Friday, December 31, 2010

Underage Drinking and Parenting Teens

New Year's Eve is upon us and whether you are planning on going out or staying home it is important to know and  understand that buzzed driving is drunk driving.  They kill equally and destroy families in the same way.

Last year, an average of 62 people died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes each day over the New Year’s holiday.  Don't become a statistic and don't cause one.

Show your support to end buzzed driving by pledging to make good decisions by not driving under the influence of alcohol. Take the time to share the pledge with others and with your help, we can end buzzed driving.

I'm going to be smart; I won't drive while buzzed.

Even just one too many drinks can impair my driving and lead to devastating consequences. It's just not worth it. Buzzed driving is drunk driving so I'm going to make sure I make responsible choices that don't endanger myself and others. - Sue Scheff
Isn't it time you took the pledge?

Teenage and underage drinking is a serious concern.  Teens admit one of the main reasons they drink alcohol is to reduce stress.  Far less emphasis was placed on peer pressure surrounding drinking.  In most instances, teens are getting alcohol from older siblings and more often than not are getting away with drinking in their parents’ home without adults recognizing the problem.

As New Year's Eve is approaching, there usually is more opportunity for teens to be able to access alcohol.  Be proactive - talk to your teenager about the dangers of drinking and driving.  We know we will never be able to control what our teens are doing all the time, but we can continue to talk to them about the consequences of substance abuse and driving.

In St. Johns County get your teens involved in PACT (Prevention Advocacy Prevention Teamwork) and learn more about being part of a proactive community to help prevent substance abuse.

Learn more about Buzzed Driving Ad Council Campaign - follow them on Twitter and join them on Facebook.

Be an educated parent, you will have safer teens.

Read more.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Holidays, Gifts and Parenting - Staying Sane

During the holidays it is great to have guest Bloggers and Experts to add to my Blog.  Today, my good friend and Parenting Expert (also Today Show Contributor), Michele Borba has written a very timely and educational article.  Spending Time (Not Every Dime) Together for the Holidays! Especially today, as so much materialism has developed – compounded with a stressed economy – families need to learn the value of holidays without the materialistic aspect.  Read on and don’t forget to order Michele Borba’s best selling parenting book (scroll down).

By Dr. Michele Borba

Parenting advice to help your kids enjoy the holidays without splurging and find the silver lining in spending less money but more time with your family.

In the midst of our lousy economy, many families have decided to take holiday spending down a notch and cut back on the shopping and gift-giving. After all, it’s a tight economy, jobs are scarce, and the holidays can be pricey. The last thing you need to do right now is dip into those hard-earned savings. But many parents facing a toned-down Christmas find that their biggest concern is not how to cut back this year, but how to prepare their kids for fewer presents under the tree. It’s all about the timing, and now is when you should start prepping your kids for a back-to-basics Christmas.

The worst thing to do is to announce to your kids on Christmas Eve, “Oh, by the way, Santa won’t be able to make it this year.” Making that last-minute announcement will come as a shock to your kids after weeks of anticipation and excitement. It’s best to tell them now, but regardless of when you tell them, be prepared for your kids to protest.

At first, the thought of fewer presents might not sit very well with your kids, but by explaining your situation to them, you will soon find that your kids will understand. Cutting back this year will take a little effort, but with a little planning you may discover that it not only saves money, but also takes a lot of stress out of the holidays—and it can even make them more enjoyable. The silver lining to spending less on the holidays is that you will help your kids understand the real meaning Christmas: it’s the people, not the things, that matter. Besides, this is a great way for your kids to learn that the gifts with the most value don’t cost a thing.

Tips to help you cut back while still enjoying the holiday merriment

Set a budget. Start by taking an honest look at your family’s finances. Based on your situation, decide on a holiday budget that is affordable. Write down that amount and pledge to not spend one penny more. Above all, do not dig into your hard-earned savings. Financial security is far more important to a child than some pricey present that is all-too-quickly forgotten (or broken). And if cutting back makes you feel guilty, ease up on yourself. Children are much more resilient than we credit them for. And remember, you are teaching your kids a valuable lesson.

Share new expectations. Pass your new holiday plans on to your kids by simply explaining that everyone will be receiving fewer presents. Kids don’t have big expectations about the holidays unless we build them. A calm, matter-of-fact approach usually works best. If you are asked the “why” question, just be honest and say it’s because money is tighter. Use the “birds and bees” talk guidelines: provide details that are age-appropriate and only on a need-to-know basis. Your kids don’t need to hear dismal financial details or all about your mortgage bills. Just give your kids a heads-up enough time in advance to keep their expectations in check as the holiday season approaches.

Reframe Santa. Over the past several decades, kids have grown to believe that the guy from the North Pole can grant any wish. I think Santa’s ‘magic giving powers’ were due to manufacturers who wanted parents to buy more-more-more, causing the holidays to become a consumer buying frenzy. So take Santa’s magic down just a notch and tell your younger kids what our grandparents were told, ‘Santa decides what he will bring to each child. He has so many boys and girls to deliver packages to. It’ll be fun to see what will be under the tree.” You don’t have to take all the magic out of Christmas, just don’t build false hopes that Santa is guaranteed to bring everything your child desires.

Cut out the holiday fluff. When it comes to the holidays, the extra little purchases here and there really tend to add up. Think about all of the holiday paraphernalia you purchased last year—gift cards, ribbon, wrapping paper, greeting cards, postage, table decorations, etc.—and get your kids involved in helping you make them instead. For instance, your older kids can create holiday cards via the computer by typing up personal greetings, scanning photos, or decorating with online holiday images and emailing them to friends and family to save on stamps. Your kids (young and old) can create wrapping paper by decorating brown butcher paper or grocery bags turned inside out with drawings or cookie cutters dipped in tempera paint. Even younger children can make tags for presents with index cards and holiday stickers from the dollar store. Get creative with your kids. Not only will you save money, you’ll bank some fantastic holiday memories in the process.

Make the holidays for the kids. It’s expensive enough to buy gifts for your kids, but when you consider purchasing gifts for everyone else that you know, (friends, grandparents, aunts, uncles, parents, etc.) you can quickly blow your holiday budget before you even get to purchasing gifts for kids. Instead of shopping for that mile-long list of friends and relatives, forgo the gift exchange and put that money towards the kid gifts. Your friends and family will understand and might even be relieved that they won’t have to buy you something in return. After all, most of us wouldn’t really miss receiving another tie from Aunt Harriet or bath powder from your sister.

Draw names. If forgoing the gift exchange with your extended family is not an option, you could propose that instead everyone draw the name of just one family member to buy a gift for. You could also set a ten dollar gift limit. This goes for both adults and kids. Having a price limit will make sure that kids have to be creative in their gift-giving and will teach them about sticking to a budget.

Check out thrift stores. The best gifts don’t always have to come wrapped in their original packaging, and you don’t have to pay full price to give someone a thoughtful gift that they will love. When shopping for gifts, don’t overlook the dollar stores, garage sales, book sales at the library, thrift stores, discount stores, and e-Bay. By shopping around, you can find great sale items and perfect stocking stuffers at greatly reduced prices.

Emphasize together time. Suggest that family members give the gift of time to your kids instead of purchased gifts. Have a family outing to a zoo, skating rink, or to the beach. You can even go berry picking or kite flying. Teaching your kids a specific skill such as how to fish, bake an apple cobbler, knit a scarf, or throw a football is also a fantastic way to give your “time gift.” The point is that you are spending time together, and whatever you choose to do, being together often proves to be more memorable than opening up that “it” toy or electronic device that will soon be forgotten.

Suggest handmade instead of store bought. While preparing for that gift exchange, specify that a certain number should be no-cost items. Doing so makes Christmas less consumer-driven and brings back the true spirit of giving. Aside from crafty ideas, remind your kids that coupon books are great gifts that they can share with family members. These coupons can promise to call Grandma once a week, pledge to bake cookies for Grandpa, or vow to take out the trash for Mom sans nagging.
In the end, remember that the holidays are really meant to be about love, togetherness, and wonderful memories. ‘Cutting back’ this year may actually just be a blessing in disguise, a way to help your kids understand the true meaning of Christmas and bring back the real magic of the holidays.
Dr. Michele Borba, Parenting Expert 

Order her book today - Big Book of Parenting Solutions.  It is the one and only book you will need for many years to come!  I often refer to it as the Big Book of Parenting Recipes!  Michele Borba is our Julia Child  – Number one when it comes to parenting as Julia Child was to cooking!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

iPad Gives Voice to the Autistic

As technology expands and we see the latest gadgets grow, it is rewarding when we hear about the positive effects they are having with special needs children.

Over the past several months, there have been a number of ways the iPad is helping to enhance the lives of individuals with special needs and/or medical issues. The technology won't fix autism, a developmental disorder that affects the brain. But it's a leap forward.

iPad's are one of the most popular wanted gadgets among teens and adults today.  Did your teen put one on their holiday list?

Keystone Academy in Jacksonville, recently opened to accomodate students pre-K through 12th grades with special needs.  Instruction at The Keystone Academy is based on the tenets of behavioral education, which is designed to give each child the skills they need in order to benefit from their educational placement in the least restrictive environment possible.

"The iPad definitely has benefits, applications, that can be used with children, teens and adults that are autistic," noted one of the therapist's at Keystone Academy.

Children with autism aren't the only ones who will benefit. The new applications are also showing promise for kids with other language and communication disorders.

Learn more about the iPad and autism, watch the video.

Autism: What to do when the iPad is not in your holiday budget?  Click here.
Pricing and more information on iPad's, click here.
Be an educated parent, you will have smarter kids!

Read more.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Teen Driving at the Holidays: Car Accidents Happen

Teen driving.  One of the major steps into adulthood for a teenager.

As most parents of teens know, when their child is of age to get their drivers license, it can be a day of freedom for them and stress for you.
Are they ready for this major responsibility?  Do you know the dangers of distracted driving?  Are they familiar with the car's equipment?  Have you had them sign a safe drivers contract?

Although accidents are never predictable, it is very possible your teen will eventually experience an auto accident.  Safety first always, and whether it is a fender bender or a serious crash, being prepared is part of being ready to take the wheel.

Always have your insurance card, registration and driver's license when you get behind the wheel.  Whether you are pulled over for a traffic infraction or in an accident, you will need these three items.

American Family Insurance has quicklist of tips if you or your teen are in an auto accident.  It is wise to review them with your new teen driver and even yourself.
  1. Stop your vehicle as quickly as possible, keeping safety in mind.
  2. Warn oncoming traffic by using your emergency flashers.
  3. Help the injured, but don't move them unless absolutely necessary.
  4. Call the local police or sheriff, or the state patrol.
  5. Don't talk about the accident to people other than authorities, such as the local police, sheriff or the state patrol. Don't sign any statements except for those requested by the authorities.
  6. Make an accident report to the police. If the police will not come to the accident scene, make sure you report it, even a hit-and-run.
  7. Report the accident to your insurance company.
Be an educated parent, you will have safer teens!

Read more.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Teen Help Programs - Know the "Industry"

Don't be a parent in denial.
Are you at your wit's end and desperately searching the Internet for help for your out of control teen? Is your child a good teen making some very bad choices? Failing in school? Underachieving? Defiant? Runaway? Teen drug use? Teen drinking?

Are you considering a Residential Treatment Center (RTC), Therapeutic Boarding School (TBS), Emotional Growth Program, Behavioral Modification Program, Wilderness Program, etc?

As a Parent Advocate, I founded my organization after struggling with my own teenage daughter. My story has been widely read and published by Health Communications, Inc - original home of Chicken Soup for the Soul book series.

My daughter was harmed at Carolina Springs Academy. I won a court battle in 2004 proving my allegations against World Wide Association of Specialty Programs (WWASPS - the umbrella that Carolina Springs Academy fell under) and what they did to my daughter and the deception I endured.

It has been brought to my attention that Carolina Springs Academy lost their license and re-opened with a new name in 2009 - "Magnolia Christian School".  As they closed again in June of 2010, rumors lingered about whether they were housing teens at the owners home.  Now we are hearing they are re-opening again in early 2011 and their target is me!  (Don't I feel special).  Why are they so afraid of my story - they sued me to get it down, they lost - then started a smear campaign online - and I won again - this time over $11M jury verdict for damages they did to me.

This time Magnolia Christian School will be classified as a Christian boarding school, making it exempt from state licensing and staffing rules.  Now why don't they want to be regulated by the state?  Is this in the best interest of your child?

Learn more - visit today!

Your teen may be struggling - but that doesn't mean they deserved to be abused and neglected - on the contrary, you need to find quality care to determine where this negative behavior is stemming from.  Learn more about residential therapy on

More from Parenting Expert, Dr. Michele Borba.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Teens and Cell Phones

Is there a teen that doesn't have a cell phone?  Is there a teen that doesn't know how to text?  More parents are just learning to text, as their kids can go at the speed of lightening.

Does your teen want a new fancier phone for the holidays?  Have they earned it?

Each family is different when it comes to raising their kids and what determines if they get new gadgets or not, however what shouldn't be different is the laws laid down about safe texting.

Especially if your teenager is also a driver, they need to understand the consequences of distracted driving - whether it is putting on make-up, changing the radio station or iPod, or texting while driving - it is never acceptable.  When operating a vehicle your 100% attention is needed to be on the road.

Florida Highway Patrol offers these tips you need to share with your teen drivers:
  • Make safe driving your first priority. If talking on your cell phone is going to distract you, don't use it while driving. If you are behind the wheel and you get a call, just let it ring! If the caller wants to talk to you, he will leave a message. If you suddenly need to make a call, pull over and stop your car as soon as you can.
  • Keep your eyes on the road. If you absolutely must use your cell phone while driving, don't take your eyes off the road - not even for a second! If you have to dial a number, use speed dial if possible. Better yet, wait until you are stopped at a traffic light or stop sign, dial the number quickly, then place your call before pulling back into traffic. If you must answer a call while driving, make sure your phone is where you can easily find it without taking your eyes off the road. You should memorize the feel of the buttons on your phone so that you don't have to look down at it to accept or place a call.
  • Be Prepared. If you are expecting calls or know that you will be placing calls while you are behind the wheel, make preparations. Don't take notes or look up numbers while driving. Again, keep your eyes on the road. Use speed dial or keep all numbers handy. If at all possible, install a hands-free device to avoid having to take your hands off the wheel.
  • Limit Conversation. A cell phone is useful in emergencies and is definitely convenient. However, it can be abused. Drivers who engage in lengthy or involved conversations are just asking for trouble. It is very hard to concentrate on driving while you are trying to make vacation plans or comfort a friend in the hospital. You should not engage in stressful or emotional conversations that may distract you from your primary task - driving your car!
  • Use Common Sense. Know when it is safe to talk on your cell phone. You should not talk on the cell phone during hazardous driving conditions. If road conditions are not safe, traffic is heavy, or weather is severe, don't use your cell phone -- it is simply not worth risking a crash…or your life!
Be an educated parent, you will have safer teens!

Read more.