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.

What’s Up With My Family?

August 14, 2014

Your Mom sees one dirty spoon on the sink counter and starts yelling. You politely ask Dad for movie money and he walks past you muttering something about “…growing on trees.” You excitedly tell your daughter, “Keep Saturday open, sweetie, we’re going…” but before you finish, she bursts into tears. Your son is nothing but rude to his little brother and when you try to reason with him he loudly accuses you of not loving him.

What's up with my family? There's an app for that!

What’s up with my family? There’s an app for that!

Later you sit at the dinner table. No one talks or even looks at each other. Yet you’re all connected by a silent question: “What’s up with my family?!”

What’s that you say? Never wondered about that? Bolderdash! For centuries parents and kids have asked themselves “What’s up with my family?” Now, finally, here in the glorious Digital Age, there comes an app with some answers!! I know it’s good, because I wrote it. But don’t just take my word for it, here’s what Carisa Kluver of Digital Storytime has to say:

Fox covers issues that range from over-protective parents to abandonment and loss deftly in this graphic novel for readers 10 and up. What’s Up with My Family? is a book app with brilliant storytelling, movie-quality sound effects and seamlessly integrated features. Electric Eggplant has set the gold standard for presenting graphic novels in the digital realm. My highest recommendation!

Bolderdash aside, when it comes right down to it, we love our family. We really do! And sometimes they drive us nuts. Without doubt, we sometimes do our part to drive them nuts too. Even though all families are different, they all have ups and downs.

This is an app for every kid (and parent) who’s ever wondered, “What’s Up With My Family?” It may help you understand the people in your family better. It may also help you use your power to improve things at home. Sometimes you can do that by talking about how you feel. Sometimes, change happens when you shift your attitude and decide to be more cooperative.

Get it now, for your family and you might start talking and laughing at dinner again.

(Press release can be viewed here.)


Letter to my mom, 1993

August 4, 2014

Somethings you never forget

Some things you never forget

In the back of an old notebook I use to study Spanish, I discovered the draft of a letter dated August 31, 1993. During that summer my mom had fallen several times. My letter followed a very bad fall at a community pool. All of this was baffling because my mom had always been in good physical shape. She had once dreamed of becoming a PE teacher. In her late 70′s she still loved to swim and play shuffleboard. She could ride a bike. A New Yorker, she thought fast and talked fast. She also walked fast, always with purpose. Her balance was great. And yet, she kept falling and no one could say why.

Dear Mom,

I’ve been thinking about our conversation Monday evening. You told me not to call you every day. This makes me feel out of touch with you. I understand you are feeling helpless and upset about being in the hospital with all the inconveniences which accompany that. I also understand being asked to talk daily about how uncomfortable you are makes you more upset. But if you tell me not to call you and you tell your friends not to visit, then you’re going to feel worse!

I can hear you say, “Nobody can do anything to make this better.” Maybe that’s true, on a physical level. But your friends and your family love you and we want to show our love by calling and visiting. It may not make you feel better physically, but that love will make you feel much better on an emotional level. You need that. Everybody needs that.

I have no record of how or even if my mom responded to that letter. But maybe she thought about it. During that dreadful winter, she became increasingly less steady on her feet. Then my mom did something she never even considered… she left her beloved New York and moved to California to be near me.

In the spring, someone finally explained what was going on. My mom had ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). She died on Christmas Eve, 1994 at the age of 79. I think her move toward me and David and the kids was her way of acknowledging that, while no one could cure her illness, being near her family did a whole lot of good for her. It did a whole lot of good for us too.

Filed under: Parenting — Tags: , — Annie @ 3:51 pm

We need uncomfortable schools

July 28, 2014

Feeling uncomfortable? Now use it for good.

Feeling uncomfortable? Now use it for good.

As we approach the beginning of the new school year, my heart goes out to the kids who are dreading it. They are usually the ones who had to wade through more than their share of social garbage last term. Hopefully they got a needed reprieve during the summer. But they’ve got to go back and most of them (and their parents and teachers) are probably not looking forward to the inevitable crapola (online and off).

Being in the prevention business, I’m always working on ways to make schools more compassionate. Here’s my latest contribution… just a reminder… adapted from the Charter for Compassion’s call to action for cities.

A compassionate school is an uncomfortable school!
Uncomfortable when anyone is threatened, harassed, or made to feel less than.
Uncomfortable when every child isn’t treated with respect by every teacher and every other student.
Uncomfortable when every student isn’t given rich opportunities to grow intellectually, creatively, and emotionally.
Uncomfortable when, as a school community, we don’t treat each other as we want to be treated.

A compassionate school knows uncomfortable feelings aren’t worth zippo, if they don’t trigger action. So a compassionate school recognizes the discomfort and immediately works for change with the full leadership and commitment of all administrators and teachers. With adult leadership, students learn how they too can become change agents. Because, whether students admit it or not, they desperately want their school to be a place where every kid is treated with respect. Every one.

Got it? Good. Now go make your kid’s school really uncomfortable. We’re in this together.

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