Tweens & Teens 2022 (Island Parent)

A Special Feature of Island Parent: Parenting On a Hope & a Prayer • Staying Afloat in the Social Media Shark Tank • Fly-By-the-Seat-of-Your-Pants Teen Travel • Choices Aplenty: Choosing Period Products

A Special Feature of Island Parent: Parenting On a Hope & a Prayer • Staying Afloat in the Social Media Shark Tank • Fly-By-the-Seat-of-Your-Pants Teen Travel • Choices Aplenty: Choosing Period Products


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&<br />


<strong>2022</strong><br />

<strong>Parent</strong>ing On a<br />

Hope & a Prayer<br />




Fly-By-the-Seat-of-Your-Pants<br />


Choices Aplenty<br />

Choosing Period Products

<strong>Parent</strong>ing On a<br />

Hope & a Prayer<br />

was a fantastic parent when my kids were young.<br />

I Okay, that sounds egotistical. What I mean to say is I<br />

felt confident in my choices. I knew exactly how I wanted<br />

to raise my babies—love them, provide structure, feed them<br />

nutritious food, expose them to new adventures and teach<br />

them to be kind.<br />

When they turned 13 and entered high school, everything<br />

shifted. Instead of being a hands-on parent, I am relegated<br />

to the role of guide. I have to step back, loosen control and<br />

let them make their own mistakes. It’s terrifying because I’m<br />

never sure if I’m making the right choices.<br />

Let me give you an example.<br />

My oldest son’s bedroom has the best cell phone reception<br />

in the house. Thus my choices when I have an important or<br />

work-related call are to stand in the middle of the backyard<br />

or enter the odorous confines of my teenage son’s bedroom.<br />

On rainy days, I choose the latter.<br />

My son knows I use his room as an office space occasionally<br />

and trusts that I respect his space and his “stuff.” I don’t<br />

snoop. I swear. However, there was one day when I plopped<br />

down on his bed, only to sit on something hard. When I<br />

reached down to retrieve the item from under me, I was absolutely<br />

shocked to find a vape pen.

Starting when my boys were toddlers, I made a point to<br />

nurture an open dialogue about anything and everything.<br />

For years, we’ve discussed sex, love, relationships, drugs,<br />

drinking and even vape pens. As a result, they’ve been open<br />

with me about their struggles, their friendships, their worries,<br />

and their experiences. I know about the fights they<br />

are having, when they’ve been drinking and when they’ve<br />

skipped school. Our policy is open honesty and transparency.<br />

No lies.<br />

The fact that he had tried vaping wasn’t surprising. I<br />

know that part of a teenager’s journey is to experiment, to<br />

find their boundaries and define their values. What shocked<br />

me was the fact that he hadn’t told me about it. My naivety<br />

suddenly became undeniable. How foolish of me to believe I<br />

was privy to it all!<br />

After finishing my phone conversation, I walked downstairs,<br />

placed the vape pen on the kitchen table and waited<br />

for my son to return home.<br />

As he walked through the front door, I sat him down.<br />

“We need to talk,” I said. “I know you are going to try<br />

things as you get older, but I thought you knew how bad<br />

vaping is for your body. I’m curious why you tried it.”<br />

“Mom, I just wanted to know what it was like. Sometimes<br />

I’m a dumbass and make stupid choices.”<br />

While I asked a few questions—What did he like about it?<br />

How often did he smoke?—my son actually did the majority<br />

of the talking. He knew all the right things to say. He<br />

spoke about the repercussions to his athletic potential. He<br />

acknowledged the fact that addiction runs in our family and<br />

that he, himself, has an addictive personality. He liked the<br />

“community feeling” of smoking with his friends but mentioned<br />

that he wanted to stop. At the end of the conversation,<br />

he asked me a question I hadn’t been anticipating.<br />

“What are you going to do with the vape pen?”<br />

It felt like a lose-lose situation. If I held onto it, he could<br />

simply buy another one, but it didn’t feel good to give it<br />

back to him either.<br />

After sharing this moral dilemma, I told him I needed time<br />

to think about the options.<br />

While driving home from soccer practice the next evening,<br />

he brought it up again. “Have you decided?”<br />

“Well, I’ve always said that I wouldn’t try to control you.<br />

I am here to educate and to guide, but ultimately, your life<br />

and your choices are yours. I think vaping is dangerous and<br />

stupid, but if that’s what you choose to do with your friends,<br />

you will have to live with any potential consequences. I<br />

guess what I’m saying is that I’m going to give it back to<br />

you.”<br />

Once home, he walked in the house and retreated immediately<br />

to his bedroom. As I passed his doorway on the way<br />

to my own sanctuary, I overheard him on FaceTime with his<br />

girlfriend. So, I stood at the door and listened like a ninja.<br />

Wouldn’t you?<br />

I could hear his girlfriend asking, “So…. she just gave it<br />

back to you?”<br />

“Ya.”<br />

“She doesn’t care if you smoke?”<br />

“Well, she said that she hopes I make the right decision,”<br />

he explained.<br />

“Huh,” the confusion in his girlfriend’s voice was palpable<br />

(and laughable).<br />

“Ya,” my son answered.<br />

Then, there was silence as they both digested this unexpected<br />

outcome.<br />

I giggled quietly to myself as I walked away. At least I<br />

gave them something to ponder!<br />

In truth, I don’t know if this was the right parenting<br />

choice to make. I wonder if I give my boys too much leeway<br />

to make mistakes. I wonder if I should impose consequences<br />

or react in anger or disappointment. I wonder if I should<br />

send a stronger message of unacceptance. At the end of the<br />

day, I want to preserve my relationship with them. I want<br />

them to know I will always try to reserve judgment about<br />

their choices, so that if (and when) something truly problematic<br />

or tragic occurs, they will feel safe in coming to me for<br />

help or guidance. I suppose I’ll find out the consequences of<br />

my parenting choices, whether they were nurturing or naive.<br />

<strong>Parent</strong>ing teenagers is a crapshoot. It’s a toss of the dice<br />

and crossed fingers, hoping for the best possible outcome.<br />

All I can do is hope, pray, and wait.<br />

Kelly Cleeve is a best-selling author<br />

and an educator. More importantly, she is<br />

the proud parent of two amazing sons.<br />

Visit kellycleeve.com or follow her on<br />

Instagram @resilient_kel and Facebook –<br />

Raising Resilient Children/Radiant and<br />

Resilient.<br />

<strong>Island</strong><strong>Parent</strong>.ca October/November <strong>2022</strong> 33

Staying Afloat in the<br />

Social Media Shark Tank<br />

We’re habitually distracted with internet and screen time<br />

filling our waking hours and defining leisure time. Our<br />

youth are stressed, anxious, experiencing stronger emotions<br />

and suffering from the burden of being so interconnected.<br />

Participating in social media can feel like we’re swimming<br />

with sharks. And being bitten can look like:<br />

• Dreading checking your device (afraid of what you may<br />

have stirred up)<br />

• Obsessing about who liked or noticed a post, picture or<br />

video<br />

• Allowing responses and feedback on social media to dictate<br />

mood<br />

Six ways to avoid getting bitten and meet the world without<br />

losing yourself:<br />

Be less reactive.<br />

Reacting puts you in survival mode. Respond instead by:<br />

• Reading the full article or post before you share it or comment<br />

• Checking the source to avoid the spread of fake news, confusion<br />

and aggression<br />

• Not having an opinion. Take breaks from posting, sharing<br />

and commenting. Even when someone asks for your opinion,<br />

you can say you don’t know<br />

• Noticing if you are seeking more places to shout your opinion<br />

• Watching for the trap of individualism. When you realize<br />

how attached you are to “Do you like me?” it’s time to take a<br />

social media break. Tracking friends, followers, likes and comments<br />

shouldn’t be a full-time job and it’s hard on the heart.<br />

• Know you don’t need to fix, save or convince people. Those<br />

are all forms of aggression.<br />

• Finding more silence. Breaks from social media will improve<br />

your relationship with it!<br />

Be less distracted.<br />

When you’re distracted day-to-day, you risk going numb.<br />

You’ll also lose connection to yourself, others and our living<br />

world. Distraction fuels reactivity and leaves zero time for wisdom,<br />

insight or compassion.<br />

• Don’t text for one day, set up rules for phone use, and try<br />

do one thing at a time.<br />

• Set boundaries and say “no” more often to curb restlessness.<br />

• Reflect on how distracted we are as a culture.<br />

Have you witnessed how much personal business people<br />

now conduct in public spaces? People talk about their private<br />

relationships, finances and more—right beside you on the bus<br />

or in the grocery store lineup! (They may assume you’re equally<br />

distracted.)<br />

Take a device break in the next line up, waiting room, restaurant<br />

or soccer practice and see what you notice. Collectively<br />

we’ve done a lot of damage because we’re not being present.<br />

It’s a simple change and can be contagious.<br />

Make time for conversation.<br />

Phone or drop-in on a friend or relative. It’s a simple way to<br />

34 <strong>Island</strong> <strong>Parent</strong> Magazine <strong>Island</strong><strong>Parent</strong>.ca

feel more connected and less lonely. Maybe text less? Did you<br />

ever consider that texting your friends or family is regularly<br />

distracting them from their relationships, time in nature, their<br />

ability to be present and enjoy silence? What’s the true cost of<br />

more online versus in-person relationships? Do you book times<br />

to talk to people? Are people surprised when you call out of the<br />

blue?<br />

Share less.<br />

Social media is about self-promotion. You build an identity<br />

and brand yet it’s all manufactured. Think about the risks of<br />

constantly telling a story about yourself instead of just living it!<br />

Could you post fewer updates and keep more to yourself? Try<br />

it. The benefits are an increase of living in and savouring the<br />

present moment. In the present moment there is no fear or<br />

anxiety.<br />

Relax.<br />

This doesn’t mean taking a nap or watching TV. Relaxation<br />

is free from strain. Check in with your body right now. Where<br />

is there tension? Can you soften? How are the muscles in your<br />

face? In this moment, put a smile on your face but without<br />

smiling. Next put a smile into your palms, then into an ache<br />

or pain and finish with smiles in your feet (smile at the Earth).<br />

Your mind can create a different sensation. This is a lovely<br />

practice to start each day.<br />

Find ways to get together.<br />

People need to feel they belong which can’t be achieved virtually.<br />

(Popularity isn’t the same as belonging.) We need each<br />

other and time to comfort, console and support our communities.<br />

Find grounding and connection in taking on a local paper<br />

route, helping neighbours with pet sitting or child minding, cutting<br />

lawns or helping with an elder’s garbage and compost bins.<br />

Lindsay Coulter is a writer, educator, facilitator,<br />

naturalist, community catalyst, soul activist,<br />

mentor, and dedicated mother of two. She’s the<br />

Director of Communications, Culture and Community<br />

at EPIC Learning Centre, a forest and nature<br />

school in Victoria. Find her @SaneAction on Instagram<br />

and Facebook.<br />

<strong>Island</strong><strong>Parent</strong>.ca<br />

October/November <strong>2022</strong> 35

Fly-by-the-Seat-of-<br />

Your-Pants Teen Travel<br />

My son has just left on an epic<br />

backpacking trip through Europe<br />

starting in Paris. He’s thrilled. I’ve got<br />

that feeling similar to when you binge<br />

eat a tub of espresso chocolate-chip icecream—happy,<br />

excited and then jittery<br />

with a heap of insomnia.<br />

In my pre-COVID career as a filmmaker,<br />

I travelled for much of my<br />

work. I was organized, I carried a<br />

binder with flights, hotels, directions<br />

and often, restaurant recommendations.<br />

When things got delayed, it was<br />

a scramble to make back the production<br />

time. I’ve lost luggage (with audio<br />

equipment), got stuck in Belize for an<br />

extra week because of snow in Texas<br />

(not as fun as most would think), and<br />

have been detained in the Philippines.<br />

When it comes to travelling, I come<br />

with a lot of baggage—literally and<br />

figuratively.<br />

My teenager has been insulated from<br />

that type of experience. He’s had parents<br />

who have kept the trip organized<br />

and him entertained and distracted<br />

when things went sideways. Hungry?<br />

Mama has snacks. Bored? Here is a<br />

movie. He’s had the 5-star bubblewrapped<br />

experience.<br />

He’s jumped into this trip with a<br />

general plan and a fly-by-the-seat of<br />

your pants attitude that is way outside<br />

my comfort zone. Deep down I know<br />

that the beauty in his experience is the<br />

simplicity and the freedom and I expect<br />

that his trip will be a truer cultural experience<br />

than anything I’ve ever done,<br />

but I’m adjusting to this understanding.<br />

Before he launched, I was a very active<br />

part of getting him ready. Here are<br />

some things that worked well for us:<br />

Travel with a carry-on backpack so<br />

you don’t worry about missing luggage.<br />

There are good-sized backpacks<br />

that will meet airline specs. Start packing<br />

your new backpack weeks before<br />

your travel date and think about how<br />

much you really need. Repack several<br />

times and evaluate the items. Then, at<br />

11pm before your early morning flight,<br />

do one last panic purge and repack.<br />

Get all the apps and put in your<br />

information at home. Flight information<br />

is often updated quicker in the app<br />

than in the airport. Many companies<br />

have priority calling through their apps.<br />

Do a trial run with your gear. Encourage<br />

your teen to practice wearing<br />

his backpack and carrying his passport<br />

with his wallet and phone with him to<br />

get comfortable with the new items.<br />

Lack of sleep and jet lag is not the time<br />

to start thinking about where your<br />

passport is or struggle with how easy<br />

it is to carry your backpack through<br />

transit.<br />

Research! Things have changed, especially<br />

with hostels. Read the guides<br />

and find out what you need, and don’t<br />

need, on a trip.<br />

Ensure that there is at least 1.5<br />

hours between flights. It is not a great<br />

time to count on making tight connections.<br />

You can also call the airport to<br />

find out if you have to go through security<br />

again or how big of a distance it is<br />

between gates.<br />


Learn a new sport or refine<br />

your skills: come join our<br />

rock climbing teams!<br />

Pack snacks. There is a lot of waiting<br />

and sometimes food is not readily<br />

available. <strong>Teens</strong> are hungry every 15<br />

minutes, so having something readily<br />

available is nice. My teen had a sandwich,<br />

but hummus could be confiscated<br />

as it is considered a liquid. Fruits and<br />

vegetables would need to be eaten or<br />

disposed of before landing in an international<br />

location.<br />

The biggest piece of advice is for<br />

parents.<br />

Kathy Peterson, a counsellor at Collaborative<br />

Counselling, advises that<br />

when empty-nest syndrome hits, to remember<br />

your role.<br />

“Remember that parents are the<br />

compass that will guide their children<br />

back home,” says Peterson. “Sometimes<br />

as a parent it is hard to let go but stay<br />

grounded in the knowledge that you’ve<br />

given [your kids] the skills to handle<br />

these challenges and they will come<br />

back with a gamut of experiences that<br />

will shape their future.”<br />

Letting go isn’t easy, but I’m learning<br />

to give my teen space to explore<br />

without needing to check-in and he is<br />

embracing it by only giving me quick<br />

one one-line email updates—sometimes<br />

one word. I’m working on remembering<br />

all the strengths and skills he has, and I<br />

am looking forward to hearing his stories<br />

when he gets back and seeing how<br />

travel has empowered him.<br />

April Butler is the mother<br />

of three (one teenager and<br />

two grown) children and the<br />

grandmother of one. She was<br />

working as a documentary<br />

filmmaker and if her career<br />

doesn’t reboot after the<br />

pandemic, she will just<br />

spend more time sailing.<br />

Registration<br />

for recreational<br />

and competitive<br />

teams open now.<br />

All levels<br />

welcome!<br />

Ages 6–18.<br />

Details and registration at climbtheboulders.com<br />

The Boulders Climbing Gym<br />

1627 Stelly’s Cross Road | Saanichton, BC | 250.544.0310<br />


and<br />




TODAY<br />

www.GirlsInScience.ca<br />

Join Canada's largest STEM Club for girls, nonbinary,<br />

and gender nonconforming youth ages 7 - 17.<br />

<strong>Island</strong><strong>Parent</strong>.ca<br />

October/November <strong>2022</strong> 37

Choices Aplenty: Choosing Period Products<br />

Several years ago, a friend’s 10-year-old daughter came for a<br />

sleepover, carrying two bags. In one bag she’d packed lots<br />

of supplies for her period/cycle bleed—and she wanted to talk<br />

about all of them! That evening, we explored the large stash of<br />

pads and tampons—we unwrapped, examined and compared<br />

them—you know just a typical sleepover/show-and-tell session!<br />

Here’s an overview of the most current and common period/<br />

cycle bleed management options:<br />

Period Underwear. Period underwear come in many different<br />

styles and patterns, from a longer boxer-style short to<br />

the cheeky styles that will suit all identities, activity levels and<br />

body shapes. While they look like regular underwear, they<br />

have a thicker gusset lining between the legs. The top layer of<br />

fabric allows the fluid to pass through to the middle layer that<br />

absorbs the fluid while the tightly woven bottom/outside layer<br />

prevents the fluid from leaking through. Some styles are thicker<br />

and can be worn for up to 8 hours which works overnight or<br />

for the length of a school day.<br />

The thinner styles can be worn on days with less fluid flow<br />

or when a person is awaiting a period/cycle bleed. The thinner<br />

styles can be helpful for young people who aren’t yet sure when<br />

their period/bleed will begin and feel anxious about being prepared.<br />

To clean them after a single use, simply rinse them and<br />

follow the machine wash and dry instructions. Some brands<br />

even make bathing suits, bike shorts and leggings with leak<br />

proof gussets for more active user options. Typically, a user will<br />

need to have 2–3 pairs of underwear in rotation to ensure they<br />

have an extra pair or two to use during wash times.<br />

Re-usable Pads. Re-usable pads follow the same idea as period<br />

underwear, the major difference being that they are shaped<br />

like a pad and they usually use a snap to secure the pad to the<br />

gusset of regular underwear. They come in different sizes, colours,<br />

patterns and shapes from a light liner to overnight coverage.<br />

They are rinsed and washed as per instructions following<br />

use. They are typically changed every 4–6 hours so likely users<br />

will have to carry two with them for an entire day’s coverage.<br />

With both the underwear and reusable pads, it’s a good idea<br />

to carry a plastic pouch for used pads/underwear, another set<br />

of underwear or pads and maybe some leggings in case there’s<br />

need for back up!<br />

Menstrual Cups. Menstrual cups or discs are worn inside<br />

the body in the vagina and rather than absorbing the fluid like<br />

a tampon, the fluid is collected by the cup or the disc and it’s<br />

either emptied, rinsed and re-inserted if it’s re-usable or discarded<br />

if it’s single use only. Most cups and discs are re-usable<br />

although there are a few brands of discs which are single use.<br />

Cups and discs are usually made of medical grade silicone and<br />

both require the user to be familiar and comfortable enough<br />

with their own bodies to insert and remove them with clean<br />

hands.<br />

Cups typically sit very high in the vagina and create a suction<br />

to the cervix while discs sit a bit lower and have a seal but not<br />

suction. Some brands have different sizes for different sized/<br />

shaped bodies and/or heavier fluid flow days, while others use<br />

a universal-sized approach. Cups/discs usually only need to<br />

be emptied 2–4 times per day depending on the amount of the<br />

fluid flow and can also be easily worn during activities that<br />

involve water like swimming. Users who like to hike and camp<br />

or are planning extended travel often appreciate the ease and<br />

freedom of a re-usable cup or disc. At the end of a cycle, the<br />

re-usable cup or disk is washed and stored according to the instructions<br />

until next use. Reusable cups and discs usually need<br />

to be replaced after two years of use.<br />

All of these products are becoming more accessible, affordable<br />

and popular. Beyond the obvious benefits of convenience<br />

and privacy, many users feel that these products are more environmentally<br />

and financially sustainable. Like anything health<br />

related, if you or your youth have interest in trying a new<br />

method, gather accurate information from reputable sources<br />

and choose a product that feels like a good physical and lifestyle<br />

match.<br />

These new options will go a long way to support our young<br />

people through their period/cycle bleed with increased comfort,<br />

privacy and autonomy while reducing stigma and shame and<br />

leaving the outdated menstrual contraptions in the past!<br />

Jennifer Gibson, MA, is also known as<br />

“The Sex Lady”— for close to 20 years in Greater<br />

Victoria!—to the thousands of amazing youth<br />

and adults she is lucky to educate and learn<br />

with through her job as the Coordinator of Community<br />

Education at <strong>Island</strong> Sexual Health. She’s<br />

passionate about making sexuality education as<br />

positive, fun and non-cringe-able as possible.<br />

38 <strong>Island</strong> <strong>Parent</strong> Magazine <strong>Island</strong><strong>Parent</strong>.ca

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<strong>Island</strong><strong>Parent</strong>.ca<br />

October/November <strong>2022</strong> 39

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