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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.

Teaching Kids to Be Good People

January 17, 2012


I’m writing my first book for adults since Armchair BASIC. It’s called: Teaching Kids to Be Good People. It will be available as an eBook in September.

Since one person’s “good” might be another person’s “Are you kidding me?!” I knew I needed to be precise from the onset. So I asked my twitter followers, plus many of my most thoughtful friends, colleagues and family members “How do you define a ‘good’ person?”

Lots of intriguing and insightful responses galloped my way and I’m grateful. My plan is to dissect each one… all in good time. But at the moment, I’m focused on forgiveness.

That’s an aspect of “goodness” I hadn’t considered. Probably says something about me. I mean, I have overstayed my welcome at the Self-Pity Party, ahem… once or twice. So when one especially kind-hearted friend offered me this nugget: “A good person is forgiving”,  like a dog and a flying tennis ball, I was on it. Thinking. Thinking. Thinking.

  • What does it mean to be forgiving?
  • How do you actually forgive someone? Which muscle do you relax or clench?
  • What’s the connection between forgiving and forgetting? Are they mutually exclusive?
  • What might you gain by holding on to your resentment? Anger? Self-righteous indignation?
  • What might you lose?
  • Why is it so $#*@ hard to permanently unplug a memory that continues to wound each time you project it onto your mental movie screen?

These are open ended questions, my friends. I don’t know any useful answers… yet. Love to hear your thoughts.

fyi, in the next 6 months, I’ll be talking about teaching kids to be good people at the 18th Annual Character Education Conference in St. Louis, the INTASE Educators’ Conference in Singapore, and at the 19th National Forum on Character Education in Washington, DC.


UPDATE 3:13 pm Today (9/14/12): The book is finished! And I’ve had only enthusiastic early reviews, including these:

  • “Annie Fox has a genuine passion for helping our young people and she has many years of experience doing it. Both are evident in this wonderful resource for parents and teachers. It’s full of insight, wisdom, good stories, and most important – practical advice. I highly recommend it for anyone wanting to help our kids become good people.” –Dr. Hal Urban, author of Life’s Greatest Lessons and 20 Gifts of Life
  • I can’t express enough how much I love Annie’s work. Having worked in this field for so long, it becomes increasingly difficult to read new thoughts and ideas. Every time I read something of Annie’s, it makes me think. She writes about subjects with such compassion, insight and practicality that you can’t help but love all that she does. Great book-a great job Annie!” –Sarah Newton, author of Help! My Teenager is an Alien!
  • “Another work of magic from what I have come to know as a master in the field. Sharing actual scenarios and follow up ideas, helps to keep readers connected to Annie’s ideas in a way that most parenting books fail to do.” –Joe Bruzzese, author of A Parents’ Guide to the Middle School Years and Founder of, the online bully reporting system
  • “Finding positive, empathetic role models is often difficult but this wonderfully practical and warm hearted eBook is a great place to start. It will empower parents with some really helpful suggestions and ideas that will help you to navigate the choppy emotional waters of raising great adults.” –Sue Atkins, author of Parenting Made Easy – How to Raise Happy Children

This early feedback, especially coming from these excellent parent educators, has touched and encouraged me. The book is done, so what am I waiting for? Nothing, except to finalize the cover design. That won’t take long. As promised, before the sun sets on the last day of September 2012,  Teaching Kids to Be Good People, will be available to everyone interested in raising young adults of good heart and mind. If you’d like to receive an announcement when the book is available, shoot me an email and I’ll let you know… personally.


UPDATE (10/3/12): I’m very pleased (and excited) to announce Teaching Kids to Be Good People is now available in print and also on Kindle. Here’s an excerpt from the introduction:

We parent-educators are gardeners. We plant seeds and offer nurturing lessons that our kids can internalize. But we are not our children’s only influencers. By re-dedicating ourselves to teaching our kids to be good people, we provide them with the tools to do the right thing while we’re right there beside them and when they’re on their own. Whether they actually do it, is their choice. But at least we’ll know we’ve done our part well.

To help on our parenting journey, I’ve written this very personal and pragmatic guide that includes essays, podcasts, prompts, tools, questions, answers and self-assessment quizzes all for the purpose of teaching kids to be good people. How do you define a “good person?” That’s what I wanted to find out, so I posted the question and received hundreds of answers. Eight words kept reappearing:  Emotional intelligence, ethics, help, forgiveness, compassion, empathy, tolerance and social courage — all essential, teachable skills. This book will help you teach them to your children or students. Hopefully, we’ll become so engaged in this process that our teaching will inspire all of our children to become part of the solution.

Look for an announcement next month! In the meantime, if you’d like a personal email when the Teaching Kids to Be Good People is available, let me know.



  1. You’ve got me thinking too.
    I’m not sure that I really know what forgiveness is.
    I do know that I know how to “Let it go ” surrender those feelings of resentment , hurt , anger.
    I don’t forget facts but “letting go” takes care of the potential damage they can do. Not forgetting does mean remembering and now that I think of it , it is a certain barrier between me & the offender.
    I think it’s probably okay- maybe even wise in some cases to hold onto the memory & let go of the resentment.

    Comment by ChayaGallery — January 17, 2012 @ 1:23 pm

  2. Forgiveness is a strange thing. I can 98% of the time forgive easily because to me, life is too short not to and most of the time, I just don’t care that much and time makes it easy to forget. However, there have been 2 times in my life where I struggle with forgiving someone who has “done me wrong”. It’s hard, it eats at you and personally it is so hard, because I was so blindsided by it and just didn’t see it coming. It takes for me to come to an understanding of why the person acted the way they did. I may not agree with how they acted, but I can understand it from their view. I forgive too easily sometimes too, when I hear that others would not, but for me, it comes to truly understanding their side. Like I said, there are still 2 times in my life where I just can’t understand and I am still waiting for that understanding to come. Maybe it will come, maybe it won’t, but for me I can’t forgive until I have that understanding. Hope this helps and wasn’t to rambly!!! 🙂

    Comment by Sue Robinson — January 17, 2012 @ 4:11 pm

  3. Forgive. A few letters strung together that, in my experience and opinion, spell the difference between living freely and fully as your best self or being imprisoned by someone who hurt you in the past and who you continue allowing to hurt you.

    Comment by Patti Mallett — January 17, 2012 @ 7:46 pm

  4. Interesting timing of this post for me. I have been spending time recently revisiting deep old hurts and wondering how to get past them. Forgiving, to me, means letting go and releasing myself from the power of the pain/harm done to me. It does not mean letting those people back in to my life. In some cases, when offenders are family, cutting them out isn’t easy. In those cases I think the growth piece comes from setting boundaries and sticking to them. Not an easy thing, forgiveness.

    Comment by Corinne — January 18, 2012 @ 9:51 am

  5. I believe forgiveness is important, but it is rarely easy. My daughter and I are both still working on forgiving those who hurt her through bullying and misunderstandings including misdiagnosis. Still, it is vital since anger consumes the person who is angry, it does not consume those with whom we are angry. I believe anger has purpose if you turn it into positive action, but even then, you can get stuck if you fail to forgive.

    I have so many posts on the topic that I would be glad to share with you. You can stop my blog anytime to look at them. I have them organized under a page titled Forgiveness and Gratitude.

    Just let me know if you decide to use any of them.

    Comment by D. S. Walker — January 23, 2012 @ 8:29 pm

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