Archive for the ‘Teens’ Category

How To Connect with Your Teens through Travel

Sunday, May 16th, 2010

By Luisa Frey

Creator/editor of

What’s one of the biggest issues facing parents of teenagers?

Disconnect between parent and child.

We all know the feeling of wanting to be closer to our young adult yet mostly we end up butting heads because of their desire to be treated like an adult but not really acting like one. Inevitably, we often feel the void that this disconnect causes.

However, I’ve discovered one sure-fire way to connect with my teen – through travel. While we can’t be on the road 24/7, I’ve found over and over again that when my teen daughter and I are away from our daily routine, we turn into different people – ones who don’t see each other as a “parent” or as a “teen” but instead as a complementary duo. And we actually have real conversations instead of those which escalate into shouting!

So what are my secrets to selecting a trip that facilitates connecting with my teen?


Last winter my daughter and I were going through a very difficult time. However, one day she walked into my office and said, “I want to go to Salem, MA with you next month since I’m doing a history paper on the Salem Witch Trials.” My first reaction was, “No way, we can’t afford that.” But then I realized that she actually wanted to spend time with me and that I was going to move heaven and earth to make this trip happen!

So I gave her ownership of the planning process and told her to choose a website to help her plan it; find out which attractions were open in the winter; price an affordable hotel; and decide how many days we needed to stay there. The next day she marched in with an itinerary she had created and an affordable hotel suggestion.

Needless to say, I booked the trip and it proved critical in getting our relationship back on track.


Our road trip from New Jersey to Massachusetts gave us plenty of time to talk, listen to music, or just be in the same space for a period time without one of us having to run out the door like at home.

Since then, I have discovered that my daughter opens up most when we are in the car and I am driving. Perhaps it’s because teens do not always feeling comfortable looking an adult in the eye when they talk about deep matters. With me behind the wheel, that scenario is facilitated.


Let’s face it – teens are most influenced by their peers and not as much by mom and dad. Why not use teen influence to help you plan a trip that your teens will enjoy? What parent wants to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on a family trip that their teen labels “lame” ahead of time? Instead, you can nip “baditude” in the bud by getting your teen enthused before you even leave the house.

One way to do this is for you and your teen to check out This blog is written by teens for their peers and parents and details trips that get the teen stamp of approval. It also features articles that are written by teens and their parents regarding trips that had some tension around them. These articles give advice from the teens as to what they would have liked to have done differently on those specific trips. Lastly, it includes teen and parent forums for asking family travel questions which are answered by’s teen bloggers.


When you check out, you’ll see a recurring theme: teens love trips that feature ACTION! They do NOT want long car rides, sitting in a cathedral in Europe, nor too many museum visits. They want to be out there doing cool, active things. This can range from horseback riding in Costa Rica to walking over the Brooklyn Bridge.

However, action needs to be tempered with time to “hang out.” This is not the same as down time on a plane or in a car. Instead it means unstructured time to listen to their iPod, watch a movie, munch on some snacks, or hang out at the beach.


During and after your trip, use the alluring power of social media to keep the trip memories alive. My daughter LOVES taking photos – thousands of them. The photos are great documentaries of what we did and what we saw. They also are the impetus for us to stand around her computer after a trip – her little brother included – and laugh at some of the fun moments of our trip.

Of course these photos then turn up on my teenager’s Facebook page. While some of us parents are not privy to our kids’ Facebook pages, you should feel honored that the trip you went on with your child actually landed up on her/his wall. Sounds like your teen might actually want to take another…and another trip with you after all!

Do you have Santa’s Phone Number?

Sunday, December 6th, 2009

Happy Countdown to Christmas!

Is real life really like high school?

Sunday, October 18th, 2009

high school
I’ve heard it said that real life is like high school; full of uncertainly, figuring out who you are and how you fit in and what group(s) you belong to. Yesterday, I attended my 35 year high school reunion from St. Edmunds, which at that time was an all girl school.

If that statement is true, that real life is like high school; the outlook is good. We’ve grown up, gotten over the things that bothered us, though I did overhear a few “You know, you made my life hell” comments, but all in all what you remember, as the great Streisand so aptly sings in “The Way We Were” is,

it’s the laughter that we’ll remember.

The best feeling I came away with is that as women we’ve learned how to be good friends which in high school seemed as if it was much more of a challenge. Good lesson to teach our own daughters.

All the best to the class of 1974.

It’s the friends you can call up at four a.m. that matter.
-Marlene Dietrich, German movie actress (1901 – 1992)

It’s a bird; it’s a plane, it’s a helicopter parent

Sunday, September 27th, 2009


Helicopter Parent: “A mom or dad who hovers over his or her children.”

In case you haven’t heard the term, “Helicopter Parents,” are always hovering–always helping–always rescuing–and always involved.

These are the parents who micromanage their kids’ play dates, science fair projects, and soccer game tournaments.

In high school they drive the teachers batty by hovering in at the first sign of a bad grade, making sure their kid’s schedule was stellar (with only the very best teachers), and writing those college entrance essays.

In college they are first on the scene setting up their kid’s dorm room (and complaining if the roommate wasn’t the perfect fit), and even calling the university president to complain about an unfair grade. Cell phones and e-mail have created umbilical bonds that are difficult to cut.

Well, now the kiddies have graduated and they are entering the workforce in mass numbers. It seems these parents are still hovering, but from all indications, their presence is now up a level — think “Black Hawk” mode. According to major businesses from coast to coast these parents are actually attending their kids job
fairs and interviews, negotiating salaries and benefit packages for their children and even demanding that the business call to let them know if their offspring got the job. And businesses are scratching their heads. What do we do with these parents?

Many are actually changing their long-standing practices to send notices of hiring intent to the parents as well as the kids.

This is over-the-top parenting. This isn’t mentoring but meddlesome, and it can rob kids of the self-reliance they need at this point in their grown-up lives. What can these kids fall back on if they have no internal resources of learning and failing because parents protected them from any ever experiencing failure?

Ask yourself a question before you jump in to save your child. What is the worst thing that can happen if you don’t step in?

If there was such a thing as a parent’s job description, it would probably say that we should raise happy, healthy, well-adjusted, independent children that contribute to society. Don’t wait till your child is twenty to celebrate Independence Day. Even very young children can and should have chores.

Though well-intentioned, the self-esteem movement of the last twenty years is what many believe to be the cause with the lack of self reliance many ‘twenty-somethings’ now face. Interestingly, that movement
started about the same time you would see those annoying ‘Baby on Board’ signs on cars.

It’s actually very simple. If you want your child to have self esteem, give them responsibilities. Begin when they are little with simple chores, and continue on as they get older.

Visit Parental Wisdom – Free Reports, and get a copy of the Chore Chart Ideas for a few ideas; add your own creativity. For example, if you want a four-year-old to pull up his bed covers every morning, take a few digital pictures of each step in the process and label the pictures with a big #1, #2 and #3 for each step. Leave it on a small poster so he will know and remember what to do. That will make your child feel good about his achievements and he is more likely to take on more responsibility.

This is one of the best ways to communicate with, and stay connected to your child.
Great way to avoid all the helicopter traffic.

Perfect Example of a Missed Opportunity

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009


In a less than courageous move, the South Plainfield NJ Board of Education reversed a decision by school administrators to ban from the graduation ceremony a group of students who came drunk to the prom. Students signed a pledge to arrive at their prom alcohol-free but at least some came “visibly inebriated,” a spokesperson said.

The students’ parents protested the ruling and threatened to take the issue to the state commissioner of education. The board then reversed the decision.

I don’t blame the Board of Education for not having a backbone, though it is obvious. I blame the parents for not having the wisdom teach their children a life lesson so valuable it could actually save their lives.

The question a parent should always ask is, “what is the worst that could happen?” For parents of the students that had the nerve to come to the prom drunk might actually cause them to learn about consequences.

Let’s focus instead on the majority of the students in South Plainfield High who deserve to enjoy this wonderful milestone despite this minority of the student population creating such a distraction.

Kudos to the teachers who are fed up with a system that caves to loud parents who don’t seem to know any better.

This could be urban legend, but the following is supposedly the answering machine message the Pacific Palisades High School (CA) staff voted to record on their school answering machine system. This came about because the school implemented a policy requiring parents to be responsible for their children’s absences and missing homework. The school and teachers are being sued by parents who want their children’s failing grades changed to passing grades even though those children were absent 15 to 30 times during the semester and did not complete enough school work to pass their classes.

“Hello! You have reached the automated answering service of your school. In order to assist you in connecting to the right staff member, please listen to all your options before making a selection:
To lie about why your child is absent, press 1
□ To make excuses for why your child did not do his work, press 2
□ To complain about what we do, press 3
□ To swear at staff members, press 4
□ To ask why you didn’t get information that was already enclosed in your newsletter and several flyers mailed to you, press 5
□ If you want us to raise your child, press 6
□ If you want to reach out and touch, slap, or hit someone, press 7
□ To request another teacher for the third time this year, press 8
□ To complain about bus transportation, press 9
□ To complain about school lunches, press 0
□ If you realize this is the real world and your child must be accountable and responsible for his/her own behavior, class work, and homework, and that it’s not the teachers’ fault for your child’s lack of effort…hang up and have a nice day!”

We have a bill of rights. We need a bill of responsibilities. -Bill Maher

Exerpted from Because Kids Don’t Come with Manuals®:Contemporary Advice for Parents by Tina Nocera

What do you think about this issue?

Our False Positive Popular Culture

Saturday, June 21st, 2008

It’s one of those news stories you think you didn’t hear correctly. Teen girls trying to get pregnant!

It could have happened anywhere, but the town of Gloucester, MA is now trying to figure out why the teen pregnancy rate is four times higher.

Perhaps as usual, we’re asking the wrong questions:

• We’re trying to understand why over 150 girls under the age of sixteen, which very likely means that over 150 girls, under the age of sixteen were having sex
• We scratch our heads and wonder why girls would make a pact to become pregnant
• We look to point the finger at the school, the community and the parents to see who is at fault
• We debate over the use and availability of birth control and parental notification, when we should educate both
• We question the wisdom of making is easy and fun to bring a baby to high school and park a stroller next to the lockers
• We ponder the self esteem issues of young girls that need to feel loved

We follow popular culture in a ignorant stupor as millions are paid for the first picture of Jaime Lynn Spear’s new baby. No doubt the celebrity babies (see an earlier blog on this same topic) have a lot to do with the romantic notion of having children. This is a case where a positive test result leads to a false sense of reality.

What we really need to question is why we are not outraged that so many girls under the age of sixteen are having sex.

Please don’t lecture me on the reality of life. We create our own realities, and we’re so worried about our kids’ self-esteem, that we don’t think about this reality: they are too young to be sexually active. How does that affect their self-esteem?

Parents – talk to your children and be the moral compass in their lives.

What Do You Do?

Sunday, April 20th, 2008

Thursday, April 24th marks the 16th annual Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work® Day.

It is so much more than a career day. It demonstrates to our children why education matters, but more importantly, our children can be inspired to learn what it is they might love to do. You can only be really great at something with passion and persistence and that begins by doing what you love.

Now for the bad news. If you’re negative about your current job then I recommend you don’t pull your children out of school for the day since you’ll be doing more harm than good. Instead use this as an opportunity to think about the advice that you would give to your grade school age child so that she is not in the same position.

Here are some ideas:

Do what you love. As a young child, spend the time finding what it is that you love
Test the waters. You can’t know if it’s right until you try it. And then if you think you like something, try it again.
Talk to people (as many as you can) in the field you think is for you. Even be courageous enough to talk to people who have left the profession so you could understand why.
Think about the kind of a life you want to live. Do you want a family? Would you love (or hate) to travel? What if you had to constantly relocate? Do you want to be home for dinner every evening (if this is important to you, don’t even think about politics).

Where your pleasure is, there is your treasure;
Where your treasure, there is your heart;
Where your heart, there your happiness.

Teen Drivers

Sunday, March 30th, 2008


There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics. Benjamin Disraeli – British politician (1804 – 1881)

I’ve noticed considerable attention and concern over teen drivers recently. While visiting various government websites, they recite accident statistics, which causes us to gloss over and not pay attention to the real message.

Instead of citing statistics, try citing rules. Interestingly, the laws that make the most sense were put in place as a result of the accident statistics related to teen drivers. In the words of the great Mel Brooks, “It’s good to be king.” Parents get to be king. Parents get to cite rules over and above the government rules. And no one has to gloss over with while reading statistics.

Feel free to visit Parental Wisdom – Free Reports and print out Teen Safe Driving Contract. There are two versions; one is a PDF, and the other is an editable version so you can personalize it.

Be sure to talk to your children about this important topic. Clearly this is an area where you don’t want to become a statistic.

You are beautiful!

Thursday, March 27th, 2008


Everything has its beauty but not everyone sees it.
– Confucius (551 BC – 479 BC)

They called her Sunshine, the nickname given to Stephanie Kuleba, 18 because of her brightness, blond hair and personality. The South Florida teen died Saturday, about 24 hours after corrective breast plastic surgery. Gone are the hopes and dreams of a high school senior. All because of a reaction to anesthesia, proof that there’s no such thing as a simple procedure.

With all the things we need to tell our girls as they grow up, we need to let them know they are really beautiful.

Counter the myths of the beauty industry as few people can be a size 2. The beauty standards are too high for even the supermodels to follow, since most are photo-shopped.

Where does real beauty come from? Knowing who you are, and being happy with that.

Thank you Dove for reminding us of that. Please watch this [youtube= ].
Love to hear your thoughts, please leave a comment.

Don’t you want to be an accountant?

Saturday, March 22nd, 2008


“Consider a career you may have never imagined,” and the discussion begins. Corporations such as Deloitte are reaching out to high schools to persuade students to join their ranks. Their objective is to convey the benefits of working with sponsor companies. They do this by drafting curricula, lesson plans and equipment with the hope of creating a pipeline of workers far into the future.

Businesses are now influencing schools in a way that is much different than when businesses simply wanted students to become customers. This is in response to a fearful shortage of workers from the coming labor force.

Some are worried about a commercial agenda influencing schools, and the potential loss of creativity and entrepreneurial spirit.

On the plus side, students that may not have any idea what to do with their life, may get on an ‘express line’ to a career. It can also finally answer the age old question kids have when learning math and science, “When will I ever use this?”