Who Wants Less Stress and More Happiness?

This Huffington Post article provided a great jumpstart to my day. I’m moving forward this morning, more mindful of reducing my stress and increasing my happiness. My guess is this info graphic will do the same for you:

http://huff.to/1jCx4WS

Enjoy your day!

– Linda Williams Rorem, Permission Slips, 23 April 2014

Holiday Pressure and Presents

Thanksgiving is the new Black.

Black Friday, which now starts on Thursday, is the American holiday formerly known as Thanksgiving. This year the day was also referenced in Jewish circles by the cheeky moniker “Thanksgivukkah,” due to the rare convergence of Hanukkah on Thanksgiving. Today is Cyber-Monday, tomorrow is Giving-Tuesday, previously known as the plain vanilla “start of the work week.”  Still with me?

If you spent Thanksgiving the traditional way, counting your blessings and enjoying a tryptophan-induced haze, you may feel some anxiety as the holiday season rushes in like a gusty winter storm.

Let’s be honest, holidays are a pressure cooker for most. The holidays can seem like a major pile-on with too many year-end tasks and too many social obligations mixed in with presents to buy and people to please. Throw in sleep deprivation with some guilt sprinkled on top and voila, a toxic mental cocktail.

However, no need to let the calendar page reading December drag you down. Say goodbye to the media blitz that urges you to shop ‘til you drop and give yourself a break.cyber monday

While Permission Slips can’t help with sticky social obligations and relationships, we do have a few suggestions to help alleviate some of the pressure to find presents.

  • Call a present truce. If you dislike the pressure to give presents chances are your sister-in-law, uncle and best friend share the sentiment.  My grandmother used to say that all she wanted for Christmas was a small box of See’s candy. It was her way of saying, “I don’t need more stuff, just you.” In my 30s I broached the subject of stopping adult-to-adult present exchanges in our family. I started with my sister and barely completed the sentence when she said “yes and thank you!” It turns out that there was secret widespread desire for mutual present-disarmament on both sides of the family. No one wanted to be the first to say it, now we all just wish someone said it sooner. Cards and visits are still appreciated and we still enjoy the occasional white elephant gift.

If there is no truce here are some ideas that go beyond the gift card default option.

  • Don’t expect perfect presents.  Sometimes you select a winner. Other times, you may think you nailed it, but the receiver sees it as a dud. Include a gift receipt inside the box and encourage your recipient to use it without guilt. Don’t judge an entire relationship on the reaction to a gift given once a year. The same goes for you as the receiver.
  • Give the gift of time next year. Give a certificate or “I owe you” to go out to dinner or lunch when you have more time and so does the recipient. Later. Say March 2014 when the holidays will be pleasantly residing in your rear-view mirror and the visit may be more relaxed and enjoyable.
  • Give a gift of memories. Take “throwback” pictures off of Facebook or Instagram and put them in a frame. Nothing brings a smile to someone’s face faster than a fond memory invoked by a nostalgic picture. This can even be paired with a favorite throwback treat. The picture will be around to enjoy for more than a fleeting moment on social media.
  • Give to those who help run your life smoothly. There are some people we all feel really motivated to thank such as a teacher, mailman or hairstylist, but wonder how. Here is a great tipping guide for service providers from the Emily Post Institute http://www.emilypost.com/out-and-about/tipping/92-holiday-tipping-is-really-holiday-thanking

If you are one of the rare souls who delights in shopping during the holiday season – lucky you. Enjoy and disregard all of the above. If you have more Grinch-days than not, we stand by you in your struggle and wish you smooth sailing through the holiday seas.

Carol Lewis Gullstad December 2, 2013

permissionslips1@gmail.com twitter @permissionslips

To Donate or Not: How to Decide?

According to the calendar, it’s officially fall.  I know this not just from the crisp air and the Halloween decorations festooning the stores. I know this from the avalanche of charity solicitations that seem to arrive daily. A quick survey of my email inbox, voice mail and U.S. mail yields appeals for local schools, cancer research, political races and children abroad. There are door bell ringers pitching support for the local high school sports teams and candy sales by youth groups. There are tables manned outside my local grocery store soliciting donations to food banks, clothing banks and environmental causes. Their are victims of floods, shootings and accidents needing help.

I could be well fed in the next few weeks simply by attending fundraising lunches, dinners and cocktail gatherings. Many of these organizations are championed by friends and acquaintances with heartfelt appeals. Some proposals come from strangers. While they are all deserving of time and even money, my family struggles with determining the right mix of priorities. We also want to do the greatest good for the greatest number of people.

Donations

Donations (Photo credit: Matthew Burpee)

Should we support causes closer to our own backyard? What is our backyard?

Is it the schools our children attend?

Is it our city, our region, our country?

What about the rest of the world? How can we decide with all these competing interests?

These are all highly personal questions that can only be addressed by honestly asking questions such as: What is my budget? What are my personal values? Do I care about everything equally? Would I rather direct all my resources in one area to affect as much change as possible or spread my donations and effort around?

In addition to aligning our personal values there is also the question of how much of our money donated actually makes it to the charity’s direct programming. It is well-known that when purchasing a box of Girl Scout cookies for $4.00 the individual troop receives only 50 cents.  I sure wish the troops got more for their efforts.

If you have questions about the legitimacy of an organization there is a highly regarded non-profit organization, Charity Navigator, that has useful tools on its website for making informed decisions: http://www.charitynavigator.org/. Their research is extensive and in addition to charity rating evaluations there are site sections such as “Tips for Donors” that include best practices, tips for giving in times of crisis and questions to ask charities before giving. There are top 10 lists which include charities that have overpaid CEOs and charities that consistently receive a high rating. This site provides an easy way to filter.

Armed with information and self-reflection we may feel better about the groups we support: however, that might also mean saying“no” to some. The final step is to give yourself permission to not feel guilty about your choices. People are passionate about their causes and a turn down can seem personal. Permission Slips recommends a simple statement, “I really appreciate your efforts and support your cause, but need to pass on donating at this time.”  Then, feel good because you have done what you can to help, based on your personal priorities.

Let us know how you decide.

Carol Lewis Gullstad, September 23, 2013

permissionslips1@gmail.com

One Dose Oxytocin

“Can I trade you half of my peanut butter and jelly sandwich for your chocolate chip cookie?”

English: A peanut butter and jelly sandwich, m...

English: A peanut butter and jelly sandwich, made with Skippy peanut butter and Welch’s grape jelly on white bread. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Prior to starting elementary school our best buddies live in our neighborhood. We form new friendships through games of hide ‘n’ seek, racing bikes and sharing favorite mud pie recipes. After entering school we progress to making connections in class or through shared after-school activities. Through our high school and college years we become more discerning, selecting friends based on purposeful experiences and values. Finally, in early adulthood, our work and hobby networks may define the company we keep.

As we have children of our own we come full circle. We have adult friends who are our neighbors and perhaps even “seasonal friends” – the ones who we sit next to in the school auditorium or bleachers.

It seems that some of our most treasured relationships might be based on random occurrences: right place, right time. Yet, they mean so much more. Great friends make us feel calmer and happier and even make uneven trades of sandwiches for cookies.

We’ve devoted blog space over the years to the physiological need to get our “friendship high” from the hormone oxytocin.  It has been proven in medical studies from institutions ranging from UCLA to Harvard: the more oxytocin is released, the better we feel.

Since it is in our best health interest to increase the production of oxytocin in our brain, what is the relationship to prescription drugs? If you know anyone who had surgery lately, the “go to” drug is oxycodone. It is used to relieve pain from injuries, arthritis, cancer and other conditions. Some common variations are Percodan (oxycodone and aspirin) and Percocet (oxycodone and acetaminophen). It is also widely abused.

It makes me wonder why doctors don’t prescribe oxytocin along with the narcotics. Imagine walking away from a medical procedure with the following notation, “Take one oxycodone, one ibuprofen and see one friend every 4 hours.”friend dose

I experimented with this dosage in the last 6 months. While my two-person-trial would never qualify for the New England Journal of Medicine, I swear it works. I am going on record: next time you are ill for any reason, try this easy remedy. However, this restorative elixir does come with one known side effect, you may become addicted to your friends.

Carol Lewis Gullstad

September 9, 2013 permissionslips1@gmail.com

Dog Days of Summer

I love summer.

Summer feels warm, tastes like watermelon, smells of sunscreen lotion and sounds like splashing water. The days are longer, the “to do list” is shorter. People smile more. The pace just seems to be slower and easier. In summer I read the newspaper less and trashy novels more. Unplugging from everyday news allows me to think that everything is going much better in the world. It probably isn’t, but at least I don’t know about it. Ignorance is bliss.

Most of us thrive on structure and routine, however, summer allows us to let go a little and feed our “inner child” an extra scoop of ice cream. As Fall approaches, the air turns crisper and the atmosphere shifts. Like squirrels stashing nuts, people seem to have their head down more and the pace quickens. Just like a great vacation, though, I want to hang on to my summer euphoria a little longer in the dog days of summer.

Before September closes in I plan to:IMAG1257

  1. Eat ice cream
  2. Take a favorite hike
  3. Visit a beach and track sand through the house
  4. Ride my bike
  5. Mix and drink Ginger Beer Lemon Mint Medley
  6. Spend a lazy Sunday wandering through my local farmer’s market
  7. Eat a dinner of hamburgers, corn-on-the-cob and watermelon
  8. Make s’mores
  9. Go to a baseball game
  10. Take a short road trip

The simple pleasures are truly the best. If I work my way through my list one more time, I can move on to back-to-school mode with a little less remorse. Then when the days are darker and shorter, I can revisit my “summer state of mind.”

Here is the recipe for the Ginger Beer drink, which can be made alcoholic or non-alcoholic. Either one tastes great!

Ginger Beer Lemon Mint Medley

Ginger Beer Lemon Mint Medley

Ginger Beer Lemon Mint Medley
1/2 lemon squeezed
lemon zest from 1/2 lemon
mint leaves
3 slices fresh ginger
Muddle first 4 ingredients
Fill glass with ice
Pour ginger beer to top and enjoy

Dear readers, what would you like to do one more time before summer slips away?

Carol Lewis Gullstad August 12, 2013

permissionslips1@gmail.com

Permission to Love Swag

Nothing can kill the “had a great time out with my girlfriends” buzz better than returning home to a mess.

When the kids were young, I could literally retrace their – and my husband’s – steps after a few hours away. Sherlock Linda could detect: Dad made pancakes, dripped batter on burners…child spilled syrup on table…child added Nestle Quik to milk (and counter top)…boys used seven blankets to build fort on bunk beds…someone opened 13 video cases to find missing tape…boys learned how to make paper airplanes…toddler “ate” Cheerios for snack, all over house…and so on.

Fortunately, the messes diminished as the kids aged. So, on Friday night, I was shocked to see dozens of small packages strewn across the kitchen counter. And then, upon closer inspection, I realized it was MY stuff.

photo-20Yes, the box of swag I had shipped home from last weekend’s BlogHer 13 conference had arrived, and my daughter had rifled through it for the goodies I had promised.

Every conference attendee received a bag full of stuff – promotions that companies wanted to market to the 5,000 or so, mostly female, primarily aged 35 – 55, bloggers. Other advertisers handed out their wares at alluring booths adjacent to the conference rooms.

Of course, I loaded up on lotions, dog toys, nail polish, lip balm, key chains, coffee packets, almonds, cups and even a T-shirt emblazoned with my daughter’s nickname, “Peapod” (a new grocery delivery service).

When I returned from a GNO on Friday night, Pea and my husband were watching “So You Think You Can Dance” downstairs (one of them CAN dance; the other wants to reincarnate as Gregory Hines). Pea heard my footsteps and shouted, “Mom, your box got here. Dad thinks you have a ‘Free-Stuff’ problem!”

It’s true, I love “free stuff.” And I come by the trait honestly.

My maternal grandmother was the queen of cheap. Although she and my grandfather were financially secure, Nana never passed up a freebie. In fact, she filled the candy bowl in her living room with chocolate covered mints pilfered from their Yacht Club’s hostess stand.

If that isn’t irony, I don’t know what is.

Back in the day, banks offered cool stuff – toasters, dishes, electric blankets – as incentives for deposits. So, my Pop-Pop gave Nana a certain amount of money to move around as the spirit – and swag – moved her. I know that was the source of many Christmas presents.

My well-to-do grandpa wasn’t immune to his wife’s obsession. In fact, Nana and Pop-Pop’s bridge group met in one bank every Tuesday morning for the free coffee and donuts. True story.

After Pop-Pop died, my mom was astonished to discover Nana’s stash when helping her move into assisted living. Apparently, an entire closet brimmed with useless items from banks.

Although the taste for the free treat may have skipped my mom’s generation, it certainly hit me hard. And while I don’t want to “out” anybody here, I can say that when visiting a certain older sibling in Rochester, NY, and Minneapolis, we planned trips to supermarkets known for generous and savory samples.

Here in Seattle, we have Costco. And if you time the trip right, you can enjoy a full free meal. It doesn’t matter if you don’t like or would never otherwise taste the treat offered; if it’s free, you take it.

After that, you buy the multi-pack and watch it grow mold or gather dust in your kitchen cabinet.

Several years ago, my co-blogger Carol and I enrolled our youngest kids in a weekly gymnastics class. Not being the type to hover during practice, ready to advise the coaches on training our budding Olympians, we escaped to the local Trader Joe’s every week.

The class started at noon, so we knew TJ’s samples could serve as lunch. We always circled back for a second helping, hoping the server wouldn’t remember us.

We then purchased the promotional ingredients to replicate the dish in our own homes, and often, at least in my home, that food turned moldy or gathered dust. Even worse, the TJ fare occasionally got pushed to the rear of my deep cabinets and was forgotten.

That is, until the pantry moths started hatching.

This became a multi-month problem, which began with throwing out tons of food (mostly all-natural grains), continued with wiping down the cabinets with ammonia and ended with installing fly-paper like traps from my pest-control agent.

It was probably payback for my “Free-Stuff” problem. However, from the looks of the bag of swag on my counter, I didn’t learn my lesson.

– Linda Williams Rorem, 5 Aug. 2013
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A Father’s Legacy: Breast Cancer?

Angelina Jolie publicly outed the difficult medical choices that women face. Her story, however is not unique. My friend Tana Senn faced a similar situation in the last few years. Here is Tana´s story in her own words:

TanaSenn_HeadshotIn 2011, I had a risk-reducing oophorectomy (removing my ovaries and fallopian tubes).

Like Angelina Jolie, I have the BRCA1 gene mutation—an oft-mentioned link to breast and ovarian cancer that is often passed on from one generation to the next.

Unlike Jolie, neither my mother nor my grandmother had breast cancer, ovarian cancer or the BRCA1 gene mutation. I inherited it from my father.

In 2010, my dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. As doctors looked into his health history, they recommended he take the test for BRCA1.

While it is rarely discussed, other cancers like pancreatic cancer can also be linked to the BRCA1 gene mutation, even though it’s most closely associated with breast cancer and ovarian cancer, which usually has deadly implications given the difficulties of early detection.

When my dad disclosed the news that he was a carrier, I took the test…with much trepidation.

A few weeks later, I received the call – I carried the BRCA1 gene mutation.

I was angry, distraught, scared and in disbelief.

I am also a mother. I had to do something in the face of the 50 percent chance of getting ovarian cancer.

Instead of being angry at the genetic news, my doctor advised, be grateful. There are so many diseases out there that we can’t detect early. Or if we do know a genetic marker for them, there isn’t always something we can do about it.  BRCA1 is different. An oophorectomy and mastectomy can take the 50 percent chance of ovarian cancer and the 87 percent likelihood of breast cancer down to less than 5 percent.

I knew I was done with having children, so I addressed the risk of ovarian cancer first. I acted on my knowledge, not my fears, and made a medical decision to improve my outcomes.

A few weeks shy of my 40th birthday, I had an oophorectomy and hysterectomy.  My risk for ovarian and cervical cancers is virtually gone. The surgery also decreased my chances of breast cancer.

Every six months I monitor for breast cancer by having an MRI or a mammogram.  The stress of bi-annual tests is likely to lead me to a prophylactic mastectomy in the future.  But whatever I choose, I will be acting based on powerful medical knowledge.

With my surgery and dad’s death further behind me now, I’m blessed with a new perspective on the entire experience. The key thing with learning your family history and bolstering our knowledge with genetic testing is an ability to make informed decisions and ultimately go on with our lives.

– Tana Senn lobbied for federal legislation to prevent insurance and employment discrimination based on genetic factors, even before her own diagnosis. Currently, she is a Mercer Island City Councilmember.

– At Permission Slips we believe strongly that women need to advocate for their health and take better care of themselves. We are so happy for Tana and her family.

https://permissionslips.wordpress.com/

Mom Down

Mother’s Day is just around the corner and stores are festooned with celebratory banners reminding us to honor all things Momish and to commemorate contributions to family life.  My stay-at-home dad friend, Tom, often proclaims, “Mom is a job description not a gender.” Today, I applaud the Mom of the house, whether it is a she or a he.

The mom-job broadly speaking is to operate the central nervous system of the family unit. The advertising agency for United Parcel Service (UPS) developed a tag-line, “We love logistics.” It is without a doubt that they came up with that line while observing the electromagnetic signals emanating from a mom’s brain.brain-waves control tower

Nobody knows logistics like a mom.

Our brains hold millions of information bits that may require retrieval at any moment. We need to simultaneously know the time and date of a doctor appointment, the shoe size of our youngest child and the location of the “hidden” ketchup bottle in the refrigerator. We must know when a birthday present needs to be purchased, when a carpool time needs to be swapped and which volunteer spot needs to be filled one month from Friday. We must keep the food-supply and medical-supply chain filled at all times and know the directions to Grandma’s 85th birthday party in the next state.

When a mom goes down, it is akin to the central air-command server crashing. It is a finely balanced house of cards that collapses when the critical piece is removed. I’ve seen it happen to families and it is not pretty. However, the army of “moms” at-the-ready is a majestic sight to behold.

Last week, I was the “mom down.” My husband had a freak accident that resulted in emergency surgery. He is recovering and on the mend but there were some scary moments. My hats off to the “special forces” that appeared.

  1. First Responders. Thank you to my “wingmen.” I called them while following an ambulance. I didn’t explain much, yet asked them to get medical information retrieved and vetted. These moms got back to me within 40 minutes. They pulled favors and people out of meetings to get the important information I needed fast.
  2. Meals on Wheels. Food appeared. I have kids at home who were bewildered and upset as I tried to update them from the hospital. A meal appeared that night and each night after. One of our favorite deliveries was from a dad who was concerned about our teenage boys getting fed. Biggest bowl of pasta ever. He must have used 5 pots to prepare.
  3. Rapid Transit. My kids got to where they needed to go. Pick-up and delivery service with a smile.
  4. Visitors. My husband’s friends provided a steady stream of good cheer at the hospital and at home.
  5. Humor. A little levity goes a long way to defuse a tense time. Thank you to all the friends who masked their worried looks and managed to get us laughing.

Even though the mom in this situation was not the injured person, the control tower was taken out of play. My friend told me that when she heard the news she sprung into action knowing there was a mom down in the neighborhood.

Happy Mother’s Day to the moms and dads who pitched in without asking and those who asked how they could pitch in. It was humbling and I am so appreciative. Our family is now “mom up,” with all the extra support.

Carol Lewis Gullstad

May 6, 2013

permissionslips1@gmail.com

 

Are You There, Margaret? It’s Me.

As she approached her half-century mark, Margaret (not her real name) seemed to have it all. She and her long-term boyfriend shared an apartment in the city, and looked forward to spending more time in their country home as soon as their blended-family nest emptied.

Margaret’s oldest child was doing well at a top-tier university, and her daughter would soon head to an Ivy League college. Margaret enjoyed work at a company she had spent more than 25 years with.

Wanted: New Life

Wanted: New Life

And then, just after her 50th birthday, everything changed.

Long-festering issues rose to the surface between Margaret and her significant other, and after months, she decided it was time to end the union.

At the same time, her company experienced a period of upheaval and layoffs, and Margaret realized she no longer felt sufficient loyalty or fulfillment in her position. She sought out and soon landed a new, challenging job with a different firm.

Perhaps most striking, once Margaret’s kids departed for school that fall, she, too, left the nest. She moved into a smaller apartment in a different neighborhood where, for the first time in her life, she began living alone. So, at 50, Margaret found herself with a new job, a new home, a new life as an empty nester and soon, quite happily, a new boyfriend. She recently bought a new car, as well.

For many women, these drastic changes would have seemed overwhelming, at best. However, Margaret sailed along, embracing the gusts that propelled her forward. “Maybe each of these big, mid-life changes was easier to manage emotionally because I didn’t have time to dread just one of them or to feel sorry for myself,” she recalls.

Margaret just kept putting one stylish shoe in front of the other.

The good news is that following an extremely tumultuous 50th year, Margaret is now as happy as ever, and feels optimistic about the infinite possibilities that lie ahead.

Perhaps most important, she has given herself permission to step back and contemplate where she wants to go in life, how she needs to attain her goals, who she wants to spend time with and what makes her content.

“I suddenly faced a whole new life and had to reconstruct what my day, my week, my future looked like,” Margaret says. “I made the decision to wake up every day looking at it all as a new adventure.  And that’s what this past year became for me. I am laughing a lot, I feel fortunate and I’m learning and growing.”

I’ve known Margaret for decades, and watched as she experienced major life events including losing her father and brother, marrying, moving to the suburbs – and later divorcing and returning to the city, raising two stellar kids, surviving layoffs and succeeding at several high-profile jobs.

However, in all that time, I have never seen her drive wane or her kindness harden. She is much more than a survivor, because she never played the victim. Margaret never lets life lead her; she takes the wheel and drives (to quote one of my favorite bands, Incubus).

As she explains, “Life is both long and short. I’ve found that leading it joyfully and authentically has been a choice. As trivial as it sounds, resentment, fear, paralysis, victimhood would just take away from the nice time I could be having instead.”

Margaret serves as a guiding light for women who need to escape unhealthy relationships, worry about being alone, sense they can achieve more in their careers or fear that it’s too late to make changes.

At 51, Margaret is in the prime of her life. I’m excited to see where the next 50 years will take her.

– Linda Williams Rorem, 29 April 2013
To subscribe, email PermissionSlips1@gmail.com

Top 10 Tips for Teens

The teenage years are preprogrammed for rebellion; it’s a time when emerging adults must prove they are distinct beings, separate from their parents. And, it’s a time when middle- and high-schoolers must determine which of their parents’ rules work for them, and which need retooling or complete abandonment.

Not surprisingly, the teenage years are often fraught with friction, as these too-big-for-their-britches youth clash with parents, siblings, teachers and coaches on homework, personal hygiene, laundry, meals, promptness, relationships, illegal substances, curfews, sleep cycles and more.

To make matters worse, many parents are simultaneously dealing with unprecedented stress resulting from loosening reins, worrying about their kids driving or attending parties, trying to save for college, waiting up for late arrivals and, as often is the case, the hormonal surges of peri-menopause.

Last week, I became the proud parent of four teenagers, when my youngest turned 13; my oldest has four months to age 20. To say the least, I’m in the thick of it.

And so, to honor my works-in-progress, their buddies and my quickly-turning-grey and pulling-out-their-hair comrades, I present the top ten tips for teens – written from the teens’ perspective.

Disclaimer: Yes, I know many amazing teenagers who demonstrate none of these behaviors, and most of the time, my own can be wonderful. The following is an amalgamation of several stories I have heard or read, and is intended to be tongue-in-cheek.

1. Eschew hangers and drawers.

photo-18Simply dump your clean laundry on your bedroom floor, and operate from a system of piles. If you’re male, select whatever is on top of the pile each day. If the underarm area doesn’t smell too rancid, you’re good to go. If you’re a girl, rummage through the piles for the perfect outfit every morning. This may take five or six tries. Changes are much quicker and more efficient if you don’t have to fold or hang up anything.

2. Never complete homework in advance.

Why waste your time working ahead? We all know deadline pressure is the best motivator. And “deadline” is a loose term. It could mean “sometime after the due date and before semester grades are turned in.”

By the way, remember that screens are crucial during homework time. For focus, try listening to music. Don’t forget to have a movie playing on your laptop and Twitter or Tumblr up on your smartphone. You might even get some homework questions answered that way.

3. Ignore parental recommendations.

If your parents suggest music, clothing, movies, restaurants or hairstyles, press the MUTE button immediately. Later, you can revisit their recommendations. Check with a few friends to see if your parents were on to something. Then, if you follow the advice, make sure your parents know it came from someone else.

4. Avoid outings with parents.

If, by chance, you are free on a weekend night, never, ever go to dinner with your parents. You never know who might see you. If you have no choice but to agree, you can always feign nausea or cramps at the last minute. And if the dinner is unavoidable, be sure to have an exit strategy or excuse ready in case you spot friends or classmates. Locate the exits and bathrooms ahead of time. If you’re put on the spot, anniversaries and birthdays make good excuses.

5. Assure your parents that they are “the strictest.”

Have several examples on hand of parents who permit later bedtimes and curfews, provide larger allowances, ask for less help around the house, and are less nosey and more understanding. Keep in mind that this could backfire, though. (One of my kids, when arguing for a later curfew, said, “All of my friends have gotten speeding tickets or DUIs, and they have later curfews. I have never gotten in trouble, so why do I need to come in so early?” My response: “Do you not understand the principle of cause and effect?”)

6. Remember that curfews can be negotiated.

You’ll have to feel your own parents out on this one; some stress out if you’re a minute late, while others offer a five- to fifteen-minute grace period. No matter what, a quick text five minutes before deadline reading, “Need to deliver some dumb friends who got drunk and can’t drive,” will always buy more time. And, your parents will be happy that you were the smart one.

7. Know that if they leave it, teens will come.

Master all the tricks for when parents go away: leaving windows unlocked, copying and hiding house keys, conjuring up dummy plans to distract your in loci parentis, having friends park a block away – in an effort to foil nosey neighbors. If your parents head out, your friends will find out. Even kids who aren’t your friends will find out. Thanks to Facebook and Twitter, parties can be organized in a flash. One local teen even threw a party when the parents went out for dinner.

8. Leave no trace behind.

Sadly for the kids, most party-throwers and attendees leave a few subtle signs. This includes: empty beer bottles in bushes, furniture slightly askew, water in liquor bottles, small stains on carpets, un-flushed toilets, even small pieces of tape indicating beer-pong boundaries. Don’t underestimate your parents’ prowess in uncovering clues.

9. Live in silence.

Real, live conversations are a thing of the past. When you “talk” to a friend, you’re really exchanging printed words via Facebook, text messages, Instagram, Twitter or the like. Entire relationships have begun, fluorished and ended without one face-to-face conversation. Speed and efficiency are always of the essence in communications. (My own kids have not even set up voice mail functions on their phone.)

10. Keep in mind that it’s all in the delivery.

The following phrases, delivered in earnest (text message is preferred) will undo almost any wrong:

  • U WERE RIGHT
  • I SHOULD HAVE LISTENED TO U
  • I M SO SORRY
  • I ❤ U
  • I M LUCKY U R MY PARENT

– Linda Williams Rorem, 15 April 2013a
To subscribe, email PermissionSlips1@gmail.com

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