Annie Fox's Parent Forum Newsletter
supports parents, teachers, counselors and youth leaders as they help teens journey through adolescence.
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In this Newsletter
Season of Giving – An Update
Thanks to those of you who contributed, over $900 has been raised so far for the first-ever high school in La Carpio,
Costa Rica. Your $25 tax-deductible donation to
the Red Scissors Alliance will buy a
child a textbook, a dictionary, a notebook, and a box of pencils.
December Parenting Article
A Gift Beyond Measure
by Annie Fox, M.Ed.
Sunday’s ad section weighed in at a pound and a half. “Wonder if the delivery guys get extra this time of
year?” David mused. Not likely, unless we’re talking about an extra sore throwing arm. But we appreciate their
sacrifice because without it how would we know where to go for the best gift deals?
Whether you joined the throngs in the pre-dawn line up outside of your local big box or you’re sipping coffee and
shopping online, you’re buying lots of stuff for your kids. But do you know they really want this year more than
anything? No? Don’t worry. I’ve done some research.
out the ads before shredding them into bedding for my worm
composter, I’ve deduced that young male adolescents want, among other things, the WWE
Official Scale Ring Series 3 Elimination Chamber*. Female adolescents apparently crave, among other things, the Virgin
Mobile London Experience cell phone and headset gift pack with phone decals*. (What’s a phone without decals?)
*I do not endorse either of these products. I just mention them because I like the catchy names and the kids in the
ads sure look happy, which has to count for something, right?
If you buy all the gizmos the ads say that your kids want, then in return you can expect to be showered with gratitude.
And years from now when they are grown
With little children of their own
You can hope that they’ll recall
The greatest holiday gift of all
…that special hunk of consumer electronics they received for Christmas or Chanukah back in 2007. And at that same
distant moment hopefully they will remember you with equal if not greater fondness. Just kidding! Of course your
children will always remember you. But the stuff you buy them… not so much. In fact, according to the Consumer
Credit Counseling Service of San Francisco by March 2008, two-thirds of us who received a holiday gift, won’t
be able to remember what it was.
So, why bother?
Continue reading the rest of the
1997 I’ve answered teen email from around the world because
kids often need help sorting
things out. My books provide students with encouragement, relationship smarts,
and clear thinking needed to navigate through adolescence. Caring adults 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 directly from me and pay by credit card at our own online
your copies here! My new 5-book series Going Your Own Way in Middle School and Beyond is part
graphic-novel and starts in Fall 2008!
The Breathing Challenge
my Stress Education student assemblies I
teach this invaluable step by step process:
1) Learn your own stress symptoms and notice when you’re feeling off-balance, 2) Stop, 3) Breathe, 4) Think about
what you want and whether getting it is within your control, then 5) Consider your options for getting what you need. I
challenge tweens and teens to use the tools and let me know how it goes. They quickly discover they can change their lives
in many ways when they’re not Too
Stressed to Think.
“I just wanted to go to sleep”
“I came home after school to help my mom clean the car, house, and help pack and load baggage because my mom, dad,
and three younger siblings are going on a 16-hour drive for the holidays. My dad gets really stressed and crabby before
a big trip, which makes the rest of us stressed too. He kept coming into my room and yelling at me about homework, why
my room’s a mess, why the kitchen is a mess, and then he went back to asking about homework. I was constantly thinking
about my projects and when, where, and how I was going to get all of this done and I just wanted to go to sleep (because
that’s how I relieve stress). Then I remembered what you said about the whole breathing thing, and I did it and it
really worked! While I was concentrating on my breathing I calmed down, finished my packing, everything… then I
had to stop and do the breathing again! lol Then I cleaned the kitchen and got everything I needed to done. Thanks!” —a
high school student
Letters from Parents and Teens about Family Problems
“My daughter isn’t talking to me as much.”
My 12 yr old daughter is going to her first dance tonight. She is going with a boy (though they are meeting there). She
seems to want a boyfriend, but doesn’t really know what that entails. She had a “boyfriend” last year
for a few weeks before they both figured out that it wasn’t working. They held hands, but didn’t really talk,
and I think it felt too forced on both their parts. Now she’s a year older and I think she wants to try again.
She seems very confident and strong willed, so I’m not afraid of her being taken advantage of (a problem I had when
I was young). She’s always talked to me about her feelings, but now I’m afraid she’s starting to hold
back a little. I’m OK with that, but want her to be able to talk to someone or get info from a book.
So my question is — would your book on teen relationships and dating be
too old for her?
Mom on the Shelf
Dear Mom on the Shelf,
I hope your daughter has a wonderful time tonight. I appreciate your understanding of your daughter’s need
to separate from you by “holding back a little” in conversations about her feelings. It’s really important
that her need for privacy is respected.
It’s equally important that you a) not take her pulling away personally (it’s not about you at all!) and b)
make sure she knows that you are always available to listen whenever SHE chooses to talk to you about anything.
When she does come to you, do your best to listen more than you talk. Often young adolescents just need for their parents
to hear what they have to say, listen with compassion and respect and let them know that whatever they’re feeling,
it’s all perfectly NORMAL.
Here’s an article I wrote on the fine art of
As for The Teen Survival Guide to Dating and Relating, I
wrote it for middle and high school students. The emails I’ve included (along with my answers) represent a broad
range of “relationship” issues including: your relationship with yourself, with your parents, with your friends,
and, of course, the Boyfriend/Girlfriend Zone. So, while your daughter obviously has not yet had direct experience with
the dating issues the emailers describe, the book is a wonderful reference that she will come back to again and again as
she needs it.
Many parents also use the emails in the book to trigger meaningful discussions with their teens and pre-teens.
I hope this helps.
Thanks for your response. I really appreciate it. I read the article on Listening and
the timing is perfect. I’m guilty of multi-tasking when my daughter tries to talk to me. It can get difficult because
she talks a lot, and often right at bedtime or when I’m trying to get something done. But I will make sure to not
let trivial tasks keep my attention from her.
Mom on the Shelf
Hi Mom on the Shelf,
I’m so glad that something I said was helpful to you.
Enjoy the holidays and write to me any time you need help sorting things out.
“How can I help my friend?”
I have a friend who has an eating disorder. First, she “trained” herself not to eat, and whenever she does
she throws it up. She does a little better sometimes, but it still happens! No one knows except my friend and I. Is there
anything I can do to help her other than what I’m trying? (When I can I’m making sure she doesn’t throw
up and that she eats.) The symptoms/aftermath of her eating disorder are kicking in now. She often is dizzy and feels like
she’s going to fall over and is dehydrated. I know you’re going to say tell someone and I kinda think we should
do that but the other friend doesn’t. Is there anything other than that that we can do to help her?
Angel in Distress
Eating disorders kill. Seriously. You care about your friend, but you can’t give her the help she needs. It’s
not just a matter of keeping an eye on her to make sure she doesn’t throw up after she eats. First of all, you can’t
be with her 24/7 and secondly (and more important) eating disorders can only be treated effectively by trained therapists
and health care professionals.
Educate yourself about:
- eating disorders on this
page in The
- an organization that offers treatment, ANRED (Anorexia Nervosa and
Related Eating Disorders).
By not telling an adult about your friend’s dangerous condition, you are delaying the start of the help she so desperately
When you said you thought I’d tell you to “tell someone” you’re right. And the someone I have
in mind is your mom. You need to do that... Today.
If, for whatever reason, your mom doesn’t want to call and talk to your friend’s mom about her daughter’s
eating disorder, then tell the school counselor ASAP.
Your friend’s life depends on this.
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
Upcoming Parenting Workshops and Student Assemblies
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
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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