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.

Is my 12-year-old daughter old enough to have a boyfriend?

June 23, 2016

What does she think it means to have a boyfriend?

What does she think it means to have a boyfriend?

Sometimes our kids say they’re ready for the next step toward independence and we totally agree. We celebrate the milestone, brief them on the house rules, making double sure we’re all on the same page, then we let them go and hold our breath. When they stumble, we listen with compassion and as much patience as we can muster. We help them evaluate their mistakes and we hold them accountable. And they do better next time.

That’s how we all learn.

But sometimes we’re just not convinced they’re ready, no matter how fiercely they lobby us. Then what? That’s where this mom finds herself…

Dear Annie: 

Is it okay for my 12-year-old to have a boyfriend if she seems emotionally ready? She seems pretty mature when it comes to situations like this, but is she too young? – Worried Mom

Important question. Glad she asked. Here’s my response…

Dear Worried Mom:

Is this an abstract question coming from your daughter or does she already have a boyfriend and is trying to back-date the permission slip?

You ask “Is it okay?” and you sign your letter Worried Mom. That tells me you don’t think it’s okay. It doesn’t matter what I think. She’s twelve. You’re her mom. You make the rules. But it’s not always that simple, is it? Twelve-year-olds can be super persistent. Maybe your “mature” daughter has been crying and screaming at you for a year that she’s the only one not allowed to date and that she hates how you still treat her like a baby!

That’s hard to take. But don’t let her bully you into saying “yes” to anything you’re not comfortable with. On the other hand, you shouldn’t automatically say “no” without digging deeper.

Be strategic.

You say she is “emotionally ready” and “pretty mature when it comes to situations like this.” Emotionally ready for what, exactly? What “situations” are we talking about?  What does your daughter mean when she talks about having a boyfriend? What does she believe is involved in being someone’s girlfriend? What does she think this kind of relationship means to the boy? Not sure? Ask her. Maybe not the easiest question for a 12-year-old to answer, but it’s important for her to think about it and share her thoughts with you. The way she thinks about it may determine how she behaves when you’re not around.

For example, does having a boyfriend mean that she and the boy text and snap chat and hang out together at lunch but never actually see each other outside of school? Or does it mean the two of them go to movies or the mall just the two of them… (public unsupervised time)? Does it mean they go to each other’s homes and hang out in each other’s bedrooms? (private unsupervised time)?

Lots to talk about. Her responses will give you insight into how “emotionally ready” and “mature” your daughter actually is when it comes to the Boyfriend/Girlfriend Zone.

I hope this helps.

In friendship,
Annie

P.S. You might want to check out Annie’s 10 Tips for Teaching Your Daughter Relationship Smarts.

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Whose dream is it anyway?

June 9, 2016

You are unlimited

You are unlimited. Dream big.

We like to tell our kids to dream big, yet when they do we often poop all over it. Think about it. When a kid older than ten shares an outside-the-box dream, how many parents around the world have said things like: “What a crazy idea!” “How will you earn a living?!” And/or some variation of: “Over my dead body!”

Maybe we tell ourselves we’re just trying to save our kids from soul crushing disappointment. Maybe our own disappointments have made it too painful to believe in dreams. Maybe, at this point, all we believe in is a life that tramples people with stars in their eyes.

Recently I spoke with a woman whose parents so regularly invalidated her goals she saw them as “dream stealers.” At age thirteen she stopped talking to them about anything she wanted to accomplish in life. That conversation got me thinking about generations who’ve had dreams stolen by well-meaning parents and teachers believing these children needed a strong dose of reality.

Let’s talk about reality for a sec. Parents must educate their kids when it comes to the realities of fire, traffic, sharp objects, and overdue library books. But a kid pursuing a dream? On the road to wherever, life will provide plenty of reality without our help.

Our job is to open doors and windows for our children so they can open their minds. Our job is to expose them to limitless possibilities so they’ll fashion a vision of their own future. No one can foretell where or how far a child may go. Don’t even try. Relax. Celebrate your children’s dreams. They may get you dreaming again.

 

Filed under: Parenting — Annie @ 4:30 pm
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I’m worried my mom will be disappointed I had sex with my boyfriend

May 28, 2016

Happy Saturday. Today we’re talking about teens and sex.

Hey Terra,

I’m worried about telling my mom about have sex with my boyfriend. I think she’ll be fine with it but I don’t want her to be disappointed because I’m young, what shall I do?

Freaking Out

It’s not a four letter word

Dear Freaking Out,

You’re not alone here. For the record, no matter how old we are, there’s always a part of us that craves Mom’s approval. Just saying.

Now let’s talk about  you. You say you think your mom will “be fine” with it, but you don’t want her to be “disappointed” in you because you are young. Without getting into a debate about “How young is too young to have sex?” I’ll say this: I hope you used protection, the sex was a positive experience, and you have no regrets about it. That’s the best anyone can expect.

You can’t change your age (obviously) and your mom is likely to find out about it anyway, so the question is: How important is it to tell her? If it is very important, then you might say something like this, “Mom, you know that ______ and I love each other.  He and I have had lots of serious conversations about sex and recently we decided that we were both ready to have sex. And we did. I just wanted you to know.”

Then close your mouth and listen to what she has to say. She may be upset or disappointed. She may be happy for you. She may have already assumed you two were having sex so your news won’t be a big deal. Her reaction is not the key factor here. The most important thing is whether you feel good about your decision. It’s not your job in life to make sure everyone around you is happy with everything you do. That would be living your life for them. This is your life. Live it in a way that makes you proud of who you are.

I hope this helps.

In friendship,
Terra

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Bad friend vs. No friend

May 14, 2016

When I hear from smart, capable girls who continue to hang out with people who treat them badly, my brain itches. Why would a person with so much going for her put up with rudeness, contempt, and overall disrespect… from anyone? Especially from a so-called friend?! What’s up with that?

To all you parents and teachers who’ve wondered the same thing, this one’s for you:

 

Where do I fit in?

Where do I fit in?

Hey Terra,

I’ve always been nervous and anxious in social situations, so I’ve never had many friends. Each time I made one, I’d be so happy. Then, after a while, when those friends ignored me, it hurt, but I didn’t let it get to me.

This year I made a friend who let me open up and be less shy. Finally I had a best friend who thought of me as one as well. Everything was great until my best friend developed a crush on a boy. I’ll be talking to her and in the middle of whatever I’m saying she runs off looking for him.

It made me angry, but I thought I was being jealous or selfish. I did that to try to blame  myself because I didn’t want to lose my first best friend. Then she became friends with two other girls. She’d still talk to me, but after a while, she’d bail on me while walking to the lunch room because she wants to sit with her new friends. She doesn’t care if I come or not. Sometimes during lunch, out of loneliness, I sit with them even though they all ignore me. I just sit there.

Recently during recess me and my friend were having a great conversation, laughing and all, until one of her new friends interrupted us and my friend completely ignored me to talk to them for for the rest of the recess.

Please help me Terra. The way my friend treats me makes me not want to be her friend at all. I’d rather be alone then ignored…

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You’re a smart girl. You don’t need me to tell you your friend’s behavior is rude. You already know that. But do you need me to tell you that you deserve better? Do you need me to tell you that even “out of loneliness” it isn’t helpful (or healthy) for you to sit with them during lunch only to be “ignored?”

You think because you have, in the past, been “nervous and anxious” in social situations that you do not deserve to be appreciated and treasured by your friends? That’s ridiculous! Of course, you deserve it!! As you say, “I’d rather be alone than ignored…” I agree with that statement. 100%!

Being on your own at lunch (with a great book) would be a much better choice than hanging out with people who make you feel “less than.” Books are always good friends. So is a journal. (Something in the way you express yourself tells me you might be a writer.)

If reading or writing in a journal doesn’t sound like something you want to do at lunch, here’s another option: Look around the lunch room. Who is sitting alone? Who is being ignored? What would it take for you to walk away from rudeness and walk toward a potential new friendship?

Be smart. Be brave. Go for it! You deserve good friends and you can have them.

In friendship,
Terra

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