Phyllis Law - February 2020

Talking to Your Adolescent About Relationships Valentine’s Lessons

With Valentine’s Day approaching, stores are filled with chocolates, stuffed animals, and cards for significant others. Love is in the air! Even though you may not realize it, your kids may also be feeling the pressure. Crushes, dates, and broken hearts are part of their lives, too, but they may struggle to talk with you about it. Thankfully, developmental experts have weighed in on how to approach these important and delicate conversations. NO LAUGHINGMATTER Judith Myers-Walls, professor emeritus of child development at Purdue, urges parents not to treat their kids’ crushes as silly. We may know these early expressions of love aren’t that serious in the long run, but to an adolescent, the emotions are very powerful. "They are very easily embarrassed about those feelings,” Myers-Walls observes, “so parents and other adults should be respectful and not

tease about those issues.” Rather than make kids feel ashamed of these early romantic feelings, let them knowyou’re there to talk to them about it. RESPECTINGOTHERS Dr. David Anderson, a clinical psychologist at the Child Mind Institute, believes it’s especially important to talk to adolescents about respecting boundaries. “One of the big lessons we want to be sending to kids at any age is that there are two people to consider,” he writes, explaining that adolescents tend to only focus on their own feelings and need to learn to consider how their crush may feel about them. This awareness might prevent them from overstepping someone else’s comfort zone. RESPECTINGTHEMSELVES At the same time, kids and teens should know the importance of respecting their own feelings. Setting boundaries can be especially important when your child is

confronted with an unwanted Valentine’s Day card or request for a date and feels pressured to reciprocate. “Boundary setting is imperative to learn during adolescence because it is a time of identity formation,” writes Dr. Marilyn Price-Mitchell in Psychology Today. “Healthy boundaries allow teens to feel respected, valued, and empowered to build positive relationships in their lives.” It also helps them handle uncomfortable social situations with grace and maturity. Crushes and first dates are a part of growing up, as is learning how to contribute to healthy relationships. Much like a first step or learning to drive, patient, loving parental support makes all the difference.

Students Need to Know Their Rights

t Phyllis Law, we represent middle school, high school, and college

investigation, that sacrifice may be worth it to avoid major problems if they talk. We frequently see students willingly give up their cellphones to school investigators as well. It is important for students to know that while a school can confiscate cellphones as contraband, staff cannot compel a student to give up their password to unlock the phone. The school would have to get police involved, and police would need to get a warrant from a judge for the password. And, usually, schools don’t go to that much effort. Please talk to your kids about their rights at school. Many times, schools’ disciplinary actions can lead to criminal charges. Therefore, it is important that kids exercise the rights afforded to them under the law.

students in school disciplinary hearings. A common problem we encounter is that students don’t know their rights at school. Students, just like any other person in America, have the right to remain silent. Students who are “called into the office” at school have the right to say nothing. However, because schools’ codes of conduct often require them to cooperate in investigations, the students comply with requests from administrators to “talk.”

While students may face a couple of days in suspension for failure to cooperate in an

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