Probably the single most challenging issue we face as humans, compared to other mammals, is the length of time it takes us to raise our young. Depending on the area of the globe you live in, this can range anywhere from sixteen to twenty years. In most families, ongoing support of various kinds is still being provided for years or decades afterward.

Rapid changes in the pre-teen and teen years challenge and push parents to acquire new information and develop new skills.  Teens are merely doing what comes naturally, changing socially, emotionally, physically, intellectually, ethically, spiritually and psychologically and stressing parents as part of this magnificent metamorphosis. Enjoying this stage of life can be hard, especially if we listen to all the negativity out there about teens.

Don’t buy into the negative story. Children and parents struggle as part of normal family growth and development. Keeping upbeat and positive about child rearing is a monumental task rarely done very well without help. There are many books… so change the age old negative phrase to say, they do come with a manual, in fact, many!”.  Further, mentors, coaches or counsellors are available who are equipped to teach new strategies and provide you with the tools necessary for raising confident, healthy and highly effective teens.

If you find you are struggling too much, are stressed and worried about your young person and unsure what to do then … contact us today !

   “I’ve talked with my teen”  / “I’ve talked with my parent(s)”

Are you sure?

  • Did you openly talk about your hopes, dreams and desires for sexual choices?
  • Have you shared your beliefs and values on the subject?
  • Did you discuss ways to set clear boundaries, to discuss reasons for waiting or the pros and cons of either choice?
  • What about how to raise the topic with your boyfriend or girlfriend?

Parents, young adults and teens alike frequently provide the following answers when asked what is safe sex;

   “Abstinence”… “Until marriage”

Many will guess this is truly the answer to the question, however this is not really the answer, at least, given how most view the definition of abstinence. Definitions indicate this means “to refrain from sexual intercourse”, some adding until marriage, yet, many other risky behaviours could lead to STIs/STDs. This answer also does not teach about safe sexual expression either… no sex is not sex. What is safe sexual expression then? The next answer from parents, teens or young adults often is …

   “Condoms and Contraception”

Again, school programs often phrase this strategy as “safe sex” quite commonly reporting statistics indicate safety ranges from 97% to 99% when used effectively. The titles of “safe” or “safer” are unfortunately quite misleading. This is magnified because we now know adolescents’ brains are not fully developed until their early twenties.  Further, contraception is rarely used as recommended heightening risk. When all factors are taken into account (e,g, forgetfulness, unwillingness and the just plain “not caring much”) contraceptive use safety hovers somewhere around 77% (seventy-seven percent).  Wow!… an over twenty percent chance of an infectious disease or pregnancy. Think about that.

    “Find one person you really love”

Finally, a smaller proportion of people will answer “safe sex is with someone you really love“, however there is huge ambiguity around what this actually means. At what age? Does this mean one person? What if you choose and then break up? Choose again? Committed relationship? What does that mean? What does really love mean?

With all the confusion, vague answers and poor safety percentages, it may be better for school boards and parents alike to delete the title safe sex and introduce an honest title (with a big banner), LESS RISKY SEX“.   We can give students a clearer message that sexuality and sexual expression carries extreme risk to both mental and physical health.  Given the lack of clear and consistent information, it is clear we can address this health risk with a more thorough health education strategy.

The answer to today’s question is none of the above. “Really safe sexual expression” is possible.  It involves activities with virtually no chance of disease (including mental illness) or pregnancy.  Sexual development is a normal part of human development and an important part of life that brings with it great responsibility on the part of parents, educators and caregivers to prepare youth well.

Healthy sexuality and sexual development requires an educational curriculum that provides evidence-based information, consistently delivered through ongoing, open and sensitive conversations.



Why stop any addictive behaviour? Because it has reached the point where it is getting in the way of important relationships, blocking progress at home and work and/or because you simply want a better quality of life. Addictions can become such habitual behaviour that the body and mind simply become used to this.  Stopping addictive behaviour in its tracks often requires a team effort with a wide variety of supports and strategies.

Motivation to change increases when we explore the benefits or positive results that will happen as we take back control of our health.

One young man listed his top 10 motivators for stopping drinking as follows:

  1. Better myself
  2. Quality of life – e.g. travel, socialize
  3. Accomplish things – around house, with friends, at work
  4. Own a house – currently drinking a mortgage payment per month
  5. Family’s well being – so they don’t worry and are happier with me
  6. Physical health – healthier energy levels, organ functioning and sexuality
  7. Mental health – increased confidence, happiness and peace
  8. Spiritual health – strengthen my spirit, explore faith possibilities
  9. $$$$$ – save and re-invest thousands ($1000.00 to $1400.00 per month)
  10. LOVE – express this emotion through my actions toward me and others more!

Addictions can become all consuming thoughts and actions interfering with almost every area of our lives. No matter what the addiction, we can overcome it with help and by shifting our thoughts toward more hopeful and positive ones. Intentionally changing our mind is complicated.

Our professional registered counselors in Oshawa can assist you anywhere in Durham Region or even farther via internet video counselling sessions.

If you are, or a friend of yours is, struggling with an addictive behaviour, one that is causing you concern… even modest concern…then dig deep for the courage to reach out for help!  To find out how we can help Contact us today



While taking stuff away and grounding children from going out may be common and an easy approach (possibly one our parents used) it is really a “last resort” discipline strategy. When we think of adjusting our children’s thinking to improve emotional and behavioural outcomes… taking things away can actually contribute to increased negative thinking and lowered self esteem.  This is what I like to call “Stinkin Thinkin“!

Discipline is to teach or coach. It is best designed to provide consequences (rewards and punishments) that improve self esteem and more positive thinking. Rather than taking something away or grounding why not add something.  Assigning age-appropriate chores and tasks is an excellent disciplinary strategy.  This teaches that their behaviour is not desired while building up their skill set and reducing time to dwell (for both parents and children) on the undesirable behaviour. Tasks and chores also benefit all involved… wow!

There are many small and moderate size chores around the house for lesser infractions and, of course, some larger chores for those more blatantly defiant behaviours. Disciplinary tasks may include reading, music practice or any range of other things that contribute to your child’s well-being.

Think about it. How do you feel when you have accomplished something. Generally, most of us feel glad to be done, a sense of satisfaction, completion and confidence. We usually have also increased our knowledge and skill on how to do the particular task or chore. Getting kids to read about and write down ways to resolve problems may also be great task for behaving poorly.

We can even get our preteens and teens to come up with options for consequences.  Choices help improve buy in and motivation.  Would they rather do a task, help another person or do a chore? We tend to be more open to do a particular task when we have a say or are included in the decision-making process.

Next time your teenager requires discipline for something… think of three Cs -> consequences, chores and choices. 

Seven Habits of Teens

While many researchers may indicate yes to this question, it doesn’t have to be so.  The initial turmoil and emotional upset following separation and divorce impacts all family members to some extent disrupting family stability, emotional balance and even parental effectiveness.  Of course this may not come as a surprise. When we experience significant loss, grief and the associated increased stress levels we do not usually function as well, both physically and emotionally.

In his article in The Future of Children, Paul R. Amato expresses this concern;

Many single parents, however, find it difficult to function effectively as parents. Compared with continuously married parents, they are less emotionally supportive of their children, have fewer rules, dispense harsher discipline, are more inconsistent in dispensing discipline, provide less supervision, and engage in more conflict with their children.” VOL. 15 / NO. 2 / FALL 2005  

Many parents in this situation come in for counselling feeling “overwhelmed”, at their “whits end” and even like they’re “losing their mind“.

What can be done?  Fortunately, for those parents (even one) who are open to assistance, and willing to put the marital dispute aside, cooperative parenting coaching, is quite beneficial for improving family functioning.  Learning what is useful when adjusting after a separation and developing an effective co-parenting plan that is specific to your situation can greatly reduce stress and improve social, emotional, cognitive and academic or vocational functioning.

Both, children and parents can do better at school and work, and with each other , with a clearly defined and equitable co-parenting agreement.

Our Oshawa counsellors can assist you with adjusting after separation and divorce and help you develop great co-parenting ... Call us today !

We are really impressed to see more elderly parents seeking help for their adult children (whether in their 20s, 30s, or 40s). Parenting never ends. As long as you are around, you want to be able to still provide the best for your children, either by providing them with guidance or strategies to help them cope, or encouragement to seek help from their community for various struggles that they may be facing.

Parents are privileged to help their adult children with a car, home, financial goals, or even buying them a vacation. Parents especially want to be an outlet when their children are struggling in their relationships and having mental health problems.

It must be very difficult for a parent to figure out whether they are being intrusive, getting in their face too much, or crossing a boundary. So it is very tricky to know when and how to help.

Jeff Packer & Associates encourage parents to attend an assessment session, to first find out if the issue pertaining to their child requires intervention. We also assist parents in creating the best way to encourage their child to seek counselling support.

If you’re a concerned parent wondering how you can help your adult child improve their lives, counselling is the key.  Counselling services can definitely help solve a lot of interpersonal relationship issues (with friends, family, marriages, and parenting struggles).

Call today and find out more information about how you can help your adult children live a happy and healthy life.

Did you know…

  1. Autism now affects 1 in 88 children and 1 in 54 boys (March 2012 statistic)
  2. The 2012 numbers reflect a 78% increase in reported prevalence in the last 6 years
  3. Boys are 4x more likely than girls to have autism

Contact us to find out how Jeff Packer MSW & Associates can help families and children with Autism.