In honor of National Coming Out Day (October 11), we celebrate those who bravely choose to live openly as LGBTQ. Coming out is always emotionally charged—not only for the person doing it, but for those they’re telling. For LGBTQ teens, who are often reliant on the adults around them for support and protection, the decision to come out can be extra-emotional and filled with uncertainty. They may be deeply scared of suffering rejection (or worse) at the hands of loved ones.
True confession… I binge-watched the entire Netflix series titled “13 Reasons Why!” My initial reaction was that it was a show that covered truisms that many adolescents face in today’s world (bullying, sexual assault, sexual harassment, isolation, drunk driving, parent-teen communication issues). The characters were well developed and, while often graphic and painful to watch, I thought it did a good job of addressing some pretty dicey subject matter. But after processing the series more with colleagues, I began to have concerns about some of the missed opportunities to more transparently shed light on the theme of mental illness; something that impacts one in five teens in our society today. While we occasionally see Hannah and Clay (two of the main characters), sitting alone in the lunchroom or apparently feeling invisible in classroom scenes, the only references to mental illness are within Clay’s family scenes, when mom identifies that perhaps he might want to return to therapy or re-start some medication; she’s concerned about him.
by Amy Rubin, Senior Director of Community Services
Shorter days, cooler temperatures, football and and the sweetness of apples dipped in honey. All signs that we are in the midst of transitioning to a new season and a New Year.
Several of our programs at JCFS Chicago are also transitioning to better serve the community. It's clear that the months ahead will be filled with energy! Shanah Tovah - may this New Year be filled with health, happiness and peace.
by Alexander Friedman, M. A., Psychological Services Therapy Extern
The Social Networking Parent
Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Tumblr…. These are just a few of the many social media platforms that children and teens use to communicate today. While there are many benefits to being digitally interconnected, there are also many dangers. No parent can possibly keep tabs on everything their children do on social media. However, there are certain measures you can take to help your children use social media more responsibly. But before diving into this subject, let us first briefly review the pros and cons of online social networks.
Do you ever have those days when life is just overwhelming? When the meal preparation and clean-up, and the laundry, and the homework all need to get done, and your boss, and your kids, and your sister all need your time and attention? When you are sure there will never be enough of you to go around?
When I have those days, I used to say to myself “I hate my life.” And when I thought “I hate my life,” everything would feel dark and heavy and endless. That heavy dark feeling led to my yelling at my kids, eating food that isn’t good for me and putting off doing the basic things that are needed to keep our lives going.
When I speak to parents and members of our community about bullying, I most often am asked the following question: “What’s the big deal? Bullying happened when we were kids and we all survived!”
Flashback some 35-40 years ago and yes, bullying happened – on the playground, walking home, on the school bus, in the locker room. Some of us were teased (“four-eyes,” “uni-brow,” “brown-nose”). And yes, teasing is quite different from bullying. How so, you may ask?
The good news is, we can do most anything more efficiently and connect with friends and family members 24/7 with the wonders of technology! On the other hand, technology follows us everywhere; from brushing our teeth in the morning to turning in for the night. There is, literally, no escape! For tweens and teens, this sense of being attached to an “electronic leash” can have negative consequences, including bullying behavior, sexting, online dating, etc. Know how to set reasonable boundaries around the use of technology in your family and you’ll be way ahead of the curve.
By Ann Luban, Community Services Program Specialist
Body image isn’t the shape of our bodies; it’s how we view our bodies. And negative body image can affect kids as young as four or five years old. Parents and other adults play a central role in how kids of all ages view their bodies and view themselves overall. It is critical that we act intentionally to support them in their development.
Everyone knows about the “sex talk” – also known as the conversation with your children about sexual health. Some parents and guardians dive right into the talk, while others avoid it at all costs. If you’ve been practicing avoidance, which response below best describes your philosophy?
Parents of 9 to 12 year-old girls know “Tween Girl Drama” even if they cannot define it. They see it in the struggles their daughters have negotiating friendships, their changing bodies, and their growing desire for independence. They experience it in the moodiness and seeming over-reactions to the littlest of things. Here are 7 tips for supporting your daughter (or even your son) as she navigates these challenging years: