Archive for 2012

Teaching Your Teen the True Meaning of __________

First, let me say that I will be continuing the series on teen pregnancy! I took a break to address the Sandy Hook tragedy last week, and since this is a holiday week, I thought I might do something more timely (and happier than unwanted pregnancies). For the rest of that series, stay tuned next year!

Given that many people will be celebrating, or have recently celebrated, a holiday, I wanted to talk about discussing the deeper meaning of the holiday season with your teen, and ways to help them develop their thinking around the topic, whether or not your family is religious.

Children often love holidays for the tangible benefits: food, family, and presents. Around this time of year, especially presents. Most children are materialistic at heart, savoring the prospect of a new toy or gadget. It’s age-appropriate, and we love them anyway. Teens (and adults) can also have strong desires for the latest electronics, tools, or fun experiences. However, teens are getting to the point where they can start thinking about the deeper meaning of the holidays, and if they feel like talking, try exploring it with them. Read full post »

Teaching teens compassion around the Holidays

Compassion is a virtue that some are innately born with, but all of us can learn. Developmentally, teens are wrapped up in their own worlds of friends, social events, and school; they may not actively seek out ways to show compassion, but the holidays are a perfect time of year to practice this virtue. Read full post »

Talking to Your Teen About the Sandy Hook Elementary Massacre

For most parents, the news that 20 children had been murdered at their school felt like a punch in the stomach. Anyone who has a child, no matter what their age, felt a wave of sorrow as they imagined what the parents who lost their sons and daughters are feeling. Dr. Swanson at Seattle Mama Doc and the New York Times both have great posts about discussing the tragedy with younger children (as well as dealing with your own emotions.) I want to address how teens may be feeling, and what to explore with them.

First, sit down and listen. Ask open-ended questions like, “How did you hear about it?”, “How does all this make you feel?”, and “How have your friends reacted?” If you think they’re mature enough, you can ask what everyone in the nation is asking themselves: “Do you think there is any way things like this can be prevented?” Even if you don’t agree with their answer, listen and explore what they’re saying. You might learn something surprising, and even impressive, about how your teen thinks.

Here are tips for addressing reactions your teen might have to this event: Read full post »

Sexually Transmitted Infections: Part 2 HIV/AIDS

The topic of sexuality is challenging to discuss in our society and culture, so tackling the subject of sexually transmitted infections (STI’s) is even harder, yet teens and young adults are more likely to get an STI than older adults. One infection that has changed our society forever is human immunodeficiency virus or HIV. It’s the virus that leads to acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). In the early days of new infection (the 1980’s), the virus was nearly synonymous with a death sentence, an incurable infection that we, in medicine, did not know much about. A recent CDC report shows that of the 50,000 people infected with HIV each year, 1 in 4 is a teen or young adult. In light of those numbers, it’s critical that teens have the facts about HIV and how to prevent it.

I remember watching the movie Philadelphia, with Tom Hanks and being deeply saddened. This was one of my first exposures to how HIV/AIDS could destroy a person’s quality of life and take an emotional toll on loved ones. It portrays a young, successful lawyer in the 1980’s who gets HIV from a partner and chronicles his struggles to find acceptance amongst peers and fight for his rights. Read full post »

Marijuana legalization: what parents can say to their children

With the decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana and marijuana-infused foods and beverages in Washington state this week, and the development of a commercial marijuana market over the next year, parents are asking what they should say to their children.

Since parents are the primary influence on adolescent behavior, even if it may not seem that way, it is important to discuss the new law and what is expected in your family.  High school students who smoke marijuana report that they started between the ages of 13 -14 so conversations need to start early.

First, ask children what they know about marijuana.  This is a good time to correct the many myths about marijuana.  For example, many teenagers tell us that marijuana cures cancer.  This is not true.

Then move on to the facts. Read full post »

Teen Pregnancy, Part 4: Adoption

One option for pregnant teens is to bear the pregnancy to term, have the baby, and put it up for adoption. 2-3% of teens who are pregnant choose this route. However, the term “adoption” is not as simple as it used to be; there are different types of adoptions available. In this post, we’ll explore resources, basic information, and options for you and your teen to consider.

Read full post »

Sexually Transmitted Infections: Part 1 Gonorrhea

Part of normal adolescence is the development of new relationships. Teens have strong ties with peers and also began to have romantic relationships. Many teens also choose to start having sex. In fact nearly half (47%) of all high school students have had sex before. With sex comes consequences: intense feelings, possible heart break, as well as the risk of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. Unfortunately, 15-24 year old’s account for almost half of the 19 million new sexually transmitted infections (STI) that occur each year (even though this age group is only a quarter of the US population), but I want to be clear that any person who has sex is at risk for an STI. In this post, I’ll focus on gonorrhea. Read full post »

Teen Pregnancy, Part 3: Making the Decision

Pregnant teens have three options when they are pregnant: They can terminate the pregnancy, or they can carry the pregnancy to term and either raise the child or arrange for an adoption. No matter what happens, this is a decision and a time your teen will always remember. You’ll remember it, too.

It’s vital that you never coerce or force your teen into a choice about her pregnancy. Not only will she be left feeling powerless, but she may feel betrayed by you; that’s not something either of you should have to live with. However, your input and guidance may help her through a difficult time. If there is a choice you are hoping she will make, or one that falls in line with the values of your family, tell her, while making it clear that it’s her decision and you will respect the one she makes.
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Sexually Transmitted Infections in Teens: An overview of an uncomfortable topic

This is the start of an entire series on sexually transmitted infections (STI’s) in teens. Rather than starting the series with gruesome pictures or detailed descriptions of specific infections, let’s talk a bit about teens and sexuality. Read full post »

Teen Pregnancy, Part 2: Young Men and Teen Pregnancy

Male teenagers who are involved in a teen pregnancy often don’t get much attention. And yet while the young woman bears the physical effects, a pregnancy takes two people. If your teen son is involved in a pregnancy, his reaction may surprise you. He may be expecting to do absolutely nothing regarding this pregnancy and “let her take care of it”, or he may be planning to get married and help raise the child. He may have no idea what he wants. He may feel angry, excited, miserable, joyful, apathetic, guilty, or a confusing combination of emotions. If this pregnancy is unwanted, as many teen pregnancies are, he may be having visions of a “worst case scenario”- whatever that means to him. Read full post »