“Teens and Sex” Part 1 (Talking about sex with your teen)

There are, to be sure, lots of books on the subject of sexuality, and lots of studies into the awakening awareness of the opposite sex. Let’s start with, “Facts on American Teens’ Sexual and Reproductive Health, February 2012”, Facts on American Teens’ Sexual and Reproductive Health

The good news is teens are waiting longer to have sex and more are using birth control during their first sexual encounter.  In 1995 some 19% of teens reported having sex before age 15.  That number declined to 11% for females and 14% for males in 2006 – 2008.

Although only an average of 13% of teens have had sex by age 15, most initiate sex in their later teen years.  By their 19th birthday, 70% of teens, both male and female, have had sexual intercourse.

Another piece of good news is that 78% of females and 85% of males reported using contraceptives the first time they had sex.

So it all boils down to one simple undeniable fact.

People have sex and your child’s first sexual experience will probably be in the next few years.  It may have happened already.

So the next question is, “When should I talk to my child about sex”? The answer may shock some of you.  Now is the time to start the conversation.

There is considerable information and a fine resource starting with,  Sex Talk – Have the Sex Talk With Kids of Any Age.

We live in a world that is immersed in, and preoccupied with sex. We use it to sell perfume, cars, clothes and every other commodity.  The television and newspapers are full of it.  The magazine rack is covered with overt sexuality.  If your children don’t see the playboy channel at your house, because you happen to have higher ideals than to permit it in your house, then they will see it at the neighbor’s house.

For some reason, our society seems to have evolved with a belief that if we hide something away from our children, they won’t get into it.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  We persist with some silly notion that educating our children properly will hasten the onset of sexual awareness.  Believe me, nothing is sillier.  The onset of sexual awareness is taken care of by the natural flow of hormones rampaging unchecked through the teen age body.  And nothing is destined to cause you more trouble as a parent than to try to hide things from your children.

So now is the time to start talking.  It should be open, frank, and honest.  Babies don’t come from the stork and your children will get educated, if not by you, then by someone else who may or may not teach them the values you wan them to have.  So best to start talking now! Crazaberamer .

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The Family Poopie (So you want a pet huh?)

So you are thinking maybe a family pet or two is a good idea. Before you make a final decision, consider some facts.

The average 50-pound dog will live 10-12 years

“The estimated average life span of indoor-only cat is 15-18 years but can be as long as 20 to 25 years

The typical goldfish lives anywhere between 5 days and 25 years.

THE AVERAGE BOA CONSTRICTOR LIVES 20-30 years but there is a boa that has been 40 years old

Read more: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_the_life_span_of_a_boa_constrictor#ixzz1yMSNOQtQ

Read more: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_the_average_life_span_of_a_goldfish#ixzz1yMS6BCU5

Read more: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_the_life_span_of_an_ordinary_house_cat#ixzz1yMRcDePs

In Adventures in single parenting I devote a chapter on discussing pets, how to care for them and what to expect. Crazaberamer

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Preventing Child Abuse


Hi, It’s Len.  The creator of singleparenting.us and author of the book, “Adventures in Single Parenting”.

I would like to talk a little about child abuse today.  There have been two compelling events in recent times that have forced this topic to the headlines.  One is the conviction of Jerry Sandusky on 45 counts of child abuse.  The other is the introduction of a bill in Wisconsin, one feature of which was to declare that single parent families are more likely to have child abuse occur than two parent families are.

While I do not wish to enter the controversy over the Wisconsin bill there does appear to be support for the notion that children in single parent homes have potentially more exposure to abuse than children in two parent families.  Partially this is due to more reliance on child care providers and babysitters.

Scanning the news, it is not hard to find stories of children injured by their mother’s boyfriend as one example.

But this brings us to a crucial conclusion well supported by evidence.  Most physical and sexual abuse of children comes from people we know and trust, not from random acts of violence by strangers.  Sure there are kidnappings, rapes and pother random acts by strangers but that is not the norm.  One estimate is that 90% of child sexual abuse is from someone we know and trust.

Just to throw around some statistics, the graph on the next screen shows that the number of deaths due to child abuse and neglect has been rising steadily and now stands near 5 deaths per day in the united States.  This is an incredible number.

 

 

The next graph shows the types of child abuse and indicates that 78 % is neglect while 9.2% is sexual abuse and 17.6% is physical abuse.

Huge numbers! Now what can we as parents do and especially as single parents? What is our first line of defense?  First and foremost, be aware.  In my particular case, my children where both subjected to totally inappropriate, sexually explicit behavior by a baby sitter who was the teen daughter of a close family friend and business acquaintance and was therefore highly trusted. It was many years after the fact when I became aware of the behavior.

So first and foremost, we need to listen to our kids and pay close attention to them if they don’t want to stay with a particular babysitter, friend, or Uncle Bob.  Unfortunately we need to be suspicious of anyone who wants to spend time alone with our kids no matter what the reason. I am not suggesting paranoia, just good common sense.

The Boy Scouts have a program where no adult is permitted alone with one child for any reason at all.  There must always be at least another child present; good program.

So my advice: listen carefully, observe appropriately and encourage your kids to talk to you.  Make sure they are aware of what constitutes inappropriate behavior and touching and be sure they feel safe with you that they can tell you anything without fear of reprisal.  And if they do tell you Uncle Bob is misbehaving, believe them and take action as necessary to nip it In the bud.  I hope you never have to have Uncle Bob arrested but if you do, your kids are worth it.

Now go ahead and subscribe to my channel.  Also leave me a comment and tell me what you think or ask a question.  Let’s talk.  Finally, go check out my website singleparenting.us.  Let’s get to know each other.

Good luck in the days, months and years ahead!

My wish for you is that your children grow up healthy, wealthy and strong and contribute to society in a positive way and that you maintain your sanity in the process.

We will talk again.  Bye for now!

 

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Effects of Divorce on Children

Edward Beal and Gloria Hochman in their book “Adult Children of Divorce ” state, “Almost no one disputes that a home headed by a mother and father who are compatible provides the best environment for a child’s healthy development. A two-parent family, especially one where the parenting is constant and continuous, gives children the greatest emotional security.”

Well now you don’t have a functioning two parent household so no what.  First and foremost your children need a lot of love and attention. Divorce is devastating to the child.  Again quoting from Beal and Hochman, “Children of divorced parents are convinced that they have been cast out of the Garden of Eden. If only their parents had stayed together, they would feel more secure. They would be more stable. They would be capable of having more fulfilling relationships. They would achieve greater happiness.”

No matter how bad the marriage was, the child takes much of the divorce personally.  No matter how reassuring you are able to be that it wasn’t the child’s fault – they still internalize a lot of guilt and anger.  They frequently feel that they are somehow to blame for it all.  “If I had been better, mom and dad would still be together”. They never really accept the divorce.  They still think of you as a couple and they will try to bring you together. This is especially true on Christmas and other holidays and on birthdays.

When the non-custodial parent is picking them up, they will sometimes suggest the custodial parent come along.  “Oh mom it won’t hurt if dad comes too.  We’re just going to the park.”  If you begin to date someone, the children are likely to ask, “Mom, can’t you just go out with dad?”

Depending on the age of your child at the time of divorce, he or she will react differently and have different needs for you to fill.  Summarizing chapter three “The Difference Divorce Makes ” from Beal and Hochman, the youngest preschool children (ages two to three) regress and are fretful, bewildered and aggressive.  Slightly older preschool children are whiny, tearful and aggressive.  Five and six year olds are restless and often throw temper tantrums.  Seven and eight year olds are simply sad. Nine and ten year olds are embarrassed and ashamed of their parent’s behavior.

Adolescents are often the hardest hit since it is a critical time in their own development as they try to wean their way away from the parents and out into the world.  Teenagers are often angry and very judgmental.

Even when my oldest child was twenty-five and he still walked around talking about how people shouldn’t have children unless they can stay together and take care of them.  He still harbored a lot of anger and hostility over the fact that his parents weren’t together for most of his life.

An excellent summary on the effects of divorce on children of various ages was written by the University of New Hampshire and is available at http://extension.unh.edu/family/documents/divorce.pdf

What can we as parents do to help our children through this difficult time in our lives?  First and foremost, even though we may be sad or angry personally, we need to recognize our child’s concerns and reassure them that they did nothing wrong.  Make sure they understand the divorce was not their fault.

Reassure them they will still have a relation with the other parent and “No”, they do not need to go get a new mom or dad.  As painful as it may be for you, try to say nice things about your former partner to the children.  No matter how upset you are, your children need to have a relation with your former spouse.

Try as much as possible to maintain some stability for your children, same school same friends etc if possible and try to communicate directly with your former spouse about the children’s needs and also the visitation schedule.  Finally as I said previously, recognize that the children will continually try to reunite you.  Just accept it. They still think of you as a couple and they will try to bring you together. This is especially true on Christmas and other holidays and birthdays.

For an excellent summary and lot’s of suggestions as to what to do during this difficult time see http://www.helpguide.org/mental/children_divorce.htm

Good luck in the days ahead. My wish for you is that your children grow up healthy, and contribute to society in a positive way.  I’m here to help you get there. We’ll talk again.  This is Len. Bye for now!

 

 

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Financial Considerations for Divorcing Parents

Single parenting takes what seems like superhuman reserves of physical and emotional energy. In days gone by, a wife and mother who stayed home listed her occupation as “unemployed”.  Today that same woman would list her occupation as “homemaker”.  And indeed, in today’s complex society being a homemaker is respected as a full time occupation and the homemaker is accorded the respect she deserves.  What then of the single parent who cannot be a full time homemaker?

He or she must be a homemaker after their other full time job.  The single parent has two full time jobs and sometimes more.  I have a friend who works a 40 hour job during the day and waitresses at night to make ends meet.  This is superhuman! Many single parents are forced to hold a second part time job just to pay the bills.  In fact, sometimes the second job is necessary to pay for the childcare required so the single parent can do the first job.  This is I suppose especially true for many single mothers who have relatively low paying jobs in our society where woman are traditionally accorded the lower skilled jobs and pay scales.

In fact, many of you may have already gone from a comfortable lifestyle to near poverty.  The vast majority of single family homes (over 80%) are run by the mother and studies have shown that the average living standard for woman and their children who are living with them may drops dramatically.  Unfortunately in our society, women still earn less than men.  The median income for males age 25 or older is approximately $39,000 and for woman is $26,500. Of more compelling interest is the fact that the median household income is $46,000 for all households and over $67,000 for two earner households.  The point is, over 42% of all households and 76% of households in the top 20% had two or more wage earners. The conclusion is obvious. If you are a woman (which many of you are) and you have experienced a divorce or other separation agreement, chances are you have lost a household income.

ell what about child support?  Doesn’t that make up the difference? Hardly! First only 56.9% of you have been awarded child support at all and the average is $5366. So there you have it.

You have one, or more, angry, emotionally stressed children who are quite possibly beginning to experience some difficulty at school, your income has dropped substantially and the boss expects you to be at work on time daily.  On top of all that if you are among the unlucky 47% of divorced woman, your ex isn’t paying his full child support.

According to recent statistics, only 47.1% (or about half) of the woman who are awarded child support are getting the full amount; and, another 76% get only partial payments.  Even worse, according to government statistics, about one-quarter (24.6%) of custodial parents and their children had income below the poverty level in 2007. The US government defines poverty level as $14,710 for two persons in a family and a whopping $18,530 for a three person household.

I don’t mean to bore you with statistics, but the fact is, if you are feeling financially challenged, you are not alone.  Many of you are in very difficult financial positions.

So in addition to everything else, you are quite possibly financially stressed and your children are experiencing the additional difficulty of not having the same financial support they enjoyed when you were married.  They likely blame you for their financial deprivation and continue to point out that, “if you had stayed with dad, these things wouldn’t have happened”.

Fortunately there are a lot of good programs that offer help for single parents.  Almost every state has a 211 number.  Picking up the phone and dialing 211 can put you in touch with a wide variety of services such as housing or a food pantry.

 

There is also “SNAP” which stands for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs (used to be called food stamps) and can help you feed your family.  The SNAP website is http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/

You might also check out the following website:

http://www.foodstamps.org

Foodstamps.org makes understanding the US SNAPS program simple. Get quick access to Forms, qualification rules, rules & regulations, and FAQs

Unfortunately there are also lots of scams that prey on single moms.  Be wary of any program that sounds too good to be true and charges a fee before you receive their purported services, especially if it is a grant.

For more information see for example, http://singleparents.about.com/.  This is an excellent website by Jennifer Wolf and covers a wide range of topics.

If you happen to live in the UK and are in need of assistance, there is a website for you at http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Parents/Moneyandworkentitlements/YourMoney/index.htm

Now a dose of reality from Len.  Having been a single parent, I truly realize that the demands of the house, kids and primary job almost preclude having the time to explore these options in depth.  Who has the time to be sitting on the phone, filling out forms, standing in lines and dealing with government agencies?

I have watched my daughter spend countless hours trying to deal with the confusing volumes of paper and requirements for housing assistance and other government programs.

So all I can say is, “Good luck”. My wish for you is that your children grow up healthy, and contribute to society in a positive way.  I’m here to help you get there. We’ll talk again.  This is Len. Bye for now!

 

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Alcohol and teens, what can we as parents do?

I want to talk about what we as parents can do about underage drinking but first just to summarize, Alcohol is the most frequently used drug by teenagers in the United States. About half of junior high and senior high school students drink alcohol on a monthly basis.

Teens don’t just drink. They binge drink. sherrirhodesrte88.blogspot.com And they tend to mix other drugs such as marijuana with alcohol.

About 5,000 kids under 21 die every year as a result of underage drinking.

About 1,900 kids under 21 die every year in car crashes involving underage drinking.

Young people are more susceptible to alcohol-induced impairment of their driving skills.

Adolescents who drink are more likely to engage in risky sexual behaviour; either having sex with an undesirable partner or failing to use birth control leading to an unwanted pregnancy.

Drinking can also lead to impairment of the brains development, heightened depression leading to suicide and decreased academic performance.

So what can we as parents do to stay on top of this and encourage our kids to behave responsibly?First and foremost, we must behave responsibly ourselves. The best example we can set is to not drink at all.  If you do drink however, it is for the sake of the life of your child that you display responsible behavior in your own drinking.  If your child sees you sloppy drunk, falling down, slurring words, they will see that as acceptable behavior.

We need to talk with our kids about alcohol and other drugs at a younger age than we would prefer. They are starting in grade school so we better start talking in grade school. We need to teach them that some people abuse alcohol by drinking too much and too often.  They need to be taught how much is too much.  There is no magic insight or vision that is going to appear before them on their twenty first birthday that will allow them to drink responsibly and minimize the risk of a fatal auto accident.

Let me make one more crucial observation. Many teenagers do not recognize a difference between alcohol and other drugs. Conssymroycupo . I have talked to teens who say, “There is nothing wrong with marijuana, I smoke grass and you drink.  I really see no difference”.

Finally, as I found the hard way, a little beer can be a big problem. Alcohol is a gateway drug and can and frequently does lead to involvement with other substance abuse.

So the bottom line is we as parents have got to set the example and provide the education. To a great extent, our kids will  mimic our behavior.

Please leave me a comment and tell me what you think or ask a question.  Thank you and let’s talk.   Let’s get to know each other.  Good luck in the days, months and years ahead. My wish for you is that your children row up healthy, and contribute to society in a positive way.  We will talk again.  This is Len. Bye for now!

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When one parent leaves abruptly

Last night I watched an old movie, Kramer VS Kramer. Have you seen it? In the movie the mother, played by Meryl Streep, decides after 8 years of marriage that she is not happy, fulfilled and fit for her 7 year old son.

The mother leaves

One night she abruptly moves from New York to California and leaves her husband, played by Dustin Hoffman, to raise their 7 year old son alone.  This move was without warning or advanced discussion.  The movie then develops the theme around how Hoffman suddenly becomes a single parent, and learns to juggle home, son and office to rebuild his life and that of his young son.

The mother returns

After an absence of eighteen months, the mother returns, declares herself fit, hires a lawyer and decided she wants her son back.  The movie now develops this theme, and we follow Streep and Hoffman through the courtroom drama of a child custody hearing and the ultimate decision.

And the correct choice is…

What is your opinion?  In the absence of any evidence to suggest neglect, danger or poor care, does  a parent who removes themselves willingly have the right to return after an extended absence and disrupt the life of his/her child and demand custody be returned to them?

Hopefully the best choice is what is right for the child.  What do you think?

Talk soon

Len server ip . sherrirhodesrte88.blogspot.com . Conssymroycupo . Crazaberamer

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“Adventures in Single Parenting” now available in print

“Adventures in Single Parenting” is now released in print format. Printed, bound copies of this contemporary book about being a single parent can be purchased from the CreateSpace book store and also from Amazon.  As always, readers may download a free copy of chapter I and may also purchase a PDF download directly from my store.

“Adventures in Single Parenting” grew out of the experience that I as the author had as a single parent.  I was educated in engineering and was working as an engineer when my two children came to live with me.  Like many single parents, I was totally unprepared for the days and years ahead and learned about parenting the old fashioned way, by doing it.

The book is a collection of my experiences and observations as a single parent and covers such diverse topics as teenagers and sex, learning to drive, sex and the single parent, dating, discipline, running the single parent house and also includes some of my favorite recipes and in general, has a lot of tongue in cheek humor and wisdom derived from my many mistakes and triumphs.

It is the one book I wish I had read before the kids came to live with me.  I hope you get as much out of it as I put into it. If I help you succeed with your children in some small way, I will have succeeded.  If I help a lot, I will have triumphed wildly. Conssymroycupo . Crazaberamer .

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So, Is Your Teen Ready for a Drivers License?

Car crashes are the number one cause of teen death in the United States (http://drivesteady.com/teen-driving-statistics). Pretty frightening huh?

So, is your child ready for a driver’s license?  As you sit there and contemplate that fact that your teen is clamoring for his or her driver’s license.  “Everyone has one Dad”  “All  my friend are getting theirs”, they tell you.  Of course all their friends are telling their parents that all their friends are getting theirs.  So all the parents are being simultaneously told by all the kids that all the kids are getting theirs: and, if all the parents just stopped and talked to each other, maybe they would agree that none of them should get theirs.

By the time our child is approaching driving age, the demands on us for transportation far exceed our capability as a single parent unless, of course, we are rich enough to be able to afford a maid and a chauffeur. Needless to say that leaves most of us out in the car trying to drive our kid here and there in between all the other things we have to do as single parents just to hold the fort together.

By the time the teen has reached driving age, he or she usually has a myriad of activities to be involved in.

Alright so against your better judgment, you’re going to let your child get his or her driver’s license anyway.

When we consider the enormous risk that automobiles entail, it’s worth the extra precautions to ensure your teen is going where they say and doing what they tell you.  There is a delicate line between not trusting your teen and being especially vigilant.  The family car is one area where the extra vigilance is essential.  If school is 10 miles away and your child just went there and back how’s come the odometer changed by forty miles?  Where did the extra twenty miles go?

PROPOSED CONTRACT FOR USE OF THE CAR
I John Q. Parent agree to permit my child to use my car provided my child agrees to and abides by the following conditions.

I John Q. Son agree:
[list style=”list2″ color=”green”]

  • To replace the gas I use.
  • To return at the agreed on time.
  • To only go to the places I have discussed ahead of time and agreed to with my parents.
  • To call for permission to change the agreed to plan or schedule.
  • To be responsible for all damages incurred while the car is in my possession.
  • To NEVER EVER drive after I have taken any alcohol or drugs.
  • I understand that failure to comply with the above rules will result in the suspension of my driving privilege.

[/list]
signed:

The above is a simple contract but captures the essence of what you should reasonably expect from your son or daughter.

Carrying passengers is another issue altogether.  Many states, such as California, restrict the age and or number of passengers a teen driver can carry.  For example, in California now, a teen driver with a provisional drivers license is not permitted to have a passenger younger than 20 in the car unless accompanied by an older driver.  Hopefully this helps reduce the risk.

Still the family car is an area where a single parent must be extra cautious in order to help save their child’s life. Conssymroycupo Crazaberamer

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Talking about sex with your kids

There are, to be sure, lots of books on the subject of sexuality, and lots of studies into the awakening awareness of the opposite sex. Let’s start with, “Facts on American Teens’ Sexual and Reproductive Health, February 2012”, Facts on American Teens’ Sexual and Reproductive Health

The good news is teens are waiting longer to have sex and more are using birth control during their first sexual encounter.  In 1995 some 19% of teens reported having sex before age 15.  That number declined to 11% for females and 14% for males in 2006 – 2008.

Although only an average of 13% of teens have had sex by age 15, most initiate sex in their later teen years.  By their 19th birthday, 70% of teens, both male and female, have had sexual intercourse.

Another piece of good news is that 78% of females and 85% of males reported using contraceptives the first time they had sex.

So it all boils down to one simple undeniable fact.

People have sex and your child’s first sexual experience will probably be in the next few years.  It may have happened already.

So the next question is, “When should I talk to my child about sex”? The answer may shock some of you.  Now is the time to start the conversation.

There is considerable information and a fine resource starting with,  Sex Talk – Have the Sex Talk With Kids of Any Age.

We live in a world that is immersed in, and preoccupied with sex. We use it to sell perfume, cars, clothes and every other commodity.  The television and newspapers are full of it.  The magazine rack is covered with overt sexuality.  If your children don’t see the playboy channel at your house, because you happen to have higher ideals than to permit it in your house, then they will see it at the neighbor’s house.

For some reason, our society seems to have evolved with a belief that if we hide something away from our children, they won’t get into it.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  We persist with some silly notion that educating our children properly will hasten the onset of sexual awareness.  Believe me, nothing is sillier.  The onset of sexual awareness is taken care of by the natural flow of hormones rampaging unchecked through the teen age body.  And nothing is destined to cause you more trouble as a parent than to try to hide things from your children.

So now is the time to start talking.  It should be open, frank, and honest.  Babies don’t come from the stork and your children will get educated, if not by you, then by someone else who may or may not teach them the values you wan them to have.  So best to start talking now! Conssymroycupo . Crazaberamer .

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