Recently in teenagers Category

Friends - this is a revised version of the letter I wrote on 9/11/01. I certainly had hoped it wouldn't be needed so often, but that has not been the case. May we all find ways to develop alternatives to violence in ourselves, our families, our schools, our communities, and our nation.

 Talking With Children About Difficult Events

·         Remain available to talk about what is happening. Accept all questions, even if they are repeated over (and over!) again.

·         Be honest. Give facts at an appropriate level for your child's developmental level. Be willing to say "I don't know" if that is indeed the case.

·         Acknowledge feelings - your own and your child's. Unsettling events bring up lots of emotions for us - fear, anger, worry, despair, hope - and that is how it should be. Talking about feelings helps everyone.

·         Let your child know there are people who can help out in difficult situations. Become people who can help. Find ways to help those in more need than you. Helping others creates hope for all.

·         Limit television viewing of news: vivid images can be quite disturbing and can cause long-lasting discomfort.

·          Use drawing as a way to get disturbing images out of your child's mind: have them draw the image and then rip up the picture. This works especially well with nightmares.

·         Recognize that headaches, stomach aches, and sleep disturbances all accompany anxiety and uncertainty. Let your child know that these are natural reactions to stress and will pass soon.

·         Let your children be kids: when they are ready to just go out and play with their friends, let them do so.  Help them - and yourselves - come to terms with this "new normal" in our world.


 Here is the handout from a talk I am giving tomorrow on the challenges for parents when we watch our children struggle with developmental issues:

1.     Welcome: it's good to talk about our roles as parents

2.   Quaker beliefs: growing into goodness/minding the Light in each of us/ integrity in word and deed/experience life on life's terms

3.   Freud - a healthy adult is able "to love and to work"

4.   Developmental tasks to be accomplished:

·        experience my gender and my sexuality...

·        learn the difference between being assertive and aggressive...

·        learn to be more independent...

·        figure out the person I want to be using the traits of the person I am...

·        learn to live in the middle and not be too big or too small...

·        learn to be a critical thinker...

·        establish and maintain healthy friendships with peers...

·        come to terms with my changing body..

5.    Good parenting versus overindulgence: what does overindulgence look like?

·        No firm limits and expectations

·        More concern about child's feelings than family needs

·        Parents emotionally overattentive

·        Too much authority too soon

·        Children expect to have things done for them

·        There is too much emphasis on perfection

6.   Research on overindulgence in children:

·        Poor development of conscience

·        More aggression and non-compliance

·        Lack of assertion skills

·        Lack of self-confidence

·        Less concern for others

·        A sense of entitlement

·        Overly dependent on parents

·        Feel "too big"

7.    Good parenting versus overindulgence in the face of challenges:

·        Separate your pain from your child's pain.

·        Avoid "interviewing for pain" (Thompson).

·        Praise appropriately.

·        Set limits and stick to them.

·        Realize that you are the parent (not their friend).

8.   Respect your child's ability to handle the situation:

·        Empathy: "That must be very hard..."

·        Pause - allow them to experience your kind attention.

·        Turn it over: "What are you going to do about it?"

·        Affirmation: "You are a smart/brave/honest/caring individual. I am sure you can handle this."

·        Keep the door open: "Let me know how this goes."

9.   Raising our children to be adults we'd like to have as friends: what are the qualities of my friends that I admire...

It is my privilege to work with you and your families.

Given all of the uncertainty and worry that being a teenager (and raising a teenager!) can entail, sometimes it's good to know what's supposed to be happening during the adolescent years.

1)      experience my gender and my sexuality: What's it like to be a male or a female in this society? In my school?  In my own body?

2)    learn the difference between being assertive and aggressive: How can I stand up for myself and still respect the boundaries of others?

3)    learn to be more independent: How can I make my own decisions without simply reacting against the rules of adults?

4)    figure out the person I want to be using the traits of the person I am: What are my strengths? What am I good at doing? Where do I want to be in ten years?

5)    learn to live in the middle and not be too big or too small: Am I "right-sized" in my dealings with others? Can I avoid being overdramatic (too big) or invisible (too small)?

6)    learn to be a critical thinker: Can I make sense of the world around me, using my thinking skills to make good decisions?

7)    establish and maintain healthy friendships with peers: What do I look for in a friend? Am I a good friend?

8)   come to terms with my changing body: In a culture that idolizes only certain types of bodies, can I become comfortable in my own?


Quite a list, no? As adults, how do we measure up on these tasks? With all humility and good faith in human nature, may we promote these skills in ourselves and our loved ones.

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