parenting advice

It Takes a Village to Stop Your Child from Sneaking

Written on April 26, 2012 at 11:16 am , by

Teen parenting expert Rosalind Wiseman answers your tough questions.

My sister Zoe is 27, has no children and lives a fabulous New York life. She’s visiting me in DC for a few days, and as I write this she’s sitting here wearing the most fabulous Patricia Field dark pink glittering pants that perfectly match the color of her hair—well, two segments of it anyway.

You may think that my sister, with her lack of parenting experience and fabulous pants, wouldn’t know how to hold her own with kids. That would be a mistake. Because Zoe knows my children will try to exploit every opportunity to get what they want.

Today she called me while watching my kids, and I was reminded of how cool it is when siblings provide crucial parental backup.

Zoe: Are they allowed to watch TV right now?

Me: Of course not. What did they say?

Zoe: I asked Roane (the 9-year-old), “Did you ask your parents if you could watch TV?” And he said yes. So I said, “Are you telling me the truth?” And you know what he said? “Do I have to be 100% positive about my answers?”

Me: He really said that?

Zoe: Yup. So I told him that while that was a very good answer and he’s very cute, I was calling you to find out.

It was a small moment, really insignificant in the larger scheme of things. But such moments teach my boys some very important things about the adults in their family: We’re no fools. We will and do talk to each other. And although we love them unconditionally, that doesn’t mean we believe them unconditionally.

Do you have a parenting dilemma for Rosalind? Send an email to askrosalind@familycircle.com.

Rosalind Wiseman helps families and schools with bullying prevention and media literacy. Her book “Queen Bees and Wannabes” inspired the hit movie “Mean Girls.” She writes the Ask Rosalind column for Family Circle, and blogs about parenting tweens and teens on Momster.com.

Watch Cartoon Network’s New Documentary on Bullying with Your Kids

Written on March 15, 2012 at 10:02 pm , by

Have you been looking for a good way to start a conversation about bullying with your child? This Sunday, March 18, make it a family event to watch Cartoon Network’s new documentary film on bullying, called Speak Up. I’m so proud to tell you about this project because I’ve been working behind-the-scenes on its development. Plus, during and after the telecast, I’ll be answering questions online from parents and kids and talking further with families about key bullying issues at www.StopBullyingSpeakUp.com.

President Obama will be giving the openings statement to the 30-minute film, encouraging students, parents, and teachers to take a stand on bullying. Whatever your politics, it’s so important that our children see our President speak out against bullying. After seeing Mr. Obama speak at the White House Conference on Bullying last March, I can truly say that Mr. Obama cares deeply about this issue, not just as the President but as a father of two young girls.

The movie premieres commercial-free this Sunday at 5:30 p.m. ET (with an encore telecast at 8 p.m.), and shows candid interviews with kids, between 8 and 13, who either are or have been the target of bullies, bystanders in a bullying situation or even bullies themselves. Although it may not be easy, I suggest paying particular attention to the section where the kids share experiences of telling their parents about bullying. It’s always good to check in with your child to see how they feel about asking for help or telling you about a problem like bullying.  Ask them if they have suggestions for how you can improve your reactions and make it easier for them to reach out to you. It’s so important that our kids feel that they can share with us these difficult experiences and my sincere hope is that this film does a small part in doing that.

After the special, I hope you use the film as an on-going resource. To make that easier, Cartoon Network will post the special in its entirety on the website and you can see check it out on Xfinity, Facebook, iTunes and YouTube.com, for at least two weeks following the world premiere.

If you want to have a discussion with your child after you see it, here are some questions to get you started:

Which children said things you agreed with? Why?

Which children said things you disagreed with? Why?

Do you agree with Matt Willhem’s description of tattling or snitching and reporting?

 

Rosalind Wiseman helps families and schools with bullying prevention and media literacy. Her book “Queen Bees and Wannabes” inspired the hit movie “Mean Girls.”  She writes the Ask Rosalind column for Family Circle, and blogs about parenting tweens and teens on Momster.com.

What Should You Do If Your Child Is Bullied by Your Friend’s Child?

Written on February 15, 2012 at 12:21 pm , by

When bullying happens between kids we often forget that parents face their own challenges about how to handle the problem. Things get even more tricky if you’re the parent of the target and you are friends with the parent of the bully. There’s lot of reasons why but here are a few. You may have known the bully since they were little and know the good sides of them. It can be easy to dismiss what your kid says because the bully may act nicely when you’re around. Or it could just come down to the last thing you’d like to do is tell a good friend that their kid is mean. Ironically people think that if you’re good friends, facing situations like these should be easier. But often the opposite is the case. We are usually more reluctant to bring it up, more disappointed, and we worry more about the outcome. The challenge is that these problems usually don’t just disappear;  even if they did, feelings can be hurt on both sides. So, to give you an idea of how I advise people in this situation, I want to share an email I recently received from a mom and my response.

 

 

Hi Rosalind,

Reaching out to get some advice regarding my daughter Rachel and a bully, Sophie, in her school. Sophie has been mean to her on and off the last few years.  Sophie is also on Rachel’s soccer team, so she sees her mostly at recess and then after school at soccer practice.  My husband and I are also friends with Sophie’s parents, which doesn’t help the situation much.  Sophie is now bullying Rachel daily, at recess and on occasion at soccer. We are not sure if we should talk to her parents first about the issue or go directly to her teacher and principal and bypass her parents?  We are concerned that if we tell her parents then Rachel will be blamed for telling on her and the parents may only ground Sophie for a few weeks and then leave it alone.

 

I would greatly appreciate your advice.

 

Thanks kindly,

Julie

 

Dear Julie,

The hard truth is that since you’re friends with Sophie’s parents, you have to talk to them. Here’s the reason, if they find out from the school that you complained about Sophie instead of reaching out to them first, they’ll feel betrayed and therefore much less likely to work with you to solve the problem. And frankly if they felt this way they’d be right. Good friends should be able to say difficult things to each other. Of course, having this conversation can be really challenging so you must be strategic. Your first step is to decide between you and your husband which of you is the calmer representative of the family. I know that mothers usually are the ones to step forward here, but I really want you to consider having your husband do it instead. But no matter who does it (or both of you can too) this conversation needs to be in person or on the phone.

Here’s what he can say, “Because we’re friends this is a little uncomfortable to bring up with you, but it’s really important. We need your help because Sophie is still being mean to Rachel. From what Rachel tells us, it happens during recess and soccer practice. Can you please talk to Sophie about this so this stops? Please know that I know these things can go both ways, so if Rachel ever does anything to Sophie that you want to bring to our attention, please don’t hesitate to tell us. Thanks so much! Hey so do you guys want to check out that movie we were talking about last week?

 

Of course, Sophie’s parents may get defensive or say something to push back. The important thing to remember is that once you have told them, you have done right by them and Rachel. If Sophie does continue to bully Rachel, then it makes sense to involve the school. I talk to many parents who are in similar situations and I am happy to report that more often than not, when the other parents are approached with respect, the situation improves. But even if it doesn’t, you still have to do this because Rachel needs to see that when she’s bullied you can effectively advocate for her.

 

A Great New Advice Book for Teens and Their Parents

Written on January 26, 2012 at 6:44 pm , by

If you’re a parent of a teen you may have noticed that there are countless advice books out there. Some are good but some are a complete waste of time, so I wanted to share with you two excellent books that have recently come to my attention: Dear Dr. Wes: Real Life Advice for Teens and Dear Dr. Wes: Real Life Advice for Parents of Teens. I was drawn to check out these books because they are a rare collaboration between  a licensed psychologist, Dr. Wes Crenshaw from Lawrence, Kansas, and a group of teen editors. They don’t disappoint. The content is honest, straightforward, and compassionate to both teens and their parents, but doesn’t hold back from challenging the reader to hold themselves accountable for the decisions they make. In a nutshell, you’re getting the best of both worlds, a trained expert on mental health issues and adolescent development with the real life “check” of the teens.

As an example, I’d like to share a quote from the introduction:

“For advice to be really good, it must have equal parts empathy and wisdom. Bad advice never challenges you to think. It just asks that you obey. Good advice is always benevolent-meaning it’s given with your best interests in mind, even if it makes you angry at the time. In fact, a lot of good advice will do just that, and a lot of bad advice will feel pretty good at the time you’re taking it.”

 

 

Dr. Wes and the teens tackle real life problems that kids and teens write to me about all the time. For instance:

I don’t like my teacher so I don’t work hard in her class. What should I do?

 

I am constantly being ditched by my best friends…what do I do?

 

How do you deal with a parent who blames you for everything and doesn’t own up to his or her own mistakes?

 

If you want to find out their answers, and maybe have some of your own questions answered, get these books. I really think they’ll help both parents and teens alike; not only for the information provided, but also as a great way to start conversations between you and the kids you love. It’s published by Family Psychological Press and it’s readily available on-line via Dr. Wes’ own website or in book stores.