Welcome to the
Terra Parent Forum Newsletter
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, recommended parenting
books, 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.
Happy Mother's Day!
Thank you for everything you do to support
your child's emotional growth!
May Parenting Article –
“But I work better under pressure!”
by Annie Fox, M.Ed.
|“Offer your services as a ‘consultant’ during
this end-of-semester crunch. You can help your teen get organized so that he will be more in control (that’s
a big selling point) and less stressed (something everyone wants).”
The balmy breezes of summer are just one calendar page away. But there are days when it feels like getting to Mars
would be simpler than reaching the semester’s end in one piece. Finals, terms papers and end of the year projects
are likely to be stressing out your middle or high school student. Add an upcoming prom, a play or concert with last
minute rehearsals, and/or a post-season tournament and the pressure mounts. Maybe your teen is also looking at 8th
grade or 12th grade graduation and dealing with anxiety about the transition into the “next chapter.”
With all this going on during the “merry month of May” and the early part of June, even the most even-tempered
child can turn into an anti-social monster who is impossible to live with.
What about taking some time to relax and think about all this stress and what it’s doing to your child and
to your whole family? Sounds good, Annie, but who’s got the time? Besides, we’re too stressed to
think about stress!...
Continue reading the rest of the
Annie Recommends a Great Parenting Book
Cain, Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys by
Dan Kindlon, PhD & Michael Thompson, PhD. This book celebrates ‘real’ men and explores
what’s needed to raise one. The authors are clinical psychologists
whose work with boys and men gives them a unique perspective. It boils down to this: human beings have all kinds of emotional
reactions to what happens to them. Because boys in our culture are too often short-changed when it comes to receiving a good
emotional “education,” they suffer. They don’t have the vocabulary or the practice expressing themselves
in the language of feelings. They don’t have male role models that display ready access to the full range of human
emotions. (“Macho-men/superheroes/Sports SuperStars” show their “power” in physical strength, cutthroat
competition, and aggression.)
Our boys grow up with this distorted view of “manhood” and then hit the rocky road
of adolescence. That’s when they (and their emotionally illiterate peers) are trapped and get into trouble. They don’t
know how to give voice to their internal (emotional) life except in the only way their “boy culture” allows… through
aggression (verbal and physical). 95% of all homicides in this country are committed by men. Boys are about twice as likely
to die by their own hand as girls. This book is revolutionary in its understanding of boys and the solutions it offers to
the parents and teachers who love them.
Check out my Recommended
Letters from Teens and Parents about Family Problems
Sometimes being a consultant to your child isn't enough. At those times your job needs to be that of an advocate who actively lobbies and demands protection for your child within a school setting. As with this parent who did just the right thing to help her daughter.
“A boy in my daughter's class is stalking her.”
My daughter is 11. A boy in her class has a "crush" on my daughter. This has been going on since 3rd
grade. He follows her everywhere, buys her presents, makes comments about when they get married and have
kids. When other boys pay attention to her he says he will haunt her wedding and make sure that she will
not be able to marry anyone else. He picks fights with the other boys. And every time she turns around, he
is staring at her – "creeping me out, Mom" and making her nervous.
Today, when I picked her up at school, there he was taking pictures of her with his digital camera.
Trust me, my daughter no way encourages this behavior. We need to find a way to get this boy to leave my daughter alone. This behavior is not cute, it's creepy!
Mom Seeing Red
Dear Mom Seeing Red,
I totally agree this is creepy behavior and must be stopped now. For the sake of your daughter's safety (emotional safety and, possibly her physical safety) you need to make this your top priority.
Have you talked to the school about this boy and the unsolicited, extreme attention he pays to your daughter? If you haven't
talked to them, you need to, immediately. If you have talked to them, then it's time to demand a meeting between you and
the boy's parents and the school counselor. (Your daughter should not be involved.) The adults in the boy's life (teacher,
principal, counselor, his parents, the parents of his "victim") all need to send him an unequivocal message that what
he's doing is wrong. It's harassment (he's not too young to have that term explained to him). It's unacceptable and it's
illegal. He needs to get this clear in his mind otherwise his lack of boundaries is going to a) create problems for other
girls in the future and b) get him into serious trouble.
Let your daughter know that you hear her concerns and your share them. Let her know that she is absolutely entitled to
be free of this harassment. Let her know that she can count on you to fix this and that, starting tomorrow, you are "on
the case." With the few facts you've provided here (and any other specific incidents you can document of his behavior)
you are ready for a serious meeting with this boy's parents.
Go for it, Mom!
Thanks for your reply. It feels better knowing that I am justified in my cause for concern. As a matter of
fact I emailed the school counselor the same time as you. I need support in my cause, so thank you for your
sound advice. Once I hear from the school counselor I am sure we can make a change for the better. My daughter
deserves a safe educational environment.
Mom Seeing Red
Dear Mom Seeing Red,
You've done the right thing. Please let me know how the school handles it from here.
I'm on your side.
The counselor quietly brought my concerns to the attention of my daughter's teachers. That seemed to really
open the flood gates, because all 6 of her teachers reported that they too had noticed his behavior towards
my daughter, and have had to explain to him how his behavior was influencing my daughter's life and he had
to stop. However since each teacher saw it as an isolated incident that they handled themselves, they did not
feel the need to bring it to the attention of the administration (which provided a learning experience for
everyone – they now have to report all incidents of misbehavior to the staff's attention). But once they found
out that all of them have had to discuss the same issue with him – it came time for an intervention.
Things have changed from what I can tell, since my daughter does not come home with stories of "guess what he did today."
Knowing that we have such a great counselor, knowing that she responded so quickly was a great sigh of relief for my husband and I. And put the smile back in my daughter's life.
Again, thanks for your concern!
Mom Seeing Red
Dear Mom Seeing Red,
Sounds like a very positive response from the school and a good outcome for our daughter.
Every family experiences times of conflict when the behavior of one (or more) drives everyone else crazy. It's best to discuss the issues (making sure that everyone has a chance to be heard). For example...
“I get sick when I smell the meat my parents cook!”
I'm a vegetarian. For some reason every time my mom makes meat, the smell makes me sick. I can't ask my mom and my stepdad to stop making meat just cuz I hate the smell and hate the food but I also can't vomit every time they make it. What should I do?
Dear Very Veggie,
It's your right to be a vegetarian. And of course, it's not realistic for you to expect your mom and stepdad to stop making the kind of food that they want to eat.
People who live together should try, whenever possible, to work out some compromises. That takes a willingness to talk about the problem (calmly and maturely) and to LISTEN to their side of things in the same way that you want them to listen to you.
Your goal? To not feel nauseous when you smell meat. I'm sure they want that too. They also want the freedom to cook what they like in their own kitchen. They have that right.
Perhaps your parents could create a cooking schedule so you know when to avoid the kitchen. Maybe you could be outside when they're cooking meat. Or you could use that time to take a shower (the smell of shampoo will probably cover up the cooking smells). Or maybe simple nose plugs would help the situation.
If everyone involved in the conversation has a good attitude and a willingness to discuss things with an open heart and mind, you're likely to find a solution.
I hope that helps.
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
In the next two months Annie will be speaking at the following places.
||Santa Catalina School "Transitioning
to College Without the Stress" A
seminar for graduating seniors (not a public event)
||Free Public Event! Fairfax
Public Library "Teen Survival Guide" Workshop for teens, 7:00-8:30 PM. For information call
Place in Marin Parents of Preteens – Prepare for The Joys and Storms of Adolescence (5th through 7th
grade) Time to redefine your role as a parent. We will look at what is happening in the brain of
your preteen; learn about the stress and pressures both of you are under and how stress affects decision-making;
and help you to better understand the increased influence of peers and discover how you and your preteen
can establish a healthy respect for each other. 7:00-9:00 PM. For registration information 415 491-7959
||San Rafael, CA
If you want Annie to speak at your event or conference, click here.
Past Newsletters – read our archive of
past Parent Forum Newsletters.
Recommended Books – Annie
highly recommends these parenting books.
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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