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.

Sweetie, it’s time for The Talk

February 28, 2014

I wanna hold you hand and...

I wanna hold your hand and…

Friday is Family Confidential day. Before you race over and check out my latest podcast (Having “The Talk” with Tweens with Marlene Mahurin, co-founder of the online parent-tween sex education course, Time for the Talk) let me  tell you why I wanted to interview a sex educator.

I’ve been answering teen email questions for almost 17 years. A lot of them are about sex. Like these:

  • All of my friends have their periods except me. What’s wrong with me??
  • Does having sex make your breasts bigger?
  • Can you get pregnant swallowing cum?
  • This girl and I didn’t expect to have sex, but it just sort of happened. Is it possible she might be pregnant?
  • My best friend who has been like a brother to me just told me that he is gay. I was shocked and just got up and left. I don’t know what to say to him.
  • My bf and me are 14 and we’ve already been dating for two years. I’m ready to have sex with him but all my friends are saying no and I’m not ready. I feel like I’m ready. What should I do?
  • My friend is eleven, started her period and might have had unprotected sex with her boyfriend. She says she’s pregnant and I am worried if she keeps the baby she may not know how to be healthy when you’re pregnant.
  • My mom walked in on me playing down there. She’s been real mean to me since then. She calls me a slut and a whore. I tell her that I’m not having sex or anythings, but she doesn’t believe me.

They say, “What you don’t know can’t hurt you.” That might be true, occasionally, but when it comes to teens, what they don’t know about sex, puberty, sexual orientation, can and often does hurt them.

Your kids are getting a sex education all the time, from the media, the internet and their clueless friends. It’s probably not be the education you want for them. Do yourself and your kids a favor, listen to the podcast, Having the Talk with Tweens. so you can feel more comfortable talking to your kids about sex.

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It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood… or is it?

February 25, 2014

Please won't you be my neighbor?

Please won’t you be my neighbor?

Marin County, where this story takes place, has the lowest violent crime rate of all nine San Francisco Bay Area counties. It also ranks 4th lowest in violent crime amongst all 58 California counties. You’ll need this for context. When folks in Marin have an issue with someone, we hash it out over organic Genmaicha tea down at the gluten-free bakery. Get the picture? Marin is a chill place. Which is why the little girl’s reaction to my friendly “Good morning” was such a shocker. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

On the sunny morning in question, I strolled my neighborhood and crossed paths with a five year old and her dad. I said “Good morning” to the father who stopped, smiled warmly and said, “Hey! How’s it going?” (Which is Marin for “Hi”) The two were obviously coming from the school down the hill, so I said to the girl, “Do you go to school at Brookside?” She looked down at her shoes and tightened her grip on her dad’s hand. Dad chuckled and informed me that his daughter is “kinda shy.” I didn’t think much of it and said to him, “My kids went to Brookside. It’s a nice school.” Dad agreed and started to tell me how his daughter was enjoying kindergarten. At that point the little girl yanked her father’s hand and said, “You’re not supposed to talk to strangers.” He seemed embarrassed but continued our conversation. “Yes, Ms. Hillson is a terrific teach… ” But he couldn’t finish because his daughter frantically pulled on his arm and tried dragging him away, all the while screaming, “Don’t talk to strangers, Daddy!!Don’t talk to strangers!!!”

She kept carrying on, pulling Dad along like a bad dog. He followed (lest his arm be severed from his body), but not before glancing back and giving me a helpless look.

Wow! I thought. That kid seriously needs some green tea and a yoga class. She’s obviously been indoctrinated into the “Stranger Danger” mindset to the degree that she believes everyone she doesn’t know is a lethal threat. She also doesn’t trust her dad can a) take care of himself and b) take care of her.

Walking on, I felt so sorry for the child and wondered what kids miss when they no longer have friendly encounters with neighbors.

A moment later another five year old girl appeared walking with her mom up the hill from the school (I do write fiction, but I swear I didn’t make this up.) Undeterred, I said, “Good morning” to the mom. At which point Little Girl#2 smiled brightly and said, ‘I go to Brookside School. I’m in kindergarten. Today my teacher read us Sylvester and the Magic Pebble. Do you know that story? It’s about a donkey who turns into a rock. It’s kinda sad but then his parents make a wish and he turns back into himself again. Then they have a party. Do you have kids? Do they go to Brookside?”

Her mom laughed, delighted  her little girl was so confident and friendly.

I was delighted by her too. My kind of neighbor. We stopped and chatted for a while. I told her about a few other books she and her mom might enjoy together. Then we waved goodbye.

So what do you tell your children about strangers? I get that not everyone lives in a place like Marin, but what’s the right balance to strike when you teach kids about taking care of themselves when they are on their own and around people they don’t know?

Filed under: Helicopter Parents,Parenting — Tags: , , — Annie @ 3:53 pm
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Integrity is worth more than Olympic gold

February 20, 2014

Terrible violence is happening in Kiev as the Ukrainian government (closely aligned with Moscow) comes down hard on protestors who want closer ties to Europe. According to CNN (reporting information from “the protesters’ medical service”) the current death toll may be as high as 100 civilians with another 500 wounded.

Ukrainian skier Bogdana Matsotska (Graham Dunbar/AP)

Ukrainian skier Bogdana Matsotska (Graham Dunbar/AP)

Today, two members of the Ukrainian Olympic team, Alpine skier Bogdana Matsotska and her father and coach Oleg Matsotskyy, withdrew from the Games in support of the protestors and returned home.

“We wanted to wear black armbands to mourn the people who have died in Kiev, but the IOC told us it was not allowed,” Bogdana said. “In these conditions it is simply not possible to compete. We don’t feel comfortable here and we can’t compete.” Her father wrote on his Facebook page that he and his daughter were returning home “…in solidarity with the fighters on the barricades… and as a protest against lawless actions made towards protesters, the lack of responsibility from the side of the president and his lackey government, we refuse further performance at the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games.”

I greatly admire them both for prioritizing the well-being of their countrymen over a chance to win a gold medal.

Teachable Moment: The choices we make in life define who we are.

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When you go for Gold there’s no quitting allowed, but for the rest of us…

February 18, 2014

 

Perfection

Perfection

I don’t know a thing about the parents of Olympic Gold Medalists Meryl Davis and Charlie White, except of course, that they’ve gotta be crazy proud of their kids. It’s also safe to assume, because the two began skating together as young children, that they had tons of parental support. Did either their moms or dads pressure them to skate or push them to compete when the “kids” didn’t want to? I have no clue, but I do know that if Meryl and Charlie had hung up their skates at any time during the past 17 years, they wouldn’t have been in Sochi last night, thrilling us all with their exquisite and perfectly skated long program.

A few years back when Amy Chua was making the rounds with her controversial parenting guide, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom, I was asked by the folks at Education.com to participate in a Tiger Mom Debate by writing a response to this question: “Should kids be allowed to quit?” If you really knew me, you’d probably not be surprised that I opted to debate for  “yes” with qualifications. For example, parents should  require children to commit to their new activity for a reasonable trail period.  When our daughter was in 3rd grade, she excitedly announced  she wanted to play the violin. We rented an instrument and signed her up for a 3-month package of semi-private lessons. Three months to the day she excitedly announced she was ready to quit. We said “Fine.” and threw out our special set of Practice Time earplugs.

The Olympics are inspiring lots of kids to try something new. Skiing, skating, snowboarding. (Curling?!) When kids are up for exploring a new activity parents should encourage and support them, provided the challenges are age-appropriate and the risks aren’t unacceptably high – as in “Mom, I want to join the crocodile wrestling team!”

Teachable Moments: If your kid has big dreams (or any size dream) encourage him or her to go for it. Provide a realistic sense of the work involved. If they give it a shot and decide “This isn’t for me” praise their effort and breathe through any of your own disappointment. Remember, your kids’ dreams have to be their own, not yours.

 

 

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