The road to the presidency is looooong.

Democracy in America takes a long time to blossom. We still have a couple of months till the first primary, and there are 14 candidates still running for president on the Republican side along with five in the Democratic primary. And last night, on Oct. 28, 2015, the Republican Party held its third big debate out of 12 total debates in sunny Boulder, Colorado.

If you missed it, I thought maybe you could use an overview of the most interesting moments.


Because I'm classy that way. (And my boss says we should try to find the good in everyone, even if we disagree on the issues.)

1. To start, Carly Fiorina shut down a ridiculous double standard about female candidates. With jokes.

Female candidates often get unfairly judged for not being feminine enough. So when CNBC asked her what her biggest weakness is, she went ahead and cracked a joke about it.

Stop telling Carly Fiorina to smile. All debate GIFs via CNBC.

2. The debate you probably didn't see was often more interesting than the main one.

Earlier in the night, the four candidates who didn't make the cut to the top 10 on the main stage had an undercard debate. And a couple of them were pretty blunt about where they stood on science — specifically the science of climate change — being real.

3. We learned some surprising things about the French workweek.

The debate moderators and Jeb Bush went on the attack against Marco Rubio for not showing up to vote in the Senate as much as he should.

Rubio pointed out that even President Obama missed a lot of votes while running for president (Obama missed 26% in 2007 and 64% in 2008), and for a good reason: because running for president is a full-time job.

Then Jeb was totally like, "I mean, literally, the Senate — what is it, like a French workweek? You get, like, three days where you have to show up?" (Sick burn, bro.)

I presumed Jeb was exaggerating a little about the French workweek. I thought the French workweek was shorter too. Both Jeb and I were wrong.

A French child celebrates France's thoughtful labor laws. GIF from "Les Misérables."

I looked into the French workweek, and it turns out the whole stereotype of French people being lazy is a completely cartoonish myth. According to the BBC, France requires overtime pay when you get to 35 hours, instead of 40. And workers often work longer than the minimum. They get rewarded with "rest days" when they have to put in those longer hours (each company is different, but they average about nine rest days a year.) We could use that here in the U.S. — just sayin'. But I digress...

4. Lots of people thought the CNBC moderators could have done better.

There was lots of criticism from both sides for how the debate moderators handled the questions. At first, the questions seemed tough but fair. But upon a second review, there were a lot of "gotcha" questions that seemed petty and basically asked: "Your opponent did this thing one time — explain how awful they are." At one point, the audience actually booed a vapid follow-up question asked to Ben Carson, and I booed along with them.

5. Was a fantasy football chat the best use of our nation's time here? Chris Christie didn't think so.

Christie was as tired of getting absurd questions from the media as the rest of America was. After Jeb was asked if the federal government should regulate fantasy football, Christie chimed in:

6. But one moderator stood up for actual facts: Becky Quick.

Quick was speedy with the whole accountability and fact-checking thing. And she did a thing that never happens in any debate, regardless of party (and usually regardless of what channel it's on): She pushed back when a candidate didn't answer a question and fact-checked him. At one point, she said to Donald Trump: "You had talked a little bit about Marco Rubio. I think you called him Mark Zuckerberg's personal senator because he was in favor of the H1B [work visas]."

To which he responded:

In the moment, she apologized. But 20 minutes later, after double-checking, she brought it back up.

Seriously, it's directly from his website.

Well played, Quick. Well played. More please.

Speaking of Trump...

7. Donald Trump can be divisive, but last night he said one thing most of us can agree with.

This is rare for me, but regardless of your political beliefs or where you stand on Trump, he said something I'm pretty sure 99% of Americans can get behind: He went off on Super PACs.

He went on to say, "And you better get rid of them because they are causing a lot of bad decisions to be made by some very good people." And he's right. They are really bad.

Does this mean I think Trump will Make America Great Again?™ No.

America already is a great place, with a lot of huge systemic problems that need lots of serious, hard, and nuanced work to fix. His hat isn't going to solve them.

But it does mean that I agree with Trump's assessment on Super PACs being a detriment to society (along with most money in politics, but again I digress.)

What's important is that we hear everyone out on the issues. Because we often ignore what candidates are saying about the issues when we don't like the messenger.

There's value to recognizing when someone you disagree with is on the same page as you about something

I'm not trying to be naive here. I know politics can be a dogfight and just how partisan things have gotten in America. I also know how politicians and the media often go straight for the easy dig, oversimplify things, and turn political races into petty high school brawls.

The whole setup of politics is kind of like rooting for a sports team. You're not going to cheer the Patriots if you're a Jets fan (poor, poor Jets fans). And I wouldn't expect you to cheer for Rubio if you're a Trump supporter. And I definitely wouldn't presume you'd pat Ben Carson on the back if you love Hillary Clinton.

However, there's value to recognizing when someone you disagree with is on the same page as you about something. Remembering they are humans helps keep the conversation civil while we're taking our own stands. And yeah, it's OK to stand up and quietly nod in agreement, even if you sit down and go back to being a Jets fan.

My sympathies to any Jets fans.

Obviously, being a fan of one sport over another doesn't determine whether my family will have access to health care or how much I pay in taxes. My Denver Broncos won't be starting a Super PAC and running ads about how my senator is a cartoonishly evil super-villain who hates freedom and/or wants the terrorists to win.

The reality is that all the candidates on stage last night said things you or I might fundamentally disagree with. According to FactCheck.org and multiple other sources, many of the things they said weren't based in fact. But even when you don't like the messenger, it's important to listen to the message because the politicians are far less important than the issues facing America today. They won't fix themselves.

Even when you don't like the messenger, it's important to listen to the message.

The media, the candidates, and the system are all set up to hold no one accountable, to encourage partisanship, to get us all to yell past each other. So it's up to you and me to analyze ideas on their merits, to not fall for anyone's tricks or "gotcha" questions, to be diligent about facts, and to not be automatically dismissive of people we disagree with.

Baby steps to democracy.

Connections Academy

Wylee Mitchell is a senior at Nevada Connections Academy who started a t-shirt company to raise awareness for mental health.

True

Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

TikTok about '80s childhood is a total Gen X flashback.

As a Gen X parent, it's weird to try to describe my childhood to my kids. We're the generation that didn't grow up with the internet or cell phones, yet are raising kids who have never known a world without them. That difference alone is enough to make our 1980s childhoods feel like a completely different planet, but there are other differences too that often get overlooked.

How do you explain the transition from the brown and orange aesthetic of the '70s to the dusty rose and forest green carpeting of the '80s if you didn't experience it? When I tell my kids there were smoking sections in restaurants and airplanes and ashtrays everywhere, they look horrified (and rightfully so—what were we thinking?!). The fact that we went places with our friends with no quick way to get ahold of our parents? Unbelievable.

One day I described the process of listening to the radio, waiting for my favorite song to come on so I could record it on my tape recorder, and how mad I would get when the deejay talked through the intro of the song until the lyrics started. My Spotify-spoiled kids didn't even understand half of the words I said.

And '80s hair? With the feathered bangs and the terrible perms and the crunchy hair spray? What, why and how?

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