How Do I Know If My Teen Is Rebelling?

Teenage rebellion is not just about skipping class, staying out past curfew, or smoking anymore, now the rebellion has taken on new forms and looks considerable different from the past.  Understanding the early warning signs of teenage rebellion as opposed to normal development can make the different not only in your relationship with the teen but in their lives as well.  As a mother, former teacher and counselor of teens, I have observed three main areas of rebellion in teens.  Each of these areas is as important as the next and should be addressed.

Authority.  As part of the normal developmental process of a teenager growing into adulthood, teens become increasing aware of the numerous authority figures in their lives.  For a teen, the number of authority figures seems to multiply from parents to coaches to teachers to police officers to store managers to even older teens.  While during childhood the authority figures were for the most part respected, for some teens they all of a sudden seem to become disrespected as the child ages.

Rebelling against authority is open defiance of the rules established whether it is at home, school, athletic field or work.  This rebellion maybe obvious or it maybe secretive, either way it is rebellion against an authority figure.  The teen maybe staying out all night, not going to school, drag racing, sneaking out of the house, running away, drinking and driving, stealing from an employer, school or home, or destruction of property to name a few of the big ones.  Also look for the not so obvious rebellion symptoms such as rolling of the eyes, not making eye contact, intentionally dragging out an instruction, sleeping instead of working, and name calling.

Peers.  It may seem strange that this category would be included as a type of rebellion; however some teens do not have issues with the authority figures in their lives but rather with their peers.  It is normal for teens to experiment becoming friends with different peer groups especially as their interests and activities change.  Some teens do well with multiple peer groups while other teens struggle to fit into one peer group.

The rebellion begins at teens struggle to fit into a peer group that is not accepting of them so they act out against that group.  This can look like bullying on the surface and can resulting in fighting, backstabbing, and name calling.  Some teens switch peer groups repeatedly as a way to prevent anyone from coming too close to them.  In the end, they may experience isolation and lose of friends.  Other teens identify so strongly with one group, a gang, to the point that they are antagonistic to others who are not a part of their group.  All of this is rebellion towards their peers.

Self.  As teens struggle with forming their identity separate and apart from their parents, often times they do not like what they see.  Instead they began a self-loathing process that can rapidly become harmful behavior.  Their rebellion against themselves displays as hatred for how they appear, how they think, how they act and what they have become.  In order to feel better about themselves, they often engage in dangerous behavior to bring relief to the pain they feel.  This self-harming behavior can be cutting, excessive piercings, bingeing/purging, drugs (illegal and prescription abuse), gambling, alcohol use, and excessive risk taking.

If any of these areas sounds familiar, don’t lose hope.  The good news is that when rebellion is handled correctly, the impact on the teen’s life can be long-lasting.  Look for the article titled, “What to Do If Your Teen Rebels” for ideas on how to properly handle the rebellion.

For more information, watch this YouTube video:

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at


How to Explain Death to a Child

One of the hardest realities to explain to a child is death. Especially when it is the death of a parent, sibling, beloved grandparent, close friend or even a favorite pet.  As a parent, you try to protect your child from things that might harm them or from things that are too difficult to understand for their age but unfortunately sometimes this is not possible.  When you are faced with the reality that you need to have a conversation with your child about death, keep the following ideas in mind.

Don’t lie.  Whatever you do say, make sure that you are completely honest with your child.  Telling them that a person went to sleep for a long time does not help them and can confuse them later when they do find out the truth.  Don’t say anything that would cause your relationship with your child to be in jeopardy later because of a lie, even if it is just a little white lie.

Keep it simple.  Long winded explanations may make you feel better but a child will only hear the first couple of sentences.  Remember the teacher on Charlie Brown and how the kids just tuned her out?  You don’t want your child to turn you out during a difficult conversation so be clear and simple when you start.

Answer only the question they ask.  As a parent, you may be tempted to reinterpret your child’s question or answer more than they ask.  Resist the urge and instead repeat the question they ask for clarity by saying, “You want to know…” followed by their question.  If they say yes, then answer it simply; if they say no than ask them to ask a different question.

Don’t expect an emotional response.  Children need more time than adults to process what has happened because this is a new experience for them.  So if your child seems unemotional at first, don’t worry, just give them time to process what has happened.  Your child may also have inappropriate emotional responses such as laughing instead of crying; allow them the freedom to respond as they know how.  They may be laughing because that is the only way they know of releasing the stress and tension they feel.

Explain as often as requested.  You may find that your child comes back to you several hours or days later with the exact same set of questions they asked at first.  They are doing this to process what has happened and refusing to answer a question because you have already answered it is not helpful.  Rather, be consistent with your responses and answer the same question in the same manner.  Again resist the temptation to over explain, they are not asking the same question because they need more clarity, they are just trying to understand.

Invite them to ask more questions in the future.  As your child ages and has more experience to draw from, they may have additional harder questions later.  While they may have seemed like they are processing the grief well shortly after the death, problems may surface several years later as they learn more about life.  Look out for disruptive behavior at school, defiant behavior at home, or destructive behavior with friends as warning signs that your child may have more grief to process.

Get help not only for your child but for you as well.  Grief of close family members can take well over a year to process for adults.  For children, they seem to postpone aspects of their grief for later and sometimes it is not fully processed until they are adults.  As a parent, you need to get help so that you can better help your child first by example and next by experience.  Your child will be far more likely to ask for help in a productive rather than destructive manner if they have witnessed you asking for help.  The idea of being strong for your child and not getting help may be counterproductive for your child who may feel weak compared to you.

It is a tough to have a conversation with your child about death.  Before you begin, think about the right words to say then review the above suggestions rehearsing answers to some of the anticipated questions.  But if your child is resistant to the conversation, don’t force it on your time-table but rather be patient and sensitive to their time-table.  This will go a long way in strengthening your relationship with your child.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at

How to Grieve Well

Not everyone grieves in the same way.  After all, there are different people with different physical appearances, perspectives, experiences, thoughts, emotions, backgrounds, and attitudes.  So why when it comes to grief do some believe that there is one correct way to handle the loss of a loved one?

There are in fact a number of constructive ways to manage the feelings of grief and some destructive ways.  Learning the difference between the two is far more important.

Denial.  It is not uncommon for someone to struggle with believing that a loved one has passed away or to pretend that the person has not really passed.  For a time being, the person may even imagine conversations with their loved one, knowing how they would most likely respond in a given situation.  This usually does not last too long after passing and is more of the emotions catching up to reality.  The seeds of dysfunction can begin however when the emotions fail to accept the reality and the person relies solely on how they feel instead of what they know.

 Anger.  This is a hard emotional reaction for some.  Some people become angry with the person who passed away blaming them for not taking care of themselves, not paying attention, abandoning their family or not caring for those left behind.  Others become angry with themselves for not saying good-bye, not being there, having a fight or argument just before or not meeting their needs.  Oftentimes, the anger does not come out at themselves or the person who passed, rather the anger shows itself at the others who are left behind.  Being aware of this strong emotion and not allowing it to overtake current relationships keeps the destructive far away.

Bargaining.  “If only”, “I should have”, or “I wish” are all bargaining methods of trying to regain control of life after someone had passed.  When a person engages in this type of thinking, they are really saying that they had control over the timing or the situation of the person passing away.  This is a normal response and while it sounds a little bit dysfunctional, this thinking can actually be helpful.  The feelings of denial and anger seem to consume our thoughts and life seems to be out of control.  In contrast bargaining is a way to return life back to some level of control.  The dysfunctional side of bargaining is a continual behavior of negotiating life in attempts to keep others alive.

Depression.  It is perfectly normal to feel depressed after losing a loved one, to not feel this way at some point is to engage in dysfunctional behavior.  Depression is a valley in life, a period of time when things seem to slow down, a time for being introspective, a time for self-evaluation, and a time to reflect on what is already gone.  These moments can bring greater clarity and meaning to our lives which can later enhance the quality of life.  Depending on how close the person was that passed, this period can last for months or years without becoming destructive.

Acceptance.  Not that we don’t miss the person who is gone or that we don’t still wish the person was alive, but at some point there is a realization that life goes on and we can be happy again.  While happiness seemed elusive before, it now becomes more frequent and the simple things seem to bring us joy again.  It is almost as if we return to a better form of ourselves as a result of the experience from having lost a loved one.  Better in that we appreciated life more, appreciate our loved ones more, appreciate the time we have with others more and appreciate the person who passed more.  The only dysfunction is never feeling these feelings again, in getting stuck in one of the other emotions.

Grief is normal and healthy.  It can take on many different forms depending on the person experiencing the grief and the person having passed.  The entire process can last a few weeks, months, or years and should not be rushed as if another task to finish.  This is a valuable time of insight, reflection and understanding that can improve the quality of your life going forward.

For more information, watch this video. 

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at

The Value of a Working Mom

Sometimes meaningful parental moments come in the middle of another conversation. It usually has nothing to do with the topic at hand and is uncharacteristically transparent.  Looking back, you wish there was a bright shining light demanding your attention so you could savor every second.

I had such a moment with my fourteen year old son just this past week.  The filter in his ADHD brain telling him not to comment on certain things is underdeveloped even for his age while his critical thinking skills far exceed.  This combination makes for very interesting and frequently frustrating conversations. Since he loves to talk, there is no shortage of either.  This week he shocked me with, “I’m glad that you are a working mom.” Suprised, I asked for further clarification because he often complains how difficult his life is. Here are his responses.

“You don’t schedule your life around me.”  Talk about a shocking statement coming from a boy who frequently complains of having no ride to the activity of the week!  He explained that his friend’s mom chooses to rearrange her schedule to meet her son’s wants and desires. As a result, his friend has a skewed view that life is all about him. My son was astonished that his friends got whatever they wanted with no regard for how it impacted the rest of the family.  By setting the standard that life is not about my son, he has learned to be less selfish.

“You work hard.”  It is both frightening and encouraging to understand that children learn more from what is done rather than what is said.  My son recounted a conversation he overheard from two mothers who were commenting on how difficult it must be to work and go to school at the same time.  Having experienced this first hand with his mother, he was shocked to discover that not every mother did this.  He then explained that by demonstrating what can be accomplished he had the motivation to work hard as well.  By setting an example of hard work (it is important to note it is the example that is significant, not the words), he has learned self motivation.

“You and Dad don’t waste time.”  By far this was the most confusing statement from my son especially since he seems to have little regard for his own time management.  He then admitted to spending quite a bit of time listening in on adult conversations and made this observation.  When time is a rare commodity, there is less gossip (his words) and more engaging discussions.  Apparently, the conversations he overhears between his parents are deeper and more meaningful because there is less time to talk.  By placing value on quality time and conversation, he has learned not to gossip.

Probably the hardest part of knowing that my son has learned these valuable lessons is understanding that he will frequently forget these lessons and become selfish, unmotivated and a gossip.  However by continuing to set standards, living by example and placing value on the important things of life, the lessons can be continually reinforced making a positive difference in his life.  As an added bonus, these lessons in turn encouraged me to keep going and greatly reduced the guilt often felt as a working mom.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at

Depression, ADHD, Bi-Polar, Autism and Schizophrenia Have Similiar Genes

It is wonderful to see the research coming out for disorders such as depression, ADHD, bi-polar, autism, and schizophrenia.  But when the same genetic code can be traced for each of these disorders, it is even better.

Such a discovery can lead to a more accurate diagnosis between the disorders, better  understanding of how the disorders affect the brain, more creditability issuing a diagnosis in the first place, and clearer definition of each disorder.

If you or someone you love has one of these disorders, please read this important article. 


Parents Beware: 10 Stupid Things Your Kid Might Try Over Summer Break

surfingx-largeJust compiling this list of stupid things your kid might do over summer break was enough to drive me, as a parent, into a massive anxiety attack.  After all, summer break should be about camps, swimming, going to the beach, parks, and hanging out with friends.  Unfortunately the combination of unsupervised kids, the internet and time to burn can be a deadly combination.

After the shock of my anxiety attack died down, this list is meant to frighten you as a parent and perhaps to wake you up to the possibilities of immature behavior that goes way beyond the fears of social media, bullying, internet pornography, and gambling.  Unfortunately each of these items is very easy to research on the internet and some even have YouTube videos explaining how it works.

  1. Choking Game, Pass-Out Game, Fainting Game, Space Monkey.  This is self-administered or friend-administered choking to the point of losing consciousness in order to achieving a high.  Every time your kid does this, they lose brain cells that can never be regenerated and some have even died from it.
  2. Huffing, Sniffing, Dusting, Bagging.  This is sniffing inhalants found in common household products such as bug spray, room deodorizers, and glue.  The poisonous chemicals are sprayed into a rag, inhaled directly from the container or sprayed into a bag placed over your kid’s head creating a high when inhaled.  Numerous cases of permanent brain damage have been reported.
  3. Drinking bleach.  There are many false rumors on the internet that drinking bleach will help your child to pass a drug test or that it is an effective way to commit suicide.   Rather, your kid is likely to end up in the emergency room with severe intestinal, stomach, and esophagus damage.
  4. Sexting, Rounds, Nude Pictures.  The idea of rounds is that you start small such as sending a picture of bare skin to another kid and they in return send another one back with each one escalating the previous picture.  Sexting and nude pictures are commonly done with iPods, iPads or cell phones.
  5. Boozy Bears, Drunken Gummies, Rummy Bears.  Gummy bears are soaked in rum or vodka and then eaten in order to get drunk.  The worst part is that the gummy bears look normal after they have absorbed the alcohol so it is difficult to detect.
  6. Eyeball Shots, Eyeballing.  Kids put vodka directly into their eyes in order to get drunk and avoid the alcohol smell on their breath.  Many kids have found that this leads to blindness instead.
  7. Butt Chugging, Vodka Tampons.  Frightening but true, another way kids get drunk is by soaking tampons in vodka and then inserting them into the rectum.
  8. Skittle Parties, Pill Parties.  Kids raid parents, grandparents, and friend’s parent’s medicine cabinets looking for prescription drugs.  Typically they only take a couple of pills as not to be noticed and then place all of the pills gathered into a bowl.  Then the kids roll some dice and take the number of pills which match the number on the dice.  The pills are taken randomly so no one knows what effect it will have after being ingested.
  9. Purple Drink, Purple Jelly, Texas Tea.  Made popular by several RAP songs, this is a drink combination of Jolly Ranchers, Sprite, and liquid codeine cough medicine.  The concoction produces hallucinations, unresponsiveness and lethargy.
  10. Car Surfing, Ghost Riding, Urban Surfing.  Kids stand in a surfing position on the top of a car, hood or trunk while the car is in motion with speeds as high as 55m.p.h.  The driver is usually a teenager who is inexperienced in handling vehicles.  Teens are two to three times more likely to be involved in a fatal car accident compared to experienced drivers.

It is truly shocking to learn the stupid things kids will do because someone told them it would be a good idea.  Lest you believe that these are just the older high school kids doing such acts, several articles indicate that kids as young as 10 are engaging in these behaviors.

Now that you are warned about the latest in stupid things kids do, it is your job to educate your child and remove dangerous items from your house.  Prescription medication, alcohol, and dangerous household chemicals should all be locked up not just for your kid’s safety but the safety of their friends who come over.  Talk to your kids about choking, car surfing, sexting and bagging; more than likely they already know of someone who has tried at least one of these items.

This is not the time to bury your head in the sand, naively believe that your child would never do one of these things, or minimize the risks by justifying your own poor choices as a kid.  Instead, be aware, communicate, and educate so your kid won’t become a negative statistic.


There is hope for your exhaustion.  Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at

New Divorce Laws Coming To Florida

Official photo of Florida Governor Rick Scott

Official photo of Florida Governor Rick Scott (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


In a very interesting turn of events, Florida Governor Rick Scott vetoed a bill which easily passed both the House and Senate changing the way divorce is handled in Florida.  If the bill became law, permanent alimony would have been abolished and custody arrangements would begin with a 50/50 split.  Many states have already abolished permanent alimony and the latest trend seems to be moving in that direction.  While judges in Florida were already prejudice towards a 50/50 split of custody, this bill would have forced them to work begin from there and change only if there were extenuating circumstances.


The hiccup in the bill however was that it had a retroactive clause which could have potentially changed every divorce already agreed upon in the courts.  According to the news report below, this is precisely the reason why Governor Scott vetoed the bill.


If the bill became law, nearly every divorce already finalized with alimony and custody arrangements could have gone back to the courts.  Such a move would have made many attorneys wealthy.


Since this bill easily passed both the House and Senate, it is likely to be reintroduced in the next session without the retroactive clause.  The bottom line is that if you are in the middle of a divorce right now and don’t want your custody split to be 50/50, than finalize the divorce now.  Don’t wait because you might not get a better deal later.




Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at