Fight With Your Teenager, Says the Doctor

Now here’s a study that might make you feel better about that fight you just had with your teenage daughter.  US researchers from the University of Virginia have found that regular verbal fights with parents just might help children to cope with peer pressure and to avoid drugs and alcohol.

They also found that these children tend to be better at negotiating.  Observing 150 13-year-old kids arguing with their mothers, the researchers then quizzed the teenagers three years later.

The researchers found that the teenagers who had used more reason and confidence when arguing with their parents were more likely to refuse drugs and alcohol three years later. As Joseph Allen, lead author of the study, explained, “It turns out that  what goes on in the family is actually a training ground for teens in terms of how to negotiate with other people.”
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The study was published in the Child Development journal.  While it encourages healthy arguing, the study did warn that arguing just for the sake of arguing, or slamming doors, will not help teens to develop these skills and self-confidence.

Ariel and Deborah Levy Win Highly Controversial “Wrongful Birth” Suit

In a highly controversial ruling, a Portland, Oregon couple was just awarded $2.9 million on Friday in a “wrongful birth suit” they filed against Legacy Health System. The couple argued that they would have terminated the pregnancy had they been told that their daughter had Down syndrome. The jury voted 12-0 and took less than six hours to reach its verdict in the case of Ariel and Deborah Levy vs. Legacy Health System. The trial which took place in Multnomah County Circuit Court has created passions on both side.

While they aren’t unusual in filing a “wrongful birth” suit, as many are filed each year in the US, they are unusual for going to trial. Experts say that going to trial in a situation of this sort puts the parents in a terribly awkward situation – they have to admit on the record that they would have aborted the child and that the child they now have is a burden.

Pointing the finger at Legacy Health System, they argued that they were assured time after time that everything was fine with the fetus. Jurors in the case found five instances of Legacy Health’s negligence, including one when Deborah Levy was thirteen weeks pregnant. In that situation, her doctors who tested a sample of tissue concluded that the baby didn’t have any chromosomal problems; it was later discovered that the doctors took a sample of the wrong type of tissue.
One week after the baby’s birth, the Levys discovered that she did have Down syndrome. In addition to the negligence committed while the baby was in the womb, the Levys argued that the doctors were “negligent in their performance, analysis and reporting” of their baby’s test results after her birth.

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While the lawsuit may seem unsavory and has gotten many passionate reactions, the Levys argue that their suit is for the costs of care for their daughter during her lifetime. As their lawyer, David K. Miller, told KATU-TV, “These are parents who love this little girl very, very much. Their mission since the beginning was to provide for her and that’s what this is all about.”

The health care company has replied to the verdict in a statement that said, “While Legacy Health has great respect for the judicial process, we are disappointed in today’s verdict. The legal team from Legacy Health will be reviewing the record and considering available options.”

Healthy Habits to Battle Teenage Risky Behaviors

A Happy, Healthy Teen

In today’s generation, the battle against teenage drinking, smoking, and other risky behaviors is an ongoing struggle. Parents, siblings, teachers and friends are often forced to handle situations far beyond their means.

Sometimes the behavior is less extreme, however. It begins as a small funk; a general loss of motivation, moodiness, fatigue… It is important to notice these signs early, even if there seems to be little risk to his or her long-term health.

The best way to battle negative or dangerous behaviors is by doing so long before the problem arises, by instilling a sincere interest in healthy habits. University of Essex studies have shown that teens who maintain a healthy diet and some sort of exercise routine are happier, and less likely to slide into some of the more dangerous habits.

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To clarify, maintaining a healthy diet does not mean maintaining a narrow waistline. Media today portrays healthy foods and exercise routines as a means to look your best. While this is certainly the end result, a proper, balanced diet does much more for the body and mind. Foods rich in vitamins, minerals and natural sugars, such as fruit and vegetables, leave the body feeling more energized, alert and clean. Apples and other fruits are also great sources for positive energy, and the saying ‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away’ was not said in jest. Leafy, dark green vegetables provide the body with iron, vitamin B-12 and many other important nutrients. Fibers cleanse the digestive system, citrus are rich in Vitamin C, bananas improve muscle health, etc.

By combining a love of a balanced diet and the feeling it gives the body with physical activity, you strengthen not only the physical side of your teen, but the emotional as well. Don’t force your child to run every day. Find an activity that he or she enjoys; a sport, a dance class… Exercise routines vary from Zumba to yoga, to aerobics, swimming, basketball, Pilates, soccer, martial arts, bike riding and even just jumping rope in the back yard. The physical activity will do wonders for your child’s health. It will improve his or her self-image, self-respect, self-confidence, competitiveness, focus and personal discipline, as well as boost his or her general mood by releasing endorphins, or ‘happy hormones.’ Of course, the benefits to the body are incomparable as well.

A healthy, confident, happy person, be it a child, teen or adult, is more likely to pursue his or her interests, cope with stress and make mature decisions without dabbling in more dangerous behaviors such as under aged or irresponsible drinking, smoking, or drug abuse.

Holden’s Post-Hollie Healing


Amanda Holden – one of the judges on the UK show “Britain’s Got Talent” (the British version of “American Idol” if you will) – recently gave birth to a second daughter, Hollie Rose.  The media went crazy; in Great Britain one couldn’t pick up a newspaper and avoid it.  After some time has passed for reflection however, the question now being asked is, why did this make such headlines?  One reason is that the TV star almost died and thereafter publicly declared she would not be having any more children.  But is that newsworthy enough?  It now seems that public responses have been somewhat critical as to why Holden has taken up so much real estate in the news.

True, Holden has been through a lot in the birthing department, but unfortunately, this is the case for many mothers.  One pregnancy ended in miscarriage (the stats for that are between 10 and 20 percent of all pregnancies) a stillborn (less common, with approximately one in 150 pregnancies ending this way).  Then, during her most recent birth at the beginning of this year, the mother of 6-year-old Lexi, experienced a major hemorrhage and came dangerously close to death as her heart stopped for 40 seconds and she had to spend three days in the ICU.  Apparently at one point she didn’t think she’d make it home.

Much Ado About Nothing?

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But still, isn’t this a bit of a case of much ado about nothing?  Yes it’s true, Holden is a bit of a star (in the UK) and yes indeed, she did go through something traumatic, but did she really need to take up so much media attention?  The public seems to think not.  As Ben Kendall quite rightly tweeted this week, “If Britain really is drawing up plans for a war in Iran, is that not a better story than Amanda Holden dying for 40 seconds?”  And then there was the voice of Political Scrapbook who likewise tweeted: “Sun on Sunday's first front page splash is an interview with, errrr, Amanda Holden. Weak!” 

On one of the many reports on Holden and Hollie, The Daily Mail reader Linda, from Fife, pointed out, “stop milking it for publicity, you got a 4 page spread yesterday. If you were so close to death's door I can't see how you would have been fit enough to be back at work after 3 weeks.” The woman has a point…

One reads about Holden bemoaning her predicament and how she found it very hard to engage in simple tasks like showering that her mother had to do for her.  Well, probably many new mothers – or indeed anyone who has had surgery – has had to encounter this.  She even got a Zimmer frame but after a day she was reported to have “thrown it away.”  Perhaps the media should have focused more on that and how there are no doubt many people in the UK who would have been delighted to receive her discarded walking aid.

Or maybe all of this is good news for Britain; that thankfully there’s nothing too tragic to report on so we need to read about this.  Nice in an ideal world, but we all know that’s not the world in which we live so perhaps we should move back to reporting real news and leave Holden to bond with Hollie Rose.

Where to Now for Bobbi Kristina?


It’s never easy losing a parent. But for 18-year-old Bobbi Kristina – only child of famed singer Whitney Houston RIP – there’s a lot more to deal with than just grieving for the loss of her mother.  First of all, although reports have yet to confirm it, in all likelihood, Houston died of a drug overdose. Second, her and Bobby Brown (Bobbi’s father) were estranged (and she didn’t have much to do with him so this loss was in a sense, like losing a second parent).  Third, any move she makes will be immediately in the spotlight because of how popular her mother was in the Hollywood music world.

Bobbi in Crisis?

Bobbi has been followed since the private funeral of her late mother.  Since then, she has been with her family.  However, there was some fear in the early hours after the funeral as the daughter of the 48-year-old pop star could not be found. Indeed, one report even suggested she was found getting high in a hotel room just a few hours after her mother was laid to rest, but others sharply deny this.  Still it has been noted that her family has been pushing her to go to rehab.  Although if you listen to BeBe Winans – a friend of the family – Bobbi Kristina is “doing great.”

Family Time

Just before the funeral, Houston’s mother – along with Bobbi – attended an emotional private viewing.  Later on, Clive Davis came to the funeral – the man who was responsible for discovering the singer’s talents back in the 1980s.

Bobbi’s Battles

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At such a difficult time for the 18-year old, it is surely utterly unfair that her father got into a nasty fight with Houston’s family because he claimed he wanted to see his daughter.  He was denied access after he flew to LA to be there for her but at least, thankfully, decided not to involve his lawyers. Truthfully though, there may be some sympathies for the man since he was moved around a bunch of times at the funeral and then forbidden from seeing his daughter.  Although new reports now suggest that he was specifically asked not to approach his daughter, to leave her alone, unless she specifically indicated she wanted to talk with him.

It’s a tough situation.  But ultimately, even if there are sympathies for Brown, the one who needs to be protected the most at this point is Bobbi – she’s still just a child – and as an adult, Brown should be able to put his emotions aside and do whatever it takes to help his daughter through this ordeal, even if that means staying out of the picture.  Yet clearly he was thinking of himself, not anyone else.  Perhaps it was that which led to his daughter becoming high after the funeral. Maybe this was just all too much for her.  And maybe, had Brown considered her plight carefully ahead of time, he would have stuck to the rules.

It’s going to be a long road ahead for the daughter of the singer who made it big in the 1980s and was still performing at packed out concerts until her death.  Everyone close to her – family and friends – should understand this and only be there for her when she asks for it.


How to Give Your Home a Pre-Spring Makeover

The winter months have left your home looking rather gloomy, and while spring might seem rather far off, a great project to get started on now is a simple home makeover. Try to involve your children, as well, to give them a good reason to ditch the computer or TV for a few hours after school.

The first step in touching up your home is, of course, a paint job. Don’t try to tackle the whole house, this will end up costing an arm and a leg, and will also stretch your patience with the process. Choose a few areas or rooms that could use a change; the difference in color will change the entire space, saving you the cost and effort of repainting everything. Of course, spend the little extra you may need to fix up any scratches or areas that have peeled.

This season’s popular colors are pastels and deep jewel tones. These will help brighten up any space, as well as give them a completely different mood. Try to match your choices to the white or cream bases that are already used throughout your home. A deep minty turquoise, for example, looks stunning with white walls, shelves or rugs. If you’re hesitant to commit to a new color, or too lazy to paint full walls, go out and buy some stencils and add a little bit of color and personality that way instead. You can even paint on children’s furniture, too, like a desk or a dresser. Wall-stickers are another great option to achieve this look.

Next, work on the more specific décor. Look around your main areas, and revamp your photo collection. Buy an eclectic bunch of new picture frames (mix colors, shapes and sizes), then sort through your photos and choose some favorites to put on display.

Now, move on to your furniture, rugs, cushions and other living room accessories. Don’t bother buying anything new; try to work with what you have. If the stuff looks kinda shabby, why not try removable covers? This will give you an opportunity to try new colors and styles without committing to the new look. You can even dye them yourself. Add ribbons, lace, tassels or designs to your cushions- if you’re intimidated by sewing machines, you can use hot glue instead.
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Third, think about adding some plants to your interior. Beautiful potted flowers, or leafy vines like ivy, literally add life to a room. At your local nursery, ask for sturdy, indoor plants, that perhaps have a pleasant smell. Put some on top of the refrigerator, by the stairs, in the bathroom and on the piano, and make sure to put a bit of thought into the pots you choose.

Last but not least, think about the curtains, towels, bath mats and shower screens. These little things give the room its finishing touches, changing the atmosphere from hectic or messy to appealing and organized. While you’re at it, buy some new plastic drawers to keep in children’s bedrooms, bathrooms and the den to help keep things in reach but out of sight.