Teen Health 411
Teen Health 411

Happy New Year!

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Happy New Year!

Welcome to 2009! I was a little sad to see 2008 go last night - given that it was such a great year that is, well, unless you count the economy, environment, human rights, or anything else related to politics!

That is the joy of being a chronic multi-tasker - I can choose to be a parent, a female, a partner, a middle-aged person, a health professional, an educator, a blogger, or a concerned citizen, depending on my mood and the level of frustration I am currently experiencing in any particular role.

Last night at dinner, I was just a mom (which a week off will do to me), and my family started the New Year with some resolutions, like everyone else in the United States, and my teens said things like "eat more of the good stuff and less of the bad," "try not to enjoy pissing off ...," "do well in high school," and for me, get more exercise and financially prepared for the first kid to start college in 2010!

Thinking about finances and the current state of the economy, I could not help but laugh about the difference between home and work. Professionally, more and more I am being asked to make assessments about the cost-effectiveness of innovations in health care. Part of every evaluation project seems to be judging whether the amount of resources, usually personnel, is worth the health-related outcome. In comparison, as a parent, if decisions were made on a cost-effectiveness basis, there would be very few children in our society.

I do not know about all of you, but the resources required by children, those that are physical, financial and emotional, seem to be on a pretty steep incline - first there are the years without sleep, and the constant worry that you are giving them everything they need to become a successful adult. Then financially, there is the equipment investment when they are born, the years of new shoes every 8 weeks, the education, braces, toys, classes, coaches, tutors, travel, gifts, pets, insurance, and then college - we are talking major financial resources, and oh yes, in adolescence, the back to not sleeping well.

Oh but wait, I am forgetting the return for those financial, and physical investments - it is the look in their eye when they say "I love you," or the pride that swells in my heart, or their face when they say thank you to a person in a service role, or ask if they can take dinner back to the person they saw begging, or make a goal, or want to talk about politics, or help a friend in an unhealthy relationship.

There is no tangible return for those dollars - just let them go, and thank your stars that you have had the privilege of contributing those resources and being able to make another human being feel extraordinary, loved, and accepted. You have bought some hope that
the next generation will do a good job as adults, professionals, parents, partners, and citizens!


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About the Author

Dr. Brown is a developmental psychologist specializing in adolescent health.

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