How parents can be there for their adolescents

Tina Meier, Executive Director of the Megan Meier Foundation, offers suggestions for parents to communicate and listen better with their tweens and teens
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How parents can be there for their adolescents

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You know, I think the way parents can be there for their children, it's something that we have, the ability. It doesn't cost any money. And it doesn't take much time. Many times it's simply listening. I think as parents, we are in this place where we try to move so fast. We're trying to make sure they get their school work done and they're practicing their band and they're going to this event and they're doing that and we work so hard on that that sometimes we forget that small place of sitting and listening to them. And I think for children, many times they say, we're not heard. And for a parent to validate a child's feelings, not their actions, not what they want to do, but their actual feelings. Then once we do that, the child is then able to open up. The child is then able to feel like they've heard me. Because when you have a child that's stressed out or upset and you say, I hear that you're upset. Or I hear that you're sad, even if we think, come on! This is ridiculous. It's their feelings. So once we hear it and listen, and then we validate those feelings, children many times will then be at more peace. Then they can start figuring out some of the issues on their own and working through them because now they know that they've been heard.

Tina Meier, Executive Director of the Megan Meier Foundation, offers suggestions for parents to communicate and listen better with their tweens and teens

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Tina Meier

Executive Director

Tina Meier is an internationally recognized expert on bullying, cyberbullying, internet safety, conflict resolution, the roles of parents and educators, sexting, and suicide awareness and prevention.

On October 16, 2006, Tina Meier’s life took a devastating turn when her 13 year old daughter, Megan Taylor Meier, took her own life. All attempts were made to save Megan, but unfortunately Megan passed away on October 17, 2006, just weeks from her 14th birthday.

Approximately 5 weeks prior to her passing, a 16 year old boy by the name of Josh Evans, contacted Megan through her MySpace account and they began a friendship. Tina Meier, allowed Megan to have a MySpace account with many restrictions and under her watchful eye.  Unfortunately, on that fateful day of October 16, 2006, Josh Evans and Megan began to have an argument over MySpace.  A few others joined in and horrible and hurtful messages and bulletins went out publicly to hundreds of kids. The last words that were said to Megan from Josh were, “The world would be a better place without you” and “Have a shi**y rest of your life.”

Six weeks after Megan’s suicide, Tina Meier was informed that Josh Evans never existed. In fact, he was the fictitious creation of Lori Drew, an adult neighbor that lived down the street, her 13-year-old daughter Sarah, which was Megan’s former friend, and an 18-year-old employee that worked out of Lori Drew’s home.

In December of 2007, Tina Meier, founded the 501 (c)(3) non-profit Megan Meier Foundation.  The Foundation’s mission is to “create awareness, education and promote positive change to children, parents and educators in response to the ongoing bullying and cyberbullying in our children’s daily environment.” Tina’s hope is to make a difference through spreading Megan’s story, create awarness regarding internet safety, and educate others on the consequences of bullying and cyberbullying. She hopes to help one child at a time cope with these negative social issues. Ultimately, her goal is to empower children to be the change and continue the Foundation’s mission.

At the time of this tragedy, the State of Missouri did not have laws in place to prosecute someone using electronic communications to cyberbully another person. Tina worked closely with Senator Scott Rupp and Governor Matt Blunt’s Internet Task Force for the State of Missouri to help pass Senate Bill 818, which went into law on August 28, 2008. This law amended the harassment and stalking laws to include electronic communication.

Each year, Tina travels throughout the country as a keynote speaker addressing the issue of bullying and cyberbullying in today’s world to students, educators, administrators, parents, youth rallies, counselors, law enforcement, and other professionals. Through Tina’s inspirational and educational message, the audience is empowered to make a difference not only for themselves, but others also.

Tina has continued to spread the Foundation’s message and Megan’s story through national and international media appearances such as network television stations, radio, news shows, magazines and syndicated talk shows. She also accepted a Presidential invitation to attend the 2011 White House Anti-Bullying Conference, presented at the U.S. Department of Education’s Safe and Drug Free Schools National Conference in Washington, DC, and served as a consultant during the production of the ABC Family movie, Cyberbully.

Tina Meier resides in St. Louis, Missouri, with her daughter Allison. 

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