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.

Guest blogger: Why Kids Listen to their Parents or Don’t

April 1, 2013

by Rick Ackerly, M. Ed.

Rick Ackerly is a nationally recognized educator and speaker with 45 years experience. He’s served as head of four independent schools, speaks to parent and school groups across the country and at education conferences. Rick is the author of The Genius in Every Child. Visit his blog to learn more about his innovative approach to education and parenting.

Rick Ackerly knows about the genius in children

Last month, waiting at gate B22A at O’Hare a parent told me how frustrated she was with her teenage daughter.

“I’ve tried everything with Julie. I read the parenting books and tried it all, and it’s just not working.”

“What did you try?” I asked.

“You know. I confronted unacceptable behavior; I acknowledged her feelings while insisting on what I wanted. I tried not take it personally, but nothing worked.”

“How do you know it’s not working?” I asked.

She looked at me as if I were either goading her or simply an idiot. “She keeps doing the very things I tell her not to do.”

“With teenagers,” I said. “That is not a sign that it is not working. Adolescents are not constituted to obey. They are wired to disobey. Well, not exactly disobey. They are wired to make their own decisions—not necessarily good ones, but to make them. It is essential for their survival that they practice making decisions and noticing results.”

She, of course, was not relieved to hear this. Raising teenagers can be a nerve- wracking experience, and I have never known a parent who is in the throes of this enterprise to be easily pacified. And anyway, I never got the chance to attempt further consolation, because the boarding process began just as I was delivering my shocking message that “They are wired to disobey.”

I wish I had had the time to tell her about a conversation I had with 18-year-old Allison as I drove her home from a basketball game one Wednesday evening several years ago.

“I listen to my father,” said Allison, “because I have found that he tells me things that turn out to be true. Like ‘Never go out without money,’ he says.”

Allison had needed someone to talk to. Last Saturday night there had been a party where some of her classmates got drunk and trashed the house of a classmate.

She went on: “I wish I could talk to the parents of my friends and tell them how to talk to their kids. I wish they would tell them things like ‘Never go out without money.’ There we are at Starbucks and they’re all, ‘Allison, can you pay for this? I didn’t bring any money,’ and I go, ‘Sure.’ But it get’s annoying. They do pay me back, but it’s annoying. Parents ought to be careful what they tell their kids, so that when they give them advice, the kids will listen. What those kids did to that house was gross.”

“But you don’t always do what your father says, do you?”

“No, but when he talks, I do listen. Sure, it makes me mad when he tells me to get off Facebook and to start doing my homework, but I know he is telling me the right thing. That’s the point. I know it is the right thing for him to tell me. It makes him mad when I don’t do it right away, but that’s the way it’s supposed to be between parents and their teenagers. I know he’s right. I just have to do it myself. He has become like an authority. When he speaks I listen.”

Don’t all parents want to become “like an authority?” Listen to Allison. She is on to something very important.

Until age five, it is important for parents to back up their statements—with force if necessary. If a parent says: “No, you can’t have a candy cane before dinner,” then it is very important that the child does not eat a candy cane before dinner. “Eight o’clock bedtime” has to mean: In bed by eight. Period. If a parent says it’s bad for you and then let’s you do it, how can you trust such a parent? Why should a child listen to such a parent?

However, by age thirteen, the human brain is working to develop and consolidate the part of the brain that makes decisions—the pre-frontal cortex. By 18 the teenage brain has all the circuitry of an adult brain, but not enough practice. They know drinking to excess is not good for you, and that trashing a house is very bad, but the adolescent mind is open to other possibilities which must be tested to be “known.” Close relationships with adult authorities are important for helping kids know which end is up. If kids listen to parents it is because parents have proven that they are authorities worth listening to.


Teaching Kids to Be Good People Blog Tour

February 28, 2013

As a published author, of course I know about book tours. Not that I’ve ever actually been on one, but I’ve attended other authors’ events at Book Passage. So, yeah. I understand the concept. What I didn’t get, until recently, is “What’s a blog tour?” Turns out it’s pretty much the same thing as a book tour without the books, the bookstore, or the fans eager to buy an autographed copy.

Not all teachers are parents, but all parents are teachers

Since I’ve got a new book I’m rather proud of and zero publicity budget, starting today,  I’m on the (virtual) road with the Teaching Kids to Be Good People Blog Tour (Feels like we need a theme song. I’ll work on it.) At each of the nineteen stops along the tour, there is no stump speech. You, my dear readers, will be treated to totally new and thought provoking content to help us 21st century parents raise nice kids who also do good in the world.

Here’s where you can find me and when:

I know it's a virtual tour, but I want this bus!

Teaching Kids to Be Good People Blog Tour Itinerary

Got the T-shirt:

February 28 – Suzanna Narducci’s blog at

February 28 –  Heather Chauvin’s blog (video interview)

March 5 – Kelly Hirt’s blog My Twice Baked Potato

March 7 – Jean Tracy MSS’ Parenting Skills Blog

March 10 –  Jeanne Demer’s The Ruby Books

March 16 –  Rick Ackerly’s blog at Genius in Children

March 18 – Margit Crane and Barbara Dab’s Good Enough Parenting Radio Show

March 18 –  Sharon Silver ‘s blog at Proactive Parenting

March 19 – Families Magazine Southwest (UK)

March 20 –  Sue McNamara at

March 21 – Kristen Ploetz’ Little Lodestar

March 27 – AK StoutDeb Evans‘ Social Geek Radio 6 pm (PT)

March 28 –  Bruce Sallan’s #DadChat “Doing the right thing is good karma” (on Twitter) 6 PM (PT) Enter TweetChat room

March 29 – Lynnee Jimenez’s

April 1 – Melissa Wardy’s blog at PigtailPals

April 8 – Keith Rispin’s Parenting Old School blog as well as Keith’s Ed Tech blog

April 15 – Carrie Goldman’s blog Portrait of an Adoption

April 19 –  Sarah Newton’s blog at Sarah

April 29 –  Dr. Laura Markham’s blog at Aha Parenting

A big thank you  to all my blog tour hosts. These are top-notch folks. All of them are authors, educators, clinicians, and/or parent coaches who do truly excellent work supporting kids, parents, and families.  I’m honored to be on the same team with each of them and I encourage you to explore their books and services. We’re all here together to help each other as we help our kids.

OK, the blog tour starts now. Wait!! How’s my hair look? Oh, right. It doesn’t matter. :O))

Happy Parenting! (And if you feel the urge, please sign the guest book.)

We're in this together!

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