The Silence of the Stanford Sexual Assault Victim’s Parents

Stanford Sexual Assault Pin

In March, former Stanford swimmer Brock Turner was convicted of three felonies related to his sexual assault of an unconscious woman. In June, the judge sentenced the 20-yr old Turner to 6 months in jail. “A prison sentence would have a severe impact on him,” Judge Persky said of Turner. “I think he will not be a danger to others.” As people got wind of this, outrage erupted. The outrage has been visible on every social network and in nearly every major news outlet.

The Stanford sexual assault victim’s impact statement has been published on countless websites and was read live, in full, on air by Ashleigh Banfield, anchor of CNN “Legal View”. She crafted a very vivid and powerful picture of who she was before the rape and how her life has changed. She addressed Turner directly. It’s quite a powerful narrative and definitely worth reading and sharing with others. It’s an excellent piece to use to talk to your teens, sons and daughters alike.

We’ve heard from a childhood friend of Brock Turner, Brock’s father, and Brock himself. All three have failed to grasp the gravity of Brock’s choice to sexually assault an unconscious woman. The friend, Leslie Rasmussen, a female, blamed political correctness for putting her friend on trial. Rasmussen went on to question why the jury should believe a woman who doesn’t remember anything. Rasmussen seems oblivious to the fact that being unconscious and unable to recall what happened is exactly why her friend was convicted. She tries to suggest this was some crazy alcohol-fueled college kid misunderstanding. Brock’s father, Dan Turner, also made a statement on behalf of his son. It seems Brock is so distraught that he can’t eat a nice steak or steal potato chips and other snacks from his father. And being the concerned parent, Dan goes on to say that his star-athlete son shouldn’t have to pay the rest of his life for ’20 minutes of action’, as if punishment is meted out based on how long the crime lasted. Dan also seems to think that his son could easily pay for his crime by talking to students about the perils of drinking and sexual promiscuity. Not once did he show any concern for the victim or how difficult her life has become since his son raped her. Finally, we get to Brock Turner’s statement, which is a diatribe about how he was forced to drink to have friends and he was doing what he thought drunk college kids normally do. Only his story was one that was crafted to explain everything away and shift blame to anyone he could.

In brief interviews, we’ve heard from the two students that chased, tackled, and held Brock until the police arrived. Carl-Fredrik Arndt and Peter Jonsson, both from Sweden, spotted Brock Turner on top of an unconscious woman and after a moment thought there was something wrong with the situation. It’s because of them the crime was reported. Had they not come along and intervened it’s likely the victim would have been left alone and when she regained consciousness, unable to recall what happened, returned to her home.

We’ve heard from most everyone involved with the parties of the Stanford sexual assault. And while we don’t know the victim’s name or identity, it’s her prerogative to remain anonymous. I don’t blame her. She’s been through enough. She doesn’t need to become the poster child of a movement. In fact, her voice is likely more powerful because we don’t know her. She represents every woman. She is all of us.

The people we haven’t heard from are her parents. I’m sure they were with her throughout the ordeal. In her statement, the young woman barely refers to her parents. I’m sure it was especially difficult to watch this circus and witness first hand the trauma of seeing their daughter dragged through a trial. I’m certain they were there to support their daughter, perhaps not knowing what to say or do but wanting to take care of their little girl.

No one has talked about her parents, so I will. I know they have a story but it’s so intertwined in that of their daughter they remain silent. If they come forward they risk removing the anonymity she’s worked hard to maintain. When it comes to the victim, rarely do others get to provide in-court statements about how awesome the victim is and how she’s changed because of the horror of being through such an awful crime. Victim impact statements are often singular, not a parade of friends and family providing insight and context to the life shattered. Unfortunately, many victims don’t even get to give a statement lest it be viewed as inflammatory or degrading of the defendant. Yah, seriously! Some judges limit what a victim can say because they don’t want to make the defendant feel bad.

We may never know the hell her parents have gone through. Parents of sexual assault survivors often stand in the shadows. Not because they’re not deeply involved in the care and support of their child. Rather, their pain is often so entwined in a story that doesn’t belong to them.

As parents we advocate for our children. Even as they become adults, we’re still there for them. Our child gets very sick and we start a website to keep everyone informed. Our child is killed in a senseless act of violence and we think nothing of talking to the news and sharing photos of our baby, even if that baby is a grown man or woman. Our daughter is involved in an abusive relationship, we’re open about it so we can educate our community. But when your child is sexually assaulted, raped, it doesn’t matter how old they are you are enveloped by a cloak of silence despite having a story to tell. Being the parent of a sexual assault survivor is its own story, yet it’s kept silent. Parents of sexual assault victims often suffer in silence not knowing that others have a shared experience and understand their pain, are able to overcome the sorrow they feel, and continue to advocate for their child.

So while we provide support for Jane Doe, give a little extra thought about her parents. People who have had to stand by and watch as the judicial system allowed her to be victimized over and over. A mother and father whose heart was broken upon hearing what happened to their little girl. Two people who sit in silence knowing that they don’t get a voice and an opportunity to tell you how they feel and how amazing their daughter was. And still is.

I feel for them. While I won’t go into detail why I wanted to give their silence some perspective, just know that I know this silence is isolating. And at times it’s deafening. They’re without a support network, much like other parents of sexual assault survivors. It’s a difficult position to be in, but like the many who’ve gone before them on this quiet journey they will emerge stronger. That is, if the silence doesn’t break them first.

Parents of Sexual Assault Survivors

Sara

Alice Through the Looking Glass is Over the Top but Still Entertaining

Alice Through The Looking Glass PosterPhoto Credit: Disney

You cannot change the past. It always was. It always will be.
Although I dare say, you might learn something from it. ~ Time

Alice Through the Looking Glass (PG) is this summer’s sequel to Tim Burton’s 2010 colorful and spectacular remake of Louis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland”. With all the familiar inhabitants of Wonderland (or Underland if you’re a local), we see the calm and thoughtful White Queen, Mirana, (Anne Hathaway), the perpetually infuriated Red Queen, Iracebeth, (Helena Bonham Carter), the childlike Hatter (Johnny Depp), the morphing Cheshire Cat (voiced by Stephen Fry), and the caterpillar which became a butterfly in the 2010 movie (voiced by the late Alan Rickman), Alice (Mia Wasikowska) returns to help her friend Hatter find his family, who he thinks may still be alive.

During Alice’s adventure, we’re introduced to Time (played by Sacha Baron Cohen). A steampunk character who controls time, he brings a great deal of humor to a movie that could have been too uptight. Since Hatter does not have as big a role, it was nice to have another character bring a few laughs even if they were puns that seemed to try too hard. In her reprised role as the Red Queen, Carter gives the villainess a humanity and history that seems to soften her. As the quasi-girlfriend of Time, Red Queen allows us to see her history and understand why she also wants to go back in time.

Alice plays two storylines, with her life in London not really getting enough treatment to make us care. And while I have never seen Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, I’m not sure there really is a need to understand that story to appreciate this new adventure. We know Alice is now a sea captain and while she was gone her mother made poor financial decisions. While this story gives us something to start with since Alice lives in our world, I think it’s there solely to connect to the end since Alice can’t stay in Wonderland forever so we need to know what she’s going to do.

Nonetheless, even with the bumpy plot, the visuals and pace keep you engaged. Part live action and part computer animation, Alice Through the Looking Glass is a feast for the eyes. Whether it’s the adorable robot-like helpers in the lair of Time, the heart-shaped world of the Red Queen, or the colorful Wonderland there’s always something to catch your attention. You can’t help but love the little soldiers working for Time. And, Time, himself, while dressed in black, has a colorful personality that keeps you hoping for the best.

I can see the movie getting mixed reviews. If you’re a Tim Burton fan you’ll love the movie. If you’re a purist when it comes to the retelling of classics, you’ll likely hate it. The movie bears little resemblance to Carroll’s novel, other than the characters. I think teens will enjoy the movie because it incorporates familiar characters and is entertaining. From a music perspective, there’s Pink with ‘Just Like Fire’, which just about everyone will love. And, of course, the fantastic Danny Elfman, adds the additional musical dimension to the show to keep you connected.

Overall, Alice Through the Looking Glass is a good movie. Not a great movie and not better than Burton’s Alice. It’s entertaining, visually appealing, funny, and, overall, a lovely story. It’s a nice way to step away from reality for a moment, enjoy a colorful film, and be entertained for about two hours. Oscar worthy, I doubt. Unless you’re talking about the makeup and costumes, those are pretty spectacular.

Sara

6 Fitness Tips From a Reluctant Exerciser

Fitness Tips for FitbitFTC Disclosure

Let me say, for the record, that aging is not for the faint of heart. It seems that there’s a new study every week about how to age gracefully. Social media is full of posts with tips and tricks. But the reality is there are no quick fixes and since ageing is a part of life and everyone experiences it differently, you play with the hand you’re holding.

About three years ago I won a fitness tracker. In the world of health and fitness trackers that’s a long time ago. Compared to today, it was bare-bones. It tracked my steps and my sleep. It wasn’t very accurate and I would often get discouraged. As part of the Verizon influencer team, I was recently sent a FitBit Charge HR to show me how far fitness trackers have come and help keep my 2016 fitness journey going.

At the end of January I joined a gym, which for this reluctant exerciser was a big step. I saw a coupon on a daily deal site for a 30-day trial for less than the cost of lunch. I figured if I went a few times I’d have gotten my money’s worth. I ended up going about 5 days a week. I was going to get my money’s worth! Near the end of the 30 days I found out that my health insurance has a deal at the gym and for the cost of a nice meal out my whole family could join.

That was the start of my commitment to going to the gym and slogging through the ‘weight loss’ option on the elliptical machine. All of March and April I dutifully checked in at the front desk, cleaned off my machine, put in my Plantronics Backbeat Fit wireless headphone, and listened to podcasts as a way to distract me from the fact that I was at the gym.

I’ve now had my Fitbit Charge HR for a few weeks and I’m a bit obsessed with it. Before, I wasn’t tracking my steps or my heart rate so all I could rely on was the machine. But in these few weeks I’ve learned a lot and I want to share 6 fitness tips I learned with you.

  1. Those machines at the gym lie! Whether it’s number of steps, heart rate, or calories, you’re not getting the real information. I found out that that the machine I like bumps up my steps by about 20%. Sure, I’d like to get credit for reaching my daily step goal. But this is one of those times where we need the truth. I might not be able to handle the truth, Sir, but good fitness and heath can’t be built on a foundation of lies.
  2. Knowing your heart rate is more important than you think. There are different ranges of fitness heart rates and you need to be in the right zone to meet your goals. Talk to your doctor to make sure you’re good to go on a more intense fitness routine, but we need to get the heart rate up and start sweating sometimes. With the heart rate feature on the Fitbit, I open up my app and constantly monitor my workout so I know when I can push myself and when I need to just pace myself.
  3. Don’t wait to reward yourself with a fitness tracker. There are so many different options and price points, if you get yourself a fitness tracker now you’ll meet your goal faster.
  4. Get up and move! We sit way too much. I know, we see this a zillion times all over the news and social media. We’re too sedentary, and as a keyboard jockey I’m right there with you. So set alarms to remind you to get up and move. Even if it’s just to do a few hundred steps, you’ll appreciate the diversion of your time. And don’t be afraid to wander around your house just to get in your last few hundred steps. There are times I’ve closed the door in the bathroom to run in place or do jumping jacks to get to 10,000 steps for the day. It’s a reminder that I need to spread out my steps so I’m not up at 9pm walking laps around my house instead of snuggling with my family.
  5. Track all the things! If you need to keep track of your food or water intake, do that. Maybe you want to go old school and use a journal or notebook. Whatever you decide, if it’s something you need to track then do it. We lie to ourselves all the time and we don’t pay attention to serving sizes and ingredients when we’re being tempted by cupcakes and, well, pretty much anything other than vegetables.
  6. Listen to something you enjoy. Whether it’s music, podcasts, audio books, streaming video, or old voice mails from your best friend, find something to keep your mind off the time. I’ve found a few great podcasts that keep me moving and motivated to get to the end of the show. And when I was at the gym during the Preakness, I popped open the app to watch it live. Nothing like horses running at full speed to get you moving! Get a comfortable pair of earphones and get moving. As I mentioned, I have the Backbeat fit wireless headphones. I had been using the wired ones that came with my phone but the movement bothered me and I felt like one crazy move and my phone is going to go flying. With the wireless headphones I feel like I can pay attention to my heart rate and move around the machines without worrying about my phone.

I’m the farthest thing from a fitness expert, fanatic, or lover, but if this Fitbit Charge HR can get me up and choosing the gym over surfing Facebook on a Sunday morning then there’s some kind of magic in it. I have a mantra – Exercise is fun! – I say to myself as I drive to the gym; knowing one day I might actually believe it.

Now that BabyGirl is a teenager I can’t say any of this is ‘baby fat’. Sure, ageing has brought new challenges. But it’s also brought knowledge and awareness. Tools like my new Fitbit (which you can get from Verizon) are perfect for those of you who might be reluctant exercisers like me. It’s a great reminder to get moving and to do it in a safe way. To paraphrase Lao Tzu, the daily journey of 10,000 steps begins with just one.

Fitbit Charge from Verizon

Sara

5 Tips to End Distracted Driving Among Teens

Teen Distracted Driving

FTC Disclosure

Spring is in the air, and for many parents of high schoolers talk has turned toward prom and graduation parties. I look back on my experience in high school and better understand why my parents, and my friends’ parents, were worried about us driving. Like kids today, we weren’t bad drivers. But, like kids today, we often did stupid things after prom and at graduation parties. Today, though, every conversation seems to wind its way to the topic of distracted driving or texting and driving.

Distracted driving is nothing new when it comes to teen driving. Young people have faced distractions for decades. Today it’s texting, for my generation it was changing the radio or cassettes, for my mom’s generation it was radio stations and 8-track tapes. And, of course there is alcohol, shenanigans, and a host of other potential distractions. But when it comes to technology, we forget that every generation has their new thing that is problematic.

So what do we do? Obviously, teens are going to drive to prom and graduation parties and we can’t change that. What we can change, though, is their commitment to stay focused on their driving. And, honestly, that starts with us.

I’m not a big believer in having kids sign a ‘no texting while driving’ contract when the parents aren’t going to do the same thing. We’re their role models. If we do it, we’re giving them permission. Just like drinking and driving. We can tell our kids not to drink and drive, but we also demonstrate our commitment by not drinking and driving. It’s not different when it comes to other distractions.

Teens 15 to 19 have the highest incident of drivers involved in accidents while distracted. While they’re out celebrating the last thing we want is for any of them to get hurt or hurt someone else. So what can we do?

5 Tips For Helping to End Distracted Driving

Don’t drive distracted yourself. We set the example. If we’re picking up our phones, that mean they can too. I know there are important messages we need to see. But are those messages really that important to put the people you love most at risk? In March, 2016 the New Zealand Transport Agency released a video with a slightly different approach to the traditional horrifying texting and driving ad. It’s a new approach, and I think it could work better. While I’m still affected by the texting and driving crash videos, I think many kid are desensitized or don’t think it could really happen to them.

 

Know the law. If the law of mom and dad won’t work, maybe the state law will. Currently, in the US, 46 states, as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the US Virgin Islands, ban texting while driving. The fines can be hefty, and getting a ticket, even if that’s the worst that happens, can put a damper on the fun of prom or the graduation party. However, distractions don’t only come from picking up your own phone.

Have someone else navigate. As the driver, their job is to get themselves and their passengers to the destination safely. Since they’re not always experienced with driving around town, have the teen ask a passenger to put in the destination into the GPS or map. Have you ever tried to type in an address to Google Maps or the vehicle GPS while driving? I can barely figure out the navigation on a car I drive daily. Imagine how challenging it can be for a teen who’s not used to driving.

Use a blocking app. If you’re not sure you or your teen can break the urge to check your phone when you hear the notification or know that friends are posting cool things to social media, use an app to block texting while driving. Just like not having chips in the house because you have no willpower, remove the temptation to be distracted while driving. I often pull out my phone at a stop light, but more and more I’m realizing that even that small glance means I’m not paying attention to what’s going on around me.

Empower the passenger. Most of the focus is on getting the driver to avoid distractions. However, just like educating the kids about not getting in a car with their friend if the friend has been drinking the same goes for getting into a car with someone who’s not paying attention when they drive. I know there’s less risk of being the lame-o if you refuse to get in the car of a classmate who’s drunk or noticeably impaired than if you don’t go along with all the “fun” when it comes to distracted driving. It’s new territory for us as parents to let our kids know we’ll go pick them up if they choose not to get in a vehicle with someone texting and driving or engaging in other behaviors that put the passengers at risk. You’ve seen the videos. Maybe your kids have too. But it’s worth watching again.

The end to distracted driving starts with us. But we don’t know what other parents are modeling for their kids. And because we don’t know what other people are modeling and teaching their kids, we have to teach our kids not only that they don’t text and drive or drive while distracted but that they don’t get in a car with someone who doesn’t take seriously their obligation to protect their passengers.

Accidents happen. We can hope our kids always arrive safely, but there are other drivers out there and we don’t have any control over them. We may not have full control over what our kids do when they get behind the wheel or hop in the car with one of their friends. However, what we can do starts long before the engine starts.

 

Image Credit: Viktor Hanacek

Sara

Disney Park Tips From A Tween

For many years BabyGirl had a blog. While she still loves to write, it’s not her primary space so I’ve decided to share some of her posts. This is one she wrote awhile back, from the perspective of a pre-teen about spending time at a Disney park. I think she hits the highlights.

Disney Tips from a Tween

Here are a few things you SHOULD NOT do while at Disney:

Lunch:

Don’t go to eat lunch when everyone else is.  Not only will the restaurants be crowded, but you’ll be missing the opportunity to go on that attraction you wanted!  This can apply for basically all the parks, as long as the attractions normally have longer wait times.

Shoes:

Don’t wear any shoes you deem even slightly uncomfortable.  A lot of the time, I have seen people wearing uncomfortable-looking shoes, and they often complain and don’t have very much fun while they are at the parks.  Sneakers (tennis shoes, whatever you call them) are your best friend.  If you want to be a little more fashionable, you can go for sandals.  However, these sandals must be made for walking.  Any sandals won’t do, as some sandals aren’t made for long-term use.

Packing:

Don’t bring a huge bag with you in the park.  Only bring the necessities.  A phone, maybe an extra charger, a change of clothes (but really only if you go on a wet ride), ponchos, and a water bottle – it should be refillable, but if not that’s okay.  Not only will you have less weight on your back, you won’t annoy other guests by constantly banging into them!

Pictures:

Don’t take too many pictures.  A few pictures are okay; to capture the memories of going to Disney.  But if you are taking your phone out every five seconds to snap a photo of something, you need to stop.  Capture the important moments.  Don’t waste your memory on minuscule things that you won’t even care about in the long run.  And yes, I know that sounds harsh, but it’s easier on you if you don’t constantly feel pressured to take a picture of something.

Kids:

Don’t let your kids run wild and if you’re a kid reading this, listen to your parents.  Sure, this is Disney, so if they’re old enough to get food at a restaurant buffet, they can, but make sure you’re watching them.  I’ve heard a lot of website authors complaining about how parents at Disney let their kids run everywhere, and frankly, it’s annoying.  Don’t restrain them too much – let them have a chance to ‘capture all the Disney magic’, but you can’t let them just run around at risk of getting lost.

So, I hope these tips help you prepare for your trip to a Disney park. If you’re heading to Disney, take a moment to see one of the crazy things my family does when we go.

This article is a repost from BabyGirl’s no longer active blog.

Sara

25 Slang Terms Teens Use Online That Parents Need To Know

Teen Slang Online

Disclosure: The following post about teen slang and digital parenting is provided as part of my relationship as a Verizon Insider and sharing about digital technology.

When it comes to teens, most parents will probably agree they have their own language. It’s been the case for generations. It’s often associated with societal changes. So it should come as no surprise that with regard to texting and online communication, teens have developed their own shorthand and way of communicating with their peers. Teen slang has been around for generations, and it keeps evolving.

As a parent with a teen who’s not all that interested in texting or social media, I breathe a sigh of relief because I get to put off that layer of being a teen for a little longer.  However, for the past 5 or so years I’ve been the “trusted adult” for several kids in my friends and family circle. If you’re not sure what a “trusted adult” is, it’s a great way to keep an eye on the kids with their knowing but not have mom or dad constantly ‘snooping’. Being the ‘trusted adult’ comes with a number of rules, most importantly not being able to like, comment, or respond publicly to the teen. However, the kids know someone’s watching. And I’m not just watching what they say or do, I’m also watching and reading (and screencapping) what their friends do.

I consider it a privilege to be the ‘trusted adult’. It definitely gives me a front row seat to some very interesting conversations. Unfortunately, over the years the language has changed a bit. What used to be shorthand no longer exists or means something totally different. It’s kind of when your grandma texts you and uses LOL and you think it means ‘Laugh Out Loud’ but she thinks it means ‘Lots of Love’. Pretty benign, really, but I’m sure you’ve seen those articles or posts on social media where mom is telling her adult child that someone died and mom ends every text with LOL. Awkward, sure. But mom or grandma aren’t using the shorthand as a way to avoid ‘prying eyes’ as teens (and tweens) may be doing.

Teens, on the other hand, have always developed a language that may mean one thing to parents who check their kids’ online accounts and something else to their peers. Which is why it’s so important for us to stay up on their teen slang. There are thousands, many of which you may use yourself. Slang such as OOTD (outfit of the day), TBH (to be honest), AFAIK (as far as I know), as well as IDK, LMAO, BAE. But you don’t need to know every one.

25 Teen Slang Terms Parents Need To Know

MOS/POS/SOS – Mom Over Shoulder or Parent Over Shoulder or Someone Over Shoulder

PRW – Parents Are Watching

KPC – Keeping Parents Clueless

PIR/MIR/DIR – Parents in Room, Mom in Room, Dad in Room

MOOS or MOSS – Member of Opposite Sex or Member of Same Sex

ASL (RP) – Age Sex Location (Race) (Picture)

CD9 – Parents Are Around (shorthand for Code9)

HSWM – Have Sex With Me

WYRN – What’s Your Real Name

459 or 143 – I Love You

RU18 – Are You 18?

8 – Oral Sex

GNOC – Get Naked on Camera

IHU or 182 – I Hate You

CU46 or LH6 – See You For Sex or Let’s Have Sex

LMIRL – Let’s Meet In Real Life

SMASH – I Would Have Sex With You

Cook Session – When a group of kids gang up on someone on social media

ILYSM – I Like/Love You So Much

KIK – The Kik App

RDH – Rate Date Hate (How do you rate me; Would you date me; Do you hate me)

TBR – To Be Rude

GOAT – Greatest of All Time

PAP – Post a Picture

Ship – Relationship

I hope you’ll find this helpful to keep you in-the-know when it comes to what your teens and tweens are posting and texting. While some of the teen slang is innocuous, having an idea of what they’re sharing with their friends is important. Keep in mind, these are some of the more common phrases and there is another sub-language used for sexting. Unfortunately, there are no parental controls for monitoring their every online move. Monitoring teens online takes more than just uploading some software and walking away. It takes a ninja-like vigilance, which is not for the faint of heart.

If you have friends or family members that need this information, please share it with them. If you’d like to share this on your social networks, just click the button(s) below and pass it along.

Teen Slang Parents Need To Know

Sara

Teens: If We Feed Them Well, Why Do They Choose To Eat Junk Food

Teens and Junk Food

For those of you with teens (or tweens), I’m going to assume you’re like me and have fed your family healthy foods most of the time. I’ve seen all the menu planning, Whole30, paleo, low-sugar, and low-fat posts. Even if we ate like crap before we had kids, things changed once the kiddos came along. So now that that’s out-of-the-way, let’s talk about what the teens choose to eat.

For most of us, I’m sure we’ve created over a decade of meals that had fruits and vegetables. There may have been a few monster milkshakes and over-the-top desserts along the way, too. Treats. We always used the word treats. These were anomalies and not the norm.

Same with the carb-a-palooza that seems to become the staple of teen eating. I think back to my teen years, which some days I wonder how I can think back that far, and am pretty sure my mom wondered how I thought cheese pizza and soda was an appropriate meal when out with my friends when she made fresh, from scratch meals nearly every night that were accompanied with a salad and at least one other vegetable (of which corn did not count as a vegetable). What is it that causes our brain to disregard all those meals at home and decide that mac-and-cheese and pretzels would be an a good dinner?

I’ve said ‘no’ to the child who wants a third helping of potatoes while the spinach salad has been disassembled and strategically located around the plate so it looks as if it’s been mostly eaten. I’m sure you have too. I’ve also said no to the request for dessert when just a few bites of dinner are gone, despite sitting at the table for half an hour.

There have been talks about serving sizes, how a 64-oz gas station soda is not a single serving, french fries are not a suitable meal, and carrot cake is not actually a vegetable. I’m sure there have been many discussions about food choices, too, especially when going out. Surely we’ve not only done our job, but we’ve been employee of the month a few times. We’ve excelled at the salad-eating, fruit-over-cake selecting, water-instead-of-soda choosing. And we know that when they eat at their friend’s house that their parents are doing the same thing. We all live in the same village!

So why when they walk out the door and meet up with their other teen friends all this knowledge is inaccessible? How come they can remember every trick to get to level 3,274 on the game they’re playing but not remember to select something more vegetable-y than, well, the garnish that inevitably comes with their carb and dairy bonanza of a meal. Why when they come home we think all these years of after school snacks of fruit and veggies will continue to be their choice but we hear the loud crunching of them eating cereal.

We did the same thing, I know. But that was back in the day when broccoli-rice casserole was an acceptable vegetable and fruit-dotted jell-o was considered a healthy dessert. Healthy back then was different, and, to be honest, we weren’t really outright taught about making healthy food choices.

I know I’m not the only one who wonders why this happens. Is it normal? Do we need to put more emphasis on healthy eating and making “good” food choices? Less emphasis? I don’t know the answer. I just hope that it’s, as a child psychologist friend of mine say, “developmentally appropriate”.

Why Do Teens Like Junk Food

Sara

Smartphone Etiquette – 6 Rules For Teens and Tweens

Smartphone Etiquette Tips For Teens

FTC Disclosure

When it comes time to hand our kids their first smartphone we’re often so focused on keeping them safe from predators and bullying that we forget to talk to them about basic smartphone etiquette. Our kids are digital natives so we think they’re familiar with how to use their phone. After all, they have been using our devices for years.

But using our phones and tablets to play games and watch videos didn’t teach them how to be a good smartphone user. It taught them other skills, but not many of the skills we take for granted and just assume our kids know. While we’ve had to weave tech into our parenting, there are many “old school” parenting things we’re still responsible to teach.

6 Smartphone Etiquette Rules for Teens & Tweens

  1. How to properly answer a call. Don’t leave! Seriously, we have to teach our kids how to properly answer a call. Remember, when we grew up we had a landline and often raced our siblings or begged our parents to answer the phone. Some of us even created “an adult voice” so we could convince our parents we’d be OK to stay home by ourselves. But we practiced answering the phone – saying hello, being polite, asking for the person to identify themselves. Sure, there’s caller-ID, but what if they don’t recognize the number but they’re expecting you or another family member to call? What if it’s the school or a potential employer? And, yes, I know, chances are kids will let the call go to voice mail, but one day they may get a job where they have to answer a telephone and I’m sure they won’t want to tell their boss they don’t know how.
  2. How to make a phone call. I know, you’re thinking I’ve lost my mind and kids know how to make a phone call. Honestly though, I don’t think so. They text, they don’t call. And if they do call, it’s likely mom or dad they’re calling. Again, we practiced making calls. We’d call the grandparents and leave a message, or we’d call the store to see if something was in stock, or we’d call our friends and have to get past their parents. We did a lot of calling that kids today don’t need to do. That’s why teaching them how to make a proper phone call is so important. First impressions still count!
  3. Respect other people’s privacy. This has many applications, but I’m specifically talking about respecting the privacy of another person if you’re using their phone. While one of the rules most parents have for their kids is not to let their friends use their phone, there may be times when someone has to use their phone or they have to ask a friend to use their phone. Dead batteries happen, so let’s ensure our kids know not to go looking through a friend’s phone. Even more important, if they’re ever in a position that they’re being encouraged by friends to take another kid’s phone and snoop they may be more likely to think twice and not do it. Or, play along until they can tell an adult. But this idea of respecting privacy also means not looking over your shoulder to see what their friends are texting or trying to spy their password or unlock pattern.
  4. Be mindful of other people. It’s great that kids can keep themselves entertained while waiting. However, no one wants to listen to their music, text notifications, sounds from games, or any other sounds your smartphone can make. They can play games and listen to music, but they need to have the device on silent or use headphones.
  5. Do not share private information. Maybe not so much traditional etiquette as it is general rules for having a smartphone, but important enough to include it here. When we were their age we were constantly told not to tell people on the other side of the phone that our parents weren’t home. And while some people have had our address, we weren’t tagged with GPS for the whole world to find us. Of course we need to teach them not to disclose private information on apps or in game chats or on messaging apps. However, our private information is more easily disclosed inadvertently with geotagging, answering basic questions from “friends” (many of whom the kids have never met), or including information in photos (whether purposefully or accidentally). We need to be clear what is and is not private information, so the kids don’t have to wonder.
  6. Don’t interrupt a face-to-face conversation to use your phone. This is the general rule. And yes, there are exceptions – like when mom is calling. Generally, though, if they’re placing their order at the coffee shop, checking out at a store, or having a face-to-face conversation with someone they shouldn’t answer the phone whether it’s a call or text. It may be difficult, so you may need to role play this. While younger people may have more tolerance for this, in situations where you’re buying things it can cause miscommunication or delays that could easily be avoided by giving the situation their full attention.

Overall, I’m sure you’d agree these are pretty basic rules and likely easy for kids to follow. But while they’re easy to follow rules, some will require practice (and patience). For the most part though, even though they may not be intuitive for teens and tweens, I think kids will find them helpful. What do you think? Should there be other rules?

Smartphone Etiquette for Teens and Tweens

Photo Credit for top image.
Photo Credit for bottom image.

Sara

The Hooters Hypothesis and the Double Standard of Shaming Women

Hooters Hypothesis - The Double Standard of Shaming Women | @ SaraFHawkins savingforsomeday.com

Every once in awhile a post will pop up on Facebook by someone who’s irritated by Hooters. The post usually mentions the stupidity of taking kids to the restaurant and goes on to talk about how the female servers are dressed. Always, the conversation turns to what the servers are wearing.

As the first in the genre known as “breastaurants“, Hooters has been around for about 30 years. I remember when they first opened when I was a teen. For over 3 decades female Hooters servers have been wearing the same skimpy outfits of orange short-shorts and a white tank top with the Hooters name on it. Back in the mid 80s it was just something kitschy that few people probably expected to last. It was so “out there” that for about 20 years they really had no competition. Now there are others and it’s not just sports bars, but there are coffee shops and BBQ joints, too.

In my understanding of restaurants you don’t stay in business if you don’t have decent food. That makes me think there’s more to Hooters than what meets the eye. And this is where I get to make a confession. My grandmother, z”li, ate at Hooters several times a month for about 5 years. She had been out shopping and wanted a quick lunch and asked the cashier for a suggestion. The cashier was, in her words, “a nice young man”. I’m sure he was probably in his 20s. At the time my grandma was probably in her early 80s. Maybe he thought it would be funny to send this little old lady to Hooters. Maybe he was being sincere when he recommended the Hooters nearby. Despite whatever he though, off to Hooters my grandma went. And it began a wonderful relationship between an octogenarian Jewish woman and Hooters.

I had the privilege to have lunch with my grandma at “The Hooters”. I also heard about her first visit, the time “these nice businessmen” paid for lunch, the time she took one of her fellow Gold Star Widows members, and the countless times she had “such a lovely waitress”. And not once did my grandma ever say anything about how the servers were dressed. Not once. And this from a woman who was devoutly Jewish and who thought it risqué to wear a sleeveless top without a sweater or blouse over it.

Now it’s 2016 and we’ve spent the last several years talking about not placing blame on rape survivors based on their clothing choice, that what women wear is not an invitation to judge them, that young girls should not be exposed to body-shaming, having conversations about fat-shaming, encouraging body pride, and so on and so forth. Yes, we’ve had the dialogue. And we’ve become outraged that women on the red carpet are asked about their clothing but men are not. Seriously, we’ve talked and talked, and typed, and tweeted, and hashtagged this conversation into the mainstream.

Stick with me, because here comes my Hooters Hypothesis. There’s an exception when it comes to Hooters. And on that I’m finally calling BS. It’s hypocritical and, well, BS, to preach about a woman’s right to choose what she wears without being shamed for it, and then with that same breath degrade the women who work at Hooters. If you don’t want to go there or take your family, then don’t go. But stop with the shaming. I’ve seen your posts, the ones where you’re sighing over the “hunky” server. The one of the “hot” backup dancer. The post of the “amazing looking” bartender. Those. I see them. So does everyone else. So shut up about the women who work at Hooters.

That is, unless you’re willing to talk about how much confidence they must have, how brave they are to work in a place where some (male) patrons have little self-control when it comes to their hands, and what courage looks like to deal with people like you who think it’s perfectly OK to shame them for working an honest job.

Do I want my daughter to aspire to a job at Hooters (or Tilted Kilt, Twin Peaks, or the others?) Not really. Then again, I’m raising her to be a strong, confident, and independent woman so it’s not really my choice.

What I do want is for the shaming to stop. Across the board. Let’s just stop shaming women. It does nothing for the younger generation of girls to see and hear such negativity. It does nothing for the young women who are just trying to make an honest living. And, in general, it give boys and men permission to do the same thing.

Cocktail waitresses in Vegas should be able to wear whatever themed outfit the casino requires without thinking what you’ll say about her. Hooters can require short shorts. Airlines can go back to hot pants and go-go boots for all I care. Seriously, it’s not that difficult to just not patronize places where you feel uncomfortable going with your spouse or kids. And if enough people don’t go then maybe the business will rethink it’s required clothing. Because, honestly, this is probably more of a “you” problem than a “them” problem.

The conversation should not be about what “these women” are wearing. It should be about the fact that people should not be degraded or ridiculed for the clothing they wear. We should all be teaching our kids (boys and girls) to be respectful of (both men and) women regardless of what they are (or are not) wearing. So, just stop with shaming women who work at Hooters thinking it’s OK because they somehow deserve it.

It’s your turn, now. What are your thoughts on this double standard?

Sara

Parental Controls and Alternatives to Monitoring Kids Online

Parental Control Alternative For Monitoring Kids Online

FTC Disclosure

As a Gen-Xer my digital footprint didn’t begin until I was well into adulthood. Initially there was a sense of anonymity because we were able to use screen names. Quickly, though, we came to realize that we could be identified. Even in the early days of the internet there were ways to find out who was hiding behind whatever goofy name we chose for our email, bulletin board, instant messenger, and other lame-in-comparison-to-today social networks.

For many of us, though, our kid have grown up around increasingly sophisticated technology. These digital natives have faced concerns that most of us never did.

I grew up in an analog age. The fanciest of technology came about in high school when the Apple IIe came out when I was a freshman. While that was a huge step forward, it really didn’t impact daily life like technology does today. There was no risk of anything I did going too far beyond my little community. That’s not the case today.

Parental controls when I was a teen came in the form of not getting dropped off at a friend’s house, being picked up earlier from a party than my friends, or having to sit with enough distance between us if a boy had come over to do homework together. Ah, good times!

Now, though, parental controls are more invasive than your mom walking in offering milk and cookies when you’re trying to hold hands with that boy who came over to study with you. While we still could make decisions back then, today there is technology that takes the decision-making out of our kids’ control. For most parents it’s like manna from heaven. But what if you’re like me and are not a big fan of parental controls? What are the options? Is it even possible to parent today without enabling some feature on a smartphone or tablet to make sure our kids aren’t exposed to “inappropriate” content or spend too much time online?

When BabyGirl was about 5 or 6 I installed parental control software on the computer she used. It was a desktop computer I had used but replaced. It was her computer for all intents and purposes. I was homeschooling her at the time and she’d spend time online doing schoolwork or playing. That was in 2007 or so. Seems like an eternity ago some times.

Anyway, back then you’d do a search on Google or Yahoo and, like today, pages of results would be presented for you to check out. Search engines were primitive compared to what we use today. Invariably she’d click on something that was inappropriate for a 5 or 6 year old. She’d close the window and come tell me. We’d talk about it, and she’d go on with her day.

There was a big push about that time for monitoring software. I installed some monitoring software and set the parameters. And then every 5 or 10 minutes I’d hear that the computer wasn’t working. Instead of filtering out what would be truly objectionable content, the software had so many keywords it was checking that nearly everything was filtered and nothing would get through. I go in to adjust the setting and make it less sensitive. Still, it wasn’t possible to get to a lot of legitimate content. That’s when I stopped using parental controls.

Fast forward to 2016 and the sophisticated monitoring software and built-in controls on computers, smartphones, tablets, and other types of mobile devices. BabyGirl is officially a teen and I have never used parental controls on any of her smartphones or tablets. Really. I know many people love them and I have friends who’ve written extensively about the benefits of parental controls for TV and mobile devices. For me, I’ve taken a different route since she got her first mobile device.

Talk Openly – Since she was very young, BabyGirl knew that sometimes there would be things on the internet that weren’t for kids to see. Just like in the “real” world, we can’t keep our kids blindfolded until we’ve had the opportunity to evaluate everything they see and hear, we can’t do that on the internet. And while there are filters that will prevent kids from gaining access to truly inappropriate information, for some it’s a false sense of security and doesn’t leave much room for open communication. As uncomfortable as these conversations can be for both of us, it has to be done.

Be Proactive – I’ve always been very up-front with BabyGirl about what she may see on the internet. No, I haven’t been graphic or given her information beyond what I thought she could understand. But I have worked with her one-on-one to learn how to use different search methods, what to look for in URL names and extensions, how to determine if she’s clicking on a reliable source, and things like that. Just like we role play for fire safety, we need to do the same thing when it comes to internet safety.

Follow the Rules – There’s a reason why most social networks have an age requirement. Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) is a law created to protect the privacy of children under 13. Not that all of a sudden at age 13 they gain a magical sense of maturity and capability. Millions of kids under the age of 13 have social media accounts, despite it being a violation of the terms of service. A few years ago my friend Heather wrote about why kids under 13 shouldn’t be on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or any of the multitude of social networks available. If we allow our kids to start out their digital life with a lie, it’s hard to expect them not to lie about other things.

Know their Login Information – I’ve been told many times that asking BabyGirl for her login information shows that I don’t trust her and I should just use parental controls if I’m so concerned. I’ve always explained that they’re missing the point. I ask this information because I do trust her, but I don’t trust the people on the other side. Being able to get in to her device and the different programs isn’t about snooping and seeing what she’s talking about. I go in to make sure other people aren’t doing stupid things that whether or not there are parental controls they shouldn’t be doing. It’s also an opportunity to make sure her device is up-to-date, clear out apps she doesn’t use any more, and encourage her to continue to make good choice since her parents can check in at any time. It’s kind of the digital equivalent of mom offering milk and cookies right when you’re thinking of kissing the boy who came over to study with you.

Parental controls aren’t the be-all, end-all magic potion many like to believe they are. They are one tool, but there are “old-school” parental control we can use in addition to using tech-based parental controls or in place of relying on technology to do our job. There isn’t one right answer. As with most things related to parenting, you just have to do what works for you.

Sara