Tag Archive - teens

4 Ways Suzuki Applies to Family Social Media Training

I was a Suzuki mom. My kids started violin lessons at age 3. We later moved beyond Suzuki, but I applied many of the things I learned as a Suzuki mom to later help my son with speech therapy when he was a preschooler.

Now, as I train parents, youth leaders, and teens on social media, basic tenets of Suzuki training apply to teaching teens to use it well.

  1. Learning begins young. Age 13 is the minimum for social media sites like Facebook. I support that minimum and also believe that’s a good time for parents to introduce their kids to limited social media use where they learn to use it well.  It is easier to friend and guide a 13 year old than it is a 15 or 18 year old. Teach them well while they are more likely to listen. As we moved back driving ages, more teens have opted not to do any drivers ed but to simply get their licenses at age 18. And now studies are showing an increase in traffic fatalities among these 18 year olds because they never learned to drive well or with training. The same applies to social media.
  2. Nurture by love. Kids who feel loved and connected are going to be more likely to reflect that in their social media content. Once I heard a teen refer to another mom, “I feel sorry for her kids when they are sick. She complains on Facebook about it so much they must think she hates them.” What is she teaching them?
  3. Good examples inspire greatness. Parents and youth leaders who model using social media for good lead by example. Teach teens by example to promote their communities and encourage others. Kids learn to talk by listening to their parents. They are still listening – and reading – as teens.
  4. Listen. Suzuki parents listen to their kids play and help them improve, a little at a time, with positive encouragement.  Sometimes I tell parents to see what their kids are doing on social media, and they refuse. Their kids might be asking for help or need some encouragement. Other times, parents listen, and we help their kids avoid driving off a cliff. Many parents have no clue what their kids are posting on Facebook or Twitter.

Savvy social media use will matter for teens when they pursue jobs, college entrance, and scholarships. Social media background checks are and will be the norm.  

My kids know I can access their latest Facebook statuses with 2 clicks on my smartphone. In my parenting via social media classes, I tell the story of how I responded and what happened the day my phone joined the wrong teen’s Facebook profile to my daughter’s contact – and the OTHER girl posted an expletive ridden update about her family.

Families invest time and money helping their teens prep for college entrance exams. They often hire tutors if needed and make sure their kids have well-rounded outside activities.

It is now equally imperative that families work with teens on smart social media use that helps – and doesn’t hurt – their future college and career options.  

Teens who use social media well, especially those who are funny, can set themselves above the pack at scholarship time.

How Not to Parent on Facebook

I am absolutely sick.

I just watched that viral Youtube with the angry dad who shoots his daughter’s laptop. I won’t embed it because it embodies on many levels what can go wrong with parents who don’t interact well with their teens on social media.

The mistakes?

  • Don’t humiliate people online. Even if people are out of line, public humiliation never improves a situation.
  • Don’t post when angry. I’ve done it, and I’ve learned from mistakes. When angry, step away from the keyboard and put down the phone.
  • Don’t destroy property. This is hard as a parent – there are times as a parent of teens, I have gotten that angry. Physical violence does not solve problems.
  • Don’t respond to anger with more anger. Anger + anger = more anger, not resolution of a problem.

I teach community classes to youth organizations and church groups – on how to work with young people on social media. I share my own mistakes and experiences as a mother of Facebooking teens.

Like every parent of teens, there are moments I have felt that absolute hit the wall frustration. The best advice I was ever given was by a more experienced mom who advised me to approach discipline issues with a perspective of how to address the problem but not block lines of communication.

Shooting a teen’s laptop and posting it on Youtube will not improve family dynamics.

My older teen will leave home in 6 months for college. With each day, I realize that our time before she leaves is precious; even when we’re angry at each other, I’ve got to find ways to make it better.

We all know our time with kids passes quickly; what happens if a tragedy strikes right now, with this family, before they can make peace and find resolution? This angry video would stand as the tombstone on the grave of their family peace and happiness for lifetimes.

I’ve been at the receiving end of public humiliation. Once when I was a toddler in church, as my parents were musicians, I sat in a pew and decided I had had enough being good in church. So I kicked the pew in front of me with my dress shoes. And I kept kicking and pounding the pew, which echoed so loudly I woke up the guy in choir who always slept through the sermons. The lady who was supposed to watch me did not stop me. As soon as the service ended, my mother marched into the congregation and whipped me in front of everyone. I never kicked a pew again.

Yes, I needed to be taught a better way to behave. Public humiliation was not the way to make that happen. I still remember that Sunday morning over 40 years ago.

Like the dad in the video, I had a tough road and worked my own way through it. Thank God my teens have an easier life and know what it’s like to have the childhood I didn’t.

Parents do need to monitor and respond to how their teens interact on social media.

This video, however, is a tragic testimony in how not to socially parent.

GMO Wars Across the Dinner Table

I'm here with you.photo © 2009 Kevin Lallier | more info (via: Wylio)
When I decided my daughter’s first birthday cake would be a carrot cake made with whole wheat flour, I should have known God’s humor would one day smack me.

Though I have relaxed, when my children were babies, I was a nutrition Nazi. Processed foods didn’t touch our table. When my daughter was three and ate her first Twinkie, she buzzed for 3 hours like she was on a drug-induced high.

I have relaxed but still grind my own wheat when I bake bread and buy the no corn syrup, no additives wheat varieties when I buy bread.  We grow a garden, and I preserve as much as I can.  When we have enough produce, I’ll make our own pizza and tomato sauce, applesauce, pearsauce, and more to last through the next year. We have backyard chickens so our eggs have a higher nutrition content and better flavor. 

So how will God show humor to the mother who cringes at lunch meat and refused to allow her children to ingest any artificial sweeteners before they were 10?

  • My son loves junk food, especially white bread and ravioli out of a can. His favorite food is hot dogs, and he could host Teen Boy Versus Food, with weekly dares on how much junk he can ingest in a single sitting.
  • My 17-year-old daughter likes nutritious foods, but her interests took a different tack. She is passionate about food production and agriculture and plans to spend her life working in the marketing/business end of food and agriculture. In the farm to fork spectrum, she’s more interested in the farm.

Now the clincher:

My daughter loves GMO foods and wants to help create more of them. She’s opposed to the introduction of any animal or human strains in plant breeding but passionately believes that GMO can reduce world hunger in a world of increased populations and decreased land availability to grow foods.

How can I argue with a teen who tells me she wants to find ways to feed starving people in third world countries? She’s researched agriculture business and GMO foods for school research papers. I made sure she read the naturalist point of view. Her mind hasn’t changed.

My mind hasn’t changed either. So we agree to disagree. When I unload our produce from our CSA, community supported agriculture, which only raises non-genetically modified or chemically treated seed raised in a sustainable manner, she looks at the produce and sniffs, “You’re just one of those NON-CHEMICAL people.”

Yesterday, as we ate corn on the cob at lunch, I told her it was from the CSA, and her reply was: “I knew something was wrong with it. Look at the smaller ears and the smaller kernels of corn. Imagine if you raised a hybrid how much more productive the land would be and how many more people it would feed.”

I agree with her that I’m a non-chemical person. And I have chosen not to argue with her point of view. She’s on her own journey.

And I count my blessings: there are worse ways a 17-year-old could rebel than to support GMO foods.

Her family’s lifestyle will always be in her heart – I know that every time I see her feeding our vegetable peelings to her chickens in our backyard.

As she journeys on her path to feed the world, I’ll always be proud of her.

 

First, Last, First Again

Eternal clockphoto © 2009 Robbert van der Steeg | more info (via: Wylio)
As the mother of teens aging faster than I can imagine, I’ve spent this spring feeling like a countdown is on. In just over a year, my daughter goes to college. Two years after that, my son leaves. Already, I’m being hit with “lasts.” There are some things she is ending now, because she’s narrowing her focus her senior year to what interests her the most. Last concerts. Last field days. 

My life this spring was measured in spoons full of last, last, last, last. With each, the taste grew more bittersweet. 

On the rare occasions both kids are home and have family time, I savor and try to make the most of it.  It may not be a “last,” but it is a “passing fast.”

In the process, I forgot the Bible verse that the last will be first and the first will be last.  As I think of the lasts, my kids seize the ladle of life and go for firsts - first jobs, first driving experiences, first solo ventures.

This is not a funeral, and I need to adjust my attitude. Instead, it is a springtime of renewal, where I get to see my kids venture on their own paths, to discover and pursue their own dreams.

Go for it!

Shopping in a Mobile Age

Shopping’s changed from when we visited the Main Street stores on Friday night in Small Town America.  My phone is my  new road map for shopping success.

By Christmas this year, half of all Americans will own a SmartPhone or other mobile device. Smart shoppers will leverage their technology, and smart stores will profit. 

Examples:

  • When car shopping, a teen lags behind her parents in the car lot, texting prices quoted to her parents so they can later compare with online prices and other lots.
  • A mom at a meeting, discussing the need to make costumes for an event, goes to the fabric store online from her Nook Color, finds a pattern that will work, shows it to all in the room and buys it immediately. Does your online store offers pictures and access to make this possible?
  • While shopping at the grocery store, an odd cut of meat is on sale. The shopper hasn’t seen it before and checks her recipe app on her phone to learn more about it. It includes recipes, nutrition info, and shopping lists.
  • The fine print on the back of the package at the store is too small to read, so the shopper starts the magnifying glass app on the phone and reads what it really says.
  • The bar code scanner shows me every comparable price online and in the area. I may still buy from you if you’re local and your price is a bit higher. But you’re going to have to have great customer service and give back to our local community.
  • Shoppers scan a QR code – whether on a sign in a store or the back of a cereal box – looking for more information or coupons. One Boston sushi restaurant prints QR codes in edible squid ink directly on plates so consumers can get dietary information about their dinner.
  • Location-based programs a la Facebook Places and FourSquare can offer me deals or can help me brand myself or promote important events to others.
  • If I get bad service and the store ignores my complaint, my next complaint goes on Facebook and Twitter. I could photo or video my problem and share that as well.

Let’s Make a Deal shows the audience making deals with the emcee. In our increasingly mobile world, it becomes: Let’s Make It Mobile.

How do you use mobile to enhance your shopping experience?

Ode to My Sharpie

Wherefore art thou, Sharpie? How do I love my Sharpies? Let me count the ways.

  1. Public Speaking. Writing cue words on a note card or paper makes it easier for me to glance and speak without reading.
  2. Grocery Lists. It’s easy to write with a Sharpie on my magnetic refrigerator list. Pencil is too faint to read. Ballpoint pens fade by the time I get to the end of the word. Sharpie works best.
  3. Organizing. When I’m doing something like planning my life or my business, I write notes with Sharpies. Sharpies keep me focused on the big picture, the forest, instead of being bogged down in the trees. I also think more creatively – I can write all over the page instead of logically like I’m more likely to do with an ink pen.
  4. Food preservation. When I can foods, I write the product and the date on the lid on top.
  5. Connect the Dots. Or Dogs. Once when a friend was napping, her son used their black Sharpie to connect the dots on their dalmation.
  6. Community Organizing. My son saw me make so many lists with Sharpies that when he was 5, he wrote a list of his friends he wanted to invite to his He Man Womanhaters Club… on the back seat of my car.
  7. Substitute Socks. Once, my daughter went to a choral camp and forgot to pack her mandatory black socks for the performance. The director informed the choristers anyone not wearing black socks would have black duck tape as a substitute. So she bought a value pack of black Sharpies and colored her ankles black. Then she decided to design her legs. She got no duck tape. She wore shorts showing off her artwork on her bus ride home from the final performance. When I called her on the trip home to tell her we were getting our family portrait taken as soon as she got off the bus, she burst into peals of laughter and hung up on me before telling me what she had done. When I finally saw her “art,” I was so relieved nothing was pierced, and her hair wasn’t flourescent, that I was relieved it was only permanent marker.

Hint: permanent marker can come off skin and carseats with soap and hot water. (I don’t know about the dog.)

Sharpies help me think outside the box and try new things. That can be a good thing. In an adult.

Spawn Day?

As soon as I read what my teen had written as a birthday greeting on a friend’s Facebook wall, I nearly collapsed to the floor in a combo grand mal seizure/stroke.

“Happy spawn day.”

Where did he come up with this? What was he thinking? Then the dreaded:

What will other parents think when THEY read what MY kid wrote on Facebook?

I dashed to the intercom and paged Richard, “Get here right NOW!! Emergency!”

He raced up the stairs to find out what catastrophe had struck. “Look at that post! Talk to your son right now and get him to delete it. I can’t talk to him about spawning!”

He read it and told me, “Spawn means something different to a gamer. In video games, when you get a new life, it’s a spawn day. The status if fine. I’m not talking to him.”

So it ended. I resigned myself that all the other parents who know nothing about gaming would congratulate themselves that they were doing a better parenting job than the Bievers.

But then I got to thinking.

Don’t we want spawn days in life? If a spawn day is like a second chance day, then I’m glad to get them when I can. Maybe I can’t undo every mistake of the past.  Consequences last a lifetime.

However, I can forgive the problems of the past and make peace with them and spawn a new outlook in the present. Even if the same problems hit that have hit hundreds of times before, I can resolve to look at and repond to them differently.

When I change me and make who I am right now more giving and forgiving, I can change my whole world.

Which reminds me of a lesson I taught teens over and over again when I used to teach religious education classes on Sunday mornings:

God gives us room for second chances. No matter how badly we mess up, He’ll be there to listen and love us when we’re ready to ask.

I know I’ve made more than my share of mistakes. Even so, I got the chance to begin now, reinvent myself, and build a better life.

Thank God.

Today is my Spawn Day. It can be yours too – if you decide to make it happen.

Here’s to second chances! Cheers!

Mid Life Gone Social

Date nights are rare for parents, even when the kids are teens.  While we ate dinner at Gracies, I promised not to use my phone to text, Facebook, or Twitter while we ate. And I was so good I didn’t even sneak into the bathroom just to check messages!

I loved my fortune when it came, snapped a photo and used Hootsuite to post it on Twitter. And then had to reply to the comment a friend made.

After dinner, we went grocery shopping so I could buy enough food to fix spaghetti the next night for 20 hungry adults and teens. When I tried to decide how much meat and pasta to buy, I grabbed the phone, called my favorite cooking partner, and told her, “Phone a friend time. You’re my friend.  How much do I buy?” Saved once again, by my phone!

Richard said not a word of complaint as I replied to a few messages through the evening

Then I told him I was going to go urban and wear white flannel snowflake shorts on top of my red and black plaid flannel pajamas.

“I’ll snap a photo of you wearing them and tweet it,” he offered.

I said not a word.

“Think Ashton Kucher with Demi on Twitter, with the bikini shot. This would be your flannel shot.”

I nodded.

“Then I could post it on Facebook and tag you.”

I nodded again.

“Then I’ll alter the photo and use it in a blog for Copper Lion,” he continued. (our digital retouching business)

I nodded again.

“And when you’re finished, my turn. I’ll do my first video,” I finally replied.

“Good!” he answered.

“Topic? How I Bobbitized my husband,” I concluded in the most loving tone possible.

Pause.

“I think we need to rethink our strategy,” Richard concluded.

Conclusion? I did not wear white snowflake short pajama bottoms on top of my flannel plaid pj’s. No photos were taken.

Our wedding vows included sickness and health, richer and poorer, but didn’t mention Facebook and Twitter.  Nevertheless, we’ve hung in there, through AOL, Myspace, today’s online flavor of the year, and will adapt to whatever comes next down the web.

NOTE: This blog began at 7:47 a.m. I asked on Twitter and Facebook which of a series of topics to blog today. Humor – or my attempt at it – won. This is my response.

Should I do more impromptu blogs, with YOU choosing the topics? You Tweet or Facebook me a topic, and I reply? If you think so, comment or contact me. This could be fun.

8:16 a.m. Finished 29 minutes after I began.

Llama Drama and Leadership Training

Her Llama invitation

“I want to have a llama program and llamas for bring a friend night,” my daughter, the new president of an urban 4-H club, told the planning committee last fall.

A city girl turned Future Farmers of America member who participates with a Livestock Club and raises backyard chickens, she wants to study agriculture. After seeing a llama program last year, she’s been obssessed with them.

I stayed out of her way to see what she would do.

She asked the church hosting our meeting’s permission. They said yes.

She scheduled the llama lady. Then she messaged the head leader it was set.

I called to give him warning before he saw her email. Dead silence on the phone. “She told us she wanted it in the planning meeting,” I explained.

“But I didn’t think she was serious!” he answered.

“You’ve known her for years. If you don’t tell her no, she does what she decides. If you do tell her no, she may still do it,” I told him.

I knew the girl who designed her 5th birthday cake with an erupting volcano on a Pacific island filled with palm trees, with cowboys and Indians fighting in canoes off the coast didn’t joke. (Yes, I decorated it.)

The church called. Because the meeting room had carpet, they wanted tarp on the floor.  She assured them and me that the llamas wouldn’t poop indoors. And she packed our tarp.

She drew a llama graphic and created a Facebook event so members could invite friends.

As we spread the tarp, I gasped in panic that it was close to a denim couch. “Won’t they eat the denim couch cushions?” I asked.

“Mother. Llamas are related to camels, not goats,” she admonished me in her strictest voice.

I shut the classroom door, worried the llamas would get loose and charge through the church halls.

Meeting time began. The llamas stayed on the tarp. They did not escape. They did not eat the denim couch. And they did not poop indoors.

And several kids brought friends.

Huge sigh of relief.

A leadership lesson smacked me when it was over.

If we want to groom teen leadership skills in a changing world, sometimes we have to give them space to try their outside the box ideas.

Some fail. Others work. All teach lessons.

Don’t worry. Be happy.

Hakuna ma-llama!

My Prayer For My Kids Leaving Home

Fifteen years ago, I knelt in a hospital chapel, begging my unborn son would survive the day. My husband and I had a blood incompatibility (PLA1-). Our babies have neonatal alloimmune thrombocytopenia. My body destroys baby platelets in utero. We were going to have a PUBS, to transfuse platelets. It was early enough in the pregnancy that if anything went wrong, he would die.

Before dawn, as I prayed, a lady walked in, prayed in the front row, raised her hands in the air, and left silently. I will always believe she was an angel. I felt like Hannah, begging for a child, and her prayer being answered in church. My prayer that day: God,keep my son safe.

When our teens went white-water rafting, I begged God again. I watched rafting youtubes after the left.  When I saw the crashes, I stormed heaven again. When they made their first ski trip alone, I prayed them through the day. My prayer: God, bring my children home unharmed.

When we went hiking in the Smokies and my teens took a trail without telling us, I prayed. My ankle was sprained; my husband had helped me manage the Laurel Falls trail with a cane. Our kids didn’t want to go at my slower pace. When we got to the top of the trail, they were gone. My husband left to find them on the higher trail, while I sat on a bench, with my cane, waiting till they were found. For two hours, I waited. My prayer that day: God, bring my family back home. That was followed with prayers of God, how do I get back down this mountain if they don’t get back soon and Lord, I gotta go, there is no bathroom, and please help me not wet my pants.

Then they leave on bus trips. I fuss details and tell them survival strategies from my travels. I watch them board the bus and wait until the bus leaves. My prayers have now changed.

Hannah had a son and when the time came, she let him go to serve Elijah. When Samuel left, he heard the voice of God and discovered his calling.

Now it’s my turn. Let go of my children, a step at a time before they leave for college. When they leave now,  they may discover their calling. Their story has become their own, and I’m becoming a background pray-er.

Now my prayer is: Please God, help them hear your call so I know they’ll always be home.

Hopefully that prayer won’t be followed by, Lord, help this middle-aged mama not wet her pants.

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