How to Better Understand Your Teen

Reality to Teen?  Do you ever feel that your teen is from another planet? They speak a language you don’t know. They have interests that you’ve never heard of and just don’t understand. It’s a common phenomenon. Teenagers are weird.

That being said, they’re your teenagers and there are steps you can take to get closer to them, to better understand them.

#1 Ask Questions and Listen

The first step to understanding your teen is to ask questions. Now there’s a strategy here. Many teens give yes/no answers when you ask them a question. The trick is to do it when they’re more likely to open up. Driving in the car seems to be a good time, assuming they don’t have their iPod blasting music in their little ears.

When you ask questions, make sure to listen to the answers – even if you don’t understand half of the words they’re using. It’s okay to ask for clarification. As you’re listening, take mental notes. They’ll come in handy in the next step.

#2 Google It!

If you have no idea what your child is talking about, Google it. Google the things they express interest in, the people, and even the language they use. The Urban Dictionary can be incredibly useful. For example, “Feels” – A wave of emotions that sometimes cannot be adequately explained. “Watching Back to the Future gives me all sorts of nostalgic feels.”

#3 Eavesdrop

Seriously, one of the best ways to better understand your teen is to listen in on their conversations. True, most of their conversations are via text message so listening in on those conversations is impossible. However, you can snag their cell phone from time to time and scan through the text messages.

If that feels too invasive, try to be around them when they’re with their friends. Attend events with them. Volunteer to drive them and their friends to events. And encourage them to invite their friends over.

#4 Get Involved

Start taking an active interest in your teen’s interests. For example, if they’re involved in the local drama club then volunteer to help out with the club. If they are active online and have their own YouTube channel, then by all means watch that channel but also watch the other YouTubers that your child follows.

#5 Relax

Each generation has their own trends, language, and interests. Guaranteed, when you were a teenager your parents thought you were from another planet as well. It’s the way of the world. It’s okay to not be able to completely relate with your teenager. In fact, it’s normal.

Do what you can to connect with them. Let them know that you’re interested in their lives and then relax. You don’t need to be a friend with your teenager, nor do you need to share the same interests. It’s enough to let them know that you care.


Money-Saving Ideas for School Supply Shopping

A lot of time we talk about back to school shopping in the context of clothes, but haven’t you walked into the office supply store with that list of supplies from the teacher and walked out feeling a whole lot poorer?  Whether we like it or not, school supplies can get expensive. From clothes to pencils, it can cost a bundle to send your kids back to school. There are some things you can do, though, to make it less financially painful. Here are some money-saving ideas for school supply shopping.

What’s Shared and What’s Not

Back when you were in school, your school supplies were yours, and usually consisted of pencils, pens, notebooks and binders, and paper. The school provided things like dry erase markers, paper towels, and chalk. Schools are cutting their budgets these days, though, so you may find yourself buying supplies that will be shared. Check your local school system’s website or give them a call and find out what supplies will be pooled and which ones will belong to your student.

Save on the Shared Items

If you know an item is going to be shared with the whole class, such as binders or dry erase markers, skip the fancy ones. Go with the more generic, cheap types.

Speaking of Sharing…

Consider buying items in bulk with a group. Find other parents and families who can go in with you to purchase supplies. They tend to be much cheaper in bulk, and buying large amounts and dividing them up can help save some money.


Look for coupons on manufacturer’s and retailer’s websites, and check your local newspaper. Combine the coupons with existing sales, and be willing to move on to the next retailer for the next sale rather than buying all your items at one place.

No Sales Tax

Many areas have a “no sales tax” day when you can buy items without this added tax. This is a good time to buy anything big, such as a small fridge for your college student, or electronics. The bigger the item, the more you save on sales tax. (This is another good time to buy in bulk with friends and family.)

Don’t Forget the Dollar Store

Do you have a store where “everything’s a dollar”? If so, go there! You might be able to find a lot of school supplies for a fraction of what you’d pay at a major retailer.

Start Early

There are a couple of advantages to starting your back-to-school shopping early. For one thing, you are more likely to get the supplies you want and need while stock is still plentiful. Another advantage to starting early is the sale prices. May stores have school supplies discounted early, while it’s still in the middle of summer.

Tweet: Need to save money shopping for back-to-school items? Find some great tips to help you save! LINK

Your Questions About Tween Girl Birthday Party Ideas

Joseph asks…

Birthday party ideas for a tween girl?

Birthday party ideas for a tween girl?
Hello!I am the mother of a soon-to-be 12 years old daughter and I need some idea of themes,party games and Party songs.Thanks!

richmama answers:

My son was invited to many girl’s birthday parties in sixth, seventh and eighth grade. There was dancing and board game playing such as guesstures, pictionary, etc. He had a good time and the party always ended around ten.

Sharon asks…

Tween Birthday party: Best fun and n’joyment ideas for 10 yrs girl B’day party in SugarLand , TX?

I like to know ideas for Best fun and n’joyment ideas for 10 yrs girl B’day party in Sugar land , Houston , TX

richmama answers:

Eat some sugar. Get some cavities. Make your parents pay through the nose with more health care shitt.

John asks…

Tween Birthday Party Ideas?

what is a good idea for a birthday party for a girl around 6th grade not too expensive ( i had a big birthday last year)
what about a mall scavenger hunt???

richmama answers:

Hawaiin pool party.
If you have a pool than do that, when i had my 12th b-day party thats what i had and it was so much fun.

Do tiki torches (cheap) and have like hawaiin flowers and stuff like that.

Thomas asks…

What are some good ideas for a tween/teen girl’s birthday party?

I have a birthday party coming up in a few months, but I have nothing to do! I have no price range, so just give me all of your ideas!

richmama answers:

When I was helping to plan my sisters party I came across the website

They sell personalized candy bar wrappers at a reasonable price. I thought it was a really great unique idea.
I bought some for her party, they came really quickly and turned out great!!! Everyone loved them and I plan on going back to this website for any other favors I need…I keep telling everyone about it!! In fact I just posted this on another question because I just think it is such a cool idea.

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Things Not to Say to Your Kids


Things Not to Say to Your Kids

If you’re like me, you probably have a list of all the things you swore you would never do as mom – like wear mom jeans, use slang or cook meatloaf.  Well to help you keep that promised here’s a list of things you should never, ever say to your children – now that you know what they are, you can work on figuring out just what you can say.  So if you want to be a HotMama,here’s your list of no-nos:

– “I wish you’d never been born” – No child should ever have to hear their parent make this comment.  Even if you’re the maddest you’ve even been, bite your tongue before you say this.  This will hurt your kids feelings, damage their self esteem and make them feel unwanted – not to mention that they won’t ever forget it.

– “Hurry up or I’ll leave you here.” Little kids don’t have a the same understanding of time that we do.  If you say this to little kids, you can play into their natural fear of getting lost and or abandoned.  Find out why they’re dilly-dallying and find some other way to encourage them.

–  “You never do what I ask you to do.” When you say this over and over, kids get the feeling they can’t do anything right and stop trying.  Instead use this phrase, “I would like you to do this in this way.” Be specific in what you want so they’ll understand and be able to accomplish what you asked.

–  “I wish you were more like your brother/sister.” Kids like to be appreciated for who they are and saying this only makes then feel inadequate and can lead to sibling rivalry. Each of your children needs to be feel loved and recognized for who they are, not how they measure up to their brothers or sisters.  Celebrate their differences and love them for who they are.

– “We can’t afford that.”  Many times, parents say this instead of what they really mean, which is, we can afford it but we don’t need it.  If you make all purchasing decisions strictly about money, kids may begin to think that money can buy happiness.  Or they may become worried that your family is in true financial difficulty even if you’re not. Instead, talking about whether or not to buy something is a good time to reinforce the concept of needs versus wants and family budgeting – how by saying now to something now may allow for the family to enjoy something else more.

All of us say something we don’t mean from time to time.  Si if you do say something you regret, apologize.. Explain that you were wrong, you didn’t mean what you said, you love them and you’ll try not to say it again. Children need to have parents who encourage and build them up, not breakdown down their self-esteem with careless words they don’t mean.

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