Mixed Messaging of Legalizing Marijuana

Photo by  Roberto Valdivia  on  Unsplash

Photo by Roberto Valdivia on Unsplash

The trend of legalizing recreational marijuana may be giving children and teens a mixed message about the drug. While there are many touted benefits and even use of non-addictive forms, it can affect a developing brain in ways we don’t even yet fully understand. On top of that, it can have affects on judgment and decisions.

Teens and tweens are susceptible to risk-taking and it makes sense they may want to experiment for a variety of reasons. It’s also important for them to understand the risks they are taking.

On our most recent episode of Parenting Beyond the Headlines, we talked with Jim Maffuid, Executive Director of Child Guidance Clinic for Central CT and father of 4 young adults. Jim specializes in helping families prevent, recognize and overcome addiction. Jim helped us understand some of the terminology and shared some options for talking with our kids about this complicated topic.

Stop Should-ing On Yourself!

Photo by  DANNY G  on  Unsplash

Photo by DANNY G on Unsplash

Do you find yourself regretting the small stuff, harping on the details of the day, or justifying your decisions? I know I do. I think it helps to know you are not alone. Just the other day, while on a walk with my friend, I realized I was chastising myself for not getting more work done before heading out on a walk - as if I hadn’t been working all day. As if I didn’t deserve to go for a walk because my whole to-do list wasn’t complete. Moms can be harsh on themselves and we tend to expect more of ourselves than is reasonably acceptable. This is one of the reasons I wrote my first book - I was sick of people saying, “I’m such a bad mother,” or “I’m the worst parent ever.” I guess that could be uttered in jest, but it’s telling - we often leap to the negative. And I was one of those people labeling myself without true cause. I mean come on, forgetting to pack a snack really isn’t the worst thing ever.

I tend to see what I have left to do more often than celebrate what I have done. My friend turned to me as we walked and she told me to stop should-ing on myself. It really resonated with me. I should on myself all the time - I shouldn’t eat that, I should’ve run that errand while I was already out, I should be working…. and the list goes on.

Photo by  Dawid Zawiła  on  Unsplash

Stop Should-ing On Yourself - I have embraced this as my motto for the summer. So this past weekend when all of Sunday had gone by and I had “only” done this and that, instead of announcing (as I often do on Sunday evenings) everything I should have done, I turned on the television with my kids and enjoyed some down time. When I hear myself use the word should, I am attempting to reflect on if it really is a should moment. It’s silly the amount of things I regret in a day. I welcome you to join me (and correct me when you hear me doing it).

Let’s enjoy a summer of cans, wills, oh wells, and maybe laters and stop should-ing on ourselves!

Supporting the College Transition

Photo by  Nathan Dumlao  on  Unsplash

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

The college admissions scandal has certainly peaked the nation’s interest and it has definitely peaked mine, as my son just recently went through the entire search, application, and response process. It’s a huge challenge and we all want to support our kids through it. The very fact that some parents feel the need to cheat their kids out of the application process leads us to conclude that we are not putting our full faith in our kids.

And then, once we are through the process - whatever it was like, it seems we assume our kids are simply ready for college. But there is a missing piece to that puzzle. We are seeing record numbers of kids dropping out and an increase in anxiety and depression in college students.

Photo by  Alexis Brown  on  Unsplash

Photo by Alexis Brown on Unsplash

In addition to the idea of sending them off to live on their own and worrying about the big decisions like whether or not they will be safe, if they will be homesick, if they will make the most of the opportunity, we also need to consider if they are ready to manage their own time, get their work done, and figure out the social scene.

Sarah Cody and I were lucky enough to sit down with Marc Lehman, a marriage and family therapist and Co-Founder of Dorm Room Counseling. Marc he talked to us about preparing kids and supporting them through this huge transition.

Why Taylor Swift's Reputation Matters

In my four-plus decades on the planet, I had never been to a pop concert. The closest thing was a Crosby Stills and Nash concert at an outdoor amphitheater back when I was in college. And, I did see Surreal Neil (a Neil Diamond impersonator) once at a bar in San Francisco. It was obviously time for me to go, and why not embrace this new adventure with my kids and finally be inducted into the hip crowd?

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I wasn’t the biggest Taylor Swift fan, though I always enjoyed her songs. I first heard You Belong with Me when my niece was singing it in a video she shared with me, and my kids made fun of me as I would sing along (more like hum along) to Love Story or Blank Space in the car (coming in conveniently at the end of the chorus where I knew the words). She was a good singer, but beyond her catchy tunes, I didn’t know much about her.

During a rare weekend, when my family was all home and open to adventure, we hopped in the car, drove 13 hours, toured Louisville, KY, where we’d never been before, and attended a stadium concert of Taylor Swift’s Reputation Tour. Now I LOVE Taylor Swift and finally understand the screaming girls that populate her concerts. I was one of them. Let it be said, as I am sure it already has been, Taylor Swift puts on a FABULOUS show! She truly rocks! And I couldn’t get enough.

Before the concert, as my kids were prepping me by playing the the songs I didn’t know, I was dreading the six-sets. Ugh - it would be crowded, hot, and go on with all these songs I don’t even know. I masked my curmudgeonly attitude and, I couldn't have been more wrong. I could have danced all night! In fact, when she said goodnight, I looked over at my daughter and asked, “She’s done? It’s over?”

I was impressed with how Swift incorporated her struggle into her performance. She shared her experiences of frustration and confusion through video segments and her own live narration between songs. While I assume much of the narration was to tie sets together and to appease her audience, it felt authentic and her words reflected a truly human experience. No matter how contrived these transitions may have been, they seemed cathartic for her and informing for her audience. She talked about her pain and needing time to reflect and re-brand. When people cheered, she leaned on her fans and shared an appreciation for them in their understanding.

It was great to be there together, singing, dancing, enjoying the pyrotechnics, and the snow cones (albeit pricey at the concessions) were perfect for the hot night (still 90 degrees after sunset).

Now as we listen to the Reputation album over and over and really focus on the words, it’s started a conversation in our family about reputations, pain, friendships, public appearance, and coping strategies.

In This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things, I didn’t understand why she laughs off “forgiveness is a nice thing to do.” After all, that part of the song sounds like it could easily have come from one of the many CDs I used to play with my toddler children. When I asked my kids, “Why is she laughing? After all, isn’t forgiveness a nice thing to do?” They each had a response.

One of my children posited that she had been hurt by someone and tried to forgive and it didn’t work out so she has to move on.

Another of my kids tried to explain to me that just because something is nice to do doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do. We were able to explore forgiveness.

This has helped us to broach the topics so relevant to our two teens and tween. There is a struggle to find a balance between caring about what people think and doing your own thing. And what about when what someone else thinks becomes what they say behind (or in front) of your back? Then how does that affect what others think, and should you care?

It’s easy at the dinner table to simply say, “It doesn’t matter what other people think.” But while that might be an ideal and we want our kids to do the “right” thing no matter what others think, it’s simply not as simple as that.

Now I feel I have an added resource for this all-important conversation. Sometimes forgiveness isn’t the right thing to do. How can we get back on the proverbial tour and continue to do what we love, but perhaps a little differently? I’m so grateful for the shared  experience of my first pop concert and all it offered us, in the stadium and out.