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 my children taught me

May 26, 2011

Oh, what fun to be a mom!

Every year on my birthday my daughter and son each write me a thoughtfully worded letter expressing how they feel having me as their mother. Touched I read their acknowledgement of what I’ve taught them and how I’ve shaped them. Of course I blubber through it all. They think I cry because their words are so beautiful and I’m a sucker for sentiment (both true). But mostly I weep over the Bigger Picture of one generation doing its best to raise the level of humanity through the next. I read my kids’ letters and see myself doing what I do because I’m a parent, and like all parents, it’s what I’m here for. The eternal dance is awesome. How can I not cry?

Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, graduations and weddings all offer opportunities to acknowledge parents. These messages of thanks are as important for children to articulate as they are for Mom and Dad to hear. But every relationship is a two-way street and we rarely hear expressions of gratitude flowing in the other direction. Which is why I want to take this time to thank my daughter and my son for some of the many things they’ve taught me.

My daughter has taught me that she is not me and that her way of doing things is not my way. Different doesn’t need fixing just because it’s different. From this lesson I’ve learned that other people have their own way of responding to the world. When I allow myself to be open-minded and respectful there is much I can learn from their ways. I can even change my way of doing things if someone else’s works better.

My son has taught me that it’s good sport and a great mental workout to explore all sides of an argument. From this I’ve learned that when you can understand someone else’s point of view well enough to take that side and advocate for it (even if you don’t necessarily agree with it) then you can learn some important things about the way others perceive the world… and how they perceive you!

My daughter has taught me that fun can be had in pretty much any situation. You just bring your imagination and your sense of play. From this I’ve learned you don’t need a reason to tweak the ordinary into the extraordinary or the outlandish. Weird is it’s own reward. If it amuses you and brings a smile, that’s reason enough. So why not?

My son has taught me that talking about people in unkind ways isn’t the best use of anyone’s time or intellect. It’s hurtful and habit-forming. From this I’ve learned to watch my mouth and remember that just because I’ve thought of something smart, sarcastic or clever doesn’t mean I need to say it.

My daughter has taught me that organizing your time and your life helps you do more of what you want. It also helps you feel good about what you’ve accomplished. From this I’ve learned that you don’t have to choose between being creative and being efficient. You can be efficiently creative. You can also be creative in your efficiency.

My son has taught me that listening is a skill worth developing. From this I’ve learned that most words are superficial. When you want people to take you seriously they’re more likely to do so when you listen more and talk less. Also when you do speak you should always come from a caring place.

My daughter has taught me that setting boundaries is a good thing. From this I’ve learned that telling other people what you need makes it more likely that you’ll get it. You’ll also find out sooner rather than later whether someone is willing and/or able to be the kind of friend you want. If not, lower your expectations and you won’t be disappointed.

My son has taught me that everyone deserves respect as does their time and their endeavors. From this I’ve learned that just because I’ve got something I want done now doesn’t mean that my desires are a top priority for everyone else. And so I’ve learned patience from this one too.

My daughter has taught me there is great satisfaction and sense of accomplishment from going outside your comfort zone physically and emotionally.

My son has taught me that staying calm is usually the first step to resolving an unexpected challenge.

My daughter has taught me that accesorizing is fun because if life is a stage then the body is a canvas.

My daughter and son have helped me realize that being their mom is truly an amazing honor. Like, the best. Thanks so much, guys. I am eternally grateful.

 

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Guest blogger: Bullying and Siblings

May 16, 2011

by Suzanna Narducci

Suzanna Narducci is an avid tweeter, blogger and co-founder of TweenParent.com. She’s always been fascinated by the evolution of an idea into a successful business. After an interesting but intense run in the fashion business, Suzanna decided to switch gears and become a mother. As Suzanna’s children grew, she realized that a reliable and consolidated resource for parents of pre-teens was missing in the marketplace. Suzanna shared her idea with her friend and now business partner, Judy King-Murray, and TweenParent.com was born. We’re so glad that it was!

Give it back you little @#$%!

At some point in their lives, most kids experience bullying of some type – whether it is in school, in the neighborhood, online or another social situation. The truth is most kids will not only be bullied, but will also harass other kids. For parents, the challenge is how to help their children develop the social skills they need to positively assert themselves in negative situations.

Fortunately, what children learn at home is transferable to their outside interactions. In a study published by the British Journal of Developmental Psychology, Dr. Ersilia Menesini and her colleagues at the Universita’ degi Studi di Firenze found that there was a direct correlation between sibling bullying and victimization and bullying and victimization at school. In short, the roles kids play out at home are likely to be reenacted with peers. According to the study, the children in families with high levels of conflict and low levels of empathy were at greatest risk. In light of these results, Dr. Menesini recommends that parents actively mediate when their kids start arguing.

Of course, it is normal for brothers and sisters to argue. However, parents can help their children learn to move forward in conflicts in a way that is not hurtful by actively teaching them skills to gain empathy while positively asserting their feelings. Here are some suggestions to help parents teach their tweens how to resolve arguments in a positive way.

 

  • Listen and Reflect. Expect your kids to listen to each other’s point of view. Teach them to repeat back what they’ve heard from each other and explain why they think that their siblings feel the way that they do. They don’t have to agree, just understand.
  • Avoid the Blame Game. Talk about how each person contributed to the situation, rather than placing blame. Start sentences with “I felt” rather than “you did,” to dissipate defensiveness.
  • House Rules. Name calling, belittling, undermining and teasing by anyone in the family is not only hurtful, but also damaging to a child’s self-esteem. Kids begin to believe that negative comments that are consistently repeated about them – even in jest or teasing — are true.
  • Keep Perspective. Developing a healthy relationship between siblings takes time. The end goal is to help your kids learn both how to constructively express their feelings and develop a better understanding of their siblings’ feelings. This won’t happen overnight, but by feeling that their needs are also being considered to resolve conflict, they will gain confidence and, hopefully, experience less aggression.

If all goes well, your kids will not only develop the skills they need to help them in their social lives at home and beyond, but will also recognize that this type of interaction is healthy and normal will help them have emotionally fulfilling and trusting relationships as adults.

 

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Teens: I’ve got a bf but he doesn’t act like one!

May 12, 2011

Didn't sign up for this!

It’s spring. Nature’s juices are flowing all around us… and inside us too. If you’re single and wish you weren’t and all that flowing juice isn’t enough to remind you how much you want a bf/gf, let’s add Prom to the mix!

If your top priority is getting a bf/gf , it may seem like your school is packed with lovey-dovey couples. The sight or the sound of them (talking endlessly about each other) may be enough to make you wanna scream, barf or cry.

If you have a bf/gf (w/the added status boost that comes with it) you probably don’t want to lose them. That’s why t(w)eens in relationships often try to ignore the bad stuff and convince themselves things are cool even when that little voice inside screams “I’m not happy!” Your Inner Voice knows you better than Mom. Ignoring its messages rarely helps a situation.

I just got this email from a girl who doesn’t seem to trust her Inner Voice, which is why she turned to me for a second opinion. What do you think of the opinion I gave her?

Hey Annie,

Me and this boy are together but he doesn’t call me and that makes me cry. I need help. What should I do?

Confused

______________________

Hi Confused,

It sounds like you and your bf have different ideas about what it means to be “together.” You’re unhappy because he’s not paying as much attention as you want. Have you talked to him about it? You might say something like, “I want you to call me every day.” (Or however often you think he should be calling.) Of course, telling him straight-up what you want is no guarantee that he’ll change his behavior.

The real question is: Does this guy want to be with you as much as you want to be with him? You deserve that level of interest from a boyfriend… but you can’t force someone to care about you. If he doesn’t want you, dry your tears, move on and find someone who treats you better. If you keep putting up with less than what you want, you’re sending him a message that says, “I don’t deserve any better than this from a boyfriend, so keep on ignoring me and I’ll keep putting up with it.”

If that’s not the message you want him to get, then tell him what you really mean.

I hope this helps.

In friendship,

Annie

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