Archive for March 2012

Monthly Archive

The big talk: Part 2 the birds and the bees

This is the second in a series of videos where Dr. Amies-Oelschlager gives advice for parents on how to talk with your teen about sex. In the first video, she goes over statistics and gives tips on how to address your family values, birth control, and uncomfortable questions. In this video, the focus is on how to start this discussion on an age appropriate level with your child.


Supportive Teachers

I have had many influential teachers, but there are a few who stand out from the rest. The standouts were extremely supportive, took time to encourage and build on my strengths, and served as role model adults who treated people with kindness and respect. They not only taught me algebra and Shakespeare, then helped fuel a desire in me to learn, persevere, and not give up despite a few stumbles along the way.

Teens and preteens spend most of their waking hours at school, so it makes perfect sense that teachers can play a major role in influencing teen behavior. Research shows that other adults, specifically parents, who communicate with teens and have positive relationships with them are less likely to have teens who abuse drugs, have sex at a young age, or have poor self-esteem. We also know that positive adult mentors in a teen’s life have a positive influence on behavior. Dr. Carolyn McCarty from the Children’s Research Institute published a study recently that has provided evidence behind this great concept that supportive teachers yield positive students. Thankfully, it is getting media attention. Read full post »

Parenting Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Teenagers, Part 4: Dating- Promoting Healthy Relationships

I was going to only have one post on dating, but there’s so much to cover. Welcome to Part 2 of Part 4! This post is kind of a catch-all for some other common questions parents have when their LGB teen starts dating. The main focus is on ways to ensure that your teen has healthy dating experiences (or at least give it your best shot.)

Sometimes parents feel more hesitant to discuss romantic issues with LGB teens. They may feel like they have less relevant experience, are less familiar with LGB issues, or their teen will care less about what they have to say. But so much about romantic relationships- including a lot of your wisdom and experience- is universal. Your teen does care what you have to say (whether they seem to or not), and they need your love, support, and guidance.

Here are some common questions that parents of LGB teens have, and answers- or at least ideas- to think about.

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Taking On the “Cinnamon Challenge”

When you were younger, did you ever play Truth or Dare? The concept is simple: the person whose turn it is indicates whether they want Truth (a probing question) or Dare. Dare can be anything from eating something gross, to calling a romantic interest and singing to them, to running around the backyard in a state of undress.

Currently, if somebody dared me to eat an ice cream sundae topped with mayonnaise instead of whipped cream (a memorable Dare from my past), I would politely decline. But teens are impulsive, thrill-seeking, experience-sharing, and willing to go a very long way in order to please their peers. At 15, I choked down that sundae, laughing and groaning the whole time.

Now that we have Youtube, it’s not necessary to have friends over to watch someone choose Dare. There are videos of teens attempting the most dangerous, embarassing, cringeworthy, and miraculous stunts you could dream of. But did you know that you can use Youtube to issue a dare? As more and more videos pop up of the “Cinnamon Challenge,” they are an implicit, and often outright, dare to try it yourself- and film it.

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The big talk: Part 1 talking to your teen about sex

This title is a misnomer on purpose. Talking to your teen about sex shouldn’t happen in one conversation, it is something that parents should discuss with their child on an age appropriate level and continue to discuss into the teen years. Talking about sex and relationships is a great opportunity to have conversations with your teen about your family’s values and to answer questions your teen may have. This blog is the first in a series of 2 videos where Dr. Amies-Oelschlager gives helpful advice for communicating about sex.



Parenting Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Teens, Part 4: Dating- Sleepovers & Sexual Safety

Gay, lesbian, and bisexual teens are just like heterosexual teens in that they will get crushes, probably date, and hopefully learn a little about themselves in the process. They will discover more about how to function in romantic relationships and what they want in a partner. The feelings, desires, and heartbreak they may encounter are exactly the same that a heterosexual teen would encounter.

However, there will be some differences in their romantic lives, and often parents are not sure how to negotiate these differences.

A big question that often comes up for parents is friendships versus relationships. While your average 15-year-old boy is unlikely to ask if a girl can sleep over (although some do), a gay teen may have many friends of the same sex whom he sees without supervision, talks to behind closed doors, or asks to spend the night in his bedroom. Does that have to change if you now know your teen is attracted to the same sex?

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Mean Tweens

A colleague was recently talking with me about her 12 year old daughter, a tween (between childhood and adolescence). She mentioned how mean the girls are in her middle school. Now her daughter is actually quite popular and has many friends, but there is a tween in her class who seems jealous and has made a conscious effort to disrupt her daughter’s social life. Her story of mean tweens reminds me of the movie “Mean Girls.”  Tweens are in early adolescence. Developmentally, they are not yet thinking of how their actions impact the people around them. Read full post »

Parenting Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Teens, Part 3: School

One of the main worries many parents have after their child comes out is the reaction of their peers (and even the adults) at school. Gay, lesbian, and bisexual teens- or those perceived as such- are bullied more than heterosexual teens. The idea of a teen coming out and exposing themselves to verbal, emotional, and even physical harassment is very frightening for those love them and want to protect them.

Schools vary greatly in their attitudes towards gay, lesbian, and bisexual teens. Some school atmospheres are very accepting, and teens with any sexual orientation find it easy to find friends and thrive. Others are more intolerant and homophobic. Your teen will likely know what the environment of their school is. Whether or not they want to come out at school depends on many factors: the school atmosphere, their own drive to come out, initial responses from close friends, etc. They may feel strongly that they want to come out, even if they are expecting harassment from peers, and that is their decision… but it still bears talking about, and planning reactions to any negative attention beforehand.

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Teen Girls, boyfriends, money, and sex

A recent news story caught my eye. It described the findings of a research study that linked teen girls, boyfriends, and sex. The study found that teen girls who relied on their boyfriends as the main source of their spending money were 10% less likely to use a condom when sexually active with their boyfriend than teens who had another source of income (like parents, grandparents, or job). Read full post »