Relationships:Teenager in Love' (cont.)

Event_Moderator At what point can a parent be too lenient with a dating teen?

Kimberly_Kirberger Once again, how much control do we really have over our teenagers is the real question here. Our teenager gets in a car and goes on a date; all we can do is hope we have instilled in them values and all the information that they need to make life choices.

Event_Moderator What do you think of the current trend of group sleepovers (like prom night) even if the parents are at home?

Kimberly_Kirberger I think it's fine. I know lots of teenagers that do that and they tell me the truth about what goes on and there's nothing going on that needs to be worried about.

Event_Moderator How should a single parent handle dating in front of their teenager? Are there any specific do's or don'ts?

Kimberly_Kirberger I think the most important thing is that whoever the parent is dating, they need to have some kind of relationship with the child, whether it just be a respectful "Hello, how are you." There needs to be some connection between that person and your children. Other than that, just basic good sense. You don't want to be on the couch making out and have your teenager walk in.

Event_Moderator How can a teenager get a reluctant parent to listen to their concerns and problems?

Kimberly_Kirberger I think the best thing to do is tell your parents that you want to have a talk with them. Schedule a time, ask them for a time when they can give you their undivided attention so that you set it up, letting them know it's important to you. Then, when you do sit down with them, be calm and just talk to them about what you're feeling and try not to blame them or make them wrong. Talk to them about what's going on for you and how you feel about it. That works both ways.

Event_Moderator How much affection should parents show (and not show) each other in front of their kids?

Kimberly_Kirberger I think affection is a great thing to show in front of your kids but not sexual affection.

Event_Moderator I know that we all need to make our own mistakes, but why doesn't my son listen to any of my advice when it comes to relationships?

Kimberly_Kirberger Because he's a teenager. I have a son and he doesn't listen to me either.

Event_Moderator What advice can you give to a parent who is having a hard time coping with a newly dating teen?

Kimberly_Kirberger There's a great book called, "Uncommon Sense" for parents of teenagers. It's by Mike Rivera. If she reads this book, it'll really help.

Event_Moderator The pressure on today's teens must be immense. Are they growing up too fast and becoming too sophisticated too soon?

Kimberly_Kirberger I tend to think that there's no such thing as too fast or too soon. It's just what is. And we do need to have compassion for the fact that they are under a lot more pressure than we sometimes realize.

Event_Moderator How can I protect my daughter when I see her making such obvious mistakes over and over?

Kimberly_Kirberger When our children become teenagers, we can no longer control them in the way we could when they were younger. All we can do is keep reminding them what they're doing right. If she ever made one right choice, remind her of that and remind her of how much happier she was when she made that right choice. That's really all we can do because part of being a teenager is having to make your own choices, make your own mistakes and, as parents, we can only try to empower them. We can't change what they do.

Event_Moderator Why is it that some teens seem so troubled and tormented and others seem to have such an easier time?

Kimberly_Kirberger Once again, this is something I wonder about a lot myself. There are a lot of teenagers that are really suffering. Sometimes I think it's because they aren't able to talk about the things they're going through and work those things out. And so they feel very lonely. They feel like they're the only ones going through what they're going through. All the letters that I receive from teenagers, about 100 a day, they always say that until they read the Chicken Soup Books or the Teen Love book, they thought they were the only ones going through what they were going through. I think the most important thing is for them to know that they're not alone.

Event_Moderator Are teens today almost too savvy for their own good?

Kimberly_Kirberger I don't think so.

Event_Moderator Do you have a personal story of teenage love you can share?

Kimberly_Kirberger When I was in Jr. High, I had a boyfriend who I was madly in love with and who was my boyfriend for 2 years. One day my dad came home from work and announced that we had to move. I was devastated. I remember, to this day, how much I suffered having to leave this guy and move 1000 miles away. I think this memory is part of the reason that I chose to work with teenagers and part of the reason that I understand how hard it is for them to go through break-ups or to just live the day-to-day life of a teenager.

Event_Moderator Do you think separate schools is a good idea, especially for girls?

Kimberly_Kirberger I think that there's pros and cons to both. I think that when girls and boys are in school together, there's a lot of experience and lessons that they get that they might not get in separate schools. But then in separate schools, they're able to focus more on their education and less on their relationships.

Event_Moderator Is it unhealthy to suppress sexual urges? Why or why not?

Kimberly_Kirberger That depends on what that means. I think it's normal for teenagers to masturbate but I don't think a teenager that has a sexual urge should go out and have sex so that they don't suppress their sexual urge.

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