Archive for 2011

Who should pay for gas?

 I was recently chatting with a colleague who has 3 teenagers and she enlightened me that she spends a considerable amount of money on gas…not for herself (she bikes to work), but for her teen daughter!

Of course, the idea of who should pay for things spills over into other areas.  If a teen wants the latest fashion design, or really wants to see a movie with friends, who pays for it?  When should a teen be expected to earn money for things beyond the basic needs of food, shelter, and school supplies? Read full post »

Acne in Teens

Acne. It’s not a particularly glamorous topic, but it often comes up when discussing adolescents. A fairly normal skin condition for teens, it can lead to poor self-esteem, shame,  depression, and (rarely) suicidal ideation.

The onset of acne in adolescents can be chalked up to hormones. Both boys and girls, upon hitting puberty, experience an upswing in testosterone. This causes an increase in sebum, a substance excreted by the skin that can block pores and open a space for bacteria to multiply. A tendency to acne can run in families.

Some things that were once thought to cause or worsen acne, but we now know don’t, include chocolate, caffeine, makeup (as long as it is labeled “noncomodogenic”),and poor hygiene.

Acne can range from a small pimple to serious, disfiguring, painful nodules that need drainage. Acne usually doesn’t lead to medical complications, but it can cause serious psychological stress. If your teen is concerned, it’s time to treat it.

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Leaving Their Mark: Teens & Tattoos

Tattoos have become extremely popular in this day and age. Once thought to be only suitable for sailors or hoodlums, now even the most prim of grandmothers might be sporting a butterfly on her ankle. Tattoos may be large and intricate or small and simple, weighted with meaning or whimsical, but they seem to be everywhere. And your teen may be hankering after one.

It is illegal to tattoo anyone in Washington State under the age of 18 (even with parental permission), so unless your hankering teen has plans to head to Colorado, they may just have to hanker until they hit legal adulthood.

However, if your teen is anything like me, they may trot off to the nearest tattoo parlor as soon as they pass that eighteenth birthday. If you’re lucky, they may ask for your advice and input. Here are a few things to know about tattoos.

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Safety in Numbers for Teens

Teen safety includes topics like driving, drug use, and violence prevention. It also includes being aware of surroundings. In the city, we routinely hear about robberies and assaults on college age students who may be out at 2 am while leaving a party, but may also just be walking home from a study group. In many of these cases, the victim was traveling on foot alone, after dark, and I wonder if they would have been attacked if they had been with a group of peers. Read full post »

How Do You Discipline Teenagers?

A video of a Texas judge William Adams whipping his teenage child with a belt has caused a media furor (this is a link to an article, not the video), and many are calling for a child abuse investigation. I couldn’t bring myself to watch the video- and found it unnecessary when articles described it in detail- but it was brutal, a terrifying depiction of uncontrolled, explosive rage.

It should be obvious to everyone reading this that beating your teenager with a belt while screaming obscenities is not the way to discipline a teenager; it is illegal, not to mention violent and horrible.

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Teen Violence

Here in Washington State, the recent stabbing of two high school students in a school with a good reputation has made many parents and students aware of the implications teen violence can have on a community. Many of the communities in the Pacific Northwest do not routinely think about safety or violence. Parents are involved in community organizations, students attend homecomings and football games. Violent acts may go unnoticed or may be thought of only as associated with gangs, yet violence is a very big public health problem. Violence amongst teens and young adults is the second leading cause of death in the age group of youth ages 10-24!

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HPV Vaccine for Boys?

Recently the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended that boys aged 11-12 be vaccinated against HPV, a recommendation already in place for girls. It also recommended that boys aged 13-21 received “catch up” doses if they were not vaccinated already. I’m not going to discuss the safety and efficacy of vaccines in general- mostly because I don’t have enough room- but Seattle Mama Doc has wonderful posts about this topic in her blog. This post is specifically to address the issues raised by recommending HPV vaccine for male pre-teens and teens.


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Should I Let My Teen Travel Abroad?

It is the fall, and teens have started school.  Many are involved in sports, music groups, church activities, or other extracurricular activities.  Often, the opportunity arises to travel abroad.  The teens almost always want to go!  Who wouldn’t want a chance to see the world with a group of friends? For parents, this opportunity to travel is exciting, but at the same time may cause concerns about costs, safety, food borne illness, and lack of adult supervision. In the midst of the end of the Amanda Knox trial and her return to Seattle, parents may be reconsidering allowing their teen to travel abroad.

So what do you as a parent do? It is relatively easy to determine which adults (and how many adults) will be going on the trip.  The cost will also be presented early on, but there are a lot of other unanswered questions… Read full post »

How To Help Your Teen Through Your Divorce

In this day and age, having divorced parents is quite common for kids of all ages. In a sense, the frequency of divorce has made it a little easier; children of divorcing parents have some peers to compare stories with and get advice from. At the same time, your child’s feelings of confusion and fear are theirs alone. (Please note that by “divorce” I mean the breakup of a long-term committed relationship where two adults have raised a child – not necessarily the dissolution of a legal marriage)

Your teen’s reaction to an announcement of divorce may run the gamut from despair to relief to denial. Here’s some advice on communicating with your teenager during the divorce, and trying to help them deal with this huge life change.

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Teens and Cutting

Any parent or guardian hates the idea of their child being injured, and the idea of their child intentionally injuring themself is even worse. Teen who self-injure may cut, burn, bruise, or otherwise harm themselves, although cutting is the most common.

Parents or guardians who have discovered that their teens are cutting feel terrified, confused, and lost. Why would any young person do that? Why would my teen do it? What has gone wrong? How do I make them stop?

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