LGBTQ Youth Q & A for Parents


LGBTQ Youth Questions & Answers for Parents

Thursday, December 3rd, 7pm – 8:30pm

Presented by Jack Lewis, M.Div., Executive Director – OUT MetroWest

Through Q&A and discussion, Jack Lewis of OUT MetroWest will explore the current state of the LGBTQ youth community in MetroWest Boston.  Together the group will learn new terms, explore issues of gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation, and discuss ways to support LGBTQ young people.  He will share recent statistics that relate to the community and discuss ways that parents/guardians and other adults can support LGBTQ young people.  He will also go over the history of OUT MetroWest and provide an overview of programs and services offered. 

Presentation meets at Wayside Youth & Family Support Network, 88 Lincoln Street, Framingham.

TO RSVP, contact Ann Killion at 508-620-0010 x194 or

Have a Stress Free Holiday with Teens

As the Christmas and Hanukkah seasons are approaching us quickly, we are faced with our teenagers being home for the holidays and the question of how to have a stress free holiday with teens. This is a very exciting time for teens, as the stresses of homework and tests will be put aside for a short time. So what will they do with their time? This is something that should be discussed ahead of time and put into perspective. Parents will not want to spend the next two weeks arguing with their teenager, so if all the expectations are set forth ahead of time, there will be less chance of conflict and less stress during the vacation.

Should there be any family obligations such as visiting with relatives and special meals it is important to not wait until that day to spring this on your teen. They should be made aware of plans made; this is not to say that they have any say in what plans were made. This will just prevent arguments when they are told they must attend something with you when they would prefer to be with their friends.

Holidays with Teenagers Tips:

  1. Let your teen invite a close friend to help decorate the tree or participate in lighting the menorah one evening. Friends are a great buffer and teens usually behave better in front of them.
  2. Let your teen know ahead of time when it would be appropriate to leave after a special meal or visit with relatives. This is a great trade off for a conversational and present teen.
  3. Go for quality not quantity family time. Let your teen know that if they spend 3 pleasant hours engaging with the family fun, they can then leave to spend 3 hours at a friend’s house or bring a friend over.
  4. Try to plan family events in the afternoon so teens can sleep in. Teens are cranky if they are up early.  Work with their strengths.
  5. Give your teen a responsibility to pull them into the family commitment and holiday dynamics. Assign them cooking the potato latkes or decorating the mailbox. Let them do it their way and resist the urge to criticize or correct.
  6. If there are younger siblings in the family let your teen bring  them to the movies or drop them off at a store to pick out a present for mom or dad. This is relaxing and fosters a bond between siblings. This helps teens realize they are a role model to their younger brother or sister.

Holiday time is a wonderful time of year to spend time with your family and friends. Parents will finally get to relax after the hustle and bustle of the last month. Teenagers on the other hand are not looking to sit and relax. Try to remember what life was like when you were a teen. The stresses on the teens today are much greater and they look forward to being with their friends. Make sure to allow for friend time, family fun, and lots of sleeping in.

Holiday downtime is an excellent time to introduce your teen to relaxation techniques. Indigo Teen Dreams was created specifically for teenagers to learn to manage stress, anxiety, and anger while increasing self-esteem. Help them catch up on much needed sleep with Indigo Dreams: Teen Relaxation Music . A relaxed teen will be sure to make your holidays bright!

Children and Holiday Stress; How to Help!

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Children and Holiday Stress

Families want their holidays to be happy for everyone, especially the children. Many parents do not realize that the holiday season can be a time of hustle, bustle and a never-ending whirlwind of stress for their children.

It is important to remember that children (and parents) need to find time to relax and enjoy a wonderful time of the year. How can children relax when they see their parents running around frantically shopping, baking, decorating and becoming stressed at the thought of blowing the holiday budget after one trip to the mall?

These tips may help both parents and children recognize holiday anxiety and feel less stress.

Signs of a child’s holiday stress may include:

  • Tears for seemingly minor reasons
  • Nervous behaviors such as nail biting and hair twirling
  • Physical complaints including headaches and stomachaches
  • Regression to younger behaviors: bedwetting, temper tantrums
  • Withdrawal from school, friends and family
  • A change in your child’s regular behavior

Here are some ways to reduce stress for the entire family:

  • Remember routines – For parents of small children, this is especially good advice. During the holidays, children will find their routines disrupted. They are often dragged along on shopping trips or taken to special events. They stay up past bedtime and eat too many holiday goodies. When a routine is broken, stress can result.
  • Say “No” – You don’t have to accept every invitation to cookie swaps, parties and gift exchanges that you receive.
  • Nutrition – Have you ever noticed the lines at fast food restaurants as the holidays approach? The lines are getting longer because people are often too busy to go home and cook a nutritious meal. Add all of those sugary holiday treats, and you end up with a stressed out, hungry family. Plan at least one healthy meal for the family every day. Take the time to talk and enjoy being together as a family.
  • Family traditions – Many don’t realize how important traditions are to themselves and their children. Family traditions offer great comfort and security for children. What are your family traditions? Perhaps your family would enjoy creating a holiday calendar or baking cookies together.
  • Attitude check – Both children and their parents need to have an attitude check before the holiday season begins. Take a deep breath, and have everyone in the family pledge to make the holiday season a time of joy and peace. The less holiday stress you feel, the more relaxed your children will be.
  • Rest and relaxation – Everyone, especially a child, needs to take a “time out” over the holiday season to rest and relax. A well-rested child will be much happier on a trip to the mall than one who is in need of a nap. Schedule some rest and relaxation time for everyone in the family.
  • Favorite things – If you are traveling for the holidays, bring your child’s favorite blanket or stuffed animal. A bit of home will help your child feel more comfortable.
  • Laugh – Laughter is still the best way to beat stress and change everyone’s mood from bad to good. Lighten the mood with funny movies, sledding or cozy chats over cups of hot chocolate (don’t forget the marshmallows).

Make a stress-free holiday your new family tradition! Fond memories of the holidays are a beautiful gift you can leave with your children. In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, the holidays may be one of the few times when you can offer a present that only you can give — priceless memories of a holiday filled with fun, love and laughter for the entire family

Respecting a Child’s Processing Speed in a Fast-Paced World

Respecting a Child’s Processing Speed in a Fast-Paced World

Expert Corner blog post by Ellen Braaten
Jul 28, 2015

Ellen Braaten and Son

Is there a place in our fast-paced world for a child who processes information slowly? It’s a question that’s been on my mind.

As a child psychologist, I’ve worked with countless kids who are intelligent, but who process information at a slower pace. I’m not just a psychologist, however. I’m also a mom. And my 21-year-old son has processing speed issues (along with ADHD).

In many ways, my son and I are very much alike. But we are quite different when it comes to how fast we take in and handle information.

He speaks slowly and chooses words carefully. I speak fast and always have (perhaps) too much to say.

I love having a hundred things going at one time. He would prefer to do one thing at a time, and do it well. I’m always running in a million different directions—and, because of that, I’m frequently late. He likes getting places on time.

Of course, I understand the concept of slow processing speed. (I even wrote a book all about the topic!) Yet there are still days when I find it tough to put myself in my son’s shoes. It’s not easy to understand why he won’t get things done on my timeline.

I often say to parents that accepting, accommodating and advocating are three of the best ways to meet the challenges of a child with slow processing speed.

Acceptance is the first step. It can be tough one, though, because kids with slower processing speed often look like they aren’t trying or don’t care. But that’s almost never the case, particularly with younger kids.

In order to accept, you have to first get the facts. A good evaluation can help you do just that. If you understand how and why your child struggles, you can better know what you should be doing to help.

Seeing actual data on your child’s learning, and a pattern of strengths and weaknesses, can change your worldview in an instant.

Without evidence, we as parents have impressions of what we think our kids can and can’t do. With evidence, we can see our frustrations through a more understanding perspective.

Acceptance also means looking at yourself and where you’re coming from:

What is your tempo or processing speed like?

Are you a fast thinker/talker/doer?

Is it possible your child’s difficulties aren’t as bad for him as you think, but she is simply out of sync with your rhythm?

Case in point: My son was recently home from college for a week’s vacation. On one of our nights together, we decided to make dinner.

As we prepared to eat, I apologized because we were spending his vacation time just hanging out and not “doing stuff.” His reply: “Mom, making dinner is doing stuff together!”

It says a lot that just enjoying the act of cooking a meal together didn’t seem to be “enough” for me. One of the biggest complaints many of us have these days is that the world has become too fast-paced.

Kids with a slower speed of processing may be out of sync with the world’s demands. But they have skills—and a natural rhythm—that I think society desperately needs. A slower, more thoughtful, less rushed approach to life is something that comes naturally to them.

Granted, life is filled with things that need to be done quickly, like homework, chores and getting to school on time. Your child will need to learn to advocate for himself. He will need to learn to become more efficient to thrive in today’s world.

But given the right environment and true acceptance, our kids can come up with unique and valuable solutions to problems. They can teach us how to slow down and be intentional with our lives.

They can even show us how to savor something as simple as preparing a family meal together.

Any opinions, views, information and other content contained in blogs on are the sole responsibility of the writer of the blog, and do not necessarily reflect the views, values, opinions or beliefs of, and are not endorsed by, Understood.


About the Blogger

Ellen Braaten

Ellen Braaten More Posts by the Blogger

Ellen Braaten, Ph.D., is the director of the Learning and Emotional Assessment Program at Massachusetts General Hospital.

18-25 yr olds – green house graphics

This is David Sebastian Mentoring Artist at Green House Graphics. We are beginning our second 6 week session of our studio art series. Young adults 18-25 are welcome Monday through Thursday 10:30-3 in the studio at Tempo in Framingham.   I have a few participants but we still have some room. The program is free and we will buy lunch one day a week and raffle off a gift card each week. The program pays a $50 stipend for each week completed paid at the end.
Each week we focus on a different media or project. The schedule looks like this:
Week 01 Photoshop on the mac
week 02 Advanced Photoshop
Week 03 Painting and drawing transfer techniques/going from digital to traditional
week 04 Acrylic painting
week 05 Multimedia(wet and dry)
week 06 Airbrush
If you know anyone interested please have them call Tempo/GHG at 508-879-1424 and ask for Dave or email me directly at .
For more information go to our website

NOW is the Time for Individuals and Families to Apply For MassHealth

NOW is the Time for Individuals and Families to Apply and Enroll for Health Coverage!

Open Enrollment for 2016 coverage runs from November 1, 2015 through January 31, 2016. To start the new year with coverage, individuals must sign up by December 15, 2015. Get started here at the Massachusetts Health Connector