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.

Guest Teen Blogger: National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy

April 29, 2010

By Gema Mora

Gema is a 19 year old college freshman. An intern for both and the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, Gema is studying to be a genetic engineer. She also hopes to have a writing career.

The National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy is an annual battle for a war that we cannot allow to be forgotten. May 5th is this year’s National Day. Teens across the nation will visit for online activities that will stress teen pregnancy prevention messages. Although the day is meant to prevent teen pregnancy, the activities will also inform teens about other
consequences of sex.

The National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy will challenge teens to
think outside the box and consider how their lives would
be affected by sex and the benefits of contraception. The possibility of pregnancy and the hair-pulling, life changing challenges that come with being a parent will also be faced.

Forget sexy love scenes in Friday night’s date movie. Teens need to learn about the realities of being sexually active. Not a moment too soon. Guttmacher Institute’s data says that teen pregnancy is up by 3% since 2006. That is the first rise in teen pregnancy since 1990. The National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy will be a mass effort to lower that percentage. About 74% teens said that The National Day quiz made them think about what they would do in different situations. That means that the information sunk into 74% of teens and made a difference. These activities work!

Sexual education can never be over. The teens from the year 2000 are not the same ones from 2010. Today’s teens need current information. This means being educated on things like: knowing when it’s the right time, how to have open communications with partners, : how to be safe, and how to prevent teen pregnancy.

It is in our power to save at least one teen from teen pregnancy. The only thing that should be in bloom is spring are flowers, not teens. The National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy is on May 5, 2010. Spread the word!


Podcast: Sweetheart, eat your peas!

April 26, 2010

"Hungry Monkey – A food loving father's quest to raise an adventurous eater" by Matthew Amster-Burton

My mom did just fine in the kitchen. Though she had a limited repertoire and the only spices she owned were salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder and cinnamon, what she cooked, she cooked very well. So it wasn’t her fault I was a picky eater. How picky? So picky that I only grew to be 5’2.” Just kidding. Shortness genes probably factored in, but the truth is I was so picky I hated oatmeal. What’s not to like about oatmeal? (It’s too “wet.”) For breakfast I’d only I eat dry cereal. “Dry” meant that no milk could touch a single frosted flake or the whole bowl would be contaminated!

Most kids LOVE pizza. The cheesier the better. But I’d only nibble the unadulterated outer edges of the crust. I refused to eat bananas, apples or any fruit “with lots of juice” such in peaches, plums or nectarines. Though oranges and grapefruits were perfectly fine with me. Go figure. Canned tuna? OK. Canned salmon? No way!

I’m sure there were times Mom fantasized about what it would be like to cook for a family who appreciated all her clipped recipes from Woman’s Day magazine. But my dad was raised by a mother whose most special meal was boiled, unsalted chicken, so what did he know? And my brothers? Don’t even get me started.  One puts ketchup on pasta and the other believes eggplant is carcinogenic.

As someone who now eats all kinds of international cuisines and loves cooking for my family and friends, I totally understand my mom’s frustration.

Parents nurture. It’s what we do. And food is our most obvious way of nurturing our kids. Eat, sweetheart! Eat! But what do you do when your child refuses your food? That’s got to feel like a rejection not of the creamed spinach but of YOU! And don’t believe for a minute that kids don’t realize that a hurt parent who’s probably a bit anxious that little Emily isn’t getting her full spectrum of nutrition is a highly manipulateable parent.

“Ooh, you don’t want the scrambled eggs? Sorry. They’re gone. Instead I’ll make you pancakes. What’s that? The pancakes are too goey? Too chewy? Too round? No worries, sweetie pie. I’ll just dump these and whip up some cinnamon French toast. Pressed flat and super dry just the way you like it. No trouble at all.”

Got a picky eater at your table? Before you pull out (all) your hair, pull up a chair, pour yourself a cup of coffee. Grab a blueberry muffin to go with it and let’s talk about kids and food.

In this week’s podcast I talk with Matthew Amster-Burton, author of Hungry Monkey: A food loving father’s quest to raise an adventurous eater.

Matthew is a food writer based in Seattle. He writes frequently for, Culinate, Seattle Magazine, and the Seattle Times. He has been featured repeatedly in the Best Food Writing anthology. Hungry Monkey chronicles the early years of his daughter Iris’s life as documented through the lens of their ongoing cooking and eating adventures and mis-adventures.

Listen to my interview with Matthew Amster-Burton right here:

If you have iTunes, you can subscribe to this podcast in the iTunes Store.

Or, you can download an MP3 version here.

Upcoming guests include:

Salome Thomas-El (aka Principal El), author of I Choose to Stay: A Black Teacher Refuses to Desert the Inner City and The Immortality of Influence: We Can Build The Best Minds of the Next Generation.

David McQueen, international speaker empowering adults and youth alike on subjects such as leadership, careers and communication skills.

Dr. Elizabeth J. Meyer, author of  Gender, Bullying and Harassment: Strategies to End Sexism and Homophobia in Schools

Dr. Karyn Purvis, co-author (with Dr. David Cross, Wendy Lyons Sunshine) of The Connected Child: Bring hope and healing to your adoptive family

*What’s a podcast? “A podcast is a series of digital media files, usually either digital audio or video, that is made available for download via web syndication.” –Wikipedia… So, in this case, there’s an audio file for you to listen to (in addition to reading the above).


My 12 year old downloaded porn?!

April 19, 2010

Woah! I didn't know people could do that!

If you give a kid a computer, at some time or another, he’ll probably Google “Sex” or “Porn” or god knows what else. If you find out what he’s been looking at what do you do? What prepares a parent for this one? How do you discuss this with your child… or with another adult for that matter?

Recently a very brave and caring dad emailed me when he faced this challenge. Even if you’re beyond certain that your son/daughter would never check out an X rated site, read on anyway… :

Hello Annie,

I just discovered some pretty hardcore porn on my 12 year old son’s MP3/video player that I was trying to fix. I do not know how to handle this. I have not confronted him yet. I want to have a plan. I want to know where/who he got it from. He does spend time on My Space and he sometimes closes the door but mostly he is messaging as far as I can tell. I think he had to get it from someone else but that is not what bothers me. I am a more laid back dad but I feel I am too laid back. I want to dicipline him firmly and also start supervising his online activity. Any advice would be most appreciated.

Flabbergasted Dad


Dear Dad,

It’s natural for a 12 year old boy to be curious about sex. There’s no point in getting angry with him for following his curiosity. That’s not to say pornography is appropriate material for him to be viewing. It isn’t! And that is a clear message he needs to hear from you.

You say you are “too laid back” which indicates that maybe you’ve never had a conversation with him about your rules for his internet use and other media consumption. Maybe you’ve never directly told him that pornography isn’t appropriate for 12 year olds. While you’re at it, you should definitely tell your son WHY you personally believe that is the case. He needs to know what your family values are when it comes to sexually explicit “entertainment.” And your expectations for his behavior on and offline when it comes to girls. Kids who think their parents “don’t care” what they do are often the ones who lack a strong sense of what is right. They are much more likely to be swayed by peer pressure.

So, take some slow deep breaths, then calmly and respectfully talk to your son. Tell him what you know about what he’s been doing. Tell him why this material is against your family values and make it clear that he is not to view it any more. Talk as openly as you can about sex and how exposure to pornography hurts kids by giving them a unhealthy perspective of adult relationships.

Even though your son knew intuitively that you wouldn’t be thrilled with what he was doing, don’t punish him. He didn’t know the rules. Now he will. Let him know that you will periodically and randomly be checking his computer and MP3 player to make sure that he is in compliance with your rules.

Fyi there are ways to turn on “parental controls” on most computers and MP3 players that will prevent the access of objectionable material. There are also ways to get around those safeguards, most easily “I’ll go to my friend’s house and view it there.” but then this becomes a trust issue. Bottom line: You want to trust your son and he wants to be trustworthy in your eyes.

I hope this helps.

In friendship,


Hi Annie,

Thanks for the advice. I will talk to him tomorrow evening. I am glad I have taken the time to think more about how this can be a learning experience for both of us. I do need to talk more about our family values.




Hi Dad,

You’re more than welcome. You might want to create an “objectives” list before your talk, ie., “What messages do I want my son to take away from our discussion in the short-term and for the rest of his life?”

Good luck with the conversation.

In friendship,


Those aren’t just mistakes… They’re evidence of intelligent life

April 4, 2010

What scratches? I don't see any scratches.

What scratches? I don't see any scratches.

In August my son Ezra and his lovely Sarah are marrying in a garden surrounded by vineyards. Their idyllic spot is about an hour north of our home. Which means when it comes to the wedding we’re off the housecleaning hook. Yeah, right. Four generations of our family will be traipsing in and out of Fox Manor all weekend so bring back the hook ’cause we are so on.

Since it’s pouring today (again) I decided it was time to take inventory of… The Mess.

You know how when you’re expecting company every flaw of your otherwise spotless home comes into sharp focus? Suddenly it’s like “Woah, how long has that gunk been on the door? When was the last time anyone looked in this corner? Have you seen the vacuum? We still have one, don’t we?”

I cleaned my glasses and headed to the stairwell, where well… the scratches and gouges on the wood panels made me wince. Seriously, I go up and down these stairs dozens of times a day and I swear I’ve never noticed how crapped up the walls are. No one could miss the crazy webbing of gashes and slashes. And yet, apparently, I had… for years.

House cleaning isn’t fun, but there is an element of problem-solving to it that I can get into at times. After rummaging through my arsenal I spotted a 32 oz (Value Size!) bottle of Orange GLO 2-in-1 Clean & Polish “Great for Wood Cabinets” Granted it didn’t say “Great for wood paneling!” but scratches are scratches, right? So I sprayed the wood panels and for an instant the scratches seemed to miraculously vanish! Kewl! I thought. So I sprayed and wiped some more. But then something not so cool occurred. The oily Orange GLO glommed onto and into the gouged out surfaces and instead of disappearing they started coming out… with attitude. It’s like every single mar, mark and blemish now shouted: Look at ME! Aren’t I distinctive!?”

I slumped, disgruntled, embarrassed staring at this wall of… mistakes when I began to recognize some old friends.  That scratch over there happened right before Ezra was born and me and David and little Fayette helped to carry Fay’s old crib up to the new baby’s room. And that one… when Fay was 14 and the four of us hit the wall several times as we carried her bed frame downstairs because she wanted to sleep on a mattress on the floor. And that happened when Ezra was 16 and scored a used couch for his room and we all helped to lug the behemoth up the stairs.

For 27 years dogs, cats, computers, desks, printers, books, lamps, loaded backpacks, kids, friends have gone up and down these stairs. Sometimes we lose our balance. Sometimes we misjudge the distance and hit the wall. Nothing to hide. Nothing to be ashamed of. We just keep moving.

Filed under: Parenting — Tags: , , , , , , — Annie @ 4:52 pm
Older Posts »
Find Annie Fox: Find Annie on Facebook Find Annie on Twitter Find Annie on Pinterest Find Annie on YouTube Find Annie on Google+ Find Annie on LinkedIn Find Annie on Goodreads Find Annie on Quora