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.

What do moms & daughters want from each other anyway?

February 17, 2011

Love comes from understanding

I recently led a very special Mom/Daughter workshop. Sixty moms showed up each with a middle or high school daughter in tow. My goal for our 90 minutes together was two-fold:

1) Offer pragmatic calming down strategies which I knew would come in handy next time Mom & Daughter find themselves in one of those “I can’t believe we’re fighting about this again!!!” fights.

2) Provide Moms & Daughters with opportunities to understand and appreciate the unique challenges facing the other generation.

I introduced the Calming Strategies: I’m going to teach you how to do re-centering breathing. So next time you feel off-balance (and believe me there’s always a next time), you can get yourself back to the place where you do your best thinking. Give me a couple of  minutes of your time and you’ll have a tool you can use whenever  you’re about to ‘lose it.’  It’s very easy to breathe. The real challenge is to remember to breathe when you need to. And that would be any time you and your daughter or you and your mom get locked in a DESTRUCTIVE WASTE OF TIME yelling match – which covers pretty much all yelling matches.

Here’s how to breathe. Go for it!

As for the Opportunities to Understand one another, those came in the form of 20 posted questions lining both sides of  the room. These first six were for Moms and Daughters:

1. I’m very proud of my daughter/my mom when______

Most common Mom answers: Shows backbone. Achieves a goal she’s worked for. Helps others.

Most common Daughter answers: Wears cute clothes. Does what she loves. Trusts me & relaxes.

2. I wish my daughter/my mom would _______ more.

Most common Mom answers: Help (do chores) without being asked. Open up and talk to me.

Most common Daughter answers: Trust me. Understand me. Listen to me.

3. I’d like to apologize to my daughter/my mom for______

Most common Mom answers: Yelling & losing patience. Being critical. Not listening.

Most common Daughter answers: Being rude/disrespectful/bitchy. Taking things out on her.

4. Sometimes I’m embarrassed when my daughter/my mom ______

Most common Mom answers: Is rude to me in front of others. Dresses like she does. Gets upset over nothing.

Most common Daughter answers: Dances/sings/laughs/talks too much. Gets too ‘involved’ w/my problems. Tries to act cool around my friends.

5. I feel especially close to my daughter/my mom when______

Most common Mom answers: She confides in me. We hang out together.

Most common Daughter answers: We do stuff together (shop, watch movies, etc.), We talk, We hang out.

6. Most of our conflicts are about______

Most common Mom answers: Chores/helping out. Homework/time management. Siblings.

Most common Daughter answers: Attitude. Grades. Clothes. Social stuff (Curfew, Parties, Texting)

Then there were four Moms Only questions:

7. I could do a better job as a mom if I______

Most common Mom answers: Calmed down. Slowed down. Just relaxed. Had more patience. Had fewer tasks to do.

8. The best advice I could give my daughter is______

Most common Mom answers: Respect yourself. Trust yourself. Do what makes you happy.

9. The hardest part about being a mom is _____

Most common Mom answers: Being patient. Feeling like I don’t know what I’m doing.

10. Sometimes I _____ (Same thing I hated as a kid!) I’m trying to change this behavior.

Most common Mom answers: Get mad about the messy room. Say things I should know are embarrassing to my daughter. Want my daughter to be someone different (from who she is)

And here are the four Daughters Only questions:

7. I would be easier to live with if I______

Most common Daughter answers: Wasn’t so emotional/stressed/bitchy. Listen more. Argued Less. Cleaned up after myself.

8. When something is bothering me I’d like my mom to______

Most common Daughters answers: Leave me alone. Be nice.

9. When we argue I sometime_____ (even if I know it’ll increase tension). I’m trying to change that behavior.

Most common Daughter answers: Yell. Say mean things.

10. If I’m ever a mom, I swear I will_______

Most common Daughter answers: Have an open relationship with her. Be cool if my child wants to go out. Listen.

______________

As you read the questions and mentally answer them you’ll probably wonder how your daughter would respond. Maybe you could use them as a way to let each other in on how each of you feels about your relationship. I invite you to take these questions and your answers as tool for identifying what works in your relationship with your daughter. Celebrate those positive things and continue making time for them. On the flip side, use what you both learn here and work with your daughter to change the aspects of your relationship that could use improvement.

Oh, and one more thing… don’t forget to breathe.

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What do you tell your kids about rape?

February 15, 2011

Last Friday, Lara Logan was doing her job as a journalist covering the Egyptian revolution. The 60 Minutes correspondent and her crew were in the midst of unprecedented joy overflowing in Tahrir Square as hundreds of thousands of anti-Mubarak protestors celebrated a new reality. We are free! WE ARE FREE!

Every TV journalist reporting from the scene used the word “jubilant.” Strong word. Intense emotion. But not hyperbole. Jubilation is precisely the word to describe liberation from oppression. The end of living in fear.

Lara Logan must have felt it too. How could you be there and not feel it? But then Lara Logan’s jubilation became something very different, when according to this statement from CBS News “…she and her team and their security were surrounded by a dangerous element amidst the celebration. It was a mob of more than 200 people whipped into frenzy. In the crush of the mob, she was separated from her crew. She was surrounded and suffered a brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating before being saved by a group of women and an estimated 20 Egyptian soldiers.”

About an hour ago I read about the rape… enough of this “sexual assault” stuff, let’s call it by it’s most vile name. Immediately anxiety kicked in and I felt a sickly cold heaviness. I feel it still. If you’re a woman you exactly know what I’m talking about. Even if you’ve never been raped, you know. If you’re a man who’s never been raped, you can’t know this kind of fear… not the way women know it.

My thoughts are with Lara Logan and her family, her friends, her colleagues and her crew who couldn’t help her… God what they must be feeling!

Lara’s our sister and because of what was done to her we are all suffering. We are all feeling less jubilant. Less liberated. Less free from fear.

What do you tell your tween and teen daughters about rape? What do you tell your sons? What’s that? You say you’ve never had one of those conversations? What are you waiting for?

Filed under: Parenting — Tags: , , , , , — Annie @ 5:34 pm
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Where’s love and when will it get here already!?

February 7, 2011

Hey Cupid, I'm waiting...

One week ’til Valentine’s Day. Non-stop teen emails scream for my attention and romantic advice. Not sure how I became  such an expert. I mean, honestly, if some fortune teller sidled up to me in 7th grade and whispered “Some day, Annie, you will be a relationship guru sought after by thousands for your expansive knowledge of love,” I’d have choked on my incredulity then looked around to see which of the Popular Girls was messing with me.

But that was then and now apparently people actually believe I know something about love and the rest of it. Here are some questions from recent seekers:

Hey Terra,

My best friend has a great boyfriend. I’m happy for her, but I’m also extremely jealous and I feel like I can’t find anyone. I’m definitely not ugly. I’m pretty, smart, funny, easygoing and friendly. But why is it that I can’t find a nice guy who is interested in me?!

Lonely Beauty

Dear LB….

_____

Hey Terra,

Any guy I crush over does not feel the same about me. They always have a reason why I’m not “The One.”  What can I do to get guys to like me???

Desperate

Dear Desperate...

And just so you don’t get the impression these are exclusively “girl” issue, check out these poignant queries from guys:

Hey Terra,

Whenever I see this girl that I’m really in love with I freeze up and don’t know what to say. I would do anything in my power for her. Can you please give me some tips on what to say to her? I would really appreciate it.

Freeze up Dude

Dear Dude…

_____

Hey Terra,

I’m 15 and I really want to be with someone and share feelings and secrets and also we can support each other. The problem is that I’m not a popular guy and I’m rejected by many people at school (I used to get picked on and bullied for no reason). I’ve asked girls out a couple of times but they all rejected me.

Still Single

Dear Still Single…

If one of these kids were your son or daughter of course you’d want to ease their suffering, but how? First with the recognition that we’ve all been there. Too shy to talk to a crush and frustrated by our own boundless ineptitude. Lonely. Desperate to be part of a couple. Crazy jealous of a friend who had a bf/gf. Then there was the inescapable fear that no one would fall in love with us… ever!

If Valentine’s Day is bringing your kid down, try to be empathetic. Take the lead and open a respectful conversation about it. This could be a great opportunity to show some compassion and understanding. That’s going to make your child feel better while it strengthens your bond. Please do not joke about, trivialize or invalidate their pain. Teen angst is real and it hurts.

So remember your kid this Monday. You’re not the love of his or her life, or a close substitute, but when they’re feeling unloved or unlovable (like Freeze Up Dude and the gang) it’s nice to know that Mom or Dad cares.

On a personal note: My father never forgot me on Valentine’s Day. His thoughtfulness was especially important during my “Everyone’s got a boyfriend but me” phase. I knew Dad loved me and that counted a lot. He died suddenly when I was 15 and I still smile at the memory of a tiny bottle of L’Air Du Temps he gave me on Valentine’s Day when I was 12.

Filed under: Holidays,Parenting,Tips — Tags: , , , , , — Annie @ 5:06 pm
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