Shopping For Your Teen As an Exercise in Understanding

It is actually quite amazing to consider that shopping for a gift embodies a very sophisticated concept…the concept of love. When you shop for a gift for someone you love, or even someone you don’t think you love at the moment, you must first carefully consider the person. You might even have to put aside your notions of what is tasteful or pleasant to consider landing on the perfect gift that matches the tastes of the recipient. You’ll find you need to think of the person’s: looks, behavior, attitude, special interests, activities, taste patterns and more.

When that special person is a teen, maybe even your own teen, you are doing an amazing job of parenting just by taking a few concentrated moments to select the perfect gift for your special teen. How could this be so?

Consider this: You actually step into the shoes of a teen when you shop for a gift for your teen. You must necessarily send love to your teen as an initial starting point. Why? Because it is nearly impossible to shop for anyone without feeling warm and fuzzy -- or at least without latching on to an understanding of the person. You actually need to stop, reflect, and spend some time thinking like a teen. In that amazing space that sometimes separates parents from teens, getting to the point of feeling like a teen is a place where you actually need to be in order to communicate effectively with your teen. And so, gift shopping for your teen is actually an exercise in love and communication. And you get points for it in many other ways when you land on that perfect gift!

When tweens morph into teens, they sometimes go full throttle into a new and seemingly dark world that seems foreign to us. You will step into the mind-set of a teen in order to buy a gift and there you will find yourself amazed and possibly shocked. The things that teens want to be surrounded with are incredible. The things that teens want to hear and hold and play with are just amazing. These things might seem very dark at first…shoes and t-shirts covered with skulls and bleeding hearts, purses and socks with tattoos and swords, splashes of color on hats and shirts that might look (heaven forbid) like dripping blood, and music lyrics you would likely find dishearteningly dark. Nevertheless, the teen world of "toys" is a truly amazing and creative place. It is an exploration of their global, political, crime-ridden, loving and caring world and also a delightful test at stretching and testing the borders of real-life social issues. You will discover in the world of teen gift shopping that teens want to express themselves and find themselves all in the same instant. Although that seems confounding, one thing about their world is very clear…they are embarking on an adventure called life with all the passion they can muster.

Teens are amazing people! They love and hate all in the same breath and they are filled with passion and emotion. They are confused and very certain. They are fascinated with the world around them. They are active in so many unbelievable ways --even if you never see them sweeping the walk or even if you imagine they sit quietly alone in a dark room. They’re recording the world as they prepare to jump out into it. Their minds are racing. They are listening even if you think they are not. They are expressing their journey through the clothes they wear, the music streaming through their iPods, the activities in which they participate, and in the intense social structures in which they move.

Dropping into their world just for a simple shopping trip on the web will do wonders for placing you in a better position to understand their world. And welcome to it…It is a fascinating and incredibly awesome world that is filled with creativity and shockingly brilliant ideas. Almost as brilliant as the simple yet extraordinarily complex concept of shopping for a gift. It will change you and make you a better parent. Why? Because love does that.
Warmest regards,

My Urban Teen


American Idol Follow-UP

So I've been watching American Idol all by my lonesome for the last few weeks. My daughter has stayed in her lair only to come in from time to time to watch an act or two, never staying long...and the show has lived up to it's promise of offering wonderfully talented men and women with the promise of pure entertainment. There's nothing better than seeing a great audition-and there's nothing worse then living through those moments that make me squirm with embarrassment watching someone sing horribly off key while I pray for this particular audition to end!

I have my favorite acts so far but watching the show alone is not quite as fun for I miss the camaraderie of watching the show with my daughter. I did get to the bottom of her disinterest in the show this year. It's simple: she decided she did not want to watch the try-outs but plans on watching the show with me once they returned to Hollywood! I was more than a little relieved to know that I did not have to watch the entire season by myself. Watching American Idol with my daughter was more then a tradition and while I know teens and their likes and dislikes change like the weather, I was secure in the fact that for now, this tradition would continue.

But there is a new twist! Last week we were given four tickets to one of the tapings in Hollywood! My sister's friend (who is also the creator and my partner and co-founder of webstore phenomenon) got us the studio's seats---Best seats in the house and directly above and behind Simon and the gang! According to her friend, who told me, because of where we will be sitting, we will be on television at least 50 times or more! When I told my daughter this exciting news she was thrilled! (Of course, I'm worried about what to wear and about how not to look like the woman that has gained 20 pounds in the last year! Because truth be known, I have a secret crush on Simon.)

The world was right again and tonight, the two of us will be front row and center watching with anticipation ---thus continuing on with our family tradition of watching American Idol. Thank Goodness for teen traditions that continue to live on!


My Urban Teen Scrapbook

The Rocker That Came To Breakfast

I heard a shuffle behind me as I was standing at the counter pouring my favorite Fat Free French Vanilla Creamer into my freshly poured cup of coffee. I turned expecting to greet my son with a cheerful “good morning” but was surprised to see what appeared to be a stranger sitting at the kitchen table. I stifled the urge to scream and wracked my brain-who was this stranger?

The slouched shoulders and the shape of the head looked rather familiar. What I didn't recognize were the clothes and the hair! This person sitting before me had jelled spiked hair sticking straight up in the air. Not only that, the hair was PINK! Before I could speak, "it" spoke to me and I nearly fainted because the voice belonged to my son! I slowly moved around the table to get a closer look, clutching my cup of steaming hot coffee.

When I was standing directly in front of the teenager I could see that this was, indeed, my son. I think. My son was wearing a black t-shirt with statements about rock 'n roll and being a roadie. My son was wearing black skinny jeans with purposeful rips and metal safety pins. My son’s hair was not dark brown any longer but was now spiked straight up with black roots and PINK tips! The person sitting at the kitchen table, pouring himself a bowl of cereal, was my son who apparently went through some sort of transformation during the night that changed him from a preppie-type boy to a rocker teen! (Note to self: watch teenager more closely).

I always considered myself lucky in that my son never strayed from his regular faded jeans and polo shirt or plain t-shirt. To me, this was the epitome of normal. I felt comfortable in the knowledge of who that boy was inside that safe, familiar outfit. So can you imagine what was going on inside my head staring at this face I’ve loved for 15 years with a body dressed in this outfit? I felt cheated, I panicked. I felt I had lost my son which was impossible since he was here just last night! Right?

I watched him suspiciously while he sat chewing large bites of his cereal while looking at the screen on his lap top computer. He looked perfectly content as if everything was exactly the same as it was last night. Words would not come out of my mouth, I could not think of anything to say. I felt if I said the wrong thing, this outfit would pick up my son and walk him right out the door, never to be seen again! So I opted to say nothing and then it happened: he spoke. He grinned, he asked me for his lunch money before kissing me on the cheek and heading out the door to high school. I smiled and said, "Have a great day". His voice sounded the same. His smile was the same. He hollered back to me that he was meeting some friends after school for band auditions and, “See you later, Mom!”

I stammered, “Okay”. I took a big gulp of my coffee.

“Wow!” I thought out loud. My son went to bed a preppie and woke up a rock star!

Teen personalities…An ever-evolving mind-melding

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American Idol and My Teen

When the holiday season ends, when the Christmas tree is long gone and the boxes of decorations are safely stored away in the attic, there is always a deflated, let-down kind of feeling. For some, the end of the holiday season can be doubly troubling because it also signals the end of the regular football season. But ever since the premier of American Idol in 2002, we stopped feeling let down. Why? Because in millions of homes across the nation it's common knowledge that when the holidays are over-the new season of American Idol begins!

From the moment that ball in Time Square reaches the top letting the world know that a new year has begun, a new countdown begins to the first show of the new season of American Idol. Watching American Idol has been a tradition in our household since it's conception. And one of the show's biggest fans lives here in my home-my teen daughter!

So this year wasn't any different from last year, or so I thought. Last night was the first show of American Idol which broadcast from the State of Arizona. At 7:55 p.m. I tuned in and anxiously awaited for the show to start-almost cringing to myself while waiting to watch wonderfully talented or horrendously horrible moments as this years first round of hopefuls auditioned.

As I settled in on the couch anxiously waiting for the show to begin, I called out to my teenage daughter, "Hurry honey, American Idol is about to begin!" No reply. I yelled out again to hurry because the show was starting...still no reply! I got up and went into our living room expecting to see my daughter tied up, bound and gagged. But she wasn't, instead I found her calmly sitting on the floor, her laptop in front of her on the coffee table, her homework next to the laptop, music playing from her I-Pod, the large television set turned on to the xBox which was paused on a game, and she was chatting on her I-Phone! Teens are excellent multi-taskers. She waved me away and I was a more than a little surprised that she would miss even one minute of her favorite show!

I mean, after all, this girl has not missed one moment of American Idol in the last six years. She has had the insight to choose either the winner or the one of the top three contestants each and every year. I impatiently waited for her to end her conversation before I questioned her on why she wasn't in the family room with me, waiting for American Idol to begin.

She calmly replied, "I don't feel like it." HUH?

"What do you mean, you don't feel like it? Are you sick?", I asked loudly.

"No, I just don't feel like watching it this year", she calmly replied and shrugged her shoulders.

I asked her again, "What do you mean, you're not interested in watching American Idol?"

She calmly assured me again that she wasn't interested in watching American Idol this year. I thought she was kidding. I returned to the family room where I would yell out to her quite a few times that she was missing our show. Nothing. She finally came in and watched five auditions then left the room.

I had to get to the bottom of this astounding new situation. Why in the world had she changed? What happened? Why didn't she want to watch American Idol this year? Why di
dn't she feel like it?

Stunned would be a proper adjective to describe how I felt watching the show alone. For the first time, I was more interested in watching American Idol then it's biggest fan. I couldn't believe my ears and the worse part of this situation was there was no reason. The show is on again tonight and I'll see what happens. I'll see if I can figure out what changed between last year to this year. I mean, my teenage daughter looked the same. She acted the same, albeit, she was a year older and was now 17.
Her clothes were the same (which is usually a big clue into a teen's personality and changes that have occured). But I'm 48 so I reasoned with myself that if I were still interested, shouldn't she still be interested? The first year this show aired she forced me to watch it. How could she possibly not be interested in watching people make fools of themselves on national TV? What happened to my daughter?

Stay tuned, when I know, you'll know. Gasp!


Teen Personalty Types

What does your teen really want? While this sounds like a trick question, one that couldn't possibly be answered on this blog, the truth is, yes it can.

Teens are "personalities" running around the universe. As parents we know that teens aren't great at verbal communication. Teens aren't able to tell us who they are or their personality type. So how do we know? How do our teens tell us who they are? Teens express their personalities by what they wear and what they like to do. By the time your child turns thirteen it's pretty clear what type of personality he or she has but if you haven't figured this out on your own, don't worry, we can help. Below is the list of teen personalities:

Artist, baseball nut, basketball hooper, beauty queen, car monkey, cheerleader, computer geek, cycler, extreme sports fanatic, cook, football hero, gadget meister, golf pro, gamer, grunge, gym freak, hippie, hip-hop honey, laid back, Lacrosse, magician, music maniac, pet lover, photo buff, preppie, punk-baby, roadie, the scholar, skateboarder, soccer, sweet & innocent, surfer dude/chick, techie, and world traveler.

By knowing your teens personality you will hold the key that unlocks a world that is, quite frankly, foreign to us as parents. By knowing your teens personality you will be ahead of the game. And what can you do with this information? Great things!

We opened the store My Urban Teen ( to help parents and relatives and friends buy the best teen gifts based on this very premise: teen personalities. In knowing your teens personality we believe you really can answer the question: what does my teen really want? In knowing what your teen really wants we believe you can break down those walls and begin communicating with the foreigner that resides in your home: your teen.

Our idea has grown into our own Blog-What Does My Teen Really Want-which will offer sanity saving ideas and stories to help you win the war! If we can do it, so can you! Stay tuned...