Health, Personal Success, relationships

Principles

 

One of our vocabulary words in my fifth grade class this week was principle: “a personal or specific basis of conduct or management.” Basically, I told my students, principles are your personal beliefs and values and they dictate how you act.

My sister in Silicon Valley emailed a news article to me. Santa Clara officials have “declared the teen suicide problem an urgent health care problem” due to the episodes of suicide clusters in that area. High school students (many from affluent homes of highly educated parents) are committing suicide in staggering numbers. They jump in front of trains, they jump off overpasses and buildings and they hang themselves. A Yale psychologist who has studied this phenomenon says that, “on average, rich offspring experience serious levels of depression and anxiety at twice the national rates.”

Why are children who seem to have so much promise taking their lives?

The experts have identified two factors: overwhelming pressure to succeed AND a broken or non-existent bond within their families. These youth are showing signs of mental illness and their parents are in denial. The principles, then, of these parents are simply high achievement, excellent education and then successful careers for their offspring. Absent is the principle of unconditional love and acceptance.

At this moment, our country is experiencing high tension: racial violence and racist rhetoric not seen since the civil rights movement is now a reality. The principles in our current federal administration seem to be tax cuts for the wealthy, protect the KKK and bully people into submission. Again, absent is the principle of unconditional love and freedom. Absent is the principle of peace and equal rights (for women, LGBTQ, immigrants, etc.)

With such principles, only disaster can result.

It is up to each of us to do our own part to right this wrong.

  • Vote hate out.
  • Join the NAACP.
  • Join NPR.
  • Subscribe to the NY Times.
  • Volunteer at a community organization that serves people in need.

Any other ideas? Feel free to add!

 

 

 

Health, Personal Success

How to Talk to Teenagers

ava

 

I was talking to a friend who is also a mom. She was concerned about her daughter and who she’s been hanging out with at school and on weekends. My friend is divorced, so half the time she has absolutely no control over her child’s social activities. (The father is much looser with supervision).

We discussed the challenges of parenthood in an age where our kids can maintain a full social calendar in virtual reality.

We discussed peer pressure. Cattiness. Meanness.

We discussed drug and alcohol abuse among 13 (yes, 13) year-olds.

We discussed how kids are sneaking out of the house at 1am and trespassing in other people’s yards and pools. Here in Arizona  America, where guns are ubiquitous, I can see someone shooting one of these kids in the dark. Absolutely. Unfortunately.

We discussed the very fine line between parenting and controlling.

I thought to myself, how lucky I am to have daughters who get excellent grades and work hard at everything. How lucky I am to have daughters who talk to me, show me silly Instagram posts and get along with each other so well.

And then I realized that I rarely tell them this. I think it a lot. I tell my friends and family. But I don’t tell my daughters to their face how I know it’s challenging to be them right now. I don’t acknowledge the dangers, pitfalls and temptations that they have in terms of technology, risky behavior and drugs. Instead, I tell them to not buy into society’s pressures to be “pretty” and primp in front of the mirror. I tell them that they need to learn how to manage money, or it will manage them. I tell them it’s important to get good grades and do well in music so that they can get college scholarships.

But today, I acknowledged them. I acknowledged the hard work, the struggle, the pain…and that I appreciate their fight. The 13-year-old looked me straight in the eyes and said, “I love you, mom.”