Category Archives: Teens

Staying Home for Older Kids

Not long ago, I posted a video on my YouTube Channel addressing whether it was ever too late to be a stay-at-home mom. I got the following response to that video from a listener, and she’s my “guest blogger” for today, especially because this is the week a lot of parents send their kids back to school:

Dear Dr. Laura:
I have always been at home with my kids, who are now 11, 14, and 16. I am so thankful that I am still home with them, and feel it’s just as important now as it was when they were little.

Since I am home, all the kids come over here. I have the benefit of knowing my kids’ friends and their parents well, and knowing where my kids are and who they are with. This has been especially important during the summer, when many kids spend long hours unsupervised. I knew my 16 year old was not out drinking or getting in trouble, because he was right here. We went swimming together one day, and talked about his plans for college and how he felt about the upcoming school year-another one of those precious and important conversations I would have missed if I wasn’t here.

During the school year, it’s during the first 15 minutes after they get home that I hear all about their day, their troubles and their triumphs. I would miss that if I were at work. I am the mom who can pick up friends, work in the classroom, bake last minute cookies, and make a costume for drama, because I am home.

The older they get, the more I realize how short our time is with them, and the more thankful I am for every minute. I enjoy my teens much more now than I did when they were little, and I am grateful every day that I will not miss their last year as children. And yes, you better believe that both I and the kids thank my wonderful husband that Mom is able to be at home during this critical time.

Thanks for standing up for those of us who are at home doing “nothing” all day with our older kids.


Teen Sailor Gets Dissed by the Associated Press

A now 17-year-old boy from Thousand Oaks, California recently sailed, by himself, some 28,000 miles in one year on a 36-foot sailboat.  Zac Sunderland was 16 when he left Marina del Rey harbor in June, 2008.

The Associated Press writer was a bit snarky, I think, when writing: “But the shaggy-haired Thousand Oaks native might not hold the record of being the youngest person to sail around the world alone for long.  British sailor Mike Perham is a few months younger than Sunderland, and is sailing a bigger, faster boat.”

If I were Zac’s mother, this would have annoyed me.  I’m not his mother, but it annoys me.  Assuming she or he wants to keep a scrapbook commemorating his sailing exploits, what a snarky thing to have included.  “A few months…a bigger, faster boat.”  So what?

Here is a 16 (now 17) year old kid who, instead of partying, abusing drugs, alcohol or hanging out with silly girls, instead of spending hours on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter or whatever, instead of hanging in his room sullen, instead of causing trouble at school, instead of driving too fast in the car he shouldn’t have been given in the first place, instead of a lot of typical teenage boy activities, took on a challenge that was to test his ability to discipline himself, live austerely, deal with unpredictable weather and seas, survive loneliness and fear, and fix equipment failures when warranted.

Shoving up his nose in print that someone else trying it is younger and has a better boat, shows, in my opinion, a complete ignorance of the difficulties and challenges he had to face.  It is remarkable for such a young person to brave all the elements of wind and sea to take an incredible journey on his own.  I am sure he now has a healthy respect for nature, life and himself.  I am sure he won’t hesitate to face many other challenges on land.  I am sure he won’t be abusing himself or substances to get a “rush.”  I am sure he’s a fine young man who should be an inspiration to other teens.  You are never too young to have a dream and go for it.

I’m sure his mom is very proud.  She should be!

Txting Is Dangerous 4 U

I have a friend who is temporarily without a computer, so I’ve been texting him.  I’ve found myself using the letter “u” for “you,” and “r” for “are,” but other than that, I try to use the English language the way it was meant to be spoken and written.

I’ve complained quite often about how this text messaging thing is completely out of hand, and how your children should not be able to use such technology as it occupies way too much of their time without depth and without development of language skills.  Quite the contrary – spelling and syntax and content are out the window when it comes to these mindless exchanges.  Additionally, people of all ages are so focused on that little gadget that they ignore their responsibilities as well as their environment.

Numerous states have had to implement bans on texting while driving – that’s how utterly stupid people can get.  Text-related injuries and deaths are not limited to the vehicular variety.  In 2008, the state of Illinois proposed legislation that would make texting and walking (with or without gum) illegal!  Pedestrians who ridiculed the idea might now need to reconsider their stance.

A 15 year old girl on Staten Island was obliviously thumbing away when she disappeared into an open manhole, falling five feet, scraping her back and arms, and landing in a pile of mush.  The workers were off getting cones and markers to barricade the opening, so it was a potential hazard.  However, if this teen were actually looking where she was going, not a thing would have happened to her.  Of course, her parents are going to sue.  Well, why not?  Your daughter behaves stupidly, so naturally you’re going to look around for someone to sue.  Money versus common sense.  Oh well.

If I were a purse snatcher or predator, I’d keep my eyes open for texting women who are moving through life without any awareness of their surroundings:  whether people, entities, or holes in the ground.  They make easy prey.

I keep wondering…what if we looked at everyone’s text messages over a 24 hour period of their life?  Would we find anything important being discussed?  I doubt it.  More likely, we’d just find them attempting to create a mini-universe to live in, where meaningless discourse makes them feel important or connected – or provides an activity where they avoid dealing with real life issues.

What if this teen had stepped on a baby?  What if she had tripped over an elderly person who had then fallen?  What if she walked right into the hands of a kidnapper?  What if she didn’t see a person doing harm to another (so she couldn’t provide witness testimony to help the police)?  I could go on and on….but you get the idea.

Yes, the manhole should not have been left unattended – those guys should all be fired.  Yes, she should have been looking where she was going.  That’s just plain common sense.  This would have been a preventable accident if the men had done their jobs properly, and if this girl had shown better judgment.

When Someone Believes in You

There’s an interesting program at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro that aims to keep 12 to 18 year old girls in school, minus the sad drama of pregnancies or abortions.

The program is sponsored by College Bound Sisters.  Girls in the program attend 90-minute meetings every week, at which they receive lessons in abstinence and the use of contraceptives, and they receive one dollar per day that they are not pregnant.  The money is deposited into a fund that’s available for collection when they enroll in college.

Obviously, there are many who will say “Hey, bribery is not the correct way to handle such behavioral issues.”  But slow down and think about it – when a 12 year old believes that one dollar a day is a great incentive, it tells you two things:

1. the gentle maturity level of such young girls
2. how so very many young girls are hungry for direction

Keep in mind that 3 out of 10 young women become pregnant by age 20, and the costs associated with teen pregnancies exceed $9 BILLION annually.

So, what’s their track record?  According to the co-director of the program, 6 of the 125 who have been enrolled for 6 months or longer have gotten pregnant or otherwise dropped out since it began in 1997 (and it only costs $75,000 – not billion – to operate the program).  Recent graduates have left the program with up to $3,000 saved up for college.  Basically, the representatives of the program say “If someone believes in you, there’s no end to what a lot of people can accomplish.”

This reminds me of a patient I had years ago, who went from “ditzy” behavior and drug addiction to clean and sober.  She completed college and advanced nursing training, and has been employed ever since.  A little ego in me caused me to ask here, “What made the difference here?”  I thought she’d point out some brilliant intervention of mine.  Nope, not at all.  She pointed out that I had believed in her when no one else did, that she had respected me, and I respected her potential.  That made the difference in her outlook and choices.

So, when you’re confused as to how to really help someone, just believe in them, and let them know it.

Expelled for Wearing Jeans

The most important part of having “rights” is taking “responsibility” for those rights.  This is a concept many activist groups don’t “get,” as evidenced by their angry utterances and actions.  For these people (feminists, for example), their actions are irrelevant – they believe they should be able to say and do whatever they please.  It’s the other people who have to toe the line.

Here’s an example:  colleges in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh said that female students would be banned from wearing jeans and other “western” clothes in order to halt sexual harassment by male classmates.  “Girls who choose to wear jeans will be expelled from the college,” Meeta Jamal, principal of the Dayanand girls’ college in Kanpur city told Agence France-Presse (AFP).  “This will be the only way to stop crime against women.”

Okay – so, jeans, shorts, tight blouses and mini-skirts on campus are being banned in a growing number of their colleges in an attempt to crack down on “EVE-teasing” (as sexual harassment is known in India).  But, of course, these “oh so mature” and wise girls between the ages of 17 and 20 say that these rules punish innocent females rather than tackling the men who talk “smack” to them..

Let’s look at this in a very pragmatic way.  Two girls are walking down the street, passing a group of young men.  Each girl is on the opposite side of the street.  One girl has on a tight-cropped top and low-cut jeans.  The girl on the other side of the street is wearing a pretty, but modest, dress.  Which side of the street are the guys going to pay attention to?  Which girl are they going to approach?  Which girl are they going to “tease” to see if they can “hook up?”  The answer is easy.

Which girl is showing off her “wares?”  Which girl is acting in a provocative manner?  Which girl is using clothing and body language to possibly advertise her, ahem, “social” availability?  Which girl looks as though sex is on her mind?  The answer is easy.

It is completely unreasonable for a provocatively-dressed woman to get any when guys hoot and whistle.  If clothing is just another form of “self-expression,” well, we all know what sexy clothes are expressing.  Modest clothes are expressing nothing close to a “come-hither” attitude.

A female at work has her boobs popping out of her top and a fellow worker says “nice boobs.”  He’s considered “bad,” but she isn’t?  Isn’t foisting your sexuality on someone else harassment?  Women can provoke men, but men can’t react?  That is the silly thinking of most feminists.

Young men in a classroom can’t pay attention to the blackboard and the teacher’s words when he has in front of him the sight of a girl’s lower back and upper butt, because she’s wearing very low cut jeans.  Young men on a campus can’t even remember which building to go into when a young woman walks by with her soft belly jutting out beneath her short top over her low-cut jeans.

This is where responsibility comes in.  If you don’t want that kind of attention, don’t invite it!

When I read the many of the comments posted in response to this story on, I was not surprised at the naive and utterly stupid remarks about women having their rights to dress and behave any way they want (i.e., no responsibility), and men should control their verbal and emotional reactions (i.e., responsibility all on the men).

And then I got to this comment…a nugget of gold in the compost heap:

When I entered high school, it was the first year when girls were allowed to wear pants.  Since then, of course, clothing standards have dropped to the point where girls are wearing next to nothing on top of low-cut, tight jeans, or short-shorts. In high school, I would have screamed my head off that it was unfair to tell us what to wear.  Now that we’ve had 30 years of half-dressed high fashion, and I’ve become older and wiser, I understand why modesty makes sense.  Our schools, especially here in California, are a complete disaster.  There are many reasons for it, but requiring that girls dress modestly and that boys dress respectfully is a good start.  Considering that hormones are bubbling like volcanoes, particularly in teenage boys, simple steps like this would make a difference.  I remember the days when people dressed up nicely just to go to the movies!  I’m not advocating this, but I would even be for school kids wearing uniforms.  It puts them in a different frame of mind.  Trying to get kids to sit still, pay attention and get an education is not only difficult, but as we see from our dismal failure in the last 20 to 30 years, is imperative for the future of this country.  Looking back, it does amaze me how much my opinion has changed.  It is said that the devil is in the details, and I must concur.  The small things that I thought didn’t matter at all turn out to be very important, not only in and of themselves, but they are the blocks on which other decisions/behavior are built.  It’s really hard to see this when you’re 15 or even 25, but as have accumulated experience in life, it has become very clear.

And The Stinky Award Goes To…

We always see awards given out for outstanding achievement – in performance (like the Tony Awards this past Sunday), in writing (like the Pulitzers) or a variety of humanitarian endeavors.  Well, I’ve decided to give out my own version of an award, which I’m calling “The Stinky.”  To find out exactly what and who prompted my decision to do this, you’ll have to watch the video below:

And the Stinky Goes To

Or watch other videos at

Read transcript here.