Hey Terra! Parent Forum
Vol. I, Issue 5 June Newsletter June 22, 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.

My apologies for being late with June’s Parent Forum newsletter. Despite good intentions, I wasn’t able to send it out before leaving the country in May to travel throughout Poland with my daughter. (More about traveling with teens and young adults next month.) Whenever I’ve got too much on my plate, I find it best to admit: “I can’t do all of this.” Saying it out loud is a great de-stressor. I’m back on track now and the next edition of Parent Forum newsletter will arrive mid-July.

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June Parenting Article
Summer Daze – How much goofing off is too much?

by Annie Fox, M.Ed.

Just because you don’t want your teen lolling around all day doesn’t mean that your enthusiasm for a goal-oriented summer will be shared.
On a recent walk in my neighborhood I saw Little Leaguers running bases, middle schoolers riding bikes to no place in particular, and teens driving around with their friends. It was a pleasure to catch these young people enjoying themselves and their freedom. After 9-10 months of reading books someone else chose for them, researching and writing papers on topics that were less than fascinating, studying factoids and taking tests, they finally have time for themselves with nothing that they have to do. We can all relate to that.

Our kids deserve a break from being full-time students. Especially kids who are over-scheduled with sports, after-school activities, out-of-school obligations, and part-time jobs. After being required to do so much, many teens need to get back in balance. A normal response to overwork is vegging out. But after a few weeks of seeing your 13, 14 or 15-year-old looking more and more like a sloth, we parents often feel compelled to push kids to do something “constructive.”

Is this a reasonable expectation? Absolutely. We know that summer is a great time for pursuing special interests, getting involved in community service, learning new skills and expanding your horizons (creatively, socially, culturally, and intellectually). But just because you don’t want your teen lolling around all day doesn’t mean that your enthusiasm for a goal-oriented summer will be shared...

Continue reading the rest of the article...

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“Can You Relate?” is Renamed and Re-released

The Teen Survival Guide to Dating & Relating, by Annie Fox Annie’s award winning-book “Can you Relate?” has just been updated and re-released as “The Teen Survival Guide to Dating and Relating: Real world advice on guys, girls, growing up and getting along.” Based on hundreds of emails Annie has received, it gives readers the scoop on what matters most to them: their feelings, looks, and decisions; boyfriends and girlfriends; sex and sexuality; how to make a relationship work (and what to do when it doesn’t); finding and keeping real friends; handling problems with parents and siblings; dealing with other authority figures (teachers, employers, coaches); and more. Order your copy here!

Check out my Recommended Books here...

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Letters from Teens and Parents about Family Problems

What happens when your attitudes about “good parenting” conflict with those of other parents you know? If your child and the child of the other parents are friends, this could create some conflicts...

“Should 7th graders be allowed to date in groups?”

Hi Annie,

My son and a friend of his are both in 7th grade. They want to ask 2 girls in their class to go to the movies. We, the parents, would drive them to and from the theater, so there wouldn't be any opportunity to wander. When I was their age we used to go to the movies or bowling in unchaperoned groups, so I didn't see a problem until the other boy's parents said they felt the boys were too young to "date". I just thought it would be a nice way for the kids to go out together outside of school and try out this new experience. Now, I'm not sure what to think. Any advice?

Why Not?

Dear Why Not?

Parental attitudes vary tremendously. Personally, I don't see anything wrong with 7th grade boys and girls going to a matinee of an age appropriate film. I agree that it sounds like a nice way to give them some independence while still keeping the logistics within your control.

But it doesn't really matter what I think since my son isn't the one going with yours. If the other boys' parents are uncomfortable with the idea, it's not your place to convince them. Their attitudes and values need to be respected and that means you shouldn't undermine them in front of your son (since he's likely to tell his friend what you've said.)

Even if this double date doesn't work out as planned, your son will know that you supported the idea. That's very valuable.

I hope this helps.

In friendship,

Lots of parents I talk with are hurt and upset by what seems like a sudden loss of closeness with their teens. But what happens when the teen feels like it’s the parent who no longer wants to be close? For example...

“My stepdad is tearing me and my mom apart.”

Hey Terra,

Me and my mom used to be so close until my stepdad came in. My stepdad is always trying to get me in trouble and it seems like he is turning my mom against me. I can’t talk to her anymore. It is just too much. We talked a couple months ago and she said we would work it out together but did we? NO!

I Miss My Mom

Dear I Miss My Mom,

I’m so sorry to hear that you and your mom are having problems connecting the way you used to. You say you talked to her about how you feel "a couple of months ago" and that she said you two would "work it out." Since you don't feel like things have changed, I'd suggest you talk with her again (calmly and respectfully). Tell her that you miss the closeness. Do NOT make this about your stepdad. That will only put your mom in the middle and that's not helpful or necessary. Focus the conversation on you and your mom and the love you feel for her. Tell her you miss her and you want to set up a special time each day (or as often as possible) for the two of you to be together... Just the two of you.

I'm sure she loves you and that hasn't changed. She wants to be close to you as much as you want to be close to her. Sometimes people just need some structure (like a date on the calendar and a time to meet) to get them back in the habit of making time for each other.

Please talk to her about this and see what the two of you can come up with together.


In friendship,


Hey Terra,

Thanks so much for this advice. I tried it and me and my mom went on vacation together (we’re there now) and we’ve been shopping and eating Japanese food. Thanks so much, Terra!

Got My Mom Back

Dear Got My Mom Back,

See what you can change in your life when have the intention of getting a relationship back on track? I’m so proud of you and happy for you and your mom.

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 Events

In the Fall, Annie will be speaking at the following places.

Date Description Location
10/10/05, 10/14/05 The Branson School "Transitioning to High School Social Life Without the Stress" A series of seminars for freshman (not a public event) Ross, CA
10/24/05, 10/28/05 San Domenico School "Don't Stress About Stress" A series of seminars for 4th-8th graders (not a public event) San Anselmo, CA
10/26/05 Hillview Middle School "The 7th grade Survival Guide", part of the 7th grade speaker series (not a public event) Menlo Park, CA
10/26/05 Hillview Middle School Parent Education Night Presentation "Middle School Parenting: How to maintain your sense of humor and your balance." For information call 650 326-4341 Menlo Park, CA
11/1/05 San Domenico School Parent Education Night Presentation "Why 21st Century Kids Need 21st Century Parenting" (not a public event) San Anselmo, CA

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

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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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