Hey Terra! Parent Forum
Vol. I, Issue 4 May Newsletter May 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, 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.

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Happy Mother's Day!

Thank you for everything you do to support
your child's emotional growth!

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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 article...

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Annie Recommends a Great Parenting Book

Raising Cain, Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys by Dan Kindlon, PhD & Michael Thompson, PhDRaising 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 Books here...

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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.”

Dear Annie,

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!

In friendship,
Annie

Dear Annie,

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.

Best,

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.

In friendship,
Annie

Dear Annie,

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.

In friendship,
Annie

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!”

Hey Terra,

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?

Very Veggie

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.

In friendship,

Terra

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
5/19/05 Santa Catalina School "Transitioning to College Without the Stress" A seminar for graduating seniors (not a public event) Monterey, CA
6/14/05 Free Public Event! Fairfax Public Library "Teen Survival Guide" Workshop for teens, 7:00-8:30 PM. For information call 415 453-8151 Fairfax, CA
6/15/05 Parents 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.

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Resources

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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