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.

The Cure for the Holiday “gimmes”

December 16, 2015

You got that right, Sir Winston

You got that right, Sir Winston

A new baby is a gift. As parents, we’re so over-the-moon in love with our little bundle, all we want is to make him or her happy. So, from the very start, parents pepper kids with questions that begin with:

“Do you want _______?”

Little ones can’t talk yet, so we fill in the blank:

Do you want more?

Do you to play with this?

Do you want mint chip or jamoca almond fudge?

Their every wish becomes our command. That’s why they quickly learn to say “I want _______.” Being a little kid is such sweet gig.

Then one day a parent says ‘NO’ and the 2-year old brain explodes: “What did you say?! What do you mean it’s too close to dinner? What do you mean it costs too much and you won’t buy it for me? This is outrageous!!” Kids don’t have all those words, so they reiterate the obvious for stupid Mommy/Daddy: “BUT I WANT IT!!!!!”

Tantrums don’t always work, but they work often enough to keep hope and self-centeredness alive.

As kids become more aware of the power dynamics within the family, they test boundaries. That’s when a parent’s “Do you want ______?” can take on a sinister ring:

Do you want me to take that away from you?

Do you want a time out?

Do you want me to give you something to cry about?

This last rhetorical question was surprisingly popular amongst parents during the second half of the last century. Hopefully it’s gone the way of the landline, but I’ve got no empirical data either way.

Soon kids realize how important their happiness is to Mom and Dad and because they want to make it easier for us to please them they learn to be very specific about what they want and why they need it… NOW:

“I want __________. (pause) I am too old enough!

“I want __________. (pause) ‘Cause I’m the only one who doesn’t have one!”

“I want you to give me what I want and I want you to leave me alone.” (Double demand… impressive language development!)

For those of us in comfortable circumstances (yes, I’m talking about you on the laptop) it stands to reason our kids may need an attitude transplant to get from “I want to get _____.”  to: “I want to give ______.” But we can do it! Technology connects us with organizations doing good work. We have the credit cards (which makes donating less painful). Click. Click.

Now is an excellent time to look around and see where you could spread a little holiday cheer and some green. Oxfam AmericaInternational Rescue Committee, Southern Poverty Law Center (Teaching Tolerance), Doctors Without BordersUNICEF and Kiva are some of my personal favorites. And there are at least a million other absolutely inspirational organizations that are effectively working on solutions to local, national and international challenges. Giving to any of them makes YOU (and any entitled kid you want to inspire) part of the solution. Find out who’s doing what and support their efforts. Start your search here.

Warning: Giving can become habit-forming, but in a healthy way. And think about it, do your kids really need more stuff or might your family be in the market for some good karma points?


Day 25: Kindness and Respect Challenge (Show me some love)

October 25, 2013

I know how to get what I need

Yesterday’s email from described how much good the gift of a goat can provide an African family in extreme poverty. Great idea. Been gifting goats through for years. Glad to see more goats doing their part to help people.

So I started thinking about goats I’ve known… and remembered this blog from 5 years ago. Fits perfectly with the Kindness and Respect Challenge because it’s about love.

A Tale of Two Kids

Saturday I strolled alone through a golden vineyard. You may not have grapes growing near you, but if you spot a sunny day outside your window, get out in it! Drag your family along too.

In the short term, Nature will re-center you. In the long-term it might keep you saner when you’re locked in traffic, cooped up inside, or stuck anywhere you’d rather not be. Enjoying the natural world might also keep you safer. Because let’s face it, trolling malls can be scary dangerous. Just last week a bunch of Long Island bargain hunters trampled a store employee. Yes, they actually killed a guy who stood between them and 30% off of such gotta-haves as a pair of Hulk Smash Hands.

Nothing like that ever happens in vineyards, even when grapes with attitude are still on the vine. Of course, I wasn’t hunting for anything on Saturday, which is probably why finding the goats was so cool.

There were 15 of them munching grass within a spacious pen. It looked like a perfect home for goats. I’m just assuming, of course. But really, they seemed pretty happy. I don’t know that for sure, but none actively complained. Except for this one goat. He looked at me with what could only be called longing.  Like he suddenly realized that his goat-life was incomplete. Maybe the others felt it too, but they just stood and stared. But Goat the Brave trotted over, looked me in the eye and said, “I need some love. Can you help?”

I reached through the railing and petted him. He tilted his head toward the sun and smiled. “Ahh, that’s great. Now how about behind my left ear, if you don’t mind?” I didn’t mind. I was into it. Bonding by the fence the world went away.  Twenty feet back stood the rest of the herd, frozen, watching Goat the Brave get all that hands-on love. I felt their aching to be patted and cooed at. Yet, to the goat, they lacked the courage to step up and say, “Me too!”

After leaving the goats I headed back to the tasting room where guests sipped their Chardonnay and Merlot, downed salami and cheese, and enjoyed the music of the Las Gallinas Valley Sanitary District Non-Marching Band (aka The Sewer Band), in which my David plays trombone.

Between sets I read on a bench in the late afternoon sun. A 5 year old girl (aka Little Spunky) spotted me and like the brave goat, wanted attention. More coy in her approach, she ducked behind a column and sang quietly to herself but not all that quietly. When I looked up from my book, Little Spunky lowered her voice and pretended to pick flowers. I sighed (loudly) and returned to my book, but faked her out and immediately looked up again. Ha! I caught her looking at me! This time she didn’t look away. Just smiled knowingly and said, “Santa’s coming!” The message was clear… “Don’t miss it, lady!” Then she climbed out of the flower bed and ran toward the music.

I followed. Within seconds, the band launched into “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” and there he was!. And guess who was first to talk to the fat man in red, and receive a kindly smile and candy cane? Good guess. Way to go, Little Spunky. Way to go, Goat the Brave. You know how the world works.  When you need love and attention, you’ve gotta speak up.



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