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.

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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Defense Against the Dark Side: Where’s Harry Potter When We Need Him?

April 23, 2015

A Good Use of Power

A Good Use of Power

In our 40 years together, David and I have read many books. Add another hundred or so books on tape we’ve consumed on road trips. Yep, we’re addicted to good stories. So it wasn’t too weird when, after a business trip to Florida and a side trip to Universal’s Wizarding World, we decided to re-read all the Harry Potter books… aloud… to each other.

Starting in mid-December, I’d read a couple chapters over breakfast each morning. At dinner, with wine and candlelight, I’d read another chapter or so. If we were driving for more than 20 minutes in any direction, I’d read aloud in the car. (Yes, I can do that without barfing. Lucky me.) At the end of each day we’d watch the film adaptation of the current book, making sure to stop when we got to a new part (i.e., a section of film we hadn’t yet read.)

To date we’ve completed six books and six films. (When we get into something we really get into it.) We’re now half-way through Book 7.

Ever since the kids of Hogwarts took their education into their own hands, I’ve been thinking about the Dark Arts as it relates to the dark side of humanity. While we rarely hear about jinxes or debilitating spells, we’re plenty aware of public humiliation and shaming in social media. Character assasination is a curse, high on the list of Dark Arts. So how do we defend ourselves against the real and present danger of social garbage? How do we teach our kids to defend themselves, online and off, from the hostility of their peers? Where is Harry Potter when we need him?

When I think about what it means to defend oneself, I picture someone standing up for their rights or the rights of others and actively fighting back against the vitriol. But there is inherent danger when one uses vitriol to fight vitriol. The weapon we use has the power to infect us and make us more and more like the perpetrators we seek to vanquish. We can so easily become the enemy. Doing the right thing in a good way isn’t easy.

How do you help your children defend themselves against the prevailing Culture of Cruelty? How do you teach them not to succumb to its ways? Post here and let’s get into it. You can also follow my tweets at @Annie_Fox and @GirlDramaChat. Every Friday you can join the conversation as I host #girldramachat, a weekly Twitter chat (11AM PST) to help parents/teachers/counselors support girls thru friendship drama w/compassion, respect & social courage.

 

 

 

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We’ve all got special needs

July 21, 2014

The implication, when we speak of kids or adults with special needs, is that “they” are unlike “us.” But isn’t it true that we’ve all got special needs? Maybe the only difference is that some needs are more obvious than others. And some, obviously, require more day-to-day support. Other than that… everyone deserves to be noticed, respected, listened to, and understood. But what happens to a child with less obvious needs when Mom or Dad also have a kid with more obvious needs?

Rachel and Beth Simon

Beth and Rachel Simon

A while back I had the privilege of interviewing award-winning author Rachel Simon for my Family Confidential podcast. Rachel’s books include New York Times bestsellers The Story of Beautiful Girl and Riding the Bus With My Sister (which was adapted into a Hallmark Hall of Fame film starring Andie MacDowell and Rosie O’Donnell, and directed by Angelica Huston.)

Riding the Bus With My Sister, the film

Riding the Bus With My Sister, the film

Rachel’s younger sister, Beth, has an intellectual disability. Because of Rachel’s personal family history, her years of research into disability/sibling issues, and her connection to the Sibling Community, she speaks with a rare eloquence and sensitivity about the treatment of people with disabilities and how parents can do a better job of attending to the special needs of all their children.

Listen to my recent Family Confidential podcast interview with Rachel right here.

 

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To the parents of a rapist

March 11, 2014

Oh, hallowed halls of enlightened education

Oh, hallowed halls of enlightened education

I’ve been following the story out of Dartmouth about a female student who was raped shortly after her name appeared in a “Rape Guide” posted on an anonymous Dartmouth student blog. There is so much that’s vile about the particulars of this case and the overall campus (and national) culture that permits and promotes these attitudes and acts, I do not know where to begin. As a parent educator, this feels like a logical place:

Dear Mom and Dad,

By now you know that your son is a rapist. Of course you are shocked that the young man you raised with such love and care and attention, the one who succeeded so brilliantly throughout his school years that he ended up at Dartmouth, is now revealed to you, your family and all your friends as a violent, callous person. A rapist. Not a word anyone wants on their son’s resume. And not only is he a rapist, but he has been encouraging his classmates to be rapists.

How heart-sick you must be. Undoubtedly you remember how thrilled you were when the Dartmouth letter of acceptance arrived. You celebrated, as a family. You had such dreams for your son. And now, you find that he’s been spending time, in between classes and study sessions, writing a “Rape Guide,” using his considerable verbal skills (showcased in those outstanding SAT scores) to craft descriptive prose like this: “Increase the alcohol you give her each time. Then one such day, go for it. Preferably, invite her to your room. Get touchy with her, she likes that. As you guys get drunker… maybe spank her, you know, “jokingly” of course. She might be reluctant. Just tell her to relax.  Keep on going. Start groping her and stripping her down. Does this sound rapey? It really isn’t, trust me. She just likes playing hard to get. I know. I’ve been there.”

My heart goes out to you because you are suffering. You must be grieving for the loss of your “ideal” son. You must also be absolutely baffled that your boy could be such a calculatingly, cold-hearted misogynist. And through the blizzard of your emotions and disbelief, you are probably wracking your brains looking for answers to these questions: What did I do wrong? How could my son have thought that rape was OK? How is it possible that he could have such little regard for the feelings of another person? How could my child, who grew up in this family, believe that he and his fellow male classmates have the right to treat women with such contempt? Where did he get these values? What do I say to him now? How can I look at him without utter disgust? What can he say or do that will make this better?

I usually have lots of answers for parenting questions. I don’t have any answers for these.

Please get some family counseling. You’re going to need it.

I wish you strength during this terrible time. You’re going to need plenty of that too.

Filed under: Cruel's Not Cool,Parenting,Social Justice — Tags: , , , — Annie @ 1:13 pm
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