Why Leaving Home Can Be a Good Thing for Your Teen



There’s no place like home, right? But when home is a battleground centered on a teen who’s got behavioral issues brought on by a mood or emotional disorder, learning disability, addiction, or other difficulties, it no longer feels like a safe haven for anyone in the family. And it doesn’t do a thing for the teen who’s in the middle of it all.

You might have tried other kinds of programs during the school year or during summer vacation, but sometimes a complete change of environment is what’s needed. Academy ranches could be the answer. It’s a safe environment with a fresh, new vista that gives a troubled teen time with peers facing the same challenges as they work through them with counseling and personalized instruction in a setting of natural beauty and away from everything that triggers old behavior patterns.

Part of the ranch academy experience is learning the skills and gaining the confidence to become an independent adult, ready to realize his or her full potential. Teens need guidance, but they’ve got to be given the chance to try things on their own and also occasionally to fail at them. Spending time out of their familiar home environments provides them with the opportunities to do this safely as they learn to be adaptable and overcome obstacles.

While a ranch academy’s focus is to provide individualized and group counseling along with high-quality academics, these are some of the other things that a teen learns in a ranch academy setting that clear the way to becoming a successful adult:

Getting Along With Other People

Compassion and empathy for other people, along with knowing how to cooperate, collaborate, and compromise… those are the easy things, right? Well, maybe it’s true that they’re easy for some people. But others need coaching and practice at them.

Learning school subjects is important, but developing interpersonal skills is important in other ways as a teen participates in activities with peers and matures to go out into the workplace and the greater community. Experiences at a ranch academy teach good manners and communication skills so that a teen gains confidence when meeting new people and learns how to treat others with respect, no matter who they are.

Teen Driver 2

Solving Problems

As your teen gets older, you’re not going to be available every time he or she runs into a difficult situation that requires quick thinking and strategic problem solving. At a ranch academy without you in the next room, teens learn how to keep a cool head and confront things as they happen instead of looking for a parent to make everything all right.

They learn what to do on their own if something isn’t where it should be or doesn’t go as planned. Perhaps most importantly, they learn that not everything is a crisis or an emergency, and gain the confidence to know that there are always ways to work through things that happen and that they are smart enough and strong enough to do it themselves.

Managing Time

Even little kids have calendars that take a strategist to manage. By the time they’re teenagers, their days and nights are full to brimming and it sometimes it seems as if it’s a circus act to keep all the balls in the air. Life at an academy ranch teaches good habits of time management, prioritizing, and decision-making so that they’re not doing five things at once and leaving chaos everywhere they go. Teens at a ranch learn that their own lack of organization affects everyone around them, and they learn to take responsibility for their own actions.

Earning and Managing money

As long as you’re the family treasurer, your teen probably doesn’t take money too seriously. You have it, they want it, and, in many cases, they get it. An academy ranch gives teens the challenge of working for what they want, and teaches the elements of budgeting, the importance of saving, and the value of every hard-earned dollar or ranch credit. What’s even better is the sense of accomplishment a teen gains in the process.

Doing the Stuff of Daily Life

Slacking off isn’t an option when it comes to doing dorm and ranch chores. Teens at an academy ranch quickly learn that they are responsible for taking care of themselves and their surroundings, and see how their actions impact the others they live with. Knowing the state of his or her room at home, it may be a surprise to know how much more amenably a teen will take on a responsibility if you’re not the one telling him or her to do it.

Even if your teen is staying at home with you, here are some good suggestions on  how to manage these issues and more.

Teen with horse

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The Rising Teen Epidemic and What to Do as a Parent


Teen Smartphone

So here’s the good news: according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the levels of drug abuse among eighth, tenth and twelfth graders is trending downward. Many of the drugs studied are at their lowest levels of use since the study began. Even prescription drugs like opioids are at an all time low amongst teens. Hooray!

The bad news is that teen drug use has not been eradicated and it probably never will. Teenagers like to experiment. They’re more likely to succumb to peer pressure. And as the therapists at www.hotelcaliforniabythesea.com have noted, drug use, abuse, and treatment is much different for young adults than older adults.

As a parent, it is totally normal to want to protect your children from all of the harms in the world. And, when those children become teenagers, it is totally normal to want to seal them in their bedrooms and monitor all of their contact with the outside world. This urge has become even stronger since the internet reached the ubiquity stage and much of teen communication and entertainment moved away from the easily observable.

Seriously, schools use tablets now. No more having just one computer for the whole family that sits against a wall of the living room where anybody can walk by and snoop over someone’s shoulders! Even with monitoring apps and parental controls, your kids are going to find ways to sneak around. It’s how they try to take control over their lives and experiment with adulthood. It’s a normal part of growing up, and it’s a normal part of parenting to hate it.

So what can you do? And even if you do everything right, aren’t your kids likely to experiment with drugs and drinking anyway?

Yes, probably. Still, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try.

Calm Yourself

The first thing you need to do is develop your poker face. If you freak out every time your kids try to talk to you about the behaviors in which they are experimenting or that they observe in their friends, they’ll stop sharing these details with you. You can still freak out on the inside, of course, but do your best to present a calm and even response even when you want to tear out your hair. If you stay calm and positive, your kids are more likely to tell you what they’re dealing with and you’ll be better to able to spot problems in their early stages.

Teen Driver 2

Communicate Often

Figuring out how to talk to your kids about drugs and drinking can be difficult. Even so, you have to do it. And you cannot wait for your kids to come to you. Ask them questions about their days, their classes, their friends, their friends’ classes and families. Remember the details. The more interest you take in your kids’ lives the less likely they are to try to slip something by you.

Set Up Support Early

We aren’t advocating that you toss your teen into rehab after his or her first drink. Of course not! What we mean is that it’s important that, in addition to having stable boundaries and rules, it’s important to reinforce the idea that when your kids need help, they should come to you. Even if they think it’s nothing. Even if they are embarrassed. And this is where your poker face is going to come in handy because these times are when you need to be supportive instead of judgmental.

Offer Autonomy

No matter what they think and feel, no teen is truly ready to take total control over his or her life. Even so, if you start noticing problematic behavior, it is important that you resist the urge to completely control your teen’s life. Yes, privileges can be taken away, but if you want to help your teens stand up to peer pressure and get the help they need if they develop dependency on drugs or alcohol, they need to feel like they are making a choice. Talk to your teens about what kind of resolutions they’d like to see or what kind of help they think they need. You don’t have to give them exactly what they want, but including them in the conversation will make the decision to get help feel like something they can own. And the more ownership your teen feels, the more likely he or she is to get back on the right path.

Adolescence is rough on everyone. Puberty is awful. Everyone will make mistakes. But don’t worry, you’ll get through it, and so will your kids.


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Make the Right Financial Choices for College – Tips from a Financial Industry Veteran



As a parent with one child in college and another heading off to college in the fall of 2017, I know all too well about the difficulties of finding a way to pay for it.

Below is a guest post from the CEO and co-founder of College Ave Student Loans that might help some parents to navigate the stressful process of paying for college. This is a guest post. The opinions expressed are that of the author’s and do no necessarily reflect my own.


College award letters have arrived and decision day has passed. Now tuition bills are arriving and many families are thinking: How do we pay for it?  As parents formulate a plan to afford college, private student loans can help bridge the gap between scholarships, grants, and federal student loans.  Here are some tips from College Ave Student Loans CEO and Co-Founder Joe DePaulo on things to consider when thinking about private student and parent loans:

Consider all of your options. Scholarships, grants, and federal student loans in the student’s name should be the first things families look to when budgeting for college.  Unfortunately, these sources aren’t always enough to cover the full cost of college.  A successful college funding strategy takes some research and planning, by looking at all available sources of funding.  For those with good credit, a private student loan or private parent loan might help with expenses not covered by other options.

Understand the importance of good creditUnlike federal loans, private student loans typically require a credit and income review to determine an individual’s anticipated ability to repay the loan. Since many students have limited credit history and income, private student loans typically require a cosigner (often a parent or guardian who has good credit and sufficient income) who agrees to take equal responsibility to repay the loan if the student borrower can’t. Some private lenders, like College Ave Student Loans, also offer parent loans for parents who want to borrow on their own without sharing responsibility with the student. Parents with strong credit may be able to save with private parent loans over the Federal Direct Parent PLUS loan, so be sure to shop around. Not sure about your credit? College Ave Student Loans offers simple and free credit pre-qualification tools at CollageAveStudentLoans.com so customers can quickly find out if their credit qualifies for a College Ave loan.

Make sure your plan goes beyond tuition.There are lots of extra costs of college beyond the school’s tuition and fees. Plan ahead for extra expenses likedorm supplies, books, or a new laptop. If a student is in off-campus housing, you may also need to think about utilities, groceries, gas and more. Schools factor these additional expenses into their cost of attendance. As long as your existing aid doesn’t exceed the school’s calculated cost of attendance, private student and parent loans can be used to cover those out-of-pocket costs. College Ave’s Parent Loan even offers the option for a portion of the loan funds to be deposited directly into the parents’ bank account – so they can control the spending for extra college costs.

Don’t assume all loans are the same.  If you decide that borrowing is the right option for your family, shop around to get a loan that works for you. Low rates are important, but also be sure to look for lenders with repayment options that help you match the loan to your budget. Be on the lookout for any application or origination fees as well. 

If you need to borrow, don’t wait until the last minute. The time from application to disbursement (when a student loan is sent to the school) varies. At a minimum, the process requires participation from you, your lender, and your school.  Even though this can be streamlined, there’s always the possibility that something could slow it down such as your school certifying your loan.  On top of that, there are certain regulatory periods (e.g., right-to-cancel period) that are required by law and cannot be reduced.

College Students

About the author:

Joe DePaulo, a financial services veteran, previously served as CFO, EVP of Banking and a member of the Board of Directors at Sallie Mae. Before Sallie Mae, he was CEO and co-founder of Credit One Financial Solutions, a company focused on debt consolidation. He previously held several executive positions as MBNA, including U.S. Card group executive and member of the corporate management committee.


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Teens and Drugs: Don’t Look the Other Way



Many people use prescription drugs for relief from chronic pain, depression, anxiety, and ADHD. Unfortunately, many people abuse these drugs and then find themselves addicted. Some of these abusers take more than the prescribed dosage. But, more often than not, the abuse comes from people who do not have a prescription at all.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, of the number of abusers, teens and young adults between the ages of 18 to 25 rank the highest. In a single year, 2014, over 1,700 died of an overdose. This figure does not include young adults that required medical treatment or a hospital stay. If you see a change in your child’s behavior take notice and act without delay. The sooner he/she gets help at a recovery clinic, the more likely positive changes will be permanent. Pinnacle Peak Recovery, an Arizona drug rehab program lists a number of programs that use proven treatment modalities like CBT, DBT, EMDR, and Experiential Therapy that can help your teen if they have an addiction problem.

Drug abuse is on the rise. And for teens, the probability of having someone approach them is more common than you think. Dealers are in middle schools, high schools, and colleges, often disguised as friends. And what they’re pushing often originally comes from a pharmacy shelf. Of these prescription drugs, the most common on the streets are opioid pain relievers, ADHD and anti-anxiety drugs. The reason they are so available in colleges is that students are under a lot of pressure to get good grades. The ADHD drugs help them to focus, making studying easier. The problem is that they soon begin to rely on them for daily use.


Teens and young adults want to fit in with their peers. If approached at school or a party, many will try them just to look cool. Some may never take a pill again, but others now contact the person who introduced them to get more. Despite your best efforts, any child can find themselves addicted. This is a serious matter. They are taking something their body doesn’t need and may lead to serious consequences down the road.

If you suspect your child may have a problem with drugs, don’t ignore it. Take the time to sit with them and discuss the dangers of using these types of medicines. If they admit that they have tried but are not using, keep an eye on them. If you observe changes in their behavior, grades and appearance these may all be cause for alarm. Since prescription drugs are only safe when monitored by a doctor, teens and adults are at risk.

If you discover that your teen has a drug problem get them help fast. Along with rehab, you should also keep your child in counseling to uncover the underlying reason for the abuse. While some do it just to experiment and get high, others do it to avoid their life. Getting the proper help can mean the difference between a life of dependency and a bright future.

You love your children and want the best for them. But, sometimes despite your efforts, they get into trouble. A child hooked on drugs could lead to deadly consequences. This is a growing problem across the United States. It’s not partial to any economic or social group. Educating your teen before they reach puberty is a step in the right direction. Keeping them busy with sports and after-school programs will also help. It may just give them the confidence they need to say no to drugs.


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7 Signs Your Teen May Be Hiding Drug or Alcohol Abuse



Being a parent is not always easy. It’s not all “sunshine and rainbows” all the time. The older a child becomes, the more challenges you face as a parent.

I think being a teenager in today’s world is a lot harder than it was when I was a teen. When I was a teen I felt pressure to have designer jeans and albums from the top of the charts. Sure, there were keg parties in the woods, but sampling your first taste of beer as a teenager seems a lot more harmless than what teens today are doing.

Social media is the biggest danger to teens, in my opinion. They are also faced with much more “bad stuff” than just a keg party. These days teens are pressured to try out and/or use a variety of drugs and alcohols. It’s not just pot and beer – it’s cocaine, meth, Vicodin, Adderal as well as glue, pens and household cleaners, not to mention Jello shots and hard liquor.

How do you know if your teen is using and/or abusing drugs?

Here are seven signs to look out for, compliments of TeenSafe (TeenSafe.com).





*I was not compensated for this post. I posted this information for the benefit of site readers. 

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Relax With Fantastic Summer Reads from HarperCollins Children’s Books!


Summer Reading

With summer time just around the corner, many people are already gearing up for soaking up the sun at the beach, lounging around the pool or packing their bags for a much needed vacation.

Summer time is a great time to catch up on your reading, or simply relax and enjoy a good book. This applies to everyone – both young and old.

Harper Collins has some delightful new releases that would make great books to read this summer.


Paddington Sets Sail

Paddington Sets Sail written by Michael Bond, illustrated by R.W. Alley

9780062430656– $16.99 – Ages 4 to 8 

Paddington sets sail on a funny, sunny trip to the beach in this brand-new Level 1 I Can Read Story!

 What This Story Needs Is a Munch and a Crunch

What This Story Needs Is a Munch and a Crunch written and illustrated by Emma J. Virjan

9780062415295– $9.99 – Ages 4 to 8 

What this story needs is a pig in a wig baking bread, pouring punch, and meeting a friend for a picnic lunch. But just as the outdoor fun and games get started, a thunderstorm rolls in and it turns out what this story really needs is another place to eat! Pig and her friends are determined not to let a little rain ruin their fun.

Flip & Fin Super Sharks to the Rescue

Flip & Fin: Super Sharks to the Rescue! written by Timothy Gill, illustrated by Neil Numberman

9780062243010– $15.99 – Ages 4 to 8 – On Sale 6/14/2016

The toothy stars of Flip & Fin: We Rule the School are back! This time, the sand shark twins are eager to become superheroes and help others. But what is a shark to do when ABSOLUTELY EVERYONE runs away from them?


Stick Cat written by Tom Watson

Stick Cat written by Tom Watson

9780062411006– $12.99 – Ages 8 to 12 

It’s a big day in the big city for Stick Cat and his best friend, Edith. There are treasures to hunt, songs to sing, pigeons to catch, and naps to take. But way up on the 23rd floor, danger lurks just around the corner. Terrible noises and violent crashes trap a desperate man in the building across the alley. Stick Cat will need to navigate his way across the alley to attempt a rescue.

 Swing Sideways by Nanci Turner Stevenson

Swing Sideways by Nanci Turner Stevenson

9780062374547– $16.99 – Ages 8 to 12

This heartfelt middle grade debut in the vein of Bridge to Terabithia and Walk Two Moons tells the story of two girls, and the unforgettable summer in which they learn about true friendship and loss.

 Eleven and Holding by Mary Penney

Eleven and Holding by Mary Penney

9780062405470– $16.99 – Ages 8 to 12 – On Sale 6/7/2016

Macy’s birthday is just days away, but she has no intention of turning twelve without her dad by her side, who has disappeared. Macy takes it upon herself to solve the mystery, and crashes head-on with the truth. It’s then she discovers that knowing can sometimes be a heavy burden. And that change, when finally accepted, comes with an unexpected kind of grace.

 Fancy Nancy Nancy Clancy Seeks a Fortune

Fancy Nancy: Nancy Clancy Seeks a Fortune by Jane O’Connor and Robin Preiss Glasser      

9780062269690– $9.99 – Ages 6 to 10 – On Sale 6/7/2016

Meet Shivers, the scaredy-est pirate to ever sail the Seven Seas. Along with his best friend Margo and his loyal fishmate (yes, you read that correctly) Albee, Shivers battles a giant squid, discovers hidden treasures, and gets pooped on by a pigeon in order to save his parents from the clutches of evil.

Get your summer fix with these paperback editions

  • Nuts to You by Lynne Rae Perkins (On Sale 5/3/2016)
  • The Turtle of Oman by Naomi Shihab Nye (On Sale 5/3/2016)


The Outliers by Kimberly McCreight

The Outliers by Kimberly McCreight

9780062359094– $18.99 – Ages 14 and Up 

A fast-paced teen series from New York Times bestselling author Kimberly McCreight, where one girl learns that in a world of intrigue, betrayal, and deeply buried secrets, it is vital to trust your instincts.

The Crown by Kiera Cass

The Crown by Kiera Cass

9780062392176– $19.99 – Ages 13 and Up 

Princess Eadlyn didn’t think she would find a real partner among the Selection’s thirty-five suitors, let alone true love. But sometimes the heart has a way of surprising you… and now Eadlyn must make a choice that feels more difficult—and more important—than she ever expected.

Ruined by Amy Tintera

Ruined by Amy Tintera

9780062396600– $17.99 – Ages 13 and Up

Em may be a useless Ruined, completely lacking any magic, but no one is more motivated to destroy the king. He ordered the elimination of the Ruined, he killed her parents and kidnapped her sister, and Em will make him pay.

 The Season of You & Me by Robin Constantine

The Season of You & Me by Robin Constantine

9780062438836 – $17.99 – Ages 14 and Up 

A funny and heartfelt romance set in New Jersey, about two very different people, a girl dealing with a bad breakup and a surfer who is now in a wheelchair after an accident.

 The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye

The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye

9780062422583– $17.99 – Ages 13 and Up – On Sale 5/17/2016

Perfect for fans of Shadow and Bone and Red Queen, The Crown’s Game is a thrilling and atmospheric historical fantasy set in Imperial Russia about two teenagers who must compete for the right to become The Royal Enchanter—or die in the process.

Girl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes

Girl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes

9780062379962 – $17.99 – Ages 13 and Up – On Sale 5/17/2016

Maguire knows she’s bad luck. No matter how many charms she buys off the internet or good luck rituals she performs each morning, horrible things happen when Maguire is around. But then she meets Jordy, a confident, talented, and lucky, aspiring tennis star, who is convinced he can help Maguire break her unlucky streak.

Sing by Vivi Greene

Sing by Vivi Greene

9780062459831– $17.99 – Ages 13 and Up – On Sale 5/31/2016

In this sweeping beach read—think: Lauren Conrad meets Katie Cotugno—America’s biggest pop star flees the spotlight to recover from her latest break-up in Maine, only to fall head-over-heels for a local boy and be faced with an impossible decision: her new guy, or her music.

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, & Jodi Meadows

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, & Jodi Meadows

9780062391742– $17.99 – Ages 13 and Up – On Sale 6/7/2016

Lady Jane Grey, sixteen, is about to be married to a stranger—and caught up in an insidious conspiracy to rob her cousin, King Edward, of his throne. But that’s the least of Jane’s problems.  Jane’s about to become Queen of England. Like that could go wrong. A fantastical, romantical, hilarious(ical) adventure.

For more summer teen reads, check out… 

  • Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes (On Sale 5/3/2016)
  • The Way Back to You by Michelle Andreani (On Sale 5/3/2016)
  • The Last Time We Were Us by Leah Konen (On Sale 5/10/2016)
  • The Fall of Butterflies by Andrea Portes (On Sale 5/10/2016)
  • This is My Brain on Boys by Sarah Strohmeyer (On Sale 5/10/2016)
  • Please Don’t Tell by Laura Tims (On Sale 5/24/2016)
  • Autofocus by Jessi Kirby (On Sale 6/14/2016)
  • This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab (On Sale 7/5/2016)
  • Shiny Broken Pieces by Sona Charaipotra (On Sale 7/12/2016)

Get your summer fix with these paperback editions –  

  • Before I Fall Enhanced Edition by Lauren Oliver (On Sale 3/8/2016)
  • Bone Gap (Printz Award winner for best YA book and National Book Award Finalist)
  • Proof of Forever by Lexa Hillyer
  • Delirium/Pandemonium/Requiem (paperback repackage with new covers) by Lauren Oliver (On Sale 5/17/2016)
  • Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (won Morris Award for best YA debut) by Becky Albertalli (On Sale 6/7/2016)

If you would like to learn more about these and other books visit  www.HarperCollins.com/Childrens.

What do you plan on reading this summer?



*I was not compensated for this post. I posted this for the enjoyment of my site readers. 

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