How to Raise A Respectful Teenager

How to Raise A Respectful Teenager

High school and the teenage years are a very difficult time for many teens and parents. This time of life has become even more difficult with the advancement of social media, a majority of children over 12 years old having smart phones and computer technology not to mention the increase in drugs that are currently available to teens. Teens have access to designer drugs such as ecstasy, spice and pink as well as prescription drugs such as Vicodin or Concerta can easily be obtained on any middle school or high school campus today. And yes, this is the true. These drugs are available on middle school campuses. Furthermore, the current state of politics in our country has made life more difficult for parents. It is hard to ask your teenager to be respectful of others when they see the leaders of our nation being disrespectful to people.
Our society is advancing and changing so fast that life is becoming overwhelming and confusing for teenagers and for parents too. One thing that has not changed is that parents are a child’s main role models for life. However, many parents have forgotten that they are their teenagers primary role models. Many parents have also forgotten that they can tell their teenagers no. They do not have to buy their teenager the latest smart phone or the latest fashion.

I have many parents tell me that they do not feel respected by their children in middle school or teenagers. However, very often, parents don’t require teenagers to be respectful. Many parents may set rules and their teenager blatantly ignore their parents and their are no consequences. Parents tell me this often and I suggest suspending their teenager’s phone service or not taking them on family trips. Many parents looked at me and say they cannot do that to their teenager. Their teen relies on their cellphone or have been counting on a certain family trip. Parents also tell me if they take such actions their teen will become very difficult to live with and might break things in the house.

So who is in charge? Your teenager is in charge. Remember they know you very well. They know you will be anxious or feel guilty about imposing tough consequences. Therefore, they are not afraid to disrespect you and do what they want because they know there will be little to no consequences.

Therefore parents if you want respect, don’t be afraid to impose consequences. Remember your teenager needs you to pay their bills and give them consent to get a drivers license. Parents you have more power than you realize. Also if you don’t expect respect and allow disrespect that is what you are going to get.

Many times I have explained to the teens I work with how much their parents do for them. I then ask what would happen if mom and dad stop doing all these things? Teenagers always stop and think at this point. If the teen still chooses to test the limits with their parents, as soon as they see mom and dad will stand by what they say, they soon learn to respect mom and dad. Parents you must remember to only set limits that you are willing to follow through with and impose. If you don’t impose the limits you have set, your teenager will not respect your word or authority.

Parents it is also important to remember that you cannot just start teaching your child about respect when your child turns 13 or 15 years old. By this point in their life, you have established patterns of disrespect. You need to start setting limits and taking to your children about respect when they are one or two years old. This way it is a concept they grow up with through their lives. It is a process that takes time. It is important that you remember this fact.

Besides discussing respecting their parents it is important that you also talk about respecting authority figures such as grandparents, police and teachers. It is also important that you talk about respecting themselves. Remind them they are special and worthy of being treated nicely by other people. It is important that you educate your child and teenager that no one has a right to use them or make them feel bad about themselves. They need you to remind them that they are important and no one has a right to disrespect them either.

Remember, since your child was born, they have been watching you and studying you about how to act and what actions are appropriate and what is inappropriate. They have been listening to what you have been saying to them about how to act as a responsible, decent member of society. I know many parents feel that once their child started middle school that their child stopped listening to them, but that is not true. They may act like they are not listening or that they don’t care about your opinion, but they do.

I have teenagers come into my office all the time and complain that they feel like their parents do not care about what they do. Often teenagers make this assumption because they say their parents set no boundaries for them or they feel that the parent cares more about their careers than their children. At times parents do focus more on careers or stop setting limits because they feel that their child doesn’t listen to them. Parents often feel this way because their teenager will say, “I don’t care what you think or I don’t care what you do”. However, they do care and often they say these things or act this way because they feel hurt.

Every child, no matter what they say, wants to know that they are important to you, that you care about what they say and you care about what they do. One major problem that I encounter with parents is that many parents do not practice what they preach. Yes you are an adult and you have a right to drink alcohol or engage in other adult behaviors, but you need to do so responsibly. Therefore, if you drink alcohol, do so responsibly. Also watch how you speak to your teen and others. Do you do so in a respectful manner or are you rude to people?

A lot of parents will come in and tell me that their behavior doesn’t matter and that their child has no idea what they do so they can do what they want. The truth is, your behavior does matter and your children know what you are doing even if you think they do not know.

I have had eight year old children complain that “my mommy drinks too much wine”, or “my daddy smokes pot in the garage” or “my daddy talks mean to people”, or “my parents fight too much.”. When I try to talk to a teen about their behavior after they have said something like this, the teen responds if my parents can do it, why can’t I? This is difficult to argue with if the parents are using illegal drugs or abusing alcohol. Also the fact that eight year old children also make these comments demonstrate that if you want your teen to act respectful, then as a parent you need to model respectful behavior starting when they are born. Also children want to know that they are important to you and setting rules and enforcing rules communicate to your children that you care about them.

The bottom line is that as a parent you have the most significant role in your child’s life. If you want your child to grow up to be a mature, responsible adult, then you have to act like a mature, responsible adult and you need to do so from the day they are born.

In this world where things are changing over night, children need to know they can rely on their parents to protect them and guide them. Again given how fast society is changing, this is not an easy job for a parent. The easiest way to sum it up is to remember to practice what you preach.

Dr Michael Rubino has over 20 years experience working with teenagers and their parents. Dr Rubino is considered an expert in this area. For more information on Dr Michael Rubino and his private practice visit his website at or Facebook page at

I Have a Teenager and I’m Stressed

I Have a Teenager and I’m Stressed

I often hear for the teenagers that I see for psychotherapy how stressful it is to be a teenager. I hear about difficulties with school and parents. However, being the parent of a teenager is stressful for parents too. Parents also have to deal with school issues and other teen issues.
One on the first concerns parents face is the fact that their child is going to have more exposure to alcohol, drugs and sex. Many parents I talk to are shocked at the drugs high school kids are using today. Heroin is now common on high school campuses and parents are shocked. They are also shocked that middle schools are passing out condoms. They cannot believe how sexually active some teenagers are and how teens think about sex.

So what should parents do? Parents need to educate themselves about drug and alcohol use on high school campuses and about sexual activity rates for teenagers. After educating themselves then parents need to talk with their teenagers. Explain the risks associated with alcohol, drugs and sex. Also explain how to protect themselves if they decide to engage in any of these activities. This is not giving your teen permission, but you cannot control their decisions. If they decide to use drugs, you want them to be safe. Also explain your opinions about if you think they are ready for these issues or not. You do not want to preach, but it is important that your teenager is aware of your expectations. You cannot control their decisions, but you do not have to approve of their choices. This is something your teenager needs to understand. If they feel they are old enough to make these choices, then they are old enough to deal with your reactions.

Another major stress for parents is curfew. This is a common argument I hear in my office. As high school is starting you need to sit down with your teenager and agree on a curfew time. Ask find out what time curfew is for your city. It is not asking too much that your teenager is home at a decent hour. For Freshman, 11pm really is a realistic time. When you discuss curfew I suggest a contract where you specify the time and consequences for breaking curfew. If you have it in writing, if there is a disagreement you can settle it easily by referring to your contract.

Another major concern for parents is driving. Parents worry about who will be driving and how well do the drive. The other concern is the driver driving drunk or high. Parents worry about getting a call in the middle of the night that there was a car accident and there child is in the Emergency Room. With the recent changes in driving laws they decrease the chances of teen accidents. However, they do not stop teenage driving accidents. As parents you need to again sit down and discuss your concerns and agree on a contract. Agree about who they can drive with, who they cannot and keeping you informed. Again agree on consequences and write out a contract to decrease arguments.

Another major stressor for parents is money. Your teen wants to go out with friends and they need money for food, Starbucks or going to a movie. Parents also have to deal with the bills if your teen wants to play a sport or play an instrument or be a cheerleader. Parents have to pay for uniforms and a wide range of extras. Plus parents have to drive their teen to and from practices and games. Some sports such as football, there is practice daily.

These are only a few issues parents face when their child starts high school. They have to adjust to these and the fact that their child is getting older and is no longer a little kid. They are now young adults. We expect parents to adjust to all of these changes over night. Just like we need to give teenagers time to adjust to being in high school, we need to give parents time to adjust to having a child in high school. We also need to understand that parents will make mistakes during and after this adjustment period.

Parents you need to remember that you are going through a big adjustment just like your teenager. Also just like your teenager you need to allow yourself time to adjust and accept that you will make mistakes. You need to be patient and kind to yourself. Also if your teen is getting frustrated with you, do not be afraid to mention that you are going through an adjustment period too and they need to be patient with you.

Dr. Michael Rubino has worked with teenagers and their families for over 20 years. If you would like more information on Dr. Michael Rubino’s work or his private practice visit his website or his Facebook page

Teenage Drug Abuse & Suicide – Information for Parents

Teenage Drug Abuse & Suicide – Information for Parents

Many teens die from suicide and drug abuse. Suicide is the third leading cause of deaths for children 10 to 24 years old. One thing that contributes to teenage suicide is drug use. Specifically, the use of pain killers and heroin. In this article I attempt to describe both issues for parents. It is important for parents to be aware of these issues if we are going to stop them.
ABC 20/20 did a very good show the other night about the epidemic of heroin use in the United States. If you did not see it, you can probably find it on their website. Parents this is a show you need to see because many teenagers I work with are not afraid or concerned about how dangerous heroin can be.

According to ABC 20/20, 129 people die every year from a heroin overdose. A majority of these deaths are teens and people in their twenties. Heroin is used by people in the lower income level and by people who are the wealthiest in the country. It is used by whites, blacks, Hispanics basically every ethnic group. It is also used by males and females. Therefore, for the families in Lafayette, Walnut Creek and Danville who say we don’t have that problem here, yes you do. Also for parents and educators who think that if their child is in a private school they are less likely to use, you are wrong too. Heroin crosses all ethnic and economic boundaries. The epidemic is so severe some schools are teaching children in the 6th grade how to use Narcan. This drug can reverse an overdose of heroin if administered in time.

Therefore, parents in the Bay Area, you need to pay attention to this issue and these facts. You might be saving the life of your child or someone else you love.

As stated Heroin use to to be a drug of the past but it is now very popular with teens. Heroin is a cheaper alternative to many other drugs. For $10 a teenager can buy a capsule of heroin. This is much cheaper than other drugs.

Heroin is still mainly snorted or injected. Because it is injected teens are exposing themselves to HIV and Hepatitis C. Both are life threatening conditions with no cure. Also many girls who use heroin get pregnant but don’t realize they are pregnant until the 4th or 5th month. The girls stop but it is too late. The babies will be born drug addicted and if they live through withdrawals, these children will have on going health issues and learning disabilities. In addition to exposing themselves to diseases most teens use Heroin with other drugs such as alcohol. This makes the probability of overdosing on Heroin even higher. Heroin lowers a persons breathing rate and the drugs they are combining it with lower the breathing rate even more making an accidental over dose more likely. The rate of overdosing from Heroin has quadrupled over the years.

Why is Heroin coming back and very popular with teens? Heroin is very similar to the Opioid based pain killers that teens have been using for years. However, with the cost of pain killers rising on the streets and becoming harder to get due to new prescription laws, heroin is easier to get and cheaper. Also teens tend to like the high better. It is not uncommon for someone to get addicted after using heroin one time.

In the last few years heroin use has doubled in teenagers. What teens are at the highest risk? Those who have been using Opioid pain killers, those abusing marijuana and males. Remember it is very common for teens to combine heroin with other drugs and they are unaware of the impact it has on their breathing. They may collapse and not know why and by the time their friends get them to an emergency room it’s too late. Also teens may go to sleep after using and their breathing rate is so shallow they never wake up.

This is a very dangerous drug. If it doesn’t kill when the teen uses it the drug can kill when the teen contracts HIV or Hepatitis C. The rate of teens using this drug has doubled and the amount of people dying from an overdose has quadrupled over the last few years. Again, parents you cannot ignore this issue. Heroin is being used by upper class children and poor children, athletes, and all races. So it is impacting all teens.

The other major issue with this drug is stopping. Someone cannot just go off heroin. People can die from withdraw. However, finding a treatment center that is affordable or with an open space is very difficult. They may have to wait four months to get into a rehab center. This is very dangerous. When someone decides to stop heroin, they need to enter rehab immediately. If they have to wait even 2 days, they may not make it because they cannot stand the withdrawal symptoms.

If we get involved we can hopefully stop teens from using this highly addictive killer. I have attached a link to a handout by the CDC with facts, warning signs and suggestions to help your son if you think he is using heroin.

In addition to these issues, Heroin and drug abuse is linked to teenage suicide. These drugs besides creating a high, create depression. At times a depression so severe that a teenager decides they would be better off dead and they commit suicide. For the age group 10 to 24 years old, suicide is the third leading cause of death. Therefore, we need to pay attention to the pain killers and other drugs kids are using. And yes 10 year old kids are using these drugs too.

Many times the teen has decided they want to get clean and stop using the drug. However, as I mentioned above, finding an affordable treatment program with an open bed can be very difficult. Some teenagers may need to wait 2 months. This can be two months two long. The teenager may be so depressed and tired of living the drug life that they decide to kill themselves rather than endure the emotional and physical pain of waiting two months.

Another point is for some teenagers they have to try four or five times in rehab before they are successful. Again most teenagers are usually dealing with severe depression at this point. For them the thought of trying again and not succeeding is to much to tolerate. Therefore, they chose the option of suicide to eliminate their pain.

Finally, I mentioned a number of teenagers can overdose by accident, however it may not be an accident. These teens know these drugs very well so they know how to stage what will look like an accidental overdose. Therefore, we really don’t know how many teenagers are committing suicide due to being sick and tired of using drugs and living a drug life. Many of the accidental overdosages could really be suicides. There is no way to tell.

What we know is drug use and suicide are at an epidemic rate for teenagers. It is at a point where we need to get aggressive and provide better access to rehabilitation programs and better access to psychotherapy so the depression can be treated. We need a multi-disciplinary approach to this issue and we need to make it easy for teenagers and parents to use it.

Dr. Michael Rubino is a psychotherapist who has been working with teens for over 20 years and he is considered an expert in this field. For more information about Dr. Michael Rubino and his private practice visit his website at or his Facebook page at

Ecigarrets are Dangerous to Teens

Ecigarrets are Dangerous to Teens

Many teenagers have started vaporizing or using ecigarettes because they believe they are not as dangerous.  They believe because they are not smoking nicotine and tar that are in cigarettes that vaporizing is healthier.

However, the reality is that vaporizing is still dangerous to their health.  Teenagers have also started using a substance called “wax” because they feel that is safer too.  Wax is a highly concentrated form of marijuana.  It is advertised that all the harmful aspects of marijuana have been removed.  However, that is not true either.

Now ecigarretes are being sold in flavors such as strawberry and bubblegum.  Marketing the ecigarettes this way makes them sound safe and like candy.  However, this is not the truth.  UCSF has released a report regarding teenagers and ecigarretes and vaporizing.  I have a link below and I encourage parents to read this report and learn the facts.

Read the Facts about the dangers of ecigarretes‬.

Dr. Michael Rubino has over 20 years experience working with teenagers and their families.  For more information regarding Dr. Rubino’s work or private practice visit his website at or his Facebook page at

Autism and Sexuality

Autism and Sexuality

‪A webinar clinicians and parents should participate in. This is a topic we ignore but it is real. People are autistic do have sexual feelings and desires. 

However, because of society’s attitude about autism we never discuss the issue with autistic teenagers nor do we even consider the possibility that they have sexual feeling.  

I work with many autistic teens and they have sexual feelings. They are also able to express them in an appropriate manner and enjoy a sex life with a partner as an adult, if we discuss the issue with them.

Please sign up for this webinar.‬

Wevorce Newsletter 

Wevorce Newsletter 

At Wevorce, family is our focus every year, month and day. In December, when holiday celebrations with family take center stage, that focus is magnified. When you can find a way to allow family unity to take precedence over divorce actions, you’ll discover even more to celebrate. 

Read our stories. They are yours and ours. Share them.
Thank you,
Michelle Crosby – Founder & CEO



Our monthly feature focus from Wevorce’s valued Divorce Checklist highlights steps to take for informed divorce preparation. This month’s focus is: 

Reimagining Spousal and Child Support
The problem with traditional spousal support is it keeps couples bound to the same financial dynamic that strained their relationship in the first place: one partner still has to keep tabs on the other’s spending and lifestyle habits. But there are creative solutions beyond forcing one partner to write a check. For example, you can transfer communal property to build assets, or support one partner’s career path. There are also cooperative and inclusive methods for child support. For example, having a children’s checkbook with agreed purchases, so both parents can participate equally in the child’s care. If you and your spouse are willing to work together, your Wevorce team can help find a creative solution. 



The Divorce Archetype™ profile reveals the DNA of a relationship. This is the science behind divorce, unique to Wevorce and drawn from 15+ years of research. This month’s focus is: Infidelity: The Path to Recovery 

 Reading Lounge

Collateral Damage: Guiding and Protecting Your Child Through the Minefield of Divorce
by Dr. John Chirban


Press Arena

50 Things to Do After a Breakup
as seen in Redbook 


Welife Vault

Rekindling JOY: Creating New Traditions for Happier Holidays 

Each month we’ll offer access to inspiring stories from Wevorce-certified professionals. Their complimentary advice is yours, all yours.


Shifting the Holiday Focus: Looking Outside the Divorce Bubble ©
by Karen D. Sparks, CDFA™, J.D., Founder
Divorce Financial Strategists™ | Santa Clara, CA
There is an undeniable hole in the holiday season when the family unit is fractured by divorce and life begins to turn into an insular journey. However, it is important to recognize that your life has a broader purpose outside of the divorce scenario. Try to look up and look out. Reach up and reach out.
During the holiday season and at all times during the year, develop a unifying space in the family by creating a culture of service. When you instill an attitude of service within yourself and the family you are providing a permanent gift that keeps on giving. You are also demonstrating to children positive ways to channel energy during difficult times in life.
Here’s what’s going to happen: Space will open up in you mentally. In giving to others in need and becoming engrossed in someone else’s struggle, tragedy or life circumstance, you begin to focus on the unique gifts that you have to share and you think about individuals and situations in life differently.
If your child is good in a particular subject and one of their classmates is not, encourage your child to reach out and offer assistance. If you had a great team of divorce professionals assisting you and someone you know is now going through divorce, help them out with some reliable referrals. In addition to waving to your neighbor as you come in and out each day, make a point of really trying to speak with them and find out what’s going on in their world. Teach your children to give their gently used items that they have outgrown to charity. Help out at shelters or food kitchens that serve the homeless and disadvantaged population. Do these things from the heart all year long.
Look up and look out. Reach up and reach out. Step outside of yourself and see the joy of life that exists beyond divorce.


Christmas and Divorce
by Dr. Michael Rubino | Rubino Counseling Services | Pleasant Hill, CA
The holiday season is usually a difficult and stressful time for all families. Everyone’s trying to make plans, trying to see grandparents and other family members. It can be especially difficult for divorced families — after a divorce this time of year can become even more stressful.
One thing parents need to remember is they decided on the divorce, their children did not. I often hear arguments between parents who want “their time” or want to continue their family’s holiday traditions. They often ignore what their children want to do.
Many times a divorce may be finalized, but the parents continue fighting with each other. They use Christmas as a reason to continue to argue or try to hurt one another. What they don’t realize is they are hurting their children more than each other.
In my work with families who are divorced, I’ve given the following recommendations to parents. First, remember Christmas celebrations are often more about the children than the adults. Next, develop a plan together regarding the holidays. Talk together about what your children enjoy the most about Christmas, and ask your children what they enjoy most.
After you have this information, sit down civilly and see how you can allow your children to do what they enjoy most about Christmas. Come up with a plan for the children to have equal time with both parents, as well as, grandparents, cousins and other extended family from both Mom and Dad’s side. The children should not be forced to choose between Mom and Dad.
Another tip: Don’t turn Christmas into a competition. Gifts should not be used to influence the children. You should discuss with each other what your children want and what you plan to buy just as you did when you were married. After divorce, you can continue to co-parent and discuss what is realistic and what is not.
Finally, remember Christmas is a time to get together as a family and enjoy each other’s company. For the sake of your children, whenever possible put your divorce aside and decide how to share this time. If you can do things together, that is always the ideal situation. If you can’t, being kind to one another and making the holiday season fun for your children is the ultimate goal. Things may be done a little differently because of the divorce, but your children will still have one united family at Christmas.
Dr. Michael Rubino has worked with children, teenagers and divorce cases for over 19 years. For more information regarding Dr. Rubino, visit his website or Follow him on Twitter at 

“Family is not an important thing, it’s everything.”
– Michael J. Fox 

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Wevorce, Inc. | P.O. Box 6441 Boise, Idaho 83707 United States | 855.WEVORCE


Allowing Teenagers to Make Choices

Allowing Teenagers to Make Choices

Working with teenagers, I hear very often from parents that they feel their teenager is not responsible and they have concerns about trusting their teenagers. I also hear from teenagers how they are upset with their parents for not trusting them and not allowing them to make decisions. I understand the parents’ concerns, but at times they are being unfair and unrealistic about their ability to control their teenagers’ decisions.
We routinely tell teenagers that they need to be responsible for their choices and actions. However, we seldom allow teenagers the ability to make their own decisions. It is not uncommon that parents have set rules and curfews for their teenagers. Also with the advancement in technology many parents have software installed on their teenagers’ cellphones so they can read their teenagers’ emails or texts. Also they have GPS programs so they can determine where there teenager is and try to figure out what they are doing.

Teenagers are aware that their parents have software programs on their cellphones so they can read their emails or texts or use a GPS program to determine where they are and what they are doing. This usually makes teenagers upset that their parents do not trust them. Teenagers’ tell me if they want me to be responsible how can I be responsible if they do not give me a chance?

The other fact that parents need to accept is you cannot control everything your teenager is doing. You can monitor your teen all you want, but if a teenager wants to do something they will figure out away to do it. Also if you want your teen to be responsible you have to learn to accept their decisions and the consequences that may result from their choices.

What parents need to do is have a calm conversation with their teenager. During this conversation you discuss issues that your teenager will be facing such as alcohol, drugs, sex and their futures. Explain what you expect and what you are willing to do or not to do. Therefore, they understand what consequences they will face depending on the decision they make.

This is an important lesson for teenagers to learn. They need to understand that their actions have consequences and they are responsible for dealing with these consequences. One consequence may be that as parents you may be upset with their decision. This is a consequence that they need to be able to accept. Not everyone is going to always accept or approve of your choices. Teenagers need to learn this fact.

It is important that parents learn to accept the fact that they cannot control their teenager’s choices. Allowing them to learn from their choices is the best way for them to learn responsibility. It is also away for parents to learn to allow their teenagers to grow up and be responsible adults. Yes at times this may be difficult, but parents need to be realistic that you cannot control their teenager. Part of your teenager becoming an adult is allowing them to make choices and to learn from those choices.

Dr. Michael Rubino has over 20 years experience working with teenagers and their families. He is considered an expert working with teenagers. For more information regarding Dr. Rubino’s work and private practice visit his website at or his Facebook page at