Saturday, November 28, 2009

Sue Scheff: Driving Tips That May Save Your Teen’s Life Over the Holidays

After just finishing a 10-part series inside Dr. Michele Borba’s BIG Book of Parenting Solutions, I can officially say it is one of the most comprehensive parenting books I have ever reviewed and fortunately own. My daughter (a mother herself) will be receiving a copy under the tree this holiday season! I cannot express enough what a magnificient gift this is for anyone that works with children, moms-to-be, daycare providers, coaches and more.

This week Michele Borba posted a timely Blog as many are traveling and I especially think of our kids/teens traveling home from school for the holidays. Take the time to be an educated parent and learn how to prepare yourself and your teen before they get behind the wheel!
Happy Thanksgiving and make it a safe one!

REALITY CHECK: Nearly 10,000 youths have died as passengers in car crashes. Of those crashes, 54% were riding with a teen driver. Car crashes are the leading cause of death for tweens and teens.

Michele Borba: Driving Tips That May Save Your Teen’s Life Over the Holidays
This week yet there were more sobering headlines in our local papers: two more horrific car crashes involved teens from our local high schools. Both crashes happened within a few days of one another. Three teens lives were cut short. Others are in critical condition. And once again I shutter, and then I cry.

I’ve had five close friends over the last ten years lose their beautiful teen sons in driving fatalities. All were the most loving of parents, all the boys were wonderful, glorious, and good, and each parent would have read this prior to the worst day of their life, and said, “Not my kid.”
But the stark reality is such a tragedy could happen to your child. So please read this carefully and take this very seriously — especially as these holiday approach and teens have more driving time. Knowing the risks just may save your child or their friend.
Here are study highlights found by Dr. Flaura Koplin Winston from The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia revealing the most dangerous driving circumstances for youth:
Driving with inexperienced (less than a year driver) on high-speed roads (more than three-quarters of the fatal crashes occurred on roads with speed limits higher than 45 mph)
Driving without a seatbelt: nearly two-thirds of youth passengers were not wearing seat belts
Driving with a male teen driver who had been drinking and on weekends: 72% of crashes happened between 6 am to 10 pm.

Here are a few essential Dos and Don’ts parenting solutions based on research findings that just may keep your teen safer. I know some of these are “easier said than done,” but that’s where talking, talking and talking to your teen over and over and over come in — as well as monitoring, monitoring, and more monitoring.

Do NOT let your teen drive with a teen with less than a year’s driving experience. The risk is too great. I know this is going to be inconvenient. But please review those research studies carefully. Please!

Do NOT let your inexperienced teen drive over 40 mph. This one is tough to uphold but monitor. There are new devices that parents are installing in their cars so they can watch their teen’s driving habits.

Do NOT let your child get into a car without wearing a seat belt. Make sure you mandate wearing them in your own car. And talk, talk, talk about the life-saving feature of wearing those belts.

DO NOT let your kid use that darn cell phone when driving. Figure out a way that he doesn’t have to go switching channels on his Ipod when driving.

DO teach your teen how to bulk peer pressure. A study by the Boys and Girls Clubs of America of over 46,000 teens revealed that peer pressure is one of the biggest issues they face and that “Just say no stuff”does not work. Teens want you to teach them specific things they can do and say to counter that peer pressure.

DO give your teen (and each of his friends) a card with phone numbers of taxicab services to call. Put emergency cab fare money (like fifty dollars) in a drawer and tell your teen it is “Just in case you ever need a taxi cab.”Make sure your kid has a safe way home in case of drinking or sleep deprivation. Driving home late and sleepy killed two of my friends’ sons. They were not drinking.
DO tell your teen that if he ever abuses your car rules those keys will be removed. One of my girlfriend’s sons lost the car privilege for a year (and learned his lesson); another hid her son’s car in another friend’s garage to ensure her child could access it. Yes MOM!!!
DO have your teen sign a contract specifying that passengers must wear seat belts, which roads he may drive on, speed limits he must adhere to and of course never drink. Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD – and founded as Students Against Driving Drunk) is an organization you may want to connect with. If also provides a free online contract you can download.

DO get on board with other parents. Introduce yourself. Exchange phone numbers. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is a great organization that mobilizes parents.

DO set up a secret code in your family. In our house if one of my sons ever called any time and said, “Mom, I think I’m getting the flu” it was my signal to drop everything and go pick up my child. It meant he was in a tough situation and needed a “rescue.” Turns out he was at a party that was supposed to be supervised by parents who decided to be “cool” and supply kegs while they left the kids. Those parents should have been arrested, but I was so glad we had that secret code. I also have a pack with my girlfriend that if she’s not available I will pick up her kids, and she mine.
We’ve only had to do so once and we still are so grateful we had that pact. Also set up a secret text code such as 111 or 333–something so simple and memorable that your child could instantly text you that code and you would know to drive and pick up your teen, ASAP.

DO carefully think through if your teen really is ready to drive at age sixteen. Every study shows that most kids that age are not mature enough to get behind that wheel. Remember this isn’t about your convenience, but your child’s life.
Keep your teen safe! Please! This is life and death stuff. Nothing is more precious than our children. Please pass this information on to another parent. Let’s save our kids together!

For more information and specific tips on how to reduce risky behaviors refer to The Book of Book of Parenting Solutions especially the chapters on drinking, steroids, peer pressure and sex. Research shows that while there is no silver bullet that protects our kids, moms and dads who are “hands-on” in their parenting approach (adhere to a curfew, know their kids friends, voice their concerns about drinking and drugs, monitor their teens’ comings and goings and are not afraid to SAY NO) greatly reduce their teens’ risky behaviors. When it comes to drinking and driving, please tune up your “hands-on parenting.” This is a matter of life and death.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Sue Scheff: Fathers at School

Today more than ever we are seeing more dads attending school functions with their kids. Personally, I think this is fantastic and also helps your child to feel important and know they matter. Whether it is because there are more single parent households or a father is out of work, it will benefit your child and that is the most important element.
Fathers at School
“When I first started (going to my son's school) years ago it was very, very, scary. You know, I would go in and go places, and there were just moms there. I always felt like I was the odd man out.”

– Danny Montalvo, Father

The Obama Administration is holding a series of forums this fall about fatherhood and the roll that dad can play within the school. Studies show that moms outnumber dads 12 to one in the PTA and yet when dads get involved their child's grades go up.

Andrew's dad goes to school often. And when Andrew gets home, his dad helps with homework.

Andrew, who's now 11, says, "He's like, the best Dad in the world."

But visiting his son's school hasn't always been easy for Danny Montalvo. Danny says, "When I first started doing this years ago it was very, very, scary. You know, I would go in and go places, and there were just moms there. I always felt like I was the odd man out."

Research from the U.S. Department of Education shows when fathers visit the classroom and attend school events...their children get higher grades and are more likely to graduate.

Allan Kennedy, a licensed professional counselor in Atlanta says, "I think it also helps the teacher's perception of the student, when the dad is involved."

The research shows having dad at school even helps kids who don't live with their fathers. Kennedy says, "Particularly in a situation where mom and dad can still communicate effectively, his involvement in the school, even though he's not at home at night maybe to do all the homework with the child, research shows real clearly that the number of young men getting A's in a class is almost double, then when just the single mother does it by herself."

He says, at first, it's normal for dads to feel uncomfortable at school. "However, the more you get involved and push through that discomfort, the more comfortable you will feel, obviously, and the more that your son will see that comfort level growing, and the more he'll believe in the importance of having you there," says Kennedy.

Studies show that the risk of juvenile delinquency, substance abuse, sexual abuse, early pregnancy and dropping out of high school is six times higher for children whose biological fathers are not part of their lives. Other research indicates fathers who are interested in their children's activities increase the chances that they will stay involved with those activities. Consider the following:

■Girls who grow up without a biological father are likely to physically mature faster, reach puberty at a younger age than their peers and have earlier pregnancies.
■The most significant influences on children's choices of how they spent their free time were their own personalities and their parents' interest in their activities.

Tips for Parents
Taking an active role in school activities, such as PTA meetings, is just one way fathers can get more involved in their children's lives. Most children yearn for two parents. And most parents would agree that parenting is one job that requires more than one adult. New research supports these ideas.

Seventy percent of men between the ages of 21 and 39 say they are willing to give up some pay for time with their families. A recent poll indicates that the majority of men today are more involved in childrearing and maintaining their households than their fathers ever were.

Fathers may find the time when their children reach puberty to be difficult or uncomfortable. But their continued interest and support is essential for their children's healthy development. Children gain positive reinforcement from fathers who express interest in their various activities. A father's presence is especially significant during adolescence. Consider the following:

■Young children may take the absence of their father as a personal rejection. They begin to think their dad is not around because there's something wrong with them.
■It's more important for a dad to be at home and around for his kid's extracurricular activities than putting in inordinate hours at the office. Dad's presence is more desirable to a child than life's luxuries.
■Parents, and especially fathers, influence their children throughout middle adolescence.
■Parental participation transcends gender and relates to a mutual respect and admiration between the parent and child.
■It is necessary for all parents and children to participate in enjoyable experiences together.
■Psychology Today
■Time Magazine
■USA Today

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sue Scheff: Parenting Teens Today can be Challenging

Parenting teens today has become one of the most challenging jobs with a new generation of technology, peer pressure, substance abuse, and much more.

As a Parent Advocate, I continuously help parents with today's teen issues. Many call my organization, Parents' Universal Resource Experts, at their wits end.

Here are some article that I encourage parents of teens and tweens to take the time to read. An educated parent is a prepared parent. A prepared parent can lead to a safer teenager.

Click here to learn more about the author.
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Friday, November 20, 2009

Sue Scheff: Gratitude Recipes for your Teens and Kids

Parenting expert, Dr. Michele Borba, recently released her BIG BOOK of Parenting Solutions, 101 Answers to your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries. Part 3 in this huge book, which is formatted like a cookbook, she writes about "character."

The parenting recipes in this book are priceless! As the holidays approach, it is time to share some of these family recipes - all thoroughly researched and proven delicious for today's parenting. This book makes an excellent holiday gift for any parent raising kids today. There isn't a parenting topic that is missed.

This is not only a HUGE book, it is the manual the hospital should have handed out when your children were born.Part of your child's character should be gratitude. As Thanksgiving is fast approaching, let's review some of Dr. Borba's proven advice on character building with gratitude. This is a sneak peek of inside the Big Book of Parenting Solutions:

Thank you ABCs. This one is great for younger kids to do at the dinner table. You and your kids say the alphabet together, but for each letter include something you are grateful for: A, Aunt Helen; B, my brother; C, my cat and so on. Take it up one notch by having the person explain why he is grateful. Families with small kids rarely get beyond H, but the point is that you're having fun together, and your kids are also learning to be appreciative. Older kids can reveal one thing they are grateful for that happened to them during the day and why.

Prayers of thanksgiving. Say a prayer of thanks together before meals. Some families take turns so that each night a different member leads the prayer.

Bedtime family blessings. Each child exchanges messages of appreciation for one another, followed by a goodnight hug and kiss.

Gratitude letters. Your child writes a letter to someone who has made a positive difference in his life but whom he has probably not thanked properly in the past (such as his teacher, coach, scoutmaster, or grandparent). Research shows that to maximize the impact, your child should read the letter to the person face to face. If the person lives far away, videotape your child reading the note and send it to the recipient, or have the child read his not over the phone.

Gratitude journals. Younger kids can draw or dictate things they are most grateful for; older kids can write in a diary or in a computer. Just remember to start one for yourself or for your family. Research show that your kids should write something they feel grateful for four times a week and continue for at least three weeks.

Focus on giving, not getting. Involve your child in the process of choosing, making and wrapping gifts. Give your kid the honor of handing out the presents to relatives during the holidays and giving a thank-you gift to the hostess, teacher, or coach. Switching the emphasis from the role of the getter to that of the giver may help your child recognize the effort and thoughtfulness that goes into selecting those gifts.

This is only a fraction of Michele Borba's BIG BOOK of Parenting Solutions, she also states that practicing gratitude 365 days a year is what is important, not just at the holidays. Order this book today, whether for yourself or as a holiday gift and get ready to be blown away at all the valuable information you will read.For those busy parents that don't have time to read, this is the perfect book for you since it is not the type of book you sit down to read. As parenting questions come up, you can go straight to the index and find the page number. Immediately you will see the pages divided by boxes, quick tips and advice and easy to read and understand resources. Did I mention she also lists proven statistics?

Coming soon, more sneak peeks inside this Big Book of Parenting Solutions. You will soon see you need this book in your kitchen, I mean library!

Part 2 - How do you handle "ungrateful" children? Click here.
Part 3 - Seven Deadly Parenting Styles
Part 4 - Sex Talk with your Children
Part 5 - Gifted Children
Part 6 - Money Talk with your kids
Part 7 - Oppositional Defiant Disorder
Part 8 - Sibling Rivalry

Click here for more articles on parenting. Don't forget to subscribe to my latest articles, and you won't miss the sneak peeks inside this valuable book as well as other great tips, resources and stories.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sue Scheff: Financing Family Holidays

In today’s ecomony with the holidays about here, many parents worry and stress about how they will be able to stretch their funds to give our children the holiday’s they have had in the past. For those fortunate ones, this is probably not an article for you. However for those that need to buckle down and count your dollars, learn how better manage your finances and how to limit your charge card usage.

This can be the most exciting time of year for families, as it’s coming up on the holiday shopping season. People will be spending and charging hundreds if not thousands of dollars, so it’s important to not get deep into credit card debt. From charging holiday gifts to spending money on travel, parties, and decorations, many Americans are already asking themselves if they’re going to be in over their heads financially. Now as the holidays creep closer, anyone who is worried about their financial fitness should focus on making sure new debt doesn’t pile on top of old.

National Foundation for Credit Counseling to help ensure you, your family, friends and readers are taking the necessary steps today, before swiping that plastic this holiday season. has launched a series of videos, giving access to free information called “Financial Fast Facts ,” brief videos that can be utilized with minimal effort to ensure the right, financial steps are taken before the big holiday rush arrives. Simply log on to NFCC’s Financial Fast Facts and instantly watch “How to Know if You’re in Financial Trouble,” which includes financial warning signs and a quick quiz to help assess if you are facing financial danger yourself.

Now really is the best time to take stock of potential threats in your fiscal behavior. Remember, smart financial practices should not be put on hold simply because holiday season arrives; in fact, a more conscious effort undoubtedly needs to be made before the spending ever begins. Log on today to learn more, and also be sure to share your holiday, money-saving tips with us on Facebook by visiting .

Monday, November 16, 2009

Sue Scheff: 7 Deadly Parenting Styles

As Part 3 continues in my series about Dr. Michele Borba's Big Book of Parenting Solutions, we explore detrimental parenting styles.

"Take a minute to review each style and be brutally honest. Might any of these be what you're using as a parenting approach? If so, here is a crucial point to know: before you change your child, you must first change how you respond to your child. Might your parenting approach need altering first?" - Michele Borba.

Here are the 7-deadly parenting styles with a brief header. You will have to order this book to find out the answers! That is what a sneak peek is. For every parent out there, this is a must have in your parenting library. If only they gave you this book out when your child was born, it could have saved us a lot of bumps and potholes.

Deadly Style 1: Helicopter Parenting - Hoover over your kids, hurrying to smooth everyone of life's bumps.... (continued on page xxii in the introduction)

Deadly Style 2: Incubator "Hothouse" Parenting - Pushing your kids into learning earlier than appropriate for their cognitive age and developmental level... (continued on page xxiii in the introduction)

Deadly Style 3: (Quick-Fix) Band-Aid Parenting- Relying on fast solutions to temporarily fix a problem instead of aiming for real, lasting change.... (continued on page xxiv)

Deadly Style 4: Buddying Parenting - Placing popularity with your child above establishing limits and boundaries or saying no.... (continued on page xxiv)

Deadly Style 5: Accessory Parenting - Measuring your worth and success as a parent on the basis of your child's accolades... (continued on page xxv)

Deadly Style 6: Paranoid Parenting - Obsessively keeping your child safe from any physical or psychological harm... (continued on page xxvi)

Deadly Style 7: Secondary Parenting - Relinquishing your influence such that your children's world is controlled more by outsiders, including corporations, marketers, and the media.... (continued on page xxvi)

Next sneak peek: S-E-X, yes that dreaded parent/child conversation is here (page 394) - don't miss this!

For those that don't have time to read, this is the perfect book for you since it is not the type of book you sit down to read. As parenting questions come up, you can go straight to the index and find the page number. Immediately you will see the pages divided by boxes, quick tips and advice and easy to read and understand resources. Did I mention she also gives you proven research and statistics?

Don't forget to subscribe to my latest articles, and you won't miss the sneak peeks inside this valuable book as well as other great tips, resources and stories.

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Friday, November 13, 2009

Sue Scheff: Parenting Teens to Stay Safe Online

One of today's largest challenges for parents keeping up with their kids technology. Whether you have teen that is wandering through areas of the web they shouldn't be, or kids that are landing in chatrooms that are extremely risky, as a parent you need to be ten steps ahead of them.

Here are some great articles, tips, resources and more to help you be informed about parenting in the digital age.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sue Scheff: Teens and Movie Etiquette

Do you know what your teen does at the movies? Movie Etiquette - talk to your teens.

As a frequent movie goer, I must say if parents could see how their teens are acting in public, they would be more than humiliated. I am not saying my teens were perfect, I am almost afraid to ask them at this point (they are young adults now). I will take it a step further and say I don’t remember my generation having this much lack of respect for others, especially those in authority.

Then I was thinking, I am sure their parents don’t know and maybe if they did, they would speak with their kids about this behavior. With this, I am going to share with you some less than appropriate behaviour I have witnessed, and hoping that parents reading this will sit down and talk with their teens about what happens when they go to the theatre.

At $10.00 and up now for an average movie ticket price, I am confident that most of us would like to enjoy the movie – and the parents paying for their teens to attend, I am even more confident they wouldn’t appreciate or approve their teens acting like this:

Teens travel in groups, which is not a bad thing until: They bounce from seat to seat, constantly are laughing and talking (while the movie is in session), and let’s not forget the constant texting. The glowing phones can be annoying. When the cell phone rings, they actually answer it and continue a conversation! As a side note, laughing during a comedy is normal – laughing and chatting with your friends out loud when the movie is running and others are trying to listen, is downright rude.

Note to parents: Talk to your teens about this.

I am in South Florida; we are air-conditioned very well down here. Do parents know how their teens leave the house? I will share my experiences with my teen daughter. She walked out respectfully, however I soon discovered she had her alternative (less than appropriate) clothes to change into in her back pack. Parents, check that back pack!

Girls will come in with the skimpiest tops and short shorts! Their only way to keep warm is the hair on their shoulders that is constantly being fussed with – during the movie!

Note to parents: Talk to your teens about this.

Should we get into the teens that only come to the movies to “make-out.” You may think I am being a prude, and didn’t we all do this once? Many did, but usually they were at drive-ins (which are rare here or maybe even extinct in many places) when we didn’t have dozens of eyes on us. Parents, please talk to your teens about this. If they need to display this sign of affection, maybe you can allow them in your family room, since honestly – most of the public does not enjoy watching it. I would think the ones that do, you should be even more worried about.

Note to parents: Talk to your teens about this.

I am sure there may be some parents that think I am being ridiculous, however I believe there are more of us that would appreciate old fashioned common courtesy in the theatre. Today’s generation of kids seem to have lost that respect for authority, however it doesn’t mean that our teens have to follow that trend. Be a parent, be an example, show them you care.

Note to parents: Talk to your teens – period.

Note to movie goers: You don’t have to tolerate this behavior, find the manager, they will swiftly intervene and many cases these kids are removed from the theater if they don’t stop. From experience, many will stop, however you also have missed part of your movie.

Note to readers: I am not saying all teens are like this, but to be on the safe side, talk to your teen.
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Saturday, November 7, 2009

Sue Scheff: Holiday Jobs and Volunteering for Teens

Many parents will encourage their teenager to get a job over the holiday season. Whether it is for extra spending more or keeping busy in a constructive way, this can be a great opportunity to learn responsibility.

There are different options to consider. There is paying jobs and there is volunteering. Both can be fulfilling and teach your teen about accountability.

Here are some ideas to consider and encourage your teen to become involved.

Christmas tree stands: Shortly we will see fresh Christmas trees in many areas for sale. Even in South Florida, we have fresh tree centers on many street corners. Many will hire teens to help customers and if your teenager has a truck or vehicle that can transport trees (as well as a drivers license), this is a great way to make extra money with tips.

Wrapping Gifts: In many malls you will see tables with people wrapping gifts for busy shoppers. This is a great job for teens also. Check with your local mall for about these tables and who is sponsoring them. Sometimes it is volunteer work, however a great way to put a smile on people’s faces, and feel good about yourself.

Feed the Homeless: This is a job that the entire family can participate in. Take the time to get involved with a local church or contact the Salvation Army or Good Will to find out where you can help. There is nothing more rewarding than giving to others.

Toys for Tots: Find your local organization and be part of putting a smile of many unfortunate children. Whether you can pick up toys at different locations or help with sorting, get involved. Again, the rewards are priceless.

Retail Work: If your teen is of age in your state, in Florida usually 15 or 16 years old is the legal age to be employed, you may want to consider working in a retail store for holiday help. There are many benefits to learning how to work with the public. It is not an easy job; however you will learn tolerance and will also make you a better shopper being able to relate to customers. Not to mention the extra spending money you can make.

The list could go on and I believe that encouraging your teen to be involved in some way whether it is volunteering or having a paying job, can help them learn accountability as well as build their self confidence.

Learn more: Salvation Army, Good Will, Toys for Tots, Volunteer Spot, Christmas Tree Stands, Holiday Job Ideas, Volunteer Match

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Thursday, November 5, 2009

Sue Scheff: Making a Difference Through Local Organizations

One of the best ways to become a productive citizen is through involvement with various community projects and organizations. Every American community will have its own flavor of local organizations, and it’s simply a matter of finding out which ones are around to participate in. There are also a series of programs that are available in most places in America, and anyone who wants to be a good citizen can join. The main goal in joining these organizations is to connect with other people in your community while promoting a good cause.

Neighborhood Watch Program™

One of the most popular and effective community organizations is the Neighborhood Watch Program™. The Neighborhood Watch™ is great to become a productive citizen because it is one of the best ways to connect members of a community in a unified crime prevention effort.
If your area lacks a Neighborhood Watch Program™, then you can easily start one. All you need to do is gather a group of local neighbors who are concerned with community safety, inform the local police of your intentions, and get started with a new Watch program. The police will often arrange a meeting with Watch members and you can hash out exactly what kind of organization you w ant to run and figure out how you will work in cooperation with law enforcement. Then it is simply a matter of registering at the Neighborhood Watch Program™ web site.

The Neighborhood Watch™ is the perfect way to start your journey as a productive citizen because the Watch brings neighbors together as they gather for meetings and discussions on community safety. These meetings help keep the community informed of danger while promoting healthy neighborhood communication. Proper citizenship relies on participation, and the Neighborhood Watch™ doesn’t merely help connect neighbors but also helps protect your neighborhood from crime. Once becoming a part of the National Neighborhood Watch™ network, you can hold regular meetings and spread information through pamphlets and training techniques that the national organization sends you, this way you can help lead your entire community to a safer way of living, and as everyone looks out for each other it promotes a greater sense of community.

Recycling and Composting

Another great option for community involvement involves local recycling programs. There are always recycling programs available to join in communities, often run through local school systems. Joining these programs is easy and helps promote an eco-friendly community view. You can even set up a compost system in your own backyard or through the recycling program. Compost provides some of the best soil you can ever produce and is a great way to recycle and reuse your waist products.

Becoming involved in these types of earth friendly activities helps show your children and the community that saving waste can help keep a community clean and isn’t even that difficult too do. If you are working on a compost system, you can use it to create a community garden in a local park; this can promote community unity and help beautify the area. People in the community will look up to you when working on these type of recycling projects, especially if you use them to create something more than just recycling, like a community garden. Creating this type of end product for your work to accumulate towards can solidify the idea of a good citizen in the minds of those who actually see you in action.

Red Cross™

There are a variety of Red Cross™ branches and splinter groups spread across communities throughout the United States, and it’s a good idea for serious citizens to become involved in at least some of them. There are a variety of different ways to become involved in Red Cross organizations, depending on your desired level of participation. Donating blood at a local Red Cross™ blood drive is a great way to become involved. Blood donations save the lives of large numbers of people each year are some of the easiest, but most rewarding forms of participation a good citizen can undertake. Truly dedicated citizens may take their involvement one step further and volunteer at a blood drive or a Red Cross™ homeless shelter. There are a variety of programs and events going on through Red Cross™ that don’t take much work, but do a lot of good, and these programs impart a powerful sense of pride in those that participate.
Volunteering with Red Cross™ not only shows leadership and drive but helps aid those who need it the most. Working with the Red Cross™ on any level affects a much larger number of people then you might think and can help bring others in your community to the same level of involvement. The most important action a good citizen can do is serving as an example for others to follow, and there is no better way than volunteering with a local Red Cross™ organization.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Sue Scheff: Teen Holiday Gift Ideas

It is not a secret buying for teens at the holidays can not only be expensive, it can be difficult. They seem to want items we barely understand (technology). With this comes high ticket gadgets which are difficult for many families struggling in today’s economy.

Most can’t go wrong with gift cards to their favorite stores, movie gift cards, mall gift certificates and don’t forget good old fashion cold cash is the best to satisfy most teens. However when I speak with parents of teens today, their financial resources is strained more than usual.

Buying gift certificates are always good, however we have to remember many of the items our teens want are more than an average gift card. What does this mean? Usually you will end up spending more to make up for the difference, or in some fortunate cases your teen will purchase within their means.

Let’s consider gifts that may not cost much monetarily, however will be priceless to your teenager. One of the gifts parents could give their teenager is their TIME. Sounds simple doesn’t it? With today’s fast paced world, usually both parents working full time, or a single parent environment, one gift that will always keep on giving is “time with your kids.” Many are thinking that our teens would prefer to hang with their friends, however deep down I believe all children want to be part of their family. Breaking down the barriers can be difficult, but what a perfect time of year for us to try.

No matter how old they are, every child on some level craves for the attention of their parent(s). Positive attention: Not nagging or complaining about a messy room, failing grades or how they are dressing.

Giving gifts that involve time being spent together, having fun and creating your Kodak moments, can be priceless. Many parents of teenagers have lost the lines of communication.

Although movie tickets have become high in price, if you consider what the cost of buying merchandise and gift cards for stores, the cost of movie tickets for a family can seem minimal. Find a fun family movie, or a suspenseful one (make it a family decision), go out as a family and afterwards your conversation starts with a discussion about the movie. It is starting with common ground, all equal.

Family dinners are becoming a thing of the past. What about everyone helping with dinner and then moving to the family room for a movie or a board game? What happen to the days of Monopoly and Life? Yes, all about the family and spending time together. We need to move away from commercial holidays and think about what holidays are about - family.

This is one of my favorite gift ideas: Giving your teen their personal history! From birth to today!

Parents have you thought about getting those old baby pictures out and creating a scrapbook for your teen? Before you snub your nose that your teen wouldn’t appreciate it, think twice. Start from birth to their first day of kindergarten to their dance recitals, first soccer games and so much more! What about their first birthday parties? And remember those elementary school pictures? I am sure we all have some priceless artwork by our kids we can include. Give your teen a piece of their history only you can give! This is what you call priceless!

You don’t have to be creative to do this. I am far from creative but a quick trip to the dollar store or Walmart and you can start a project your teens will keep forever. You will be surprised, they may even show their friends! You are sharing your pride with them, and they will feel great. This will take time so start now for the holidays.

Thinking back, I wish I had a scrapbook made by my parents. Start today creating your memories and who knows; maybe you and your teenager will discover more things to talk about!

Get those photos out and start planning your priceless gift to your teenager! By the way, this gift has no age limits. I would bet grandparents would love receiving this gift too. The costs involved? Very little, considering the gift that lasts forever.

Remember, Walgreens, CVS, Walmart, Target and others can make photo prints (copies) for less than .25 cents.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Sue Scheff: Teen Dating Abuse and Violence

With the recent gang rape of a 15 year-old girl in Richmond, California, our country is awakening to one of the ugliest forms of abuse to teens. Sexual abuse, assault and rape of teens are horrendous and more attention needs to be brought on this subject.

Teen dating violence and abuse is an issue parents need to be aware of and learn more about. Love is Not Abuse is an organization that was founded in 1991 by Liz Claiborne Inc. Everyone needs to take the time to be an educated parent; you will have a safer teen.

Love is Not Abuse posted an informational letter from an expert on Teen Dating Abuse. Please learn more now and explore their website for more resources.

A Letter to Parents on Teen Dating Abuse from Pediatrician and Expert, Dr. Elizabeth Miller

Dear Parents/Guardians/Educators,

As a physician who specializes in care for adolescents, a researcher on teen dating abuse, and a parent of a teen, I am often asked by other parents to talk about the warning signs of dating abuse, what parents should be looking for, and how they can help their child navigate out of an unhealthy relationship. Unfortunately, there are no easy answers to these questions.

A Common Characteristic

A common characteristic of unhealthy and abusive relationships is the control that the abusive partner seeks to maintain in the relationship. This includes telling someone what to wear, where they can go, who they can hang out with, calling them names, humiliating them in front of others. Over time, the isolation from one's social network increases, as the abuser insists on spending time "just the two of us," and threatens to leave or cause harm if things do not go the way they want, "You must not love me."

Creating this isolation and dissolution of one's social supports (loss of friends, disconnectedness from family) are hallmarks of controlling behaviors. In addition, abusers often monitor cell phones and emails, and for example, may threaten harm if the response to a text message is not instant.

Parents are rarely aware of such controlling tactics as these occur insidiously over time, and an adolescent may themselves not recognize the controlling, possessive behaviors as unhealthy. "They must love me because they just want to spend time with me."

Warning Signs

While the following non-specific warning signs could indicate other concerning things such as depression or drug use, these should also raise a red flag for parents and adult caregivers about the possibility of an unhealthy relationship:

•no longer hanging out with his/her circle of friends
•wearing the same clothing
•distracted when spoken to
•constantly checking cell phone, gets extremely upset
when asked to turn phone off
•withdrawn, quieter than usual
•angry, irritable when asked how they are doing
•making excuses for their boyfriend/girlfriend
•showering immediately after getting home
•unexplained scratches or bruises

Sexual coercion and violence are also not uncommon in teen dating abuse. Again, because of the emotional abuse and control, victims of sexual violence may be convinced that they are to blame for what has happened. "You'd do this if you loved me" or "If you don't have sex with me, I'll leave you" are common examples of sexual coercion. In some instances, girls in abusive relationships describe how their partners actively tried to get them pregnant. Rarely do teens disclose such sexual abuse to their parents as they may feel shameful, guilty, and scared. Parents need to be aware of the possibility of sexual abuse, and to ensure that they communicate with their child that they are never to blame if someone tries to make them do things sexually that they don't want to do. And certainly, that no one ever has the right to put their hands on them, period. The physical and sexual violence can escalate quickly in these unhealthy relationships where the abusive partner has significant control over the other.

Advice for Parents

Perhaps the best advice for parents is to start talking about what constitutes a healthy, respectful relationship early on with your child. Sharing the warning signs of teen dating abuse with your child and saying, "If you know someone who's experiencing something like this, let's talk about it, let's talk about how you can be a good friend and help them stay safe." Please assure your child that they are not to blame for an unhealthy relationship, and that you are available to help them be safe and happy. Please avail yourself of the many good resources available on teen dating abuse for youth and adults.

For more information on teen dating violence and abuse: Stop It Now, MADE Coalition, Love is Respect, S.A.A.R.A., Rachel Simmons (Huffington Post).

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