Hey Terra! Parent Forum
Vol. I, Issue 2 March Newsletter March 1, 2005

Welcome to the
Hey Terra Parent Forum Newsletter

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About this Newsletter

The Hey Terra! Parent Forum Newsletter helps you build healthier relationships with your teenage sons and daughters. This free newsletter features parenting tips, letters from parents about their teens, letters from teens about their parents, and a schedule of events where parents and teens can hear Annie Fox live.

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Annie Offers Four Workshops

Annie at parent workshop

The workshops section of Annie's Web site has recently been updated to include full descriptions of workshops for teens, parents, educators, and library staff. Check it out here...

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March Parenting Article –
My Life Sucks Right Now vs. The Big Picture

by Annie Fox, M.Ed.

Whether dealing with a missed tie-breaking field goal, a dismal SAT score, a college rejection or a broken heart, as adults our life experience enables us to see things from a broader perspective. Sharing that long view lets parents provide their kids with needed encouragement during tough times.
I remember the day in 12th grade when they posted the cast list for The Music Man. Eagerly pushing forward with the crowd I looked for my name as the lead character. I didn’t get the part. My best friend got it. I felt so disoriented that I psychically tried transforming the letters of her name into mine. Sick to my stomach and totally convinced my life was over, my psychic powers were about as effective as my ability to see The Big Picture.

Whether dealing with a missed tie-breaking field goal, a dismal SAT score, a college rejection or a broken heart, as adults our life experience enables us to see things from a broader perspective. Sharing that long view lets parents provide their kids with needed encouragement during tough time...

Continue reading the rest of the article...

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Letters from Teens and Parents about Family Problems

Terra (AKA Annie) receives letters from teens asking questions about many topics. Most parents would be delighted for their son or daughter to ask for more “family” time. But what happens when teens want just that and the parents say they're “too busy”?

“My parents are too busy to spend time with me.”

Hey Terra,

I've always wanted to go on a parents daughter day but they're always too busy. I've already tried talking to them. I made a date but then they always turn me down when they say "Sorry we are too busy." What should I do to get them to go out somewhere with me?

Sad Daughter

Dear Sad Daughter,

I understand why you're feeling so sad! As a parent myself it's hard to imagine, no matter how busy your parents are, that they cannot make some time to do something special with a sweet daughter like you!

I don't know your parents' situation or their work schedule or other family obligations they may have, but it seems to me that this is worth talking about again. Maybe they just don't understand how important this is to you.

Here's my suggestion: Write your parents a letter. (I'm serious). Start it off like this: "Dear Mom and Dad, I want to go on a 'Parents/Daughter' Day with you. Here's why I think it would be a good thing for us to do:"

Then make a list of why you want to do this.

If that doesn't help them see that spending time with them is important to you, how about offering to help your parents with whatever it is that they are so 'busy' with at home? Helping them with childcare, household chores, etc. might free them up for some family time with you. Remember, there are lots of different ways to spend time with people we love. Maybe the "Parents-Daughter Day" you're dreaming of could be just as fun and special if instead of going out some where, you washed the car or came together in the kitchen to make a meal.

I hope this helps.

In friendship,


And here's a letter from a parent. A big part of parenting is to support your child's independence. But sometimes parents need to intervene when the task at hand is too much for the child to handle on his own.

“How can I help my son stop the bullying he's experiencing?”

Dear Annie,

My 10 year old is excluded by the majority of his classmates, i.e., when splitting into groups for projects (no one wants him with them) or when picking sides for lunchtime play, they avoid having him on their team. He is being alienated by the "in group." How can I help him stop this before the upcoming teen years when it will only get worse?

Thank you,

Concerned Parent

Dear Concerned Parent,

Of course it's painful for you to see your child suffering like this and I admire you tremendously for seeking help for this problem.

The kind of social exclusion you're describing is a form of bullying. I would suggest that you immediately talk with your son's teacher. He or she is probably already aware of what's going on (unless the teacher is asleep, this behavior would be hard to miss!). But what the teacher may not be aware of is the pain it's causing your son.

Bottom line here is that the teacher has to take a leadership role. The teacher needs to talk to the students involved in a way that delivers the message in no uncertain terms -- "In this class we help each other. It's never OK to do anything that will intentionally hurt someone else physically. And it's not OK to ever intentionally hurt someone's feelings." If teachers aren't role modeling inclusive behavior (and making these kinds of messages a general part of their social/emotional curriculum) then they are teaching their students something entirely different.

As a parent you need to advocate for your child in this way. (He will get the message that you love him and will always stick up for him, as you should.) If you don't get the desired result from talking to your son's teacher, then take it to the next level and talk with the school principal.

Every student has the right to feel safe in school and it's the school's moral and legal responsibility to make sure that there is zero tolerance to bullying of any kind.

In friendship,

Annie Fox, M.Ed.

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

In the next two months Annie will be speaking at the following places.

Date Description Location
3/2/05 Carlmont High School Parent Education Night Presentation "Why 21st Century Teens Need 21st Century Parenting" 7:00-8:30 PM. For information 415 600-5045   Belmont, CA
3/9/05 Free Public Event! Benicia Public Library "Too Stressed to Think?" Workshop for teens. 6:30-8:00 PM. For information call 707 746-4343  Benicia, CA
3/15/05 Free Public Event! Ross Valley School District's Healthy Choices Committee presents "Why 21st Century Kids Need 21st Century Parenting" White Hill School, 7:00-9:00 PM. For information 415 454-8390 Fairfax, CA
3/24/05 Citizens Schools "Too Stressed To Think?" Workshop for tweens and teens. 3pm- 4:45 pm. McKinley Institute of Technology Middle School. For information 650 562-0961  Redwood City, CA
4/14/05 Parents Place in Marin A Special Author Event and Book Signing For Teens and Their Parents: "Staying Sane, Loving and Rational With Your Teen." 7:00-8:00 PM. For information 415 491-7959 San Rafael, CA

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

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

Hey Terra (www.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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