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. If you know anyone (parent, educator, counselor)
who you think would appreciate reading this newsletter, please forward it to them.
November Parenting Article
Time Out for Your Family
by Annie Fox, M.Ed.
|“Our families are essential to our health and well-being.
They shelter us from the craziness of the wider world. That’s especially true for our kids, who need strong
families as a place to learn what’s really important in life and to de-stress.”
Christmas cactus recently woke up from its summer stupor, which can only mean that the holidays are almost here. If
the second half of that sentence triggered a stress response, I apologize and empathize. Holiday stress is very real
especially if you’re anything like me when I’m on a quest for the perfect pumpkin, the perfect turkey-brining
recipe, etc. etc. etc. But, by definition, a holiday is: “a day taken off for leisure and enjoyment.” Holidays
are meant to be a pleasant break
in routine for you and your loved ones – well-deserved time to de-stress
and appreciate being part of a family.
I’ve got a favorite family memory of an unscheduled holiday we Foxes celebrated in January 1996. A
tremendous windstorm roared through our area, knocking out the power for five days. No school, no computers,
no work. My husband David and our kids gathered round the fireplace as I read aloud from a big book of obscure
folktales. We paused at crucial plot points and guessed what would happen next. We acted out alternative
endings. We played Crazy Eights by candlelight. We roasted marshmallows. We all shared memories from childhood.
And by the second or third day, we were eating outrageous ice cream sundaes for breakfast (hey, we couldn’t
let all the Chunky Monkey and Cherry Garcia melt, could we?).
Continue reading the rest of the
Stress Reduction Tips for College Bound High School Students (and their Parents)
Have a look at Annie’s article, “College
Express: Less the Stress”
(co-written with Ruth Kirschner), which just appeared in the fall issue of My
College Guide. By understanding what they can and can’t control about The College Search, your sons and
daughters can do a better job coping with the usual stress associated with SATs, college interviews, applications,
essay-writing, and “The Waiting Period”.
“Too Stressed to Think?” Published October 3rd!
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 available here, or Or order this book from Barnes & Noble or at your local bookstore! 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!
November’s Recommended Read
Shelter of Each Other – Rebuilding our Families
by Mary Pipher
In 1994, Mary Pipher’s Reviving
Ophelia created a new awareness of how the healthy development of adolescent girls is threatened by sexualized
media messages. Pipher decried our culture’s power to transform self-confident, adventurous little girls into
self-conscious, self-loathing, self-destructive young women. As a direct result of her work, parents, educators, counselors,
and youth mentors around the world have worked to help teen girls stay strong.
Just two years later, Pipher wrote another revolutionary book. In The Shelter of Each Other she
turned her attention to families and how we can revitalize the bond we have with those closest to us. She also makes
an irrefutable case for why we, as a nation, need to do just that. Pipher is resolute when she points out how much
of our culture, and the media that reflects it, is not in the best interest of families. “Ideally children learn
from their families what to love and value,” she writes. “Some parents have the impression that they shouldn’t
impose their values on their children. But if parents don’t teach their children values, then the culture will.”
In language rich with insightful details, Pipher recalls her mother’s childhood on a Nebraska farm during the
1920’s and 1930’s. The family’s survival depended on everyone working together. She describes the
immeasurable value the family gained as a unit and as individuals from their closeness to nature and their interdependence
upon each other.
Most of the book, however, focuses on contemporary families who, in their various states of disconnect, reflect the
norm for too many families in America. Using the words of her own family therapy clients, Pipher pinpoints what we
lose as individuals, as families, and as a culture, when we lose our connection to family. And what we reclaim when
we consciously rebuild that connection.
The Shelter of Each Other is an important and inspirational book.
Check out my Recommended
Letters from Parents about Family Problems
Speaking of sharing your values with your kids, here’s a letter from a dad who’s looking for a way
to deal with a request from his daughter that makes him uneasy:
“I’m worried about my daughter becoming Goth!”
My pre-teen daughter says she wants to be Goth. When I asked her why, she said, “I don’t know.” Because
she has no good reason, it feels like she’s just going along with a fad in order to be popular. I want
her to know what she stand for. Doing something just because others do it isn’t going to teach her anything
about being her own person. How can I change
her mind and convince her that being Goth will not help?
Dear Anti-Goth Dad,
I wonder what being “Goth” actually means to your daughter? Or for that matter, what does it mean
to you? Is it a style of clothing, make-up, hair, or does it mean something else to each of you?
The fact that she “doesn’t know” why she wants this tells me that you can help her understand
the unspoken need that may may be underlying her interest in all things Goth. She’s just started middle
school and she’s probably trying to figure out a whole new social system. Old friendships may be shifting
and that can be unsettling. Is she looking for a way to fit in or to stand out from the crowd? Is she trying
to figure out who she is in this new place? Ask her “If you were ‘Goth’ in what ways do you
think people would respond to you differently?”
Keep your tone respectful as you openly explore ideas together, and this could be a really wonderful conversation.
It could bring you and your daughter closer together and help you emphasize why you believe “knowing
what she stands for” is an important value in your family.
I hope this helps.
And this is an email from a mom who requested additional information about last
month’s Parent Forum article:
“What does ‘clean vs. dirty anger’ really look like?”
I love your newsletters and articles, and I really liked the one about clean vs. dirty anger.
Could you please provide some specific examples of each?
Mom X 3
Dear Mom X 3,
So glad you’re enjoying Parent Forum. Sure I can give you some examples of the use of clean vs dirty
If you walk into your child’s room and the wall-to-wall mess drives you up the wall, a “dirty” anger
response might sound like this:
“What kind of a pig sty is this?! And why’s your new jacket balled up like a rag?! We just bought
that for you! Don’t you have any respect for us and the money we earn? Don’t you have any self-respect?
Obviously not because you’re such a slob. You’ve always been a slob. Who will ever want to live
Clean anger might sound like this:
“I really hate the way this room looks right now! Just standing here makes me feel disorganized. I’d
like to be able to walk in here and spend time with you without feeling like I’m going to step on something
or be attacked by a mob of dirty socks. [Humor works well to diffuse anger.] When you treat your clothes this
way, it makes me feel like you don’t appreciate the things we buy for you. That’s not okay
with me. So what can we do about this?”
Dirty anger is a single-minded attack. It discourages discussion and only leads to more anger and resentment
on both sides. On the other hand, clean anger can lead to a conversation. (Note that “What can we do
about this?” is an offer to work together to solve the problem.) This kind of response is much more likely
to turn into a plan of action including a compromise that gives parent and child some of what each of them
wants. Conversations foster mutual respect and cooperation and that’s exactly what you want to teach
your child about conflict resolution.
I hope this helps to clarify the concept.
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
Over the next few months, Annie will be speaking at the following places.
If you want Annie to speak at your school, event, or conference, click
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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