Posted in pandemic, raising kids, Teen

Your Teen and Pandemic Stress

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a busy week at work and writing. I’ve started the dreaded treadmill season where I run on the treadmill instead of going outside. I’ve finally adjusted to this even though I still struggle with motivation.

But on a positive note, I had my blood work done and my numbers look much better than they did last year. So, I’ve accomplished my goal. I’ve improved my health. 😊

Enough about that, though. Today, I’d like to talk about helping your teen deal with the stress and anxiety brought about because of the pandemic. It’s a tough time for them. They can’t socialize like normal and their activities have become severely limited. I bring this up today because we had a fourteen-year-old boy commit suicide in our state during a zoom meeting with his classmates. No one saw this coming. None of his classmates or his parents.

Now more than ever, kids need to feel connected to their families. This is a good time to do forced family fun nights. We spend time either playing Uno or watching The Office. I know. It can get kind of raunchy, but there’s some quality stuff in the show as well. For example, when Jim and Pam went to couples counseling and illustrated how to communicate with your spouse. That was brilliant. Kids need to learn how to handle conflict and how to express their needs. I loved that about that episode.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SIi8i3Pf3Ys&ab_channel=LaurenAmeruoso

The show also brings diversity to the forefront with the gay character of Oscar. I think this is important to show how to accept people who are different from us. It’s also funny. The different personalities of the characters are taken to the extreme to show how we can all get along using humor and sarcasm as a way of deflecting negativity.

Another way kids can deal with this stress is video games. I know. I know. I’ve heard all the negatives about video games, but in this time of no activities and no school there is still a way to connect with their friends. They can connect through their games. I like this because my boys can stay safe and still have a little bit of social interaction. They can do this without getting on social media. You still must take precautions. I advise them to not share any personal information with anyone online, but for the most part they play games with kids they hang out with in school, so it’s working. They can connect and stay safe at the same time.

I also encourage them to get outside for at least an hour a day. It’s harder to do now that it’s gotten cold, but they do get out and get fresh air and exercise. One of my boys has gotten into weightlifting and another has started running on the treadmill. Exercise is another healthy way to deal with stress, and it helps that both hubby and I run. We are modeling the behavior we want them to engage in. So, not only are we talking the talk, but we’re walking the walk also.

So, there you have it. Some ways to help your teens deal with the stress of isolation. How about you? Do you have any ideas? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Parenting, Personal, raising kids

Are We on the Road to Social Isolation?

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving and had a wonderful food coma that day. It was different this year with the pandemic. We stayed home and had a turkey with our immediate family. It was nice, but I definitely missed my extended family, that’s for sure.

Because we had a stay at home holiday this year. I was able to get some writing done. I’m waiting for my Beta reader to get back to me on my story and while I wait, I’ve been working on another one. I really like this new one and I’m hoping I can do it justice.

But enough about that. Today, I’d like to talk about the effect the pandemic has had on our society. We work from home. Our kids learn from home. We sit in front of our computers in our homes and do our thing. This is very isolating. I need to interact with people. It lifts my mood to just be on a WebEx meeting with my colleagues. I worry how this kind of isolation is going to affect my kids. The thing is they need their friends and the only way they can interact with them right now as we all hunker down and ride out this pandemic is through their video games.

Sure, they’ve invited friends over, but these visits are few and far between because it’s safer to stay at home right now. So, video games have become their social gathering avenue. So, I’ve been letting them play them more than normal. They need that social interaction and video games have been linked to helping combat depression. So, what’s a Mom to do?

I worry that this will be more than a band-aid, though, and it will become a way of interaction for the future. I worry that the next generation will not have strong relationships because their only interaction will be video games and social media. This pandemic is setting a dangerous precedent. We are getting more and more dependent on our computers. What with social media moguls gathering data about what we find interesting so they can plant it in our newsfeeds, and video games becoming interactive. It’s going to change the way we function in society.

I hope I’m wrong. I hope that the powers that be will make sure our communities don’t change, but that would mean our purpose would have to change, wouldn’t it? The all mighty dollar can’t be the only goal here. It’s going to have to be something bigger than ourselves and our pocketbooks.

So, what can we do until that happens? We can get our kids to take breaks from their computers and watch movies together, play board games, or cards. We can get them moving by taking family hikes and getting out into nature. Anything that would require face to face interaction. That’s how we combat this social isolation. How about you? Do you have any ideas? I’d love to read them, leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in current-events, environment, Family, Parenting, Personal, Politics, raising kids, Teen

Don’t Look Now, But Social Media is Taking Control of Virtual Reality

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a stressful week of dealing with kid issues, a pandemic, work, and writing. Because I had a lot on my plate, I didn’t get a lot of writing done, but that’s okay. I needed to take a little break and refuel.

But enough about that, today I want to talk about a trend I see happening. First, I need to give you a little background, though.  Hubby and I were shopping for a virtual reality headset for the boys for Christmas. We found one we really liked because it wouldn’t be obsolete in two years. Anyway, we were all set to buy it when we discovered that in order to activate it, my son would have to open his own Facebook account.

We dug in our heels and didn’t buy it. We don’t want our kids having social media accounts right now. Especially after watching the show “Social Dilemma.” I remember after watching that show, I made the remark to my hubby that soon this is going to be seeping into the kids’ video games, and not two months later we run into the above scenario.

This is dangerous. The reason being that it’s giving social media platforms way too much control. They are changing human behavior by creating personalized click bait for each member. Their goal is to increase engagement, so your child will spend his free time on their site. Now that they’re invading video games, they’re going after the younger crowd. They’re looking to expand their customer base and more importantly they’re going to gather the same information about your child that they’re gathering about you.

social media, likes, engagement

I don’t know how we can stop this. Facebook bought the company that created the virtual headset my hubby wanted to get for our son, so they can require this. No one is stopping them. So, what happens when your child spends more time with their computer than they do with people? Loss of social graces, loss of the ability to communicate face to face, and the loss of empathy.

All these skills are needed to navigate today’s world. What happens if you as a parent do their do diligence and try to teach these skills to your children? They’ll be the only ones with these skills and get lost in a sea of dealing with socially inept humans. It’s a sad state of affairs. I’m not sure what we can do to stop this from happening.

Do we have the government regulate social media? Who trusts the government these days? What are your thoughts? Do you have any ideas? 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

https://www.everypixel.com/image-1112566296841457387

 

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.

 

https://www.everypixel.com/image-5868038422952107777

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

https://www.everypixel.com/image-16846227259641020229

 

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 Family, quarantine, raising kids, Reading, social media

Quarantine: Week Two

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. My family and I have gotten through another week of quarantine and we haven’t lost our minds…yet. I’ve been putting my story together and I’m getting more and more excited. I’ve written this story differently than my other stories and I really like how it has turned out. I can’t wait to see the finished product.

Photo on VisualHunt.com

So far, my family and I have stayed healthy, so the quarantine is working for us. It has also brought us closer together with late night Uno games and binge-watching Netflix. I love hanging with my kids.

 

Photo credit: hannah.rosen on Visual hunt / CC BY

But this quarantine can be hard on people who don’t have a family. People who live alone can become depressed and lonely. So, check on your friends who live alone, send them a text to make sure they’re okay. This is a time to stay connected even if we can’t get together.

There’s a variety of ways you can stay connected in this trying time. Social Media is a great way to stay in touch and make sure everyone is okay. There’s also program’s like Skype and Zoom where you can video chat with your friends. At the very least, you can pick up the phone and give them a call.

 

Photo on Visual Hunt

Another way to fight depression is to stay busy. I’ve been working on my book, so it doesn’t register that I’ve barely left the house in two weeks. Hubby has a couple of major projects going on around the house that’s keeping him busy and the boys have their video games where they communicate with their friends. I’m letting them have more screen time because playing video games is another way to fight depression.

They’ve been reading every day and their school has a website set up where they can do some assignments. I think it’s great, but I’m not forcing them to do it. I believe they’ll be just fine when they get back to school. The school must adjust to the students needs and I believe they will.

 

Photo on Visual hunt

So, that’s how were dealing with the quarantine, working on our own projects and having more family time and staying in touch with my single friends. How about you? How are you combating depression in this crazy time when you can’t leave the house? 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.

Photo credit: yooperann on VisualHunt.com / CC BY-NC-ND

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.

Photo credit: dualdflipflop on VisualHunt.com / CC BY

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.

Photo credit: m_shipp22 on VisualHunt / CC BY

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 raising kids, sports, Teen

CTE and Football

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a week of working and writing.

Photo on VisualHunt.com

But enough about that. Today I want to talk about a documentary I watched over the weekend and since the Super bowl was last night, it seems appropriate. The documentary I watched was “Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez.”

 

click here to see trailer Aaron Hernandez

Aaron Hernandez was a talented football player who went pro and played for the New England Patriots. He also went to prison for murdering a friend of his. Can you imagine going from making forty million dollars and living in a mansion to living in a jail cell?

Photo credit: Jeffrey Beall on VisualHunt.com / CC BY-SA

 

I can’t imagine that. It makes me wonder how Aaron went from a pro-athlete to a murderer. After a second trial in which he was acquitted of a second murder, Aaron committed suicide.  During the autopsy, they determined that Aaron had CTE or Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. CTE is a degenerative brain disease that appears in people with repetitive trauma to the head. It’s found in military veterans, football players, and boxers. The symptoms of this disease are mood swings, violent outbursts, impulsive behavior, and poor judgement among other things. Now the reason I bring this up is because I believe CTE played a major part in why Aaron Hernandez killed his friend and finally committed suicide after two lengthy trials. He was only twenty-seven years old when he died.

The question I ask, is it worth it? The money and the fame, is it worth ending your life at the age of twenty-seven? My youngest wanted to play football and I discouraged it because I was afraid he’d get hurt. This was before I had even heard about CTE. I’m glad I did. I’d rather have him around for the long-haul than for him to go through what Aaron Hernandez did.

The damage to Aaron’s brain was severe. There are four stages to the disease and Aaron was at stage three. Stage four is the worst where there are Parkinson’s-like symptoms and dementia. According to medical professionals, Aaron had the worst case of CTE they’ve every seen in a twenty-seven-year-old.

 

The NFL needs to address this issue either by how we play football or by finding ways to protect the players so they can live long and prosperous lives. I don’t believe the NFL caused this disease, it’s the way the game is played, but now that they’re aware that it exists, they need to protect the players, don’t you agree?

Thanks for stopping by and reading my post, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

 

Posted in Family, Health, raising kids

Why is Childhood Obesity on the Rise?

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’ve had a busy weekend of kids, writing, and housework. I can feel the energy changing because it’s getting close to the holidays. I know it’s getting busier which means I’m going to be frustrated because I won’t have as much time to write. Boo. But it’s always like this during this time of year, so I just have to suck it up and get through it.

But enough about that, today I want to talk about our country’s weight issues. I wrote a post a couple of years ago titled “Is our Food Industry making Us Fat.” At the time I had just learned that food manufacturers had added sugar to much of our processed food so we would like it better and buy more of their brand. This added sugar adds calories, thus making us gain weight.

Photo credit: ubiquity_zh on Visualhunt / CC BY-NCCo

I also learned today that our portion size has grown through the years. I call it portion distortion. Many fast food places have made their portions bigger. For example, a portion of French fries twenty years ago was 2.4 ounces and two hundred calories. Today, the portion size has grown to 6.9 ounces and six hundred and ten calories. This is the reason Diabetes is on the rise and our children are obese.  Even if you’re exercising, there’s a good chance you’re still taking in too many calories.

Photo on Visualhunt.com

I don’t eat fast food very often, but there are times when I use processed food for cooking. For example, canned tomato sauce. Did you know there are two grams of sugar in a fifteen ounce can? I know two grams doesn’t sound like much, but why in the world are manufacturers adding sugar to tomato sauce? Because sugar is like cocaine to our brain. It turns off our over-eating inhibitor, so we eat more, and it is addictive. Doesn’t this sound like what the tobacco industry did to cigarettes? They added nicotine to them so people would become addicted and keep buying their product even though smoking causes cancer and heart disease. They didn’t care. Am I the only one who sees a trend here? To learn more about the negative effects of sugar consumption click here . Negative Effects of Sugar

Sugar does not cause cancer, but it does cause us to be overweight which is a precursor to cancer, diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. So, while the food industry isn’t necessarily causing these diseases, it certainly isn’t helping by adding sugar to our processed food.

Photo credit: @bodil on Visual hunt / CC BY-NC-SA

What can we do? We’ve got the food industry working against us. First, we can stop eating fast food. I know, it’s hard to do when it’s convenient and we just don’t feel like cooking. However, we must get back to the basics where we cooked our own food. We need to get away from processed foods and fast food. Once we do that, food manufacturers will change their products because they want to keep selling it, and fast food joints will offer healthier alternatives. Wouldn’t you agree? Thanks for stopping by and reading my post. How do you feel about our food industry? Do you think they’re making us sick? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Related Articles:

Is Processed Food Poisoning Us?

Is our Food Industry Making Us Fat?

Is Our Food Industry making us Sick?

An Insidious Epidemic: Childhood Obesity

 

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.

 

Photo on VisualHunt.com

 

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! 😉