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 blogger: Mom’s “nest” – Discussing menstruation with kids

April 27, 2011

by DeAnna L’am

I just connected with DeAnna L’am on twitter and I’m delighted to share this inspired speaker, coach, and trainer with all who parent, teach and mentor t(w)eens. DeAnna is the author of Becoming Peers – Mentoring Girls Into Womanhood, and her pioneering work has been transforming the lives of women and girls around the world for over 20 years. She specializes in helping women reclaim their menstrual cycle as source of inner guidance and spiritual renewal, and trains women to do this work in their communities. Receive her Free report: ‘Most Common Mistakes Moms Make With Coming-Of-Age Girls, and How To Avoid Them!’ by visiting:

It's there in case you need it. Gone when you don't.

“This is my Moon Flow,” I said to Ellah, who was about 4 at the time, when she saw me changing a pad. I never saw my Mom changing pads, and hence committed to not hiding my natural flow from my daughter. Without my flow, my girl would not have been born… How could this be anything but a source of joy in my ability to give birth? An ability she will one day share!

“All women flow with the moon,” I added, “and you, too, will flow when you become a woman.” Ellah smiled with the promise, and at four years of age this was enough. I didn’t refer to the flow as “blood” until much later, since I didn’t want Ellah to associate it with an “Ouwy.” The purpose with young children, both girls and boys, is to introduce, and talk about, this natural bodily function in the same neutral way as you do when talking about eating. Gradually, as the child matures, it is good to tie the flow to its purpose, which is a woman’s ability to give life.

If you find that you have some charge about your menstruation (such as physical or emotional pain) it is best not to introduce the subject to your child until you work through your difficulty and gain some balance for yourself.

Generally, it is best not to bombard children with information, but to wait for their questions. When Ellah was about seven, she asked me where does the Moon Flow come from? My answer was inspired by the Waldorf educational approach, and I explained that the Moon Flow is “Mom’s Nest.”

“Mommy’s Nest???” she asked in amazement.

“Yes,” I said. “When a Mama bird prepares for a baby bird to be born, she makes a nest. She flies in the forest and collects leaves, feathers, boughs, branches, and bits of fluff, and she weaves a nest for the baby bird to comfortably lie in.”

“Well…” I continued, “it’s the same with me. And with all women! Every month a woman’s body prepares a nest in her tummy, where a baby can grow. Her wise body gathers tissue and blood from inside her, and makes a warm and comfortable nest. Then, if no baby starts to grow, there is no need for the nest. So Mamma’s wise body sends the nest out in a big whoosh. That’s why the flow is red, because it’s made of all the good, nourishing blood that was ready to help the baby grow.”

“Every month,” I shared with my daughter, “I thank my body for being such a miracle, and for knowing how to make a baby grow inside… I also thank it for the wisdom of letting go of the nest, when I don’t need it…” Ellah was fully satisfied. She had a clear picture in her mind, and the Moon Flow made sense to her.

Telling your child a story of this nature doesn’t only encapsulate the physical facts associated with menstruation. It allows you to start instilling the awe, which our bodies deserve for their amazing abilities. Beyond that, you are actively bucking the cultural current of taboo and shame around menstruation. You are raising a girl or a boy who will have a different narrative with which to counter the cultural beliefs when they encounter them.

Filed under: Parenting — Tags: , , , , , , — Annie @ 5:36 pm

Be Confident iPad app give away

April 12, 2011

Our iPad app, "Be Confident in Who You Are: A Middle School Confidential™ Graphic Novel"

UPDATE: 4/13 Thank you to all who entered the Be Confident app Give-Away! Congratulations to our 2 winners: Himabindu Tummuru and Jeanne Demers!


For today only, in honor of my birthday and my 10,000th tweet I’m giving away 2 FREE copies of our new iPad app for 4th-8th graders: Be Confident in Who You Are: A Middle School Confidential™ Graphic Novel.

NOTE: This give-away is for iPad only. If you’ve got an iPhone (but no iPad) and long for the Be Confident app, hold that thought! In a few weeks we’ll be releasing a universal version that will work on iPad and iPhone/iPod.

SIMPLE CONTEST RULES: Recall a time when you crossed over from self-doubt to CONFIDENT. Use 140 characters or less to describe when you became AWESOME even if only for a moment. Tweet* it to @Annie_Fox Contest ends at 10 AM PDT on April 13th.

*If you don’t have a twitter account send your 140 character (or less) entry to me

Thanks and good luck!


It was all about defying gravity

April 10, 2011

Be Confident in Who You Are: A Middle School Confidential™ Graphic Novel

Our iPad app for 8- 14-year-olds, "Be Confident in Who You Are: A Middle School Confidential™ Graphic Novel"

April 1st was a pretty exciting day around here. Our first kids’ story app for iPad went live in the iTune App Store. Note: If my parents were alive they’d have no idea what that last sentence meant but they’d be enormously proud anyway which is what we all need from Mom and Dad, right?

The app’s based on Book 1 of my Middle School Confidential series. It’s called Be Confident in Who You Are: A Middle School Confidential™ Graphic Novel. If you’ve got a 4th-8th grader in your life buy it for him/her. They’ll really like. The art is stellar. The story’s totally engaging. And most important, this app is actually about something — like figuring out how to fit in with other kids and still feel good about yourself. It’s also about dealing with bullies, self-doubt, friendship issues and choices that reflect who you really are vs. who you pretend to be. In other words, this awesome, full-color comic book app (with wall-to-wall sound effects and music) is about life as our 21st century kids are living it right now.

I haven’t been a tween for a century and I’m not even the parent of one any more. And yet I know what our kids struggle with every day because over the past 14 years thousands of them have emailed me asking for help.

I often wonder how people get their big creative ideas. Maybe you’re wondering where my idea for Middle School Confidential came from. Maybe you’re not. I’ll tell you anyway.  It came to me in June 2002 as I sat in a San Francisco theater watching a performance of Wicked.  In case you don’t know this Tony award-winning musical by the brilliant Stephen Schwartz, it’s about friendship and popularity, hanging on to personal integrity in the face of ugly rumors and smear tactics. Sounds like politics or…middle school!  During the 1st act finale Elphaba (aka The Wicked Witch of the West) sings “Defying Gravity.” The lyrics are worth reading carefully:

Something has changed within me
Something is not the same
I’m tired of playing by the rules of someone else’s game
Too late for second guessing
Too late to go back to sleep
It’s time to trust my instincts
Close my eyes… and leap
I’d sooner try defying gravity
Kiss me goodbye I’m defying gravity
And you can’t pull me down.
I’m through accepting limits
Cause someone says they’re so
Some things I cannot change
But till I try I’ll never know
Too long I’ve been afraid of
Losing love – I guess I’ve lost
Well, if that’s love
It comes at much too high a cost…
So if you care to find me
Look to the western sky
As someone told me lately –
Everyone deserves the chance to fly
And if I’m flying solo
At least I’m flying free
To those who’d ground me
Take a message back from me…
Tell them how I
Am defying gravity!
I’m flying high’
Defying gravity!
And soon I’ll match them in renown
And nobody in all of Oz
No wizard that there is or was
Is ever gonna bring me down!

Defying Gravity

At that moment this incredibly radiant, powerful, totally misunderstood young woman literally rises above her tormentors… and flies away. I sit there, thunderstruck… weeping, awed by this display of courage and self-respect. A bolt of insight explodes within my head and heart and I know something I didn’t know when I walked in the theater – I need to encourage middle school kids to fly. I know that they, more than any other age group, hold themselves back by “accepting limits cause someone says they’re so.” As the lights come up signaling intermission I stay seated, fully aware that I will write a book encouraging kids to defy gravity because without some serious help it can be too painful and difficult for them to grow up healthy and loving.

Of course many tweens stumble through 6th, 7th and 8th grade without special help. They survive then promptly try to forget the pain of those years. But so many others need an anti-gravity boost now.  My books can provide that. So can this spanking new app. It can help a kid become her own best friend. Teach him about self-respect so he can learn to respect others. Give them more confidence to grow up to be thoughtful, compassionate young adults. If you don’t have an iPad, don’t worry! The iPhone/iPod version of “Be Confident” is coming soon.


What other people think

April 5, 2011

That doesn't bother me... much

Tweens and teens are famously self-conscious around their peers. The risk of falling short of what’s “cool” can be so intimidating it’s a wonder they crawl out of the sack and get themselves to school. Each day 160,000 American kids don’t bother. They can’t deal with the judgement, put-downs and out-and-out cruelty from other students so they stay home.

I know at least one adult who also wrestles with self-doubts. Before I leave the house for a speaking gig,  I stress over my hair and what I’m wearing, especially when I’m presenting to middle schoolers. I try on a half dozen different tops, pants, earrings in an attempt to look cooler. I know it’s a total crap shoot and I’m sure I often fail miserably, but I make the effort because I want the kids to accept me. Kinda sweet and kinda pathetic too.

Why does it matter so much what other people think? Well, as a species we’re programed to try to get other folks to like us. We’re not the fiercest beasts in the jungle so we need to team up to survive. A team works for the mutual benefit of all members only if those members are on good terms.

And so, throughout the millennia, we’ve become skilled at decoding each other’s micro-expressions – fleeting facial indications of fear, disgust, surprise, approval, etc. When we see disapproval, it’s time to back-pedal… quick!

For example, suppose we’re chatting and I say, “Wow! Last night for dinner we had the best steamed okra.” I’m about to add, “You’ve gotta try this recipe!” But before I do, I detect a Yuck expression flit across your face. Uh-oh…  I offended you. I’m in trouble! If you vote to kick me off the team my survival’s at stake. I’ve gotta figure a fast, face-saving move. I’ve got it! “Of course, not everyone likes okra…” I say with a charming smile. You nod and smile back. Phew! That was close!

I created this quiz to help kids start thinking about all this. Share it with your child. Take it yourself. Food for thought. Tastier than okra.


  1. If my friends think something is funny, I’ll laugh even if I don’t get the joke. True/False
  2. The worst thing is to do something embarrassing in front of people. T/F
  3. If everyone’s seen a movie but me, I’ll say I saw it. T/F
  4. If my parents think something’s a “good” idea, I’m suspicious. T/F
  5. I hate making decisions cause it sucks to be wrong. T/F
  6. I’m never the first person to give my opinion. T/F
  7. I’ve dropped out of an activity I liked because none of my friends were into it. T/F
  8. It’s risky to say how you really feel. T/F
  9. If someone makes fun of what I’m wearing, I won’t wear it again. T/F
  10. If my friends think something’s cool, I’ll try it even if I’m not sure I’ll like it. T/F

7-10 Trues: You worry what others think and it brings you down.With a boost in self-confidence and support from family and friends, you’ll trust yourself more and enjoy being you.

3-6 Trues: Sometimes it’s hard for you to stand up for yourself, but when you do it feels good. You’re getting better all the time at being your own person.

0-2 Trues: You hardly ever worry what others think because you’re self-confident and have a lot of self-respect. You may not know it, but people respect you for who you are.

*Excerpted from Be Confident in Who You Are, Book 1 of my Middle School Confidential series. Just released as a graphic novel iPad app (for ages 8-14) and now available from iTunes.

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