About Kaycee  |   Media  |   Contact

Archive for the ‘Parents’ Category

"IT'S A TEEN'S WORLD" illustrates how important it is to talk to your daughter about healthy relationships.

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

Lynn Glazier’s project “IT’S A TEEN’S WORLD: wired for sex, lies and power trips” gives teens a voice—and they use it to tell us how living in a sexually charged world influences their choices. The teens made short films about sexual gossip, the pursuit of popularity, and abuse of trust in dating relationships.

“IT’S A Teen’s World” explores the price teen girls pay to be cool, hip and popular in a sexually charged social world. It lets us see what our teens are not clear about—how to respect themselves and others while getting their needs met, for example, and how to get others to do the same.

Glazier’s documentary is a call to action—for parents. First, schools need to address the sexual harassment in their anti-bullying curriculum (mothers, contact your local school administrators and let them hear you roar). Second, we need to help our daughters understand who they are, and how to apply character and respect within this sexually charged culture. 

Teens today believe they’re different from us when we were teenagers. Yes and no. The challenges shown in the documentary—struggling with identity, lacking character, saying no, standing up for oneself, setting boundaries—are the same ones we faced in adolescence. They’re just exacerbated by the sexually charged teen culture. 

Wouldn’t we have made better choices if we’d understood that meeting our own needs engenders self-respect? Teens can’t make good choices without the self-knowledge and self-respect to do so. How can we mothers help? First, educate your teen about her needs. A big part of self-respect is knowing what our needs are, learning to recognize what it feels like to get them met, and using that self-knowledge to make deliberate choices to meet them.

As the film titled ‘Pursuit of Popularity’ makes clear, teens are confused about how to get their needs met while respecting themselves. An age-old adolescent mistake is to use sex to get love. A newer version, it seems, is using sex to get popularity. Does she know that she’s interesting without sex?

Beliefs influence actions. Does your daughter believe getting attention by being “hot,” and willing to do sexually for a guy trumps being liked for who she is? Does she know what to do if she’s interested in a guy? If we don’t tell her, who will? Explain to her that she should be getting to know him, and to like his traits, and be able to accept how he gets his needs met from her—before getting seriously involved.

What makes a girl strong? Taking care of herself—meeting her own needs—is an act of self-respect. By looking at her traits, at what she likes and how she communicates with others, she’ll get to know herself better. To really be familiar with ourselves, we must know what our best and worst traits are. Say you asked her to describe herself—would she list the same traits you would? Probably not. How to help her? Let her know when you see her being dependable, demanding, a good listener, funny, happy, sensitive, thoughtful, selfish. . .

You can also educate your daughter about how to get her needs met using character—to say what she means, do what she says, know right from wrong. The film ‘Under Pressure’ about sexual gossip shows how confused teens can be about how to get their needs met while respecting others. Teens make up stories—so-and-so is pregnant, getting an abortion, has already had sex with four guys. Why?—to meet their need to be interesting. Without the sexual gossip, they don’t feel that others are curious about who they are or what they think.

A girl who makes up stories to be interesting, to be more popular, lacks character because she’s compromising her sense of right and wrong. In exactly the same way you guide her to become familiar with herself, guide her to do the same with others. Suggest she ask her friends get-to-know-them questions, or what-they-think-and-feel questions. She’ll probably find that they reciprocate. And that they find her interesting, after all. 

 If we want our daughters to be competent in relationships, we need to talk to them about what makes for a healthy relationship. In a healthy relationship, her needs would be met, there would be heart-to-heart conversations, and the respect—self-respect, respect for others, and the expectation to be treated respectfully—would be mutual.

Talk to your daughter about healthy relationships—it’s important. Help her understand the difference between a Frog and a Prince. Give her healthy relationship criteria to make better choices amid the cultural pressure Glazier’s documentary reveals. Healthy relationship criteria will help her understand her own experiences and those of her peers. They’ll help her learn and grow—and make better choices next time. When they know better, they’ll do better—it’s that simple.

 Kaycee Jane is the author of Frog or Prince? The Smart Girl’s Guide to Boyfriends (Amazon). Jane blogs at www.frogorprince.ca. When life with your teen seems overwhelming, try www.TeenCentral.net ’s Parent section and get help from a professional.

 PS: The TV broadcast “Wired for Sex” was a short version of  “IT’S A TEEN’S WORLD: wired for sex, lies and power trips”.  An enhanced DVD is available for purchase at  www.itsateensworld.com

Teens and Sex. (When? And With Whom?)

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

Teens and Sex.

(When? And With Whom?) 

As mothers, we worry about when our daughters will choose to have sex. Why? Because when a teenaged girl gets a boyfriend, sex is probably not far behind.

Schools and parents both tend to educate young women in the mechanics of sex, contraception, and health issues—but, as Bugs Bunny said, “That’s all, folks!” But isn’t that putting the cart before the horse? Isn’t the bigger issue who she has sex with, not when?

With my own daughter, my approach was to educate her in the difference between a frog and a prince. I wanted her to raise her bar for who her first real boyfriend would be. 

Two 14-year-olds who believed they were ready to have sex in their relationship were recently on Oprah. They assessed the risks of sex, but used the criterion of love (and the few needs they knew they had) to make their choices within a peer culture that celebrates sex.

While both guest expert Dr. Laura Berman and Gayle King acknowledged that the two teens were indeed in love (ahem), a pointed question by Dr. Berman revealed that the couple’s immediate reward after sex would have been short-term happiness. Her question was how long they expected their relationship to last. The girl said, “Forever.” The boy said, “Six months.” Once the girl understood they didn’t share the same storyline for their relationship, she made a new choice. She chose not to have sex with him.

Young people don’t know how to build a healthy loving relationship. How could they? They enter relationships expecting only a few of their needs to be met—to notice their boyfriend (be attracted to him), to desire him, to be interested in every little thing about him, to please him. But what about her other needs—to be forgiven, accepted, understood, supported, and so on? Young people aren’t taught how to ask questions designed to find out what each is shopping for in a relationship, like “How long do you expect our relationship will last?”

It’s important to get our needs met in a relationship, so it’s important that we speak to our daughters within the context of needs.  Start by clearing up this crazy little idea called “love.” Explain to her that when a guy tells her he loves her, those are just words—unless she can see that he’s actively, deliberately trying to meet her needs, not just his own. While you’re at it, tell her that “love is never enough,” unless she’s in a healthy relationship.

How can she tell if the relationship is healthy? In a healthy relationship, needs are met such as to become familiar with the other (knowing if he has character, for example) to happily accept how he treats her, to value him (being able to tell him what she thinks and feels about herself). And she has to be able to expect to get those same needs met in return.  

Educating youth about the negative consequences of sex is good because teaching them to meet their own needs and keep themselves healthy and safe engenders self-respect. So why aren’t we also teaching them about healthy relationship criteria? All girls, regardless of what love story they are pursuing—boyfriends and abstinence, or boyfriends and sex, or random hook-ups—must learn what needs they deserve to get met; to make better choices about who to have sex with (and who to marry).

We have to do something because teenagers are not invincible. The consequence to teens of dating and having sex in unhealthy relationships is emotional trauma—getting swallowed up by their wants, feelings, experiences, and broken hearts.

Typically, teenagers care more about conforming to cultural norms and what their friends think than about what their parents think. Can we influence a daughter’s sexual behavior by talking to her about our beliefs for when she should have sex? Absolutely. Google Dr. Miriam Kaufman co-author of the report, “Sex and sexual health: A survey of Canadian youth and mothers.” She says it’s possible. The positive consequence of talking about sex in relationships is that we are indeed able to influence our daughters’ choices when sex does come up. In contrast, the consequence of not talking is pretty much a slam dunk: she could become an unfortunate Canadian sexual health statistic (at www.sexualityandu.ca). When life with your teen seems overwhelming, try www.TeenCentral.Net’s Parent section and get help from a professional.

Doctors advise us to talk with our teenagers not only about our beliefs for when they should have sex, but also about what a healthy relationship is, and how to have an orgasm. A recent teen survey done by York University reported that youth want to learn about healthy relationships, HIV/AIDS, and sexual pleasure.

So we’ve got doctors and teens themselves calling for information on healthy relationships and sexual pleasure. What to do? We can help teenagers use the criteria of met or unmet needs to find out more about who they are and what they need.

That’s why I wrote Frog or Prince? The Smart Girl’s Guide to Boyfriends for my own daughter. If your daughter knows herself and loves herself, she’ll choose what’s good for her and she’ll know when she’s ready to have sex. More importantly, if she’s used to getting “great relationship material” in conversations with you, she’ll be able to make informed choices when sex does come up—choices that include her feelings, needs and beliefs. And that help her decide not only when to have sex, but—even more importantly—who to have it with.

The elephant in the classroom – back-to-school essentialsTeen Dating and Sex—a mother's point of view. What's yours?

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

The Web overflows with parent bloggers sharing struggles, information and tips for raising babies, toddlers and pre-tweens. But what about the elephant in the room—teen dating? It’s more complicated to deal with than bed wetting, and it involves far more serious consequences. Why aren’t we talking about it? As our daughters embark upon (or return to) the dangerous and crazy world of high school, we need to educate them in the mechanics of a relationship.

I was diligent in sending my daughter off to kindergarten with basic skills—the ABC’s, friendship and manners. I also sent her to high school each year with what I thought were all the back-to-school essentials. But in reality I was a better parent to her in kindergarten than in high-school because of the elephant in the room. I wasn’t ready to acknowledge it, talk about it. We had a rule: No boyfriends.

What was I thinking?

Many teenagers start dating in high school. Many have sex. Whoa! Having “teenagers” and “sex” in the same sentence freaks us out. Consider this, though: how you deal with dating in the early stages will determine how she handles the sex part when it comes up in her life. That’s why it’s so important that you and your teenager have good conversations.

I asked Dr. Julius Licata from TeenCentral.Net if he could give parents some advice for when their teenager goes back to high school. “Always remember that your teen does not need you to be their friend,” he said. “As a parent, try to be open to the newness of your teen each day. They are learning who they are; be interested and listen. Try not to ask a million questions. Practice listening to not only what they’re saying but also what they’re feeling. They need limits set, and when they cross those limits they need to be held accountable. Give them space, but try to be close by for when they need someone to talk to or a shoulder to cry on. Support your teen but try hard not to control them. Most importantly, let your teen know you’re not perfect, that you make mistakes. Be the parent of a teen today so that you’ll grow into the friend of an adult tomorrow.” When life with your teen seems overwhelming, try www.TeenCentral.Net’s Parent section and get help from a professional.

Your teenager’s heading back to high school—what to do? Make sure that your daughter has more criteria for making relationship choices than her feelings, the sex education she gets in school, and beliefs like “love is enough.” Believing things like “all is fair in love and war” makes it easy to excuse a guy’s bad behaviour. Such beliefs propagate unconditional love, which is a love story between a mother and child, not between a girl and a guy.

Talk to your daughter about the difference between a Frog’s traits (jealousy and controlling behaviour) and a Prince’s (trust and support). Use teachable moments—point out behaviour such as invalidation or unfounded criticism when it occurs in your own conversations with her. Tell your daughter that a Prince will use character to get his needs met—he will say what he means, do what he says, know right from wrong. A Frog uses controlling behaviour, making up the rules—“Pick up the phone when I call, no matter what”—to get his needs met. For more information about recognizing and dealing with controlling behaviour go to www.loveisnotabuse.com.

If we can’t build a healthy relationship with our daughters, it’ll be hard for them to build healthy relationships with their boyfriends. Dr. Brian Harris, a child psychiatrist, says, “The groundwork for a parent and a child to be able to have great conversations must be laid well before teenage issues surface.”

When was the last time you had a heart-to-heart with your teenager? Why do we stop learning and growing together with a child once she becomes a teenager? Sure, it’s difficult to listen—to avoid launching into a lecture. But listen we must—that’s how we stay familiar with who our child is. Second, our daughters confuse a limit with control and frankly, in our dealings with them, so do we. Lastly, they don’t understand the difference between a want and a need. How could they?

The elephant in the classroom doesn’t have to be an unmentionable beast. Your daughter needs information and tools to make choices that include her feelings, needs and beliefs. That’s why I wrote Frog or Prince: The Smart Girl’s Guide to Boyfriends. Our daughters will date. One day they’ll have sex. Let’s make sure they’re not doing so in an unhealthy relationship—with a Frog! A big part of a beautiful life—which we all want for our daughters—comes from knowing the difference between a Prince and a Frog.