Hey Terra! Parent Forum
Vol. II, Issue 7 July-August Newsletter July 17, 2006

Welcome to
Annie Fox's Parent Forum Newsletter

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About this Newsletter

Annie Fox’s Parent Forum Newsletter helps you build healthier relationships with your teen and pre-teen sons and daughters. This free newsletter features parenting tips, recommended books, letters from parents about their teens, letters from teens about their parents, and a schedule of Annie’s live events. Adults who live and work with teens need as much encouragement and support as they can get. So please forward this newsletter to parents, educators, counselors, mentors or community activists who’d find value in it.

Next Issue of Parent Forum

We will resume our regular monthly publishing schedule on September 1st.

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Book News

KLIATT reviews “Too Stressed to Think?”

The May 2006 issue of the KLIATT includes this review:

Too Stressed to Think?“Too Stressed to Think? A teen guide to staying sane when life makes you CRAZY” (by Annie Fox, M.Ed. and Ruth Kirschner) describes in a straightforward manner how stress impacts the brain as well as the body, then goes on to discuss ways to reduce that stress. One of its greatest strengths is that it offers ways to work through and resolve issues that all teens have in their lives, with school, family, friends, or significant others. Useful tools that help teens cope with all types of situations include breathing exercises, journal keeping, working through the conflicts, and finding ways to relax and decompress. …this book is highly recommended for all public and high school library collections.

—Krista Bush, Librarian, University of New Haven, CT

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“Teen Survival Guide” receives Good Parenting Seal

Parenting Wisdom Good Parenting SealAnnie’s “The Teen Survival Guide to Dating and Relating” has just been awarded The Good Parenting Seal from Parental Wisdom.

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New Book Series for Middle Schoolers

Free Spirit PublishingAnnie has contracted with Free Spirit Publishing to write a mind-bending series of life-skills books for 6-8th graders. The first title is scheduled to be published in early 2008. More news to come in our September issue.

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July-August Parenting Article
We are Family

by Annie Fox, M.Ed.

…within your own family, you always have a place where you belong. You can even see it right there—on that branch of the tree. That’s where you fit into the big picture.
We are FamilyRecently my niece Lindsay* reported that she’d been contacted through her MySpace account by a girl who has the same first and last names as she does. Because of their unusual last name, and the fact that neither of them had ever met anyone outside of the family who had it, my niece logically thought the two of them might somehow be related.

“Not likely,” the other Lindsay replied. She went on to explain how her grandfather had taken the simple, American-sounding surname when he legally changed it from “L_________” the unwieldy, Polish-Russian name he’d been born with.

“Ohmigod!” our Lindsay shot back. “‘L_________’ was my grandfather’s name before he changed it!!”

*Both Lindsay's are adults. To protect kids and teens online check out these safety tips.

AncestorsThe borscht began to thicken. It started looking like this other Lindsay might actually be a relative... but if so, how come we’d never heard of her before? And where did she fit into our family tree?

After bringing the girl’s father and grandmother into the loop and referencing a woefully incomplete, hand-drawn family tree, I determined that Lindsay and Lindsay’s great-grandfathers were brothers. That meant me, my brothers, the other Lindsay’s father and uncle, our kids and grandkids are all part of my father’s side of the family. We lost contact with these folks after my dad’s passing in 1965. That can happen when there’s a death or a divorce. Not only do the kids lose their relationship with the deceased or divorced parent, they often lose important connections to grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Those losses can have an immediate impact. They can also reverberate decades into the future.

Continue reading the rest of the article...

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July-August’s Recommended Read

''Remarried with Children: Ten Secrets for Successfully Blending and Extending Your Family'' by Barbara LeBeyRemarried with Children: Ten Secrets for Successfully Blending and Extending Your Family
by Barbara LeBey

Keeping your marriage strong is probably the single most important thing you can do to provide your children with the emotional security they need as they grow confidently toward adulthood. But despite our best intentions and our abiding love for our kids, we sometimes choose, for various reasons, to end a marriage. Divorce is a life-altering event for the kids and the adults involved (including grandparents). But humans are resilient and the promise of love and intimacy is a powerful motivator—so divorced parents often seek new partners. Those new spouses are more and more likely to be bringing their own children into the new marriage. According to American Demographics magazine, as of the year 2000, more than 50 percent of American families fell into the “blended-extended” category. That means that it has now become the norm for kids to spend at least part of their time with stepparents, stepsiblings, and stepgrandparents.

To help ease the way through this family transition there are valuable resource books like Barbara LeBay’s Remarried with Children. With a practical and frank approach, advice from an array of experts in the field, and a host of personal stories from people who have dealt with their own remarriage with children, LeBay’s essential guide is for anyone who has recently remarried with kids or is about to.

…the nuclear American family is [not] the one, ideal kind of family relationship. [In] the ideal family… members thrive and are able to reach their full potential.

This book doesn’t mince words when talking about a remarried parent’s priorities. Likewise, it offers a much-needed rundown of realistic expectations of what it’s like to raise kids in a blended environment. LeBay talks openly about the impact of ex-spouses, fathers who fade from their kids lives, being a great stepmom, dealing with ex-in-laws, facing money matters, and more.

There are many important lessons here along with tools, suggested ground rules and discussion drivers for families working out their differences. Best of all, Remarried with Children offers readers lots of encouragement. It also reminds us that despite the very real challenges of making blended families strong and loving units, it can be done. And there are plenty of heart-warming success stories throughout to demonstrate just how some families managed it.

Check out my Recommended Books here...

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Annie's Books

Annie's BooksThe main focus of my work is helping teens and pre-teens navigate their way through the maze of adolescence. I write my books for teens, but any adult who wants to understand them better 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 copy here!

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Letters from Parents and Teens about Family Problems

Parenting requires empathy and compassion. But is there such a thing as taking your teen’s emotional ups and downs too seriously?

“My son’s heart is broken and so is mine!

Dear Annie,

My 13-year-old son has absolutely fallen in love with a girl in his class. They have been “going out” for about 3 weeks now. The problem is this: We’re moving to a new city very soon. He wants to stay with family in our old town so that he doesn’t have to change schools next year. He is somewhat depressed and angry with me because I told him that’s not likely to happen. I am very empathetic and try to put myself in his shoes, BUT I am also a parent trying to figure out what’s the best route to go. I have told him that he is only 13 years old, and this is not the last girl he will fall in love with. Of course, he thinks it is. What to do? If I decide to let him go to his old school next year... it would have to stop somewhere. He will not continue to go there for high school. What should I do?

Hurting for my son

Dear Hurting,

As much as you may empathize with the intense emotions your son’s experiencing now, you are the parent. And feeling his hurt is not going to help you keep your parental perspective. You have decided that what’s best for the family is to move to another city. It’s unfortunate that your son won’t be going to the same school as his girlfriend, but it would be wrong to break up the family. It would also be wrong to let a 13 year old decide what he can and can’t do in this situation.

He may be angry and upset about the move. Let him voice his emotions, but make sure he knows that while you appreciate his feelings, you are NOT going to change your plans and those plans include him. Let him know that he’s coming with you because he’s part of the family. When he’s 18 he can decide where he’s going to live. Until then, it’s your job to make those calls with everyone’s best interests in mind.

Tell him that you believe it’s in his best interest to be with his family. The truth is that in another 3 weeks this girl may not be his girlfriend, which is another reason why you can’t let a 13 year old call the shots. But you don’t need to tell him that as it will seem like you’re sabotaging his happiness. Let him have his “first love.” If the relationship with the girl continues through email, IMs, etc., there’s no reason why you can’t (with the girl’s parents’ approval) help the two of them get together from time to time. (You can tell him that!)

I hope this helps.

In friendship,

And sometimes, in spite of all the empathy in the world, there are no satisfying answers to the hard questions teen ask:

“Why did my grandma have to die?”

Hey Terra,

About a year ago me and my family went on vacation and me and my grandma got sick. I got better but my grandma didn’t. So my mom made her an appointment to see her doctor. Her doctor told my mom “This is no cold. You need to take her to the emergency room right away.” They told her that she had pancreatic cancer and that she needed surgery. After they removed part of the pancreas they told us she would be ok. One year later she’s about to die so can you help me understand why she has to go?


Dear Joe,

I am sorry that your grandma is so sick. I’m sure it’s very confusing that first the doctors said that she would be “ok” after the surgery and now, a year later, she is not ok. My prayers are with you and your grandma and your whole family during this time.

You ask me to help you “understand why she has to go.” Understanding death is a challenge for all of us. You love your grandma and you want her to stay with you and be well. And yet, she is weak and tired of fighting the cancer, and so it may be time for her to leave her body and move on.

Maybe it will help you to know that all of the love you have for your grandma... All of the memories you have of times together... All of the wisdom she has shared with you... And all of the things you have inherited from her will ALWAYS in your heart. And after your grandma has passed away and you take the time to remember her, she will be with you. If you want to “talk” to her all you have to do is think about her, ask her a question in your mind, and she will answer and guide you.

And when you grow up and have a family of your own, tell your children stories about your wonderful loving grandma and she will be with you then. In this way she will live forever.

I hope this helps you understand that death only takes the body. The love we have for the people who have passed is always with us.

Continue making good choices in your life, Joe, and your grandma will always smile down at you.

Be well.

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

Click here for Annie's full calendar of events. Click here for a list of Annie's past events.

If you want Annie to speak at your school, event, or conference, click here.

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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 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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