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,
Browsing category: Lifestyle
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
Originally published on Baltimoresun.com on May 1, 2018. It’s 9:50 a.m. on a picture-perfect Monday in April. Softball practice starts in 10 minutes. But already, the players have gathered on the field. One runs a few laps up and down the left field line. Others do a few stretches in place. The defensive players take their spots in the field, and the first batter steps up to the plate. Batting practice begins, and soon the satisfying “ping” of ball against metal bat can be heard ringing through the air. On one particularly hard-hit ball, the third baseman deftly makes a one-handed catch, throwing it easily over to first base. The Charlestown Sluggers, resident softball team of Catonsville’s Charlestown Retirement Community, practice twice a week during the spring to prepare for the annual Erickson Living Softball Tournament, which pits teams from four area retirement communities against one another: Parkville’s Oak Crest, Silver Spring’s Riderwood, Northern Virginia’s
Originally published in Baltimoresun.com on December 11, 2017. On a Thursday morning in October, with coffee brewing in the background, five old friends gather at a small conference room at the senior community residence North Oaks in Pikesville, where some of them now reside. They reminisce about good times past and present and ponder the future of The Chatham Club, the men’s-only club that they and other members before them have nurtured since its launch in 1946. They also share the story of the club’s inauspicious start. It was the summer of 1946, and a group of 11 young men from Baltimore, some of them having just returned from serving in their country’s military in World War II, planned to meet at a local pool to socialize and unwind. But when they reached the gate, they realized they weren’t welcome. “There was a sign at the entrance that said, ‘No Jews and no dogs.’ That’s what I remember,” said Don Erdman, the sting of anger still evident in his voice all these years
Originally published in the Baltimore Sun on August 17, 2017. It's not quite 9 a.m. and already the sun is glaring overhead when Jess Beck greets the reporter with a firm handshake … and bare feet. She and her mother, Cathy Marsteller Cooper, momentarily stop harvesting ripe, pesticide-free tomatoes to talk about their 32-acre farm in Freeland. Beck, a preschool teacher-turned-full-time farmer as of 2016, represents the fifth of six generations on the family farm; her 7- and 9-year-old daughters make up the sixth. The farm produces a majority of the family's food — up to 80 varieties of produce plus pork, eggs and poultry. They sell to local restaurants and at a stand at the top of their street. The family home's enclosed front porch also contains stocked shelves and a refrigerator bursting with in-season produce for sale on a self-serve basis. About 15 miles from Marsteller Farm, Carin Celebuski and her husband, Vince Matanoski, transplants from Silver Spring,
Originally published in Baltimore's Child In 2001, California native Patrick Gutierrez and his wife, Sacha, moved to the Baltimore City neighborhood of Brewers Hill, where they lived happily for several years. But in 2010, with their family expanding to include two young daughters, their living quarters started feeling cramped. So they did what many other young professionals-turned-parents who live in Baltimore City do—sort of. “I gave my wife a map of the city and a dollar figure, and asked her to stay within both of them,” Gutierrez says. She did, and the Gutierrez family currently resides in Taylor Heights, the very northeast corner of the city. There, they enjoy many of the benefits of suburbia: a single-family home, a driveway and a backyard with room to run and play. But they’re still close to the amenities they enjoyed downtown, and they appreciate the sense of community they’ve found in their tight-knit neighborhood. They also remain proud Baltimore City residents.
Originally published in Baltimorefishbowl.com, May 19, 2014 Fitting in. It’s what most teenagers aspire to do. Sure, there are outliers who do things like dye their hair bright colors and pierce multiple body parts to draw attention to themselves. But very few teens want to be too different. And being on the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, questioning) spectrum definitely qualifies as different. Most recent statistics estimate that just 3.5 percent of adults identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual; 0.3 percent identify as transgender. As for the under-18 population, statistics on sexual orientation are hard to find. That comes as no surprise, given that many teenagers on the LGBTQ spectrum have yet to come out to themselves, let alone anyone else. But that’s changing. Teenagers are coming out earlier than ever, some as young as 13 and 14. In many cases, they’re finding a supportive environment upon sharing their sexual orientation—with family, friends, and at
Originally published in Her Mind Magazine, October 11, 2014 If Nathan Sowers had raised his kids in the 1950s, he would have turned “Father Knows Best” on its head. Sowers, an Ellicott City resident and owner of River House Pizza Co., was a stay-at-home dad from the time his two now-preteen children were infants until they were old enough to start elementary school. And he didn’t just go through the motions. From berry picking at Larriland Farm to story time at Barnes and Noble to runs in Centennial Park with other stroller-pushing parents (mostly moms), Sowers was — and still is — a hands-on dad. Oh, and he also whipped up a homemade dinner most nights. But he’ll be the first to tell you it wasn’t easy. The kids’ mother would leave for work early and come home late, he says. “When my son was an infant, he had a milk allergy, and there was a lot of crying all day long.” When mom came home, he says, “All I wanted to do was hand the kids off. She felt the same way, having been