Evelyn Resh

Sensual and sexual health and satisfaction for teens and adults

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What Your Daughter Needs to Know Before She Leaves for College

If you have a daughter leaving for college this fall, you’re probably going through a roller coaster of emotions— but this is no time to lose your bearings! Get the four most important things you need to tell your daughter before she walks into her first college dorm room.

Those of you with daughters graduating from high school this year are facing a maelstrom of activity and emotions. There are graduation festivities to organize,

forms to fill out, plans to solidify and the countdown of days before your girl leaves home. If you’re like most, you’re in a state of awe, upset and terror. On the one hand, you have the feeling school can’t start soon enough. On the other, you know you’ll cry all the way home after dropping your daughter off at her dorm.

The month before my own daughter left for her freshman year in college, I sank into three weeks of depression and I couldn’t figure out exactly what I was so sad about. My daughter was still at home. She was still demanding, still making messes all over the house and generally driving me crazy. Furthermore, her senior year in high school had been a real workout; I was exhausted from parenting my teenage girl! Didn’t I need a break and wasn’t I looking forward to it?

Eventually, a wise and experienced friend a few years my senior told me I was depressed because I knew deep down that my daughter was leaving home—really leaving home—and our relationship would never be the same. But sad or not, I knew that despite my daughter’s enthusiasm about college, she was probably as nervous as I was upset. So I had to rise to the occasion and pull myself up by my bootstraps. This was no time to lose my bearings as senior adviser—I had advice I needed to give.

College campuses are worlds unto themselves, and the communities they provide for our kids are shaping and significant. They make lifelong friends, learn new and exciting things about the world and often meet the person they’ll end up loving more than anyone they’ve ever known. This is big stuff. Giving our young adult daughters good advice is important, and we need to provide this advice with insight and humor—otherwise, they won’t listen to or remember anything we say.

Get the four things you must tell your daughter before she goes to college

The following four tips are what I consider to be the most protective and important pearls of wisdom your daughter should hear from you before she slams the trunk shut and runs into her dorm, leaving you in a puddle of tears:

1. Take precautions against sexual assault. Your daughter will be shocked that you said this and undoubtedly will accuse you of being crazy. But the truth is rape on college campuses is a real problem and so are roofies—the “date rape drug.” We need to discuss rape prevention with girls in an open and direct way. Somehow, those of us graduates of the feminist movement feel that doing so is like pre-emptively blaming the victim. Not true. Prevention of anything bad makes sense, no matter what it is.

2. Learn about and acquaint your daughter with the health services provided by her college, including the mental health counseling services. College health services are staffed with healthcare professionals experienced in caring for young adults. They can be invaluable resources, and your daughter should be encouraged to take advantage of these services as needed.

3. Remind your girl of the importance of sleep. And, if she comes home for a visit and spends most of her time sleeping, don’t be angry about it. College kids are often sleep deprived, and this can lead to increased susceptibility to illnesses, depression, weight gain and poor academic performance…not to mention a miserable day-to-day life.

4. And lastly, make sure your daughter has an effective contraceptive method. Ideally, you had this conversation with her in high school, but in case you haven’t, do it before she leaves for college. And remind her of the importance of condoms for STD prevention, because now that she can vote and join the armed forces without your permission, she can certainly decide to have sex without consulting you first. Remember, your values may be very different from hers, but you need to speak the language that says: “I care for you first and want you to be safe, whether I approve of your choices or not.”

Sending our girls off to college is rough. The transition is huge for parents and for kids, and we need to give our daughters sensible and useful advice. Despite your sadness over her departure, continue being her loving parent and send her off with information to help her stay safe as she takes this giant step into the big world. And if you feel depressed because she is leaving, just remember that it’s a phase…and phases pass. Before you know it, she’ll be calling you for advice about something you could never have imagined, just like she always has.

Evelyn Resh is director of sexuality and relationships programming for Miraval Resorts in Tucson. She is a certified sexuality counselor and nurse-midwife and continues her practice in both fields in Tucson and Western Massachusetts. She has taken care of teens and women of all ages in OB-GYN and primary care settings for more than 20 years and specializes in working with women 25 and under. She is also the mother of a 19-year- old daughter. Resh speaks all over the nation on topics related to women’s health and sexual satisfaction and is the author of the new book The Secret Lives of Teen Girls: What Your Mother Wouldn’t Talk About But Your Daughter Needs to Know published by Hay House Publishers.

Help Your Teenage Daughter Manage Her Weight

Sometimes it feels like it’s easier to talk to a wall than to your teenage daughter! When it comes to tricky topics like her weight, you might not even know where to begin. But as her mother, you are responsible for showing her how to take care of herself. Evelyn Resh shares six proactive and loving ways to help you talk to your teen about food and exercise that will help build lifelong healthy habits.

Childhood obesity rates are at an all-time high. This is the first time in our history as a country that childhood and adolescent obesity has been highlighted as a public health crisis. Kids and teens in the United States are facing lifelong health problems because they’re overeating and underexercising.

The onus of responsibility for helping kids eat well and stay slim is ultimately on their parents. We know changes in family habits can go a long way with kids. And, as they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. But, what if you already have a teen girl who is tipping the scale way above her recommended weight? The horse is out of the barn by this time, and parents, especially mothers, often feel completely hopeless in this situation. Mothers’ responses can vacillate between trying to shame their girls into eating less and exercising more or becoming so prescriptive that they create a police state around food at home. The truth is, neither of these approaches is likely to be effective.

As a healthcare provider to teens, I suggest you take a proactive but behind-the-scenes approach to helping your daughter gain a better relationship with food and exercise. Parents need to keep in mind they are personae non grata for teens. Adolescent girls are in the process of becoming their own people, so the strategies that work for kids won’t necessarily work for teens. Plus, being right “up in someone’s business” about something they’re having difficulty managing is annoying at any age. Teen girls need a kind-of MapQuest intervention from parents. Here are some examples of ways you can be helpful when you’re daughter is desperately trying to beat the battle of the bulge.

First: Eat out less often

Americans used to go out for meals only on special occasions. Not anymore. There are folks who eat out two and three times a day! Not only is this costly, but the portion sizes are always too big, and as patrons, you lose control over what you’re actually eating. Cooking and eating meals at home is less expensive and leads to less consumption.

Next: Never shame your daughter or call her names
Referring to your daughter as my “chubby little cherub” or my “plump little hen” is a mistake. Remarks like these will lead your daughter right to her favorite cookies for comfort—or possibly to something worse, like an eating disorder. You need to be complimentary toward your daughter and help her establish a friendly relationship with her flesh and reduce her feelings of “body as enemy or point of mockery.”

Next: Eat as many foods as possible that don’t have an ingredient list

Have you ever really read the ingredients in Cheetos or Oreos? You practically need to be a chemist to understand them. Apples have one ingredient—apples. Stop buying and eating stuff you can’t understand; keep it out of the house. If you crave cookies, make them yourself and limit the frequency and quantity to one batch per week—for the whole family.

Next: Make healthy snacks easily available

Teens often snack and graze versus sitting down to meals. So mitigate possible damage by keeping healthy snacks in the house. I’m not talking about unadorned pieces of celery—nobody wants to eat that. But fruit and string cheese is far better than a granola bar. There are myriad options for healthy snaking available.

Next: Encourage exercise in your daughter’s life

When your daughter starts a new semester or there is a change in season, ask her what sport or physical activity she’s planning to participate in. If none of those offered at school appeal to her, sign her up at the local gym, adopt a dog for her to walk (pay her to do this, if necessary) or take a yoga class with her.

Next: Be a shining example

As I’ve said before, your daughter is always watching and taking things in, which means that your view of health and wellness is important. Make it clear to everyone in your household that interfering with your fitness time is a crime punishable by death and that if you don’t exercise, you’ll be a witch to contend with.

Helping girls lose weight and keep it off is difficult—especially when your daughter is keeping you at a distance. But the process may feel less daunting if you change your perspective and think of this problem as a puzzle to solve. And remember, we need to partner with our daughters with an eye on health, not skinny. And if you do all this and your daughter remains a bit full-figured—so what? People can be healthy, even when they’re not lean.

Evelyn Resh is director of sexuality and relationships programming for Miraval Resorts in Tucson. She is a certified sexuality counselor and nurse-midwife and continues her practice in both fields in Tucson and Western Massachusetts. She has taken care of teens and women of all ages in OB-GYN and primary care settings for more than 20 years and specializes in working with women 25 and under. She is also the mother of a 19-year- old daughter. Evelyn speaks all over the nation on topics related to women’s health and sexual satisfaction and is the author of the new book The Secret Lives of Teen Girls: What Your Mother Wouldn’t Talk about but Your Daughter Needs to Know published by Hay House Publishers.

I Love My Teenage Daughter, But I Can’t Stand Her Right Now

Tears, fights and backtalk—raising a teenage daughter is not always a bed of roses. But what’s normal? Evelyn Resh wants you to know that loving her and liking her don’t always have to go together.

I have yet to meet a woman parenting a teen girl who hasn’t looked at me at some point and uttered the following sentence: “I just can’t stand her right now!” The intensity of this feeling is not something you can

prepare for, and it is completely disheartening to realize that you find your daughter’s company and behavior unbearable.

Mothers can’t help but question whether or not this feeling is normal. It’s very upsetting to well-balanced, loving mothers to feel disappointed when their daughters arrive home early from a social event or have no plans in the first place, which means they’ll be home all night. No mother would imagine that having her girl at home would leave her wishing she had errands to run. Just because she’s your daughter doesn’t guarantee you’ll like her— especially as a teenager. Will she be lovable? Yes. But likable? Absolutely not!

As the mother of a teen daughter and a midwife for teen girls—both of whom I have found quite unlikable from time to time—I assure you that disliking your teen daughter on a fairly regular basis is to be expected and is perfectly normal. If you’ve been questioning this, hang around other mothers of teens, or teens themselves. All your fears about whether your dread falls on the spectrum of normal will be allayed. Other mothers will be saying what you’re saying. And the girls? Well, they’ll do plenty to leave you in a state of pure scorn with actions that no reasonable person could find charming.

Girls can bring their mothers to tears and feelings of hatred for many reasons. For example, many a teen girl has shown off her self-appointed expertise in a field where she has little to no experience. And this can be frustrating. You may want to ask such obvious questions as, “Exactly how can you be a great driver before you have a permit?” or “When did you become a world-class chef? From what I can tell, you’re still perfecting the art of toast.” When your daughter’s self-aggrandizing behaviors and comments are slung at you like boulders from a catapult, you can’t help but feel the force of the blow. But I recommend that you work diligently to keep yourself on an even keel. When evidence of the obnoxious and untenable rears its ugly head and comes spewing forth from your daughter’s mouth, don’t let the same venom come from yours.

A strategy for how to handle your teen First, you need to remember—at all times—that your girl is simply following nature’s assignment and working toward establishing greater independence from you. So acting unbearable actually fits this goal perfectly. After all, the less time you spend with her, the more independent she’ll become and the more successful and happy she’ll be. Her mission is to become a distinctly separate being, and before she can comfortably be around you, she has to feel secure in who she is. She must find herself—even at the expense of your sanity.

Next, put your daughter’s comments in perspective and fall back on your sense of humor to get through. Honestly, since when can someone be an expert on anything if they’ve only been functionally literate for five years? While your daughter’s comments are trying your patience, you have to admit they’re funny—because they’re so preposterous! When you hear something ridiculous, run into another room and write it down in a journal marked “Absurd Comments.” Doing so will get it out of your system and give you proof when you need it that her conduct was horrific—plus think of all the laughs it will give you in the future when the two of you look back on her “wonderful” teen years.

Next, if her braggadocio becomes wounding, tell her! Say something like: “Hey, knock it off. You’re being a real jerk.” It is within the mother’s bill of rights to say this. And don’t be afraid to mention that she’s acting offensive enough for you to refuse to drive her where she’s asked to go. This will help turn her back into a civilized creature.

Lastly, always work from a place of compassion—for yourself and for your daughter. Adolescence is a workout, and the process is facilitated by kindness and common sense. When your daughter’s behavior has led you to the breaking point, remember her mission, your objective to encourage it…:and that you’re a human being, too. What separates you from your daughter is your fully developed frontal lobe. I suggest you use it to its fullest capacity…for both of your sakes.

Evelyn Resh is director of sexuality and relationships programming for Miraval Resorts in Tucson. She is a certified sexuality counselor and nurse-midwife and continues her practice in both fields in Tucson and Western Massachusetts. She has taken care of teens and women of all ages in OB-GYN and primary care settings for more than 20 years and specializes in working with women 25 and under. She is also the mother of a 19-year- old daughter. Resh speaks all over the nation on topics related to women’s health and sexual satisfaction and is the author of the new book The Secret Lives of Teen Girls: What Your Mother Wouldn’t Talk about but Your Daughter Needs to Know published by Hay House Publishers.

Remembering Phoebe Prince: The High Cost of Bullying

The recent tragedy in Massachusetts serves as a poignant reminder to parents to remain aware of what’s happening to children across America. Whether you are worried your child is being bullied or bullying someone else, Evelyn Resh explains what to look for and how to handle it before it happens to someone you love.

Burying a child, especially when the cause of death was entirely preventable, is one of life’s immeasurable sorrows. The recent suicide of 15-year-old Phoebe Prince

in South Hadley, Massachusetts, is an example of one such tragedy. After months of emotional and physical abuse from classmates, this heartbroken young girl saw no alternative but to end her life. This tells me that, for her, life was unbearable and hopeless.

As a healthcare provider, sexuality counselor to teens and parent to a teenage girl, the facts of Phoebe’s life and the reality of bullying that goes on among teens, sadly, do not come as a surprise. Every day, girls and boys in grades K–12 are doing their best to manage with an onslaught of nonstop, unchecked emotional and physical abuse. Some of you might be wondering why these victims don’t say something to a teacher, parent or school administrator. The fact is they do, but the adults they talk to often don’t take them seriously enough.

The idea that kids make these things up is, for the most part, untrue. In the absence of psychological illness, kids—including melodramatic teen girls—do not invent experiences of stalking, harassment or sexual violence. Without a believing and compassionate listener and advocate, the effects of bullying and sexual violence will linger and can lead to promiscuity, drug abuse, self-harming behaviors and depression—just a few of the potential consequences.

Parents who start to notice their child is withdrawing from activities or socializing opportunities, is unusually quiet, frequently complains of illness, cries easily or talks about being afraid to go to school need to investigate what their kid’s life is actually like. And if your kid tells you she’s being teased, do not underestimate the report of the torture. Talk with her teachers and counselors—ask them what they’re seeing. If the school does not have a no tolerance policy when it comes to bullying, take your kid out of that school until the situation has been fully investigated and resolved. This may seem like a drastic measure, but I assure you it isn’t. In my opinion, anything that seriously risks the mental and physical health of your children is reason enough to remove them from that environment. And, for goodness’ sake, do not tell your kids to “toughen up,” “take it like a man” or “give it right back to them.” This advice is absurd, dangerous and does not address the real problem. Bullying—including sexual harassment and intimate-partner violence—is a crime against the body, psyche and soul. Telling your kids to stand up and take it is akin to assuring them that sustaining a bullet wound is simply a matter of will. Just because the wounds from bullying and sexual violence aren’t easily seen doesn’t mean they are any less hazardous.

How to talk to a bully or bullying victim And then there’s the other end of the spectrum: You may discover that

http://www.oprah.com/relationships/Phoebe-Prince-and-the-High-Cost-of-Bullying-Evelyn-Resh/pr… 4/6/2010

Phoebe Prince and the High Cost of Bullying – Evelyn Resh – Oprah.com Page 2 of 2

you’re harboring a bully in your home. This is something no parent wants to face, yet it’s a real possibility. If you receive a call from school telling you that your child has been suspended for harassing a classmate, don’t jump to the conclusion that this can’t be true. Confront her, but be prepared for her to flap around like a fish on deck and blame everyone else. Regardless of her side of the story, don’t minimize the seriousness of the accusation. Listen to the details. Then closely examine what goes on in your own home. Bullying isn’t a congenital defect; it’s learned behavior.

Only parents and other adults in charge of programs that serve kids and teens can prevent and correct bullying. Adults are responsible for teaching that clothing choices, physical features, manner of speech or sexual activity is no excuse to pick on others. And we must make a commitment to creating environments with a zero-tolerance policy for acts of bullying, harassment or sexual violence. In order to accomplish this, we first need to educate ourselves about the prevalence and severity of the problem and then keep a watchful eye on our kids.

If you come to find that your child is bullying someone, let her know, in no uncertain terms, that this is unacceptable and find ways to make her accountable for her behavior. And if your kid tells you that other kids are picking on her at school and making her day a living hell, give her the benefit of the doubt and listen attentively. Take what she says seriously and make sure she knows you care. We all need to work together to end the behaviors that led Phoebe Prince and others like her to make a tragic and irrevocable choice.

Evelyn Resh is director of sexuality and relationships programming for Miraval Resorts in Tucson. She is a certified sexuality counselor and nurse-midwife and continues her practice in both fields in Tucson and western Massachusetts. She has taken care of teens and women of all ages in the OB-GYN and primary care settings for more than 20 years and specializes in working with women 25 and under. She is also the mother of a 19-year- old daughter. Resh speaks all over the nation on topics related to women’s health and sexual satisfaction and is the author of the new book The Secret Lives of Teen Girls: What Your Mother Wouldn’t Talk About but Your Daughter Needs to Know published by Hay House Publishers.

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