A Sunday Sleepover and Conflicting Stories for 04/21/2018

A Sunday Sleepover and Conflicting Stories for 04/21/2018
Dear Family Coach

Dear Family Coach: My 14-year-old daughter was invited to a birthday pool party at a local resort. It’s being held on a Sunday night. The girls are expected to sleep over and miss school on Monday. I told my daughter she could attend the party but I would be picking her up at 10:30 p.m. Of course, she threw a fit. Am I being unreasonable? — Party Pooper

Dear Pooper: First things first, who throws a sleepover party for ninth-graders on a school night? Sleepovers are some of my best childhood memories — up all night, all the chatter with the lights off, the late-night snacks, the secrets. It’s a special time. And I don’t necessarily disagree with kids missing school here and there for fun events. Life is short. But missing school to attend a birthday party doesn’t quite meet the bar.

Updated: Sat Apr 21, 2018


A Sunday Sleepover and Conflicting Stories for 04/21/2018

Fearing ADHD Meds and a Hair Catastrophe for 04/14/2018

Fearing ADHD Meds and a Hair Catastrophe for 04/14/2018
Dear Family Coach

Dear Family Coach: My daughter has been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. She showed the signs for several years. However, recently, she has had much more trouble in school, and even with her friends. Her doctor recommended she try medication to help control some of her behavior, but we are really against it. There are side effects, and we don’t want her to be dependent on drugs for the rest of her life. What do you think about it? — Concerned Parents

Dear Concerned: What if your daughter didn’t have ADHD but instead was born with a congenital heart condition that required her to be on medication for the rest of her life? Would you consider withholding the drugs? I highly doubt it. Yet when it comes to mental health conditions, people often consider medical management a non-necessity. While there are other treatments, studies show that medication, especially when combined with other therapies, is highly effective in treating ADHD.

Updated: Sat Apr 14, 2018


Fearing ADHD Meds and a Hair Catastrophe for 04/14/2018

Visible Tattoos and a Sugary Breakfast Habit for 04/07/2018

Visible Tattoos and a Sugary Breakfast Habit for 04/07/2018
Dear Family Coach

Dear Family Coach: My son will be 18 in a few months. He has been accepted into college and will be moving to a big city in the fall. He says that once at college, he’s going to get a tattoo on his hand or wrist. I don’t mind a tattoo, but I’m concerned about him losing job possibilities because of his tattoo being too visible. But he will be 18, and the only thing I could do is threaten to take away his college money. Would that be a mistake, or is this decision too big to allow a young man to make? — Purse Strings

Dear Strings: I am never a fan of using the purse strings to keep young adults in line. If your son is wasting your money, blowing off classes and failing semester after semester, then it’s time to pull the plug, or at least change the deal. Otherwise it’s time to let your son grow up and make his own decisions.

Updated: Sat Apr 07, 2018


Visible Tattoos and a Sugary Breakfast Habit for 04/07/2018

Lonely Mom and Dealing With Miscarriage for 03/31/2018

Lonely Mom and Dealing With Miscarriage for 03/31/2018
Dear Family Coach

Dear Family Coach: I have two kids. When my oldest was born, I had lots of friends to meet for play dates. Those friends provided me with a lot of social and emotional support. I never realized how much until I had my second son. My youngest has a severe form of autism. He is difficult to be around, and thus, I have pretty much lost all of my friends. I am lonely and exhausted, and I feel abandoned. How can I help my friends see how much I need their friendship? — Alone

Dear Alone: It can feel exceptionally lonely to be the parent of a child with special needs. I am sorry your friends didn’t rise to the occasion.

Updated: Sat Mar 31, 2018


Lonely Mom and Dealing With Miscarriage for 03/31/2018

Emma González and the Unknown Costs of Early Activism

Photo Credit: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

I’ve been watching the Parkland survivor advocates feeling simultaneously in awe of their courage and fearful for their futures. I am absolutely astonished at their strength, power and passion. They have been able to achieve what many exceptionally accomplished adults have not. They have advanced the discussion on gun control, and they deserve our never-ending gratitude. Yes, we owe them for what they are trying to do for our children and country. But we also owe them for the potential damage they are unknowingly inflicting upon themselves.

Emma González, the face of the movement, is barely a day into adulthood. She believes she can change the world, and she’s certainly putting in her effort. But at 18, she doesn’t know about the pain of banging your head against the wall trying to help people understand why they should collectively care. She doesn’t know that she just lost her last bit of privacy, and that her life will never go as she originally planned. She doesn’t know how PTSD may affect her in the future or even what the effects will be of having lived through a mass shooting and watching friends die. She hasn’t had a second of time to grieve. As a social worker and parent I can’t help but worry about what the recent fame and opportunity is costing her and her friends.

In an essay for Harper’s Bazaar, González laments: “I’m 18 years old, Cuban and bisexual. I’m so indecisive that I can’t pick a favorite color, and I’m allergic to 12 things. I draw, paint, crochet, sew, embroider—anything productive I can do with my hands while watching Netflix. But none of this matters anymore.” Right now her life is all about gun control. At the same time, she is still developing her identity of who she is and who she wants to be. She still naively thinks everything will return to normal as soon as the adults wake up and change the laws. She writes, “We want to fix this problem so it doesn’t occur again, but mostly we want people to forget about us once this is over. We want to go back to our lives and live them to the fullest in respect for the dead”

An icon at 18, González has a verified Twitter account followed by 1.4 million. Emma and her friends don’t know what twitter trolls can do. Unfortunately, they are getting a crash course. Just yesterday a doctored animated video made the rounds on social media. It featured González ripping up a copy of the constitution. The name calling can be venomous by the anonymous. However, loads of people have no problem attaching their names to vicious hate speech. Take Leslie Gibson, former candidate for the Maine house and a man who called González a “skinhead lesbian” on Twitter. That’s one of the nicer comments I read.

Being an advocate and activist has a price, and Emma González and the other young people fronting this movement will pay it for us. It may take years but the price will come. I worry about anxiety and depression. I worry about PTSD and suicidal ideation. I worry about social isolation and credible threats to their safety. I worry about the toll of prolonged anger without outlets and something positive to balance it. These worries aren’t hyperbole or dramatic exaggeration. It’s the sad reality of being a nationally-recognized activist.

A recent article in the New York Times chronicled the pain and suffering of young people who were suddenly thrown into the activist rolls. Due to various causes, five people from the Black Lives Matter movement have died in just the last two years. The kids from Parkland are already receiving death threats. González reported on 60 Minutes that she fears bombs being thrown through their office windows. This weight would be extremely difficult for an adult to handle, let alone adolescents. There is a lot of sacrifice and suffering that accompanies anyone shouting for change in the public eye. But the effects are more intense when the advocates are still coming of age.

It remains unclear how the #NeverAgain movement will affect Emma González and her peers from Parkland. They are doing a service for their country, and they should be recognized as such. I just hope the price tag for their effort isn’t irreparable damage.