Written on May 8, 2013 at 5:43 pm , by Celia Shatzman
It’s been almost a decade since my first-born came home and announced she’d be going to the middle school dance, my baptism into the strange “new” world of dating. Now that I’ve crossed almost all the way over (she’s 21 now, the youngest is 19, and they tell me very little about their college romances) I wish I could skip back in time and give myself some of the good advice I came across while reporting Young Love. “Shut up, Sarah,” I’d say. “Talk less. Listen more.”
But back when my kids were entering middle school, I was still fooling myself that my job was to teach them things. How to find what X equals, write a thank you note and even find lessons in the awkward rituals of very young love: What does it mean if he calls and texts? Texts but doesn’t call? Or doesn’t text at all? I kidded myself that I actually played a role in shaping them, spouting well-researched lectures about sex and responsibility and kindness and respect.
In the bumpy teen years that followed, I’ve learned I was wrong. In hindsight, I was pure spectator. Parents don’t shape kids; they simply help them unfold. My kids were learning the hard lessons about hormones and romance in school cafeterias, on Facebook and Skype, and at friends’ houses, giving me just the occasional glimpse into what was happening. The heart of a teen—and yes, even a tween—is a very private place. If they show you even an inch of what’s there, accept it as a minor miracle. Pull up a chair. Listen, don’t preach.
The hardest thing has been watching them get hurt. Nothing prepares you for the night your child cries about being dumped, dissed or just ignored. I never came up with anything better than the hollow phrase my mother always had for me: “This too shall pass.”
But you know what? It’s not hollow, it’s true. It works for teen heartbreak. And for those of us in the stands, watching our kids grow from “OMG, he’s so CUTE” to real love, real commitments, and real life? Watching it pass is one of the greatest shows on earth.
Written on April 10, 2013 at 4:54 pm , by Celia Shatzman
In the time since I wrote the “Reality Check” essay for the May issue, my candid answers to any questions the kids pose has made an impression on them. Now anytime one of them inadvertently asks a question that has me using s-e-x in the answer, they hold up their hands and say, “No, that’s okay! I’m good!” That’s in public. In private, they still come to me and ask me the Big Deals. They know I’ll tell them the truth.
Trying to figure out your true role as a stepmom is tough. My role feels ever-changing, and isn’t the same for each kid. A stepmom I admire once told me that she always strives to be the kids’ advocate, not their disciplinarian. As a custodial stepmom, that isn’t always possible for me, but it’s a really good guideline. The best things happen when I have that spirit behind my interactions with the kids.
Meanwhile, I now have a standing Friday morning date with my husband to grocery shop – at a different supermarket.
- JM Randolph
Read more by JM Randolph on her blog, accidentalstepmom.com.
Written on August 20, 2012 at 12:15 pm , by Celia Shatzman
Painting homes, organizing food drives and cleaning up neighborhoods and beaches are just some of the good deeds hundreds of thousands of Americans did to celebrate the National Day of Service and Remembrance on September 11th last year—and the hope is to get even more people involved this year. To help with a project in your area or to organize one, visit serve.gov/sept11.asp.
Celia Shatzman is associate editor at Family Circle.
Written on May 26, 2011 at 4:04 pm , by Celia Shatzman
If your kids still haven’t nailed down summer gigs, it’s not just them. Turns out only one in four teens will nab a job this season, according to research by Northeastern University, making it the lowest youth employment rate since World War II. Yikes! But there’s no need to panic—kids can still get great work experience by volunteering. Tell them to sign up for jumo.com, a new social networking site from a co-founder of Facebook that connects people with causes they care about. Your kids can find community projects in their area based on their interests. Though they won’t be getting a paycheck, they’ll gain many of the same skills as their hired peers, plus they’ll learn how nonprofits work, and make a difference.
Was your kid was lucky enough to land a job? Check out our “6 Solutions for Teen Job Problems” story from our May issue.