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Teen Volunteering
Category: Misc.
Tags: youth volunteer community service ideas volunteer programs volunteer ideas volunteer teenagers

Serving Others

The youth choir my two teenage daughters participate in take "tours" around the country, where they†sing†at various churches, and do†volunteer work and community service projects. This year, the group of about 70 kids are in the NJ/NYC area. Through the†Elijah's Promiseorganization, they helped do some clean-out and painting in a building damaged during Hurricane Sandy. They will also be working with the Salvation Army, and will visit a children's home. The youth choir also serves locally, doing things like†serving meals†at soup kitchens, collecting and delivering donations to†children's and women's shelters, and visiting†the elderly at nursing homes. These types of experiences not only give teens an opportunity to serve in their communities, but can help them lose the "I - Me - Mine" mentality they so often exhibit (at least for a time), and get them†thinking†about others.

Developing Interests

Other volunteer opportunities give teens a taste of what a particular job or field of interest is like. Some places†my girls have volunteered include:†

  • the local library
  • the Humane Society (cat cuddling)
  • VBS (oh, the drama!)
  • our homeschool co-op (teachers or assistants)
  • local public access station (where my daughter learned video production)

Other opportunities include: local science centers and museums, parks and recreation organizations, genealogical†societies, gardening groups -- you can likely find a place to volunteer for any interest your child may have.

New York in June

Of course, there always has to be time made for fun. The kids are also enjoying the sights and sounds of NYC.

Texting and Teens Tags: teenagers and texting teenagers texting

My daughter (10th grade) has been working on essay writing, and I came across a writing prompt I knew she'd have strong feelings about: teens and texting -- how much is too much?†

I sent her the link to this†self-paced lesson,†a slideshow that provides information and statistics on teens and texting, and some short video clips of teens expressing their opinions on the subject. At the end of the slideshow, there are suggested essay topics,†but I suppose you can use the resource for whatever type of project you come up with. (Could make a good speech or debate topic for a homeschool co-op).†

My daughter chose to write a brief essay response, in which she takes a "positive" position to texting. I publish it here with her permission:†

Texting And Teens

† † † Parents always seem to think that texting is a bad thing for teenagers. They have this idea that texting effects teensí ability to talk face-to-face. What they donít realize is that it can actually strengthen friendships and even help teens to talk to more people than they would if they didnít text. Texting doesnít minimize the amount of face-to-face time. It just bridges the gap between the time you part and the time that you see each other again. Although texting is, most of the time, a daily part of a teenís life, it is not an unhealthy obsession that leads to no human contact or socialization.
††††††Texting is a great way to get to know someone who you have just become friends with. Since it is not that difficult to take a cellphone around with you wherever you go throughout the day, you can be in constant communication with someone. That way, day after day, you will have more conversations with someone and consequently know more about this person than you would over the phone, or the limited face-to-face time most teens have with each other. The way that someone texts and even how many or what types of emoticons that person uses can even tell you a little bit about the personality of the person you are texting. As you text someone more and more, you begin to recognize the personís own signature texting style.
††††††Texting is also a great means of communication for people who are more shy or introverted. When someone is texting, they are more likely to say something that they wouldnít say in person. Therefore, they are speaking and getting to know someone a lot more than they would if they didnít text, because someone who is shy does not talk to other people as much in person. It is also not as demanding as face-to-face communication because it gives you time to think about what you want to say, and exactly how you want to say it. This can help you get to know someone and then start talking to that person more face-to-face.
††††††Not only does communicating through texting help you to talk to someone who you see often, you can also end up texting with someone who you wouldnít normally have contact with. This allows you to go beyond your narrow group of friends and to experience a variety of different types of people. Once you are better acquainted with the other people, you can move upward and have phone conversations, get together more often, and make friends with them and their friends. It can actually result in the expansion of your social circle.
††††† Although it can be frustrating to parents that a teen is constantly carrying around their cell phone and texting, they have to consider that they are talking to a real person. It is not diminishing their face-to-face time, and most teens donít prefer it over being face-to-face with their friends anyway. It is just a convenient way to communicate and get to know someone.

Generation Lost: I'd Rather Be Beautiful
Category: Misc.
Tags: ideas of beauty beauty tips for teenage girls natural beauty society and beauty definition of beauty the definition of beautiful

A friend of mine recently explained to me the difference between a "hot" girl and a "pretty" girl.

"She's hot," he said, pointing out a tall, thin girl in our class who dressed like she was from some Hollywood fashion show. "She has that body...ya know, she could be a model. But her face isn't particularly...pretty or anything."

"But don't models have to be pretty?" I asked, which he responded to with one of the most condescending looks I've ever seen.

I should have known. It's fairly obvious that, to be hot, you could be faceless and brainless too and the guy wouldn't even care. All you need is that "perfect" body that most guys desire.

I know that this isn't a particularly new concept or anything, I'm sure this has been going on years and years before I was even born. But what is new is the extent to which it's being taken to in society today. Girls and women are under constant pressure from every direction to lose weight so they can achieve that ideal body, which according to ANAD (National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders) is possessed naturally by only 5% of American females. TV shows, ads, magazines, and people are all telling the other 95% that they're supposed to spend most of their time dieting, exercising like crazy, and doing whatever it takes to be like the 5%. That's ridiculous!

Now obesity is a growing problem in this country and some people do need to diet and lose weight to maintain their health. But we're not even talking about that! We're talking about girls wanting to get surgeries to alter their bodies. We're talking about girls starting all the way back in 1st grade who are so influenced by TV and magazines that they want to be thinner. 1st grade. Do you realize how insane that is? My little sister Anna is in 1st grade and I can't even imagine her thinking about stuff like that at this age. No wonder women are so much more likely than men to develop eating disorders. If you're thinking about you and your body this way from the time you're 7 years old, that will definitely influence you throughout the rest of your life.

I don't see anything wrong with exercising and eating healthy. But if you're a healthy teenage girl, you should not be obsessed with losing weight and changing your body because people have said mean things to you or so you can get a boyfriend who's only interested in "hot" girls! People are not worth it, and a guy who thinks like that is not worth it. And I know how it feels to be teased about your weight. When I was 10 probably until I was 12, I was a little on the fat side. I got made fun of by lots of kids my age about it too. But it never affected me in such a way that I was driven to not eating or purging or obsessively managing my weight. I did end up losing a lot of that extra weight anyway, and I still don't have that body!

Don't get me wrong, it's not like I don't wish I did from time to time. That's how society has affected our generation. It's like built into your brain or something, "Your worth is determined by the way you look." But you have to be able to look past that and realize that you are worth SO much more than that. Especially as a woman, you have to believe that you don't have to be a supermodel to get places in life. I mean, look at Oprah! She's one of the most influential, rich, powerful women in the world, and she's not thin. Because that. Doesn't. Matter.

So what I'm about to so is so cliche and overdone that you will probably roll your eyes BUT...what each and every girl needs to remember is that she is beautiful. Beautiful is not hot. Beautiful is not pretty. Beautiful is what you are inside and what you become on the outside. If you are a confident, happy, nice, good person I guarantee you people will look at you (guys and girls) and know that you are beautiful. Of course, there are always those who will hate on you. That's unavoidable no matter what you look like. But it's your attitude toward them that matters. Forget about what people say. (Okay, extremely corny moment is OVER.)

After that conversation with my friend, I couldn't help thinking back to that "hot" girl he had pointed out. Sure, plenty of guys probably look at her all the time and call her that. But is that necessarily a good thing? Think about it: she has tons of guys lusting over her body, calling her unpretty, and completely ignoring the fact that she is a person with a personality and a mind. Wow. I think...I'd rather be beautiful.


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