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Double Take columnist to chat about teen issues

October 22, 2008

This chat has already taken place. Read the transcript below.

Wes Crenshaw, Double Take columnist for the Journal-World and a board-certified family psychologist who is director of Family Therapy Institute Midwest, will answer your questions about teen issues. Submit your questions about teen trends, your own family situation or anything else that Crenshaw can help with.

Moderator:

Hi, everyone. I'm Terry Rombeck, features/special sections editor at the Journal-World, and Wes Crenshaw, Double Take columnist, is available today to answer your parenting/family/teen issues. Feel free to post questions any time. Welcome, Wes.

Wes Crenshaw:

Hello from Wes

Moderator:

While we're waiting for questions, I'll ask a few. First off, the holidays are coming up. As adults, we all know this can be a stressful time. Do you have suggestions for children and teens? What sorts of stresses do you see on them during the holidays?

Wes Crenshaw:

I think its worse this year b/c of the economy. I'd start now and really explain to family members what the budget is for gifts, travel, etc. and then stick to it. This is going to be a bummer, and we'll be writing about this in coming columns, but folks are going to have to avoid credit, and be conscious of costs.

Wes Crenshaw:

Beyond that the big holiday error is to plan to do way too much. Too much travel, too much visiting of family and this tends to be more stressful. Of course we want to be able to commune with those we love over the season but it can create as many problems as it resolves. Better to spend time at home and then spread the visits out over the rest of the year than to get back to school on Jan 3 or 4 and feel drained from the experience.

Moderator:

Do you have suggestions for explaining the economic situation with kids? Do you have do balance reality with not wanting to cause anxiety?

Wes Crenshaw:

Yes. That's exactly the balance that has to be struck. We need to look at each child in the family, determine what is age appropriate, and help them understand what they need to know to function in a very new situation. As we discussed several weeks ago most teens today have grown up in a very strong economy. Even those in lower income brackets have had opportunities to participate in the economy in a way that their peers didn't before....

Wes Crenshaw:

....however we have to help kids realize that having some limits on our spending isn't the end of the world. It's just inconvenient. That may be hard, especially for younger parents who don't have as clear a memory of the difficult 70s economy. We all got through on less and we may need to again. I think one also has to deal with crises effectively and without undue torment....

Wes Crenshaw:

....for example, if someone loses their job in the family, the parent can't simply fail to tell the kids that things are going to be rough. Instead, one has to explain in a calm manner that things will be tight and emotions may be a bit strained during the period of unemployment. The parent can explain unemployment benefits, COBRA, severance packages and other supports that will help get by, but in the end each family member is a partner in the process and need to be supportive. We'll all get through this...etc. We may all have to go back and watch reruns of the Waltons from the 70s. In that show, the family was in the great depression and every day of their lives was spent figuring out how to work together to get on to the next. It may never be THAT bad, but the idea is a good one. Families aren't just for the benefit of the teenager -- they are a working organism that has to pull together to make things work.

Moderator:

The other big story lately, obviously, is the election. Do you see any life lessons for kids that come out of the campaign?

Wes Crenshaw:

As I said a few weeks ago I am SO excited to see young people getting involved. My little boy and I voted last week at the courthouse and just in the 10 minutes we were there I saw about 14 to 16 people registering or voting. Many of them were college-age. I am hearing from every client (or almost every one) that they interested and tuned in, so the life lesson for US as adults is that kids can get interested in the greater world if we give them something to inspire them.....

Wes Crenshaw:

....and before one assumes that I mean one or the other candidates, I think that there is something inspiring in each and that kids are picking up on that. What isn't too great AT ALL is the negative tone that has been coming down lately. I don't think kids are being inspired in a good way by that at all. And it seems to be across the political spectrum...

Wes Crenshaw:

...What I am HOPING will be the big lesson over the next few years is that the young people really see democracy in action -- that they will feel like their participation mattered in some way. Whether that happens or not will depend upon history and it's strange twists and turns. But that would be a good one.

Moderator:

That'll do it for today's chat. Thanks, Wes, for participating, and please remind folks where they can send questions for the Double Take column, which appears Tuesdays in the Journal-World's Pulse section.

Wes Crenshaw:

We'll be looking forward to some good questions this year as the world continues to present us with interesting issues.

Wes Crenshaw:

You can send them to doubletake@ljworld.com

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