Paul Ninnes at The Renaissance of Marriage Conference 2016 in Sydney on The Digital Space and the Impacts of Being a Digital Citizen. (Thanks to ROM Conference - http://www.rom.org.au)
It was the Real Talk Team's pleasure to host Dr Adam Cooper, PhD for our Theology of the Body Weekend immersion this year. Held from Friday 24 February to Sunday 26 February, Dr Cooper broke open John Paul II's widely known teachings, Theology of the Body.
We kicked off on Friday evening with a free open public lecture at Lavalla Centre, Paddington, with over 80 people in attendance. It served as a great introduction into TOB for those who have not explore the topic before, and definitely sparked the desire for many to delve ever deeper into the teachings.
The weekend continued on Saturday and Sunday with over 40 people in attendance with Dr Cooper continued to lead us through the richness of Theology of the Body. He commented that with each lecture he felt as if he was still only scratching the surface.
For those who were not able to make it, please feel free to search through the internet or get your hands on some books around TOB and check it out for yourself! We have had such great feedback from those who attended and look forward to hearing what fruit come of the weekend.
Real Talk also has an extensive library on topics around TOB, relationships, sexuality and identity. Feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org if there's a particular title you're after that we might be able to lend you.
If you follow us on social media, you may already have heard our exciting news....
We are proud and excited to announce that this year's Annual Dinner guest speaker is world-renowned author, speaker and expert in JPII's Theology of the Body, Christopher West.
If you haven't already heard of Christopher West and his work, you might want to check out The Cor Project.
Tickets are selling fast so get a table of 8 together and secure your seats now! It is Christopher West's first and only speaking engagement in Brisbane - so make sure not to miss out.
We look forward to seeing you there!
When: Monday 24 October 2016
Pre-dinner drinks starting 6:30pm
Where: Hotel Grand Chancellor – Brisbane
Cost: $125 per person
RSVP: 10 October 2016
email@example.com or call 0425 277 785
An online petition to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull started by Real Talk Managing Director Paul Ninnes has gotten lots of coverage over the last two weeks.
Hours after delivering a talk at a special event hosted by The Dating War on pornography and its harmful effects on relationships, Paul read reports of child rape in a Sydney school and felt urged to start an online petition to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull for internet service providers to filter pornography and have an "opt-in" option to safeguard our children.
“There is no reason why our politicians can’t legislate and put pressure on Internet providers to automatically block pornographic sites, with individuals being required to opt in to receive sexually explicit material, rather than opt out,” Mr Ninnes said.
“As leading expert Dr Michael Flood, (a professor from the University of Wollongong) said in his 2009 report there is ‘consistent and reliable evidence that exposure to pornography is related to male sexual aggression against women’.”
Mr Ninnes said he believed “enough is enough” after two 12-year-old boys in Sydney were last week charged with raping a six-year-old girl in a northern beaches school.
“My daughter is about that age, and I’ve just had a son, and to be honest I am fearful as a parent of the world that my kids are being brought up in Australia where they can access Internet pornography unfettered, where young people are learning misogynistic, violent sexual acts from the pornography that they are exposed to unwillingly,” he said.
“It’s got to do with the freedom of children to grow up in a world where they are not exposed to things that are damaging to their ideas of how to treat another person.”
Other incidents have spurred Mr Ninnes to take action, including a recent report that 70 Australian high schools were involved in an Internet porn ring.
Mr Ninnes said legislative action in United Kingdom was sparked by public reaction to the case of a 12-year-old boy, who, emulating pornography, raped a nine-year-old.
UK News outlets and politicians joined forces to make Internet porn something people had to opt in for.
“Then Prime Minister David Cameron made it clear that his aim was to ensure that all ISPs (Internet service providers) would have a filtering system in place. As a result, within a year, all four major Internet providers introduced default filtering,” Mr Ninnes said.
Read the full article here.
Real Talk's ministry aim is to help young people understand the message of love and life in a way that relates to them by sharing the solid facts and the presenter's own life experiences. Carmel Donnelly, the youth worker of the Hervey Bay Parish Youth Group, understands this and so invited us to come share with them about this vital message.
TALKING love and sex with teenagers can be an awkward conversation for some parents, but one Hervey Bay mum has found a way to make the tough chat palatable.
Carmel Donnelly, a mother of five and youth worker at Hervey Bay City parish, decided other Catholics, not her qualified self, needed to shed light on the Church’s teachings on marriage and sexuality.
Mrs Donnelly invited two guests from Brisbane-based ministry, Real Talk Australia, to speak to her young people about love and relationships.
“One of the things young people are wondering is, ‘How do we know we’re in love’,” she said.
“A lot are not sure.”
Read the rest of the Catholic Leader article here.
If your Youth Group would like to have Real Talk come and speak drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
New Zealand is on the Real Talk bandwagon. During the month of May, Paul Ninnes went to New Zealand to not only present to a number of schools and follow up on training our three new NZ presenters but also to incorporate Real Talk NZ.
The Catholic Leader has featured an article on Real Talk's adventures there...
Talk Australia will present the Christian view on sexuality in New Zealand schools permanently following full support from the Auckland, Christchurch and Hamilton bishops.
Managing director Paul Ninnes said the ministry was now a “long-term fixture” following several years presenting talks to New Zealand Catholic schools “periodically”.
“We have invested in New Zealand and trained three presenters to be a long-term fixture in schools,” Mr Ninnes said.
Briegé Koning, of Hamilton diocese, and Thomas Saywell and Gerard Trolove, of Christchurch, will represent Real Talk Australia’s New Zealand branch.
Mr Ninnes said the New Zealand venture would be a “culture change experience opportunity”.
Real Talk Australia has visited Catholic schools in the Hamilton diocese for the past three years.
Ms Koning, who is co-ordinator for the Hamilton diocese’s youth office, said Real Talk’s presentations on sexuality, personal development and relationships were needed in New Zealand schools.
She said her own understanding on sex came from secular perspectives or from friends, despite being taught in a Catholic school.
“When I was in high school, these topics were not based in the truth of the Catholic Church’s teaching,” Ms Koning said.
You can read more here.
Starting high school is exciting and scary! Even more so this year in QLD, where many 11-turning-12 year olds entered the high school yard for the first time. As pictures of all the kids heading off to school filled facebook and instagram last term, I thought about how exciting a new year of school can be. And, as I sent my son off to first year of high school this year, I was reminded of my eldest girls first semester of high school and the transitioning that happens.
Here are 5 tips for you as parents and carers to set your new high schooler off to a good start:
1. Be available to talk and debrief
Even though they have probably been waiting for this moment for a long time, starting high school can be scary! Going from being ‘the oldest’ to suddenly ‘the youngest’ can be a challenge. Adjusting to high school teachers when you are used to being cared for by one teacher can be difficult too. Try to set time in your own schedule to ask how its going. Some kids like to talk straight after school, some at dinner, and some just before bed. Being available as a parent to talk or debrief or just showing you are there for them can be a huge support for them. This is the year you don’t want to lose communication! With so much going on internally growing up in their body and brain, there is a lot going on externally too, and this is the time to learn creative ways as a parent to engage with them. Sometime cooking a yummy afternoon or dinner is enough to entice any teenager to hang around a little longer to chat. ☺
These guys and girls need encouragement. Writing a little note in their lunch box, tidying their room with a note on their pillow or other small gestures can show them you are there for them. Saying to them ‘I’m so proud of you!’ and ‘This is a big time of so many changes, which are both exciting and scary all at the same time, and you are doing so well in adapting to them all’ can go along way. One time in the first semester, my first-year-of-high-school daughter was feeling so overwhelmed, I cleaned her room for her and put a note of encouragement on her bed. It spoke volumes for her, and encouraged her in this time of adjustment.
One of the biggest changes from primary to high school is independence. You are expected at high school to know where to go, what books you need, what uniform you need to wear, how to catch public transport etc etc. Its hard to go from a primary school where the teacher takes responsibility for you, to a high school where YOU take responsibility for you! It can feel scary and lonely. BUT… this is a great time of empowerment! Resist the urge to do everything for them.
Help them to remember, NOT take over
Its ok in the first few weeks to remind them or help them out, but you really need to empower them to start thinking for themselves. If they are forgetting things, encourage them to do up their own personal checklist the night before. Things like ‘have I put my laptop and phone on charge?’ or ‘have I got my uniforms ready?’ ‘do I need to be at school early for anything tomorrow?’ There’s lots to remember and its important at this time to help them remember, NOT take over. On the other hand, it’s also important to let them know, as they learn independence, that they are not alone and you have their back.
Some kids look around at school and expect to be ‘best friends’ by the end of the first week! Whilst some people click instantly, some kids know its takes time to develop lasting friendships. Just because people ‘act like BFFs’ after meeting a week ago, doesn’t mean it will last. It’s hard to explain this to your young teenager, as they look around and think ‘Am I the only one who doesn’t have a new best friend?”. If your teenager is feeling alone or wondering these things, reassure them. One of the things I’ve always said to my kids is, ’If you wanna make a friend, be a friend.’ It’s one of the sure ways of making friends.
‘If you wanna make a friend, be a friend.’
5. Don’t take it out on them!
The change is not only big for them, its big for you too! Your new highschooler can go from being that fun, over-communicative pre-teen to a moody, hard to love teenager. Remember, just because they don’t act like they need you, doesn’t mean they don’t! They need you more than EVER. Communication between you and them is even more key to a successful high school transition. Research shows that teenagers around 14 and up express parent-child conflict as one of their greatest concerns, so now is the time to invest in this relationship – moody or not – to keep communication channels open. Having a once a week coffee/catch up is just the ingredient for this. Even if not much is said during this time, creating a culture of ‘opportunity to share’ will be worth it in the coming years.
Research shows that teenagers around 14 and up express parent-child conflict as one of their greatest concerns
I remember that first shock as a parent of a high school kid. I remember looking back, just 12 months later and thinking ‘wow! So much has changed between the end of primary school and the first year of high school.’ It was like I was holding on to my hat and going on for the ride. Being an engaged, attentive parent will help your child know he/she is not alone and has the back up they need. Empowerment, not taking over. Encouragement, not criticism.
Keep going parents, you can DO this! And the good news is that YOU are not alone in this journey either. We are all in it together.
Real Talk is very excited that Managing Director, Paul Ninnes, was awarded the Professional of the Year award at the 2014 Community Leader Awards. Here's how the award category is described:
PROFESSIONAL LEADER OF THE YEAR
This award is presented to an outstanding corporate or business professional who is an active member of the Catholic community.
The award recognises an individual who has made a significant impact on the lives of colleagues, clients or customers.They exhibit exemplary leadership skills and set a benchmark of charity, integrity and professionalism in their workplace. The nominee does not need to be employed by a Catholic organisation, but they must be able to demonstrate how their Catholic values are integrated into their professional life. Special consideration will be made to a person who demonstrates active participation in their parish or Catholic community.
You can read about the awards here
So, I’m doing the school run this morning when my 16 year old turns to me, “Mum, have you read 50 Shades of Grey?”
“Um, no… and I don’t want you to either.”
My 16 year old continues: “Well everyone is talking about it, and the trailor came out yesterday… What’s it about anyway?” My 15 year old leans in to join the conversation.
I take a breath in, then decide to be honest and just put it out there.
“Well, it’s… well… its basically porn for women.”
‘Ok, I’ll tell you the story… it’s about this girl, and she meets this guy, and he gets her to sign this contract that he can pretty much do whatever he wants with her sexually, including chains, blindfolds and whips etc, then he pretty much seduces her and uses her for his own gratification’.
It was this conversation then watching the trailer myself that sparked me to write this blog. As a parent, I do not want my teenage daughters to watch this movie, to feel pressure from their friends to watch this movie, or to believe that this 50 Shades of Grey is now the expected norm in love, sex and relationships.
If you want, you can check out the trailer for yourself here
Now some of you may be thinking, “Come on Kym, you’re not the moral police; Fifty Shades is not that bad, we read it ourselves and we love it!” Ok, so, I’d like to debunk 3 of the most common excuses supporting FSOG that I’ve heard so far:
One: It’s not porn, it’s just a bit of fun.
The reason I am calling Fifty Shades ‘pornography for women’ is because it really is just that. The definition of pornography is ‘Printed or visual material containing the explicit description or display of sexual organs or activity, intended to stimulate sexual excitement. ‘ (Oxford Dictionary) 50 Shades definitely does that, but goes further by romanticising sadistic and masochistic sex as ‘enlightenment’ – which it definitely isn’t.
Bearing this definition in mind, 50 Shades author, ‘E.L. James’ told the Huffington Post; “Well to be honest, it was mostly curiosity. I had just read some stuff about BDSM [bondage-domination-sadism-masochism] and found it really, really hot — an arousing kind of hot. And I got to thinking, ‘What if you met somebody who was in this kind of relationship, in this lifestyle, and who knew nothing about it and probably didn’t want to do it? What would happen next?’ And I just took it from there, really.” (1)
It’s also interesting that the genre of these books is called ‘erotica’ so it’s clearly not light reading for general consumption.
Two: It’s not harmful, it’s female sexual liberation
Australian research shows that by 16 years of age, 100% of boys have been exposed to pornography, with the current average age of exposure to boys being around 11-12 years of age. There are varying studies and statistics regarding female exposure, with some research showing girls reporting a 97% exposure of porn by the age of 16. (2)
In a recent study by the Australian Institute, it reveals the findings of how exposure occurs:
“Boys and girls follow different paths to exposure to pornography. Typically, girls watched pornography only once, because a boyfriend or somebody wanted them to or because they were curious, and then did not watch again. The majority of boys are also exposed to pornography for the first time through the encouragement of others, but it is more likely to be by male friends.” (3)
Now while these stats may be surprising to some, they cannot and must not be palmed off as “Well that’s just the world we live in now.” The unfortunate reality is that because porn has become so common and viewed as ‘normal’, and we are saturated by the media with women’s bodies and the increase of sexualisation of women in the media, some of us are now thinking that BDSM is now part of a normal sex life. I can assure you, it isn’t.
I can’t tell you the number of teenage girls who come to me and say; “My boyfriend wants me to do this (insert weird, kinky and potential harmful sexual act) but I don’t feel comfortable with it…” Then they lean in, full of self-doubt and anxiety and ask, “Is there something wrong with me?” How tragic. What type of world do we live in when a young woman questions her own gut instincts? Why isn’t she instead questioning the sexual act being forced upon her, or the guy asking her to perform these acts? This is not women’s liberation, but actually the opposite.
It makes me so angry and sad that teenage girls are questioning themselves and thinking something is wrong with them for not wanting to do those things. This book romanticises these acts, and that is not real life.
Three: If she consented, it’s fine. It’s none of your business!
Ok then. Let me apply this same logic to domestic violence. As a counselor, many DV clients often say; “Its fine, its my fault, I deserved it. I forgive him.” The emotional manipulation women are susceptible to, especially by men, cannot be comprehended or underestimated. The female heart desires to love and give ALL, to lay her life down and sacrifice everything for the man she loves. Many words of manipulation have caused women to go far beyond this natural desire, into accepting sexual violence in the bedroom, all because he says ‘he wants it.’ This is not OK! Just because someone consents, doesn’t make it right. No one has the right to harm anyone, even if they supposedly ‘ask for it’.
Let me share an interesting story a friend told me recently. He has a friend who catches the train every day to work. On this particular week, his friend noticed a woman reading Fifty Shades of Grey sitting in the same seat near him for 3 days in a row. On the fourth day he bought a Penthouse magazine, sat close by the woman as usual, and began to read the magazine. The woman looked up and said, “Excuse me; that’s offensive”. The guy nodded towards Fifty Shades of Grey and responded “So’s that.”
Parents Speak Up
I encourage all parents to join me and take a stand with their teenage daughters (and sons) to avoid 50 Shades of Grey when it comes out. You could use the opportunity instead as an opportunity to talk about the subtle influence of pornography in twisting a healthy respect for the opposite sex. Parents, we need to share with our teenagers that sex is about giving and not taking. That sex is an act of love and selflessness, an expression of total love and faithfulness. That sex is not a sadistic sport or activity entered in to for selfish pleasure. As I said to my daughters in the car; “You don’t ask people you love if you can hurt them for your own pleasure and gain.”
Let me encourage parents out there to speak to your teenage children about this movie and why they won’t be going with their friends to watch it. It is time for us to stand up to this porn saturated society that is objectifying women and telling our daughters that it is ok to accept this type of treatment from a man.
I will certainly be fighting for my children’s dignity. Will you?
(3) Youth and Pornography in Australia: Evidence on the extent of exposure and likely effects. The Australian Institute.
We were excited to see Real Talk get a mention in the Catholic Leader as we kickstart the new year. You can read about it here:
There is a pandemic that is decimating communities the world over. Nobody is immune and more and more people are becoming exposed daily. Once it gets hold it often leads to death and destruction.
The Church is not immune. In fact, I’d suggest that this disease is almost as prevalent in our own pews, despite the fact that we have the antidote.
I’m talking of pornography. Pornography damages lives, relationships and society. The same can be said of a casual attitude to relationships and sex in general but the game changer, in today’s technological world, is pornography.
It shocks others when I mention a few statistics that demonstrate how widespread the problem is; that there are estimated to be more porn pages based in Australia than Australian Facebook users is one such statistic.
"There are estimated to be more porn pages based in Australia than Australian Facebook users"
What is more devastating than any statistic is the real people I meet and the impact that an under-regulated, overly accessible porn industry has on their lives.
Take a 13-year-old boy I’ve worked with as an example. He looks at porn daily on his smart phone. Until his struggle was brought into the light his parents probably thought that the worst thing he got up to was “being mean to his sister”.
Another confronting example might be the 17-year-old who attends youth group each week but has had 15 sexual partners this year.
These are real people faced with a real but sometimes insidious problem. One thing I have learnt is that when one starts on a diet of pornography it is a very slippery slope from intrigue to dependency.
Porn and Relationships
Musician and Grammy award winner John Mayer in a Playboy magazine interview (2010) openly connected his porn use with being unable to find a satisfying stable relationship. Mayer, who admits to regularly viewing hundreds of porn images before getting out of bed, finds porn easier than discovering someone new. “How does that (porn) not affect the psychology of having a relationship with somebody? It’s got to,” says Mayer.
In the book, Wired for Intimacy, Dr William Struthers discusses how the human person is essentially created for relationship. He argues that the neurological pathways in the brain are designed for relational intimacy, partner bonding and the desire to reproduce. These get hijacked in porn use by an overload of unrealistic images and experiences.
Many that ponder the anthropology of sex and relationships might inadvertently be led in a direction towards the much-condemned attitude towards sex that the Catholic Church holds. Namely that sex is primarily created to be unitive and procreative.
Males who watch porn are less likely to form successful relationships and are more likely to think sexual harassment is acceptable.
That humans are fundamentally created for relationship is highlighted ever so strongly by our sexuality and our deep desire for fulfilment in this area. It also is highlighted by the deep damage caused by a misuse or abuse of our sexuality.
Exposure to porn is so high that close to 100 per cent of males will encounter it before leaving school, reports Melinda Tankard Reist, researcher, author and activist against violence to women. The pedagogy of pornography is concerning. Porn reinforces that girls and women are merely pleasure centres for men.
What’s even more concerning is what pornography teaches about violence to women. A 2011 study, by the university of Nevada of five highly popular porn sites found that over 50 per cent of video pornography included acts of violence against women.
In a La Trobe University report, researcher Michael Flood found that males who watch porn are less likely to form successful relationships and are more likely to think sexual harassment is acceptable. Not surprisingly, a 2010 study by the Witherspoon Institute found that 56 per cent of divorce cases involved one or both parties having an obsessive interest in pornographic websites.
Feeding the Addiction – The Harm on Health
Recent research has begun to shed light on the addictive nature of pornography. Not only does porn stimulate the pleasure centres of the brain like that of narcotics but it includes a behavioural, visual experience. It is this lethal double combination of chemical highs and behavioural reinforcement that leads to powerful habits and sexual addictions.
Despite the abundance of research indicating the negative outcomes associated with porn use I’m still surprised every time a secular media outlet cottons on to this disease sweeping the advanced world. Most recently, men’s magazine GQ had the article “10 reasons why you should quit watching porn” to warn readers of the negative health effects of Internet pornography
Sexual appetite has become like the relationship between, processed foods, supersize portions, and obesity … if your appetite is stimulated and fed by poor-quality material, it takes more junk to fill you up. – Naomi Wolf
Even third-wave feminist Naomi Wolf, not exactly known for sexual conservatism, with books such as “Promiscuities” writes her concerns about the onslaught of porn. She says that, “It is responsible for deadening male libido in relation to real women, and leading men to see fewer and fewer women as ‘porn worthy’.” Further, “sexual appetite has become like the relationship between, processed foods, supersize portions, and obesity … if your appetite is stimulated and fed by poor-quality material, it takes more junk to fill you up. People are not closer because of porn but further apart; people are not more turned on but less so.” Further to this she says, “The power and charge of sex are maintained when there is some sacredness to it, when it is not on tap all the time.”
Porn is detrimental to people’s mental, physical and spiritual health. It little by little changes the users mindset. As Blessed Pope John Paul II is often quoted as saying, “the problem with pornography is not that it shows too much but that it shows too little”. Even when I spend just one minute analysing this statement with high school groups they begin to see that perhaps porn does in fact reduce the fullness of the human person to being merely something to use.
Exposing the Illness
This taboo subject is starting to also gain more exposure in the Church. Brisbane based, menALIVE, recently ran an event in Brisbane city on this topic. I was also pleasantly surprised to read a great pastoral letter by Bishop Gerard Holohan, Bishop of Bunbury addressing this topic not only theologically but also practically. For those interested in finding out more may I recommend you read this letter.
The good news is that there is help available and that the more we increase awareness of the problem the more we can help with both the prevention and the cure. As followers of Christ we are equipped with a power that can overcome all things including the evil of pornography.
Despite the confronting nature of this topic the truth is that the Church has really good news to bring in this area! Just this week I have had multiple young Catholics who have shared with me the difference that hearing the awesomeness of God’s plan for their sexuality has made to them and their faith. When the truth and goodness of our sexuality is revealed and understood it can truly be a turning point in people’s lives.
The more speaking engagements I do, the more convinced I am of the important role parents play in their teenagers sexual education…in fact, every part of their lives. As a parent of teenagers myself, I feel ‘in the thick’ of it every day; the emotions of their stage of life, the joy and pain, the confusion and the hormones, the importance of friends, of belonging, of boundaries, and the influence of peer pressure. Some days my teenage kids come home with stories of friends who are involved in self-harm, disordered eating, thoughts of suicide, bullying, ‘sexting’, pornography and more. On days like these I am grateful for my training in youth ministry and experience in counselling to be able to guide my own children and provide answers in such full-on and often confusing times.
I also realise that not all parents are youth counsellors or specialists and can often feel lost with how to respond when topics like these come up. Below are two key principles that will put the power back in your court as the parent of a teenager.
1) Stay engaged!
If there is anything we can do as parents, it is to not disengage! There is often a strong temptation around the ages of 8-12 to start to disengage. This is because now that they can feed themselves, dress themselves and go to the toilet by themselves, it seems like they don’t need us as much. This couldn’t be further from the truth. They still need you! Just not in the same way as a toddler or pre-schooler. They now need you more emotionally, to help them make sense of the world, to interpret what happens to them at school, to tell them it’s going to be OK. This is a crucial time when our voices as parents are still louder than that of the media and society, so don’t lose this opportunity to speak to them about all you value and believe. When the teenage years come about, it can be a shock to the system! Suddenly, they are more emotional, more moody, more demanding of attention, and the transition into this new phase is rapid.
I remember thinking ‘I’d better hold onto my hat because this is changing fast!’ It’s at this very point
that it is tempting to disengage. We want to surrender responsibility because it’s either too hard, or we don’t know what to do and it would feel a lot easier to leave them to their own devices. Let me encourage you: don’t disengage! Stay in their space, no matter how hard or crazy it gets. No matter how easy it may seem to walk away…don’t! Keep being available, keep asking questions, be willing to listen and make some compromises, but continue to assert your authority and protection over your teenagers. They need you! They may not act like it or even want it, but they do.
2) Be the adult
One of the big temptations for parents is to let go of emotional control. Whilst helping teach your teenagers to make good choices, it is still important to maintain your right to say ‘no’. Sometimes the intensity of their emotions can feel too much and we end up saying ‘yes’ to something we wouldn’t normally agree to just to keep the peace. Let me encourage you to resist this temptation and stick to your values. They won’t die if they don’t go to ‘that party’ this time!
It is difficult to be ‘the adult’ in the middle of the emotions of teenage-hood. Sometimes we begin to feel ‘triggered’ and hurt ourselves when they are trying to express how they feel (usually not very well!). I have found sometimes, even though I am angry and hurt, that I have had to close my eyes and tell myself: “I am the adult here. They are relying on me to keep calm and make sense of this for them”. This can be a really hard thing to do, but I have found it to be so worth-while that my teenagers actually end up sharing more vulnerability at that moment as I become completely present to them and support them through their time of trial.