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.

From Harold and the Purple Crayon to Caine’s Arcade

June 13, 2014

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Imagination inspiration

In 1955, when Harold and the Purple Crayon was first published, lots of kids (including me and my brothers) sat too long on their fannies in front of the television set. Maybe author Crockett Johnson had some TV addicted kids of his own. So he wrote a story about a little boy who creates a big adventure using only an oversized crayon and his imagination? 1950’s parents made it a best seller, hoping it would inspire their kids to unplug from the screen and be creative! The book is still in print and 21st century parents are still hoping the same.

Summer should give kids a break from prescribed learning and an invitation to use their imagination. Instead, they often settle into a predictable routine of screen time. As an app developer I know there are loads of creative apps for kids, but often the most creative playtime involves no tech. Ask Harold and his 21st century real-life counterpart… Caine.

Cardboard+Imagination= Infinite possibilities+FUN

Cardboard+Imagination= Infinite possibilities+FUN

A couple of summers ago Caine went to work each day with his dad who owns a used auto parts shop in East Los Angeles. There wasn’t much for Caine to do, but there were plenty of cardboard boxes. So Caine decided to use his imagination and his hands to create his own fun. Watch Caine’s Arcade with your kids (a 10 minute film) and check out my Family Confidential podcast this week: Imagination Rocks and learn about the Global Cardboard Challenge.  Then talk about how your family can make this your most creative summer ever.

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We’re all working moms and some of us get paid

June 9, 2014

 

Can someone give me a hand? I've run out!

Can someone give me a hand? I’ve run out!

Today we’re talking about working moms, which, of course, includes all moms whether we’re on a payroll or not. Wiping snotty noses is work. So is helping with homework, especially if it’s hard. Each day we show up and put our hearts into everything we do for our families. Yay, us! Now can we please have Mother’s Day at least once a month? Cause, dammit, I deserve it, and you do too!

So, we are all working, but let’s imagine, just for the next few paragraphs, that “working mom” means working outside the home. Maybe with a commute and a special wardrobe. Of course, each family is unique, but there is one challenge shared by all working moms– the need for more time. No, let me rephrase that. It’s not lack of time. (Though 20 more minutes to soak in the tub with the door locked would be nice.) According to Dr. Portia Jackson, bona fide rocket scientist (for real), founder of WorkingMotherhood.com, and this week’s guest on Family Confidential, “Even if we had 30 hours in a day we’d still find things to fill it up with. So it’s not just lack of time, it’s using your time wisely.”

Amen, sister! Managing time wisely rewards us with bonus time to breathe, and smile, and sort Legos by color… without rushing.  Wouldn’t it nice not to rush around? Portia agrees and promises this “not rushing” state is actually attainable… in your lifetime! Here’s her advice: Quit trying to do it all. You can’t. No one can. Successful working moms who can relax and be at home when they are home, know how to delegate.

Intrigued? Then go ahead and delegate whatever you were going to do next, pour a cup, put your feet up, and listen in on my conversation with Portia Jackson. You so need this.

 

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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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Be a great dad even if you didn’t have one

May 2, 2014

I've got you, sweetie.

I’ve got you, sweetie.

I had a great dad. Unfortunately, he died of a massive heart attack when I was 15. After that, and for a very long time, I had a massive case of “dad hunger.” So there’s no surprise I was immediately drawn to Keith Zafren’s book How to Be a Great Dad – No Matter What Kind of Father You Had. Right there, in his introduction, he talks about his own “father hunger” and personal journey of healing.

Keith is the founder of The Great Dads Project. He and I connected on Twitter (as so many do) and we swapped books. He was kind enough to write a blog about my work and a separate review of my book, Teaching Kids to Be Good People.

In turn, I read How To Be a Great Dad and interviewed Keith for my weekly podcast Family Confidential. We had a heart-to-heart conversation about how much kids benefit from having a loving, engaged, committed dad in their lives and what they sorely miss when they don’t. We also talked about practical ways in which women can  encourage their men to be better dads. The interview really touched me.

Please listen to my conversation with Keith Zafren on this week’s Family Confidential podcast. Share it with the dads you know, as well as the moms. It will help kids everywhere.

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