All posts by: Elizabeth Heubeck

Teens seem to be taking longer to grow up. One reason? A closer bond with their parents.

Originally published on September 4, 2019 on Washingtonpost.com. My 17-year-old son routinely walks to Chipotle, about a mile away. He cuts lawns in the neighborhood, eliminating a commute to his summer job. When he goes out socially, he rides with friends or takes Uber. He was registered for driver’s education last summer, but had a scheduling conflict with a baseball tournament. The tournament won out. My son is by no means the only teenager who remains firmly rooted in the passenger seat. In 1983, almost half of the nation’s 16-year-olds carried a valid driver’s license. By 2014, less than a quarter did, according to a study by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. Experts say driving is not the only adult activity that today’s teens are approaching with greater ambivalence than their counterparts in previous generations. “The whole developmental trajectory has slowed,” says Jeanne Twenge, author of “iGen.” This trend, which cuts across demographics,

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Menopause’s long learning curve

Every day an estimated 6,000 women in the U.S. reach

menopause, a natural part of aging. But for countless women, it feels like anything but. The symptoms, which range from merely bothersome to debilitating, are triggered by the body’s loss of estrogen, which occurs at a median

age

of 50 to 52 among women in industrialized countries. Vasomotor symptoms alone (hot flashes, night sweats), which disrupt sleep and count as the most commonly reported complaint,

last

an average of 10 years and affect nearly

90 percent of menopausal women. A recent study published in the journal Menopausefound that 250,000 women who suffered from hot flashes lost a cumulative $300 million per year in wages due to lost productivity and doctor visits, compared with asymptomatic women. Postmenopause, women face a whole new set of health challenges, including a heightened risk of cardiovascular and bone disease. Not only can this “normal”

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Weber’s Cider Mill Farm Means Fall Fun

Originally published on October 17, 2018 On a drizzly Thursday morning in late September, Weber’s Cider Mill Farm is relatively quiet. A few toddlers and preschool-aged children have the run of the place, getting close to the barnyard goats and chickens without having to jockey for position with the hordes of visitors that overrun the Parkville destination on sunny fall weekends. But behind the scenes, it’s anything but a slow day for Jo-Ann and Steve Weber, third-generation proprietors of this family-owned and operated business that, over the years, has become for local families synonymous with the celebration of autumn and its beloved traditions, including pumpkin-picking, maze-running, apple cider-swilling and the like.The extraordinary amount of effort that goes into running the 14-acre farm and its abundant autumnal offerings cannot be underestimated. Steve Weber, who along with Jo-Ann, his wife, took over the farm in 1971, says that for the few months between the start of

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The Tragedy of Baltimore’s Dawnta Harris

Originally published on May 3, 2019 By now, most of us have seen the mug shot of then 16-year-old city resident Dawnta Harris taken after his arrest for the felony murder of Baltimore County Police Officer Amy Caprio along with burglary and theft. In it, Dawnta looks tough. But if you look closely, his eyes, which refuse to meet the camera, seem fatigued — far more so than any 16-year-old’s should look. His mouth is closed, as if purposely resisting expression. This image stands in stark contrast to the description of Dawnta’s face when he sat in a Baltimore courtroom this week and received a guilty verdict that could be followed by a sentence of life in prison. According to news reports, he “slumped and began crying.” When I learned of Dawnta’s reaction upon hearing his verdict, I too welled up. Perhaps it’s a natural instinct: As the mother of a 16-year-old son, I feel protective not only of him but, by extension, all teenage boys who are trying to find their way in a

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‘Safe’ teen drinking? Here’s why parents shouldn’t facilitate it.

Originally published in the Washington Post's online version on Apr. 1, 2019. “Well, we did it when we were their age.” This common refrain, popular among parents with a permissive attitude toward underage drinking, is often coupled with well-intentioned efforts to keep adolescents safe while consuming alcohol: Think encouraging alcohol-imbibing teens to take advantage of ride programs like Uber, to spend the night at a friend’s house, or to drink in one’s own home as opposed to unknown settings. Referred to by social scientists as “harm reduction,” this strategy is more than just ineffective, say experts. It’s helping to fuel an epidemic of teenage binge drinking. Although many parents of today’s teenagers drank when they were young, data shows important differences between teen drinking then and now. In 1991, about half of high school students reported consuming alcohol, according to the

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC). In 2015, less than 18

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Rejections hurt. Here’s how to help your child during college-application season.

Article originally published in the On Parenting section of the Washington Post on March 5, 2019. Anita Walia’s daughter had always been an overachiever. She made the girls’ varsity soccer team as a high school freshman, earned good grades in the most challenging courses at the private school she attended and received high marks on standardized tests. So, when it came time to apply to colleges in fall 2017, she felt ready. But she wasn’t prepared for what happened next. Walia’s daughter was rejected from her top two college choices. That both of the highly selective institutions accepted fewer than 10 percent of applicants did little to alleviate her feelings of dejection. “For my daughter, it became, ‘I’m not good enough,’ ” recounted Walia, who lives in Baltimore. It’s a scene that will play out in countless homes across the country from now through the spring, as high school seniors learn that, despite their best efforts, they did not get into their dream college. Often,

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UMD Students Deserve Better

Originally published in the Baltimore Sun on December 13, 2018. Like countless other parents of college-bound high school seniors living in Maryland, I started steering my daughter toward her state’s flagship university last year, when we began talking about college options. The

University of Maryland, College Park, with its strong academic reputation — it touts itself as “one of the nation’s preeminent public research universities” — and reasonable price tag, seemed like a no-brainer. But in light of recent preventable student deaths there, I’ve begun to feel that by pushing for my daughter to attend College Park I’m leading her into the path of a formidable safety hazard. It is almost impossible to live in Maryland and not have heard of the tragic death this summer of

Jordan McNair, a former College Park student and football player who collapsed during a routine practice and died two weeks later. Had the adults in charge of the players’ health at that

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Office Catnaps

Originally published August 6, 2009 in the Baltimore Sun.

Late one afternoon during a particularly stressful week at work, LaWanda Stone Abernathy did what most

officeworkers only dream of - she stepped away from her desk and into a dimly lit room, kicked back on a futon and fell asleep for a few minutes. "Before I went in there, I was feeling totally overwhelmed," recalled Stone Abernathy,

corporate

communications manager at Med-IQ, a health care company based in Catonsville. "When I woke up, I was able to complete what I had to do that day. Otherwise, I would have been just spinning my wheels." Med-IQ calls it the wellness room. Other companies that provide similar amenities tend to label them quiet rooms, or refreshment rooms. Most companies steer clear of the term "nap room" since they're not quite comfortable with the implication. But regardless of what they're called,

employers

design them for one

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Workplace wellness programs work best when bosses buy into them

Originally published on Washingtonpost.com on November 27, 2018 Reebok employee Dan Sarro used to worry that co-workers would look askance at him if he arrived at work at 9:30 a.m. Then, as part of a company wellness overhaul, senior management at Reebok established “core” business hours. Meetings aren’t held before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m., and employees set their work schedules around those hours according to personal preference. Sarro, the company’s senior corporate communications manager, who plays pickup hockey a few mornings a week before beginning his workday at 9:30 a.m., welcomed the change. “When I first started at Reebok, I had to be careful about when I worked out,” he said. “Now, it’s just part of who we are.” Studies have shown that successfully adopting a culture that promotes health and wellness can help companies reduce health-care costs, cut absentee rates and perhaps attract top talent. One decade-long analysis by the research organization Rand Corp. of a

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At the theater with Lucinda Merry-Browne

Originally published in Annapolis Home Magazine in November 2018. Lucinda Merry-Browne, an energetic visionary, is rarely at home. Her demanding job as founding artistic director of Annapolis’ nonprofit theater, Compass Rose, keeps her on the go. When she’s not raising funds for a new building for the theater, she is directing plays where she takes pains to nurture synergy between professional actors and child-actors-in-training. Currently, the 11-year-old Compass Rose has no fixed address; recent performances have been held in area hotels to rave reviews. But the theater’s temporary “homelessness” has not deterred Merry-Browne from guiding the theater’s intense and steadfast mission, which is to provide evocative and entertaining theater while maintaining the utmost educational and artistic standards. We recently caught up with Merry-Browne to learn more about her deep roots in theater and how they continue to expand throughout Annapolis.  It seems as if acting is in your blood.

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