picture this year is her glaring up from her iPhone with a mix of annoyance and disdain. The picture will still go in the album; it is a tradition. I have seen my last back to school night for her, my last school assembly, and my last turn to be snack mom for her field hockey team. I may not miss all of those things, but still, there is something in knowing they are all behind us now.

As we got ready to celebrate Christmas, I realized this would be the last year that my daughter would celebrate the holidays without having to come home to us. I remember coming home for that first winter break when I was a freshman in college. I had changed and so had my family. They all looked the same and the house was the same, but it was different. They had new memories and inside jokes that no longer included me and I had friends and memories that they had no part of as well. Next year, that will be my daughter. This is probably the last year she will come into the kitchen as I bake Christmas cookies to sneak a taste of the batter or lick the beaters of icing. This will probably be the last year she helps us decorate the Christmas tree. She will be at college when those things happen next year. The traditions will be the same, yet everything will be different. She will be home to celebrate the holiday, but not the preparations and the hustle that we both dread and love.

In a few months, she will turn 18. It will be her last birthday that she wakes up under my roof to a birthday kiss and a candle in her pancakes to blow out while making a wish. She shares her birthday with her sister, who is three years younger. This will likely be the last year for two birthday cakes, with two rounds of the “Happy Birthday” song, and two rounds of opening presents. It had always been a delicate balance to make each girl feel it was her special day and that each got the right amount of time to be the center of attention, and I will miss that challenge.

I read many years ago that when you are a parent, the days last forever, but the years go by in an instant. It is so true. As I go through this year of lasts with my daughter, it seems like only yesterday I was getting ready for her Kindergarten graduation. And I know she will have many more, exciting firsts in her life. I will celebrate each one. But, I will also look back with some sadness on the passage of these days when she was my little girl.

Belieb it or not, Justin’s behavior can be a big influence on your kids.

I’d be lying if I said a big part of me wasn’t happy that my daughter has shown no signs of “Bieber fever”. Yet, she’s only four years old, so she does have a chance of catching the disease that research suggests is more infectious than the measles.

I’m not kidding, researchers at the University of Ottawa, used mathematical models to conclude that Biebermania behaves like a real disease — one that is capable of turning into an “apocalyptic infection.” The symptoms include high-octane screaming, hysterics, and mimicking the star’s poor life decisions (like his haircut).

For now, my kids are saving me from this plague but many other parents aren’t so lucky. With over 50 million followers on Twitter, the Biebs’ fan base has grown larger than the population of Canada. These super fans have done some pretty crazy things to show their piety for Bieber, like the 33 year-old male who went as far as spending $100k in plastic surgery just to look like the singer. The lovesick actions of these fans just show how powerful and influential Bieber truly is.

READ MORE: A Case For Parenting The Dolphin (Not Tiger Mom) Way

Millions admire him, yet Justin Bieber’s lifestyle is not a set of circumstances an average child or teenager can relate to. He is living in a world where the lines of morality and law are distorted by the fact that his negative actions carry minimal consequences. Although he lives with luxuries only large amounts of money can buy, he may not have access to the essential building blocks of a healthy human mindset.

If your child is a “Belieber” there are several important things you can say to your kids about Justin and why his actions should be learned from and not repeated.

Disrespectful Behavior Carries Consequences (for most people).

I call permissive parents, spineless “jellyfish” parents because they lack direction, rules and consequences. According to psychologist Diana Baumrind, permissive parents avoid confrontation, and “do not require mature behavior.” After a series of petty crimes that have gone unchecked by disciplinary measures of any sort, it is safe to consider that Bieber might have jellyfish parents. If you are not a permissive parent, you will no doubt encounter friction when enforcing the rules dictated by your values. When you speak to your kids about this, it is crucial to point out that following the family “code” as a kid is practice for living within the law as an adult. Most individuals who destroy property, spit in people’s faces, and relieve themselves in public usually wind up in trouble. Unless, of course, they retain a highly paid legal defense team at all times.

Jellyfish Parenting Is Toxic.

Research suggests that kids with permissive parents lack impulse control and are more likely to partake in drinking and drug use. Diana Baumrind illustrates how this lack of involvement between kids and parents creates a void in the child’s life that drives them to experiment with alcohol and drugs. When discussing the Bieber situation with your kids, consider pointing out that parents need to be parents not “friends” who party with their kids before they get arrested.

Authoritarian Tiger Parenting is No Better.

One opposing style — sometimes called Tiger Parenting — shackles kids with rules that when broken carry major consequences. Often times these punishments far outweigh the offenses. Children and teens subjected to extremely strict conditions are no better off than their permissively parented counterparts. Often times such kids develop low self-esteem and difficulty with independence and problem solving. When you find yourself in a discussion with your kids about Justin Bieber, you can point out that even though they don’t get carte blanche like he does, at least they aren’t under the thumb of a dictator.

READ MORE: The Storm of Modern-Day Parenting

Balanced Authoritative Parenting Holds Modern Solutions.

In my book, The Dolphin Way: A Parents’ Guide to Raising Healthy, Happy, and Motivated Kids Without Turning Into a Tiger (Penguin), I explain that the balanced Dolphin style of parenting is defined by adults being firm yet flexible and positive role models who create meaningful bonds with their children. This balanced approach is based on authoritative parenting, which has been proven to yield children with impulse control, positive social skills, self-esteem, academic performance, and intrinsic motivation. It is designed to guide children towards balance and independence so they may seek success, happiness, and healthy relationships while avoiding the destructive results of tiger and jellyfish parenting.

As a Dolphin parent discussing Justin Bieber with your children, you can encourage them to develop opinions on the matter and openly express them to you. You can listen to their ideas with warmth and create an open environment that shows your kids you care about their thoughts and feelings. However, you can also be firm about what your family code of behavior is and what you expect from them.

This post was originally featured on The Huffington Post. Photo via

When I was seventeen and pregnant, I had a well-meaning aunt suggest that maybe I should give my baby up for adoption.

“Babies are hard,” she said. “Babies cry all the time. Babies need to eat. Every day. You can never leave them. Babies! BABIES! Don’t have babies!!!”

Yeah like I’m going to be scared of something that’s not even two feet tall.

If she’d been smart, she wouldn’t have bothered trying to warn me about the awfulness of babies anyways. Really, what she should have said was “Remember how you were five years ago? Yeah, you have this baby and someday you’ll have a twelve-year-old too.”  That would have scared me shitless. Because let me tell you something. I do remember me at twelve and I was awful.

sad_eveFor example, this photo was taken of me on the Fourth of July when I was twelve. I was at a lovely party with my family, at our rich friends’ house, with tons of food, soda, and two pools. So, why was I so sadly hugging this dog?   BECAUSE I WAS. Twelve year olds make no sense. That’s what someone should have told me before I started having sex.“Here use this condom because preteens are awful people.”

But truthfully, even if that’s what she had told me, I honestly can say that I would still never have been prepared for this beautiful, sweet, happy little angel:

jacquai-smilingweb

To turn into this:

angry-12-year-old

If you’ve ever had a 12-year-old, you know there are plenty of reasons you may want to kill that child. For example, here is a list of some of the reasons I’ve wanted to kill my son in the last month:

  • Excessive whining
  • He ate the chocolate I was hiding (from him).
  • He left the kitchen a mess after making an egg.
  • The doorknob in his bedroom is no longer attached to the door.
  • There are dirty socks everywhere.
  • Some of those dirty socks are mine.
  • because he keeps stealing my D*@N socks instead of washing his own.
  • We used to have dozens of forks. Now we have four.
  • He ate a rueben sandwich then farted corned beef farts on my bed. Then left the room.
  • He skipped after school math help to play football with friends.
  • He is failing three subjects.
  • He lies all the time like it’s his job.
  • He keeps turning the shower head to the setting that uses the most water possible.
  • He loves to change the station I’m singing to when we’re driving in the car even though he knows passengers don’t get to choose the music.
  • Did I mention the whining? And the eye rolling? And the crying for no reason?

But even with all these perfectly valid reasons, we all know we shouldn’t kill our offspring. No matter how much of jerk he or she may be, we all reasonably know that death by parent is not the answer. So here I stand today, with a very good list of reasons why you shouldn’t kill your twelve-year-old.

Reasons Not To Kill Your 12-Year-Old

(Even though they totally deserve it.)

(Because they’re assholes.)

1. This is a great opportunity to try some new hair dye colors.

Deep Burgundy Brown, Auburn Black, Rich Mahogany,  Dark Iridescent Blond, Deep Copper, Very Light Natural Blonde. Can’t choose your favorite color? It doesn’t matter! Try them all! That’s how often you’ll be touching up your newly popped grey hairs now that you’ve entered what I like to refer to as “the Dark Ages of Childhood”.greyhair

 

2. Orange is not really the new black.

A murder charge is a serious thing. You’re looking at 25 to life if you do that little brat in and you’ve got to ask yourself if that’s really how you want to go down.

mugshot

 

3. They can’t help it

See these two brains? Do you see the difference between a normal 12-year-old’s brain and a 12-year-old’s brain on drugs? No? THAT’S BECAUSE THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE. 12-year-olds are basically the same as people on drugs.

12braincompare

 

4. Someday they’ll grow out of it

Rumor has it that at around 26 they will like you again.

hopepillow

 

5. Someday you’ll need them to wipe your butt.

Let’s be honest, you’re getting old. And someday you’re going to need someone to take care of you. Killing your kids now means not only have you wasted 12 years getting them this far alive but also, you will have no one to cut your lawn for you when you’re 80.

 

Jackie

6. Because you love that little fucker.

As unreasonable as that may sound at this point, you know it’s true. You know deep down somewhere, hidden underneath all the glasses of wine, you still love that monster that you created so many years ago.

happy 12 year old

Alternatives to killing your child

1. Send them to a boarding or military school

There’s no shame in shipping your once favorite person in the world off to be raised by strangers until this storm passes. Remember, they’re qualified strangers that you’re paying to raise your child and your kid is probably going to be fine.

boardingschool

2. Get a divorce

You know how divorced parents always tell their kids it wasn’t their fault? They’re lying. Everyone with children that gets divorced does so because they have realized that it might be the only way to get some kid free time. Great when they’re toddlers! Also great when they’re teens!

divorce

 

3. Remember the good times

Sometimes I just stand in my living room and stare at this picture of my son back when he was a sweet, chubby, delicious newborn baby. And he walks in and is like “Why are you staring at my baby picture mom? Would you please just throw that away? Why are you trying to ruin my life?!” and I’m all “Oh no reason, just trying to remember how much time and energy I’ve already invested in you and getting you this far alive. Best walk on by, son.”

babyangel

4. Hug him

Everyday. Everywhere. Especially in front of his friends.  Because if you can’t kill him, at least you can make him wish you would.

This post was originally featured on Eve’s blog, That’s My Apple

As hard as it is for me to believe this, I’m the mother of a teenager. In fact Tom will be entering 10th grade this September.

The years have gone so fast that I really feel as if one day I was taking pictures of him graduating from our Mommy and Me class, the next day I couldn’t believe he was in the fourth grade, and then bang, he was in high school.

Play dates at friends houses have been replaced by going out for sushi, a movie, or walking around town with his buddies. Alone. No adults watching over them.

Instead of chatting with his friends’ parents over coffee at kitchen tables, we wave to them out of car windows.

The times they are a changin’.

Whenever my family or friends ask about Tom and marvel at the fact that he is now a teenager, the subject of alcohol and drugs always seems to come up. As in, how will I handle it when he comes home drunk for the first time? Or what will I do if I find out that he had been using drugs?

I always find the questions a bit baffling because it’s just assumed that Tom will try these things. In fact the common answer I get from most of my friends and family is that of course he will.

Truth be told, I find this mindset maddening. And if I was a kid today, I would find it really confusing.

From the time Tom was in kindergarten, he has been learning in school that drinking and drugs are dangerous choices. He has read books and been shown movies about how alcohol can affect your judgment and make it easier to engage in other risky behaviors like unprotected sex or driving under the influence.

In eighth grade his health teacher made the whole class write letters addressed to themselves making the promise that they won’t smoke, drink, or have unprotected sex in high school.

Yet so many parents take it as a foregone conclusion that their kids will engage in any manner of risky behavior.

I’ve been accused of living in “La La Land” if I think otherwise. “Kids will be kids,” some say. Others will chime in with, “after all we did it.”

Really? Is this the criteria we are going to base our parenting on?

I get it. My son is growing up, and he’s going to have to make choices for himself.

I want him to spread his wings and discover who he is. And as much as some people think I’m living under a rock, I do know that he is going to make mistakes along the way.

But, I want him to know where I stand on engaging in behaviors that are at best risky and at worst illegal or life threatening.

I never want my son to say that I wasn’t clear about my feelings — so I’m writing them out here, for all to see.

Dear Tom,

The legal drinking age in this country is 21. Please know that dad and I will never allow you to have alcohol in our house or in our presence until you reach that age. Please also know that no good has ever come from a group of teenagers drinking. It’s a recipe for all kinds of disasters.

If you should choose to drink, you’ll not only be breaking the rules of our house, you’ll be breaking the law.

If you get stopped for driving under the influence, or the police get called to a party where you have been drinking, you may be in a position where we can’t protect you.

Always call me and your dad. ALWAYS. No matter what you have done.

Don’t ever follow up a bad choice with one that’s worse just because you’re afraid of disappointing us or making us angry.

Will we be happy? Of course not. But we would much rather get you and any friend that wants to come with you home safely, then get a call that you are NEVER coming home.

Let me be clear that the fact that we love you and will stand by you does not in any way mean we will stand by while you do things that you know aren’t good for you.

There will be those who will tell you that your parents are being unreasonable and totally unrealistic. Some may tell you that you are a teenager and that it’s a rite of passage to get drunk. They may even regale you with stories of their own youthful mistakes.

Listen to your own heart and trust your gut. Also know there is nothing cool about waking up in your own vomit, or having a DUI before you are 18.

Your father and I are so proud of the man you are becoming. We love you so much that we don’t care if you hate us. That’s our gift to you, we are your parents not your friends.

Always,

Mom

This post was originally featured on Kathy’s blog, My Dishwasher’s Possessed.