How do you know when to say no and when to say yes?I wish I had a crystal ball when it comes to answering my children’s questions. After three kids, you would think I could make decisions in seconds.
Instead, I labor over whether I should let them spend the night at a friend’s house, go shopping without me, or attend a concert or some other freedom-enhancing activity.
If the girls ask me if they can have ice cream or my son says, “O-Gurt,” because he wants a second helping of yogurt, those are pretty easy decisions – not life-changing. If it’s the wrong answer … well, there really is no wrong answer to these questions.
But, when my 14-year-old asked me this week if she could attend a concert with a friend, this was a big deal to me. And, while I don’t want to ”ruin her life” or be ”too overbearing,” it’s my job to protect her. God gave me that job, and I take it seriously.
My first response to her when she couldn’t tell me where the concert was planned, was “no.” Well, that didn’t go over too well. She was obviously not happy and expressed that unpleasantness quite well.
Not expecting her reaction, I thought I would dig some more. Yea! I at least found out the name of the group. Progress.
When met with more defensiveness, I said no again.
You would have thought I would have stopped there, but something told me she really wanted to go to this event.
Then, I went to the Internet, searched the location of the concert (Yes! There really was a concert at a well-established venue), looked into our newspaper’s archives for stories written about the event (Yes! More information – and written by a friend!!!), and then I talked to the reporter the next day and was assured this was going to be a really exciting concert event that would be good for my daughter.
Finally, I spoke to my daughter’s friend’s mother who assured me she would be attending with the girls.
Then, my answer was “yes.”
Whew! …. Making decisions on candy and “O-Gurt” are a lot less stressful!
– Linda Lynn
The campaign hopes to help the teens deal with unwanted text messages from other teens seeking sexual messages, pictures or videos. This also applies to such requests made online.
Teen and their parents are invited to explore a new Web site at www.Thatsnotcool.com.
The Web site offers teens some ways to respond to the so-called “textual harrasment,” among other interesting information.
The Ad Council (www.adcouncil.org) is a private, non-profit organization that marshals talent from the advertising and communications industries, the facilities of the media, and the resources of the business and non-profit communities to produce, distribute and promote public service campaigns on behalf of non-profit organizations and government agencies in issue areas such as improving the quality of life for children, preventive health, education, community well-being, environmental preservation and strengthening families.
The council is partnering on this new campaign with other agencies, incluing the National Family Violence Prevention Fund.
For those who don’t keep up with the show, it airs on the ABC Family Channel on Monday nights and chronicles the life of pregnant teen Amy Juergens, along with the lives of her family and friends.
Ricky, the father of Amy’s baby, was the victim of not only physical abuse, but sexual abuse from his father. The news comes out because Ricky’s father just got out of prison and wants to re-enter his son’s life and, get this, sell Amy and Ricky’s baby to somebody that wants a baby.
Ricky had the emotional scenes this episode as he almost tearfully tells Adrian and some others the truth about why his father went to prison.
You could tell that the molestation and physical abuse has tortured the boy. It helped shed light on why Ricky acts the way he acts.
In other scenes, Amy tells Ben, her boyfriend, that he can’t come with her to her ultrasound. Ben’s father gives his son some much-needed advice, telling him not to count on doing that kind of thing with Amy since she’s just a young teen like himself, he’s not the father of her baby, and frankly, she’s in a pretty tough situation.
Oh, and Amy learned the sex of the baby.
Things have started to get more than a little complicated for Amy. My hope is that teens watching the program will be able to see that and maybe think about just how complicated their own lives would become should they become pregnant or get get someone pregnant.
The biggest complication of them all is coming down the pike: Amy has to decide whether or not she’s going to give the baby up for adoption.
As the show progresses, it looks like viewers are going to be able to see how much angst this causes and what the implications are behind that decision.
This is my scheduled posting for the week and it is late because there has been so much going on this week. However, I did manage to see the latest episode of “Secret Life” on Monday and it was probably one of the better ones.
For those late the game, “Secret Life” is a television show airing on Monday evenings on the ABC Family Channel. It chronicles the life of a pregnant teenager named Amy Juergens, her family and friends.
In this week’s episode, Adrian’s father talks bluntly with her about Ricky. Adrian is the show’s “bad girl,” so to speak, but viewers have been able to see what her home life is like and exactly why she is the way she is. Ricky is the show’s “bad boy,” for lack of a better term. He’s the father of the Amy’s baby.
Adrian’s father, who just recently came into her life, is an assistant district attorney who wants to help his daughter get her life on track. She makes excellent grades but has been labeled the school slut for good reason.
Her father tells her that Ricky is just using her, having sex with her at night while taking Grace, a Christian girl, out on actual dates.
It’s the classic “hook-up” scenario that teens will tell you about if you ask them.
The show has been criticized for stereotyping the characters, and yet we know that so many teen girls are looking for love and settling for sex, then get hurt when the guy discards them and moves on.
I think the straight talk that Adrian’s dad gave her was this episode’s main message.
We’ll have to see if she takes his advice and leaves Ricky alone.
Meanwhile, Ricky is having lots of trouble of his own. His dad is back from prison and there’s some mystery about why he was in prison in the first place.
Even if the plot keeps twisting (this is TV, OK?), I still see the show as a good way for parents to open up some interesting (and hopefully meaningful) discussions about relationships and sex.
One thing I can say is that I was reminded once again that this is TV — entertainment with a capital E.
I kind of thought one of the scenes with the parents was a bit too much, considering that lots of teens watch the show. On the other hand, the way a teen’s parents function together — or don’t function together — certainly impacts the family dynamics. In that way, the scene was probably justified.
If you saw the episode, you’ll probably guess which scene I’m referring to.
Probably the biggest impact of this episode, in terms of realism, was the scene when Amy’s mother, portrayed by Molly Ringwald, told her daughter in no uncertain terms that she would have to get familiar with the idea that she would become a mother in just a few short months and HER ENTIRE LIFE AS SHE KNEW IT WOULD CHANGE FOREVER.
That is the best part of this new show, I think, getting that idea in teens’ brains: Babies change your life forever. Period.
The reality sank in for Amy immediately.
Guess what? She’s even more scared now than she was before … and rightfully so.
Here’s hoping that this show serves as a wakeup call for some teens.
Hey, and I’d love to know what you thought about this week’s episode. Don’t forgot to share your comments …
P.S., I almost forgot: What in the world is Grace, the show’s Christian girl thinking? She has proclaimed to her mother that she is now “in love” with bad boy Ricky, the father of Amy’s baby. I’m thinking that she is very naive and a lot like so many girls out there.
The show, which began July 2008, has been called realistic by some, downright campy by others.
Either way, the dramedy about a pregnant high school girl may be of interest to teens and their parents.
I enjoy the show because it brings up some interesting scenarios that today’s teens and their parents (myself included) can discuss in an informal setting.
The show airs on Mondays this season and I’ll likely blog about it each Tuesday. It would be great to get some feedback/comments from others who watch the show as the season continues.
The issues raised on the show hit home particularly in light of Staff Writer Susan Simpson’s story about teen pregnancy featured in today’s Oklahoman.
The story notes that Oklahoma’s teen birth rate is among the nation’s highest, according to statistics compiled by the U.S. Centers for Disase Control and Prevention.
The story went on to quote Sharon Rodine, director of youth initiatives at the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy, as saying that 2007 data for the state also shows an increase in teens giving birth.
Having said all that, I won’t comment on this week’s “Secret Life” season premiere because some folks might not realize that the new season has begun.
I’ll drop you a hint about the premiere’s focus, though: Something old, something new …
My 14-year-old started reading the Twilight book series sometime last year and got hooked. “A book series on vampires?” I thought. “Should I question what she’s reading?” But one of her middle school friends just loved the books.
And, when “Breaking Dawn,” the fourth book, was due out in bookstores she could hardly wait.
Another friend bought her a T-shirt with a verse something like: “The forbidden fruit is always the sweetest.” … I made her exchange it for a different shirt. I couldn’t help think that the T-shirt was just a bit inappropriate for a young teen. And, when I walked into Hot Topic, the hip store with body piercing studs, tons of scary images on T-shirts and lots of black – It was like the anti-Claire’s of the mall – I couldn’t help feeling just a little conspicuous and a lot uncomfortable. But I wanted her to at least get something toned down.
For her birthday, she received more Twilight stuff – a really cute zip-up hoodie, but, still, I teetered on the edge of whether this was a good thing.
Then comes the movie. My 28-year-old niece and her mother suggests we all go together. Me? me? Maybe I can get out of this. But it sounded fun just because I would be with my two sisters and their daughters and my daughter. OK. I’ll try it.
When the previews began, the movies were gruesome, scary films. Oh, no! What have I done?! I’ve just brought my teenaged daughter to a slasher, blood-sucking vampire movie! My older niece who is in college even covered her eyes.
Then, the movie started ….. And I loved it! I plan to read the books.
Now, I’ve seen it twice. Some friends have seen it three, four and five times! These are women my age!
Although my husband is tired of me raving about the movie, my friends aren’t. He made the comment that I was acting just like a “14-year-old.”
Well, my daughter might disagree. But there’s worth in finding an interest in something your daughter likes. She doesn’t seem to want to talk about it with me. She’d rather talk about it with her friends and cousins.
So, I’ll just talk about it with the rest of my “14-year-old-going-on-45″ friends.
– Linda Lynn
I’ve been looking for one and think I’ve picked out the one she’ll get for Christmas.
Since we’ve been talking about cell phones quite a bit these days, I’ve taken the time to talk to her about the results of a recent survey conducted by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and CosmoGirl.com.
The results, released recently, found that one in five teen girls (22 percent), and 11 percent of teen girls ages 14-16, said they have electronically sent or posted online nude or semi-nude images of themselves.
According to the “Sex and Tech” survey, these images are getting passed around by their peers: One third (33 percent) of teen boys and one-quarter (25 percent) of teen girls said they have had nude/semi-nude images, orginally meant to be private, shared with them.
I had already heard of this type of thing occuring, particulary images sent via cell phone. When this survey was released I learned that this type of behavior has informally been dubbed “sexting.”
The survey concluded that what teens and young adults are doing electronically seems to have an effect on what they do in real life. Nearly one-quarter of teens (22 percent) admitted that technology makes them personally more forward and aggressive. More than one-third of teens (38 percent) said exchanging sexy content makes dating or “hooking up” with others more likely and nearly one-third of teens (29 percent) said they believe those exchanging sexy content are “expected” to date or “hook up.”
“That so many young people say technology is encouraging an even more casual, hook-up culture is reason for concern, given the high rates of teen and unplanned pregnancy in the United States,” Marisa Nightingale, senior advisor to the Entertainment Media Program at the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, said in a news release.
“Parents should understand that their own notions of what’s public, what’s private, and what’s appropriate, may differ greatly from how teens and young adults define these concepts.”
By the way, according to the survey girls are not the only ones sharing sexually explicit content: Almost one in five teen boys (18 percent) said they have sent or posted nude/semi nude images of themselves.
Find out more about the survey, including some helpful tips for parents, by clicking here: “Sex and Tech survey”
If it’s a TV show that has parents and teens talking on the subject, so be it.
“Hopefully the talk will lead to some positive discussions for some young people because we have been ignoring them for too long,” Rodine said.
Some critics have jabbed at the new ABC Family show “The Secret Life of the American Teenager,” saying that it focuses on sex too much and that it plays a lot like a soap opera parody, but others, like Rodine and leaders with the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, say it has folks talking and that’s worth a lot.
Rodine said it’s often hard to get people in Oklahoma to see how much teen pregnancy has become a concern.
“Between 2005 and 2006, and that’s the latest data we have, the births to teens in
“It’s an alarm bell going off because, in so many ways, we’ve become complacent.”
Rodine said it’s sometimes hard for people to relate to numbers so she found another way to describe the problem.
“How do we help the public understand what this means? To help put this in perspective I tell people that the number of teens giving birth in
“We need to say ‘diplomas before diapers’.”
With that said, here are some national statistics from the National Campaign to ponder:
– The teen pregnancy and birth rate has declined dramatically since the early 1990s (down 38 percent and 32 percent respectively), driven by decreased sexual activity and increases in contraceptive use. Even so, recent data shows that the declines in teen sex and improvements in contraceptive use have leveled off. And the teen birth rate is on the rise for the first time in 15 years.
I’m taking my daughter to the upcoming Jonas Brothers concert. I know, I know. It’s a splurge.
My husband’s already mentioned the cost to me several times. (He calls them the “Donut Brothers.” He just doesn’t understand.) But I want to indulge Katie, 13, a little in what has teetered between a youthful crush and a small-time obsession. (Afterall, we missed the Hannah Montana concert. Yes, I’m still a little miffed at the whole experience of trying to buy those elusive seats.)
So, pricey, yes. But this is something she will remember when she gets older.
She’s excited. Her friends are excited.
But not everyone has tickets to this exciting summer concert. So, Katie’s friends enlisted her help recently when a local radio station was having a call-in to win Jonas Brothers tickets. You just had to be the 100-and-something caller to win.
She checked with me first. That was sweet. …. I said it was OK.
So she and her little sister, Kaci, pitched in to start calling, and I went on about my business.
A little later Katie came back and asked, “Is it costing money if I stay on the phone?” No, it’s a local call.
She was relieved, explaining that Kaci had been waiting on the phone for 15 minutes, but the line was busy. …
… It took a few seconds, and then I began to chuckle and explained to her that if the line is busy, you have to hang up and call again.
“oh, man,” she said.
Needless to say, she didn’t win more tickets. …
– Linda Lynn