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 want to have fun, but my parents won’t let me!

July 17, 2013

I'm not allowed to go anywhere or do anything

I have a new puppy and a new appreciation for the importance of unstructured play. And of summer. Kids need a summer escape from homework, tests, and The Schedule. They need fun with friends and time spreading their wings. They need time to practice good judgement. And we need time learning to relax and let them.

I recently heard from a teen who wants to play, but he’s having trouble earning a recess pass:

Teen: I’m 14 and my parents don’t let me do anything. I only get to relax with my friends like once every 5 months. I asked to go to a theme park with my friends and my parents started freaking out and said no. They hold it against me for when I went to there last summer.

Annie:  Parents don’t freak out for no reason. What happened the last time?

Teen: Nothing. I was completely safe. I didn’t do anything bad and neither did my friends. Besides my mom was there with us too. She just didn’t walk around with us.

Annie: Hmm. Sounds like you don’t know why your parents don’t want you to go to the theme park. You should ask them.

Teen: I always ask my parents nicely and very respectfully when I just want a day to relax with my friends. Even though my friends are good, my parents say no. All I ever get is school, swim practice, and go home and study. I’ve been doing that since I was 4 or 5. I talk to my parents about me growing up and I need to get out to experience life and they won’t listen to me. They say that other parents are the same, but when I ask other kids of overprotective parents, they are treated completely different.

I’m overall a good kid. They know I can make the right choices. I do my chores, do great in sports, have straight A’s, but my parents don’t give me anything in return. I guess they still don’t trust me. I’m getting very sick of being locked up in the house all day when school isn’t in session. I only ask once in awhile if I can be with my friends, but they always say no and never give me a reason why. If they told me why, maybe I would understand their thinking. Please help.

Annie: Maybe your parents are very afraid of your being out on your own. But it’s impossible to know what they’re thinking if they don’t tell you. When parents don’t help kids understand their perspective, it’s frustrating because it doesn’t give you anything to hope for or to work with. So how can you change their minds or the situation?  You can’t. That’s unfair, but it is what it is.

For now, your parents make the rules. You want to earn the right to make more of your own decisions, so try negotiating with them. Say, “I want to go to ____’s house this afternoon from 1pm-3pm. We will be walking from here to there. I will call you as soon as I get there. I will call you when I leave to come home. May I please go?” If they say no, ask if you can go for one hour. Hopefully they will allow you more independence, a little at a time. If not, try to accept it and continue making good choices (you won’t be 14 forever.) If your parents give permission,  make sure you follow the rules. Call when you say you will. Be home a few minutes early. In that way, they will learn to trust you and your ability to make healthy choices even when they aren’t around. That’s all parents really want, the peace of mind knowing that their kids know how to keep themselves safe. I hope this helps.

Teen: Yes. Thank you. 🙂

Filed under: Parenting — Tags: , , , , , — Annie @ 2:05 pm
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Guest blogger: Mom’s “nest” – Discussing menstruation with kids

April 27, 2011

by DeAnna L’am

I just connected with DeAnna L’am on twitter and I’m delighted to share this inspired speaker, coach, and trainer with all who parent, teach and mentor t(w)eens. DeAnna is the author of Becoming Peers – Mentoring Girls Into Womanhood, and her pioneering work has been transforming the lives of women and girls around the world for over 20 years. She specializes in helping women reclaim their menstrual cycle as source of inner guidance and spiritual renewal, and trains women to do this work in their communities. Receive her Free report: ‘Most Common Mistakes Moms Make With Coming-Of-Age Girls, and How To Avoid Them!’ by visiting: http://www.deannalam.com

It's there in case you need it. Gone when you don't.

“This is my Moon Flow,” I said to Ellah, who was about 4 at the time, when she saw me changing a pad. I never saw my Mom changing pads, and hence committed to not hiding my natural flow from my daughter. Without my flow, my girl would not have been born… How could this be anything but a source of joy in my ability to give birth? An ability she will one day share!

“All women flow with the moon,” I added, “and you, too, will flow when you become a woman.” Ellah smiled with the promise, and at four years of age this was enough. I didn’t refer to the flow as “blood” until much later, since I didn’t want Ellah to associate it with an “Ouwy.” The purpose with young children, both girls and boys, is to introduce, and talk about, this natural bodily function in the same neutral way as you do when talking about eating. Gradually, as the child matures, it is good to tie the flow to its purpose, which is a woman’s ability to give life.

If you find that you have some charge about your menstruation (such as physical or emotional pain) it is best not to introduce the subject to your child until you work through your difficulty and gain some balance for yourself.

Generally, it is best not to bombard children with information, but to wait for their questions. When Ellah was about seven, she asked me where does the Moon Flow come from? My answer was inspired by the Waldorf educational approach, and I explained that the Moon Flow is “Mom’s Nest.”

“Mommy’s Nest???” she asked in amazement.

“Yes,” I said. “When a Mama bird prepares for a baby bird to be born, she makes a nest. She flies in the forest and collects leaves, feathers, boughs, branches, and bits of fluff, and she weaves a nest for the baby bird to comfortably lie in.”

“Well…” I continued, “it’s the same with me. And with all women! Every month a woman’s body prepares a nest in her tummy, where a baby can grow. Her wise body gathers tissue and blood from inside her, and makes a warm and comfortable nest. Then, if no baby starts to grow, there is no need for the nest. So Mamma’s wise body sends the nest out in a big whoosh. That’s why the flow is red, because it’s made of all the good, nourishing blood that was ready to help the baby grow.”

“Every month,” I shared with my daughter, “I thank my body for being such a miracle, and for knowing how to make a baby grow inside… I also thank it for the wisdom of letting go of the nest, when I don’t need it…” Ellah was fully satisfied. She had a clear picture in her mind, and the Moon Flow made sense to her.

Telling your child a story of this nature doesn’t only encapsulate the physical facts associated with menstruation. It allows you to start instilling the awe, which our bodies deserve for their amazing abilities. Beyond that, you are actively bucking the cultural current of taboo and shame around menstruation. You are raising a girl or a boy who will have a different narrative with which to counter the cultural beliefs when they encounter them.

Filed under: Parenting — Tags: , , , , , , — Annie @ 5:36 pm
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For Parents: They’re growing up! So where’s your smile?

March 14, 2009

Sixteen and taking on the world

16 and taking on the world

Remember your “job description” posted at the bottom of your child’s birth certificate? No? Understandable. At the time they handed over the document you were still drunk on the radiant beauty of your newborn – experiencing something cosmic and way beyond the reach of words. If you had any cogent thoughts during those first few weeks, perhaps what filtered through was a sublime awareness that you were now officially part of the Chain of Life and thus inalterably altered. Simultaneously softened and strengthened. And now forever unable to watch (without weeping) any film or news report where children were hurt, sick or scared.

You were a new parent, so who could blame you if you didn’t read the fine print?

Not to worry. I’ve got a magnifying glass and my daughter’s birth certificate right here. They’ve all got the same clause at the bottom so I’ll just tell you what it says:

Congratulations on the birth of your child. It’s your job to transform this sweet little pumpkin into a fully functioning adult. You’ve got just 18 years. And your time starts…. NOW.

Each milestone in our kids’ lives is a reminder that they’re progressing toward not needing us at all. (Anyone wince at that? If you did please re-read the previous paragraph.) That’s what you signed up for:  to help them move toward independence. Which is why you should rejoice along with them when they climb out of their crib, learn to open the refrigerator, and choose their own books, bedtime, music, clothes, hairstyles, food, interests, friends, ideas, plans, beliefs.

Graduation season is around the corner. Whether your child is advancing into kindergarten, middle school, high school or college, they’re on to a new chapter. If you’d rather hang on to the old one, sorry, but that’s not an option. You do have a choice though. You can deny that they’re outgrowing their need for round the clock parenting (not a path I’d recommend as it will only lead to major push-back starting from 5th or 6th grade) OR you can prepare now for your emptier nest. Here’s how:

  1. Create some new goals for yourself — If you chose well, working on a personal goal will sustain you as your child races toward independence.
  2. Make some new friends — The majority of your friends may be the parents of your kids’ friends. Nothing wrong with that, except that it often leads exclusively to kid-centered conversations. Following your own interests (see #1) connects you with new friends who share those interests.
  3. Revitalize your relationship — If you’re fortunate enough to be part of a loving couple, plan together for your emptier nest. Support each other’s feelings about the changes. Schedule fun time together as a couple. Hopefully you’ll rediscover what’s at the core of your relationship and create a healthy new chapter for the two of you.
  4. Re-focus on your social life — If you’re single and you’re interested in dating, but haven’t as yet because of parenting obligations, now may be the time to start letting friends know that you’re “looking” again.
  5. Avoid over-parenting your younger children — Of course you need to continue parenting, but redirecting all of your energy toward your younger kid(s) spells trouble and is very likely to cause resentment and conflict. Don’t go there!

Life within a family is constantly changing. We just don’t always notice it until things like graduation remind us “Oh, yeah. They’re growing up!” Hopefully we’re all learning to deal with our emotions when we find ourselves in a new chapter. Give your kids a vote of confidence by showing them that not only do you know how to let go, but you’re happy to do it. (‘Cause you trust them and because you’re going places too!)

Catch you later. David and I are going to the movies.

Filed under: Parenting,Tips — Tags: , , — Annie @ 1:55 pm
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