Jim Fennell's Just Checking In: Books offer parents help navigating the teen years
I kill a lot of it, some of the stuff I pass along to you, and some of it I read for my own amusement. Other stuff is just annoying.
Trends develop. You don't even need to read the subject line to know what the pitch is going to be from certain firms. Before I let them know I am not a political writer, I received two to three emails a day from one group that makes Mitt Romney its personal piñata.
Then there's Ginny Grimsley.
Ginny works for EMSI, a public relations firm out of Florida. She dutifully sends me her pitches for books and authors on a regular basis. I don't think I've ever gone for one. Until now, that is.
I saved a handful of Ginny's releases because I started to identify with the subject matter. Many of the authors and experts she serves write about kids (mostly teenagers) and how parents can help them through what has become an increasingly challenging journey through adolescence.
I am a father of a teen, and I know that journey. I have seen the good, the bad and everything in between. I know not everything has been perfect. Ha! Far from it. I can only hope I succeeded more times than I failed.
I hope the lessons I learned from my parents and the things I have observed watching friends and family navigate the same tricky waters have helped. Maybe I should have read more, listened to more experts.
So, now I will pass on to you some resources Ginny Grimsley has passed on to me. Helpful or not? You decide.
“Tukie Tales: A New Beginning for a Better Tomorrow” (www.tukietales.com) is a series of five children's books written by sisters Debbie Burns and Patty Cockrell to help parents teach their young children important values. Their inspiration was an increasing number of stories of violent crimes committed by children.
“The younger the child, the more impressionable they are,” Burns said. “We wanted to help busy parents scrambling to make ends meet teach children empathy, compassion, environmental awareness and other values.”
Boys falling behind
Dr. Sidney Gale wrote “Unto the Breach” (www.sidneygale.com) as a way to get young boys in North America more active. Statistics are showing they are falling further behind girls socially and academically.
“We need to get boys out of their solitary bedrooms and into the sun,” Gale said. “It's also a good idea to get them reading something other than tweets, texts and the like. They have intellect, and we should encourage have intellect, and we should encourage them to use it.”
According to Gregory L. Jantz, a psychologist and author of “#Hooked: The Pitfalls of Media, Technology and Social Networking” (www.drgregoryjantz.com), “Social media, and the new emphasis on the importance of 'multitasking,' have helped drive a wedge between family members.”
Jantz suggest parents and children spend less time on social-media sites and more time with each other.
Success 101 for teens
Teaching financial responsibility should start early, says Mark Hansen, author of “Success 101 for Teens” (www.success101forteens.com). Don't be like many of our current 20-somethings who are amassing tens of thousands of dollars of debt before they turn 30.
“This generation of 20-somethings was raised during an economically-thriving period,” said Hansen. “Undisciplined spending habits, student and car loans, and a tough job market have stymied their financial growth. Perhaps the worst culprit is financial ignorance, but we can count this as a lesson for future 20-somethings.”
Rachel Albert wrote an idealistic novel called “Quest to Telos” (www.QuestToTelos.com) as a way to teach world peace through personal integrity and social responsibility.
“Children who choose to put those values into practice are actively working toward peace. But they can only put into practice what they've learned; instilling those values may seem simple, but many parents miss the mark and actually model the opposite,” Albert said.
Preventing learning loss
Don't let your kids forget what they've learned during the school year over their summer break. That's the advice of Carrie Scheiner, who created the learning kit “Exploracise” (www.exploracise.com) to help parents and educators with programs that “combine learning, exercise and healthy lifestyle choices.”
Getting teens to read
Rhiannon Paille, who targeted young adults with her fantasy novel “Flame of Surrender” (www.yafantasyauthor.com), says kids don't read enough.
“Teen literacy is a huge problem in the United States — its 15-year-olds rank 14th among developed nations in reading — behind Poland, Estonia and Iceland,” Paille said. “Kids need strong reading skills if they hope to graduate from high school, and they really need to plan for college. Fifty-nine percent of U.S. jobs today require some postsecondary education, compared to 28 percent in 1973.”
Paille says parents should try to get kids to read anything, ranging from comic books to book-to-film novels and even novels spawned by video games.
Struggling young adults
Jantz also wrote “When your Teenager Becomes … The Stranger in Your House,” to encourage parents to recognize when stress is building up in older teens and how to help them cope.
“Teens who are overwhelmed by stress often are unable or unwilling to ask for help,” Jantz said. “But the longer they continue to flail and struggle emotionally, the greater the chance they'll develop more serious problems like clinical depression, generalized anxiety disorder, dependence on alcohol or drugs and, sadly, suicidal tendencies. It's up to parents and other adults to recognize when a teen is struggling and intervene.”
I hope at least one of these resources is worth the investment to someone. After all, being a parent has never been easy, but it may never have been as difficult as it is today. Getting a little help can't hurt.
Jim Fennell's “Just Checking In” column appears every other week in the New Hampshire Sunday News. Email him at email@example.com.
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