Hey Terra! Parent Forum
Vol. II, Issue 11 December Newsletter December 1, 2006

Welcome to
Annie Fox's Parent Forum Newsletter

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Happy Holidays to you and your family! Since February 2005 Annie Fox’s Parent Forum Newsletter has been helping parents and educators build healthier relationships with tweens and teens. This free newsletter features parenting articles, parenting tips, book reviews, Q & A about family issues, and a schedule of Annie’s live speaking engagements. Adults who live and work with kids deserve acknowledgement and support so please forward this newsletter to anyone who’d find value in it. Miss any back issues? Read them in our archives. Not a subscriber yet? Step right this way!

In this Newsletter

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Annie in Action

Annie Talks to Teens

Listen to Annie on Dr. Beth Halbert’s Compassionate Parenting program talking with teens about boyfriend/girlfriend relationships, getting along better with friends and parents, and how to make choices they can feel good about. (27 minutes)

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December Parenting Article
Love’s All You Need – So Why Not Ask For It?

by Annie Fox, M.Ed.

When we’ve got a problem, we don’t like admitting that we need help. And that can be a problem.
Love's All You Need - So Why Not Ask For It?A dear friend of ours was looking for love and comfort on Thanksgiving. She didn’t know we were going to be away when she sent me an email: “I know this is incredibly presumptuous, and Miss Manners would be scandalized, but I’m wrangling for an invitation.”

Why was our friend feeling so awkward? Did she really believe that she was crossing some line that should not be crossed even though we’ve known each other very well for years? Our lovely friend must have felt that she didn’t have the right to say, “I need a place to be on Thanksgiving. Can you help me?”

That blew me away. Then after a moment’s reflection I realized that our friend’s not alone in her reluctance to express what she needs. Most of us are much quicker to stand up for others than to speak up for ourselves. Especially women. We’d rather “do without” than risk “imposing” on a friend. I wannnt! But wait a minute! Is it even possible to impose on a true friend? I don’t think so. Not if the need is real and the friendship is built on mutual respect, trust, and support. Yet despite wonderful friends who’d love the opportunity to demonstrate their friendship, time and again we choose to “tough it out” alone, even in our darkest moments. Why? On some level we must believe that we don’t deserve to get our emotional needs met. But where did that one come from?

Babies and young children are experts at getting their needs met and they do it by expressing themselves… loudly and without reservation.

I recall reading someone’s theory that human infants are so irresistibly cute to ensure that adults will instantly fall in love them and want to care for them. Once they’ve gotten their sweet baby hooks into our hearts, they’re great at expressing their need for food and comfort. There’s no distinction between physical and emotional needs. But as they grow up, our conversations with our children are mostly about their physical needs. Sweetheart, are you hungry? Do you want something to drink? Is it naptime? Would you like another cookie?

Continue reading the rest of the article...

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Annie's Books

Annie's BooksMy books make great gifts for the 12-18 year olds you love. They provide the encouragement, relationship smarts, and clear thinking needed to navigate through these years. Any adult who cares about young people should read them too . “The Teen Survival Guide to Dating and Relating” and “Too Stressed to Think? A teen guide to staying sane when life makes you CRAZY” (co-written with Ruth Kirschner) are available here, or from Amazon or at your local bookstore. Order an autographed copy of it directly from me and pay by credit card at our own online store. Order your holiday copies here!

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The Breathing Challenge

The Breathing ChallengeIn my student assemblies I explain how stress impairs clear thinking. I teach the kids a step by step process to help them: 1) Notice when they’re feeling stressed, 2) Stop, 3) Breathe, 4) Think about their options. Then I challenge them to use the tools in the real world and let me know how it goes. Each month I’ll highlight a young person’s account of the amazing things that can happen when you’re not Too Stressed to Think.

I got home at 8 o’clock and 8:50 is my bedtime! I tried to get my homework done hastily when suddenly I heard my sister was singing to her favorite song. Normally I’d go into her room and scream “SHUT UP!!!” or “U SUCK AT SINGING!!!” and then grab the CD and run! She’d cry and tell on me. Thinking about what you said I got up and said “L_____, I’m very tried and I have a lot of work and studying so could you please quiet done with your singing? After I’m finished if I have time let’s sing together in my room.” As if I pushed a button she turned off the music and cuddled up reading a book. I finished my homework and we had a little time to sing together. Thank you for your advice it really helped.

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A Letter from a Parent of a Teen

My daughter and her friends did something dangerous on my watch.

Dear Annie,

My 13-year-old daughter has always been very social. She has also always been one to test the boundaries. I just had five of her friends for a sleepover. After all her friends went home my daughter told me that they had snuck out and gone to the park in the middle of the night! I had actually set me alarm for 2 AM just to make sure they had gone to bed. All was quiet in the house and I actually thought they had gone to sleep... boy, was I wrong!

As we talked about it my daughter told me that she had a bad feeling in her stomach the whole time they were gone. I told her that I was first and foremost concerned for her safety. I tried to impress upon her that being out at 2 AM was dangerous. I told her that our trust had been broken, I hated that it was, but she understood. I also told her I would need to contact the other girls’ parents, and this is where she lost it. She has begged and begged me not to call the parents, asked me to punish her. I told her that losing my trust, which means no sleepovers until we can get that back, and me needing to call the parents were the consequences of her choices. I told her I want her to learn from this so she can think thru to the consequences and make better choices.

Am on the right track with telling the parents? Also, any insight into not shutting down the communication with my daughter?

Sound Sleeper

Dear Sound Sleeper,

I agree with your instinct to let the parents of the other girls know what happened. Your daughter and her friends chose to do something they knew was wrong. I’m as relieved as you are that nothing bad happened to them, but good parenting demands that you give their moms and dads an opportunity to do their own good parenting. They can’t do their jobs if they don’t know what happened.

If your daughter had been spending the night at someone else’s home and had chosen to sneak out, you’d want to know about it, wouldn’t you? How else would you be able to impress upon her that what she’d done was not acceptable behavior and why? How else would you have the opportunity to talk to her about trust, etc. By not informing the other parents you become part of a cover-up. Your silence gets the girls off the hook and sends the message that they got away with something dangerous and why not try it again?

Your daughter “lost it” because she’s afraid her friends will be mad at her. And they probably will be. But she will have to deal with it. If her “friends” turn on her and blame her for their troubles, they’re not taking responsibility for their part in this situation. Likewise, if your daughter blames you for her troubles, then she’s not taking responsibility for her own part.

One other thing. By hosting the sleep-over you were the responsible adult in this situation. Even though you didn’t know what was going on when they snuck out, you failed in safe-guarding them. By admitting your culpability to the other parents, you are modeling what it means to take responsibility. So you can let your daughter know that it’s not going to be easy for you to have those conversations with the parents. You’re showing her that you too will be experiencing some negative consequences of her actions.

Talk to the parents and talk to your daughter about a consequence that feels appropriate for the infraction. Part of that consequence needs to include being where she says she’s going to be at all times and being willing for you to check up on her at any time you choose WITHOUT her getting huffy and resentful while she’s “earning back” your lost trust in her.

Tell her also that nothing means more to you than being able to trust her. Her actions that night damaged that trust. Only she can show by her future actions that that night was an aberration and that she is, in fact, a trustworthy person. Tell her also that you are on her side... And that you support her learning that it’s never a good idea to ignore a “bad feeling in your stomach.” Ask her what thoughts she had that accompanied that “bad feeling”... What did she say to herself at that time that made it okay to continue doing something that she knew was wrong? This would be a very good way for you to help her explore why her “inner voice” is there to help her do the right thing. When peer pressure causes her to ignore what she knows is right, it’s going to lead to bad choices.

Sound like a plan?

In friendship,

Dear Annie,

Your plan worked out great. It was a little rough going through the process with my daughter but we had some great conversations and spent some quality time together.

Thanks again!

Sound Sleeper

Dear Sound Sleeper,

I’m proud of you for doing the right thing with your daughter, etc. It sounds like it was a win-win situation (at least between you and her).

Well done!

In friendship,

Got a parent-teen problem you need help with? Click here to Ask Annie

Read other parents’ questions here.
Read teens’ letters about parents here.

If you’re a teen and you need some help, click here.

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Upcoming Events

Over the next few months, Annie will be speaking at the following places. Click here for Annie's full calendar of events. Click here for a list of Annie's past events. Read what they're saying about Annie's presentations. If you want Annie to speak at your school, event, or conference, click here.

Date Description Location
12/5/06 San Francisco Day School — “Too Stressed To Think? Making choices that reflect who you really are”, a student assembly for 7th and 8th graders. San Francisco, CA
12/5/06 San Francisco Day School — Parent Education Night: “Too Stressed to Think? How to stay clear-headed and compassionate even when your middle schooler drives you crazy.” San Francisco, CA
2/7/07 San Ramon Library — Parent Education Night: “Too Stressed to Think? Staying clear-headed and compassionate even when your kids drive you CRAZY.” For information call 925-973-2850 San Ramon, CA
2/9/07 Union for Reform Judaism Pacific Central West Council — Education Day Youth Leadership Training Workshop Santa Clara, CA
2/11/07 St. John's Episcopal Church — Parent-Teen Communication Workshop Oakland, CA
2/24/07 San Ramon Valley Council of PTAs — annual parenting conference, Parenting 2007 and Beyond, “Parenting Your Daughter with Compassion and Respect (even when she's acting irrational)” San Ramon, CA

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Past Newsletters – read our archive of past Parent Forum Newsletters.

Recommended Books – Annie highly recommends these parenting books.

AnnieFox.com – includes parenting tips, letters from teens and parents, Parent Forum articles past and present, information about Annie’s books, and workshops/seminars.

The InSite (www.TheInSite.org) – created especially for teens who have ever thought about making a difference. The InSite provides teens with the information, the inspiration, and many possible game plans so they can take charge of their choices and their lives.

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