Posted in Family, Parenting, Personal

Connection is the name of the Game

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back after a busy week at work, but I did take Friday off to hang with my kids even though they’re too cool to hang with their mom right now. They’re teenagers after all. 😉

Children go to school

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I’m worried about how this pandemic is affecting them. Especially since they haven’t been able to get together with their friends like they used to. So, I’ve made a concerted effort to get them away from their computers. I appreciate the fact they still listen to me. When I tell them to go outside and get some fresh air, they usually do it. They grumble at first, but they usually go.

I’ve talked to them about finding other interests besides their games, but my youngest pointed out that there’s nothing else to do, and unfortunately, he’s right.

So, tonight he was shooting baskets and I went out and challenged him to a game of horse, but he didn’t want to do that. He wanted to play one on one. Now, I haven’t played basketball in years and it shows. My youngest ran circles around me.

Four People Playing Basketball

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But the thing is, we had fun. We were laughing and giving each other grief. It was good to connect with him on a different level than parent and child. He didn’t trash-talk me too bad. He’s kind and has a good heart. I hope the world doesn’t hurt him. He’s a good kid.

Well, our laughter drew out my oldest and the three of us ended up playing horse together. They ganged up on me, of course, I knew that would happen. But it was nice to see their camaraderie. My youngest ended up winning the game, and he did gloat a little bit, but what I liked was how he was careful of his older brother’s feelings. He said, “It just goes to show that we’re both better than Mom.”

Baseball glove

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He didn’t rub it in to his brother that he beat him, too. That made me feel so good because when my hubby and I are long gone, all they’ll have is each other, and one of my goals with my kids is that they have a good relationship. I know life is hard and things aren’t always going to be easy, but I hope they know they can count on each other when things get tough. That’s what family is all about.

Children sitting together with parents and laughing

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It’s so important to connect with your kids. I believe by participating in something they’re interested in you strengthen your bond. One good thing about this pandemic is that it has brought us all a little closer. We appreciate each other more and I think my boys feel the same way.

Has the pandemic brought you closer to the ones you love? How has it strengthened your relationships? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Health, Parenting, quarantine, raising kids

Online School versus Wearing a Mask All Day

 

 Girl Writing on the Sofa

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Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a busy week of work and writing. My next WIP is going well and I can’t wait until it’s done. I really like this story, too.

But enough about that, I’m back today to talk about the issue of school in the fall. Right now, we must let the school know if our kids are going to be riding the bus, so they can set up routes and figure out how many kids they’re going to be transporting.

 

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I’m talking with my kids and my oldest is fine either way, but I’m not. There are so many unanswered questions. My oldest tells me if there’s an outbreak at the school, they’ll  immediately shut it down. That worries me. I don’t want my kids to get sick, so I’m leaning toward online school. I have a feeling we’re going to end up in that position any way.

In conversations with my kids, they aren’t looking forward to wearing a mask all day, but I don’t know of any other way to protect them. There are so many things we don’t know about the virus. I keep hearing rumors of fevers lasting for months and long-term damage to the lungs and heart. The thing with sending them to school is there’s more of a risk for them to be exposed to this virus.

 

Medical Mask - Coronavirus - Free Photos

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Right now, I don’t know what the school has planned. We haven’t been given those details yet. The thing is we have to figure out how much of a risk there is in sending the boys to school versus online schooling. I know that online schooling eliminates the risk, but I’m worried about the isolation factor.  We are human after all, social animals. How is this virus going to affect their social development in this time in their lives when learning social cues is so important?

 

There are no easy answers, that’s for sure. What are your school districts doing? How do you feel about it? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Family, Parenting, Public Service Announcements, raising kids

Predators in our Society

 

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. We’re in the dog days of summer and I love it. It’s finally that hot, muggy weather we all know and love. I’ve been running outside in the mornings because it’s cooler and I prefer running outside to running on a treadmill. I get time outside plus I’m exercising. Win. Win. I’ve also started a new WIP. I’m very excited about this one and it’s going smoothly right now. 😊

 

But enough about that. Today, I’d like to talk about a couple of documentaries I watched in the last couple of months. The first one was “Jeffery Epstein: Filthy Rich” and the other was “Athlete A.” The first one needs no explanation, but the second one was about Larry Nassar and his sexual abuse of gymnasts who came under his care.

 

In both documentaries, you see first-hand how sexual predators work. Whether the abuser is setting up the victim to be trafficked or he’s setting them up to be abused by himself the pattern is the same. They choose a vulnerable kid, ply them with gifts, and promises of a better life. When they’ve got them hooked that’s when the abuse starts.  In the case of Jeffery Epstein. He’d pick vulnerable girls and promise them money, travel, and training so they could have a better life then he’d get them out onto his island.

In the case of Larry Nassar, he would ply the girls with candy and gifts in the rough world of gymnastics, then under the guise of physical exams, he’d sexually abuse them. He was in a position of power and he abused it.

It took a lot of courage for these girls to speak up and report him. Can you imagine how the parents must feel? They believe they’re giving their daughter this amazing opportunity and they send her to this camp where she’s molested.

 

Athlete A Poster

This just goes to show you, you can’t trust anyone with your kid. Parents weren’t allowed out to the camp where the abuse took place by the good doctor. That’s a huge red flag. When kids are isolated away from their parents, they’re vulnerable.

We as parents must make sure our kids are safe. Remember, these predators don’t go after kids whose parents are involved in their lives. They go after vulnerable kids, and what better way to make a kid vulnerable than to separate them from their parents. Predators take jobs that give them easy access to victims. For example, camp counselors, day care workers, and even teachers. So, when a camp or an organization denies you access to your kids, it’s a huge red flag.

Larry Nassar

Also, when the organization doesn’t do anything about your accusation, it’s time to pull your child. In my opinion, in the case of the “good doctor,” he should have been suspended as soon as the accusation reached the president of the organization. The fact that Steve Penny took so long to act is another huge red flag. That doctor should have been suspended until a full investigation could take place.

Steve Penny must be held accountable for his part in continuing the abuse. It upsets me that he dragged his feet. How much effort does it take to replace the doctor?

 

Portrait of Steve Penny 2012

These documentaries are infuriating and eye-opening. The victims in these situations cease to be real people to the abusers They are pawns used to meet the abusers needs. Steve Penny is also an abuser because he enabled the doctor to have access to the girls after the abuse was reported. He needs to be held accountable, too.

How do you feel about the situation? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

Posted in Parenting, Public Service Announcements, raising kids, Teen

Human Trafficking: Crimes against our Teens #2

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a busy work week. I did manage to get some writing done and I also got a couple of days of running in for the week. I skipped yesterday, though because I was in the zone with my writing. Anyway, enough about that. Today I’d like to talk about keeping our kids safe.

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Last month, I received an e-mail from our school informing us that there had been a suspicious vehicle reported at one of our bus stops. Now, I take my kids every morning to the bus stop for just that reason. I’ve watched enough of shows like “Discovery ID” and “Forensic Files” to know how these predators work. They pick a kid and learn his schedule and wait and when he or she is vulnerable they grab them. So, I get up every morning and get those kids to the bus. I make sure they get on.

Photo on VisualHunt

We must be this vigilant now. Human Trafficking is big business. According to this article, Human Trafficking   your child is worth $300,000 a year to a trafficker. That’s a lot of cash. What exactly is Human Trafficking?

Human trafficking is the trade of humans for the purpose of forced labor, sexual slavery, or commercial sexual exploitation for the trafficker or others.

How do these traffickers work? Well, they start out grooming your child. They pick the ones who are needy. For example, if the child doesn’t have an authority figure in their lives or they come from a broken home and don’t have many friends. This predator comes into their lives and befriends them, gains their trust, makes all kinds of promises to solve their problems. Then when they’ve got him or her hooked, they start exploiting that trust and the trafficking starts.

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How do we combat this?

We fight this by being involved parents and vetting the people our kids hang out with. If there’s an adult that’s giving them special attention, maybe even buying them gifts, this is a huge red flag. If you’re involved in your child’s life, they’re going to back off because they won’t get your kid to depend on them like they need to, so they can exploit them.

These human traffickers are everywhere. They’re teachers, politicians, coaches, priests, and school counselors. Be aware of the people in your children’s lives. The traffickers won’t waste their time if you’re an involved parent. They target the kids who they feel they can exploit. Right now, it is the second largest criminal enterprise in Michigan. So, let’s put a stop to this and keep our kids safe.

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Thanks for stopping by and reading my post. Do you have any ideas how to protect our kids? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you!

 

Related Posts:

Human Trafficking: Crimes against our Teens

Posted in Parenting, Personal

Focus on Your Dreams

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a snow storm this weekend. It started Friday night and hasn’t really stopped snowing or raining since then. We’ve gotten close to nine inches of snow. Perfect time to write and I’ve been doing just that. I’ve finally arrived at the big scene where everything comes together. Finally!!

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But enough about that. Today I want to talk about the meaning of success. Success is different for everyone. Everyone has a different definition based on the goals they have set for themselves. Achieving our goals is an element to achieving our happiness. The problem we run into is when we compare ourselves to others who are on a different path.

Sometimes we get caught up in chasing the competition instead of our dreams. We try to copy or compete with a person instead of focusing on our journey and the steps we need to achieve our goals. I’ve seen this many times and it results in unhappiness. Why? Because we’re trying to be like someone else and who can be better than the original? Right?

So, we need to remember everyone’s journey is different, and not to fall into the trap of comparing our journey to someone else’s. We need to focus on the milestones in our own journey and celebrate them. We need to celebrate each one because they are important. We also need to teach this to our children. It will help them build their resilience when they run into the pot holes of life.

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By focusing on our own journey, we allow others to focus on theirs, and when they achieve their goals, we can be happy for them. This leads to stronger relationships and more happiness, just because we chased our own dreams.

Is it selfish to chase our own dreams? No. We all have a purpose in life and it’s our responsibility to pursue it. We all are responsible for our own happiness and when we take that responsibility seriously, we let our loved ones be responsible for theirs, and we’re all happy chasing our dreams.

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I know what you’re thinking. How simplistic. But it really is that simple, isn’t it?

What are your dreams and aspirations? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Family, mental-health, Parenting

Focus on the Journey

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. Today, I’m back after the holidays, Christmas break, and sickness. Yes, the flu-bug hit our home and got to me and the kids. My youngest had it the worst, but he recovered, finally. Then I got hit with it. (A nasty cough and congestion, but no fever.) Now, my oldest has it. Sigh. When it rains, it pours.

I had a blog post all written for today, when another idea hit me. Yes, I’ll save that blog post for another day, or maybe I won’t. I wasn’t too attached to it, but I digress. Back to the topic at hand. Today, I’d like to talk about focus.

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What I mean is this. I want to talk about how society tends to focus on the results of our actions. We talk about being “results oriented” and how this is something to be proud of. This focus negates all the efforts it took to reach the result and what happens when we don’t get the results we expected?

We feel like a failure. Our young people are engaging in self-destructive behavior and committing suicide because they’re so focused on the results, if they miss their mark? Well that’s when depression and anxiety set in. We need to change our focus from the results to focusing on the journey.

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Focusing on the journey, allows us to celebrate our smaller wins. For example, if you’re writing a book and you’re focused on the result of getting the book published, you miss out on celebrating hitting your word goals for the day. You miss out on celebrating that amazing description you’ve just written. You see focusing on the journey allows you to enjoy those moments and they are worthy of being celebrated. Don’t let society dictate whether you’re a success or a failure. You decide.

I remember my second born. He was a striver when he was young. He still is, but I digress. Anyway, he was a Transformers fan and one Christmas we got him these big Transformers. They were these robots that could be changes into cars and vice-versa. Well, when he first got them, they were hard to transform. I mean he would be so frustrated, he’d be crying, and I’d tell him, “It’s time to take a break.”

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He’d shake his head and wipe his tears and he’d tell me no. He was determined to get it right. He didn’t give up. I admire this resilience in my son. He’d fail and fail again, but each time he learned something that brought him closer to his goal. He was getting closer, so he knew he could get there. I admire this “stick-to-itivness” in my son.

His focus wasn’t on the result, but on achieving the next step.  This is what we need to teach our kids to focus on the journey and the results will take care of themselves.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my post! I appreciate it! How about you, what’s your focus for the New Year? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

 

Posted in mental-health, Parenting, Teen

Could Gaming be the Reason Teen Depression is on the Rise?

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’ve had a busy week with working and Christmas shopping and writing. So, it has been productive. I had lunch today with a couple of friends from my writer’s group. I haven’t seen either one of them in a long time and it was good to see them.

Oddly enough we didn’t talk about writing. We talked about personal struggles and dealing with life. It was good to talk with them and open up about our fears for our kids and the trials we’re dealing with in our daily lives.

 

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It made me think about how different my childhood was compared to my own children’s. With the advances in technology, I find my kids spend more time in front of a computer screen than they do running around outside playing games like Kick the Can or Capture the Flag. This got me thinking about how teen depression is on the rise and it wasn’t a huge leap for me to think the advances in technology are to blame. Is that a fair conclusion for me to draw? Click here to see a study regarding this question.

The answer isn’t quite as simple as a definitive yes or no. Because there are some positive aspects to video games. Gaming is a great coping mechanism and it improves hand eye coordination and teaches teamwork when teens must work with another player to accomplish a goal. However, there are some negatives. Gaming can become addictive and it is isolating. It doesn’t provide the physical activity a young person needs to develop a strong body and physical activity, or exercise is a great way to combat depression.

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Especially in the Midwest, where it’s winter for nine months of the year, it’s important for kids to get outside and get that Vitamin D from the sun, and it’s equally important that they get outside and move their bodies.

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Statistics show that teen depression is on the rise. Exercise and getting out into nature are excellent ways to combat depression. Gaming doesn’t have the positive physical effects that exercise does. Exercise and getting out into nature are not only good for your soul they’re good for your body as well.

So, what is the answer? The answer is two-fold. I believe moderation is the key when it comes to gaming. Limiting the amount of time kids are on the computer is a key component to combating depression, but we need to also teach teens other coping mechanisms as well. We need to teach them to value nature and to respect our connection to it, and to get them into the habit of exercising at least one hour a day.

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This summer, I’m planning on taking my kids for a hike at least once a week. It will be a great way to stay connected to them and hopefully will develop some excellent ways for them to cope with the turbulent teen years they are about to start. They’ll be getting out into nature and exercising at the same time. I’m also going to insist they get outside for at least one hour during the day. We are fortunate that we have neighbor kids near us, and they do get together and play football or basketball when the weather permits.

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What about you? How do you feel about gaming? Do you think it’s the cause for the rise in depression? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

 

Posted in Family, Parenting, Personal

Parenting: It’s not for Sissies

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving. I know I did. Although, it seems like the holidays fly by faster and faster every year. I love the holidays and it’s always great to get together with the family and catch up.

I was also productive with my writing. I got a couple of scenes done and I’m getting closer to the end. I’m hoping I’ll get this done by the end of the year or maybe even January. Cross your fingers for me. It’s getting close. 😊

 

But enough about that. Today, I’d like to talk about the sadness of watching your children grow and become more independent. I know they’re supposed to grow up and move away, but I get so much joy just hanging out with them and hearing their stories that it makes me sad to think about the time when they won’t be there. I’m sure every parent experiences this, but for some reason, I’m becoming more acutely aware of it every year that passes.

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I enjoyed all of it, watching them grow and watching their personalities develop. That’s why when I hear statistics saying that the suicide rate for teens has doubled. It scares me. I don’t want to lose my kids to something like that. So, I talk to them about depression and anxiety. I tell them that anxiety runs in our family and if they’re feeling anxious, they can talk to me or the hubster. But I worry. I worry that talking about it isn’t enough.

So, I try to tell them about coping mechanisms they can use to relieve their anxiety or stress. I tell them how exercise is a great way to calm your mind. I’m hoping to get them into the habit of exercising at least three or four times a week. Right now, they have gym class so it’s not a big deal, but later in life exercising a couple times a week will help them manage their stress.

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I’m trying to prepare them for every situation that comes down the pike, but this is an impossible task. Some things we can only learn through experiencing them first hand.  I hope I’ve given them enough so they’re resilient when adversity strikes. I hope. I hope. I hope.

I know every parent has these thoughts and feelings and I’ll get through them, but I miss those years when they were younger, and they came to me with all their problems. Those years went by so fast. In the blink of an eye they became teenagers with smart mouths and sassy attitudes. I love to hear them stand up for themselves though. It does my heart good to know they’re not afraid to voice their opinion even if they’re different from mine.

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Parenting is a tough gig. No one prepares you for when the kids start to leave the nest. Sigh. They’re not there yet, but it’s coming, and I can tell when it happens, I’m going to be a mess. Thanks for reading my rambling post today. Do you have any ideas on how to handle your kids’ growing independence? If you’ve got some advice, leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

Posted in Family, mental-health, Parenting

Why it’s imperative to Communicate with Your Teen about Mental Illness in your Family

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a weekend of picking out countertops, (yes, hubby and I have a home project) and fun stuff like laundry and housework.

I’m transitioning from running outside to running inside on the treadmill and I must say, it has been hard because running on the treadmill can be rather boring to say the least, but enough about that. I don’t want to talk about the treadmill today. LOL.

I was able to get some writing time in, but not as much as I would’ve liked. Sigh. There just aren’t enough minutes in the day sometimes, but enough about that, too. Today, I’d like to talk about the book I’ve been reading. “The Stressed Years of their Lives.”

 

It’s an excellent book and I recommend it for any parent whose kids are approaching high school or college age. It talks about how teen depression and anxiety is on the rise and how a mental illness can develop during this stressful period.

If you have a history of depression or anxiety in your family, it’s imperative that you communicate this to your children, so if they experience this type of reaction to stress, they’ll know what they’re dealing with. Sweeping it under the rug does not help them in any way shape or form. It only adds to their confusion and their shame.

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Sadly, when kids are experiencing anxiety or depression, they tend to lean toward self-medication or drinking and partying. When kids party too much, they can develop alcohol poisoning or even worse, OD. It’s because they aren’t experienced enough with drinking or drugs to know what their limits are. This leaves them vulnerable. When they pass out, they can be victimized by other intoxicated students who have impaired judgement.

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So, start talking to your kids now and tell them that anxiety runs in the family and it has many forms, like obsessive worrying, irrational fears, and perfectionism. These can all lead to an anxiety attack. Give them the information they need to identify what they’re dealing with, then give them the tools to help them handle the situation.

Unfortunately, we can’t prepare them for every stressor in life, but if we can help them develop their critical thinking, maybe they’ll have the tools to apply what they’ve learned from one situation to another.

In the book, it talks about how teens’ executive functioning skills aren’t fully developed yet, so that adds another dimension to the situation, because there’s no way to speed that process up. At least, not one that I’m aware of yet.

Photo credit: Daniela Hartmann (alles-schlumpf) on Visualhunt / CC BY-NC-SA

 

So, what it all boils down to is communicate with your kids, tell them if anxiety or mental illness runs in the family, so if they start developing symptoms, they’ll know to come to you for help or to seek out a mental health professional.

This book is pure gold for parents. I can’t recommend it enough. There is a lot to this book, so I’m going to be writing about it in a couple of different blog posts. So, stay tuned and let me know what you think! Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

Posted in Family, Parenting, raising kids, Teen

Mentors are Gold for your Kids

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a long week of work and writing. I’m seeing a light at the end of the tunnel, let’s home it’s not an optical illusion. 😉

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But enough about that, today I’d like to talk about being or finding mentors for our kids. I can make suggestions to them until I’m blue in the face and they won’t be motivated to try my suggestion, but if another adult whom they respect makes the same suggestion. Bingo. They’re all for it. I don’t feel bad about this. The reason this happens is because I’m their mom and I love them no matter what, so I’m always going to see the good in them, but another adult who notices a spark… well then it must be true, right?

I stumbled on this concept last year when the tennis coach asked my youngest to join the team. He had never expressed an interest in tennis, but just the fact the coach asked him to join was a huge factor. His father and I had been trying to get him to join a team because he’s very athletic, but every sport we suggested he didn’t want to participate in it. He joined the tennis team and enjoyed it so much that he’s planning on doing it again this year.

 

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So, when a friend complained to me about how her son was nominated for the National Honors Society at his school and he didn’t want to do it because he had to do thirty hours of community service, I decided to test my theory. I suggested to her  she have one of his teachers encourage him to join. She did and now her son is taking the steps necessary to join the National Honors Society.

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Teachers your kids respect are gold. If you can have them help you with your child, do it. The teens years are tumultuous to say the least and I’m not ashamed to say that our teens need all the help they can get. So, don’t underestimate the influence teachers have over your kids. It doesn’t take much. Just a suggestion or a request from one of them is all it takes. Teachers do make a lasting impression on our kids. There’s no doubt about that.

 

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However, it doesn’t have to be a teacher, it could be a coach, a scout leader, or a favorite uncle or aunt. It takes a village to raise your kids and finding them a mentor who believes in them is a great place to start.

How about you? Do you have any ideas that will help parents through the teen years? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you! I need all the help I can get! 😉