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PDA: How Affectionate is Too Affectionate?

PDA: How Affectionate is Too Affectionate? The following 675-word article is available for publication in print or online. There is no cost to use the article, but full credit must be included as it appears at the end of the article. Please let us know in advance of your intent to use the article, and when; then a hot link or two copies of the article must be sent to us after publication.

 If you have any questions, need to slightly edit the article or credit line, or wish to discuss other reprint rights, please contact Kate Bandos, KSB Promotions at 800-304-3269, 616-676-0758 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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PDA:How Affectionate is Too Affectionate?

by Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC


Teens are advertising their relationships out in public all the time. Go to Facebook or MySpace and you can see whom they are dating, whom they formerly dated, and basically everything they have done in the past month. It’s scary, especially if that teen happens to be yours. Even when your child goes to college, she will show her personal life to everyone she accepts as her friend through these internet sites.

Personally, I like my privacy and I’m not comfortable with discussing my relationship status, what I am doing at this minute, or what I did last night with all of my "new friends." My view is not shared among most teens, though. Their relationship status is not only online; it’s also physically acted out in public with their boyfriends and girlfriends. It’s called PDA or “public display of affection.” The schools are tiptoeing around the topic but they, too, are uncomfortable with how much is too much.

Whenever I go to Italy or Spain, I love to watch mothers and daughters walking down the street arm in arm. I also love to see men in a warm embrace and kissing each other as a greeting. It seems right to me. Whether it’s because I’m Italian or just very demonstrative, I believe hugging and kissing are more important than guns and bombs.

However, seeing two teens groping each other in the school hall or at my friend's home makes me feel uncomfortable. My discomfort comes from a feeling that the teens are not respecting themselves, their parents, the school rules or anyone who is in the room. I am all for passion, but I believe there is a time and place for everything. PDA in front of others is neither the time nor the place.

As children grow they learn by trying new things. Their parents guide them and direct them, and then they develop a sense of right or wrong with regard to individual behaviors. A parent would tell her daughter to wipe her face if she had chocolate on it; she would tell her daughter it was inappropriate to talk with her mouth full. But when her boyfriend comes over and starts kissing her, or pulls her onto his lap, she freezes and doesn’t know what to say.


A Quick Guide on What to Say to Too Much PDA

1. Talk to your teen when you’re alone with her. She may be angry or embarrassed, but don't let that stop you from saying this: "Your father and I (or 'your mother and I') are not okay with you hanging all over/kissing/sitting on top of your boyfriend/girlfriend. We believe it is disrespectful and we don't approve of it. We do not think it is appropriate at school, either. We can see you really care for (whatever his/her name is) and we think he/she is a nice boy/girl, but we are concerned that your behavior may influence our respect for him/her also."

2. Do tell your teen what is appropriate behavior in your home.As a parent you may say, "We think holding hands, a quick kiss or an affectionate hug is okay." Then talk with your teen about ways she can express her affection besides the ways she currently is (such as deep kisses and hands all over each other). Teens will talk to you if you ask questions that encourage them to think. This also helps the teen understand that you are trying to help and that you are not being judgmental or critical.

Schools cannot be held accountable to raise your children and teach them at the same time. Parents need to guide their children by making the tough calls and following through. Your kids are watching you all of the time. As our children grow up, we think they don't notice anything but their friends. It’s time to wake up. You’re still their most important mentor. Talk to your kids, listen to your kids, discipline and respect your kids. It’s time to talk to them directly and openly about PDA.

Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC, is a licensed psychotherapist and co-author with Janine J. Sherman, of Start Talking: A Girl’s Guide for You and Your Mom About Health, Sex or Whatever. Read more about the book at www.StartTalkingBook.com and more about Rapini at www.maryjorapini.com.

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Start Talking features succinct yet lively answers, sample conversations, and real life stories to help open the door to better mother/daughter communication. Rapini and Sherman have compiled more than 113 questions girls (and their moms) routinely ask – or should be asking – about health, sex, body image, and dating.

The Wizard Behind the Curtain is Mom: Tips for Teens on How to Celebrate Mother's Day

The Wizard Behind the Curtain is Mom: Tips for Teens on How to Celebrate Mother's Day The following 810-word article is available for publication in print or online. There is no cost to use the article, but full credit must be included as it appears at the end of the article. Please let us know in advance of your intent to use the article, and when; then a hot link or two copies of the article must be sent to us after publication.

If you have any questions, need to slightly edit the article or credit line, or wish to discuss other reprint rights, please contact Kate Bandos, KSB Promotions at 800-304-3269, 616-676-0758 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
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The Wizard Behind the Curtain Is “MOM”Tips for Teens on How to Celebrate Mother’s Day

By Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC


This Mother’s Day along with the flowers, candy, brunches, and sweet cards, it may be wise to sit back and recognize the woman you call “Mom.” In The Wizard of Oz, the great wizard was an old man behind a curtain, pulling levers to make the great Oz look magnificent. In most of our lives, the one behind the curtain pulling levers to make everything look great or feel great (including us) is our mom. She has been there since our birth—providing for us, guiding us and trying to do everything within her power to make us the best we can be.

The importance of Mom has not been lost on the United States government. War tactics have even changed to include female soldiers going into villages to talk to the women (moms) to appeal to their sense of educating their children for a brighter tomorrow. The military understands that this will be successful because they know that moms are focused on building communities, families and ultimately want the best for their children.

Pharmaceuticals target moms because they understand women not only take care of their own health, butalso take care of the whole family’s health. If you can teach a mother to eat in a healthy way, you will influence her whole family for generations to come. Being a mom is more than taking care of your child. It’s changing the future for generations to come.

There is an old saying that “the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world” and indeed that is played out in every family almost every day. For the first time in U.S. history, the majority of families are single parent families — and the majority of those are run by moms. She is at the peak of most advertising dollars and most day time TV shows adjust their venues to what will be appealing to mom. Moms are still 100% invested in their children and their children’s welfare, even when they get a scowl from their children because they aren’t being allowed to have the junk food they want.

This year for Mother’s Day, I have some ideas of how teens can make their moms feel really special. There is one premise they must understand as they go through this list. By the time you are a teen, your mom has a deep pride, but also carries a sense of nostalgia with her. She looks at you and remembers how you were as her little baby. That same face you give her at times, she remembers when it had only two teeth. She may feel “replaced” by your new active life and although she is proud that you are growing up into a healthy adult, she wishes she could wrap her arms around you and keep you safe in her care forever. These tips are going to help mom understand that you understand how great you think she is.

Tips for Teens Celebrating Mom on Mother’s Day:

1. Write your mom a letter and list 25 things you love about her. She will most likely frame this and nothing will make her day feel more right.
2. Tell your mom you are taking her on a “momcation”. A momcation is typically a getaway for mom. Since you are busy with your own life, and when you are at home you are talking on the phone or doing homework, planning to get away with “just her” will make her feel special. It doesn’t have to be overnight or expensive. Her momcation could be lunch at the park (make sure you make it), a coffee talk, even just a walk around the block -- anything that gets you alone with mom where you are actively engaging with her.
3. Make her favorite dinner or brunch at home (invite your dad and siblings too or invite her best friend). Moms love showing off their thoughtful teen.
4. If you are the artistic type, sketch a picture, make a mug or a pot for plants. You could write her a song and then perform it for her. Moms watched and encouraged your interests while you were growing up, so they delight in seeing “hints” of the past in what you are doing now. 5. This is the most difficult one, but maybe the most important. If you feel that you have been disengaged or moody as of late, talk to your mom and try to explain what has been going on. No one will ever forgive or welcome your confession more than mom.

No matter what you do with your mom (wizard) on Mother’s Day, make sure you think about what she would like. No one has a mom like yours and what you decide may not be what Hallmark recommends, but it will be what she loves best! Have a wonderful day with your mom.

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Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC, is a licensed psychotherapist and co-author with Janine J. Sherman, of Start Talking: A Girl’s Guide for You and Your Mom About Health, Sex or Whatever. Read more about the book at www.StartTalkingBook.com and more about Rapini at www.maryjorapini.com.

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Start Talking features succinct yet lively answers, sample conversations, and real life stories to help open the door to better mother/daughter communication. Rapini and Sherman have compiled more than 113 questions girls (and their moms) routinely ask – or should be asking – about health, sex, body image, and dating.

Learn to Love Your Body

Learn to Love Your Body The following 650-word article is available for publication in print or online. There is no cost to use the article, but full credit must be included as it appears at the end of the article. Please let us know in advance of your intent to use the article, and when; then a hot link or two copies of the article must be sent to us after publication.

 If you have any questions, need to slightly edit the article or credit line, or wish to discuss other reprint rights, please contact Kate Bandos, KSB Promotions at 800-304-3269, 616-676-0758 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
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Learn to Love Your Body

by Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC


Many New Year’s resolutions have to do with losing weight, exercising more, eating healthier, and dozens of other methods girls (from 6 – 96) use to change the way they look. With today's misleading role models, many girls experience poor self-esteem starting at a very young age.

I know all too well the problems that arise from having a negative self-image. As a psychotherapist who works with patients who qualify for weight loss surgery and some of whom appear on the hit TV series "Big Medicine" on Discovery Health, I find many instances of women who truly dislike the way they look. Their dissatisfaction can profoundly impact their lives. I also run several food addiction groups and binge eating groups, and in my general practice I see many young girls who are constantly struggling with body image issues. In fact, body image issues are a central of In the book I co-authored with Janine Sherman, Start Talking: A Girl's Guide for You and Your Mom about Health, Sex, or Whatever.

Since this is such a large issue in our society today, I have created a few tips for anyone struggling with her body image. Learn to love not only who you are, but also what you look like.

1. Avoid criticizing yourself. Replace the phrase or "tape" in your head that says "I’m fat" with something like "I exercise and eat right.”

2. Stop scaring yourself. Replace "I bombed on a test" or "I’m stupid and fat" with "I’m smart and can do better.” Think of one thing you can do next time (such as prepare for the exam and talk to the teacher to find help).

3. Make a habit of complimenting yourself. It isn't bragging; it’s called being your own best friend. Maybe you have a great sense of humor, maybe you get along with everyone, maybe you are a budding artist. Everyone has special talents and qualities.

4. Be gentle and patient with yourself. At the end of each day, think of three things that went well that day. Write them down. It’s a rare day that doesn't offer something good.

5. Praise yourself. Make a list of all of your strengths, and repeat them each morning or evening. Add to the list as you get better and better. I recommend listing at least 101 good qualities about yourself.

6. Set an easy goal. An easy goal is one that is achievable and will make you feel better about yourself. Most of the time we focus on being thinner because we think it would make our confidence higher. Your confidence grows first and then comes a healthier life style. Always pay more attention to being healthier rather than thinner.

7. Do something with your mom. Talk to her about how she used to feel about her body. Ask her for some ideas of what you can do.

8. Practice talking in front of a mirror. Come across as strong and assertive. When you feel badly about your body, your posture may slump and you may talk softly or act timidly. If you become more assertive, you will feel more in control of your body.

9. Love your imperfections. Even the most successful models and actresses would tell you they wished their noses were smaller or that they weren’t so tall or so short. No one has the perfect body, so make peace with the one you have.

10. Take care of your body. Find one active friend who will exercise with you every day or someone who will eat lunch with you and join your efforts to eat better. Diets don't work. A change in your life-style will.

Love yourself now. Don't wait to show yourself tenderness. Don't continue to abuse yourself with food or unhealthy living. You are a light. If you can be brave enough to shine, you will allow all of us to shine too.

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Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC, is a licensed psychotherapist and co-author with Janine J. Sherman, of Start Talking: A Girl’s Guide for You and Your Mom About Health, Sex or Whatever. Read more about the book at www.StartTalkingBook.com and more about Rapini at www.maryjorapini.com.

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Start Talking features succinct yet lively answers, sample conversations, and real life stories to help open the door to better mother/daughter communication. Rapini and Sherman have compiled more than 113 questions girls (and their moms) routinely ask – or should be asking – about health, sex, body image, and dating.




Sidebar

February 21-27, 2010 is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, sponsored by the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org.

The aim of NEDAwareness Week is to ultimately prevent eating disorders and body image issues while reducing the stigma surrounding eating disorders and improving access to treatment. Eating disorders are serious, life-threatening illnesses — not choices — and it’s important to recognize the pressures, attitudes and behaviors that shape the disorder.

Their website states, “In the United States, as many as 10 million females and 1 million males are fighting a life and death battle with an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia. Approximately 15 million more are struggling with binge eating disorder. Because of the secrecy and shame associated with eating disorders, it is very likely that many more go unreported.

In the United States, we are inundated with messages telling us that to be a happy, valued person, we must be thin and fit our culture’s impossible beauty standards. Did you know that 80% of all ten year olds are afraid of being fat? The average age of sufferers is dropping rapidly (as young as elementary school), with peak onset among girls ages 11-13. As a culture, it is time for all communities to talk about eating disorders, address their causes, advocate for access to treatment and take preventative action.

Reprinting the above article by Mary Jo Rapini, or arranging an interview with her on this topic, is one way to bring awareness to this issue while also offering specific steps anyone can take to start moving in the right direction.

The Art of Loving Yourself Today and Through the Holidays

The Art of Loving Yourself Today and Through the Holidays The following 754-word article is available for publication in print or online. There is no cost to use the article, but full credit must be included as it appears at the end of the article. Please let us know in advance of your intent to use the article, and when; then a hot link or two copies of the article must be sent to us after publication.

If you have any questions, need to slightly edit the article or credit line, or wish to discuss other reprint rights, please contact Kate Bandos, KSB Promotions at 800-304-3269, 616-676-0758 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
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The Art of Loving Yourself Today and Through the Holidays

by Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC


My parents used to tell me that there were two important decisions we make in our lives. The first was whom we would marry or share a life with. The second was what we would do for a career. My parents were right! These are very important decisions and ones I see discussed in my clinical practice every day. However, my parents forgot to tell me a third major decision that affects every aspect of a person’s life. They forgot to tell me the importance of loving and caring for myself.

In the weight management center and in my private practice, most of my counseling revolves around teaching or encouraging patients to love themselves. I’m not talking about an occasional manicure or massage. That’s nice…but it isn’t truly loving yourself. Loving yourself involves much more. Because the holidays are spiritual, it’s the perfect time to consider how you show love to yourself. Forget about that big gift you’re going to get for your “hubby” or the kids. Instead, reflect on the steps I outline in this article and try to take notice of how you show love to yourself. It’s impossible to love another person if you can’t love and respect yourself. You need to believe that you deserve to be loved first.

The first step is to avoid criticizing yourself. I know…we all get mad at ourselves. We all think we could do better. But remember that you also have a sacred part to yourself. Reassure yourself that we all have times when we know our actions are less then perfect. For the most part, all of us do the best we can with what we have at the time. You didn’t eat the whole bag of Snickers; you ate one. Tomorrow will be a new day. You can try again.

Stop scaring yourself. One thing happens and before you know it, you’ve made a mountain out of a molehill. The doctor may have told you that you need to lose weight or your health will deteriorate. That does not mean you’re going to die tomorrow. If you start changing your habits you may even live longer then your doctor.

Be gentle and patient with yourself. Wayne Dwyer once wrote that we are spiritual beings having an earthly experience. This should remind you that you are not just who people see. Sometimes you make mistakes, get confused or lose focus. It is these times you have to have faith in something more then yourself. To beat yourself up would only be an insult to your creator.

Learn to be kind to your mind. When I mention this I talk about the importance of prayer, visualization, meditation, and mindfulness. These activities “quiet us.” We can breathe and gain focus. During the holidays people are scrambling and rushing. Don’t let yourself get caught up in the hype. Pray more during the holidays; meditate more and focus on being an instrument for good. A good thing to ask yourself during meditation is: if you knew you would die tomorrow, what would be your answer if you were asked, “What you were passionate about?”

Praise yourself. Praising is not bragging. It’s only bragging if you do it in front of others at their expense. But if you do it in private or with a dear friend, it’s called being a caretaker of your soul.

Support yourself. If you’re addicted, go to a support group that deals with addiction. If you are a compulsive eater, got to an overeaters anonymous group. In other words, take care of yourself. Love yourself enough so that you will not be victimized by your demons. Get help. Don’t “dump your demons” on to your friends and expect them to take care of them. You’re so much better than that! It’s painful, but you can do it!

Love your imperfections. Humor, laugh, joy….need I say more? None of us has it all. But the ones who laugh appear to.

Take care of your body. What’s stopping you? Exercise, eat healthy (especially during the holidays) and don’t forget to love someone. I tell all of my patients that the key to happiness is being intimately close, sharing stories and talking to good friends. However, remember to always reserve your sexuality for a monogamous relationship. Sexuality is sacred. Treat it with care.

Love yourself now. Don’t wait to show yourself tenderness. Don’t continue to abuse yourself with food or unhealthy living. You are a light, if you can be brave enough to let yourself shine.

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Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC, is a licensed psychotherapist and co-author with Janine J. Sherman, of Start Talking: A Girl’s Guide for You and Your Mom About Health, Sex or Whatever. Read more about the book at www.StartTalkingBook.com and more about Rapini at www.maryjorapini.com.

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Start Talking features succinct yet lively answers, sample conversations, and real life stories to help open the door to better mother/daughter communication. Rapini and Sherman have compiled more than 113 questions girls (and their moms) routinely ask – or should be asking – about health, sex, body image, and dating.

Keep Your Girlfriends Close

Keep Your Girlfriends Close The following 595-word article is available for publication in print or online. There is no cost to use the article, but full credit must be included as it appears at the end of the article. Please let us know in advance of your intent to use the article, and when; then a hot link or two copies of the article must be sent to us after publication.

If you have any questions, need to slightly edit the article or credit line, or wish to discuss other reprint rights, please contact Kate Bandos, KSB Promotions at 800-304-3269, 616-676-0758 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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Keep your Girlfriends Close

by Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC


When I was in college, I remember having more girlfriends than I could count on all my fingers. These friends were close to me. We shared each others’ lives, problems and joys. Yet as I got older and then got married, I noticed that I began to take less and less time to spend with my girlfriends. A recent study conducted by Duke University and the University of Arizona concluded that women today report having an average of only two close friends. In fact, 24% reported that they had no one in whom they could confide. This feeling of isolation can lead to depression or worse. We know that a lack of friends can lead to heart disease, cancer, depression and anxiety. Overall, the quality of life is lessened when we are lonely or don’t have any close friends.

 Female friendships provide a source of close, effective communication, which is essential in raising healthy families. Many of my best friends have actually become closer with their children and spouses after taking time for themselves. My friends have provided me with a sense of support and security that my husband could not provide (I need both, and so do you). Women give more and therefore expect more from our friendships than men do. We know we can be vulnerable and honest with each other. Women also have a tendency to hold on to their friendships longer then men do. Women feel very hurt when they lose a friend, even if that friend wasn’t honest or lied to them.

Women are busy with children, parents, husbands and work, but they should never forget to maintain their friendships. It appears to be more significant to women’s overall health than men’s. It may be something as simple as setting a date or perhaps even planning a weekend away at a spa. No matter what you do, don’t let the relationship go because you don’t have time. You may lose more than a good friend.

Tips to Maintain your Friendships:

• Be there when it counts. When one of your friends is going through a tough time, one thing she shouldn’t have to worry about is whether you will be there. What I remember most about my miscarriage was that my best friend came and just held me. She didn’t say anything, just held me and let me cry. This meant more to me than the flowers, calls, or anything else my acquaintances did for me.

• Friendships change. Being best friends doesn’t mean the relationships will be the same forever. Your relationships will change after high school, college, and marriage, but the love for each other will continue.

• Make dates to connect. It may take writing things down in your schedule book or rearranging events, but take the time to connect and visit. Friendships take nurturing. If you begin to take the relationship for granted and don’t make the time, it will make her believe you no longer value it.

• The only thing worse than not making a date to get together is “flaking out” on that date. If you make a date, commit to it and make sure you show up. It’s much better to meet for a short time than not at all.

Nothing is more symbolic of how you lived your life than being an old woman still very much connected with your girlfriends. Women need other women to mentor, learn from, heal with, laugh with and grieve with. They need someone to celebrate being a woman with.

For more information go to: www.maryjorapini.com
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Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC, is a licensed psychotherapist and co-author with Janine J. Sherman, of Start Talking: A Girl’s Guide for You and Your Mom About Health, Sex or Whatever. Read more about the book at www.StartTalkingBook.com and more about Rapini at www.maryjorapini.com.

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Start Talking features succinct yet lively answers, sample conversations, and real life stories to help open the door to better mother/daughter communication. Rapini and Sherman have compiled more than 113 questions girls (and their moms) routinely ask – or should be asking – about health, sex, body image, and dating.