Young Girl gets her Period at School and thinks she’s Bleeding to Death | Parent vs. School

A teacher told me about a very young  girl in her class who got her period.  The poor little girl was terrified as she thought she was bleeding to death.  The parents told the school it was their job to teach their daughter about personal stuff so they had to deal with it.  

Here’s a blog that was very popular with teachers and principals:   Stop Expecting Schools to Parent.

I think this trend of expecting schools to teach manners, sex, nutrition, etc. started back in the 1970’s.  That’s when parents started becoming pleasers rather than leaders.

The generation gap was closing, it was easier to relate to your children as friends.  Everyone was talking the same, dressing the same, listening to the same music, etc.   That’s all great but things got messed up a bit too.  Kids still needed leadership which was often forgotten.

Whenever a mom says, “She’s 9 going on 19” I say, “No she’s not.  Wait till she’s 19 then we’ll talk.  For now, she’s just a 9 year old little girl who needs a mom, not a 35 year old girlfriend.”  I usually recommend they stop all the manicures and go to the park instead.  (Hmmm … that’s tomorrow’s blog.)

More on this transition in my TEDx Talk.

Not only are schools being forced to take on more parenting responsibilities but they are given less power to discipline.  Their hands are tied.    More here.

When my kids started school I said to their teachers, “If my kids ever step a toe out of line, don’t punish them.  Call me and I’ll do it.”  The teachers loved that as knew my kids were going to be easy.  From my perspective it wasn’t that I was trying to make their jobs easier, just that I didn’t want strangers raising my kids.  Teachers are just people like the rest of us, some are nice, some not so nice.  They’re there to teach my kids about academics, maybe some sports and music, anything else is just a bonus not an expectation.

On a side note, about 40% of my clients are teachers.  They’re brilliant at teaching 30+ kids in a classroom but they struggle with all the same parenting issues you do at home.  And just because so many of my clients are teachers it doesn’t mean they struggle more, they’re just more likely to reach out for help.  They’re learners, they see me as Parenting School :).  Teachers/principals are also the parents most likely to hire me to prevent problems rather than to fix them.  Mostly when heading into the teen years.

Funny Story:  When my son was a teenager he said, I’d never rob a liquor store as would be terrified Mom would get to me before the police.  DON’T LET HER TAKE ME!!!  PLEASE, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, LOCK ME IN THE HOLE AND THROW AWAY THE KEY!!!”

Now I know most of you wouldn’t expect the school to teach your daughter about her period, but think about everything else.  Are you going to let them teach your sons and daughters about manners, kindness, nutrition, sex, etc.?  Don’t you want to do that yourself?

Happy Parenting, Lisa

 

Where do Teens learn about Sex?

Most of the teens I’ve coached have learned about sex through pornography. 

That teaches them the mechanics, what goes where, etc.  But here is what porn doesn’t teach them:

  • birth control
  • STD’s
  • relationships
  • respect
  • responsibility

Check out my TEDx talk to understand just how common it is for teens or even younger children to watch porn.  There are no accurate statistics on this for obvious reasons but believe me when I say that it’s hard to find a teenager who hasn’t seen some form of porn.

Unfortunately there’s not much you can do about them watching porn, but you can make sure you become part of their sex education.  Talk to them to and from school in snippets here and there, keeping it casual.  The more you do this the easier and more natural it’ll become.

The most important piece of advice I can give you is to ALWAYS include emotions in the discussion.  That way they’re more likely to attach sex to feelings rather than to just see it as a physical act or a way to be popular.

Oh my, the stories I could tell you about what kids have told me.  I’ve stopped saying “I’ve heard it all” as they keep coming up with more stories about sex games at parties … ugh.  The more shocking the stories the less likely they were to ever have talked to their parents about sex.  Teens to talk to their kids about sex rarely have irresponsible or degrading sex.

So please make sure you are your kids’ main source of sex education.

Happy Parenting, Lisa

 

What age to start talking to kids about Sex

I started talking to my kids at the age of two about their private parts, safety, etc.  By the time they hit school they knew the basics but I never gave them more information that I felt was age appropriate.

BUT, if they heard about something at school they’d come talk to me about it and I’d set them straight.  Kids who have older siblings often go to school and talk about stuff way above their age range and they usually get it all wrong.

I never had the “sex talk” with them, it was just a subject that came up in conversation on a regular basis.  All matter-of-fact.  They got dribs and drabs throughout the years and because it was discussed so casually they thought nothing of asking me questions right through the teen years.

One thing I was very careful with was that I always discussed emotions when sex was the topic.  That way they grew up not just seeing sex as a casual physical act so were ready to make responsible choices.

The teens who have casual and meaningless sex never seemed to have talked to their parents about sex.  When I’m hired for sex education I don’t teach the kids about sex, I teach the parents how to teach their kids about sex.

If you can talk openly to your kids about sex, chances are you’re talking to them about drugs, alcohol, suicide, etc.  Your lucky kids have such an edge over the ones whose parents don’t discuss the tough stuff.  

When I’m hired to teach parents how to navigate through this with their kids they learn pretty quickly that it’s okay to be uncomfortable and even giggle.  Lord knows I did a lot of that with my own kids but we got through it all and it got easier.  It’s okay to not be confident when you’re talking to your kids, just talk to them anyway.

There is no perfect way to teach your kids about sex, but so long as they’re asking your advice you know you’re doing something right.  

If you want help with this, you know where to find me.

Funny Story:  I was about 5 and an older neighbour was telling me about sex which was very confusing.  I asked my mom about it so she took me to the library to get a book out on the subject.  When we got back in the car I was shuffling through the pages and Mom asked what I was doing.  I said, “I trying to get to the people.”

Happy Parenting, Lisa

Teen Sex: Questions from a high school student

I received a Facebook message by a student in Norway who saw my TEDx talk on Teen Sex, the Hook-up Culture.  

Her name is Zofia Nowak (she gave me permission to use her name) and she asked me very insightful questions for a school report that may be of interest to you so here is my response:

HI ZOFIA, WOW, THAT’S A LOT OF QUESTIONS BUT ALWAYS HAPPY TO HELP OUT TEENAGERS. WILL JUST RUN THRU THEM QUICKLY NOW OR ELSE I MAY FORGET AND THEY MAY NOT GET DONE :).

1. What is the right age to begin talking to children about sex/ sexuality?
I STARTED TALKING TO MY KIDS ABOUT THEIR BODIES IN REGARD TO SAFETY WHEN THEY WERE 2. EXPLAINED THEIR PRIVATE PARTS AND THAT NO ONE IS ALLOWED TO TOUCH THEM, ETC.

2. Many parents did not talk to their parents about this. Is the conversation about sex a new need?
NO, IT’S NOT A NEW NEED, IT’S ONE THAT ALWAYS SHOULD’VE BEEN TALKED ABOUT BETWEEN PARENTS AND KIDS. THE MORE OPEN COMMUNICATION YOU HAVE WITH YOUR KIDS, THE MORE LIKELY THEY ARE TO COME TO YOU WITH THEIR PROBLEMS WHEN THEY ARE TEENAGERS.

3. How should parents begin a conversation with their children about sex?
AS I SAID ABOVE, ALL ABOUT PERSONAL SAFETY. KEEP IT ALL AGE APPROPRIATE AND I NEVER TALKED TO MY KIDS ABOUT MY OWN SEX LIFE.

4. Should parents tell children what pornography is?
YES BUT THERE ARE DIFFERENT DEFINITIONS OF PORNOGRAPHY. SOME MAY THING THAT A NAKED BODY IS PORN WHILE OTHERS THINK IT’S DEVIANT SEX ACTS IN GROUPS. I ACTUALLY TOLD BOTH MY KIDS (IN HIGH SCHOOL) TO WATCH PORN IF THEY WANTED TO GET THE MECHANICS OF HOW ALL THE BITS AND PIECES GO TOGETHER. BUT THEY ALREADY HAD A GOOD BASE FROM ME ABOUT HOW SEX AND EMOTIONS SHOULD ALWAYS GO TOGETHER. THAT SEX IS BEST WHEN IT’S BETWEEN 2 PEOPLE WHO CARE ABOUT EACH OTHER, THAT THEY RESPECT ONE ANOTHER, ETC.

5. Many parents fear that doing this too early for fear of breaking the child’s innocence or raising their curosity. What is your opinion on this?
THEY’RE GOING TO HEAR IT AT SCHOOL AND IT’S PROBABLY GOING TO BE WRONG. BEST TO GET THE RIGHT INFORMATION AT HOME. AS I SAID ABOVE, IF YOU TALK TO YOUR KIDS ABOUT EVERYTHING, THEY’LL TALK TO YOU ABOUT EVERYTHING IN RETURN.

6. Some parents find out that their teenage child is watching porn, or has ideas about sex and healthy relationship they find worrying, but decide that it’s too late. Is this true? Is there something like “too late” when it comes to discussing sexuality with children?
ONCE THEY’RE SEXUALLY ACTIVE THEMSELVES IT MAY BE TOO LATE. THEY’VE ALREADY FORMED THEIR IDEA ABOUT WHAT SEX IS ALL ABOUT WITHOUT YOUR INFLUENCE.

7. Results from 25 EU countries show that 81% parents believe their child (age 10-16) is not watching porn. Yet research in the UK shows that more than 60% do have some contact with it. How does a parent not get locked out of their teenagers world?!
BY TALKING TO THEM OPENLY AND HONESTLY. BUT, I BELIEVE A HUGE MISTAKE PARENTS MAKE IS TEASING THEIR KIDS ABOUT LOVE. TEASING ABOUT CRUSHES WHEN THEY’RE LITTLE, ETC. LOVE IS LOVE, FEELINGS ARE FEELINGS. I’M A HORRID TEASE, ALWAYS DIVING OUT OF CLOSETS SCARING THE BEEJEEBIES OUT OF KIDS, BUT I NEVER EVER TEASED A CHILD ABOUT THEIR CRUSHES, OR ANYTHING HEART RELATED. I THINK THAT’S DOWNRIGHT CRUEL AND GUARANTEED TO KEEP THEM FROM OPENING UP TO YOU WHEN THEY’RE TEENAGERS.

8. In your TED talk you talk about the ugly truth behind the hook up culture. Could you tell me a little about how boyfriend-girlfriend, child – teacher, parent-teacher and parent-child relationships work in this culture based on your experience?
I’M NOT SURE AS IT’S SUCH A SECRETIVE CULTURE. TOUGH TO GET STATISTICS ON SOMETHING NO ONE’S WILLING TO TALK ABOUT. ONE THING I FOUND WHEN TALKING TO THE YOUNG PEOLE WHO CASUALLY HOOK-UP IS THAT NONE OF THEM TALKED TO THEIR PARENTS ABOUT SEX. SOME SAID THE FIRST TIME THEY’VE EVER TALKED TO AN ADULT ABOUT SEX WAS ME WHO WAS HIRED BY THEIR PARENTS FOR SEX EDUCATION. THEY ALREADY KNEW ALL THE MECHANICS BUT I’M ALWAYS SHOCKED AT HOW LITTLE THEY KNOW ABOUT SAFETY (DISEASES, PREGNANCY). PORN DOESN’T TEACH THEM ABOUT THAT. I COULD TELL YOU SOME HORROR STORIES ABOUT WHAT THEY WERE ATTEMPTING TO DO TO PREVENT PREGNANCIES AND DISEASES, PUTTING THEMSELVES AT GREAT RISK FOR BOTH.

9. What causes the hook up culture in your opinion?
EASY ACCESS TO PORN AND VERY LITTLE PARENTAL LEADERSHIP. PARENTS ARE TRYING SO HARD TO PLEASE AND BE FRIENDS WITH THEIR KIDS THAT THEY ARE TREATING THEM LIKE MINI ADULTS AND GIVING THEM ANYTHING THEY WANT. THIS MESSES UP THEIR VALUE SYSTEM AND THEY GROW UP WITH VERY LOW SELF-ESTEEM. KIDS WHO HAD DISCIPLINE GROWING UP TEND TO HAVE MUCH HIGHER SELF-ESTEEM THAN THOSE WHO WEREN’T.
KIDS THRIVE ON DISCIPLINE, IT’S WHAT LEADS TO SELF-DISCIPLINE WHEN THEY’RE OLDER. EVERY SINGLE TEEN I’VE WORKED WITH HAS SAID THEY WISH THEIR PARENTS HAD BEEN TOUGHER ON THEM GROWING UP. THEY INSTINCTLY KNOW THAT DISCIPLINE = LOVE. WHEN I SAY DISCIPLINE, I’M NOT TALKING ABOUT PUNISHMENT, I’M TALKING ABOUT GUIDANCE, LEADERSHIP AND ACCOUNTABILITY. THAT’S HOW YOU BUILD CHARACTER, CONFIDENCE AND HIGH SELF-ESTEEM.

10. Gial Dines had her TED talk about living in a pornified culture. To what extent do you think porn affects today’s teens and how?
PORN NORMALIZES CASUAL AND IRRESPONSIBLE SEX. WITH SUCH EASY ACCESS TO PORN KIDS ARE USING IT TO GET IDEAS. I EVEN HAD A CLIENT WHO THOUGHT THAT EVERY GIRLFRIEND HE HAD WAS FRIGID BECAUSE SHE DIDN’T WANT GIRL ON GIRL ACTION. LOL, HE TOOK AWHILE TO CONVINCE THAT MOST WOMEN AREN’T INTO THAT.

11. You talk to many teenagers to help them with their problems. What problems (in connection to their sexuality) to they most often have?
LOW SELF-ESTEEM. GIRLS ARE DOING ANYTHING TO PLEASE BOYS, AND I MEAN ANYTHING. THEY ARE BELITTLING AND PROSTITUTING THEMSELVES TO GET APPROVAL. WHAT THAT SAYS TO ME IS THAT THEY HAD ABSOLUTELY NO GUIDANCE FROM THEIR PARENTS ABOUT WHAT RELATIONSHIPS ARE ALL ABOUT. THEIR PARENTS USUALLY LET THEM LEARN EVERYTHING ONLINE THEN ARE CONFUSED AS TO WHY THEY ARE MESSED UP. THEY’RE SO BUSY BUYING THEM EVERYTHING THAT THEY FORGET TO TEACH THEN ANYTHING. BUT, THEY’RE QUICK TO CRITIZE WHEN THEY’RE IN TROUBLE. UGH, THE POOR KIDS.

12. Are those problems ever connected to porn?
AS I SAID ABOUT, PORN NORMALIZES SEXUALLY DEVIANT BEHAVIOUR. I THINK ANYTHING IS FINE BETWEEN CONSENTING ADULTS BUT NOT FOR TEENS. THEY ARE FORMING, THEY ARE HUGELY AFFECTED BY WHAT HAPPENS TO THEM AND I BELIEVE THEY NEED TO BE REIGNED IN BY THEIR PARENTS. THEY NEED TO HAVE RESPECT FOR THEIR BODIES. THEY NEED TO DEMAND THAT THOSE AROUND THEM RESPECT THEM ALSO. I’VE WORKED WITH SEVERAL FAMILIES WITH YOUNG GIRLS WHO CHATTED WITH MEN ONLINE, EXCHANGING NUDE PICS, THEN TRY TO MEET UP WITH THEM. THOSE ARE SOME OF MY SCARIEST SITUATIONS WITH TEENS AND YES, I’D SAY PORN HAS A LOT TO DO WITH IT.

13. What is your definition of porn?
I THINK I ANSWERED THAT ABOVE BUT NOT REALLY SURE WHAT I THINK IT IS. I GUESS SEXUALLY EXPLICIT MATERIAL INTENDED TO MAKE MONEY???

I HOPE THIS HELPS ZOFIA :). ALL THE BEST, LISA

How to Transition to the Teen Years … Part 2

teenagers.3

After a previous article:  “Parents: How to Transition to the Teen Years”, Mike Henry (children 8 and 10) asked if I’d elaborate on the reasons behind my methods. He’s heading into the teen years with his kids soon and wants to be ready.

If this isn’t for you, here are a couple of recent articles you may enjoy:

I’ll elaborate on the DO’s and DON’Ts from my last newsletter:

DO ListenListen to understand, not to gather information to use for a future lecture. Teens who feel heard and understood just can’t stop talking. They end up telling you everything, even if they don’t mean to. Everything just sort of falls out of their mouths. We’re all naturally drawn to good listeners, especially when we have a problem.

DON’T Lecture – Lecturing is just another word for nagging. Teenagers hate being reminded that you know more than they do. They’re spreading their wings so don’t clip them. If you lecture it’s almost like pushing them to make the wrong decision out of rebellion.

DO Stay Calm – I blabber on about this all time because it’s so important. Let’s say you have a teenager in your face yelling at you. Yelling back is a natural instinct but it’s wrong. It just escalates matters. Do they deserve to be yelled at? Probably, but that’s not the point. Don’t be a right fighter, have self-control and stay calm. It’s very difficult for a snarly teen to keep being abusive to a wall which is what you have to become when they’re out of control.

DON’T BE A RIGHT-FIGHTER.

DON’T Set CurfewsHaving a standard curfew in place for a teenager is a sign that you are out of control and don’t trust them. You negotiate a time for every single time they go out. And be flexible. If they’re having a lousy time and want to be picked up early, then go get them. If they’re having a great time and want to stay later, then let them … within reason. But don’t text with them, have a phone call so you can hear their voice and make sure they’re okay. My teenage son was a night owl and I had him call me every 90 minutes just to check in. I’d let him stay out all night if he was having a great time. But only if it suited me. Sometimes I’d want him home early as I needed a good night’s sleep and he’d come home early. Was mutual respect there.

DO Offer Options (sort of like advice but a bit milder, like a multiple choice) – Your 15 year old daughter wants to stay at a friend’s house overnight as they’re having a party there while the parents are out of town. You could say something like, “I’m not comfortable with that so either I pick you up at midnight or I arrive at the party at midnight and let it continue for another 2 hours, with me there as chaperone.” You didn’t use the word “no” or the phrase “that’s not going to happen”. You offered options. Of course she’s going to pick the one where you pick her up at midnight. You can even negotiate that time a bit but you’ve shifted the discussion from her staying overnight unsupervised to what time you’re picking her up. It’s making her part of the decision making process.

DON’T Look Disappointed in ThemYou can look disappointed in their actions, but not in them. Treat any negative behaviour as if it’s out of character. This is setting them up for success, not failure. This one’s a bit tricky as how do you not look disappointed in them if they’ve done something awful? You separate their actions from their identity. Sure, what they said or did may have been rotten, but if you start to look at them as rotten kids they’ll live up to that image.

SET YOUR TEENAGER UP FOR SUCCESS, NOT FAILURE.

DO Negotiate Rules – Ask your teen’s advice on what they think is fair. Have rules for yourself also. If either of you break a rule, you’re punished. Make the punishment fit the crime. If you yell at them, you have to stop talking for an entire day. If they don’t put their dirty laundry in the hamper they have to do the laundry. I’ve gotten the best advice on how to help parents from their kids themselves. Negotiate with them, they’ll be adults soon and you want them to learn how to make their own decisions effectively. Give them chances to fail with the small stuff so they’ll be better prepared for the big stuff. Let them make mistakes and learn from them. That’s what you did so fair is fair.

DON’T Roll Your Eyes – Teenagers often complain that their parents roll their eyes at them which infuriates them. Eye rolling is passive-aggressive. Sure, they may do it to you but they’re still kids, take the high road and refrain.

DO Praise Often This seems obvious but it’s often overlooked. Parents often ask me, “What the heck do I praise? The fact that they keep their rooms like pig sties, treat me like crap, ignore my rules?!” It doesn’t have to be much, can just be about their outfit, their hairstyle, their artistic talent … anything. BUT … make sure it’s something that matters to them, something they’re proud of or that makes them feel good. They’ll start seeing you as a source of good feelings and turn to you more often.

DON’T Expect Too Much From Them – Be realistic with expectations, or even lower than that so that you can be pleasantly surprised rather than constantly disappointed. Teens will naturally go through stages where they are lazy, snotty, slobby, stupid, etc. Everything’s temporary. Be patient and they’ll come around.

DO Forgive Their Mistakes – This one is very important. I’ve worked with some families who just couldn’t forgive past mistakes. Sure, some of those mistakes were pretty bad but if you don’t let go you’ll regret it. The more you remind your teens of their mistakes the more those mistakes will become part of their identity rather than a temporary slip-up. Say things like, “I know you didn’t really mean that. We all make mistakes. I forgive you and just want to move forward.” That doesn’t mean they’re not accountable, just that you forgive them and want to help them make amends and do better in future.

DON’T React to their Outbursts / Don’t Stick Around for a Battle – Don’t let them pull you in when they are angry. They’ll push your buttons to get you involved but just put your hand up and say, “We’ll discuss this later” and calmly walk away. Don’t say, “We’ll discuss this when you’ve calmed down” as that’s passive-aggressive and just going to make matters worse. Pick your words very carefully when they are upset. Avoid anything that is accusatory or even about them.

KNOW WHEN TO WALK AWAY.

DO Show Pride in Them – That can be hard to do when they’re snarly and rotten but it’s extremely important to show that you are proud of them. Even if you have to refer to something they did in the past. Maybe they helped you with something without being asked. I’d refer to that as, “I love how thoughtful you can be, remember that time …”. Not, “How thoughtful you used to be”. As above, pick your words very carefully.

How do you handle your teenagers?  Any hints or tips to pass along?

– Lisa Bunnage, Parenting Coach