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.

Mom, can you just be quiet and listen?!

May 3, 2016

You're not listening to me!!!

You’re not listening to me!!!

Somehow my mom and I just didn’t get along when I was in high school. (Hey, it happens.) I was an overweight, overachiever who believed nothing I did was good enough. It didn’t help that my dad, aka my #1 fan, died suddenly when I was fifteen. I was my mom’s youngest child, only daughter. After she lost my dad she couldn’t give an insecure teen the support and encouragement I craved. Conversely, she expected, no hoped, I’d provide her with support and comfort. That didn’t happen.

I remember her yelling: “You’re not listening to me!”

I was listening, I just didn’t like what I heard. I didn’t agree with her and I wasn’t going to do what she said. Even if she had a good idea, I’d reject it, on principle. What principle? That it was her idea.

Our relationship turned into a quagmire of hurt feelings, misunderstandings and miscommunications.  We both longed for a cease-fire, but didn’t how to call one.

When I moved across the country, distance made the heart grow fonder. And when I became a mom, my mom and I learned to appreciate each other a lot more.

Now you understand why an email from a teen with parent problems gets to me. And why I do understand.

Like this one:

Teen: I have this disorder where I feel like I’m suffocating in my own self but can’t die. My mom says she understands but I think she understands what she wants to believe and now she says she wants to send me away to foster care because she doesn’t want to deal with me anymore… what do I do??

Annie: Aside from your mom, who else have you talked to about your feelings of “suffocating in yourself?”

Teen: I have a counselor but whenever I try to talk to him it never comes out right.

Annie: How about writing out what you’d like to say… like in a letter? Take your time. Choose your words carefully. When your letter says what you want it to say, go to the counselor and hand him the letter. Sound like a plan?

Teen: yeah. Thank you, but what do I do about my mom??

Annie: Hopefully, after you talk to the counselor, he will have a conversation with your mom and help her understanding your feelings better. You need her help but she can’t give you what you need until she understands what’s going on. It’s going to take both of you working together to make this better.

Teen: Hey, so I talked to my mom myself and explained everything and it helped sorta. We still have a lot of work to do.

Annie: I’m proud of you for talking to your mom. That took courage and you did it! I’m glad it helped. Keep talking and listening to each other.

I hope you and your mom have a Happy Mothers Day.

In friendship,

Annie

 

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“I’m jealous over my boyfriend’s ex!”

March 31, 2016

Hey Terra,

Stop kissing her right now!

Stop kissing her right now or I’m gonna do something you won’t like!

I’m with this guy for like 6 months, he’s my first boyfriend and my big love ( even if he’s not my first I fell in love with)… I have a real problem, I’m jealous of his past. He lived so much with his ex and I want this relation to work out the best, but  I don’t know if he thinks the same.  How can I get over this jealousy? It’s driving me crazy! – Jealousy Sucks

Dear Jealousy Sucks –

It sure does! But you don’t have to let jealousy control you or your relationships.

You can’t change your boyfriend’s relationship history: who he has been with,  how they felt about each other, and what they did. That’s over. Done.  Same with your past crushes. (Yes, I’m talking about the first person you fell in love with.)

The only place we can live is right now. If we’re not here, we’re no where at all. (Think about that the next time you space out imagining your guy with his ex.)

Look, either this relationship is what you and this guy both want now or it isn’t. If it turns out the relationship doesn’t last, for whatever reason, then so be it. Take what you learned into your next relationship and do better. But if you can not “get over” your jealousy, then you will be equally jealous of the next guy’s ex or exes.

So what’s in the way of your just saying to yourself, “He is with me now because he loves me. That’s all that matters.”?

How do you kick jealousy to the curb? Sometimes it takes help. If you’ve got a school counselor, you might want to pop in and talk to him or her about how to deal with jealousy. You might also check out some library books about the subject (there are plenty!). Or have a look at this article I wrote. One thing is for sure, doing nothing, is probably not going to help. If you let your jealousy ruin this relationship and you don’t figure out a healthy way to deal with these feelings, the same mistrust and jealousy will likely mess up your next relationship. You don’t want that! So work on this. You can do it.

Good luck!  I hope this helps.

In friendship,

Annie (aka Terra)

Filed under: Parenting,Teens — Tags: , , — Annie @ 3:47 pm
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“My parents are racist!”

February 7, 2016

Hey Terra!

I’ve been experiencing some moral differences with my parents. I’ve always idolized my them, but recently, I’ve realized I simply can’t agree with some of their ideas.

On a recent trip we took public transportation and most of the people riding with us were African Americans. My mom kept whispering derogatory racist remarks to me and my sister. And just a few days ago, my mom argued that a person’s skin color and other aspects of appearance are a direct link to the quality of the person.

I love my parents, but it makes me confused when I disagree so vehemently with people I care about. Racism is a big issue and I hate to see my parents contribute to it.

How should I respond when they  bring up or argue this topic again? Is debating with them a viable solution? – Confused

Talk to the hand.

Talk to the hand.

I am very proud of you for recognizing racist remarks when you hear them and knowing it’s not ok to talk like that. Even if these remarks come from someone you love and idolize (like your parents) a racist comment is still a racist comment! You’re right. Racism is a big issue and you have chosen to be part of the solution, not the problem. I admire you for taking that role.

So how should you respond when parents try to argue their ignorant perspective? Great question! To discover the answer you first need to examine the answer to this question: “When it comes to other people’s attitudes, opinions, feelings, thoughts and behavior what power do I have?” You sound like an extremely intelligent individual so you probably don’t need me to tell you that you have no power over what others think or feel or do. Zero. But you do have 100% control over your own behavior.

Because you are uncomfortable with hate speech, you can simply hold up your hand and say to your parents, “Stop. I don’t want to hear this kind of talk.” You can do that with conviction, but without rudeness or anger. You have the right to respectfully set boundaries for their hate speech in your space. Will this change your parents’ attitudes about people who are different from themselves? Not likely, but at least they will know it is not OK with you to speak this way in front of you.

Your thoughts?

In friendship,
Terra

Hi Terra,

I’m so grateful to know there is a reasonable way to stop these conversations when they start without adding fuel to the fire. Thanks again! – Less Confused

Glad to help.

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Teen novel update

January 17, 2016

New teen novel, coming soon to a door near you

New teen novel, coming soon to a door near you

My daughter and son (both writers) strongly encouraged me to write a teen novel as part of NaNoWriMo.  That can happen when you spend years telling your kids, “You can do it, sweetie!”

Never heard of National Novel Writing Month? It’s an official kick-in-the-pants to start that book you always said you wanted to write. The challenge: Write 50,000 (mostly cogent) words in thirty days. To reach 50K you’ve got to hit 1687 words per day. Was I up for it? Sure, why not?

Nov. 1, 2013 I began with an idea inspired by a true story of a teen suicide attributed to bullying. Thirty days and 30,000 words later I was so hooked on the story idea and the process of turning it into a novel, I had no choice but to continue working. Fiction writers say they keep at it to “find out what happens next in the story.” Absolutely true. Every time I sat down to work on the novel, my characters told me more about who they are, what they need, and why they do what they do. By listening closely and following the breadcrumbs the story unfolded and I was constantly amazed by what came through my fingers onto the keyboard. I have no idea where this stuff comes from, I’m just grateful to have a channel into it.

Now, twenty-six months later, my color coded system blankets my office door and my characters won’t quit yapping ’til I deliver their story to teens.

Which brings me to the present.

Nope, my water hasn’t broken and there are no contractions yet, but we’re in a new phase. The manuscript is “this close” to being ready to leave my laptop and get some professional input.

Stay tuned.

 

Filed under: Parenting,Teens — Annie @ 2:43 pm
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