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.

Go on! Love yourself. There’s so much that’s ‘right’ with you.

February 8, 2015

Unchain my heart to love myself more

Unchain my heart to love myself more

We are so loving this current downpour in parched Marin. Feel like sending the rain gods a Valentine.

The big count down to V-Day has begun. Most of us have been brought up on the notion that Valentine’s Day is for lovers. And, yeah, it is. But here’s the thing, if you don’t love yourself, it’s gonna be hard to really love someone else. Also, if you don’t love yourself, you’re going to have trouble recognizing love coming at you… and an even tougher time accepting and savoring it.

That’s why I’m writing about self-love today. Specifically, how hard it can be for tweens and teens to get excited about being who they are when so many of their peers, family members and The Media conspire to convince them they aren’t “__________ enough.” (Not thin enough, smart enough, cool enough, hot enough… not GOOD enough!) That’s such monumental BS and yet, most middle and high school students buy it and dig right in with fork and spoon. Hell, most adults believe they’re not good enough. Good enough for what?! That’s what I’d like to know.

I got an email from a teen who was super upset because she isn’t “tall enough”. Read on…

I’m a 16 years old girl and only 5’1″ tall. People always make fun of me specially guys. I sometimes cry. Before, I was really confident and I didn’t mind being short, but now it really hurts me. My mother refused to take me to a doctor so he would give me some type of medicine to help with my shortness, although she knows how much I hate my height! What can I do? – Too Short

Dear Too Short,

I understand what it’s like to be short. I am 5’2” tall myself. Not a giant! You say that people “always” make fun of you. Really? Always? You say “before” you were really confident and “didn’t mind being short.” What changed your level of self-confidence? Was it going to a new school or was it one person who suddenly started giving you a hard time?

In friendship,
Terra

Hey Terra,

I always get teased when someone asks me about my height, not always whenever they see me. What changed my self-confidence was one boy who gave me a hard time, but I started to ignore him and not care at all. – Too Short

Dear Too Short,

Smart move to ignore that boy. By doing that you took away his power to upset you. Whenever anyone asks you about your height in a rude way, as in “How come you are so short?” (People can be unbelievably insensitive!) consider answering with the plain and simple truth… “Genetics.” Then on to something else. A person’s height is a fairly boring topic of conversation, isn’t it? If that’s all someone can manage to talk about, well, he or she is probably not a very inspiring companion! ;O)

btw, I’ve got a friend whose daughter is also 16 and not quite 5 feet tall. I reached out to them to see if they had some advice for you. Here’s what they wrote:

From the mom:

We realized very early that Angela was smaller than everyone else. People would look disturbed because she was tiny but had an incredible vocabulary. Our doctor assured us everything was fine and to let her grow at her own pace. When she was eight a doctor friend suggested we just check because certain medical conditions are identified because of short stature. One test lead to hundreds of doctor appointments and she does have a medical condition. This year our daughter argued that the benefits of staying on the medication outweighed the risks – she wants to be 5’3″ and is barely five feet. It took a few weeks, X-rays, and the doctor delving deeper into the risks associated with growth hormones for my daughter to concede and accept she’s hit her maximum height potential. It does make her sad sometimes, but the fact that she could have only been 3’9″ if we hadn’t taken action makes us (and her) embrace her height.

If you can discuss how you feel, your parents need to listen. It is worth the visit to the doctor cross off any other issues that could be behind the height deficiency.

Angela always thought the other kids were foolish because they teased her about something she knew she couldn’t help. For every negative remark she has heard people say about her, she immediately called out something good about herself …even if she fell back on “being nice” over and over. To this day – at 16, she still says this. Angela has some advice for you. She says you should “focus on the strength and beauty then write it down and keep it in a place you can refer to.” Angela did this at age 8 and she still has it today. Angela learned to own the beauty in her petiteness:

– I can climb a tree higher than anyone else and see where the birds live
– I’m petite like Mary Lou Retton and other gymnasts
– I have ADHD like Michael Phelps and look what he did!
– I can curl up easily in airplane seats!
– Not many boys want a girl taller than them, so I’ll always have that

Thinking positively can take practice, but once the feelings become familiar, you can embrace and celebrate your good!

I hope this advice from Angela and her mom helps.

In friendship,
Terra

Hey Terra,

My mom finally agreed to let me see a doctor, although she’s so scared from the side effects, but at the same time, she wants me to feel good about myself. After I read Angela’s mom’s message I felt so much better and I think that Angela is such a strong girl. I wish her good luck in reaching her goals. She’s such an inspiration. And I seriously should start thinking more positively and focus on what’s beautiful in me.

I will do what you told me to do, and of course it is a boring topic. People should care about the personality more than anything else. Again thank you, and Angela, and her mom for giving me such great advice when I needed help. You made me feel much better. –Just Right the Way I Am

Dear Just Right,

We are very glad to have helped you. Any time!

In friendship,
Terra

_______

As we come up on the Day of Love, here’s a delicious truth for you and your children to enjoy: You already are more than good enough for everything that matters. As for the stuff that doesn’t really matter, let it go. Then make yourself a Valentine.

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Tween girl: I don’t wanna wear a bra! Or a shirt!

April 2, 2014

I don't like this idea

I don’t like this idea

Ours is a boob-fixated culture. With so much sexualization of girls in the media you’d assume they’re all dying for their first bra and thong. At least once a week I get email from girls complaining about their “too small” breasts. They want to know if having sex will make them “rounder” or if some cream pitched online will make their breasts grow. But recently I heard from a mom whose daughter was actively resisting the whole “growing-up” thing.

Mom: My 12 year old daughter has started developing breasts and this wouldn’t be problem if she would just wear a shirt or something at our house. But she thinks it’s ok to walk around half naked. Me and my husband have told her she needs to wear something at home, but she’s not listening.

Annie: In 17 years of answering email from parents I’ve not heard this one yet. Just to clarify: Is your daughter just wearing a shirt (without a bra) or is she “walking around half naked?” Not the same thing. If you made a list of your objections to your daughter’s not wearing a bra or a shirt, what would they be? Communicate your objections to your daughter (calmly and respectfully and privately—without your husband being part of this “just between us girls” conversation). Good luck and please let me know how it goes.

Mom: Around the house she refuses to wear even a shirt. I talked with her about why she needs to wear something around the house. (She won’t wear a bra outside the house, but wears shirts.) She is so stubborn. She thinks it’s unfair that girls have to wear bras and shirts all the time and guys don’t. I really don’t want to make her wear something, but I don’t see another option.

Annie: While I admire the strong young feminist you’re raising, she needs to understand what is and what is not appropriate for a 12 year old girl (even at home). No shirt… not appropriate. Tell me, is there a counselor and/or a health/life skills teacher at your daughter’s school? It sounds like you need someone outside the family to talk with your daughter. A female counselor or teacher who has experience working with tweens around puberty and modesty issues would be helpful.

Mom: I will email the counselor today to see what she thinks needs to be done. One bad thing about having a strong young girl is that she will not listen to anyone or anything. That’s why I’m concerned about this. She does what she does no matter if it’s right or wrong.

Annie: Even strong girls needs to learn there are rules and consequences for breaking rules. That’s true for all of us. It’s part of living in a civil society. If, for example, she decided to take her shirt off at school, she’d be disciplined… so in that case she wouldn’t have total freedom to “do what she does.” Good luck with the counselor and please let me know how it goes.

Mom: The counselor thinks my daughter is resisting growing up. That she’s only doing this because she knows she’s maturing into a woman. I can understand that. She told me to make sure my daughter always has a bra on at least because it’s something she needs everyday when she’s older. I don’t think she’ll like me checking her everyday to see if she has a bra on.

Annie: I’m sure your daughter will not appreciate your checking on whether she’s wearing a bra. This doesn’t sound like a good solution as it’s going to become more of a battlefield between you, not less of one. I’d talk to her pediatrician on this one. You need another way to handle this.

Mom: The pediatrician? Never thought of calling her doctor about this.

Annie: Pediatricians can be really helpful in talking to young patients about puberty and their thoughts and feelings about “growing up.”

Mom: Guess she’s just a very unique child then. Pediatrician it is.

Annie: Good luck!

What challenges have you had with your children around growing up and the changes brought on by puberty?

Filed under: Parenting,Puberty,Tweens — Tags: , — Annie @ 10:33 am
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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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