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teenagers

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7 secrets to raising awesome, functional teenagers.

Step 1: Ditch the myth that all teens are sullen, angry creatures.

All photos used here are mine, used with permission.

My beautiful teens.


I occasionally get asked by mothers of young children what the secret is to raising great teenagers.

My initial response is that I have absolutely no clue. My kids are who they are IN SPITE of having me as a mother. (The young moms don't find that answer too helpful.)

Really, the first thing that I will tell you is to disbelieve the myth that teenagers are sullen, angry creatures who slam doors and hate their parents. Some do that, but the overwhelming majority do not. Every one of my kids' friends are just as happy and fun as my kids are, so I know it's not just us.


Teenagers are incredible. They are funny, smart, eager to please, and up for just about anything as long as food is involved. They have the most generous hearts and want desperately to be loved and validated. They are quirky and messy and have the best sense of humor.

rules for teens, raising teens, secrets, privilege

Bright smiles on the couch.

All photos used here are mine, used with permission.

So, here is my list of "rules" for raising teens. These are the secrets we have found to be successful.

1. Love them fiercely.

Love everything about them, even the annoying stuff. Love them for their actions AND their intentions. Let them know in word and deed how much you adore them. Daily. Love their wrinkled shirts and Axe-body-spray-covered selves. Love their bad handwriting and pimpled cheeks. Love their scattered brains and long limbs. All these seemingly insignificant details are an amazing, magical process at work. It's like being witness to the miracle of a diamond mid-formation. All this imperfection is going to one day yield a responsible, serious adult. A loving husband and father. Or a wonderful wife and mother. It's a privilege to be witness to such glorious growth.

See your teenagers as a privilege, don't see them as a burden. They're more perceptive than you can imagine. How you feel about them will be no secret. So just love ‘em.

2. Listen and pay attention.

When they walk in the door after school, you have a precious few minutes when they will divulge the secrets of their day with you. Be excited to see them. Put down the cell phone. Don't waste this time making dinner or taking a phone call. Look them in the eye and hear what they are saying. Make their victories your victories. Be empathetic. It is really hard to navigate high school and middle school. Don't offer advice at this time unless they ask for it. Don't lecture. Just listen. It makes them feel important and valued. We all need to feel that way.

3. Say yes more than you say no.

The world is forever going to tell them no. For the rest of their lives, they will be swimming in a stormy sea with wave after wave of "you're not good enough" and "you can't do this" crashing down on their heads. If nothing else, I want to be the opposite voice in their lives for as long as I can. I want to instill in them the belief that they are not limited and they can do anything if they're willing to work hard enough for it. I want to be the YES, YOU CAN in their lives. I want them to leave my house every day feeling invincible.

4. Say no often.

You need to say no to experiences and situations that will set your child up for harm or unhappiness. Don't let them go to the parties where they will be forced to make a choice about alcohol at age 16 in front of their peers . Don't let them stay out until three in the morning with a member of the opposite sex. Be the parent. Set up rules for their safety, both physical and moral. You would think this rule goes without saying, but we have known a shockingly large number of parents who don’t.

5. Feed them. A lot.

And not only them, but their friends too. These bodies are growing and developing at an astonishing rate and need fuel to do so — most of which they prefer to be loaded with processed sugar and hydrogenated-something-or-others. When their friends know your pantry is stocked to the gills with treats, they will beg your kid to hang out at your place. This allows you to not only meet and know their friends, but to keep an eye on your teen as well.


6. Don't sweat the small stuff.

When living with teenagers, it can be so easy to see the backpack dropped in the middle of the living room as laziness. Or the bedroom scattered with dirty clothes as irresponsible. Instead, and before you open your mouth to yell at them, put yourself in their shoes. Find out about their day first. Maybe they are feeling beaten down, and they just need to unwind for a minute and tell you about it. Ignore the mess for a bit and put your arms around that big, sweaty kid and give him a hug. Talk to him about his world. Find out what he did, wants to do, and dreams of doing. THEN, and only then, ask him to pick it up and put it away.

That being said, do I completely ignore the state of my boys' bedrooms all the time? No, I do not. But I pick my battles, and I pick the appropriate time to fight them. Once every seven to 10 days or so, I tell them their bedrooms need to be picked up. Which they do happily because it's not the running loop of a nagging mom. They know when I ask, it needs to be done.

7. Stand back and watch the magic happen.

teens, adults, education, parenting

Having a funny picture taken.

All photos used here are mine, used with permission.

If you let them, these glorious creatures will open their hearts and love you more fiercely than you could possibly imagine. They are brilliant, capable, strong spirits who bring with them a flurry of happiness. They are hilarious and clever. They are thoughtful and sensitive. They want us to adore them. They need us to adore them. They love deeply and are keenly in touch with the feelings of others.

They are just about the greatest gift God gave to parents.


This article was written by Christie Halversson and originally appeared on 08.20.19

Photo pulled from YouTube video

Animated short about closeted love.

After a much anticipation, the animated kids short "In a Heartbeat" was finally released on July 31, 2017.

The four-minute short film — which follows a closeted boy as he "runs the risk of being outed by his own heart after it pops out of his chest to chase down the boy of his dreams" — captivated certain corners of the internet once its trailer was released in May and instantly went viral.


The finished film is just as adorable and sweet and pure and squee-worthy as fans were hoping.

People are just totally loving it.

Like, honestly, truly adoring it.

The short is only four minutes long and completely void of narration or dialogue.

But its creators, Beth David and Esteban Bravo — who completed the project as part of their college senior thesis project — were able to invoke so manyrelatable emotions to queer fans watching at home: the helplessness of puppy love, the adolescent dread of being outed as LGBTQ, the judgmental gaze from peers when you are outed as LGBTQ, and the comfort of finally learning you're not alone.

The project's 30-second trailer tugged at heartstrings back in May, so you can imagine what a difference the full movie is making now.

"We're very touched by the response we've gotten so far and we're happy to know that our project has already had a positive impact on so many people," the creators said in May of the film's blossoming fandom. "It proves to us that there is a need and a want for media that addresses LGBT+ themes in a positive and lighthearted way."

The two hoped their film's positive reception will lead to more LGBTQ-inclusive films being produced down the line.

Fans, it seems, passionately agree:

Take four minutes out of your day and watch "In a Heartbeat" right now, below:

This article originally appeared on 07.31.17

Identity

A gay teen couple is urged to kiss by 'drunk bros' and it's actually a very sweet story

Not necessarily something you'd expect from a town on the Jersey Shore.

Canva

A Jersey Shore unexpected encounter with 'drunk bros.'

Seaside Heights is a town on the Jersey Shore: a place synonymous with Snookie, The Situation, and a heaping helping of fist-pumping.

So you probably wouldn't be judged for thinking it's not a place of overwhelming inclusivity. In this case, though, you'd be wrong.

Let's set the scene: It's a spring night during prom season and deliriously happy high schoolers are sauntering down the boardwalk on their way home from a night they'll never forget.


As couple after couple passes by one particular rooftop bar, some bros overlooking the scene are screaming at couples to kiss. And then there's a pause.

Walking down the street is a gay couple in matching tuxedos (adorable). They're holding hands (adorable).

But here's the thing — as openly gay "Good Morning America" producer Mike Del Moro noted on Twitter (where he live-tweeted this occurrence), they're doing it in a town "where — not so long ago — young men would shout the word 'f****t' out their car window as we'd stroll along the boardwalk."

Del Moro, who was on the boardwalk with his mother and boyfriend, was instinctively nervous for the couple.

That makes total sense. Even in an ultra-liberal center like San Francisco, I've been harassed for holding hands with my husband. So in a place like Seaside Heights, Del Moro definitely had cause for concern.

What happened next, though, was a heartwarming step in the direction of progress.

Let's let Del Moro's tweets do the talking:

Del Moro makes it clear this occurrence doesn't mean that "everything's fine."

It's just one instance. But it is movement. And, as Del Moro notes, "it's an encouraging moment for young LGBTQ folks out there."

For the teens at the center of the story, the moment was worth every second.

You know how the internet works, so it won't surprise you that the happy couple was immediately found, identified, and lauded for being out in a place where being authentically yourself can become dangerous.

They're Theodore Vidal and Colin Beyers, boyfriends who couldn't be more happy that things are changing in their town.

gay couple, heartwarming surprise, teens, prom

This Teen Couple Walking Home From Prom Got A Pretty Heartwarming Surprise.

www.buzzfeednews.com

Speaking to BuzzFeed, Vidal, who revealed that he had been bullied after he first came out, said their encounter with the strangers on the rooftop was completely unexpected. "It was so surprising that these guys were supporting us," Vidal said. "Especially after what I've gone through.""It's an area where you normally would get discriminated against and the fact that those guys cheered us on was shocking," Beyers told BuzzFeed. "It's one of those small victories that makes the hard times worth it."Speaking with me over direct messages, Vidal said that all the positive attention had made him and his boyfriend feel "welcome in the world," which is not always the case for LGBTQ youth. "It's made such an impact on me."This is a reminder that things are getting better in small ways every day. Admittedly, the story — however heartwarming — is still pretty problematic. Quick PSA to all dudes on roofs: Please stop screaming at people to kiss each other. Catcalling is a bad idea regardless of why you're doing it, and there's no reason to put undue pressure on young people of any gender to kiss each other in public. And while this moment turned out great, it could have definitely been awkward or even upsetting. That said, we shouldn't let those imperfections take away from the fact that this story proves LGBTQ acceptance is making real strides against toxic masculinity and bigotry.Personally, I'm looking forward to the day when gay couples can walk around without being jeered at or celebrated. In the meantime, though, this feels like a step in the right direction."It's moments like what happened at Seaside that give me hope and make all the hardships worth it," Beyers told me. "It's funny, because we really didn't do anything; all we did was be ourselves in front of some drunk people." Hey, that kind of bravery is often more than enough.This article originally appeared on 05.14.18.

Joy

Adorable social experiment from 1965 shows how young teens react to an 'attractive' teacher

It's all about what they say when the teacher leaves the room.

via Candid Camera Classics/YouTube

A teenage girl is taken by her "new" teacher.

It’s common for kids to have crushes on their teachers and Megan Rotar, a psychologist with the Mental Fitness Center in Rochester, New York, says that is entirely developmentally appropriate. “Crushes can be healthy and positive. Students might find someone who would be a good role model for them, spark an interest in learning and help (them) figure out their newly developing romantic feelings,” she told Metro Parent.

Adorable footage from a 1965 “Candid Camera” episode shows that being hot for teacher isn’t new. “Candid Camera” was a hidden camera show that first aired in 1948 where people were secretly filmed for their reactions to uncomfortable situations.



In this episode, a group of students who appear to be about 13 years old are introduced to a “new” teacher who the show refers to as “gorgeous.”

In the first clip, two girls are clearly taken by a male teacher with movie-star good looks. After he leaves the room, the girls murmur to each other with giddy excitement and fuss with their hair. “His eyes are …,” one girl said before bursting into laughter. “He’s young too. He must be at least 24,” she said.

The hidden camera crew also played the same trick on three groups of boys by introducing them to a new social studies teacher. The teacher was played by Miss Sweden 1961 Gunilla Knutsson.

When she leaves the room, one of the boys appears to belt out a curse word," Oh sh**." In the second group, one laughs so hard that he falls out of his chair. The boys in the final group can’t believe their luck, exclaiming, “Oh wow! And “Holy mackerel.”