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Mom defends tough-love letter to 13-year-old son after getting shamed online

She wants a son, not a roommate.

parenting, tough love, adolescents, kids chores, Facebook posts
Photo from Heidi Johnson Facebook page.

Tough love.

Heidi Johnson's son was 13, deeply in adolescence, and in that stage where he lashes out.

He told her he shouldn't have to deal with her rules and should be independent.


So she wrote a strict but loving "Mom's not a fool" letter.

roommates, motherhood, life lessons

Love, Mom.

Photo from Heidi Johnson Facebook page.

She wrote on Facebook how her son reacted to the letter:

"He came home, saw the note, crumpled it on the floor, and stormed out of the apartment. I have always encouraged him to take a walk when he is upset so that he can collect his thoughts so when we try to talk, we are able to talk, and not just yell at each other. I do the same thing — sometimes, I just need to walk away and collect myself. I am not above admitting that. He was still livid when he got home. He decided to stage a 'sit in' in my room, where he did laugh at me and repeat, 'Really? What are you going to do? You can't take my stuff,' etc. He was asked to leave my room, and when he could be respectful, and I was more calm, we would discuss it further. He went to his room, and after about an hour, he had removed some electronics and items I missed that he felt he should have to earn back for his behavior. He apologized, and asked what could he do to make things better and start earning items back. He earned his comforter and some clothes right back. I did leave him some clothes to begin with, just not the ones he would want to wear every day. He also had some pillows and sheets, just not his favorite ones.”

She decided to post it on Facebook, the way one does to friends for a laugh and connection. She neglected to make it "private," and soon comments and shares proliferated, including admonishments from strangers who thought she was a bad parent.Now she had to deal with a bigger teenager: the internet and its commentariat. But Johnson remained level-headed and wrote another Facebook post, clarifying.

"It's out there; and I am not ashamed of what I wrote... I am not going to put my 13-year-old on the street if he can't pay his half of the rent. I am not wanting him to pay anything. I want him to take pride in his home, his space, and appreciate the gifts and blessings we have.” She explains that he is more grateful because of it, and also that he has slowly earned back things and dealt with sacrificing others. Then she lists her very organized and succinct rules of the house:

1 – Do your best in school! I don't expect a perfect 100%, but I do expect that you do your best and ask for help when you don't understand something.

2 – Homework and jobs need to be done before you can have screen time.

3 – Jobs are emptying the trash, unloading the dishwasher, throwing away trash you make in the kitchen, rinsing dirty dishes, making your bed daily, pick up bedroom nightly, and cleaning your bathroom once a week.

4 – You must complete two chores a day. Each day of the week with the exception of Sunday has a room that we work on cleaning. He has to pick two chores for that room. For example, if it is the living room he can choose two of the following options: dust, vacuum, polish furniture, clean windows, mop the floor.

5 – Be respectful and kind with your words — no back talking, no cussing at me.

6 – Keep good hygiene.

7 – Make eye contact when being spoken to, and be an active listener.

8 – Use proper manners.

"You know what.. this hasn't hurt our relationship. He and I still talk as openly as ever. He has apologized multiple times... And… he is trying harder." Her son is earning things back little by little, and appreciating it more than he did before.

"This came down to a 13-year-old telling his mother she had no right to enforce certain rules, and had no place to 'control' him. I made the point to show what life would look like if I was not his 'parent,' but rather a 'roommate.' It was a lesson about gratitude and respect from the very beginning. Sometimes, you have to lose it all to realize how well you really had it."


This article originally appeared on 8.16.21

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Scientists tested 3 popular bottled water brands for nanoplastics using new tech, and yikes

The results were alarming—an average of 240,000 nanoplastics per 1 liter bottle—but what does it mean for our health?

Suzy Hazelwood/Canva

Columbia University researchers tested bottled water for nanoplastics and found hundreds of thousands of them.

Evian, Fiji, Voss, SmartWater, Aquafina, Dasani—it's impressive how many brands we have for something humans have been consuming for millennia. Despite years of studies showing that bottled water is no safer to drink than tap water, Americans are more consuming more bottled water than ever, to the tune of billions of dollars in bottled water sales.

People cite convenience and taste in addition to perceived safety for reasons they prefer bottle to tap, but the fear factor surrounding tap water is still a driving force. It doesn't help when emergencies like floods cause tap water contamination or when investigations reveal issues with lead pipes in some communities, but municipal water supplies are tested regularly, and in the vast majority of the U.S., you can safely grab a glass of water from a tap.

And now, a new study on nanoplastics found in three popular bottled water brands is throwing more data into the bottled vs. tap water choice.

Researchers from Columbia University used a new laser-guided technology to detect nanoplastics that had previously evaded detection due to their miniscule size. The new technology can detect, count and analyze and chemical structure of nanoparticles, and they found seven different major types of plastic: polyamide, polypropylene, polyethylene, polymethyl methacrylate, polyvinyl chloride, polystyrene, and polyethylene terephthalate.

In contrast to a 2018 study that found around 300 plastic particles in an average liter of bottled water, the study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in January of 2024 found 240,000 nanoplastic particles per liter bottle on average between the three brands studied. (The name of the brands were not indicated in the study.)

As opposed to microplastics, nanoplastics are too small to be seen by microscope. Their size is exactly why experts are concerned about them, as they are small enough to invade human cells and potentially disrupt cellular processes.

“Micro and nanoplastics have been found in the human placenta at this point. They’ve been found in human lung tissues. They’ve been found in human feces; they’ve been found in human blood,” study coauthor Phoebe Stapleton, associate professor of pharmacology and toxicology at Rutgers University’s Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy told CNN Health,

We know that nanoplastics are making their way into our bodies. We just don't have enough research yet on what that means for our health, and we still have more questions than answers. How many nanoplastics does it take to do damage and/or cause disease? What kinds of damage or disease might they cause? Is whatever effect they might have cumulative? We simply don't have answers to these questions yet.

That's not to say there's no cause for concern. We do know that certain levels of microplastic exposure have been shown to adversely affect the viability of cells. Nanoplastics are even smaller—does that mean they are more likely to cause cellular damage? Science is still working that out.

According to Dr. Sara Benedé of the Spanish National Research Council’s Institute of Food Science Research, it's not just the plastics themselves that might cause damage, but what they may bring along with them. “[Microparticles and nanoparticles] have the ability to bind all kinds of compounds when they come into contact with fluids, thus acting as carriers of all kinds of substances including environmental pollutants, toxins, antibiotics, or microorganisms,” Dr. Benedé told Medical News Today.

Where is this plastic in water coming from? This study focused on bottled water, which is almost always packaged in plastic. The filters used to filter the water before bottling are also frequently made from plastic.

Is it possible that some of these nanoplastics were already present in the water from their original sources? Again, research is always evolving on this front, but microplastics have been detected in lakes, streams and other freshwater sources, so it's not a big stretch to imagine that nanoplastics may be making their way into freshwater ecosystems as well. However, microplastics are found at much higher levels in bottled water than tap water, so it's also not a stretch to assume that most of the nanoplastics are likely coming from the bottling process and packaging rather than from freshwater sources.

The reality is, though, we simply don't know yet.

“Based on other studies we expected most of the microplastics in bottled water would come from leakage of the plastic bottle itself, which is typically made of PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic,” lead author Naixin Qian, a doctoral student in chemistry at Columbia University, told CNN Health. “However, we found there’s actually many diverse types of plastics in a bottle of water, and that different plastic types have different size distributions. The PET particles were larger, while others were down to 200 nanometers, which is much, much smaller.”

We need to drink water, and we need to drink safe water. At this point, we have plenty of environmental reasons for avoiding bottled water unless absolutely necessary and opting for tap water instead. Even if there's still more research to be done, the presence of hundreds of thousands of nanoplastics in bottled water might just be another reason to make the switch.

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