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September 28, 2012

An Excerpt from Ellen Pober Rittberg's
35 Things Your Teen Won't Tell You, So I Will

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About the Author:
Ellen Pober Rittberg
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Ellen Pober Rittberg is a award-winning parenting writer, public speaker, attorney and mother of three very closely spaced now-grown children. For 13 years she represented hundreds of children and teens in court in virtually all aspects of their lives. While she can't say she has seen it all, she saw and experienced a great deal of things close up which others didn't or haven't yet and which are the basis of her philosophy and book. A humor writer, Ms. Rittberg wanted to help parents laugh and deal during this sometimes very trying time.

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Are you a 5-star parent? Many parents of teenagers feel like they know a little less about effective parenting with each passing day, but here's a 5-star book that could help you reverse that trend and let you share some laughs along the way.  

  Useful wisdom and a sense of humor, on the same page?

That's what you'll find on every page of
this Free Kindle Nation Shorts excerpt from

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by Ellen Pober Rittberg
4.5 stars - 8 Reviews
Reduced from $4.99 through Oct. 4 only!

Here's the set-up:

Any parent of a teenager who would like pragmatic tips on how to build a positive relationship with their child should read this book. Parents of teens know that in today’s environment, being a good parent is a greater challenge than ever. In 35 Things Your Teen Won’t Tell You So I Will, Ellen Pober Rittberg offers insight on how to connect, react, instill responsibility, and even discpline your teen to help foster a positive parent-child relationship. Some of her advice includes: If you haven’t seen Risky Business you should; subsidize your teen at your own peril; to buy a car or not buy a car, that is the question; the importance of punching the clock; and beer and hard liquor: the unseen enemy.

High praise from one Amazon readers:

Incredibly useful and hilarious
"This had me laughing out loud! With vivid, funny language and ridiculous stories any parent can relate to, this is a great read. Besides the humor value, the author is a lawyer for teens and an award-winning journalist, which makes me trust her as an authority and use this as an actual guidebook. I loved this book and would recommend it to parents of any ages - teens, preteens and even the young'ens!!" - Amazon Reviewer, 5 Stars

an excerpt from

35 Things Your Teen Won’t Tell You, So I Will

by Ellen Pober Rittberg

Copyright © 2012 by Ellen Pober Rittberg and published here with her permission

What a piece of work is man,

How noble in reason,

How infinite in faculties,

In form and moving how express and admirable,

In action how like an angel,

In apprehension how like a god!

~William Shakespeare, Hamlet,

Act II, Scene 2

Introduction: What this book will do

This book focuses on 35 simple things, or rules, that offer insight on understanding and raising your teens. It will warn you about some of the bad things your teens will do. (Hopefully, you are not far from your home with a cast of a thousand teens partying there.)

It may make you worry less, because although you now know oodles of things to worry about you may not have known before, you can write yourself “To Worry About” lists and then feel vaguely superior for about ten seconds about how organized you are. In other words, you will have become an educated worrier. Worrying comes with the parent-of-a-teen turf. It’s part of the job description. If there were a monument to parents of teens, it would consist of one massive Mount Rushmore–sized collective furrowed gray brow. (Or possibly, our symbol should be a bucket of sweat? Particularly for women of a certain age.)

It will make you feel you are not alone and that there is intelligent life out there somewhere. Just don’t ask where for the next couple of years.

It tells you that you belong. Whatever kind of parent you are—old, young, energetic, lethargic, depressed—parents of teens are all in this soup together. Welcome. Even if you weren’t a joiner, you now belong to a club with no dues, no mission statement, and no common purpose except to not allow your teen to drive you cuckoo.

It teaches the inner workings of a teen’s brain, which is scary if you think about it any longer than it takes to read this sentence. (It also means this book may get classified in the library under Horror or Science Fiction.)

It teaches alternative techniques to tearing out one’s hair or reading about the pharmacological properties of hemlock. One such technique, shedding real or fake tears, can sometimes induce a momentarily guilt-laden teen to do what a parent wants.

It reminds you that your teen is that same cute little creature with the bobbing head you lavished so much attention on, who could always be counted on to provide your shoulder with an endless stream of regurgitated milk before you left your house each morning. Only now the teen is regurgitating on his friend’s shoulder. And the present-day upchuck is not from milk but from that all-important teenage food-pyramid group, Fermented Grain Products.

It tells you of the need to keep a picture of your teen with you at all times. (Personally, I’ve always had trouble picking my children out in a crowd, beginning with Day One in the hospital nursery. But maybe that’s just me.) If nothing else, it will remind you what your girl really looks like, beneath all that makeup that most closely resembles people on cheesy public access television shows at three in the morning. The photo will also help identify your boy-teen when you pick him up at the airport from a vacation and discover he’s become a bottle blond.

This book may give you just the right amount of ’tude (attitude) so that for five seconds, maybe your teen will think you’re nobody’s fool (except perhaps Shakespeare’s Fool. A brief review of your high school English notes may remind you that in Shakespeare, the only people who really knew which side was up were the Fools).

It will teach you to revive your old mantra from your child’s Terrible Twos days: the word “no.”

It will help you keep on top of your teen (and no, by that I do not mean sitting on him or her).

It will help you set realistic goals and standards. For example, 8:00 p.m. is not a realistic bedtime. Tucking your teen into bed is a bit over the top. It may, however, be a good guerrilla tactic when checking for random members of the opposite sex in the bed. And it is not a reasonable goal to surf the Web to try to find a chastity belt. However, purchasing a residential high-voltage electrified perimeter fence might be worth the cash.

This book will also teach you of the need to develop a fierce look resembling that of a prehistoric tribal chieftain living 30,000 years ago. Find a large mirror with good lighting. Practice it. That and a fully upturned snarling lip are must-haves in your parent-of-teen arsenal.

Please Note

If I seem to use a lot of military images, I do. Raising teenagers is a lot like war without the gore.

How I came to write this book

When I was pregnant with my first child, I did what I thought was a responsible thing: I read loads of books. I did not come from a large, extended family. The only thing I recalled about babies was that I wanted to pinch my baby sister when I was a child.

To remedy my black-hole information gap, I took a free course at a local department store (or was it a local hospital?) where I learned such basics as how to bathe and burp a baby. The subsequent hollow, tribal-drumroll thump sound my hand made on my son’s back did little to bolster my new-mommy confidence. Ditto my experience with baby-bathing. I have a dog-eared picture of my two-month-old son being given a bath in my kitchen sink—the sink technique being one of the many “useful” things the hospital course taught. He looks positively shell-shocked.

My technical shortcomings notwithstanding, I brought some strengths to the parenting table: I was enthusiastic. I had endurance from my training as a long-distance runner. And I had a sense of humor. (Perhaps that was the most important thing I possessed!) Fast-forward to the teen years: I found I could and would chase my teenagers down when they were flying out of the house with bogus excuses about where they were and weren’t going. (A very necessary skill, I might add.)

As my children got older, I discovered the books that were out there about raising teenagers seemed too preachy or were written by psychologists or were too dense. (Or was it me? Whatever.) In any event, these books made me feel guilty that I wasn’t more rigid or more grown-up or more whatever it was these books were asking me to be. So, I’ve written a book that is lighthearted and empathetic most of the time but which contains tips and pointers explaining the thoroughgoing orientation a parent of a teen needs. It is the book I would have liked to have.

Some Brief Background

I have three children. I had all three within three years and two months. Having three children close in age forced me to be practical if I ever wanted to get out of the house before the sun set each day. I developed rules and mental checklists. Diaper bag in car? Check. Diapers and bottles (and formula in the bottles) in the diaper bag? Check. Babies in the car? Babies in car seats? Key in the ignition? Adult non-toddler driver in the driver’s seat? As the children grew, the items on the checklists changed and grew longer. Teens in the house? Teens’ friends in the house? A parent or parents in the house? Liquor smell on teenager’s breath? Glazed eyes on teenager? Et cetera.

Because I had my children so close, I had little time to reflect on anything. My only philosophies were ones that could be expressed in a sentence or less: Be suspicious. Use your common sense. Choose techniques that work. Smile, don’t foam at the mouth.

I hope the reader will come to regard this book as a tool in the parent arsenal for days when the parent feels he is on a steep cliff, the canteen fell into the ravine, and there are no other ropes besides the tether (which the parent may very well be at the end of).

In the Interest of Full Disclosure

I have two distinct perspectives on teenager-dom: the personal and the professional.

The Personal

As stated previously, I had three close-in-age teens. This had one large benefit: I didn’t have enough time to totally forget what I learned with each teen before the next teen was at the same stage of development doing similar (read that: stupid) things. Because I had teens of both genders, I can say with assurance that both genders do equally stupid things, some that are the same and some that are different. For example, male teens develop what seems to be a pathological urge to total any car they have not earned the money for, usually within two months of obtaining their drivers’ licenses. Your female teens discover texting and then beg off any face-to-face communication with you, preferring to communicate only through closed doors or from a different floor and at opposite ends of the house.

The Professional

Up until two years ago, I represented children as an attorney in court for thirteen years. In my work, I frequently spoke to parents, school personnel, therapists, doctors, social workers, and, if there were drug and alcohol issues, drug and alcohol counselors. I have included some of the more useful information I have garnered from that experience. This setting also provided me the opportunity to see a wide range of parents and parenting, from truly awful to very, very good.

A Brief Word About Gender Issues

I should add that I have tried to raise my children in a gender-neutral fashion. Because of my lack of fashion sense or because it cost less to dress my daughter in her brothers’ hand-me-downs, for much of her younger years, she wore her brothers’ clothes, including cowboy shirts with the boys’ names embroidered on them. (As she didn’t have much hair for the first few years of her life, no one seemed to notice that she was male-clothing attired. But hey, the Victorians dressed their young boys in dresses. In some cultures men wear kilts.) The only person who seemed to object was my daughter’s babysitter, who refused to toilet train my daughter until I provided her with something other than her brothers’ Fruit of the Looms.

Being gender neutral, or trying to be, also meant that I produced three adolescents who could not sew (and who knew nothing about anything domestic except beer). Occasionally, all of them could be counted upon to vacuum, but usually only under duress. There is one noteworthy exception to my children’s lack of domesticity: they all do laundry and have done so since they were preteens. (See my chapter devoted to this important and time-intensive subject, “Give your teenagers meaningful chores.”)

To Know: Some Common Pitfalls

The following are some common excuses parents give when they miss the mark:

1. But my child promised . . . (Teenagers do not promise. They lie and twist the truth.)

2. I trusted my child. (Response: Why?)

3. But I thought my teenager was at . . . (Teenagers will say anything to get to the starting gate, i.e., the front door or the car.)

4. My brain is permanently warped from raising a teenager. (A good excuse. But take heart. The warping is temporary.)

You should resolve to improve as you go, and you will likely improve with each child (if you have more than one child). Of course, the oldest child will not appreciate that he is your learning curve. The eldest child will be quick to point out your shortcomings and insist quite stridently that you must shape up. My suggestion: let him be the parent (for ten seconds). The middle child, if you have more than two children, that is, will either always be slightly disgruntled or will always aim to please you. (Know, however, that he chooses what he is. Not you. Tough break.) The youngest child will accuse you of babying her or of not having taught all of the basic things she should know, or both. She will also accuse you of having large gaps in the photo album. All of which are true. But who can blame a parent? There’s a lot of Attention Deficit Disorder out there, much of it belonging to parents of teens.

Full Disclosure: I Liked My Teens Most (Okay, Some) of the Time

Looking back, which is hard to do because my long-term memory is shot (or, more likely I have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, having blotted out the truly horrible parts), overall, I enjoyed my teenagers (although they didn’t always enjoy me!). It’s possible that I enjoyed them as much as I did because a significant part of me is age eighteen mentally, emotionally, and physically (okay, delusionally) and holding.

Please Note

In this book, I give practical ideas and insights about parenting teenagers. However, nothing in this book is or should be construed as legal advice or opinion. Moreover, this book contains no guarantees. I share my information in the hope that insights of the battle-hardened have some use.

A Further Note

With rare exception, I have not identified any children or parents by name except that I will refer to my children as Big Boy, Middle One, and the Girl.

The 35 Things

Rule 1 :The family is not a democracy. It’s anti-democratic and must be

Think of your family as a fiefdom in the Middle Ages. Your children are serfs without the work ethic. Parents are enlightened despots. A despot only knows one way to act: decisively. Despots don’t waver. They rule with iron gauntlets. They must. Teens read passivity as weakness. And if they perceive you to be weak or gullible, they will step over, around, and on you. Do you want to be thought of as a waffler, a wuss, and a weakling? Do you really want treadmarks all over you, metaphorically speaking?

If you are not a natural leader, then you must instantly develop leadership abilities and the ability to think militarily. Think George Patton but don’t slap your kids’ faces. Think Winston Churchill but don’t smoke cigars. Think cutting them off at the pass before they are at the pass. Think pincer movements and containment. Think Iron Curtain without the communism. Regard their bad behaviors as scourges and epidemics, to be wiped out, extirpated. And emphasize to your teens that there is only one Declaration of Independence and that it is in Independence Hall in Philadelphia.

To Know: Anarchy and Chaos Are Not Forms of Family Government to Which You Should Aspire

Teens are impatient people. They leap into things without thinking them through. They want what they want when they want it and usually yesterday. They don’t like to hear “no” or variants thereof, such as “No way, José.” If you are a somewhat undisciplined out-of-control sort (and even if you’re not), pose the following question: Do I want my child to be just like me, or do I want a newer, more improved version? Read on if you have answered yes to the last part of the question.

To Do: Keep a Cool Head When Things Go South

When things go downhill, the natural tendency is for a parent’s IQ to dip precipitously. This results in operating in crisis mode. Don’t operate there, or try not to. Foresee problems before they come careening at you at ninety miles an hour. And if you are not a naturally suspicious person, become Alfred Hitchcock. See all the scary angles and dark places. Scrutinize your teens with eagle eyes. And ask yourself: Do my teens seem troubled, evasive, or worse, stoned? (And don’t let them leave the house until you notice the whites of their eyes. And look them in the eye when they return from a night out. Have a staring contest, if need be.) Develop Mommy and Daddy Parent-of-Teenager Radar. If your teens are vague and evasive, pin them down like dead butterflies. Ask yourself: Does my teen seem different from yesterday or a month before? Has his personality (or the way he deals with me) changed in a short time? If so, chances are something is up, and up generally means bad when it comes to teens. Different also means bad most of the time. The only change that isn’t bad is teens’ normal-growth body-shape change, which may make you cringe but is not in your hands.

To Know

If your voice of authority includes a threat to do something or withhold something, you must do (or not do) whatever it was. However, rather than threatening, the better way is to tell the teen that if she acts a certain way, her action or non-compliance will have negative consequences. And learn to say the phrase “negative consequences” smoothly. Along with the word “no,” “negative consequences” is your other mantra.

An example: The Big One was balking at the reasonable curfew I had imposed. He told me that if I didn’t raise his curfew, he would ignore it. I took a deep breath—deep breathing helps in such situations, I think. I then gave him the following speech, which you may adapt as you see fit for any direct challenge to your authority.

The Speech

You will probably be living under my roof for the next few years. And it can be a very nice experience or a very unpleasant experience. As long as you live under my roof, you follow my rules.

Yes, that is an implied threat. And yes, you must mean it and say it with conviction and with a fixed eye. I suggest developing your own fixed eye. It should be part squint, part frown, and part wrath-of-the-ancient-unmerciful-gods. Practice it in the mirror. You will be using it.

To Do: Become an Approachable Authority Figure

Now that you are a leader, you must also convey to your teen that you won’t do something rash that may bring you under the thumb of a real government (not your carefully constructed Enlightened Despotic family government as described above). You want her to know you are a reasonable person and a good problem solver.

How do you do this?

Speak with the voice of authority even if you’re not 100 percent certain that you’re 100 percent certain. If need be, at a later date, you can alter your position, but not now, not when you’ve just taken a stand. Think Franklin Roosevelt (not Custer). Be decisive. If your child is too scared to come to you for advice (because your negative consequences are perceived by your teen to be too draconian), then he likely will spend a large proportion of his teenage years trying to avoid your detection. That will become his goal, and he won’t know how truly wise you really are. He will also get into pickles that he won’t be able to get out of.

I also suggest becoming aware of your body language when you speak to your teen. Avoid a lunge position. Try not to flail your arms like windmills. Parents of teens are supposed to be dignified even when their guts feel like Jello and they feel the irresistible impulse to rub their index finger up and down the lips.

Rule 2: For every action, there must be a reaction

If there is one common characteristic of almost all teens, it is that they lie. Some of them tell whoppers. Some tell smaller lies. Others lie through their teeth. Still others are great liars. Whatever the case, when you catch your teens in lies having to do with their safety and well-being (such as throwing a party when you are out of town, underage drinking, or drug taking), the consequences must be severe enough and swift in order to have a deterrent effect. What punishments work best? Grounding for a month or more is good. Taking away the cell phone and iPod and computer privileges if the child has her own are other good ones. Driving privileges prohibited? That’s good. Banning them from any form of transportation other than their own two feet? That’s another good one. Do not deviate from the punishment you have chosen, with the exception of maybe a little bit of time off for good behavior if you think the lesson learned was really learned and only if your punishment was still adequate with the good time off.

A Word About Going to One’s Room: A Definition

If your teen is grounded, grounded should mean a lack of pleasure. The confines of the grounding area must be spelled out, and the conditions. There should not be a television, computers, modems, cable or satellite hook-ups, video conferencing capability, iPods, piped-in music, lawnside serenaders, Game Boys, cell phones, other teenagers, siblings, a visit from Publisher’s Clearing House, or any other means of stimulation. Think of grounding as prison solitary confinement, only with better food and toilet facilities.

To Know: Teens Have a Learning and an Un-learning Curve

If you think that once your teen has been punished, she won’t ever lie to you or be sneaky again even though she’s cried and apologized repeatedly, think again. It’s not that she’s not sorry, she really is at that moment. But the feeling sorry wears off like cheap perfume, or even good perfume after you wash. And when it does, she very well may do the same stupid or dangerous thing. Or some other stupid or dangerous thing.

To Know

There’s no lack of stupid or dangerous things for your teens to think up to do that may screw up their lives, health, safety, and general welfare.

To Do: Emphasize the Need to Take Personal Responsibility

Part of becoming a responsible member of society is considering one’s actions in advance before embarking on the act. If your teenagers can be eased into this thought-mode, their chances of becoming responsible people are greatly enhanced. Your job is to listen to their foolish explanations when they’ve done things you don’t approve of. Walk them through their explanations, and explain to them why they’re wrong. Avoid using adjectives like moronic and nouns such as twit, fool, and jerk. Try not to laugh like a hyena. Emphasize that some things are never right, like stealing, destroying other people’s property, beating people up, being disrespectful to teachers, binge drinking, drug taking, and using foul language. If you use foul language when your emotions get away from you, develop alternative phrases like “fudge,” “shoot,” and “gee willikers.”

To Do: Help Your Teen Develop Common Sense

Few people are born with common sense. Some never acquire it. Part of a parent’s job is to not give teens any more responsibility than they can handle at a given time.

An example: When the Girl was a preteen, she groused bitterly to me that I was overprotective and that I had waited a ridiculously long time to allow her to go anywhere other than that part of the street where I could see her from my window. She asked me if when she got married would that be the first time she could walk somewhere without me. (I told her to ask me when we got to that day.) I reminded her of that day when she and her friend walked down the block and didn’t stop. When I didn’t see her from my window, I raced all over the neighborhood like a chicken without a head. Somehow I caught up with them, but not before I had aged 12 years. It hadn’t dawned on the girls that they were supposed to stop or tell me where they were going.

This is a classic case of a lack of common sense, and specifically, a lack of sense about the cost of plastic surgery for the child’s parents who age overnight prematurely. Teens have variable, shifting amounts of common sense, depending upon who they hang around. To the extent that you are able, choose how much your child will be exposed to and when that exposure will occur. (And don’t ask that it be in a laboratory under sterile conditions, or ask that your children never be exposed to anything ever. Although that’s a tempting goal.)

To Know: However Much Freedom You Are Thinking of Giving Your Teen, It’s Probably Too Much

Allowing your high-school-aged teen to go on Spring Break vacation with her friends to a destination known to be a Spring Break college vacation town is either an act of misplaced faith or tomfoolery. Nevertheless, if you decide that with your (or her) hard-earned funds, your child should be permitted to be exposed to debauchery (or possibly doing the exposing) and a level of drinking and carousing that most roughly approximates ancient Rome during Nero or a bawdy house without any money changing hands, then by all means, buy the kid a nonrefundable ticket and say arrivederci.

To Ask Yourself: Am I Law Abiding?

Your attitudes shape your teen’s view of the world. This sounds obvious but isn’t to parents who think of themselves and their children as the privileged few. Allowing a child to drive a car anywhere other than to and from school and work when the child has a restricted work-study license gives the teen the message that rules don’t apply to him. An out-of-control teen equals a future out-of-control adult. And out-of-control adults produce out-of-control teens.

To Know: If Your Teen Wants to Spend Extended Periods of Time with You, It’s Abnormal. No Offense

It is common knowledge that teenagers consider their parents a necessary evil and an embarrassment. And, no, it’s not your deodorant or your breath or the way you dress (although that may play into the mix). In your teen’s mind, other teens are the only people worthy of your teen’s consideration and lack of condescension. You start out your child’s teen years feeling small. You progress through the teen years, feeling increasingly small and superfluous to the point of microscopic bugdom until:

1) Your child needs money;

2) Your child gets into trouble he can’t figure his way out of (and even then, he will only come to you if he feels you are safe enough to come to); or

  1. Your child needs a ride somewhere.

Teens’ normal growth and development (and I use the term “normal” loosely) requires that they have friends and a peer group. So, even if it seems attractive at first blush, you should give up the idea of bankrolling your future financial happiness to become the first family to sign up for an extended trip to Mars. No matter what, your teen won’t want to spend a lot of time with you even if you have great people skills and are a barrelful of monkeys. Which leads to my next principle: the most important influence on your teenager (by far) is not you or school, but your teen’s friends.

Rule 3: To know your children’s friends is to know your children

Knowing your children’s friends is no easy task. You barely know your teen. You are two ships passing, except his ship cuts a sharper image. Teens are notorious for giving the same stock answers they gave when they were in elementary school to questions such as, “How was school today?” (The most common answers: “Okay.” “Good.” “Bad.” Or “Crunch, crunch,” when they are eating.) Thus, it becomes harder to know what they’re thinking and doing at any given moment.

To complicate matters, if you have a bad feeling about one of your children’s friends and you don’t know that child, you’re not going to be able to formulate much of an argument as to why that friend is unsuitable. (And you may not always want to argue the point directly.) Your goal, then, is to get to know your teen’s friends. The question is, how?

Establish eye contact. And notice that the whites of their eyes are clear and white, and the pupils non-dilated.

Engage in active listening. When your teens and their friends are at your house, keep your ears peeled. Which basically means you establish a listening post—your house, your car, anywhere where you can hear anything. Analyze the interactions. Are they whispering and being clandestine? Are they all charged up and ready to do . . . what? Engage your children’s friends in what seems to be just friendly conversation. Disarm them. Flatter them. Be a guerrilla (as opposed to a gorilla. Although there are times for that too). Compliment them on some item of clothing or their hairstyle. They have blue hair? Tell them you love that shade of blue (and you’re not lying. You do love that shade, only not on hair and not on your child’s head specifically). And always listen carefully to their responses. If active listening does not yield the desired information, then do what is next best: eavesdrop.

To Do: Spy and Eavesdrop

Sometimes the only way you will find out what is really going on is by putting your ear to the wall or a cup to the wall (Dixie cups are good) or lingering on the stairs near a closed bedroom door, or any other means of hearing what is going on or being talked about right under your nose. You do this not because your life is dull (and dull and boring is good if it means nothing unpleasant or unexpected is happening in your teen’s life) but because you desperately want your teen to be safe. By eavesdropping, you sometimes may be able to figure out if something big and unpleasant will occur or has occurred.

An example: Teenager X seemed less energetic than normal, but his parent couldn’t put his finger on it. The parent asked the teen if he was tired or if something was wrong. The teen said no. It was only after several friends visited the teen in rapid succession and they all retreated to his room and closed the door that the parent realized that something was up (and as stated previously, up is usually bad). The parent listened in and discovered that the teen had gotten jumped at a party by some teenagers from a rival school. The parent was then able to take the teen to the emergency room to check for internal bleeding, breaks, or sprains.

To Do: Carpool Whenever You Can

If you own a car, lease a car, or have access to a car, carpooling is a vital activity for you. It accomplishes a twofold purpose:

1) You get to know your children’s friends in all their spontaneous exuberance.

  1. You pick up valuable information.

The two points are interrelated. If your children’s friends think of you as a fly on the wall, they will talk and will say things that may astound, perturb, and shock you. But these are things you need to know. Also, teens are big gossips. They love to talk about other teens, and you need to know what they are saying about these other teens, especially those involved in weird and extreme things. The more you know about your children’s lives and friends, the better.

Of course, while listening, you will refrain from laughing, crying, letting your mouth drop open in disgust or amazement, or flaring your nostrils when hearing stories about neighborhood teens that sound too bizarre, extreme, and creepy to be true but most likely are.

... Continued...

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by Ellen Pober Rittberg
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