GOING STEADY, GOING around, being together - what did you call dating when you were a teenager? We wanted to know how the kids these days are doing relationships - and we really wanted to know what's the deal with "hooking up" and "drama" - two terms we've been hearing quite a lot from the younger set. So we asked three teens and guess what? They told us.
KTD producer Sarah Gonzales talked to Eli (19), Sydney (19) and Aviva (18) about the world of dating in high school and college and found that, perhaps, the more things change, the more the stay the same. Listen below...
I STARTED "DATING" in the 7th grade. A few people had started earlier, but the onset of middle school brought with it an increased interest of the opposite gender. But it wasn't really dating. For the most part, "going out with" someone (as was the slang for the time) consisted of holding hands at school, awkwardly trying to make conversation on the phone occasionally, and most importantly, changing your Myspace to "in a relationship". I'm sickened when somebody says "It's not official until it's Facebook Official," but the almighty Facebook status is taken as law within my generation, whether I like it or not.
In high school, things started to change. With more freedom, couples could go out to lunch (if one of their friends had a car), or even go to movies if their parents let them. The parents are the ultimate arbiter in their kids' dating experience. With my parents, they barely let me do anything until high school. I thought this was the cruelest thing ever, since some of my friends practically had chauffeurs as parents. But in the end it didn't really matter because I realized it wasn't all that great to have free reign.
The tipping point where dating goes from immature to mature is when kids start getting cars, and more importantly the ability to drive other people in those cars. Then, high school dating becomes changes to like real dating-dating - you know, lunch/dinner and a movie, or mini-golf or even skydiving.
Moving forward into college, I can't see it changing that much. Of course I won't have a car to drive my princess around in, but maybe I could pay off a strapping young man to give us rickshaw rides for the night. Now I'm glad my parents limited me when I was younger, because there's more important things to do when you're 14 than spend 5 days a week at Skateland "dating".
Looking for love, companionship and a life partner means dating – for better or for worse. So this time on Kids These Days! we’re exploring what happens when mom or dad start dating again after a divorce or death of a spouse, and we’ll also turn an eye to teens and dating - how are the kids these days doing relationships (or not)?
What's the best relationship advice you ever received, moms and dads? Share it in the comments below!
IN-STUDIO GUESTS: Joining host Shana Sheehy in the studio are two professionals with personal experience on the topic.
• Ashley M. Barrera is a marital and family therapist in Anchorage who holds master’s of science in human development and family studies from Iowa State University. She is in private practice in Anchorage where she works with individuals, couples and families on topics related to relationship enhancement, divorce, remarriage and blended family therapy. Ashley is a proud member of a blended family herself, who enjoys sharing her life with her fiancé and his six year old son.
• Kyle Bradford is the man behind ChopperPapa.com, a blog of observations on single fatherhood, divorce, relationships, dating, manhood, and other subjects he lovingly calls "intellectual roadkill". A divorced dad for 7 years, Kyle is profoundly familiar with what it means to be a parent in the "modern family". He resides with his children, ages 8 and 10, in Atlanta, Georgia where he joined us from the WABE studios.
LINKS FROM THIS PROGRAM:
Books recommended by Ashley:
- Alaska's Favorite Matchmaker - Editor and founder of Alaska Men magazine, Susie Carter has been helping people find each other for almost three decades and, in that time, she's learned a lot about love and making relationships work. She shared her perspective on looking for love in the last frontier with KTD producer Sarah Gonzales.
- Teens Discuss Dating, "Drama" & "Hooking Up" - How do kids today "go out" or "hook up" -- what do those terms even mean? We talked to a few teens about the world of dating in high school and college.
- KTDontheGO: Date Night for Parents - Married couples also need to get out now and then for a little one-on-one couple time. Our AKontheGo blogger Erin Kirkland suggests skipping the traditional "Date Night" for something a little more adventurous.
I CAN REMEMBER every teacher I've had since kindergarten, with a bit of brain-prodding. A few of them really stick out to me. My second grade teacher Mrs. Carpenter, my fifth grade teacher Mr. Hedrick and my Physics teacher Mr. Lechtenberger. I remember each of them differently, because they all gave me unique things to take with me, and I am still impacted by what they did. Before a few years ago, I didn't know why my parents cared what teachers I got. I only cared that I would be with my friends, the person at the head of the class could be a giant squid for all I cared. Now I realize why my parents cared so much, my education is a really major thing to rely on a total stranger to provide.
When I was told that I would be in Mrs. Carpenter's class, I didn't know what to expect since it was to be with both first and second graders. Although I don't remember much, I take that as a good thing because I don't remember anytime when there was a conflict of attention between the two grades. I think that is a testament to Mrs. Carpenter's devotion - she taught two classes in the time of one. Although I bet she was really glad when her double-duty year was over, I'm happy I had her, even if I had to share.
In fifth Grade, I was taught by who I think of as the cool uncle of the teaching world. Mr. Hedrick was a young, athletic guy who tried everything to make his class enthusiastic about learning. He played guitar, and made up songs (some of which were irrelevant to the lesson, but they sure were catchy). He always seemed to have a smile on his face, unless you were in trouble, but then instead of yelling or punishment, he loved playing the "disappointment and responsibility" card (you know the one, "I'm not mad at you, I'm just disappointed. I thought you were more responsible than that.") Much to my displeasure, it worked. Mr. Hedrick made me find the better person inside the rebellious young one that seems to turn up in most fourth-ninth graders. Also, just a few weeks ago I was surprised by a letter from him, along with a time capsule letter I had written when I was in his class. My parents thought some of the things I had envisioned for my future were hilarious ("I am a goalie for the Squirt C Ice Pirates. It's a dream come true!"). It was a really nice touch because he had since moved to Scottsdale, and he still tracked me down (and I can imagine the same with the rest of my classmates).
My freshman year, I walked into Mr. Lechtenberger's Algebra II class and I felt like I had walked right through a wormhole onto a 90's sitcom. It was the stereotypical classroom. Goths and Jocks in the back, Bimbos in the front, and quiet kids in the middle, practically just taking up space. Being the only freshman, I tried to just blend in, so I took a seat right in the middle. Mr. Lechtenberger started pushing me to do my best. I was an unenlightened freshman though, I thought girls, not grades should be my priority. He impacted me, but not enough to get an A. I finished with a flat B both semesters. Then, my junior year, I came back to his class to take physics. I was a different student this time, confident, and more importantly, motivated. I worked my hardest to get an A, and that was what it took. I learned the most from that class, even though there wasn't that much material to cover. I learned how to study, and how to work. That's much more important than any of Newton's Laws.
LAST TUESDAY I graduated from high school. I think it's sunk in by now...
I've had to come into the school in the last few days for AP tests and AP classes, but I feel different about walking those halls now. My friend summed it up the day after our last when he turned to me while frolfing and said, with a humorous indifference while gesturing towards the school, "I used to go there." It was a joke, but it was funnier because it was true. We both knew that we were done with high school, whether we liked it or not.
The ceremony itself felt like a dream. I sat on the front corner, due to luck and my nerd status (summa cum laude). Because of this, I led half of the graduates out.
Even though we were now adults in the eyes of society, we were still kids. During a stunning farewell performance of "We are the World," one of my friends stood up, looked at the camera, and said "Hi Mom!" Four months ago, I probably wouldn't have found that funny. But now I laughed – no need to act more mature than I feel. I know that I have a limited time left to be a kid, so I'm going to embrace that.
In my opinion, the best part of graduations is the aftermath - all the graduates on the floor celebrating together. I gave hugs to practically everyone I knew, because that might have been the last time I'd ever see them. That's the saddest part of graduation - to get to where you're going next, you have to leave everything else behind. But I'm not sad enough to try to stay in high school, along with the rest of my class.
If these last four years were fun, I can't wait to see what I do with the next four.
HITCHHIKING TO TAURANGA made me happy I was traveling by thumb. It only took one minute for a car to pull over. I told the smiling man that I liked hitchhiking opposed to taking buses because people would occasionally act as tour guides and show me interesting landmarks along the way. He replied by offering to drive out to a beautiful lake where his brother-in-law owned an outdoor adventure facility for youth. The man drove me 20 extra kilometers because, he said, he enjoyed talking to me and I would be better off getting a ride at this next pullover.
[Editors note: Aviva, insert hitchhiking disclaimer here, please: Hitchhiking is illegal in many states in the US. This is because there is a possibility of danger, and mothers everywhere advise their daughters not to get into cars with strangers. I will not lie, New Zealand is not completely safe and the common thought is that hitch hiking is not a preferable means of travel. But in general, New Zealanders are incredibly kind, hospitable and trustworthy. I knew that the most important thing is to trust a gut feeling, have an idea of the potential risk involved and have a plan, just in case.]
My next driver was a Raglan-born Maori fruit deliverer. He told me he worked hard everyday to save money so one day he could buy a house on a small farm. He had never left New Zealand and only been to the South Island once a long time ago. At the grocery store in Tauranga he unloaded the containers of grapes and we said goodbye.
Wendy picked me up next.
I stayed a week in Tauranga with Wendy, Craig and their two little girls. My family's good friend knew Wendy when he was young working at a ski resort in New Zealand and has kept in touch ever since. Tauranga is on the east coast of the North Island and close by is a beach with warm, picturesque, white sand. I made a friend named Marius. He took me out one night, brought me to the animal shelter to volunteer with him and lent me a bike so we could go mountain biking.
Wendy & Craig from Tauranga
After a week in Tauranga I left for Waihi to visit Jake the wedding photographer. Before arriving I received a text: Hey Aviva, you are welcome to stay with us but we are moving soon and live in a super small house right now. You can stay in my two-year-old daughter's room, but I'm not sure how long you'll want to stay here...
The forcast showed heavy storms but my best New Zealand friend, the weather, had my back. I went hiking everyday.
Then one day I decided to pack some extra granola bars and hike to a hut shown on my photocopied map. I learned that the more risks I took, the more I was willing to take.
It was me, alone, with my headlamp and small pack in a large, bunk-filled hut looking out at the stars. I assumed the emptiness was due to winter approaching. When I got to New Zealand the sun set around 9:30 PM. On my campout it set at 6:00 (ok, we have to account for daylight savings being taken off). I played solitaire, lit a candle to read a three-year-old issue of some New Zealand fashion magazine and zonked out at 8:00.
The day I left Jake and Meg, his wife, lent me their car. The keys jingling around my neck made me feel amazing, like I was in charge again. For the first time, I could pull over at any beach, any fruit stand I wanted.
For lunch we all ate meat pies, one of the only signature New Zealand foods I encountered. Then I tried my first fijoa, a refreshing, green fruit mainly grown in New Zealand. I cannot describe the taste, only that it is often mixed with apple juice and eaten by cutting in half and spooning out the soft inside.
I hugged them all goodbye, feeling like I had yet another New Zealand family.
With a red bow in my hair I tried hitch hiking to Auckand. It was April 6, the first night of Passover. I was reminded of this when a woman looking at my profile on couchsurfing.org (which I joined a few days prior after countless travelers raved about their experiences) and seeing my Hebrew name invited me to a Seder in Auckland.
To everyone who still can't imagine hitchhiking I will share this: I asked the family who initially picked me if they knew any stores along the way where I could buy smething to bring to the Seder. They pulled over at the next convinience store, I hopped out with my purse and they waited for me. I trusted them enough to leave my backpack in the trunk, and by this point it was not because I was naive.
Having told you that, the next thing I did was one of the most stupid things a hitch hiker could do, and I knew it before it happened. A nice, young girl picked me up and said she was not going all the way to Auckland. Of course, I couldn't get a ride standing on the freeway. And April 6th was a public holiday in New Zealand, the friday before Easter, so trains and buses weren't running. After driving around trying to figure out what I should do, she dropped me off at the airport and I took an hour bus ride to the city centre to catch another bus to the woman's house, all the while feeling horrible for being so late to meet my Jewish Auckland host.
While traveling, it is impossible to be the punctual, reliable, focused person I stive to be. I sent Lilach a text to suggest she leave without me to the Seder and poured my worries into my journal. Kindly, she ignored my text and I ended up being the only one who spoke no Hebrew at the Seder. The four Israeli families I met moved to New Zealand for safety, although never stopped talking about when they would go home.
The next day I had my second couchsurfing experience, equally great. A man with a baby met me outside Starbucks and decided he wanted to take a road trip that night. After lunch he gave me the keys to his new apartment in the centre of Auckland and left. I had just met this person and he trusted me like we'd been friends for years!
Listen to the audio blog below to hear Aviva's last days in New Zealand...
LAST MONTH, NEWS about teens becoming mothers made headlines - the number of teen pregnancies in the United States dropped to a record low for the US. According to a CDC report, teen birth rates for 15 to 17 year olds fell 12% from 2009 to 2010; birth rates for 18 and 19 year olds dropped 9 %, though rates in the US are still significantly higher than in other industrialized countries.
In Alaska, teen birth rates have been on the decline since the early 1990's, dropping by 42% for younger moms, and 24% for older moms over a 15 year period. Older teens have almost four times as many children as younger teens, and Alaska Native teens have children at about 2.5 times the rate of non-Natives.
For many of those younger teens who become pregnant, finishing high school is the biggest challenge. In Anchorage, some of them attend Crossroads - a high school just for pregnant and parenting teens. Some of them are also enrolled in Kids Corps Early Head Start program. The program has an in-home program that offers child development information, developmental screening - and just general support to those young moms.
KTD contributor Jessica Cochran spoke to the woman who does those home visits -- Tundra Paulson.
Links from this story: Alaska Teen Pregnancy Fact Sheet
MY HIGH SCHOOL graduation gifts consisted of a Eurail Pass and padded bicycle shorts. One week after receiving my diploma, I began a two-month, two-wheeled journey across Europe, courtesy of my parents. Accompanied by two German teachers and 18 peers, I saw Holland, France, East and West Germany and Czechoslovakia from the vantage points of dusty country lanes, designated bike paths, and busy city streets.
Each morning, our chaperones would check our physical condition, feed us the local breakfast and establish an estimated arrival time at the next destination. Riding in groups of three or so, we were then released to the whims of the road in a not-so-subtle introduction to the speed of Life. Over the course of 60 days, my cohorts and I learned how to convert miles to kilometres, fix flat tires, and dance the polka. I fell in love, and then out again, discovered beer, and began a mental wrestling match about my subsequent success or failure of an upcoming college soccer career as I pedaled along the lonely backroads.
The more I travel, the more I recall this trip in 1986 and my parents’ decision to allow their sheltered 17-year old daughter to traipse in and out of Communist Europe, often in the company of other, equally sheltered, teenagers. How wise they were, as I look back and wonder at these defining moments of my transition to young adulthood, as fresh in my memory now as they were 26 years ago.
If I was speaking to the Class of 2012, I’d tell them to travel somewhere this summer. Exactly where doesn’t matter as much as how. Ride the Alaska Marine Highway, taking note of who shares the ride, and why. Sketch, write, or record a journal of the adventure, including the misadventures, for these are the snapshots worth viewing much later as pinnacles of growth. Get in the car and drive north to Denali National Park and camp, taking advantage of an opportunity to witness this landscape, gazed an entire lifetime, perhaps, but never taken as an intimate partner in this deft dance toward adulthood.
The Alaska ferry: hosting recent grads for decades...
From this moment on, the journey is what offers the most joy, with a wide open world ready to accept this youthful, boundless acceptance for new experiences and new people. For at the moment when a tassel is moved from right to left, children sprout wings of independence and sink roots of values, and this is where parents hope and pray the two shall forever be intertwined.
I remember my father’s face as I looked back before entering the jetway back in June of 1986. We had spent an hour discussing international phone calls, money exchanges, and navigation, sitting there in the gate area. I was anxious, he was apprehensive. But as I turned my head and caught one last look at the people who had gently pushed me out of my secure nest, there was nothing but pride, there.
Just look where it took me.
Follow Erin’s Alaska adventures at AKontheGO.com
IT'S MY LAST week of high school. That's my crazy reality. I don't think it's quite hit me yet, but it's started to slink closer and closer. I can't begin to fathom my feelings the morning after graduation. Of course I'll be excited for what's next and relieved that I'm moving on to bigger and better things, but I think that the one emotion prevalent under all these others will be fear. My fear of what's next. Sure, I'm excited to see what I can do in life, but my parents' house is so safe and cozy! Am I positive that what's waiting for me after the jump will be better?
I don't know. I have one summer of safety left before I get thrown out into the real world. But I'll really worry about that in August.
I came to Service High School as a Freshman in 2008 and I thought I was hot stuff. I played varsity teenis, was smart, and most of all, I thought I was extremely good looking. My ego was so big I'm surprised one of my teachers didn't take pity on me and deflate it a bit. I even had the cocky walk to match the attitude. I can't help but realize now that if 9th grade me and 12th grade me had shared a class, 12th grade me would've "enlightened" this young one.
Pictured: Hot stuff
Four years later, I KNOW I'm hot stuff, but the difference is, I don't try to project that persona. In 9th grade I had to project cockiness because I was actually petrified of the massive seniors, who probably tripled my weight. Now, I know that their barks are worse than their bites, and actually most of them are pretty chill. Oh what 4 years can do to someone.
For the next 4 years, I expect somewhat of the same changes. I'll go from being Top Dog at Service to being a feeder fish at college. It's going to be humbling for sure, but I know it'll be good for me. After all, I don't wish to be the 9th grade version of me again.
Patrick blogged us through his entire senior year of high school - the ups and downs, challenges and victories, fun times and tough times - giving us all a glimpse into the mind of a modern Alaskan teen. He graduates from Service High School in Anchorage and will attend Lehigh University in the fall. Con-grad-ulations, Patrick!
TWO SUMMERS AGO I worked as a cashier/candy salesman for Alaska Wildberry Products. It was my first real job, as in one where I had to apply and was subject to regulations. I applied to work there because my best friend worked there, not because I’m especially into jam.
My first interview was bizarre to say the least. I had the good fortune of catching the hiring manager while she was in office, so I was taken into an interview right away. It went as I had imagined for the first few minutes, but then the owner stopped by and, weirdly, asked me a question along the lines of: "Was Jimmy Carter a good president?" Not having been alive during his presidency, I said all that came to mind - a snippet about the Iranian Hostage Crisis and espoused my voting philosophy that I shouldn't vote until I'm independent - both mentally and economically. I guess they were impressed with what they heard, because I was trained that day. Later, my friend told me that the owner had talked about "the kid who lectured me on politics" in the days following.
Helping teens get summer jobs since 1977
The job itself wasn't too interesting and I soon found myself wishing that it could be more like the interview - and I could still get paid to have conversations with people. My job entailed cashier duty, restocking the floor and serving candy. Soon after I began working, the novelty wore off and I started to feel like an Epsilon from Brave New World. Those 8-hour shifts felt like they lasted 16-hours and it seemed like I was getting paid half-time. I welcomed the onset of school because it meant I didn't have to walk into a building that smelled of chocolate every morning.
Even so, I learned a lot during those three months. I learned that I never wanted to work a job like that again, because my mind goes stir crazy. But more importantly, I learned that nobody will care as much about your business as you do. The owner dealt with this every day. People stole from the store, while some employees even stole from the register. They thought they were stealing from a faceless, multi-million dollar enterprise, but in reality they were stealing from one man. That summer I learned that you can only put faith in yourself when it comes to business, and that Jimmy Carter still has the ability to impact the unemployment rate.