Hey Terra! Parent Forum
Vol. I, Issue 8 October Newsletter October 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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October Parenting Article
Clean Anger vs. the Other Kind

by Annie Fox, M.Ed.

...expressing your anger cleanly offers great potential for strengthening relationships because it provides a constructive way to highlight problem areas.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina I became a news junkie. Through the non-stop coverage of floodwaters, people stranded on rooftops and freeway onramps, mayhem in shelters, communities reduced to rubble, and the government’s feeble response to this catastrophe, what got me most were the heart-breaking stories of families separated during the evacuation. I wept at the anguish of the moms and dads who didn’t know where their kids were. What can that possibly feel like?

Without a doubt, parental love is the most powerful human emotion. All parents know that. And yet, too many of us, with our children safe at hand and no malicious intent, are guilty of killing them softly. Case in point, a reality TV show called Supernanny, which my husband and I watched the other night.

SupernannyFor those who’ve never tuned in, think: out-of-control kids running their desperate, clueless parents ragged. Sure, it’s sensational and voyeuristic, but this show also offers the irresistible “smug factor” (as in: At least our kids were never that bad!) The truth is, Supernanny, (aka Jo Frost) is a highly effective parent educator and an inspiration to watch...

Continue reading the rest of the article...

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“Too Stressed to Think?” Now Published!

Too Stressed to Think?, by Annie Fox My new book for teens, “Too Stressed to Think? A teen guide to staying sane when life makes you CRAZY” (co-written with Ruth Kirschner) is now shipping and should be in stores by within the next week or so! Order an autographed copy of it directly from me and pay by credit card at our own online “store”. You can also purchase autographed copies of my other books – “The Teen Survival Guide to Dating and Relating (Free Spirit 2000, 2005) and “Can You Relate?” (Free Spirit 2000). Order your copy here!

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October’s Recommended Read

Perfect Madness -- Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety by Judith WarnerPerfect Madness – Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety
by Judith Warner

All of the financially secure, highly educated, and incredibly capable mothers Judith Warner interviewed for this book admitted that they were going way beyond anything their own mothers had done. They were on call 24/7, doing everything they possibly could to support their children’s intellectual/psychological/social/emotional well-being. It was their “mission”. And while these women chose to devote their lives to their kids (and had the financial means to do it) they weren’t happy. They felt at odds with the expectations they had for themselves as mothers and the nature of raising kids.

As one woman put it, “The reality is: at the end of the day, you could put your heart in it and for nothing wrong that you did, your kids could wind up a mess, and there’s your life’s work.”

They knew they couldn’t possibly guarantee that their total immersion in their child’s development would stave off all problems (now and forever), and yet they felt powerless to disengage from the quest to be “uber-Mom”.

Warner comes to the realization that there’s something very damaging in the current culture of mothering.  “...all mothers in America, in differing ways and to different degrees, were caught up in The Mess. And that’s because the climate in which we now mother is, in many ways, just plain crazy.”

What Warner has brilliantly done, is to provide a historical context for the need to focus so intently on our children’s lives that we discontinue all other non-child-related pursuits including creative and professional endeavors that once brought us great joy and a sense of self-worth. It’s an important read for any mother who is trying to make sense of her life and of family life in our times.

Check out my Recommended Books here...

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Letters from Teens and Parents about Family Problems

Speaking of respectfully dealing with conflicts, here’s a recent email I received from a teen who needed help communicating more effectively (and less hostilely) with her parents:

“My parents won’t let me do anything!”

Hey Terra,

I’m ticked off because my parents don't let me do anything. I still love them but they have to understand that I have grow up some day and they can't hold me back forever. First I thought that piercing my nose would be cool but I wouldn't wear the earring to school but they said “NO!!” Then I started to like rock music they said that I can't listen to that, Then I started to wear eyeliner and my mom was like “Take it off! Don’t wear eyeliner!” Ohmigod, she even wears it, but she tattooed it on. And the bad thing is that my dad always and I mean ALWAYS has her back.

What can I do?

Ticked off

Dear Ticked Off,

I hear that you love your parents and you're not intentionally trying to upset them. I also hear that you're trying to be yourself. But how can you express your individuality, if you mom and dad say "No, you can't do that"?

It's a great question and teens have been asking it for centuries. Part of growing up is being open to what's going on with your peers. That can help you figure out who you are as a separate person from your parents. Each generation needs to establish its own uniqueness. That's all very normal and natural.

It doesn't sound like you're doing anything harmful to yourself or others. So why are your parents having a problem with it?

It’s impossible for me to say for sure, but some parents freak out when they see obvious signs (the eye-makeup and the nose piercing and the music) of their kids are growing into young adults. They don’t want to “hold you back” but for lots of parents it's a little sad to know that childhood is ending and the close relationship you’ve had is changing. When you reach adulthood, you and your parents will still be close, but it will be a different because you won't be relying on them in the same ways you did when you were younger.

The eye-makeup and the nose piercing and the music may represent change to your parents, and that can be a little scary for them. Talk to them about this calmly, respectfully. Tell them that you love them and appreciate the good values that they've taught you. Let them know that wearing eye make-up and the rest is a "style". It’s something that you like, but it doesn't mean that you’ll stop being a person who makes good choices. Ask them what "styles" they liked when they were teens. Ask them if their parents (your grandparents) had any problems with the music they listened to or the clothes they wore.

Talk to them respectfully and thoughtfully. Share your point of view. Listen to what they say about how things were for them as teens. Find out how they feel now that they’re parents of a teen. How has their viewpoint shifted? With this conversation you may find that some of the anger and resentment just disappears and you have a new understanding of each other.

Good luck!

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

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

Date Description Location
10/3/05 Crystal Springs Upland School: "Relationships 101" — a series of health classes for 11th graders (not a public event) Hillsborough, CA
10/6/05 Arrowsmith Academy: "Keeping your balance when life makes you crazy" — student assembly (not a public event) Berkeley, CA
10/10/05 The Branson School: "Transitioning to High School Social Life Without the Stress" — a series of seminars for freshman (not a public event) Ross, CA
10/11/05 Scottsdale Public Library: "Being Your Own Person" Workshop for teens. For information call 480 312-2474 Scottsdale, AZ
10/17/05 Free Public Event!
Towne Center Books: Annie will talk about her new book Too Stressed to Think? A teen guide to staying sane when life makes you CRAZY and the challenges of keeping your life in balance. Teens and Parents welcome.
For information call: 925 846-8826
Pleasanton, 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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