Annie Fox's Blog...

Thoughts about teens, tweens, parenting and this adventure of living on Earth in the 21st century.

Annie Fox, M.Ed., is an internationally respected parenting expert, award-winning author, and a trusted online adviser for tweens and teens.

Help For Parents of Tweens and Teens

July 18, 2008

Two days ago I got an email asking me “Are you a blogger?” I said, “No.” But that was so Wednesday. Today is Friday and yes…

I AM A BLOGGER!

I’ve decided to expand Parent Forum with its Q&A,  Parenting Tips and Recommended Reads to include regular blog postings about all things relating to the social/emotional devlopment of tweens and teens.  So parents, if you’re looking for some additional support during this challenging chapter, stay tuned. I can help you reach your ultimate parenting goal, i.e., launching a fully-functioning, independent, responsible, caring young adult into the world. (That is your goal, isn’t it?)

Because the most effective kind of help is the kind you really need, I’d like you to tell me what areas of parenting are challenging you at this moment.  It could be chores, discipline, communication, sexual activity, cyber-bullying, mean friends, countering pop culture values, etc.  No topic is off-limits!  So please, let me hear from you and we’ll get this conversation going. All you have to do is click on the COMMENTS link below and type away! Just so you know, the comment section on this blog is for public discussion about parenting issues relating to tweens and teens. If you want to send an email for my eyes only, you are welcome to do that too!

Filed under: Announcements,Parenting — Tags: , , , — Annie @ 4:00 pm
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11 Comments »

  1. Well done Annie! Looking forward to reading your posts!

    Comment by David — July 19, 2008 @ 12:46 pm

  2. Annie,

    My number one issue is how to best help a child who hasn’t yet gotten the hang of good time management skills.

    My daughter (a pretty good kid) is starting 9th grade next month. During 8th grade she needed lots of assistance from me to stay on top of things. She was much more self-directed prior to this. I stayed in touch with her teachers to see how things were going (and their tales often differed wildly from what she was telling me). After several weeks I would ease up on seeing her completed homework every night etc. She’d get back off course again.
    There were consequences for the slip ups (no phone, computer and ipod). I’d get more involved, eventually back off and around we’d go again.

    When do you let your kid scrape bottom academically if that is where their solo efforts are leading them? Is it time to see if she flunks something and deal with the consequences?

    Comment by Maureen — July 19, 2008 @ 2:49 pm

  3. Hi Maureen,

    Time management challenges are fairly common during middle school and the first couple off years of high school. In part, it’s a maturation thing so it’s very likely to improve. Research shows that the brain of a young adolescent (11-15) isn’t 100% reliable in the areas of:

    1) long-term planning (working steadily through the 3 week term-paper assignment vs waiting until the last minute)
    2) impulse control (resisting the urge to answer the ringing phone while she’s supposed to be doing homework)
    3) being able to predict the outcome of her choices. (“If I stay on MySpace for another 2 hours, I guess I’ll still have time to do my homework, right?”) At this point in her school career, she has to start making the connection between her assignment, her choices, and her grades. The only way she’s going to own it all, is if she knows that you are no longer going to be doing things for her.

    You say that she was “much more self-directed” prior to 8th grade. Maybe in part, she hasn’t continued to work that “muscle” because she hasn’t had to. My suggestion is for you to sit her down before school starts and tell her that now that she’s in high school, you are going to let HER take responsibility for her own academic progress. Are you willing to do that?

    Question to the rest of you parents out there… How have you handled helping your kids become more self-directed when it comes to homework, etc.

    Comment by Annie — July 19, 2008 @ 4:41 pm

  4. Hi Annie!

    This is a great idea!

    For us, I’d say that there are three main recurring issues.

    The first would have to be scheduling, and maintaining a balance between academics, after school activities and homework, independent social life and family/chill time. It seems that in today’s society, it has become increasingly important that teens be active in so much more than just academics; in order to be consider by colleges and for scholarships. However, our children and our families are so “hurried” by this pressure, that it is easy to overlook the most important thing – family and time to just be. I think that we are doing pretty well at this, but as you know, we have had our challenges with this issue, and I think a lot of other folks have too.

    The second issue would definitely be mean girls. For our daughter, this challenge started surprisingly early – at least surprisingly to us. In fifth and sixth grade it started. I think that girls can be so very cruel to each other, and the verbal bullying can leave lasting scars. I don’t think that a lot of parents are aware of how intense these kinds of attacks can be. Without going in to detail, I can tell you that my daughter did get through it and learned alot from this early experience – mostly that she swears she will never (NEVER) accept anyone treating her that way again…..but don’t think for a minute that there are girls who don’t try.

    The third issue has more to do with my husband and I, than our daughter. It has to do with understanding that the world that our child is growing up in, is very different and much faster than the world that we grew up int. The technological advances and over exposure to different media, has opened up a whole world that we never knew about at her age. So, the issue is in maintaining a balance, listening and not just reacting and sometimes in having faith/letting go and trusting that the foundation that we have laid will see her through. In a mere 4/years she will be a legal adult. If we do not give her enough freedom to fall now, than I think eighteen will be a very scary age, indeed. It is very easy to sit here and logically type all this – yet another thing to actually open our embrace and let her try her wings. It is so difficult sometimes! We know it is the right thing to do, yet our hearts beat in our throats for as long as she is exploring whatever independent challenge has come her way….this issue is definitely as old as time….not new….just a new perspective with more to scare parents silly!

    Well, those are some of the things that are recurring challenges at our home. Thanks for the “blog” email and I hope this input is helpful to you.

    Best regards,

    Melanie

    Comment by Melanie Kimball — July 19, 2008 @ 4:50 pm

  5. Hi Melanie,

    Thanks for these 3 on-the-money topics! I’ve got some truly excellent books to recommend for each of your “issues.”

    1. For help with the family balancing act, read The Shelter of Each Other: Rebuilding Our Families by Mary Pipher (author of the ground-breaking Reviving Ophelia) Also, The Power of Now by Eckart Tolle

    2. For understanding and protecting against mean girls, read Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls by Rachel Simmons

    3. For learning to let go, read Uncommon Sense for Parents of Teenagers, by Mike Riera

    I have reviews for most of these in my Bookshelf.

    Comment by Annie — July 19, 2008 @ 5:05 pm

  6. Annie, this is a great idea. There are not many blogs out there that really do a service to us parents attempting to raise well adjusted happy teens. The issues I deal with most often in my house are my daughter’s relationships, focusing on school work, “high school drama, and self confidence. I’ll keep watching and I’ll add my 2 cents if I have anything insightful to say. Good job and good luck. Barb

    Comment by Barb — July 20, 2008 @ 6:09 am

  7. Hi Barb,

    Thanks for posting. When you say your daughter’s relationships are an “issue” you deal with, what exactly do you mean? Her relationship with friends? The drama of the Boyfriend/Girlfriend Zone? Her relationship with you and other family members? All of the above? LOL

    Most teens are still in the learning stage when it comes to understanding that relationships with EVERYONE in their lives, really do unfold, moment-by-moment. And the choices they (and each of us adults) make in the moment can either contribute to more understanding between people or… less.

    Other parents… what kind of relationship issues do your sons/daughters have?

    Comment by Annie — July 20, 2008 @ 8:29 am

  8. Hi, Annie,

    Great idea to have a blog!

    I’d like to know your thoughts about summer structure for teens. My son is 13 years old (and will be in eighth grade) and has been adamant about not wanting to go to summer camps this year. I don’t have a huge problem with that, particularly as finances are really tight at the moment. I work four 8-hour days/week, though have the luxury of working two of those at home. I share custody of my son with his father. Though during the school year he spends all school nights with me, with 2 afternoon/evenings at his father’s and one weekend day and overnight, during the summer everything is much more relaxed. This means that it’s much harder to build in any structure. My son has stated bluntly that he just wants to relax during the summer because the school year is so demanding, and who can blame him? I’m thrilled that I, too, can take a vacation from keeping him on task with all his academic responsibilities.

    I’m happy when he is out on his scooter or his bike, and am not so thrilled when he is inside, listening to his music (often too loudly when he is not using headphones for various reasons), playing on his computer, or “ichatting” with his friends. (I should note that he is very much into his BMX bike which means that every other minute the bike is breaking down and needs to be fixed given the way he rides it.) I like his socializing, but I’m amazed at how many of his friends are willing to text each other on the phone or chat on the computer rather than just getting together, as these are friends from school who live in the area. I limit his time on the computer, and have him check in regularly when he is out. It’s been really difficult to give him some structure when 1) I’m working, 2) his schedule between here and his dad’s has been flexible and ever-changing, 3) I’m sympathetic to his wanting to relax this summer. For the most part I let him sleep in as long as he wants, make him clean his room regularly, usually make him turn off his music and his computer around 10 p.m., with reading in bed and then lights out at 11 p.m.

    I believe some structure will make re-entry when the school year rolls around much easier, but it’s sure difficult to maintain this when he’s not around regularly. Just as an example, doing chores becomes a huge deal. He’s not motivated to earn any money for chores, and when I insist he does them, he does such a terrible job that I spend a phenomenal amount showing him how to do it and asking him to redo it (often more than once), and usually this results in all kinds of arguments and wrangling. Believe me, I am FAR from a perfectionist! It’s exhausting and time consuming, and not something I can afford to engage in during my work day. Periodically, when he becomes belligerent, I take away his computer which I have made clear is a privilege, not a right, as I bought it for school work. (I personally believe that the more time he spends on the computer, the more apt he is to be argumentative or in a bad mood.) We don’t have T.V. so at least that’s not an issue. He’s going camping for a week with his dad, and going to one sleep-away camp in August, and I think both of these will be good for him. He likes to read so I’ve gotten out lots of books from a recommended reading list for him, which he whizzed through (so I will find more).

    Any thoughts on summer structure? I’m sure this will be an issue next summer, too.

    Looking forward to hearing any and all insights,
    Caroline

    Comment by Caroline — July 21, 2008 @ 12:02 pm

  9. Hi Caroline,

    Your son is very fortunate to have a mom who understands that after a demanding school year, it’s good and healthy to chill. In my June Parent Forum article I highly endorse that perspective.

    You say that you want him to have some “structure” during the summer so that “re-entry” into school in the fall will be easier for him. Unless you’re suggesting structure that includes getting up at 7 and going to summer classes complete with homework assignments, it’s not likely that having a schedule of household chores to be responsible for is going to have the desired effect. When school starts, he’ll get back into the swing of things, just like all the other students who have also been goofing off for the past 2 months! LOL.

    Because he’s going camping with his dad for a week and then off to sleep-away camp in August, it sounds like he’ll finish the summer with a balance of structured and unstructured time… which is great! Also, you say he enjoys being on his scooter and bike, you have no TV that he’s sitting around staring at, and he likes to read. Those are all situations that other parents would be thrilled with! Just an aside, is your public library within safe bike-riding distance? If so… send him there on his own! Most teen librarians have all kinds of enticements in the way of teen reading programs (with rewards) and scheduled teen events (like films and author visits) during the summer to keep eager readers engaged.

    Next summer is a long way from now and your son is likely to be changed in many ways by then. Next year, around March, you might start talking with him about summer plans. Check out what’s available in your community through your Parks and Rec Department. There are also meaningful opportunities for community service that can appeal to teens as long as their interests drive the selection of the opportunity. Summer internships can do the same. For example, he might get a “job” in a local bike shop where he can help out in exchange for learning more about bike repairs!

    But that’s next year, Caroline. For now, enjoy your summer and your time with your son.

    Comment by Annie — July 21, 2008 @ 1:16 pm

  10. Annie,

    My friend moved here and enrolled her daughter in my daughter’s school for next school year. Her girl decided to be friends with my girl. They hung out for a while and my daughter introduced her to her friends. Then my friend told me her daughter don’t want to be friend with my girl anymore.

    My friend call Sat early morning because she wanted to showed me something about my daughter on her myspace account.

    Annie my surprise was big when I open the page and discovered someone had hacking my daughter’s page. This person was having sex conversation with couple kids. Inmediatelly I called my daughter and asked what was going on. She almost passed out when she saw the comments. And she told me “Mommy I didn’t do this.” Then I asked her, “Is there anyone you have given your password to?” She gave the password to my friend’s daughter!

    I tell my friend what happen. My friend told me let’s get together tomorrow and confront them. When my husband arrived we spend the next hours trying to cheer up my daughter (My daughter suffer from low self esteem and try to commit sucide last year). My husband told her “Tomorrow I want your mom to take you to the police and told them about this.” This is the first thing we did in the morning. To my surprise, they told me there was nothing to do since my daughter gave up her password.

    We went to my friend’s house, she played the stupid voice mail my daughter’s friend had left to my friend’s daughter, telling her she has used my daughter and for that they didn’t want to be friends with her anymore (the voice mail was in a rude way with lots of “f” words on it). Her daughter said she was not the one who hacked my daugther’s acct and she was feeling bad because we were blaming her.

    I asked my friend’s daughter that if after the phone call she called anyone to tell them that maybe they wanted to get even with my daughter, went to her acct and did this horrible thing. She said she called three kids and almost blamed it on one of them. I asked her and my friend not to call this kid till I call the parents and tell them.

    My daughter told my friend’s daughter, ” I always had in mind you wouldn’t do this since you don’t want to lose your crown (she is the teen queen in our community)” We went home and 15-20 min later my friend and her daughter were came over. The girl was crying asking to see my daughter. She said to my daughter, “I am sorry. It was me who did all that.” I started crying too, my friend was crying asking for forgiveness.

    To my surprised my daughter just say, “I forgive you and don’t worry, let’s move on”

    Annie, This last comment trow me off. My daughter suffer depression, low self esteem.

    I told my friend I since her daughter came and spoke the true I was not taking it any further. My husband does not agree with me since he said the husband needs to know what his little princess did.

    Today I went again to my daughter profile to make sure was clean and I saw my daughter’s friend was on-line already. I am upset since she is not facing any consequences for what she did and upset because my friend is not telling the dad of what happen.

    Comment by Letty — July 21, 2008 @ 3:12 pm

  11. Hello, Letty,

    You don’t need to tell you that this girl has not acted like any kind of a friend to your daughter. Even though I respect the fact that the girl confessed to her wrongdoing and apologized to your daughter, I am left wondering if she is now 100% trustworthy in the friendship department.

    Because you don’t know what caused her to trash your daughter’s website and you have no proof that she has learned a lesson and will NEVER deal with her anger in such a hurtful way, I would do several things immediately:

    1) Talk with your daughter and tell her that you and your husband are having trouble trusting the good-will of her friend. You want to protect your daughter from further hurt, embarrassment and humiliation. Tell her that she deserves friends who ALWAYS treat her with respect. It’s nice that she was so willing to forgive the other girl, but you want to make sure that she is not willing to let other people betray her. She needs to learn to stand up for herself, especially if she has, as you say, low self-esteem.
    2) Change her password right away and instruct your daughter that she is NOT to give her password to ANYONE. If your daughter cannot keep that promise, then she should lose her MySpace account. (Tell her that in advance… )
    3) Talk to your friend and make sure that she lets her daughter know that what she did is completely UNACCEPTABLE. It is up to your friend to decide how she will discipline her daughter and whether she will be honest with the girl’s father about what their daughter did. That’s not your choice. I agree that this is not a matter for the police.

    Comment by Annie — July 21, 2008 @ 6:31 pm

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