Hey Terra! Parent Forum
Vol. IV, Issue 3 March Newsletter March 1, 2008

Welcome to
Annie Fox's Parent Forum Newsletter

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Parent Forum supports parents, teachers, counselors and youth leaders as they help teens journey through adolescence. Adults living and working with kids have the most rewarding and the toughest job in the world, so please forward this newsletter to anyone who would welcome a new free parenting/mentoring resource.

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In this Newsletter

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March Parenting Article
Teach your Children Well

by Annie Fox, M.Ed.

click for Parent Forum ArticleI do a fair amount of parent education seminars. There were five of them last month. For those of you who’ve been to one, you’d probably agree that my presentation style is pretty casual. But while it may look like all I’m doing is reading teen email from the likes of “Invisible Loser” and “Stuck and Lonely,” plus sharing war stories about discovering our daughter on the phone with her boyfriend at 2:37 AM (on a school night!) and morphing into Godzilla in the doorway of our son’s absurdly cluttered room… I actually prepare for every workshop. Seriously. I’m a teacher. Post-its and educational objectives and are in my DNA.

All parents are teachers. At 18 your kids will graduate from your private school of child development. No diploma, true, but they’re definitely racing off into the world with a bunch of lessons learned… from you.

Learning to shareWhat, precisely, does your exit exam measure? If you’re not sure, you’re not alone. In the first 5 years, parents have a packed curriculum for their little ones to master (walking, talking, potty training, toy sharing, nose-blowing, etc.). But beyond 1st or 2nd grade, parenting objectives start getting fuzzy. As parents of teens, your days of close-at-hand parenting are numbered. So if you are a bit unclear about some of your parenting goals, maybe I can help.

Here’s a question I often ask at my workshops: What are your top 5 parenting objectives? In other words, by the time your kid goes off to college what kind of person would you like him/her to be? Usual responses:

  • Self-sufficient
  • Independent
  • Caring
  • Responsible
  • Able to create and maintain healthy relationships
  • Productive
  • Honest
  • Self-confident
  • Healthy life style
  • Able to make good decisions

It’s a great starter list. And as my workshop participants share their objectives with the group, I can tell by the nods and smiles that the thoughtful parents in the room feel really good about the goals they’ve set for their children.

Continue reading the rest of the article...

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In the Media

Listen to Annie’s parenting advice on Wise Counsel Podcast hosted by David Van Nuys, Ph.D. and It's Different, KZSU Stanford 90.1 FM. Find out more on Annie's Media page.

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Annie's Books

Annie's BooksSince 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 store. Order your copies here! My new 5-book series is part graphic-novel and will be published by Free Spirit in Fall 2008!

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The Breathing Challenge

The Breathing ChallengeIn 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.

“Someone IMed me saying I was stupid”

“I was in a stressed position today when someone IMed me saying I was stupid. I wrote back ‘You idiot.’ And I immediately knew it was the wrong thing. So I closed my eyes and breathed in and out. It calmed me down, even though it was a little late. Next time, I’ll try to remember to breathe BEFORE I tell anyone they’re an idiot.” —a 6th grader

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Letters from Parents and Teens about Family Problems

“My fiancé’s kids disrespect me”

Dear Annie,

My fiancé has three kids from a previous marriage and I have two of my own. My kids have welcomed my fiancé into our home with no problem and call him “Dad.” But whenever his children (20, 16, 14) call my house, if I pick up the phone, they say nothing to me and ask to “speak to MY dad.” My fiancé and I have gotten into numerous arguments over this. He defends it by saying “They are calling for me and not you.” He also tells me to “get over it.” This is driving my crazy and I’m having second thoughts about marrying him because of this. I cannot see myself going through this year after year. Please advise!!!! Thank you.

So Annoyed

Dear So Annoyed,

If the person you are planning on marrying doesn’t value your feelings enough to teach his kids that it’s unacceptable to disrespect you, then what do you think the marriage is going to be like? Let me make a prediction… more of the same. I’d also predict that because his parenting objectives seem at odds with your own, that this could cause problems between your children and him as well as problems and between his children and yours.

So, your “second thoughts” are reasonable.

You say this is “driving me crazy.” Don’t let it. And by that I don’t mean you should ignore it. I strongly suggest that you stand up and speak up. Tell him (calmly) that you need him to tell his children that as his future wife, they will treat you with respect (on the phone and in person). Period. If he isn’t willing to do that immediately and/or if he continues to tell you to “Get over it” then I suggest couples counseling. Because when he blows you off like that, he is also disrespecting you. That said, I would NOT, under any circumstances, proceed with the wedding if your fiancé doesn’t willingly comply with your demand for respect from his kids.

I hope this helps.

In friendship,

“I’m ready for a boyfriend but my parents won’t let me date”

Hey Terra,

I’m 13 years old and I have the best friends in the world. I really like one of my friends and I think that he likes me. I’m waiting for him to ask me out because I don’t want to embarrass myself. The thing is that my parents won’t let me date. How can I convince them that I can handle a boyfriend without getting into a huge fight?

Needs Help Now

Dear Needs Help Now,

My suggestion is that you sit down with a piece of paper and make a list of all the reasons why you think you’re ready to have a boyfriend. In other words, make your best case for it. Then, just to prepare yourself for your parents’ reaction, make another list of what you think they might give as reasons why you are not ready to have a boyfriend.

After you’re done, study the lists. Do you believe you’re ready to make your case for what you want? If so, go talk to your parents. If not, maybe you should think about it some more and wait until the guy actually asks you out.

But here’s something you should absolutely NOT do... And that’s to sneak around behind your parents’ backs. Never a good idea! They always find out and when they do, they lose trust in you (and that’s a tough thing to rebuild.)

So... Ready to make your lists?

Go for it! And when you’re done, tell me how it went.

Good luck.

In friendship,

Hey Terra,

I want to say thank you for the advice. My parents said that they will talk to my grandparents about what to do and pray about it. I really appreciate the suggestion.

Needs Help Now

Dear Needs Help Now,

You’re very welcome. I hope things turn out well. Remember, it’s always a good idea to talk with your parents when you’re wondering how they may react to something you want to do. By being honest with them, you help to build trust. Also, by letting them in on what you’re thinking, you give them a chance to do their job, which is to teach you what you need to know.

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 Parenting Workshops and Student Assemblies

Next month, Annie will be speaking at the following place. 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
3/26/08 Brandeis Hillel Day School Parent Ed. Workshop: “Why 21st Century Kids Need 21st Century Parenting” San Rafael, 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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