by Tracy Smith

We all know the teen years can be tough – so many emotions, hormones and pressures swirling around while we try to figure out our direction in the world.  Who wouldn’t get overwhelmed and feel down at times?

I just hope that if my kids are feeling upset and isolated that:

  • I am tuned in enough to pick up on it so I can help,
  • they are surrounded by good friends that are positive influences, and
  • they are confident enough to ask for help from the right people if they need it.

Too much to ask?  The teen years have not hit my household yet, but when I listen to the radio and hear some of the lyrics that get broadcast out to millions of teenagers across the globe every day, I am shocked by some of the advice and messages that are being downloaded and shared by the millions.

Is your teen sad? The music they listen to may send the wrong message.

On the depressed and feeling low theme… a new song titled ‘Cold Water’ featuring Justin Bieber opens with the lyrics:

“Everybody gets high sometimes, you know.”

Eeek! No, actually they don’t. In fact, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime found that only 16.8% of Canadians (ages 15-64) smoked marijuana … that leaves 84%!! of Canadians who don’t. The way musical artists rant out their lyrics, they would have us believe the majority of people are smoking pot or popping some sort of pill every weekend.

The song goes on to say:

“What else can we do when we’re feeling low?”

Actually, I can think of a lot of better things to do than “getting high” when you’re feeling down. How do musicians sleep at night knowing the influence and platform they have and the horrible advice and information they peddle.

Is Your Teen Sad? Things they can do when they’re feeling low

The website kidshealth.org recommends some of the following tips for teens that are feeling depressed or in a bad mood:

  • Exercise for 15-30 minutes with an elevated heart rate
  • Eat healthy – stay away from the junk food
  • Get enough sleep
  • Limit your screen time and spend face-to-face time with people or pets
  • Be creative – draw, create, write, dance, doodle
  • Cry – it’s okay and sometimes it makes you feel a lot better
  • Talk and spend time with a friend
  • If the sad and depressed feelings persist, talk to someone you trust – a parent, guidance teacher, close relative, coach – about getting some additional help from a counsellor.

I know as parents, we can’t control everything our kids are exposed to or ensure that they are always happy and thriving, but stay engaged, keep the lines of communication open and don’t forget to show them you love them – even when they are sad and pushing you away.

CMHA STATS: http://www.cmha.ca/media/fast-facts-about-mental-illness/#.V-q1FGVln-Y


Ever since receiving her red plastic writing folder in Mrs. Heaton’s grade three class, Tracy Smith has loved writing and telling stories. As a professional writer and communications strategist with more than 50 published articles under her belt, Tracy’s work has appeared in national and local publications, newspapers and magazines … and now proudly on amotherworld. To learn more visit bytracysmith.com



Is Your Teen Sad? Music They Listen To May Send Wrong Message


Okay parents, here’s another thing to worry about! As parents, are we too lenient and soft with our kids? Or are we too firm, to the point of being harsh?

Harsh Parenting Can Affect Kids School Success

A new study in the journal Child Development shows how being too firm, to the point of being harsh — which includes yelling, hitting and shoving and using other verbal and physical threats as punishment — could negatively impact our children’s ability to succeed in high school and college.

Now I don’t agree with hitting, shoving and using physical threats obviously. But yelling?

I mean come oooooon…. My kids don’t listen after 10 times, so naturally, I’m going to raise my voice by the 11th time. Will that make them fail in high school?

Harsh Parenting Can Impact Child’s Educational Achievement

Apparently harsh parenting can impact a child’s educational achievement in the long term based on how it affects relationships with peers, sexual behavior and delinquency, according to Rochelle Hentges, a postdoctoral psychology fellow at the University of Pittsburgh.

The study involved following more than 1,500 students over a nine-year period, from seventh grade until three years after the students were expected to graduate high school. Students were asked whether their parents yelled at them, hit them and/or shoved them to get a sense of how much physical or verbal aggression they experienced. They were also asked about their own relationships with peers, sexual activity and delinquency such as shoplifting.

The children who said in grade 7 that they experienced harsh parenting were more likely to say in the grade 9 that their peers were more important to them than following their parents’ rules or doing homework. These kids were more likely to engage in risky behaviors by the 11th grade, which included more sexual activity for girls, and hitting and stealing for boys.  Also, these students were then more likely to drop out of high school or college.

“If you’re in this harsh or unstable environment, you’re kind of set up to look for immediate rewards instead of focusing on the long-term outcomes,” said Hentges, the lead author of the study. She believes there is an evolutionary response to verbally and physically aggressive parenting.

Evolutionary Response to Aggression?

“The premise of that is like in our ancestral environment, if you had this unstable or high-danger environment, it wouldn’t make sense for you to put a lot of time and resources toward something that might be in the future if you’re not going to live to see that future.”

Harsher parenting also leads children to have less attachment to their parents and come to overly rely on their peers, said Hentges.

“When you have this type of parenting, from a very early age you are basically kind of getting this message that you are not loved, and you’re getting this rejection message, so it would make sense to try and find that acceptance elsewhere,” she said.

“So that’s kind of why you go toward these peers and you’re trying to get validation from them, and if that means that you’re going to engage in behaviors that maybe you wouldn’t do normally just to get that validation, then you’re going to do that.”

Hentges and her colleagues at the University of Pittsburgh factored out other issues such as race, income level, test scores and GPA, parental education levels and how much students valued education to try to home in on the impact of harsh parenting on the student’s ultimate educational success or failure.

The research is based on reports only from students, not teachers or parents, and considered students from one geographic area, so the study is limited. But the study’s findings are enough to take note.

How can parents adjust their parenting?

Trying to eliminate or reduce any verbal or physical aggression would allow kids to grow up in a more supportive environment, which could then reduce their over-reliance on their peers and the chances or engaging in risky behaviors. Even if you can’t target the parenting, you can try to take steps to interrupt kids’ extreme dependence on peers and risky sexual behavior and delinquency, which can impact overall educational achievement, Hentges said.

She also suggests taking a step back to recognize why kids are doing what they are doing. If you understand that they are reacting to “high-danger situation” like a threat, they are going to focus on short-term gains as opposed to long-term outcomes. So the strategies should follow suit.

For example, telling kids that education is important for their long-term success will likely motivate them. But for students who are struggling in their day-to-day lives, simply telling them won’t work. For these kids, hands-on projects and experiences, and peer-to-peer learning may be more effective as it’ll make school appear rewarding and fulfilling.

“If you can make education rewarding in the short term and in the immediate, that might actually promote higher engagement, which would relate to higher educational attainment in terms of getting a high school degree and going to college,” Hentges said.

“For people who say that we’re not strict enough, I think that it’s very important to recognize there’s a difference between being harsh and being firm,” Hentges said. “Rules are great, but they need to followed up with in a warm and supportive environment. … Permissive parenting where there are no rules is bad as well.”

by Dee Brun aka CocktailDeeva

“Let the Games Begin!”  “Letʼs get ready to RUMBLE!!!” or maybe “and in this corner…”  I don’t know! And it’s killing me!

No, I am not talking about some huge sporting event, but in my life this is a HUGE event and it has me worried and a wee bit scared. Have not felt this way since my eldest daughter’s first day of school, and here I am 10 years later having to go through it all again.

Only this time I donʼt have the control…and I NEED the control! Donʼt we all? Is this not why we become parents, to have ULTIMATE CONTROL and POWER?  Ok…I am exaggerating but really just a little.

My fabulous 14 year old daughter is starting HIGH SCHOOL in mere weeks and I am losing my shit…literally!

It has me a weee bit stressed out. All the logistics aside, bus pass, student I.D. card, uniform…and who knows what else. What about the fact that she has to take the city bus every day? Itʼs a CITY BUS! With strangers on it, and weirdos, kidnappers and sex offenders OH MY!

See this is where my mind goes, I canʼt help it. I have tried! I am not a helicopter parent, I let her have some freedoms, but my brain just pictures the absolute worst when she sets off on a new adventure. I donʼt know how to shut it off… Then after she survives all the “evil” goings on on the bus…she actually makes it to HIGH SCHOOL! Where lurking in the halls are sex starved pre-pubes-ant boys, alcohol, drugs, sex-ting, rainbow parties, pill parties.  OH MY! This is right about the time my head physically explodes off my shoulders.

How in the hell do I protect her from all of this? To all those people who say “You canʼt raise your kids in a Bubble!”, right about now is when I start searching eBay for said Bubble! I am really at a loss on this one. I am putting on the brave “She will be fine” face, but deep down , in places you donʼt talk about at parties…I AM FREAKING OUT! Itʼs not that I donʼt trust my daughter I do, I truly feel she will make good choices. I just donʼt trust everyone else. I know this is all me and that I have to let go and calm down and just stop being so CRAZY…I know all these things and tell myself this everyday, but it does nothing.

So to sum up a whole lot of, well nothing…I am just going to have to tackle this new adventure one day at a time, like a crazed control freak addict in re-hab. I am so not good with the whole not knowing what will happen thing, but will go with the flow so my daughter can suck every last ounce of enjoyment (and education) out of her High School experience. If any of you have been through this I would love your insight…and stay tuned for THE ADVENTURES OF A MOM WITH A DAUGHTER IN HIGH SCHOOL! Hmmm that is a really lame title…will have to work on that one.

Dee Brun aka Cocktail Deeva is the author of the stirring book Libations of Life, A Girls Guide to Life One Cocktail at a Time. She has combined imaginative cocktails with witty accounts of dating, carousing, dieting and simply put, the ups and downs of Life. Visit her website: www.cocktaildeeva.com