Relationships:Teenager in Love' (cont.)

Kimberly_Kirberger I have spoken to hundreds of teenagers. I've received over 60,000 letters from teenagers and I have a web page that is visited by thousands of teenagers a week where they post feelings about relationships and questions. I also have on my staff 7 teenagers who I consult for all the books.

Event_Moderator What made you start this book? What gave you the idea?

Kimberly_Kirberger The Teen Love book was a result of receiving so many letters from teenagers asking me for love advice and also my belief that the reason we're seeing the violence and the drug use and all the other terrible things we are seeing is because we aren't teaching our children emotional coping skills. Being a teenager means being overwhelmed with tons of new feelings, new emotions. They're confused. It's a very scary time. You get your feelings hurt really easily and yet nobody's teaching them how to deal with all of that.

Event_Moderator Why is it that young girls go from being very confident and easy-going pre-teens to be insecure and frightened teens overnight?

Kimberly_Kirberger A lot of it's hormonal. An increase in hormones tend to make us more sensitive, more vulnerable. It's part of the growth process. Becoming a teenager means becoming very aware of yourself in a way that you haven't experienced before. Until you get comfortable in your own skin, being aware of yourself is a very uncomfortable thing.

Event_Moderator Who are positive role models for adolescents in today's media?

Kimberly_Kirberger It's something that concerns me, that we hold celebrity in such high regard and yet we don't celebrate writers. We don't celebrate women that are successful or adults that are successful in other areas like the person who is finding cures for disease. It's something that I am doing whatever I can to change that but it is something that concerns me.

Event_Moderator Can I prohibit my daughter from dating certain boys that strike me as "jerks," or is there a way at least to influence her away from that kind of guy?

Kimberly_Kirberger Once again, if you make it about the other person, they'll rebel against you. All you can do is teach your daughter that relationships should make her feel good. Put the focus on her. Also, empower her by saying things to her like, "I'm so proud of you." You seem to be learning a lot about not dating guys that don't treat you well. It's almost like say to her that she is how you want her to be rather than telling her that she's not that.

Event_Moderator What can a parent do if they feel that their teen is not handling relationships appropriately, such as treating their boyfriend or girlfriend badly?

Kimberly_Kirberger As long as you don't feel that your child is in any danger, a lot of times we have to step back and let them make their own mistakes. You can give them good books to read can make sure that they have at their disposal good information about relationships and things like that.

Event_Moderator Do you think too many parents don't spend enough family time with their teens so that today's teens are more isolated?

Kimberly_Kirberger Yes, but I don't necessarily blame the parents. We live in a time where unfortunately both parents have to work to put food on the table. I think family time is really important and it's important to try to make family time when we can even though teenagers would really rather be with their friends anyway.

Event_Moderator Are there different ways/rules/frames-of-mind depending on whether a parent is dealing with a daughter or son who is dating?

Kimberly_Kirberger I think so. I have a son and he just went on his first date tonight. I actually kissed him goodbye as the phone was ringing. As a parent, I'm very excited and I'm all smiles. However, I've noticed that my friends who have daughters are scared to death when their daughter goes on her first date.

Event_Moderator Why do you think that is?

Kimberly_Kirberger I think there's some pretty distorted perceptions that are the reason for that. Such as, I keep hearing from fathers that they're worried about their daughters because they remember what they were like when they were teenagers. When I was a teenage girl, unless I really forget how it was, I dated great guys. Now I wonder, was I just oblivious to what was really going on or are guys over-exaggerating the way they used to be?

Event_Moderator My 16-year-old daughter is dating a 25-year-old man. What do I do?

Kimberly_Kirberger I think sit down and have a talk with the 25-year-old man. If he's not willing to have that talk with you then I'm not sure what you do next. Certainly advise your daughter that if she were to have sexual relations with him, he could go to prison.

Event_Moderator The girls today are bombarded with sexual images that tell them that being sexually overt is the way to go. How you you fight that?

Kimberly_Kirberger I agree with him/her. I don't know. It's something I wonder about every day. That and also all the images of girls that are 90 pounds. I also worry about that. I think these are the kinds of conversations that we can have with our teenagers where we just discuss it as an issue but don't make it about them so they don't feel like they're being attacked. Start out by asking them what they think about it and do you think guys really are attracted to girls who act like that? Let them talk to you and tell you what their thoughts are. My experience is they'll talk about yeah, guys don't like girls that look or act like tramps.

Event_Moderator If your 16-year-old daughter is dating a 25-year-old man, you have bigger problems than you think you do. She's in big trouble.

Kimberly_Kirberger It's an area that is kind of scary for me to answer on a live chat. I do think it's a big issue that perhaps they need to talk to a professional.

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