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

Declaring independence isn’t so easy for girls

June 28, 2013

As I wrote in April, I’m currently working on The Girls Q&A Book on Friendship with the amazing illustrator, Erica De Chavez. We’ve been having a blast on this collaboration and that’s always a good sign about the finished product!

Easing into the looong Fourth of July weekend (Why not start celebrating now?)  I thought I’d give you another sneak peek at the book, since we’ve been talking about independence and this question from a 5th grader couldn’t be more on topic.

Even bff’s need independence (from The Girls Q&A Book on Friendship, by Annie Fox, illustrated by Erica De Chavez, © 2014 by Annie Fox and Erica De Chavez. Now available)

Q: My best friend doesn’t like me doing anything on my own. But when I don’t have time to do what I love, I don’t feel like I’m really me!

A: Best friends do not need to do everything together. You are both allowed to have time away from each other. It’s cool to be able to do things on your own, like read or draw, play sports, ride your bike or just to sit and daydream. Independence is a good thing.

It sounds like your friend really doesn’t understand how important “on my own” time is to you. Maybe she doesn’t understand because it’s not the same with her or maybe you’ve just never talked about it. How about telling her? If, for example, you like to draw, you might say something like this, “Sometimes, I’d rather draw than do anything else. When I’m in one of those ‘I need to draw’ moods, I want you to let me draw without getting upset with me.”

You might also ask her what she likes to do when she’s on her own. This kind of conversation can help the two of you understand each other better and that can help the friendship become stronger.


Check out other sneak peeks of The Girls Q&A Book on Friendship here and here.

UPDATE October 3, 2014: The Girls Q&A Book on Friendship: 50 Ways to Fix a Friendship Without the DRAMA is now available in print and on Kindle (the ebook can be read on any device, your mobile phone, tablet, or computer with the free Kindle reader app). Visit for an excerptreviews, and to order your copy.


Guest blogger: My daughter is becoming a woman

June 27, 2013

Guiding each other toward independence

by Megan Sullivan

Continuing July’s Independence theme, I’m pleased to post this guest blog by Megan Sullivan. Megan is a free-lance writer. She lives in Southern California with her husband and their two daughters.

My daughter is already fifteen, stands two inches taller than me and has a driver’s permit, so you would think that I would be prepared for anything. We made it through the training bra, the menstrual cycle and now we have moved onto “real bras.” I get embarrassed when boys look at her, but I really was coping with her maturing physique.

Then it happened… my little girl came to me, hair in a sweet braid, looking extra innocent with a piece of paper in her outstretched hand. I was thinking she must have achieved something in school or had a letter for me to sign. But when I looked closely at the paper I felt faint. She had printed out a Victoria Secret coupon (I’ve raised money-conscious kids!) and she wanted me to take her shopping for more grown-up undergarments.

Her smile said that she expected me to high five her choice in lingerie, drive to the mall to pick-up some lacy underthings, and send her out into the wide world with her thong straps showing above her waistline. Instead, she got Mom making sounds kept without forming sentences. My daughter has yet to start dating, but my mind leapt quickly from underwear to teen pregnancy, to appearing on one of those terrible daytime talk shows where everyone yells.

All I could utter was a stilted, “Why?”

Apparently, her friends shop at VS all the time and lately they had been poking fun at her off brand undies as she changed in the locker room. Nothing more to it than typical mean girl antics. I don’t remember kids being brand conscious down to the skivvies, but I can understand the desire to feel good about yourself and the need to fit in with your gal pals. I guess my generation did see the rise of Calvins.

Beyond impressing her besties, my daughter is growing into a woman and cares about her appearance from top to bottom. She laughed when I said, “Do we need to talk about boys again?” She promised that at this time these items were for herself, and reminded me that Victoria’s Secret carries plenty of ‘normal underwear’, not just sheer leopard print push-up bras.

“I’ll talk to you before a boy sees my underwear, Mom.” she promised, like a young woman present and in control of her choices.

So we went shopping together and my girl steered clear of the store’s naughtier items, barely even giving them a glance. She’s also taught me that there’s more to cute underwear than just sex appeal, so I picked up a few cute items of my own.

As our kids grow-up, sometimes they turn out to be more mature than we are. It’s a great feeling to be able to talk to your child like an adult, even if sometimes you still see her as a five-year-old. It’s a part of the path that was made for each of us. I admire my daughter’s smarts, sensitivity, and her sense of style. We won’t always see eye to eye, but I am learning to cope with this new chapter of parenting and enjoy our differences as she becomes a close friend.




Filed under: Parenting,Tips — Tags: , , — Annie @ 1:35 pm
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