Gay Edelman

Kids Who Cut: What Parents Can Do

Written on June 7, 2011 at 4:53 pm , by

I will never forget the first time I saw cutting scars. This was a few years ago and a bunch of us 20-somethings had gathered for dinner at a friend’s house and there was a new woman there. When her sleeves rolled back, I saw that the insides of her forearms were rope-y with scars from wrist to elbow. I hope I covered my shock. I never knew what pain had caused her to torture herself so–but the image stayed with me.

Fast forward to our July issue and our story on cutting. While I was editing it, what was hard  to understand at first, and then to explain, was how one pain (the cutting) can release another (the emotional). It seems to be a question of focus–even ritual—for kids who hurt themselves this way.

I’m so glad the girl in our story, Caia, is doing well. I worry for the kids who still suffer. The best news in the piece is that early intervention can make a huge difference. Raising kids can be so hard, don’t you think? And so joyful when they—and you—come through. What have been some of your biggest challenges?

Does Letting Kids Drink Teach Them to Drink Responsibly?

Written on June 2, 2011 at 3:56 pm , by

Okay, the debate I’ve been having with the immediate world for years is finally resolved. Score one for making your kids wait for the legal drinking age to take their first alcohol. A recent study has blown a great big hole in the idea that letting kids drink with their parents is a way to teach them to drink responsibly. In fact, teens who drank under adult supervision actually went on to have bigger problems with alcohol.

There are some moms and pops (who shall remain nameless, but you know who you are) who believe in this. I never bought it, and believe there are better ways to guide them.  You don’t need me to tell you that kids who abuse themselves with alcohol in scary ways, with horrifying consequences.  What do you say? This is a topic about which reasonable people disagree. But the research is clear.

Which Is Worse, Shoplifting or Pot?

Written on June 1, 2011 at 4:46 pm , by

When I was editing the article Sticky Fingers about shoplifting, for our June issue, the thing that really got to me was that lots of kids don’t seem to take ethics seriously. According to the Josephson Institute, which tracks adolescent thoughts and attitudes, a third of kids say they’ve stolen from a store. Yet 92 percent of teens say they’re okay with their ethical stands. This means there’s a whole bunch of kids who steal but don’t see anything wrong with it.

But some of the research our writer turned up shows that parents do have a problem with kids stealing—and maybe a little too much of a problem. Some moms and dads are so afraid of having a child who steals that they say they’d rather their kids did drugs. Seriously. A study from Columbia University’s Center for Addiction and Substance Abuse found that 52 percent of parents would be more upset if their child shoplifted than if he smoked pot.

So, I’m asking. What’s going on here? Drugs not heists? Somebody, please explain.

Saving for Your Kids’ Retirement!?!

Written on May 26, 2011 at 1:52 pm , by

I work in a cube so I do try to keep the noise to a minimum but when I got in a press release, “Should You Start Planning for Your Kids’ Retirement?” I had to laugh out loud in a you-have-got-to-be-kidding way. I mean, I just really started being somewhat serious about my own retirement a few years ago. Now I need to plan for the boys’? Well, yes and no. This was also partly one CPA’s clever idea of how to teach your kids—and yourself—about money.

Rick Rogers offers these suggestions, among others: Starting at  16, contribute $5000 year to a Roth IRA for your child. (Sure; right after I pay off the yacht. And Rutgers University.) Everyone should save at least 10 percent of take home. (Okay; this makes sense. Not happening–see RU, above–but something to aspire to.) Take half of what you have been spending on your kids’ games and tech and invest in for the kid instead. (Now this is starting to make some sense.)  Get in the habit of saving something regularly rather than waiting for a big sum to show up.  (All right, I’m convinced.) So what about you? Are you preparing your offspring to continue living in style? I thought I was doing that just by sending them to college, but, hey, I could always be doing better, right?

Teach kids about money

Written on May 2, 2011 at 12:13 pm , by

A recent Western Union survey says that 24% of consumers don’t save at all, and that 39% don’t pay their bills on time. Yikes! I’m really worried about family money stress, the messages kids are getting about spending, saving and giving.  We don’t need studies to tell us that kids catch their parents’ stress, although that research exists. If we’re freaked out about money, they will be, too. And that’s not only miserable for everyone, it doesn’t give kids the basic skills they need for life. What to do? Maybe if we focus on the family in family finances, we’ll all do better. A great way to learn is to teach, whether you’re a professional in a classroom or the parent-teacher-leader person in the home. Lots of good stuff in this Family Circle story to make it work. Piece is written by Sarah Mahoney, one of our favorite writers who has raised five–count ‘em!–teens.  I know a lot of parents will do for their kids what they won’t necessarily do for themselves. So here’s the deal: Teach your children well, and everybody wins. Make sense?