How Parents should Cope with Teenager’s and their Bedrooms

How Parents should Cope with Teenager’s and their Bedrooms

A common issue that comes up with teenagers when I am seeing them for psychotherapy is their bedroom. Many parents tell me that their teenager’s bedroom is like a junk yard. Parents are embarrassed by the bedroom and feel the teenager is being disrespectful. Many parents ask me should they demand that their teenager clean their bedroom. Also many parents ask about is it appropriate if they search their teenager’s bedroom. Let’s deal with this one issue at a time.

Parents it is very important to remember to pick and choose your battles. There are a lot of issues you will need to discuss with your teenager. Therefore, it is important to ask, is it worth an argument? Teenagers are at a point in their life where they do need their privacy. They are also at a point where they are trying to find their own identity. Their bedroom is a place they use for part of this process. Also you want your teenager to learn responsibility. Their room is something they can be responsible for.

My recommendation is not to make an issue of their bedroom. You have more important issues such as school, how late your teen wants to stay out, where they want to go and the common issues of alcohol, drugs and sexual activity. Therefore, their bedroom really is a minor issue. In my opinion it is not worth the fight. Arguing about their bedroom, which they view as their private space, can lead to bigger problems with some of the other issues I listed above. Also remember these are only some of the issues you will need to set guidelines and expectations about your teenager’s behavior. This is why I strongly recommend leaving the bedroom alone.

Many parents ask me, “then I should just let them live in a junk yard?” The answer is yes. However, there are some guidelines I do set with teenagers. I tell them that Mom and Dad are not going to clean their room as long as they comply with the following guidelines:

1. The bedroom door must be able to be closed so no one else has to look at the mess.

2. People can walk by the room without smelling anything such as rotting food.

3. There are no ants or bugs going into or coming out of the room.

4. They do not keep dishes in their room so Mom has dishes when she needs them.

5. They are responsible for getting their clothes out of the room and cleaned. They are also responsible for putting away their laundry.

If they do not follow these guidelines, then they are giving Mom and Dad permission to go in and clean the room as they see fit. I ask the teenager and parents to both agree to these guidelines. I also recommend writing down the guidelines. Therefore, two months from now if someone remembers the agreement differently, you have a document you can refer back to which states what everyone agreed to.

Therefore, I recommend to parents if their teenager can agree to these guidelines, let them live in a junkyard. If they forget to get their clothes to the washer then they will be the one wearing dirty clothes. This is helping them to learn responsibility. It also gives them a sense of independence which they need.

I remind teenagers, if you do not want Mom and Dad cleaning their room then they need to abide by the guidelines. I also remind them it is their responsibility to get their clothes to the washer. If they don’t then they will be wearing dirty clothes to school. I also remind them that they cannot stay home from school because they do not have any clean clothes. I am basically telling the teenager that their parents and I feel they are responsible enough to take care of their room. This again helps the teen feel more mature and understand that they have to start assuming more responsibility for theirselves.

Now for the next issue, searching your teenager’s room. I do not think it is something parents should do on a regular basis just because their child is a teenager. As parents you have a responsibility to make sure you are raising a responsible young adult and if they need help, you have an obligation to provide them with the help they need. Therefore, if you have valid reasons to believe your teenager is using drugs or alcohol on a regular basis, then yes search the room. A valid reason would be noticing the smell of marijuana on their clothes or coming from their room. Finding marijuana or alcohol bottles in their backpack or car that they use. Other signs could be changes in their behavior and grades that are associated with drug use. However, before searching the room, I would recommend when your child enters middle school that you discuss with your child about the conditions which would make you search their room. If you feel it is necessary, tell your teen that you will be searching their room. Obviously, you do not tell them a week a head of time so they can hide things. I suggest you calmly inform them when they are home that you will be starting to search their room in a few minutes. It is important you explain the reasons why you are searching their room.

Parents may be concerned about an argument. This may start an argument, but this argument is worth it. Remind your teen about the agreement the two of you had made about searching their room. If you feel your teenager is not mature enough to abide by the agreement and is likely to start a physical fight, then you do not tell them and search it when they are out of the house. Remember you are only searching the room if you feel your teen is having a serious problem and need professional help. As a parent, it is your responsibility to get them help when they need it. You will want to remember this fact because your teenager may be very angry with you. However, it is better to have an angry teenager than a dead teenager. Many of the drugs teens are using today can kill someone very quickly and teenagers are not usually aware of all the risks.

Therefore, in general respect the privacy of your teenager’s bedroom, however, if you notice signs that indicate your teen is having difficulties then search the room.

Dr. Michael Rubino has over 20 years experience as a psychotherapist who teats teenagers and children. For more information regarding Dr. Rubino’s work or private practice visit his website at or his Facebook page at 3.


Surviving Your Teenager’s High School Prom

Surviving Your Teenager’s High School Prom

Yes it is that time of year again — Prom Season. Along with the prom come the concerns of who will I go with? What will I wear? How much can I spend on a dress? And a number of other issues. Hopefully, you and your teen have already discussed the issues around dating and have agreements regarding dating. If not, Prom may be a harder issue because now you have to deal with issues regarding dating and Prom.

As a parent, the first thing to do is to contact your teen’s High School and see what rules and guidelines the school has already established. Many High Schools have rules regarding who can attend, such as only students of that high school can attend, a dress code and some high schools require you to inform them if you are going and your date’s name and the telephone numbers for both set of parents. They do this so if your teen fails to arrive by the designated time or if there are any problems at the Prom, they know who to call.

Another reason to contact the school is to find out where the Prom is being held. Due to the number of drunk driving deaths, deaths due to drugs and due to the costs being so high, a number of high schools have decide to have the entire Prom on the school campus. They serve dinner and have the dance at the school. Once you have the details then it is time to discuss with your teen what your expectations are regarding the Prom. This is also the time where you will set the rules for the Prom and make your agreements with your teen.

Assuming the Prom is not being held at the campus and instead being held at a Hotel, there are a few items to discuss. The first issue is price. Most teens want to go to an expensive dinner, hire a limo for the night and for the girls there is the Prom dress. I have seen teens spend over $2,000 on their Prom dresses. A limo for the night can cost $800 and dinner can cost $200. If you have this money and are willing to indulge your teen then there is no problem. Most parents don’t have this extra money so you need to agree on a budget. For example, a limo is not a necessity for the Prom. As a parent you may feel safer with a limo because your teen is not driving. Also there is a new law and limos cannot carry liquor when they are driving for Proms and they must card anyone consuming alcohol in the limo. You can bring the price down by having your teen split the cost of the car with 2 to 3 other couples. However, you will want to talk to the parents of your teen’s date and any friends they are going with to ensure all the parents agree.

Another option is letting your teenager pay for part of their prom. There is nothing wrong with expecting them to contribute to the limo, pay for the dinner and for girls, they can pay for part of their dress. This is a good way to start teaching your teen about saving money and how much things really cost.

If you have a daughter you need to negotiate the cost of the dress or consider renting a dress. In my opinion she does not need to spend $500 on a dress or more to look good. The same rule goes for her hair. She does not need to spend $300 on styling her hair for one night.

You also need to talk with your teen regarding your expectations about consuming alcohol, using drugs and sexual activity on Prom night. Many teens plan After Parties for their Proms. Quite often at the After Parties is where the drinking, drug use or sexual activity occurs. This is another reason why it is important to know who your teen will be going with to the Prom and their parents. You should never allow your teen to go to an After Party where there is not adult supervision. If the party is at a friend’s house with adult supervision and you have spoken with the adult, there should be no problem. If your teen wants to rent a hotel room so their date and their friends can have a party, this is a huge problem and should never be allowed. There are too many incidents where teens overdose, drink to the point of alcohol poisoning, get pregnant or trash the hotel room. Most hotels will not rent a room to someone under 18, but many teens find away around this rule and some parents will rent the room for their teen. Another reason to know you teenagers friends and parents.

Another issue to discuss is curfew. Yes it is their Prom and you want them to have a good time, but there is no reason why they need to stay out the entire night or for the entire weekend. If there is adult supervision the entire time it may work. If there is not adult supervision it is a recipe for disaster.

Finally, you need to have a discussion with your teen regarding acting responsibly and self-respect. The Prom is a major event and it is another step that your teen is taking into the adult world. They need to remember if they want to act like adults, they have to be willing to accept being treated like an adult. So if they violate the rules that their school has established for the Prom, they may be giving up their right to graduate with their class. The Prom should be a happy event that you and your teen both remember for a long time. If you discuss the issues before the Prom and come to agreements that you both accept then it should be a safe, happy event for all. Good luck!

Dr. Michael Rubino specializes in working with teenagers, their parents and high schools. For more information on his work visit his website or follow him on Twitter @RubinoTherapy.

A Study About Teenagers and Sexting

A Study About Teenagers and Sexting

Many parents are worried about how much time their teenager spend texting. Many parents are also concerned that their teenager’s Texting has crossed the line to sexting.

Sexting is a text which refers to sexual behavior between the people Texting. A research study in JAMA Pediatrics which was just released indicates that sexting is more common than many parents expect. This study looks at numerous other studies investigating sexting and draws conclusion about teenage sexting.

Tara Haelle reviewed this research study and Forbes published her article. This review contains many important facts about teenagers and sexting. Facts many parents should be aware of and issues that parents need to discuss with their teenagers. I hear teens talking about sexting often and they are not aware of many of the issues in Tara Haelle’s article. These facts are issues that teenagers and parents need to be aware of. Therefore, I am providing parents with the link to the article so they can read it and discuss it with their teenagers,

Dr. Michael Rubino is a psychotherapist who specializes in treating teenagers. He has over 20 years experience working with teenagers. For more information about Dr. Rubino’s work or his private practice visit his website or visit his Facebook page

Dear Mr. President

Dear Mr. President

A teenager who survived the Florida shooting wrote a poem to Trump addressing the important issues. When will we listen to these teens who saw friends shot in front of their eyes? President Trump when will you answer the questions and requests of these amazing teenagers?

Dr. Michael Rubino has over 20 years experience working with teenagers and victims of trauma. For more information about Dr. Rubino’s work visit his website

Information about Teens and Guns

Information about Teens and Guns

Given the numerous school shootings and the most recent shooting at the high school in Florida, I was researching facts about teenagers and guns. I read an article by Cody Fenwick regarding children and gun violence. His article was very alarming. Fenwick’s article connected guns to teenage suicide, and confirmed what I am hearing from teenagers and children in psychotherapy. Many children are afraid to go to school because they might be killed. Teenagers and first graders have the same fear. From my point of view it indicates we need more appropriate gun control laws. We must start to listen to our children. A point the statistics in Fenwick’s article support.

Many of us feel because we live in Pleasant Hill, Walnut Creek or Lafayette that our children and teenagers do not have to worry about gangs or gun violence. Unfortunately, this is not the truth. According to a new research study in the Journal of Pediatrics, guns continue to be the third-leading cause of death for Americans younger than 18 years old, killing around 1,300 children and teenagers a year in the United States. In addition, almost 6,000 children and teenagers are injured per year. Many teenagers are permanently disabled from these injuries.

The study examined data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Consumer Product Safety Commission between 2002 and 2014. The study found that boys, especially older boys such as teenagers and minorities, were much more likely to be the victims of gun violence. The study did not say anything about where the boys lived. The facts are children who are male and teenagers, are at a higher risk for becoming a victim of gun violence. Therefore, teenagers in our area are at risk of becoming a victim of gun violence.

The study does indicate there has been a decrease in accidental deaths such as boys cleaning a gun. However, the rate as a method for suicide has increased. I have mentioned before that suicide is the third leading cause of death for 10 year old boys. This study confirms that statistic and indicates the preferred method of suicide for boys and teenagers are guns. According to Katherine Fowler, one of the lead researchers at the CDC, “Firearm injuries are an important public health problem, contributing substantially to premature death and disability of children.” Understanding their nature [guns] and impact is a first step toward prevention.”

When we look at these numbers, can anyone argue against taking steps to protect our children? Can you imagine a 10 year old boy using a gun to kill himself? Can you imagine a 10 year old boy feeling that his life is so bad at the age of ten that death seems like a better option than living?

The study indicates that in recent years guns were responsible for a large number of adolescent, males who were murdered. The study documented that deaths in the category of murder for boys under the age of 18 years old decreased to 53 percent. This is a decrease yet the rate is still 53%. The other causes of gun-related deaths include:

• 38 percent — suicides

• 6 percent — unintentional deaths

• 3 percent — law enforcement/undetermined cause

The study found 82% of deaths by guns were boys. This means 82% of gun deaths were boys who were children or teenagers. Putting it another way, this means these boys were not even 18 years old yet at the time of their deaths. The study also found that white and American Indian children have the highest rate of suicide using a gun.

We also like to think that the United States in one of the most advanced nations in the world. However, the statistics show that the United States has the highest rate in the world for children under 14 years old committing suicide. Again, the United States has the highest rate of children under 14 years old using a gun to commit suicide. That number scares me and is appalling to me. However, as an adolescent and child psychotherapist, I do not doubt it. I have heard 6 year old boys seriously discussing suicide.

Furthermore, I hear teenagers routinely talking about needing to carry a knife or gun with them for protection. They tell me you never know when you will be jumped and you need to be able to protect yourself. In fact, a few years ago a teenager was shot on his front door step in Danville over a marijuana deal. When I mention to teens the risks they are taking, they tell me there is no guarantee they will live until 30 years old. They would rather die protecting themselves than doing nothing.

As a society, we need to look at these numbers and ask ourselves some questions. What are we going to do in order to improve gun safety? Most importantly, why are children as young as 6 years old thinking about suicide? Also what are we going to do so that children who are suicidal have access to mental health care? This is our problem because it does happen in Pleasant Hill, Walnut Creek and Lafayette.

Dr. Rubino has 20 years experience as a psychotherapist working with children and teenagers. For more information about his work or private practice visit his website at

Listen to the Victims of School Shootings

Listen to the Victims of School Shootings

It is time that we start listening to children and teenagers. They live with the fear everyday of not knowing will they be shot at school today. Many people may feel I am exaggerating, but I am not. As a psychotherapist who specializes in treating children and teenagers, I hear on a regular basis how students worry about a shooting occurring at their school. Some students anxiety is so severe that they are having panic attacks and cannot attend school on a regular basis.

The recent shooting at Parkside High School in Florida provides evidence for their fear. The news show 20/20 on ABC did a story on school shootings. They found that in the year 2017 more students had been killed in that single year than all the school shooting which have occurred from 2000 to 2016. Furthermore CNN found that for the first 23 days of 2018, there had been at least one school shooting a day on some days there were more than one school shooting. Therefore, our students fears are justified. Also the number of students killed in a school shooting continues to increase every year not decrease. So it appears we are doing nothing to address this issue. If we are, our attempts to resolve the problem are not working. Also the United States is the only nation in the world to have school shootings.

The President only offers prayers while he continues to focus on obtaining his funding for a wall. We need to protect our children more than we need a wall. He also wants to discuss mental health issues. However, the Executive Orders he has signed and his attacks on the Affordable Care Act have only served at decreasing the amount of mental health care available to people and have made it easier for people with mental health issues to purchase guns.

The United States Congress has not helped either. Senator Diane Feinstein introduced a bill making it impossible for someone on the no fly list which identifies people who may be terrorists was not passed by the United States Senate. Therefore, we may identify someone as a potential terrorist and not allow them to fly on a plane, but they can legally buy a gun. This makes no sense at all. Some people say we need to protect a person’s right to own a gun. No one has ever said that someone who hunts or wants a gun to protect their family does not have this right. However, they do not need automatic high power riffles that the military uses in war zones. I highly doubt a deer is going to shoot back.

Given the number of school shootings, the number of students and teachers who have been killed, the number of families that have been destroyed and the number of students and teachers who have survived these shooting and have to live with the tragedy for the rest of their lives, we need to start to listen to these victims. A mother whose 14 year old daughter was killed in the recent Florida shooting has told President Trump twice that he needs to impose laws that will limit access to automatic assault weapons. Many of the students from Parkside High School are calling for gun control laws. One person made the point saying, “you do not say I hear mental illness, I think I am going to die. But you do say, I hear gun shots, I think I am going to die.”

I have included a link to a rally that the Parkside High School students held. If they can hold a rally so soon after experiencing such a terrifying, traumatic event, we owe it to them to watch it. These high school students are calling on the President and United States Congress to do the right thing and finally impose sane gun laws that will protect our children. If the United States wants to be a world leader and we say we do what is in the best interest of our children, then the President and Congress must ignore the NRA and finally impose gun laws so people on the no fly list and automatic, assault weapons can no longer be purchased at a gun store, gun show or online. I have included a link to the rally these amazing teenagers in Florida held, please be respectful to these students and watch it,

Dr. Michael Rubino is a psychotherapist who specializes in treating children, teenagers and trauma victims. He has over 20 years experience as a psychotherapist. For more information about Dr. Rubino’s work or private practice visit his website or follow him on Twitter @RubinoTherapy.