Have You Hugged Your Teen Today? The Importance of Parental Touch

Written by Samantha Zabell from Your Teen Magazine
It was easy to cuddle your toddler. She cuddled you right back and often stayed for more. In elementary school, she still wanted a hug before you left her with the babysitter or before she headed to school. But, as your son or daughter turns into a teenager, navigating physical affection can be more difficult.
Dr. Laura Markham, editor of AhaParenting.com and mom to an 18-year-old girl and 22-year-old boy, advises parents to move past the discomfort and remember how integral hugs and other displays of affection are to a teenager’s development.
“Part of parenting is being physically connected with our kids when they’re little,” Markham says. “As kids get older, it’s not a matter of us separating from them; it’s a matter of us finding new, appropriate ways to connect with them.”
But for many parents, it can feel awkward to hug a child who is physically much more a man or woman–and perhaps snarly and snarky at that–than the boy or girl we once cuddled on our laps. “Parents should check in with themselves and note their own discomfort. Often it’s because they may not have gotten physical affection when they were teenagers, but don’t put that onto your child,” says Laurie A. Couture, author of  Instead of Medicating and Punishing and a licensed mental health counselor.
There’s a saying that claims a child needs four hugs a day for survival, eight for maintenance and 12 for growth. So, how do you give your teenager 12 hugs a day?
“Always hug your child when you first see him in the morning,” Markham advises. It didn’t matter if both parties were grumpy, but she always started her children’s days with hugs. She also hugged them before they left for school. “I would get up and go over to them if they were headed out the door and intercept them,” she remembers.
That brings the count to two. Markham also recommends another hug when you see them for the first time later that day and before bedtime. Still, those hugs only hit the “survival” level on the scale. To reach the remaining eight, Markham suggests discovering different ways to connect with your teenagers. “Find little excuses,” Markham says. “Give them a kiss on the top of the head. Hold hands at the dinner table. If your kid is having a hard time, sit next to them and put your arms around them.”
If you grew up in a home where physical affection wasn’t common, then this may not come easy. Start slow. “It can even be small gestures, like putting a hand on the child’s arm and leaning in and making eye contact when you’re talking,” Couture says. “Boys like to be talked to in the car, where they don’t have to make eye contact.” So, just reach out and touch them on the shoulder.”
These moments of physical connection should include an emotional component too, adds Couture, who makes it a point to hug her 19-year-old son every morning. “It’s not just giving your kids a mechanical hug. Start with a simple, ‘How was your day?’ or ‘How are you doing?’ These intimate times need to be focused on the moment.”
Although some teens, especially girls, will be physically affectionate with friends, it doesn’t make up for a lack of physical affection from their parents.
“Parental touch is safe, and therefore irreplaceable,” Markham says. “When kids don’t get enough parental touch, they go looking for love in all the wrong places.” That can include premature sexual relationships that teenagers aren’t ready for, as well as substance abuse.
“We have an unspoken fear that we’re crossing a boundary when we’re physically affectionate with our adolescents,” Couture says. “And, kids feel awkward, so they push the parents away. But, really, in the adolescent years, children are the most vulnerable and most in need of the parent’s affection. There is nothing wrong with it.”
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Visit www.yourteenmag.com for more great articles.

10 Things Every Girl in Her 20s Should Own

Hello everyone, Role Mommy intern here! My time at Role Mommy is sadly coming to an end, as I enter the real world on Monday and start my first full-time job at Macy’s (oh my god!). I’m slightly terrified but also really excited to start this new chapter in my life.
Upon my departure, here’s my final post for Role Mommy: 10 Things Every Girl in Her 20s Should Own. I know most of you reading this probably feel this doesn’t apply to you, but I promise that you can pass this information down to your daughters one day or use it as a gift buying guide for any 20-something you may know this holiday season!
10) External Hard Drive
This one really applies to almost everyone, but especially as a 21 year old, I would be screwed if my computer crashed. I’ve been lucky not to have this happen yet (my Mac Book Pro is going 5 years strong), but just in case, I’ve invested in an external hard drive. I back it up maybe once a month, but it’s reassuring to know that I won’t lose my entire music collection, my resume, and every picture I took in college if my computer decides to give up on life one day.
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9) A Nice Black Suit
It’s always better to be overdressed for a job or grad school interview than to be underdressed. I know suits can be expensive, so I suggest shopping at an outlet store to find a great deal! Also, you don’t have to buy the pieces together. I purchased a black blazer from the Ann Taylor outlet and a pair of nice black dress pants from Banana Republic, which definitely helped with the cost. Not only will these pieces come in handy for an interview, they’re also great staple pieces to mix and match with other tops and bottoms once you finally land the job!
8) Dry Shampoo
I went to the University of Miami, so to deal with the humidity, I started getting keratin treatments on my hair to avoid becoming a frizzy mess. The treatment was great, but the downside was my hair started to get greasy. We all been told not to wash our hair everyday, but I didn’t know what to do in between washes. When I came home one year for winter break, my stylist finally suggested using dry shampoo and it has been a life saver!! I use Suave’s product, which costs less than $3 and smells great. Not only does it take the grease away but it gives my hair an extra lift on days where I’m feeling a little bit lazy and don’t want to spend the time styling it.
7) Store Credit Card
I recently tried to apply for a credit card from my bank so I could start building credit now and be in a good place in a few years when I want to buy a house or an apartment. The bank rejected me because I had no credit which brought me to a conundrum…how do I build credit if no one will give me a credit card because I have no credit? So I decided to sign up for a Macy’s credit card (I swear I’m not plugging my new employer- I actually got the credit card way before I scored my interview!). I buy a small purchase every month and pay it off in full. Now I know it’s really easy to get carried away, but if you’re fiscally responsible a store credit card to your favorite department store is a great place to start! Plus they’ll send you awesome discounts and coupons.
6) A Go-To Neutral Lip Gloss
I used to hate lip gloss. I always thought it was sticky and heavy and too shiny. Then one day, I found the best neutral lip gloss from Mac called “Deelight” and I am now obsessed! Not only does it feel great on my lips, it literally goes with anything! No matter what outfit I’m wearing or how I decided to do the rest of my makeup, “Deelight” always looks good. Obviously, my color may not be your color, but a good neutral lip gloss is the perfect way to add a little glam into every occasion without stressing over your makeup routine.
5) A White T-Shirt
This is pretty obvious, but a white t-shirt is an essential staple to any woman’s wardrobe. Pair it with your favorite cardigan for a comfier look or a pair of colorful skinny jeans or heels for when you’re going out. I bought my favorite white tee while I was in Europe this summer at a store called Vero Moda (I thought I was buying from a cool European brand but apparently they have stores in Europe and Asia too…whomp whomp). The fabric is such a soft jersey material and the fit is loose enough to be comfortable but tight enough to still feel feminine. The best part, it only cost 8 Euro (about $11)!
4) Statement Necklace
Statement necklaces are totally on trend right now, and are a great way to jazz up your outfit and stand out! For some reason, I’m always wearing black, so I love wearing big necklaces to bring in a pop of color (they’re also great to wear with your white t-shirt!) There’s also no need to spend a lot of money on statement necklaces…I’ve gotten a ton of great pieces from Forever 21 and H&M!
3) E-Reader
Whether it’s a Kindle, an iPad, or a Nook, an E-reader is an essential for any 20-something! They’re lightweight, easy to carry, and great for airplanes, commuting to work, and just reading on your own time. Even if you’re not big on books, most apps can be downloaded onto an E-reader, so you can also you to read magazines, watch movies, and play games on them. I love my Kindle Fire…it was the perfect college graduation present!
2) Perfume Rollerball
Rollerballs are a must have! You can easily throw them in your purse or travel with them in a carry-on when you travel. Plus, they’re cheaper than the full bottle alternative, so instead of investing in one perfume, you can switch your daily scent and buy a few different rollerballs. I bought a rollerball of Flowerbomb by Viktor and Rolf for $29, instead of $80 for the smallest bottle, and I love using it to switch things up from my normal Marc Jacobs routine.
1) At Least One DVD Collection of Your Favorite TV Show
Lastly, it is essential for every girl in her 20s to own a season of a good television show. There’s nothing better than spending a day relaxing on your couch watching a TV marathon. Although I haven’t watched the newer episodes, popping in the DVDs for the first three seasons of Grey’s Anatomy will automatically make for a good day. I also can’t tell you how many times I’ve rewatched the third season of How I Met Your Mother, or borrowed a disc from my roommate’s Sex and The City box collection. We all need a break once in a while, and owning a TV DVD collection is the key to the perfect lazy day!

Use Trulia Website and Apps for Real Estate Advice and Listings

Written by Role Mommy Contributor Jennifer Comet Wagner

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I recently attended a party hosted by Trulia, a company that provides a range of real estate services, including a website and apps to people looking to buy or rent a home. I was introduced to the array of helpful tools available through Trulia and was very impressed.
The Trulia website offers more than just real estate listings. Some of the other tools and services offered on Trulia are:
1. An estimate of what your home is worth
2. Information on market trends, crime reporting and school review in many areas
3. Connections to recommended agents
4. Get useful tips for buying and selling real estate through Q&A, advice, blogs and guides.
5. Get notifications when nearby houses are listed or sold, prices are cut and open houses are scheduled.
6. See thousands of home design photos
7. Check out celebrity homes (The party was held in a pentouse that Billy Joel previously owned when married to Christie Brinkley).
Trulia offers apps for the iPhone, iPad, Android and the Kindle Fire. In addition to basic apps there is also a mortage app and apps specifically for rentals.
Michael Corbett, real estate and lifestyle host of Extra and the host of Extra’s Mansions and Millionaires, is a resident real estate expert at Trulia and co-hosted the party. He has written three successful real estate books, his newest one being Before You Buy: The Homebuyers Handbook for Today’s Market.
If you are even thinking about buying, selling or renting a home, check out Trulia. You’ll be surprised at how much you will learn about real estate.
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Jennifer Comet Wagner
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Could Summer Camp be a Place Where Eating Disorder Behaviors Begin?

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for dollys-ice-cream-kids.jpg It is amazing to me how early on children are aware of body images. My eight year old daughter has been talking about not wanting to get “fat” or “chubby” for two years now. I have no idea where she came up with that… we try to encourage healthy eating, without talking about fat vs. skinny. As parents, there is such a fine line between wanting your children to eat healthy, but also letting them eat ice cream and birthday cake, because they’re kids and that’s what kids do! You can try to teach healthy habits and eating in moderation, but when you are not around, you have no control.
More than 10 million American children attend a camp each summer. Because these children often spend weeks – and sometimes months – away from parental supervision, Eating Recovery Center, an international center for eating disorders recovery, urges parents to be aware of summer camp triggers that may contribute to the development of an eating disorder in their camp-going children. We are looking to send our daughter to an overnight camp next summer and I do worry about her being influenced and feeling the pressure of fitting a certain body image.
“Every year, Eating Recovery Center sees many young patients who cite summer camp as the place where their disordered eating behaviors either began or intensified,” said Jamie Manwaring, PhD, primary therapist at Eating Recovery Center’s Behavioral Hospital for Children and Adolescents. “It is important to recognize that summer camps do not ’cause’ eating disorders; however, camps’ environments can often be triggering for a child with the genetic or temperamental predisposition for an eating disorder.”
Potentially triggering activities or situations may include a competitive athletic environment, exposure to bunkmates’ or friends’ disordered eating behaviors, an intense focus on health and nutrition or anxiety about trying to “fit in” with new camp friends. Without ongoing parental supervision, children who begin engaging in disordered eating behaviors will often maintain, or intensify them throughout the duration of camp without their parents’ knowledge.
To help parents plan a healthy, fun camp experience for their children and proactively practice eating disorders prevention, Eating Recovery Center offers these five tips:
1. Look into the way meals are structured at your child’s camp. Are mealtimes staffed so that camp counselors sit with campers and are available to notice if a child has stopped eating or drastically changed his or her eating habits?
2. Do some comparative research if you intend on sending your child to a sports camp. Children with a family history of eating disorders may be better suited at a camp that is focused on recreation and fun, rather than one that is focused on competition and intense fitness.
3. Send your child to camp with positive messages. Emphasize to your child that the goal of summer camp is to have fun and meet new friends. Remind your children that you love them for who they are, not what specific activities they excel at, and that it does not matter if they are the fastest runners or strongest swimmers at camp.
4. Check in with your child while he or she is at camp. Use phone calls, emails and letters as an opportunity to ask open-ended questions about his or her camp experience. Look and listen for any sudden changes in your child’s overall outlook.
5. Keep an eye out for signs of eating disorders when your child returns home from camp. Is your child eating smaller portions or restricting certain foods altogether? Has eating become a power struggle? Has your child’s exercise regimen significantly increased or have you “caught” him or her exercising in secret? Do you suspect purging after meals? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, it may be time to seek help for a potential eating disorder.
“When parents see children after they have been away at a month- or summer-long camp, changes in body weight, overall health, general demeanor and outlook can become that much more noticeable,” explains Dr. Manwaring. “If your child exhibits worrisome behaviors after returning home, do not wait to seek help. With eating disorders, the earlier the intervention, the more successful the treatment will be. Early intervention saves lives.” As scary as it may seem, so many young girls, and boys, can develop an eating disorder and I for one will definitely take these tips into consideration and stay on top of it!
Eating Recovery Center Urges Parents to be Proactive in Planning a Healthy Summer Camp Experience and Vigilant for Signs of Eating Disorders Once Children Return HomeFor more information, please contact us at 877-218-1344 or info@EatingRecoveryCenter.com or confidentially chat live on our website at www.EatingRecoveryCenter.com.

Ford Cars Amazing Innovations

Connect with Your Teens writer Jennifer Wagner went on assignment for Role Mommy at Ford Headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan, where she got the inside scoop on all the amazing innovations headed our way from Ford…
ford 081.JPGRecently, I attended a two-day event, hosted by Ford, in which bloggers, journalists and other trend-spotters were brought together with Ford’s designers, scientists and product specialists to discuss trends and issues facing consumers. It was fascinating and enlightening and I walked away with more knowledge of automobiles than I ever thought I would have.

Forward with Ford 2011 was held in Dearborn, Michigan, the home of Ford’s World Headquarters. We had the chance to actually tour several areas, preview designs in the making and test drive cars. However, as fun as all of that was, the most important parts of the conference were the sessions in which we learned what Ford is doing about issues such as safety, the environment, aging,  and emerging technologies.

Some of the efforts Ford is initiating in the safety area:
ford 074.JPGIndustry first technologies available in the Ford Explorer 2011 (will be added to others soon)
Rear inflatable seat belts (combines seat belt and air bag) – additional protection for rear seat passengers who are often children and older passengers who can be more vulnerable to injury
Curve Control – designed to help drivers maintain control when they take on a curve too quickly
MyKey for Teens – Parents can program the car with top speed and music volume limits. The car can also be programmed not to drive if the seat belts aren’t buckled.
Car Seat Safety – Ford has made major efforts to teach parents to properly install car seats.
Ford has recently introduced a new warning system to help drivers avoid rear-end accidents. The technology uses radar to detect moving vehicles ahead and warns the driver of danger with an alarm and warning light. The system also automatically pre-charges brakes and engages an electronic brake assist system to help drivers stop more quickly.
The Environment
KGT_8500e.jpgEd Begley Jr., actor and green advocate, was brought in to discuss eco-friendly lifestyles. Ford has made great strides is this area. The environmentally friendly Ford Focus Electric is green in ways beyond zero-emissions. All the materials that go into the car are eco-friendly as well.

New Technologies
Americans want access to their smartphones all the time. Ford is constantly working on ways to give provide consumers with access to a wireless world, but in a smarter safer way. With SYNC you can control your music, phone calls, texts, GPS and more through voice commands. You do not have to take your hands off the wheel or your eyes off the road. SYNC AppLink allows you to control your favorite smartphone apps with voice commands. In fact, Pandora, my favorite Internet radio, will work by voice commands through SYNC AppLink, even though it can’t be controlled by voice anywhere else. Tim Westergren, founder of Pandora, and speaker at Forward with Ford 2011, was amazed at this concept.

Aging Population

Ford has been working on many technologies to help seniors and aging baby boomers including multi-contour seats and bolder fonts on the dashboard. A big help to engineers designing improvements is the third-age suit. This suit allows younger engineers wearing it to feel like an elderly person. (There is also an empathy belly for working on designs for pregnant women). Ford is also working on various Health and Wellness apps that can be added to SYNC and remind drivers to take their medicine and more. Some will have medical devices connected via Bluetooth and can actually monitor your health.

I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention the genius of the amazing keynote speaker, Malcolm Gladwell, the great time at the Fillmore Detroit with a concert by a new band from Seattle, The Head and the Heart and the friendliness and generosity from everyone at Ford. Thank you Ford, I was very impressed by what you are doing with safety and technology and with you.
Disclosure: Ford Motor Company covered all travel expenses (airfare and hotel accommodations) in conjunction with the conference.

Fun Games to Keep Your Kids Occupied on Rainy Days

iStock_000016016075XSmall.jpgConnect with Your Teens editor Jennifer Wagner offers some great options for your kids when rainy summer days keep them inside…
Ages 5-7 and up
Zhu Zhu Princess: Carriages and Castles
– A new game in the Zhu Zhu line in which players help Princess Snowcup find Prince Dashington’s castle. All the other hamster friends, such as Patches and NumNums, are along for the ride.
Mario Kart, Wii – Great racing fun for the entire family, up to 12 players can play together online. Now here’s the best part if you haven’t yet invested in a Wii…buy a Wii gaming system for $149 and it comes complete with this game and a Wii steering wheel!
Strange and Wonderful World of Ants, iPad app – Quirky science app with an adjustable reading level making it usable to a wide range of kids. Great illustrations.
Math Bingo, iPhone and iPad app – Ranked as one of the top educational apps for elementary school age kids.
Ages 8 and up
Plants Vs. Zombies
– Windows, Mac, Xbox, PlayStation, DS, iPhone, iPad, Android, Web – Fun comic graphics in which players protect their homes from zombies using various types of plants. Winner of numerous awards. Loved by all ages.
Cut the Rope, iPhone and iPad app – 8 Fun strategy game from the makers of Angry Birds. This game also involves physics.
Pokemon Black Version and Pokemon White Version, DS and DSi – Interesting plot involving animal liberation, fun and easy to play, online component.
Donkey Kong Country Returns
 – Fast paced adventure game with classic Nintendo characters. Two players can enjoy it together in cooperative mode. Great family game.

Related links:
Wii Summer Games Review