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                                                      SPEAK YOUR MIND

HOOKAH PENS AND YOUR TEENS

Well your teenager has found a new toy to use. Many teens have been smoking Hookah because they believe that it is safer than cigarettes or marijuana. Unfortunately they are wrong. It is just as dangerous and might be more dangerous.

Smoking Hookah is a group activity that is common in the Middle East and India. Since it is a group activity, it is appealing to teens. Also since many adults here in the United States know little about it, this makes it more appealing to teens because it is easier to lie about. If you look up Hookah, you will find there are numerous places that teens can go in Pleasant Hill, Walnut Creek and Concord to buy a Hookah pipe and Hookah to smoke. There are also Hookah cafes similar to Starbucks where teens can go and smoke it. And now finally there is the Hookah pen. It looks like a regular pen so they can take it any where such as school and smoke.

However, the Hookah pipe can be used for smoking more than Hookah. The teens are combining Hookah with marijuana to get high. Now that there is a Hookah pen, or vaprorizer pen, teens can easily take this to school and smoke during class. As a parent you may want to discuss Hookah with your teen and see what they know or don't know. You may want to discuss the pros and cons too. Also remind them if they get caught with the pen on campus, they are in trouble.

One thing this should point out to parents is that you should never let your your guard down. Teens are always developing new ways and new devices to get high. Check out this video on YouTube to learn more about these pens.

Read more about the effect of these "waterpipe" smoking devices from the World Health Organization.

APRIL IS CHILD ABUSE PREVENTION MONTH

April is Child Abuse Prevention month. This is very important. We often think because we live in Pleasant Hill, Walnut Creek or Lafayette that our children are safe. This is far from the truth. Our children are at risk like any other child.

The other common mistake we make is that we assume child abusers are strangers. This is a very big mistake we make. Most children are abused by adults that they know and trust and because the children have been taught to trust the abuser, they are afraid to say anything. They are afraid that people won't believe them or be mad at them.

Another common mistake we make is we assume abusers are adults. Quite often the abuser is another child. Often when children are abused they turn around and abuse another child. They do this to try to restore their sense of security.

Another mistake we make regarding child abuse is that we assume girls are always the victims. This is totally wrong. Boys are abused on a regular basis. However, they are afraid to say anything because they are afraid that people will call them gay. Boys are also afraid of being blamed. Because people assume boys are strong and don't get abused, boys are afraid that people will think they did not fight hard enough to stop the abuse or that they allowed it to occur because they liked it.

Another problem that occurs with abuse is that the family feels a sense of shame. They are afraid of how people will judge them as parents. Therefore, children who are abused pick up on the family cues not to say anything or the family decides not to say anything to avoid the possible shame. This fear of how the family will be judged allows abuse to continue. These are a few of the misconceptions that we have about child abuse and how our misconceptions allow abuse to continue. During this month take sometime to go on-line and research child abuse and learn the facts.

Also if you think your child has been the victim of abuse don't be embarrassed or ashamed about it. Do something to stop abuse and help your child, go get your child therapy and report the abuse. We have allowed shame and embarrassment to allow child abuse to continue for generations. Until we accept the fact that the only person to blame is the perpetrator, the longer we allow shame and embarrassed to keep our children in danger of being abused. Please watch the video at the beginning of this blog to learn more facts about abuse and what we can do to prevent it.

Surviving Your Teen Going to the Prom

Yes it is that time of year again — Prom Season. Along with the prom come the concerns, who will I go with? What will I wear? How much will the dress cost? and a number of other questions. Hopefully, you and your teen have already discussed the issues around dating and have agreements regarding dating. If not, Prom may be a harder issue because now you have to deal with issues regarding dating and Prom.

As a parent, the first thing to do is to contact your teen's High School and see what rules and guidelines the school has already established. Many High Schools have rules regarding who can attend, such as only students of that high school can attend, a dress code and some high schools require you to inform them if you are going and your date's name and the telephone numbers for both set of parents. They do this so if your teen fails to arrive by the designated time or if there are any problems at the Prom, they know who to call.

Another reason to contact the school is to find out where the Prom is being held. Due to the number of drunk driving deaths, deaths due to drugs and due to the costs being so high, a number of high schools have the entire Prom on the school campus. They serve dinner and have the dance at the school. Once you have the details then it is time to discuss with your teen what your expectations are regarding the Prom. This is also the time where you will set the rules for the Prom and make your agreements with your teen.

Assuming the Prom is not being held at the campus and instead being held at a Hotel, there are a few items to discuss. The first issue is price. Most teens want to go to an expensive dinner, hire a limo for the night and for the girls there is the Prom dress. I have seen teens spend over $2,000 on their Prom. If you have this money and are willing to indulge your teen then there is no problem. Most parents don't have this extra money so you need to agree on a budget. For example, a limo is not a necessity for the Prom. As a parent you may feel safer with a limo because your teen is not driving. Also there is a new law and limos cannot carry liquor when they are driving for Proms and they must card anyone consuming alcohol in the limo. You can bring the price down by having your teen split the cost of the car with 2 to 3 other couples. However, you will want to talk to the parents of your teen's date and any friends they are going with to ensure all the parents agree.

If you have a daughter you need to negotiate the cost of the dress or consider renting a dress. She does not need to spend $500 on a dress or more to look good. The same rule goes for her hair. She does not need to spend $300 on styling her hair for one night.

You also need to talk with your teen regarding your expectations about consuming alcohol, using drugs and sexual activity. Many teens plan After Parties for their Proms. Quite often at the After Parties is where the drinking, drug use or sexual activity occurs. This is another reason why it is important to know who your teen will be going with to the Prom and their parents. You should never allow your teen to go to an After Party where there is not adult supervision. If the party is at a friend's house with adult supervision and you have spoken with the adult, there should be no problem. If your teen wants to rent a hotel room so their date and their friends can have a party, this is a huge problem and should never be allowed.

Another issue to discuss is curfew. Yes it is their Prom and you want them to have a good time, but there is no reason why they need to stay out the entire night or for the entire weekend.

Finally, you need to have a discussion with your teen regarding acting responsibly and self-respect. The Prom is a major event and it is another step that your teen is taking into the adult world. They need to remember if they want to act like adults, they have to be willing to accept being treated like an adult. So if they violate the rules that their school has established for the Prom, they may be giving up their right to graduate with their class. The Prom should be a happy event that you and your teen both remember for a long time. If you discuss the issues before the Prom and come to agreements that you both accept then it should be a safe, happy event for all. Good luck!

PARENTS NEED HELP

What do parents do when they have a teen who is cutting school, using drugs and threatening the parents in their own home?  You would think contact the school, call the police or seek treatment.  Many parents have done this when their child is acting out and needs help, but the parents to their surprise receive little help.  Therapy can only be provided once a week because the insurance only allows once a week.  Due to budget cut backs, the schools have no resources to help and the police choose to see it as a family problem so they do not get involved.
  These kids need help and these parents are asking, begging for help but they keep getting turned down.  They receive no help.  Often these kids are the ones who go to school and cause mass destruction or commit suicide in violent ways.  These sad situations could be avoided if someone listened to the parents.  In order for this to occur we must change how we do things.
  First we must invest more money in mental health and insurance companies must have laws requiring them to follow the recommendations of the treatment providers.  Right now a hospital can decide that a child needs to be hospitalized but if the insurance states that it doesn't meet their guidelines, then the child is released.  Who knows the child better, the hospital or the insurance company?
  We cannot blame parents or kids who are mentally ill and go to school and kill people when our society turns a blind eye until it is too late.
  Parents and treatment providers need to unite and demand that insurance companies start authorizing the treatment that is necessary and we also must demand that the State stop cutting children's mental health and start investing in it.
  If a child is mentally ill and our society fails to provide treatment, then we cannot complain when that child acts out violently or cannot work and ends up on welfare.  We must provide help when it is needed.  Write your representatives and senators and demand that we take care of our kids.

THE HOLIDAYS ARE HERE - ARE YOU HAPPY?

Many people assume that because it is the Holiday season that they must be happy and going to a lot of Holiday parties.  If they are not happy or not going to parties they assume there is something wrong with their life.  After all there are all these commercials and movies and television shows about how happy everyone is at this time of year.
    However, this is not reality.  This time of year can be very lonely for people because they are separated from their family, someone has died or they grew up without a close family.   Also there is all this pressure to buy gifts and to be going to Holiday parties.  However, for some, especially this year, money is very tight.  Some people can barely afford food - they don't have the money for the gifts or the parties.  This can make them feel like a failure.
   Also for people who suffer from mood disorders, this time of year is depressing because of everything telling them to be happy.
    The purpose of the season is to celebrate life and to enjoy life.  You do not have to buy a lot of gifts to be happy.  Sometimes the best gift is just helping someone to their car with the groceries.  Simple, kind gestures that show you respect another person.  This is what we should focus on.  It is a good idea to have your kids donate one of their gifts to someone in need so they start to learn this lesson.
    If you are unhappy or down, may be you need to allow yourself to experience these feelings instead of trying to be happy.  If someone close to you died this year you are going to be down - it is okay to feel it.
    The main point is celebrate this time of year how you need to not how you think you should.  If you are really down or upset and it is getting overwhelming do not be afraid to ask for help.  There is help out there.
    So remember this can be a very happy time or it can be a very sad time of year.  The key is allow yourself to have your emotions to do what you can do and do not try to live up to an image in a television commercial.
     Here are 2 short videos that might help:

http://youtu.be/YHzVZgKsvhE

http://youtu.be/ubPtRAhOBGU

http://youtu.be/B9UsdpvaNt4

PARENTS NEED HELP NOW

We still have a mental health crises and parents need help now not latter.  I understand that times are difficult financially, but we cannot continue to cut services to families.

I hear parents who are willing to give up or who are giving up because there is no support.  Many parents tell me how their children are failing in school and need help.  However, when they ask the school for help they are turned a way and told there is nothing they can do.  This is a lie.  A child who is Bipolar qualifies for an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP).  The schools are telling parents no.  They are saying no because the State and the Districts have no managed their funds correctly.
Parents state they are reporting their children to the police for using Marijuana and for physically threatening the parents but the police claim it is a civil matter.  It is a civil matter because the State and Counties have basically eliminated mental health services with their budget cuts.
Hospitals are refusing to admit children for mental health because insurance companies will not pay and the hospitals have cut back their programs so there is no room.
Where does a parent go for help?  We tell parents to be responsible and they are but they ask for help and receive none.  These families are living lives or torture.  Furthermore, these families who have fought so hard for help but keep getting turned down, fall a part when the child acts out taking their own life or hurting others.  These families are now forced to bare the stigma of, "why didn't you get your kid help."  When that is all they tried to do.
Some make take offense to what I have said or agencies I have named.  But, we cannot worry if an agency will be offended by the truth.  Do the research yourself.  Start asking questions or start paying attention to how your health benefits are being cut.  We must work together and we must demand that these parents and children be given help.
As the old story states, I did not pay attention when they came to get the Jews or the Blacks ... When they came to get me there was no one left to help.  You may not think this crises impacts you, but I can promise that it does impact someone you care about and it may be impacting you faster than you are aware of.  Our economy is changing very fast.  You might wake up tomorrow to find out it is your problem.
Therefore, speak up, call, write, email your State and Federal representatives and inform them you will not tolerate this anymore.  If a parent is having problems, go with them to the school and demand that something be done.  It does take a village to raise a child and we are all part of the same village so please start helping each other.
You can have all the money in the world but without your health it means nothing and money will never buy you happiness.
Please let me know your thought and comments by responding to my blog or emailing me.  Thank you for your time  

ARE WE SERIOUS?

Are we serious when we act surprised that kids are stealing, doing drugs and killing people?  We hear horror stories every day in the news and people act shocked saying' "he was such a nice kid."  Or you have others saying "I always knew he was a bad kid." 

If you did, what did you do to help?  There are no bad kids, we create them.  Movies such as, "Good Will Hunting", "The Breakfast Club" and "Antwone Fisher", all explain how adults and the world destroy the loving spirit that every child was born with.

However, we do nothing to help our kids.  During the recent economic problems, mental health services and services to lower income children were the first programs to be cut.  We offer these kids and their parent no help and then wonder why the kids act out.  I hear from parents everyday, I have been searching and searching for help, but there is no help any where.  If we expect our kids to grow up to be mature, responsible adults we need to fund programs and make insurance companies pay for theraputic services that will help our children reach this goal.

Overall, it is not that difficult of a problem.  Every child wants to know that they are being listened to, they are being seen as a person and they are valued.  In short, they are looking for validation.  I cannot tell you how many kids do not believe me when I say I care about them and their future.  They look shocked and will question me to see if I am serious.  When they believe me, I have a new child in my office. I have a child who now cares about himself/herself and who cares about his/her future and who's behavior starts to change.  All because a stanger cared and saw their value as a person.

With suicide rates high, the number of kids cutting themselves being high, the number of kids committing violent crimes being high and the number of kids seeing no future for themselves and not caring about themselves, can we continue to sit back and do nothing? 

No we must insist that our children receive the help and assistance that they deserve.  If we do not then, if the children act out we should punish the adults not the children.  Parents if you have a child who is acting out keeping advocating for their rights until they receive the treatment they need.  If my office can help please feel free to contact me.

Remember there is no such thing as a bad child and a child acting out is simply a child crying out for help.  Please answer the call