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Newsletter Vol. # 48 That's how I see it!

Hello and welcome to this week's newsletter. Goodbye

What you will find in this week's newsletter:
Teenagers-sex drugs and rock 'n roll
Forrest Gump-three questions that got him into heaven
Obesity-a national crisis
Second in a series on "Change"
Reader Response


Teenagers! What gives with them? What goes on in their heads? I came across an interesting article by Dr. Michael Bradley, psychologist and teen expert (McLean's).

Neurologically, their brains are going through an explosion of growth and getting ready for the great leap into adulthood. But there is neurological fallout from the renovation process: emotional processing speed gets slowed down, they're less able to read adult emotional cues. Second, the world is telling them to be crazy, do things that are self-destructive. Cultural prompts, in the form of song lyrics or scenes in movies or video clips, are telling them that drugs, sex and certain forms of violence are cool, adult and harmless. Thanks to the efficiency of electronics, we pound them with these suggestions to a degree we've never pounded on another generation of teens. The third issue is that, as parents, we don't really respond very well. Responding to these contemporary problems with rules from past generations just doesn't work.

Parental responses that don't work include the "biggie-fear." A lot of us were raised by parents who'd, yell, threaten and punish. That's a lot of our training, but it doesn't work today. The mission statement used to be, "How do you control the kid?" Today it's, "How do I teach my kid to control herself?" It means talking to your kid with respect, asking good questions, helping perform a set of values, because you're not going to be there when she needs those values to negotiate her culture.

It is true that teen pregnancy and drug use are both down by about 25% over the last 10 years. Smoking and drinking have also declined. However, it doesn't mean our kids are less crazy. In that same 10-year period hospital records show adolescent facilities admissions by overdose have increased two-to threefold in America. Birth rates are down but levels of sexual activity are higher than they've ever been, as are levels of sexually transmitted diseases.

I believe that parenting is most important during the teen years. I get a lot of angry mail from shrinks on this, because we're taught that the first five years of life are the most critical. I argue that the last five, from 13 to 18, are at least as critical and perhaps more so. The kids are developing an adult brain, thinking critically, making decisions, and the world is throwing a lot of challenges at them. Many parents respond by trying to bet a friend to their child. But when we overindulge our kids, we make them weak. Kids are able, and often common to do very well at school and at a sport, but at very little else in life. They can't do life, because they haven't become resilient through denial, or earning their way, or living with frustrations and being able to overcome them. A lot of parents refused to let their kids be frustrated; we jump in and solve all their problems. In doing so, we cripple them.

So how do you influence your teenager to learn responsibility around the home? Make them part of the team! "We really need you to help, we're counting on you." Perhaps at age 13 you say something like this, "You're a young man now and it's time for you to make your way in the world. Instead of handing you an allowance for doing nothing, we're going to, essentially, put you on salary for doing chores and community service, and you control the money. Whatever you want to do with it is fine. But no more welfare state. You have to earn your way."

What do you do if you find drugs or they come home drunk? If you go in with respect, love and concern, use the least intrusive strategy and ask questions. Sometimes you'll have kid who'll break down and ask for help. You don't drive the behaviour underground (with overreacting and anger). You talk, and you put the consequences in place for next time. But your goal is teaching.

If your kid will not communicate with you, don't take it personally. It means they've learned what they need to from the family, and now they're studying peer relationships, examining issues like trust, responsibility, loyalty, the nature of friendship. They've gone to another school, if you will, temporarily. Continue to outreach- not screaming and yelling, but knocking on the door and saying, "Hey, we love and miss you, and no, you're not into the family right now, but if you ever need a hug, or want to get a coffee, let me know."

That's how Michael Bradley sees it!

Anger is a form of communication; a destructive and self-centered form, but communication none-the-less. It's better that we talk about our anger than to be angry.


The day finally arrived. Forrest Gump dies and goes to Heaven. He is at the Pearly Gates, met by St. Peter himself.  However, the gates are closed,
and Forrest approaches the gatekeeper.

St. Peter said, 'Well, Forrest, it is certainly good to see you. We have heard a lot about you.  I must tell you, though, that the place is filling up fast, and we have been administering an entrance examination for everyone. The test is short, but you have to pass it before you can get into Heaven.'

Forrest responds, 'It sure is good to be here, St. Peter, sir. But nobody ever told me about any entrance exam. I sure hope that the test ain't too hard. Life was a big enough test as it was.'

St. Peter continued, 'Yes, I know, Forrest, but the test is only three questions.

What two days of the week begin with the letter T?

 How many seconds are there in a year?

What is God's first name?'

Forrest leaves to think the questions over.  He returns the next day and sees St. Peter, who waves him up, and says, 'Now that you have had a chance to think the questions over, tell me your answers.'

Forest replied, 'Well the first one-which two days in the week begins with the letter 'T'? Shucks, that one is easy. That would be Today and Tomorrow.'

The Saint's eyes opened wide and he exclaimed, 'Forrest, that is not what I was thinking, but you do have a point, and I guess I did not specify, so I will give you credit for that answer.   How about the next one?' asked St. Peter.

'How many seconds in a year? Now that one is harder,' replied Forrest, 'but I thunk and thunk about that, and I guess the only answer can be twelve.'

Astounded, St. Peter said, 'Twelve? Twelve?  Forrest, how in Heaven's name could you come up with twelve seconds in a year?'

Forrest replied, 'Shucks, there's got to be twelve: January 2nd, February 2nd, March 2nd.... '

'Hold it,' interrupts St. Peter. 'I see where you are going with this, and I see your point, though that was not quite what I had in mind....but I will have to give you credit for that one, too.  Let us go on with the third and final question. Can you tell me God's first name'?

'Sure,' Forrest replied, 'its Andy.'

'Andy?' exclaimed an exasperated and frustrated St Peter. 'Ok, I can understand how you came up with your answers to my first two questions, but just how in the world did you come up with the name Andy as the first name of God?'

Shucks, that was the easiest one of all,' Forrest replied.  'I learnt it from the song, ANDY WALKS WITH ME,
           ANDY TALKS WITH ME,
St. Peter opened the Pearly Gates, and said: 'Run, Forrest, run!'

 Stop with the "shoulds" and "have to's." Create an "Action Plan!" Remember: "That which you can't put into an Action Plan, "forget about!"

Obesity in America

Obesity has now reached epidemic proportions. Fat is now labelled a serious and costly public health crisis linked to heart disease, diabetes, and other serious illness.

In the Washington Monthly it was stated that obesity kills a huge number of Americans each year--eight times the number that die of AIDS, and more than the combined deaths from alcohol, drugs, firearms and motor vehicle. Soon, if it hasn't already happened, obesity will be the number one killer in America. Cost of caring for those sickened with obesity, an entirely preventable condition is estimated at $70 billion per year.

There is no question that being obese has serious health consequences. This is not a moral issue. This is a serious public health issue. The National Centre For Health Statistics found that obesity in kids between 6 and 17 had doubled since the turn of the century and has continued its meteoric rise to the present. The same is true for adults.

It seems ironic that in an era where health food and exercise our worshiped, that fast food and declining physical fitness are having such an off-setting effect on a nation's health. The desk job, telephone/I-phone, Internet, the expectations of the workplace to overwork, and the encouragement of the workplace to define ourselves by what do and the need to keep doing it no matter what the cost.

The American culture has this binge-purge mentality when it comes to food. We binge on high caloric, high fat items, and then purge on diets and food restrictions. This yo-yo pattern of eating will almost invariably end in weight gain.

Obesity rates among Canadian adults stabilized. While roughly 4.7 million adults are classified as obese, this figure has remained "relatively stable since 2009, despite plenty of talk of a growing epidemic of fatness.

In most cases we don't have to completely redo our lives, but often we do need to learn or re-learn how to get the most out of our lives.

Second in a series of four articles on Change

#2 You Need to Feel Safe to Change

I have often found that people consider making changes in their lives when they reach the "end of their rope", when they feel that they can't go any lower than they have already gone, or when they feel safe. Safe, in that they don't feel pressured, threatened or intimidated to change. They are confident they can respond, and satisfied that they can handle whatever is presented to them.

When people choose to make changes that result in their taking better care of themselves instead of tending to every need of their family, friends or colleagues, these former recipients of that exclusive care generally resent the personal changes that are being made. They can often become upset that you are being so selfish by taking care of your needs over theirs. They would prefer you stay the same, continue to look after their needs, and remain predictable. Familiarity with how you look, feel, think and act
provides them-and, to a degree, yourself-with a level of comfort.

Inherent in change, however, is the unknown-"How will I (or others) respond to the changes?" "What is appropriate?" "What will people think?" "How will they judge me?" "Can I handle it?" "Is it worth the effort?" There is a period when your confidence needs to carry you until the people in your life realize that your changes will add more to their lives as well.

People mostly change when they feel safe and have the confidence to do so. Change brought about by intimidation is seldom permanent, lasting only about as long as the threat is present. The one who feels threatened will most often quickly revert back to their old ways once the pressure has been removed. If you feel safe in a relationship or in a period of your life, and if you are confident that some contemplated changes are right for you, and if you can muster the courage to begin the process to enact this change even though you know that not everyone you care about will appreciate the changes, you will not only have a changed lifestyle, but vastly improved self-esteem as well.
When contemplating change, don't make the big announcement, the big speech about what you're going to do. Just do it! As the old adage goes, "Actions speak louder than words!" A positive change in lifestyle can lead to an improved self-esteem.

Reader Response

Little Girl on a Plane (#45) was one of the best things you have had in your newsletter. Deep question-good answer!

I thoroughly enjoyed the Jazz Festival this week.
Rainbow Stage underway-Ring of Fire-should be great-going Thursday. Good luck Carson and cast!

Have a great week!