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.

Where’s love and when will it get here already!?

February 7, 2011

Hey Cupid, I'm waiting...

One week ’til Valentine’s Day. Non-stop teen emails scream for my attention and romantic advice. Not sure how I became  such an expert. I mean, honestly, if some fortune teller sidled up to me in 7th grade and whispered “Some day, Annie, you will be a relationship guru sought after by thousands for your expansive knowledge of love,” I’d have choked on my incredulity then looked around to see which of the Popular Girls was messing with me.

But that was then and now apparently people actually believe I know something about love and the rest of it. Here are some questions from recent seekers:

Hey Terra,

My best friend has a great boyfriend. I’m happy for her, but I’m also extremely jealous and I feel like I can’t find anyone. I’m definitely not ugly. I’m pretty, smart, funny, easygoing and friendly. But why is it that I can’t find a nice guy who is interested in me?!

Lonely Beauty

Dear LB….

_____

Hey Terra,

Any guy I crush over does not feel the same about me. They always have a reason why I’m not “The One.”  What can I do to get guys to like me???

Desperate

Dear Desperate...

And just so you don’t get the impression these are exclusively “girl” issue, check out these poignant queries from guys:

Hey Terra,

Whenever I see this girl that I’m really in love with I freeze up and don’t know what to say. I would do anything in my power for her. Can you please give me some tips on what to say to her? I would really appreciate it.

Freeze up Dude

Dear Dude…

_____

Hey Terra,

I’m 15 and I really want to be with someone and share feelings and secrets and also we can support each other. The problem is that I’m not a popular guy and I’m rejected by many people at school (I used to get picked on and bullied for no reason). I’ve asked girls out a couple of times but they all rejected me.

Still Single

Dear Still Single…

If one of these kids were your son or daughter of course you’d want to ease their suffering, but how? First with the recognition that we’ve all been there. Too shy to talk to a crush and frustrated by our own boundless ineptitude. Lonely. Desperate to be part of a couple. Crazy jealous of a friend who had a bf/gf. Then there was the inescapable fear that no one would fall in love with us… ever!

If Valentine’s Day is bringing your kid down, try to be empathetic. Take the lead and open a respectful conversation about it. This could be a great opportunity to show some compassion and understanding. That’s going to make your child feel better while it strengthens your bond. Please do not joke about, trivialize or invalidate their pain. Teen angst is real and it hurts.

So remember your kid this Monday. You’re not the love of his or her life, or a close substitute, but when they’re feeling unloved or unlovable (like Freeze Up Dude and the gang) it’s nice to know that Mom or Dad cares.

On a personal note: My father never forgot me on Valentine’s Day. His thoughtfulness was especially important during my “Everyone’s got a boyfriend but me” phase. I knew Dad loved me and that counted a lot. He died suddenly when I was 15 and I still smile at the memory of a tiny bottle of L’Air Du Temps he gave me on Valentine’s Day when I was 12.

Filed under: Holidays,Parenting,Tips — Tags: , , , , , — Annie @ 5:06 pm
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Holiday? It’s about Time

November 22, 2009

 

Hey, I'm here guys! Know what that means?

Hey, I'm here guys! Know what that means?

My Christmas cactus recently woke up from its summer stupor, which can only mean the holidays are coming up the front steps. If the last half of that sentence triggered a stress response, I apologize and I feel your heart palpitations. Holiday stress is very real especially if you’re anything like me when I’m on a quest for the perfect gift, the perfect turkey-brining recipe, the perfect holiday.

But, wait! My handy dictionary defines holiday as: “a day taken off for leisure and enjoyment.” Who was this Noah Webster dude anyway? Obviously he never shopped, hit an ATM, circled a packed parking lot for the fourth time, polished, cleaned, cooked, served, or stared bleary eyed into a packed fridge wondering where three more containers of leftovers could possibly fit.

Before we write-off Webster and his cockamamie definition, please note that in a perfect world holidays are meant to be a pleasant break in routine for you and your loved ones – well-deserved time to de-stress and appreciate being part of a family. Who knew?

As a family, we celebrated an unscheduled holiday in January 1996. A tremendous windstorm roared through our neck of the woods, knocking out the power. No school, no computers, no work. We gathered around the fireplace bundled in blankets as I read aloud from a giant book of obscure folktales. We paused at crucial plot points and guessed what would happen next. We acted out alternative endings. We played Crazy Eights by candlelight. We roasted marshmallows and shared memories from childhood. We ate outrageous ice cream sundaes for breakfast. Hey, we couldn’t just let all that Chunky Monkey melt, could we?

During that long blackout we depended on each other for warmth, comfort, entertainment, and connection. And we had a blast. Five days later when the lights went back on, we all felt a little sad.

21st Century parents and kids need family to provide a place to de-stress. Don’t think your kids are stressed? Here are typical responses I get when I ask kids “What does the word ‘stress’ mean to you?”

  • “A kinda mind overload.”
  • “Pressure and lots of responsibility on your hands.”
  • “Overwhelmed.”
  • ” Overworked.”
  • “…a lot of stuff that I have to do like homework, chores and other things a girl my age should not be stressing about. If I have to do all those things in ONE day I would just pass out. It’s too much pressure!!!!”
  • “A tax on your soul.”

Heart breaking, huh? And those are from 11-13 year olds!

Most things in this world are constantly changing but our unconditional love for kids isn’t one of them. We hurt when we see our kids so freaked out and wound up, but what can we do? You can’t stop the world, but you can slow down your own little corner and bring the family in closer. Don’t believe your kids would want to hang out with you? Probably not all the time. And be honest. You wouldn’t want to hang out with them all the time either! But they do want to spend time with you. Especially when you show them that you really enjoy being with them.

If everyone’s schedule is already packed and you just don’t see how you’re going to create a regular Family Time then I suggest you sit down with your kids and talk about the daily pressures each of you deals with. Discuss how spending time as a family can actually help you all stress less. Unplug the media for one night a week and do something you can enjoy together: Make a meal, work on a project, play a game, go for a hike, make music, dance, look at old family photos or videos, tell stories, read stories, laugh, relax.

Try it and you may get the same bonus our family got when the storm blew out the power… the gift of time, which is the first step to reclaiming the heart of your family during the holiday season and year round.

Filed under: Holidays,Parenting,Tips — Tags: , , , , — Annie @ 2:24 pm
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