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.

My interview with Glennon Melton the truth-teller

May 30, 2014

How come all conversations aren't this full of life?

How come all conversations aren’t this full of life?

I first heard about Glennon Melton (@Momastery) on Twitter. One link led to another, as so many do, and I found myself watching, no devouring her very funny, poignant, smart TedX talk.

I immediately reached out for a review copy of her book Carry On, Warrior: The power of embracing your messy, beautiful life because I love freebies and I actually wanted to get inside this woman’s head some more. I read the book in like two days. Laughed (a lot), thought (a lot), and cried (a bit).  I was hooked on this flamboyant, authentic writer who’s got something special going on. I can say that with authenticity because I read a lot of parenting books. (Shameless plug alert! Why yes, I have written one myself. Thank you so much for asking.) But how can anyone resist a book with delicious sentences and paragraphs like these?

The other night at dinner, Craig and I demanded that the kids clean their plates even though dinner was, admittedly, gross. One nanosecond before this suggestion was made, we were laughing, talking about Daddy’s day at work, planning our upcoming weekend, and generally feeling like a lovely, well-adjusted family. Then–ambushed by ourselves again–there was crying, screaming, heads banging on tables. Immediate anarchy. Instant chaos.

My first instinct is to remember that yes, this chaos is proof that I have ruined my life and the lives of everyone in my home and that we are a disaster of a family and that no mother, in the entire history of mothers, has ever been forced to endure the drama, decibels, and general suffering of this moment. My instinct is to tear my clothes and throw myself on the floor and bawl and cry out worthless declarations like, “I can’t TAKE this anymore!” My first instinct is to allow my anxiety and angst to pour out like gasoline on a raging fire and indulge in a full-on mommy meltdown.

This, Craig suggests, is not helpful.

I, for one, could not resist. Nope. Especially not after reading that last sentence. And apparently a bunch of other sisters of another mother couldn’t either as Carry on, Warrior is now a New York Times bestseller. (Way to go, Glennon!)

So I just had to interview Glennon for my Family Confidential podcast. I did and, oh Momma, did we have a blast. You can listen in here.

 

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Every voice deserves to be heard

April 7, 2014

 

Let me spell it out for you

Let me spell it out for you

It’s Autism Awareness Month and organizations like Autism Speaks do a tremendous job in the areas of education, research funding, and providing resources for families. A couple of years ago, at this time of year, I was on a quest to learn more when I heard about Carly’s Voice : Breaking Through Autism by Arthur Fleischmann.  I read the synopsis: “At the age of two, Carly Fleischmann was diagnosed with severe autism and an oral motor condition that prevented her from speaking. Doctors predicted that she would never intellectually develop beyond the abilities of a small child. Although she made some progress after years of intensive behavioral and communication therapy, Carly remained largely unreachable. Then, at the age of ten, she had a breakthrough.

While working with her devoted therapists Howie and Barb, Carly reached over to their laptop and typed in “HELP TEETH HURT,” much to everyone’s astonishment. This was the beginning of Carly’s journey toward self-realization.”

I was hooked, got my hands on the book and read it in three days. All I could think was, “Wow! There goes a whole bunch of assumptions about autism.” I was blown away by Carly’s intelligence, her wit, and her drive to communicate and be understood. I was also touched and inspired by her father’s relentless commitment to connect with her. I had to learn more about the story behind this story. I wanted to interview Arthur Fleischmann.

Social media being what it is, connecting with Arthur was easy. He graciously accepted my invitation to be my guest on Family Confidential. What a fascinating, dynamic and very personal conversation we had. I’m so pleased to share with you this never-before-published interview. Aruthur’s chronicle of life with his daughter Carly provides us all something to think about, especially when it comes to giving everyone the respect he or she deserves plus the opportunity to be heard. Listen here.

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Kids from hard places need soft places to reside

March 31, 2014

An essential book for adopting parents

An essential book for adoptive parents

When kids “act out” you’d better believe strong emotions are the drivers. Parents and teachers usually pay attention to the behavior without taking time and patience to dig deeper and discover the trigger that unleashed the storm. What’s causing such distress in this child that s/he is acting this way? Discovering the answer is key to understanding children and ultimately helping them a) understand themselves better b) effectively manage their destructive emotions c) express themselves in socially responsible ways so that d) they can get their needs met without causing harm to themselves or others.

This truth was illustrated beautifully in a story Dr. Karyn Purvis told me during our interview for my podcast, Family Confidential back in 2010. Dr. Purvis is a Developmental Psychologist and Director of the Institute of Child Development at Texas Christian University (TCU) in Fort Worth. For the past decade, she and her colleagues have been developing research-based interventions for at-risk children. Dr. Purvis is also the co-author of The Connected Child: Bring Hope and Healing to Your Adoptive Family, a book that has helped countless adoptive and foster parents better connect with their children who have come from “hard” places.

In our recorded conversation Dr. Purvis tells me about a little girl playing in the kitchen while her mom makes dinner. The girl asks for a candy bar. Mom says, “No, sweetheart. Dinner will be ready in ten minutes.” The girl has a full-fledged meltdown, screaming, crying inconsolably. She throws things and physically and verbally abuses her mother. Mom has no idea what’s going on and feels powerless to help her daughter.

In desperation, Mom turns to Dr. Purvis and comes away with a better understanding of what was going on and how to meet her little girl’s needs without giving her candy every time she asks. Turns out this child was adopted from an orphanage where she often did not get enough to eat. When her mom said “no” to the candy, the girl panicked and remembered feeling powerless as she cried out in hungry, only to be ignored. Dr. Purvis’ compassionate response helped the mom and the child immeasurably. What was the solution?

You need to hear my never-before-published interview with Karyn Purvis, an educator for whom I have the highest respect and admiration. Listen in. 

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Day 9 Kindness and Respect Challenge (R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me)

October 9, 2013

I just came off a radio interview on the topic of teen dating violence. (Excellent timing for my Kindness and Respect Challenge. )One of the other guest experts, Associate Professor Emily Rothman of Boston University School of Public Health, said that 10% of teens report having experienced physical violence in a dating relationship. (Hitting, slapping, kicking, sexual coersion, etc.) Apparently that number has been fairly constant over the past 15-20 years. What has been increasing is emotional/psychological abuse in dating relationships. That ranges from name-calling, insults and threats, to dictating what a partner can wear and who s/he can talk to. 25-30% of teens report having experienced emotional/psychological dating abuse. Any controlling behavior (typically on the part of males toward females) is disrespectful. It also frequently leads to physical violence. Because many girls value their close relationships so much it can be hard for them to stand up for themselves and set boundaries.

In this recent email a girl describes to me the disrespectful treatment she gets in a friendship. Substitute the word “boyfriend” for “best friend” and you’ll see we’re talking about a common challenge for teen girls: “How do I get the respect I deserve from the people I care about?”

Hey Terra,

I have a best friend and she’s keeping me in jail. (Well, that’s what I think.) It’s like she won’t let me be friends with anyone or else she’ll be jealous. If  she’s jealous, she’ll seek for revenge and I will be miserable and not able to concentrate on my studies. I’ve always wanted to tell her that I don’t wanna be her best friend anymore but I don’t have the confidence to say that. My heart says it’s the best thing to do. Do you think it’s the right decision?

Don’t Wanna Be a Doormat

Hey! You can’t have other friends. Only me! (from The Girls Q&A Book on Friendship, by Annie Fox, illustrated by Erica De Chavez, © 2014 by Annie Fox and Erica De Chavez. Now available)*

Dear Don’t Wanna Be,

I agree with your heart. From what you describe, this “best friend” of yours isn’t acting like a friend at all. In your own words she:
• gets jealous if you are friends with anyone
• seeks for revenge

What kind of “friend” is that!?

Do I have to tell you your next best move? Nah. You already know what you need to do. This friendship is not a healthy one. It lacks the key ingredient: mutual respect. This is bullying prevention month. And what’s going on in this friendship is a form of bullying.

You need to end this. I know that is a scary thought. So take some slow deep breaths, right here, right now, and calm yourself. Get your confidence up and say to yourself, “I deserve friends who treat me with respect.” Think it and say it over and over until you can say it with confidence and know that it’s true.

Get to that point and you should be able to say something like this to your friend, “When you try to control who I am friends with by getting jealous and angry at me, I feel like I am in jail. Friends shouldn’t treat each other that way. It’s disrespectful. I’ve been feeling like this for a while but I haven’t told you. Even though I was scared I should have told you. Friends should be able to talk to each other about the hard stuff. I apologize. We don’t seem bring out the best in each other. That is why I am taking a break from this friendship.”

I hope this helps.

In friendship,
Terra
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Tune in tomorrow (Day 10) for an update from Don’t Wanna Be a Doormat

*(Excerpted from my upcoming The Girls Q&A Book on Friendship)


UPDATE October 3, 2014: The Girls Q&A Book on Friendship: 50 Ways to Fix a Friendship Without the DRAMA is now available in print and on Kindle (the ebook can be read on any device, your mobile phone, tablet, or computer with the free Kindle reader app). Visit GirlsQandA.com for an excerptreviews, and to order your copy.

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