Hey Terra! Parent Forum
Vol. II, Issue 1 January Newsletter January 1 , 2006

Happy New Year
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. If you know anyone (parent, educator, counselor) who you think would appreciate reading this newsletter, please forward it to them.

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January Parenting Article
A Cleaner Garage and Other Resolutions

by Annie Fox, M.Ed.

...we desire self-improvement, we eagerly make New Year’s resolutions. But unfortunately, those resolutions fail miserably. Why? The answer is printed clearly on the box: Plan of action not included.
Praise the calendar gods! January 1st falls on a Sunday so we get an extra 24 hours of relaxing before rejoining the work-a-day world on Tuesday the 3rd. That means a little more time to express our goodbyes to 2005 with whatever level of nostalgia (or relief) feels appropriate. Then get ready to celebrate the New Year and all the “clean slate” potential it offers.

Because most of us believe that change is possible and we desire self-improvement, we eagerly make New Year’s resolutions. But unfortunately, those resolutions fail miserably. Why? The answer is printed clearly on the box: Plan of action not included.

As David and I marveled at the 2005 Tournament of Roses Parade floats streaming across our TV screen—an impressive display of goal setting and achievement—we made a New Year’s resolution of our own. We decided that we wanted (and desperately needed) a cleaner garage. Feng Shui aside, it had become impossible to get our second car inside. A year later, here’s what we’ve got to show for our resolve...

Continue reading the rest of the article...

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January’s Recommended Read

Hold Me Close, Let Me Go, by Adair LaraHold Me Close, Let Me Go: A Mother, A Daughter and an Adolescence Survived
by Adair Lara

I used to love Adair Lara’s San Francisco Chronicle columns. She provided great insight into all aspects of family dynamics—from having your ex living in the upstairs apartment, to making a third marriage work, to the intricacies of step-parenting. And even when she described the challenges of parenting her wilder- than-average daughter, Morgan, there were things to laugh at. (And if you can’t laugh in times of stress, you’re totally sunk.)

Lara’s columns often left me wondering, as she obviously was, “How’s this kid going to make it through without self-destructing?” After reading Hold Me Close, Let Me Go, Lara’s memoir about Morgan’s turbulent teen years, I realized that her columns didn’t tell the half of it. If you’re expecting Chicken Soup for the Soul of the Parent of a Troubled Teen, forget it. This book is more gut wrenching than soothing. But it’s totally real and ultimately life affirming. Its loving yet unflinching honesty is exactly what teens deserve from their parents 100% of the time. Lara’s experience isn’t as bad as it gets, but it’s likely to put yours into perspective. And that perspective, along with the ultimate validation and appreciation Lara gets from never giving up on her daughter, is an incredible lesson for all of us. On a scale of one to five, this one’s a solid five.

Visit Adair Lara's web site here. Read her past columns here.

Check out my Recommended Books here...

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Too Stressed to Think?

Too Stressed to Think?, by Annie Fox My latest book, “Too Stressed to Think? A teen guide to staying sane when life makes you CRAZY” (co-written with Ruth Kirschner) is 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 book – “The Teen Survival Guide to Dating and Relating (Free Spirit 2000, 2005). Order your copy here!

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Letters from Teens and Parents about Family Problems

Many family problems can be improved with better communication. But sometimes, when there’s an ongoing problem between siblings, parents needs to facilitate communication:

“My step-sister really hurts my feelings.”

Hey Terra,

I just had a fight with my stepsister. She really hurts my feelings sometimes. She says I'm fat and stupid. Whenever I think of it it makes me cry.


Hi Unappreciated,

I'm sorry to hear that you and your stepsister aren't getting along. You two deserve a much better relationship with each other... and you can have it. So instead of continuing the fighting, the name-calling, and the hurting, how about trying something different?

Since you're the one who wrote to me, I'd suggest you take the lead in making peace in your family. Tell your parents about the problem and ask for their help. I’m sure they’d love to see you and your stepsister get along, so they'll probably be happy to work with you. Show your parents this email and suggest that they call a Family Meeting where you can start talking about the problem and figuring out ways to make things better.

Good luck. I hope this helps.

In friendship,

Even if you’ve got a good relationship with your kids, sometimes they’ll throw you a curve ball. Remember to stop and breathe before you start talking and trying to listen. If you need input, you can always write to me… like this mom did:

“Our son’s web surfing is against our family values.”

Dear Annie,

My husband and I just discovered that our 7th grade son has been visiting porn sites. We’ve told him how inappropriate these sites are and that he is not to log on to them any more. He promised he wouldn't do it again, but we just found out that he has. He is a good kid and was very embarrassed about the whole thing. I know he's at the stage where he's likely to be curious about all things sexual and we're really not uptight parents, but this stuff is totally against our family values. Help!

Drowning in the Surf

Dear Drowning,

I’m glad to hear that you realize how normal it is for your son to be curious about sexual things. I hope you’ve let him know that you don’t think that there’s something wrong with him for being curious. On the other hand, you have the right to set limits on the kind of media that comes into your home.

Healthy relationships (inside and outside the family) are built on a foundation of trust. You need to trust your son when he makes an agreement. And I'm sure he wants to feel the same sense of confidence in his parents when you make agreements with him.

Bottom line:

  • Make sure your son doesn't feel like he’s a bad kid because he looked at porn and found it stimulating.
  • The adults in the house make the rules for the family. And those rules need to be respected.

One more thing, it’s important for kids to know their parents’ values. Some questions to explore together might include: Is pornography a good thing or a bad thing? For the producers (the sellers)? The people posing in the photographs? For the viewers (consumers)? How might exposure to porn as a child affect one's ability to have a healthy sexual relationship later in life? What are the existing laws that limit the access of minors to pornography? Do you think kids need laws like that to protect them?

Young adolescents are much more likely to comply with rules when they are part of the process. That means being able to fully question the restrictions, voice their opinions, and feel that they are HEARD. Even if their parents don't budge, the child will feel good about the fact that he/she has been treated with respect.

I hope this helps.

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. Click here for her full calendar of events.

Date Description Location
1/12/06 Public Event! Healthy Teens Marin Committee presents Tenth Annual Peer Summit. Annie's Workshop for 7th and 8th graders: "The Teen Survival Guide to Dating and Relating," Marin Showcase Theater. For Information 415 499-5877 San Rafael, CA
1/22/06 Girl Scouts of Santa Clara County "Stand Tall", a full-day bully-proofing workshop for 3rd-6th graders (not a public event) San Jose, CA
1/24/06 Prospect Sierra School "Why You Need Real Friends", a student assembly for 5th and 6th graders (not a public event) El Cerrito, CA
1/27/06 Prospect Sierra School "Being the Change", a student assembly for 7th and 8th graders (not a public event) El Cerrito, CA
2/9/06 Prospect Sierra School Parent Education Night Presentation: "Internet safety and other reasons that 21st Century Kids Need 21st Century Parenting" (not a public event) El Cerrito, CA
2/16/06 Holy Names High School "Don't Stress About Stress", a series of student assemblies for 9th-12th grade girls (not a public event) Oakland, CA
2/17/06 Hall Middle School Career Day Guest speaker: "What's it like to be a Cyberspace Dear Abby?" (not a public event) Larkspur, CA
2/28/06 Archway School Parent Education Night Presentation: "Why 21st Century kids Need 21st Century Parenting" (not a public event) Berkeley, 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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