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.

When girls see women marching

January 23, 2017

Look around, little sister. You are one of us.

Look around, little sister. You are one of us.

When girls see women marching together, proud and peaceful, focused and determined, politically motivated and ready for action, those girls might realize something they had not known—something about women and something about themselves as girls.

When girls see women marching in solidarity for women’s rights and human rights, a seed is planted. One that will help girls recognize:

Women are beautiful. Each of us, in all our infinite diversity. Look at the images from women’s marches around the globe. Look at our faces. Look at our bodies. Look at our shining eyes. Look at our mouths shouting, chanting, singing, making our voices heard. Face it. Our beauty is undeniable. Face yourself. You are beautiful. Stop starving yourself. Not to fit into skinny jeans or someone else’s idea of “perfection.” Stop trashing your body with insults. Stop trashing other girls. Just stop. Love your body. Girl, you are beautiful.

Women are powerful. We don’t need anyone’s approval to be who we are. Getting approval is not why we’re here. We don’t need a boyfriend/girlfriend/partner/spouse to complete us. What you see is what you get—an already complete package. Be clear about that. Be clear, also, that no one has the right to touch us without our permission. No one has the right to objectify us or make us feel small or scared. No one has the right to make laws that govern our reproductive rights. Being pretty and sexy and nice and cooperative is not why we’re here. We are here to use our power for good. Each of us, on our own, has the power to shift any conversation, any relationship, any situation just by being focused, honest, and assertive. That’s power. Girl, you are powerful.

We are sisters. There is no “natural competition” between women. Some male marketers made that up to get you to buy more beauty products. What is natural is our connection with and our empathy for each other. We are sisters. To be unkind to another woman, to another girl, is to be unkind to yourself. We need each other’s understanding and support. We are sisters.

We have a caring heart. We are upholders of humanity’s highest value and greatest asset: a caring heart. Our mammalian brain is wired for empathy, to feel the full range of human experience whether it’s our own experience or someone else’s. Do not deny what you feel. Do not let anyone scoff at your tenderness and tell you you’re “too emotional.” Our emotions make us fully human. To deny our emotions is unhealthy. It can also desensitize us to the needs of others. A woman’s power comes, in part, from her caring heart. You have that heart.

We get things done. We are doers. We are organizers. What you feel is important, but what you do is more important. When we work together, with clarity of purpose, with respect for our individual strengths and compassion for our limitations, we are unstoppable. We are women.

The Women’s March was a spectacular beginning. It was the first step. Here’s what’s next.

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We, the people, are marching

January 22, 2017

All together now.

All together now.

Saturday, January 21, 2017– Millions of women and men on all seven continents (including Antarctica) marched in solidarity for women’s rights and the rights of all people to live in peace, to determine their own destiny, and to be treated with fairness, dignity and respect by their neighbors and their government. It was also Trump’s first full day on the job as President of these United Divided States of Anxiety.

Dark times since the election. Every day we see more evidence of the absurd charade trying to pass for leadership in Congress and now in the Oval Office. Scary stuff.

But yesterday I sang Here Comes the Sun as I took to the streets in Oakland with my husband, our daughter, and 100,000 of my sisters and brothers. We were all there, together, because staying silent in the face of what’s happening is just not an option. I needed to be reminded in a way that no #alternativefacts can negate, that we, the people, get to decide who we are, as Americans, as human beings. Trump and his gang of sycophants and patrons don’t get to decide that.

How to be the change? Step 1: Show up. #WomensMarch Oakland, CA

 

Filed under: Parenting,Politics,Social Justice — Tags: — Annie @ 5:00 pm
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I stand with Meryl

January 9, 2017

Violence incites violence.

“When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.”

At Sunday night’s Golden Globes, actress Meryl Streep was honored with the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement. Her acceptance speech honored and encouraged all of us who try to be mindful of the dignity and respect we owe our fellow humans. If you haven’t yet watched that speech, it’s only about 6 minutes. Well worth your time. The crux of it: Use your power for good.

Without mentioning the President-elect by name, Ms. Streep said,

“…when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter, someone he outranked in privilege, power, and the capacity to fight back. It kind of broke my heart when I saw it. I still can’t get it out of my head because it wasn’t in a movie. It was real life.

And this instinct to humiliate, when it’s modeled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody’s life, because it kind of gives permission for other people to do the same thing. Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence incites violence. When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.”

This chapter we’ve entered isn’t about politics. Though some argue that everything is political. Perhaps. But most of us parents don’t think about politics as we raise our children. We think about the basics of the job at hand. Food. Shelter. Economic and emotional security. Education. And if we are fortunate enough to have those boxes checked, we can begin to think about the kind of people we want our children to grow up to be. We think about how they will treat others. What kind of friends and partners they will become. We think (and often worry) about how others will treat our children.

We try to be positive role models for our children and for all children. In this time and place where hate speech and duplicity are becoming normalized, we must redouble our efforts. When we see disrespectful behavior we must speak out against it. We must teach our children to speak out against it. To do otherwise encourages more disrespect and hate and violence. Make no mistake, polite silence is not an option. It never was. Neither is exasperated head-shaking. If we are to be teachers worthy of our children, committed to creating a saner, safer world for them, then we must actively push back against the growing normalization of hate. In the absence of moral leadership, each of us must lead.

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What parents should stop doing in 2017 (if we want more peace at home)

January 1, 2017

This is an updated version of a 2014 blog. The tips still work. Maybe now more than ever. 

Well-meaning New Year’s resolutions typically peter out by January 15th. If we’ve been zigging, it’s hard to start zagging and keep at it. Which is why self-improvement is so hard to do. I’m thinking it just might be easier to stop doing something that’s not working than to start in with a whole new game plan. I asked a bunch of teens what they’d like their parents to stop doing in the new year. Instantly, they came up with these three. I pass them on to you, since we’re all in this parenting trip together and building a healthier relationship with our tweens and teens is good for everyone.

That's it! I've had it with kids!

That’s it! I’ve had it with you kids!

1. Yelling. Parenting can be messy and stressful. With everything that’s expected of us it’s easy to get frustrated or overwhelmed. If yelling has become your go-to place, you need to stop. When you lash out at your kids, your spouse, or your dog, you are polluting your home and hurting your family. If you don’t have at least one healthy stress-management tool that you’d be happy to see your kids emulate, you’ll be a less effective parent. I recommend breathing. Breathing requires no gym membership or special shoes. It’s free and always available. Yes, it’s habit-forming, but in a very good way. Try this 6-step Relaxation Response. It works. Tip #1 – Stop yelling and start breathing and your kids will give you less to yell about.

2. Tuning out. Parents, teachers, coaches… adults in general spend a lot of time telling kids what to do, how to act, and what to believe. When kids take the bold step of opening up to us (because they need to be heard), we often don’t listen… not one hundred percent. When we do listen, we may jump in and invalidate what we hear if it makes us uncomfortable.  (“You don’t really feel that way.” “Oh, that’s not true.”) We want our kids to stand up for themselves amongst their peers – whether they’re being overpowered in the kindergarten playground or in a teen relationship. But how are they going to learn to be speak up if we don’t give them practice by respectfully listening to what they have to say?

Tip #2 Stop tuning out and start listening with a more open heart and mind and your kids will feel more confident in themselves.

3. Rushing around. Every family needs down time without distractions, digital or otherwise. Hopefully we all got a healthy serving of down-time during the holidays. Vacations are great, but they’re not enough. Not in the noisy, speedy, aggressive world we live in. Most of us need and deserve daily down time, alone and together, as a family. If your kids are still young enough for bedtime stories, what a great chance to cuddle and reconnect each evening. If your children are past being read to, you can still make it a nightly ritual to check in with them for a quiet talk about how the day went for each of you. This is an excellent way to teach kids that conversations are a two-way street. If you want to raise young adults who are empathetic, show your empathy. When you notice something affecting your child’s behavior you can ask, kindly, “You seem upset. What’s going on?”  You can also ask this simple question, “What can I do to help?” That lets a child know you care. It also helps him or her think about what kind of help they need.

And let’s not forget meal time. Maybe you’ve heard this before but the research findings are so amazing they’re worth repeating: Kids whose families sit down and eat dinner together at least three times a week get all kinds of benefits. Have dinner together at least 3 times a week and your kids are more likely to do better in school, less likely to use alcohol or illegal drugs and to engage in other high risk behaviors. They’re even less likely to have friends who do drugs. That’s some powerful mojo.

Tip #3 Stop rushing around and start carving out end-of-the-day time to be together right where you are.

Happy New Year from our home to yours. May 2017 bring you and your family many of opportunities to celebrate life and to help others. World peace begins at home.

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