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.

Podcast: Single Mom Seeking Advice and a (Love) Life!

August 27, 2010

"The Complete Single Mother: Reassuring Answers to Your Most Challenging Concerns" by Dr. Leah Klungness, Ph.D.

Today, on this special two-part edition of Family Confidentialmy guests are Dr. Leah Klungness and Rachel Sarah co-founders of the popular website SingleMommyhood.com.

Dr. Leah Klungness, aka “the Sanity Fairy”,  is a psychologist and recognized authority on single parenting and relationship issues. She is the coauthor of the award winning book The Complete Single Mother: Reassuring Answers to Your Most Challenging Concerns which is the only comprehensive and best selling self-help book ever written for single parents.

"Single Mom Seeking: Playdates, Blind dates, and Other Dispatches from the Dating World" by Rachel Sarah

Rachel Sarah, is an award-winning journalist and the author of the dating memoir Single Mom Seeking: Playdates, Blind Dates, and Other Dispatches from the Dating World. Rachel has written for Family Circle magazine, American Baby, Salon.com, Huffington Post, and LifetimeTV. She’s also a contractor for Match.com.

Whether you chose single motherhood or had it thrust upon you, these two powerhouse women have much wisdom and insight to share. Yep, Dr. Leah and Rachel Sarah are here to help. So while you have a rare moment to yourself, grab a cup of coffee, relax and have a listen to our conversation 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:

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

Sean Buvala, author of DaddyTeller: How to be a Hero to Your Kids and Teach Them What’s Really Important By Telling Them One Simple Story at a Time

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

Judith Warner author of Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety and We’ve Got Issues: Children and Parents in the Age of Medication

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Podcast: An End to School Bullying

August 16, 2010

"Gender, Bullying, and Harassment: Strategies to End Sexism and Homophobia in Schools" by Dr. Elizabeth J. Meyer, Ph.D.

My guest today on Family Confidential is Dr. Elizabeth J. Meyer, author of Gender, Bullying, and Harassment: Strategies to End Sexism and Homophobia in Schools.

Dr. Meyer, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Education at Concordia University in Montreal. A former high school teacher and coach, Dr. Meyer knows first hand what it’s like for students who’ve been targeted by other students. From her first days as a teacher fresh out of college, she empowered individual kids to deal with the fear, frustration, and isolation, until it dawned on her that real change can only come when a school’s culture changes.

While there have been countless studies of bullying and harassment in schools, none have examined the key gender issues related to these anti-social behaviors. In her book, Dr. Meyer does just that and offers readers tangible and flexible suggestions to help them positively transform the culture of their school and reduce the incidences of gendered harassment.

If you’ve got kids in school, you won’t want to miss my interview with Elizabeth Meyer. Listen 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:

Dr. Leah Klungness and Rachel Sarah co-founders of SingleMommyhood.com. Dr. Leah is the co-author of The Complete Single Mother. Rachel is the author of Single Mom Seeking: Playdates, Blind dates, and Other Dispatches from the Dating World.

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

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

Judith Warner author of Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety and We’ve Got Issues: Children and Parents in the Age of Medication

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Guest blogger: Taming teen stress

August 15, 2010

By Lori Lite

Me? Stressed?! Does it show?

Lori Lite is the founder of Stress Free Kids. Her books, CDs and curriculums help children, teens, and adults manage anxiety, stress, and anger while promoting self-esteem and peaceful sleep. A 2009 contestant on ABC’s Shark Tank, Lori successfully negotiated a deal which enabled her to quickly expand her brand. Now Lori’s award-winning line of CDs introduces teens to relaxation techniques and music. Indigo Teen Dreams and Indigo Dreams: Teen Relaxation Music have been embraced by parents, psychologists, educators, therapists and doctors around the world. A mother of three, she has some valuable tips for parents to help their teens overcome their stress.

Most parents recognize and remember that the teenage years are a volatile time marked by the struggle for independence, the forging of identity, the painful process of emotional maturation, and the learning of societal norms.  Yet parents often underestimate the toll that the stress from these years can take on a teen.

Teenage stress has never been more prevalent. Teenagers are living ever-more complex lives in a society that increasingly treats them as younger adults.  It is as important as it’s ever been, then, for parents to recognize the causes of teen stress and to take measures to relieve or combat it.

Teens are worried about grades, sports achievements, peers, relationships. Many teens are dealing with divorcing or single parents. The recession has also increased stress for teens. Many are working to help make ends meet. Others are in fear of their parents losing their jobs and the roof over their head.

Tips for Helping Teens Manage Stress

1. Remember that stress is contagious, but so is calm. Demonstrate relaxation and positive statements in your parenting routine.

2. Talk to your teen. Figure out when their guard is most likely to be down and use that time to communicate.

3.  Stay up and have a late night snack with your teen. Teens may be more talkative at night and in the kitchen .

4. Tell stories about challenges you have had as a teen and how you handled it. Make sure to share the mistakes you made. Teens are more likely to share their challenges after a story than a direct question.

5.  Give your teens more freedom, but keep clear boundaries. A teen without rules is a teen with much stress.

6.  Schedule downtime with your teen. Go for a walk. A bike ride. Shoot baskets together. Take them out of their usual environment. You’ll be surprised how your teen will let his/her walls down doing something outdoors.

7. Pay attention to what you say to your teen. Take a break from criticizing and correcting. Make a choice to give a compliment every day.

8. Expose your teen to relaxation techniques like diaphragmatic breathing, visualization, progressive muscular relaxation, and positive statements. Empower you teen to feel good!

Parents sometimes make the mistake of interpreting legitimate stress as the typical emotional volatility associated with being a teenager.  Labeling stress as ‘just being a teen’ both unfairly discounts the difficulty of the teenage years and can obscure the telltale signs of damaging teen stress. Parents might notice their teen is stressed if they see that their teen is easily agitated, overactive, confused, afraid, angry, sad, anxious or withdrawn. A preoccupation with a traumatic event, withdrawal from family and friends, sleep disturbances and physical complaints can all be indicators of stress. Lite encourages parents to trust their instinct.

Teens can also help manage their own stress levels, by making a homework plan, scheduling downtime, exercising regularly, eating healthy, not over scheduling, and getting plenty of sleep.  Parents should encourage this behavior whenever possible.

Teen stress is a very real, potentially damaging condition. Parents should take whatever steps possible to help their teenagers relieve their stress during this challenging period of life.  And they should start today.

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Guest blogger: Skanktastic New Fall Looks for Tweens

August 9, 2010

By stark. raving. mad. mommy.

stark. raving. mad. mommy. is a stay-at-home mom to four children ages four to nine. In her own words “…we’re dealing with allergies, asthma, anxiety, and that particular brand of Lego obsession known as autism. Eventually, we found that procreating and sustaining life while mainlining coffee was just not enough of a challenge. So, we up and moved our family of six from the East Coast to deep in the heart of Texas (clap-clap-clap). I have become, officially, a stark. raving. mad. mommy.”

I was recently alerted to the new Candie’s line of juniors’ clothing being sold at Kohl’s. Aimed at tweens and teens, it’s designed by Queen of Wholesome, Britney Spears.  Britney’s perfume line has been out for years; her latest one is called “Circus Fantasy.”

I’m not sure who told Britney that circuses smell good.  If I remember correctly, circuses smell like a heady mixture of sweat, stale popcorn, and elephant.  I have a funny feeling that’s actually what Britney Spears smells like, naturally.

Back to her skanktastic clothing line.  First, let me say this: if you’re of age to vote, and you dig her clothes, by all means, skank it out.  You go for yours, girlfriend.  But if you’re my nine year old daughter, you’re not going to be sporting anything to do with a grown woman who poses in her underwear with a large hot-pink teddy bear.  (The implications of this are positively mind bending.  It requires a time-space continuum leap for me to grasp that Britney, who used her teen sexuality to the hilt, is now infantilizing herself in order to sell clothes to my daughters. I think I just threw up in my mouth a little.)

Even worse than Britney Spears’ skankfest at Kohl’s is the horror that is Victoria’s Secret’s Pink, a line of loungewear, intimates, and beauty products.  Pink is supposed to be all in caps: PINK, but I won’t give it that much importance.  Ostensibly aimed at high school and college students (it’s campus-ready!), the heavy use of glitter tells me that the true market is junior high.  Buzz is that Pink’s extra-small runs extra-small, making it the perfect place for a junior high girl to pick up her first thong. Again with the vomit. Also, we will not be wearing pants with “LOVE PINK” stamped on the butt.  We will be clad in sensible underwear.  And the seats of our pants will have, you know, pockets or something.

Speaking of people who need to buy sensible underpants, I’m back to Britney.  Besides no longer being a teen sensation, Britney’s a little late on the whole teens-designing-for-teens thing.  Selena Gomez, Avril Lavigne, Miley Cyrus, Keke Palmer and Lourdes Leon (Madonna’s daughter) all have their own lines of clothing.

In a completely unscientific study, my twin nine-year-old girls (Cookie and the Pork Lo Maniac) and I reviewed several of the clothing lines marketed toward tweens and young teens. We looked at the clothing lines of Selena, Avril, Miley, Lourdes, and Britney; we also looked at clothing from Old Navy, Gap, and Justice (which used to be called Limited Too).

Here is what I learned from my fashion experts:

  • Tights under jeans are weird. And they make going to the bathroom more complicated than it needs to be.
  • Skorts are better than skirts in case you want to do cartwheels. Because no one should see your underpants.
  • Yellow is a bad color for pants.  Justice, we’re looking at you.
  • Avril Lavigne’s distressed skinny white jeans would make you look like a rock star.  For about 15 minutes.  And then you would probably spill your Capri Sun on them.
  • Britney’s bejeweled tops would make you look like Queen Amidala from Star Wars … only older and fancier.
  • When you stand around in your underwear with a big pink bear on your head, you look stupid.  Like, maybe your head is really warm, but the rest of you would get cold.
  • Miley Cyrus likes really tight pants and that just doesn’t look comfortable.
  • Old Navy has an awesome selection of Wonder Woman t-shirts.

The opinions ended there because then they started singing “we’re tweens, we’re tweens,” and then collapsed into a ridiculous giggle fit.

Here’s the Mom Report:

  • I am thrilled to pieces that my daughters feel that no one should see their underwear.
  • Keke Palmer deserves props for designing clothes that look cute, comfortable, and don’t give me the heebie-jeebies.
  • My kids might not like the tights-under-shorts look, but I like that Selena Gomez’ models are covered up.
  • Tight pants seem to make people pose with an awkward in-toeing that would make actual walking impossible and/or necessitate physical therapy.
  • Britney Spears is a stark. raving. mad. mommy. But not in the fun way that I am.  She’s got a whole “crazy eyes” thing going on.

The most important thing I learned from this project is that I am lucky enough that my “tweens” are really still little girls. I know some day they’ll want to wear clothes that I’ll find appalling (yes, I remember what I wore in 1989). Fortunately we’re not there yet, and I’m savoring every minute of this time.

Here’s the part I don’t get: Most tweens and young teens don’t have jobs and therefore don’t have tons of their own spending money.  I know they don’t drive themselves to Kohl’s. So who is buying girls this stuff?


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