Issues Related to Holiday Gifts and Children’s Reactions

Issues Related to Holiday Gifts and Children’s Reactions

At this time of year most people are worried about finishing Christmas shopping before Christmas and buying the right gifts. People also worry about how much to spend and who to buy a gift for. The most awkward situation is what to do when you receive a gift you don’t like or want.

All of these worries regarding gifts can ruin Christmas for people. We should be more concerned about spending time with the people who are important to us not gifts.

Also parents often worry about what will happen if Aunt Sally gives their child something they hate and the child says he hates it. Well you can’t control that and remember children don’t have the same reasoning skills as adults. All you can do is talk to you children about what to do if they receive a gift they don’t like and hope Aunt Sally is mature enough to understand how children act. However, once again the focus should be on celebrating life and love not gifts.

As a helpful resource and gift I have included a link to a guide to your questions about giving & receiving Christmas gifts & how to handle gift situations… via designsponge

Dr Michael Rubino has over 20 years experience as a psychotherapist working with children and adolescents. For more information about his work and services offered at his private practice visit his website at

How Parents can Use Recent Sexual Assault Reports as a Teaching Opportunity

How Parents can Use Recent Sexual Assault Reports as a Teaching Opportunity

Recently we have been hearing a lot about men in the entertainment industry and politics who have sexually harassed women and teenagers over the past years. These women are finally feeling strong enough to come forward and tell everyone about the secrets they have been ashamed of for years. What does this tell us about our society? Also what message have children and teenagers been receiving about sexual assault and rape over the last 20 years?

What this tells us about society is the old stereotype about how men should “act” is still a very big part of our society and we have continued to teach children the stereotype. This stereotype about what it takes to be “a man” was highlighted in the documentary, “The Mask You Live In.” The documentary discusses how the stereotype about what it takes to “be a man” impacts both boys and girls and discusses options for how to change the stereotype.

Basically the belief is “boys will be boys.” What this is telling boys is that to “be a man,” you must be sexually active. Also men do not need to worry about how they treat women sexually. The only thing men need to be concerned about is having sex. While this is the stereotype for men, girls are told they are not to be sexually active. If you think back to high school, a girl who was sexually active was considered to be “dirty.” However, the boys who were sexually active were considered, “men” and looked at in a positive manner. Another part of this stereotype is that women were not supposed to talk about sex. This was not “lady like.” Therefore, if they were sexually assaulted by a boy they could not say anything. If they did, they would be considered “bad girls” and looked at like prostitutes. So men had all the power and women had no power.

This stereotype hurts both boys and girls. It pressures boys to become sexually active even if the boy is not ready. Also it doesn’t allow boys to learn how to have healthy, mature relationships with girls. The stereotype also teaches girls to deny their sexual feelings and to look at themselves as just objects. They are not given the chance to develop self-esteem or to respect themselves and to insist that they be treated respectfully. This is not healthy for girls and it is not healthy for boys either.

Recently, a number of professionals who work with teenagers have been trying to change this stereotype. This was the point behind the documentary, “The Mask You Live In,” and such programs as Challenge Day and the program, Alive and Free. The goal of these programs is to teach boys that being sexually active does not make them a “man” and to respect girls. The other part of the goal is to teach girls it is normal for them to have sexual feelings, but they are not sex objects. No one has the right to force them to do anything sexual they do not want to. Also if someone does force them, a girl has the right to speak up without being labeled a prostitute.

Now that women are starting to speak up, it provides parents with an opportunity. It gives you the chance to speak to your teenager about sexual relationships. You can speak to your sons and daughters and educate them about what is appropriate and what in not appropriate. Also you can discuss with your teenager about what they think makes someone a man or a woman. You can help dispel this stereotype we have believed in for years.

As a society, it gives us the chance to support the women who are speaking up about past abuse they have experienced. It also gives us a chance to educate men that the old stereotype the learned is wrong. We can help re-educate men and for men who have been abusive provide them a chance to apologize and change their behavior.

I know this subject has upset many people. Women who have been sexually assaulted but have tried to deny it may be experiencing symptoms again as these feelings they buried re-emerge. Men who have sexually assaulted women may be experiencing feeling of guilt or fear of being exposed. However, instead of looking at this as a terrible situation. We can look at it as a chance to change a terrible situation that had existed in our society for years. It has also caused a great deal of harm to women and men. Yes men too. No one who has self-respect could abuse someone the way many women have been abused. Therefore, we have a chance to heal old wounds and prevent future ones from occurring. I encourage everyone use the opportunity we have been given.

Dr. Michael Rubino is a psychotherapist who specializes in treating teenagers and victims of sexual abuse. He has over 20 years of experience. For additional information about Dr. Rubino visit his website or follow him on Twitter @RubinoTherapy

Getting Help for Cutting without Shaming A Teenager

Getting Help for Cutting without Shaming A Teenager

I find this video on YouTube by Dr. Pooky Knightsmith. It deals with an issue that is occurring at epidemic rates in Teenagers. The issue is cutting or also referred to self-harming. I have seen more and more teens in my private practice who are cutting. However, parents usually do not know what to to if they suspect or find out their teen is cutting.

This video gives parents some excellent tips about how to approach the issue. The most important part is it gives suggestions about how to approach the issue without creating shame in the Teenager. This is very important because most teens who cut feel ashamed and this prevents them from accepting help. So if you know someone who may be cutting please watch this video.

So Parents here are great tips about what to do if your teen is cutting or self-harming. These tips help you get your child help without making them feel shame via @youtube

Dr. Michael Rubino has over 20 years experience working with teenagers and children. He specializes in teenagers who cut. For more information about Dr. Rubino’s work or private practice please visit his website or follow him on twitter @RubinoTherapy

Thanksgiving without Stress

Thanksgiving without Stress

The Holiday Season is coming up fast and since today is Thanksgiving, I am going to publish this article again. For many people this is a happy time and for others it is a stressful time. The Holidays can bring up family issues that have not been resolved yet or everyone is trying to make the day prefect that it becomes a stressful day not a happy one.

Thanksgiving is coming up first so let’s deal with that day. Thanksgiving with family can mean an increase in chaos and stress. Having a Thanksgiving plan can reduce anxiety, decrease the likelihood of arguments and increase the likelihood that everyone has a happy and enjoyable Thanksgiving that they were expecting.

Lori Lite who writes about stress uses the acronym G-R-A-T-E-F-U-L as her Thanksgiving stress guide. It helps her and others get through the day in a peaceful manner. Each letter reminds you of something to do or a way to view the day so you do not get upset.

So here is how to use Gratitude as your Thanksgiving Stress Reliever.

G- Gratitude is the opposite of stress. It is difficult to feel stressed out when we are feeling gratitude.

R- Relax your expectations and let the day unfold. You might be surprised by the outcome.

A- Acceptance is the opposite of judgment. If we accept our family member for who they are and what they are capable of we can relax and enjoy ourselves.

T- Teens can be a part of Thanksgiving. Ask them what they would like to bring to the table. Let them bring it.

E- Empower children and let them help with age appropriate assignments. Putting the nuts out or making the centerpiece. Let them do it their way…not your way.

F– Focus on family for this day. Put all work and worries on the shelf

U– Unplug the electronics for dinner so that everyone can be fully present.

L- Love is often overlooked when we are busy. Cook with love… Speak with love… Show your love and gratitude for your family on this Thanksgiving Day.

This might seem very simple and obvious, but at times the best solutions are rather simple. Also you may want to practice using this in your daily life. It may seem simple, but it may be harder to do than you think because you are accustomed to doing things and viewing life in a certain way. This idea may challenge you to reassess how you approach life in general. Also this acronym may be helpful in your daily life.

Many of us are not use to looking at our lives in terms of what we have to be grateful for. Also many of us have a hard time relaxing and not worrying about work or other things we need to do. I have found that just being in the moment is difficult for most people. Most of us believe we always have to be doing something. This creates stress and disappointment. Finally, since we feel we must always be doing something, disconnecting from cellphones and other electronics can be very difficult for many people. However, think about it? How can you have fun and enjoy the day with your family, if your mind is not fully present? You can’t. Furthermore, this can create tension for others because they feel ignored and for you because you feel they don’t respect how important what you are doing at the moment is to you. As a result, you have stress which can turn into an argument and everyone is upset. A day of happiness becomes a day of anger and disappointment.

Therefore, in order to avoid this possibility trying use the word GRATEFUL and following its guidelines for the day. What do you have to lose?

Dr. Michael Rubino specializes in working with children, teenagers and their families. He has over 20 years experience. For more information about his work or private practice visit his website at or visit his Facebook page at

Coping with Your Teenager and Their Mistakes

Coping with Your Teenager and Their Mistakes

In today’s world where we tend to focus on success and money, mistakes are frowned on. This attitude has been past on to our teenagers. Some parents don’t expect their teens to make a mistake or fail at something. If their teen does make a mistake, the consequences can be severe.

Teenagers are very aware of the pressure on them to succeed and never make a mistake. Many teens who make mistakes are terrified of telling their parents because they fear their reaction. Some teens even consider suicide if they failed a test at school. Teens feel this pressure because parents arrange for tutors so they will get good grades. Also parents are sending their teens to courses to prepare them for the SAT test and parents are also arranging for consultants to help their teens get into good colleges. This is a great deal of pressure and stress.

Think back to when your son or daughter was learning to stand or walk. When the child fell, you would tell them good job for trying and keep trying because you will get it. We say this all the time to our little children. However, for some reason when that little child becomes a teenager, mistakes are not as acceptable and often teens get into trouble for making a mistake.

Yes, as a teen their mistakes get bigger and can be very serious. Obviously if a teenager made a mistake of shop lifting or driving while drunk, these are very serious issues and deserve negative consequences the first time they occur. However, if the mistake is they forgot to do their homework or they came home 20 minutes after curfew, these are not as serious and do not require a severe consequence. Remember the consequence needs to be related to the mistake. If it is too severe or if there is no consequence, the teen will not learn anything.

As parents, we need to remember that teens are starting to learn about relationships and how to handle responsibilities as adults. When they were younger they needed to learn how to walk and had to be toilet trained. We were patient with them as little children, why not be patient with them as teens?

When your teenager makes a normal life mistake, instead of getting mad or frustrated look at it as a teaching opportunity and a bonding opportunity. When your teen makes a mistake this gives you an opportunity to discuss what type of adult you would like to see them mature in to and what values as an adult you hope they will have. It is also a chance to grow closer because if you talk with your teen it give you the opportunity to learn about them and for your teen to learn about you.

When your child is 12 years old, this is an appropriate time to start discussing how they are at a point where they need to learn how to talk to and relate to adults as adults. It is also a time for you to begin discussing with them what your expectations are and how you will be handling discipline as they get older.

Often teens do not say anything to their parents when they made a mistake or they are confused about what decision to make because they are afraid that their parents will over react or they are just afraid of how their parents will react. If you have discussed your expectations and how you plan to discipline them as teens before they are teens, you eliminate this fear. Also just by having this discussion about expectations with your child, you start to open the doors of communication with your teen.

One of the biggest problems between parents and teens is the lack of communication. Anything you can do to improve your communication with your teen will improve your relationship with your teen and decrease problems. So don’t look at your teenager’s mistakes as problems, look at them as a teaching opportunity and an opportunity to get closer to your teenager.

Dr Michael Rubino has over 20 year experience working with teenagers. To learn more about Dr Rubino and his private practice visit his website or follow him on Twitter at @RubinoTherapy.

The Gift of Gratitude

The Gift of Gratitude

The Holidays are around the corner and many people, especially parents, are worrying about what gifts to buy people. However, you do not always need to buy a gift to show that you care for someone.

Gratitude is an important lesson and gift for children. What some parents may want to do is instead of buying your child a large number of gifts is to teach them about gratitude. In the United States, we have many children who are homeless and hungry. Yes, in the United States, we do have homeless children. We also have many children who have more toys than they need and are unaware that there are children who are homeless. Therefore, at this time of year, take your child to the store and use some of the money you would have used to buy them gifts and have your child buy gifts for a homeless child. While doing this teach your child about the fact that there are others in need and to appreciate what they have in their lives. Also that giving can be more important than receiving.

Furthermore, I read an article by Joshua Becker and he listed gifts that parents give to their children every day and that children usually do not forget these gifts. I think it is important for parents to remember the daily priceless gifts we give children daily. Especially during this time of year,

Here are some of Joshua Becker’s thoughts. I have countless holiday memories. Very few childhood memories actually include the gifts I received. I distinctly remember the year that I got a blue dirt bike, the evening my brother and I received a Nintendo, and opening socks every year from my grandparents. But other than that, my gift-receiving memories are pretty sparse. Which got me thinking… what type of gifts can we give to our children that they will never forget? What gifts will truly impact their lives and change them forever?

To that end, here is an alphabetical list.

35 Gifts Your Children Will Never Forget:

1. Affirmation. Sometimes one simple word of affirmation can change an entire life. So make sure your children know how much you appreciate them. And then, remind them every chance you get.

2. Art. With the advent of the Internet, everyone who wants to create… can. The world just needs more people who want to…

3. Challenge. Encourage your child to dream big dreams. In turn, they will accomplish more than they thought possible… and probably even more than you thought possible.

4. Compassion/Justice. Life isn’t fair. It never will be – there are just too many variables. But when a wrong has been committed or a playing field can be leveled, I want my child to be active in helping to level it.

5. Contentment. The need for more is contagious. Therefore, one of the greatest gifts you can give your children is an appreciation for being content with what they have… but not with who they are.

6. Curiosity. Teach your children to ask questions about who, what, where, how, why, and why not. “Stop asking so many questions” are words that should never leave a parents’ mouth.

7. Determination. One of the greatest determining factors in one’s success is the size of their will. How can you help grow your child’s today?

8. Discipline. Children need to learn everything from the ground-up including appropriate behaviors, how to get along with others, how to get results, and how to achieve their dreams. Discipline should not be avoided or withheld. Instead, it should be consistent and positive.

9. Encouragement. Words are powerful. They can create or they can destroy. The simple words that you choose to speak today can offer encouragement and positive thoughts to another child. Or your words can send them further into despair. So choose them carefully.

10. Faithfulness to your Spouse. Faithfulness in marriage includes more than just our bodies. It also includes our eyes, mind, heart, and soul. Guard your sexuality daily and devote it entirely to your spouse. Your children will absolutely take notice.

11. Finding Beauty. Help your children find beauty in everything they see… and in everyone they meet.

12. Generosity. Teach your children to be generous with your stuff so that they will become generous with theirs.

13. Honesty/Integrity. Children who learn the value and importance of honesty at a young age have a far greater opportunity to become honest adults. And honest adults who deal truthfully with others tend to feel better about themselves, enjoy their lives more, and sleep better at night.

14. Hope. Hope is knowing and believing that things will get better and improve. It creates strength, endurance, and resolve. And in the desperately difficult times of life, it calls us to press onward.

15. Hugs and Kisses. I once heard the story of a man who told his 7-year old son that he had grown too old for kisses. I tear up every time I think of it. Know that your children are never too old to receive physical affirmation of your love for them.

16. Imagination. If we’ve learned anything over the past 20 years, it’s that life is changing faster and faster with every passing day. The world tomorrow looks nothing like the world today. And the people with imagination are the ones not just living it, they are creating it.

17. Intentionality. I believe strongly in intentional living and intentional parenting. Slow down, consider who you are, where you are going, and how to get there. And do the same for each of your children.

18. Your Lap. It’s the best place in the entire world for a book, story, or conversation. And it’s been right in front of you the whole time.

19. Lifelong Learning. A passion for learning is different from just studying to earn a grade or please teachers. It begins in the home. So read, ask questions, analyze, and expose. In other words, learn to love learning yourself.

20. Love. …but the greatest of these is love.

21. Meals Together. Meals provide unparalleled opportunity for relationship, the likes of which can not be found anywhere else. So much so, that a family that does not eat together does not grow together.

22. Nature. Children who learn to appreciate the world around them take care of the world around them. As a parent, I am frequently asking my kids to keep their rooms inside the house neat, clean, and orderly. Shouldn’t we also be teaching them to keep their world outside neat, clean, and orderly?

23. Opportunity. Kids need opportunities to experience new things so they can find out what they enjoy and what they are good at. And contrary to popular belief, this doesn’t have to require much money.

24. Optimism. Pessimists don’t change the world. Optimists do.

25. Peace. On a worldwide scale, you may think this is out of our hands. But in relation to the people around you, this is completely within your hands… and that’s a darn good place to start.

26. Pride. Celebrate the little things in life. After all, it is the little accomplishments in life that become the big accomplishments.

27. Room to Make mistakes. Kids are kids. That’s what makes them so much fun… and so desperately in need of your patience. Give them room to experiment, explore, and make mistakes.

28. Self-Esteem. People who learn to value themselves are more likely to have self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-worth. As a result, they are more likely to become adults who respect their values and stick to them… even when no one else is.

29. Sense of Humor. Laugh with your children everyday… for your sake and theirs.

30. Spirituality. Faith elevates our view of the universe, our world, and our lives. We would be wise to instill into our kids that they are more than just flesh and blood taking up space. They are also made of mind, heart, soul, and will. And decisions in their life should be based on more than just what everyone else with flesh and blood is doing.

31. Stability. A stable home becomes the foundation on which children build the rest of their lives. They need to know their place in the family, who they can trust, and who is going to be there for them. Don’t keep changing those things.

32. Time. The gift of time is the one gift you can never get back or take back. So think carefully about who (or what) is getting yours.

33. Undivided Attention. Maybe this imagery will be helpful: Disconnect to Connect.

34. Uniqueness. What makes us different is what makes us special. Uniqueness should not be hidden. It should be proudly displayed for all the world to see, appreciate, and enjoy.

35. A Welcoming Home. To know that you can always come home is among the sweetest and most life-giving assurances in all the world. Is your home breathing life into your child?

Of course, none of these gifts are on sale at your local department store. But, I think that’s the point.

Dr. Michael Rubino has 20 years experience working with teens and their parents. For more information about Dr. Rubino’s work and his private practice visit his website at

The Truth about the Holidays and Depression

The Truth about the Holidays and Depression

The Holidays and depression. Many people assume they go together and that suicide rates increase during this time of year. Well according to the statistics from the CDC, suicide rates actually drop during the Holiday Season. The study by the CDC is not sure why they drop but they do. May be they drop because during this time of year we pay more attention to depression and suicide. There are a number of ads and social media posts where people can call if they feel suicidal.

What the CDC did find is that loneliness increases during this time of year. During the Holidays there are songs and plenty of television shows regarding getting together with family and friends. You also have people talking about all the Christmas parties that they have to go to. However, this is not the case for everyone.

If you are a military family, a loved one may be stationed overseas and won’t be home for Christmas. Also during the year some close friends or loved ones may have died during the year. It is during this time when most people are talking about family and friends that you remember the people you have lost over the year. The first Holiday Season without a close loved one or friend can be very difficult. You may not feeling like celebrating or you may have to change Holiday traditions which can make some one feel sad and lonely.

Another common difficulty during this time of year is money. Many people feel like they need to spend a great deal of money to show love. They may just be able to pay their monthly bills and cannot afford Holiday gifts. Why do we need to spend money to show that we care? What if you write a letter to someone telling them how important they are to you and how much you appreciate them. Isn’t that the real purpose of the Holiday Season? Isn’t this the time of year we take to tell people in our lives how much we appreciate them. Also it’s an opportunity to tell people we tend to ignore, people sleeping on the street or who are dealing with mental illness that they are important too?

As a psychotherapist, I have seen that people dealing with mental illness feel lonely and out of place during this time of year. They don’t often feel the joy of the season. Sometimes they struggle just to make it through the day. Also mental illness is something we don’t discuss as a society. We tend to act like it doesn’t exist so we ignore the issue. Also since it is an uncomfortable issue for many people the feelings of shame and embarrassment become associated with mental illness. This makes it less likely for people dealing with it or families who have a family member dealing with it to talk about it or seek help. This can make people feel lonely and isolated especially during this time of year.

We seldom acknowledge the daily struggle that people and families dealing with mental illness go through on a daily basis. It is important to acknowledge that mental illness is not a weakness it is a medical condition. There is no reason to look down on someone with mental illness. We offer encouragement and support to people with cancer, why can’t we do the same for people with mental illness?

I have included a link to a video where a teenager discusses dealing with depression Listen to what he has to say and answer the question, does he deserve to be looked down upon because he is depressed?

Also remember the Holidays can be a lonely time for people. So if you see someone who looks like they are having a hard time or know someone who is struggling during this season, try to help. Do something kind for them. Another thing to remember, being kind to people should be a year round activity for all of us. We should not just be kind during the Holidays. If we try to be kind all year, we may be able to decrease how many people feel lonely and depressed. Also if we are kind and offering support year round may be we can eliminate the negative stereotype associated with mental health.

Dr. Michael Rubino specializes in treating depression and suicide especially depressed and suicidal children and teenagers. For more information about Dr. Rubino visit his website at or his Facebook page

“Not in our area”

“Not in our area”

I have spoken to a number of schools in the Pleasant Hill, Concord and Walnut Creek area about showing the documentary, The Mask You Live in, and about providing anti-violence and anti-gang education. The common response I receive is, “we don’t have those problems here.” However, we do, last year in an upscale neighborhood in Concord an 8 year old boy was shot in a drive by shooting. Today a teenager was shot and killed in Concord as he was walking to Olympic High School. Unfortunately, this proves my point. We do have these issues in Pleasant Hill, Concord and Walnut Creek.

I hear very often from teenagers and kids in middle school that they need to take a weapon with them to school or when they are downtown for protection. They tell me they are afraid of getting jumped. When I point out that if they have a weapon, such as a knife, with them at school or downtown that they can be arrested, they respond that is a risk I’m going to have to take. If I say that by having a weapon they are increasing the odds that they will be hurt, I hear, “if I don’t have one I will get hurt any way. So what’s the difference?”

What is the difference? We have 6th graders willing to take a chance of getting killed because they believe the odds are high enough that they will be severely hurt by someone taking the chance of being killed is not a big risk. What are we doing to help are kids? Nothing, because we don’t live in Oakland or Richmond.

We need to wake up. The shooting tonight is not the first one. A few years ago a teenager was shot in Danville standing outside his front door. There are many kids who regularly carry knives to school or with them to downtown Walnut Creek and Pleasant Hill. These are not black teenagers or Mexican teenagers. These are Caucasian teenagers from families that make well over One hundred thousand dollars a year. It could be your son or daughter, you are saving. Yes girls are carrying weapons too.

What do we do? First we stop hiding behind a stereotype. These problems do not just exist in East Oakland, Richmond and Pittsburg. We need to admit that these issues do exist in Pleasant Hill, Concord, Walnut Creek, Lafayette and Danville. No one is immune from these issues any more. The next thing we need to do is to start to deal with the issues facing our teenagers. Drug overdose, violence, such as shootings, and suicide are at an epidemic rate in teenagers. These are the primary ways teenagers are dying today. They have a better chance of dealing with cancer than they do with these other issues.

Therefore, we need to educate ourselves. Ask your schools or churches to get a copy of The Mask You Live In and watch it. Ask professionals to come speak to your parent groups about these issues and how to help your teenagers. We have two fantastic groups which started in the Bay Area and are respected world wide right here. One is Challenge Day and the other is Alive and Free. We cannot help our teens until we are aware of these issues. Teenagers want the help too. They are tired of living in fear and they are beginning to believe that no one cares this is why they are taking matters into their own hands.

Show them you care by doing something to educate yourself and stop this cycle of violence and abuse teenagers are living with daily. Also I am on the national Alive & Free Board and I am available to work with teenagers and parents. I am one of the few therapists who runs an anger management group for teenage boys in this are and we deal with all these issues. In fact, I had just decided yesterday to start another group. If you have questions, contact my office.

This may sound scary, but if we all work together we can help our teenagers and ourselves.

Dr. Michael Rubino is an expert in this area and has been works with teenagers and these issues for over 20 years. For more information on Dr. Rubino or his private practice groups visit his website, his Facebook page at or follow him on Twitter @RubinoTherapy.

Having a Teenager Creates Stress for Parents

Having a Teenager Creates Stress for Parents

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 when their teen is in high school 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. For example, 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. Before high school starts you need to sit down with your teenager and agree on a curfew time. 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. It is also important to remember that being a parent is not a popularity contest. At times, you will need to make decisions your teenager does not like. However, as a parent sometimes you must make those unpopular decisions.

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