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.

A question of broken trust

March 28, 2017

At 36% approval rating, Trump is at a historic low for a POTUS in office less than 100 days. People don’t trust the guy, for lots of good reasons. Consequently, I’ve been focused for months on what’s going on in our government. Blogging about anything but politics feels less important than being part of the resistance. Of course, I’m still responding daily to teen email from around the world, as I’ve done for the past 20 years. For teens, there are no political crises. What threatens a teen’s world is an upended peer relationship. Nothing catastrophic on a national or global scale, but still deserving of compassion and attention.

Like this one:

Without trust all sense of safety is gone.

Without trust all sense of safety is gone.

Teen: I used to be friends with these boys until I started bullying them. I’d make fun of them everyday, move their stuff, occasionally resort to violence. I did it to feel in control. I don’t do it any more and I want to be friends with them again. My best friend is now friends with them and I’m jealous. One of the boys ignores me and sometimes says rude things to me. On one hand I did the same sort of thing to him, but on the other hand, I hate it and I don’t want him to end up being mean to everybody, because of how I treated him.

I’m probably overthinking this because I always overthink everything. Can you give  me any advice?

Annie: You’re not “overthinking” it. This demands a lot of thinking, so I’m proud of you for putting in the time and for reaching out for advice. I’m also impressed that you stopped harassing these boys. What made you stop?

Teen: Because I lost my best friend. He was the only male friend I’ve ever had who really understood me, so when we stopped being friends I started to think about what I was doing and what I hoped to achieve through putting others down and bullying them.

Annie: Have you apologized to each of them?

Teen: Yes, except for the one who ignores me/is mean to me. I don’t really know what to say to him. I feel like even if I did apologize to him, it wouldn’t make a difference.

Annie: Here’s what I know about apologies: for the hurt person to truly let go of those hurt feelings, you (the hurter) need to dig deep. “I’m sorry” is a start, but maybe not enough, depending on what you did. The boy who “ignores” you does not trust you. And you can understand why. You can’t trust someone who bullies you, so you don’t feel safe around them. You don’t believe their words. You can’t count on them, as a real friend. Trust is the key to all healthy relationships (friendships and romantic relationships). The question is: How do you regain someone’s trust after you’ve betrayed him? Think about it this way, if the situation were reversed, what would you need in addition to an apology?

If a friend had been harassing you, what would you need in addition to “I’m sorry”? What would it take for you to trust him and feel 100% safe with him again?

Teen: I’m not sure to be honest. They’d need to prove they were trustworthy and weren’t just going to start the bullying again.

Annie: I agree. Someone who betrays a friend needs to “prove” they are trustworthy and not just apologizing only to start the harassment again.

Teen: But don’t boys think extremely differently? I don’t know if any of them think about when I bullied them. I don’t even know if any of them want to be friends again. What if they’ve just forgotten about it completely and I’m just overreacting?

Annie: I don’t believe that boys think “extremely differently” when it comes to friendship and trust. Some boys may show their feelings differently than some girls. Boys may not talk about the “bully” behind his/her back, the way girls tend to do. But when trust is broken, boys are not likely to “just forget.” Humans have very long memories, and for a good reason. If you are punched and kicked by a close friend and you “forget” and continue the friendship, it’s very likely you will be punched and kicked again… or worse. No, boys don’t “forget.” But they may pretend that it doesn’t bother them.

You said something important… a friend who bullies need to “prove” that it’s never going to happen again. Your goal, moving forward, is to figure out how to prove you’re truly sorry and that you are someone who can be trusted 100%. HINT: We prove things by our behavior.

Good luck and let me know how it goes.

 

---------

A day for yourself, Mom.

March 1, 2017

Our kids don’t live with us any more. Here’s how that happened: We fed and watered them regularly and eventually they bypassed childhood, graduated from here and there, and outgrew their need for under-the-same-roof parents. It happens. It’s a good thing for them and for us. If you’ve taught your children well, believe me when I say that it’s beyond cool to witness them as young adults, living their own lives and making choices that reflect well on them and… yeah, on you, too.

If your kids currently live with you, they probably depend on you for… a zillion things every day. The tangible stuff and the emotional support and encouragement. Even as you teach them to become more self-reliant, and they slowly become just that, you still have a lot going on being a parent. And hopefully, you enjoy most of it. Not all the time, of course. Like our tweens and teens, we also have our own needs and moods. And sometimes we just don’t feel like cooperating.

When parenting isn’t so much fun, it might help to remind yourself that this phase is only a temp job. (See paragraph one.) Another helpful tip: Take a day off occasionally. Leave the kids and go do something that you love. If you can’t swing a whole day off yet, then how about a couple of hours? Still not doable? How about an hour? You deserve it. And more to the point, you need it to maintain your sanity, your connection to your dreams (Remember those?) and your sense of who you are beyond “Emma’s Mom.”

I took such a day on Sunday. Went, by myself, to the Palace of the Legion of Honor, one of San Francisco’s fine arts museums. I got in for free because my kids bought me a membership for my birthday. It’s really nice when people know you well enough to know what you love.

The current special exhibit: Monet the Early Years. It is spectacular. But I won’t bother describing what I saw and why it moved me so. Art may not be your thing. Let me just show you this painting that Monet called The Magpie. He did it because he wanted to challenge himself to paint a snow scene. How does one depict snow on a white canvas? Beats me, but I’d say he nailed it.

The Magpie (1869) Oil on Canvass by Claude Monet

The Magpie (1869) Oil on Canvass by Claude Monet

We can all benefit from challenging ourselves. Especially if we want to help our kids do the same. Create a challenge. Go ahead. Let your kids in on what you’re working towards. Let them see how you deal with obstacles, mistakes, frustration, progress, achievement. Give them an opportunity to support and encourage you, for a change.

Enjoy… in joy.

 

Filed under: Parenting — Tags: , , , — Annie @ 4:57 pm
---------
Find Annie Fox: Find Annie on Facebook Find Annie on Twitter Find Annie on Pinterest Find Annie on YouTube Find Annie on Google+ Find Annie on LinkedIn Find Annie on Goodreads Find Annie on Quora