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.

Sweetie, it’s time for The Talk

February 28, 2014

I wanna hold you hand and...

I wanna hold your hand and…

Friday is Family Confidential day. Before you race over and check out my latest podcast (Having “The Talk” with Tweens with Marlene Mahurin, co-founder of the online parent-tween sex education course, Time for the Talk) let me  tell you why I wanted to interview a sex educator.

I’ve been answering teen email questions for almost 17 years. A lot of them are about sex. Like these:

  • All of my friends have their periods except me. What’s wrong with me??
  • Does having sex make your breasts bigger?
  • Can you get pregnant swallowing cum?
  • This girl and I didn’t expect to have sex, but it just sort of happened. Is it possible she might be pregnant?
  • My best friend who has been like a brother to me just told me that he is gay. I was shocked and just got up and left. I don’t know what to say to him.
  • My bf and me are 14 and we’ve already been dating for two years. I’m ready to have sex with him but all my friends are saying no and I’m not ready. I feel like I’m ready. What should I do?
  • My friend is eleven, started her period and might have had unprotected sex with her boyfriend. She says she’s pregnant and I am worried if she keeps the baby she may not know how to be healthy when you’re pregnant.
  • My mom walked in on me playing down there. She’s been real mean to me since then. She calls me a slut and a whore. I tell her that I’m not having sex or anythings, but she doesn’t believe me.

They say, “What you don’t know can’t hurt you.” That might be true, occasionally, but when it comes to teens, what they don’t know about sex, puberty, sexual orientation, can and often does hurt them.

Your kids are getting a sex education all the time, from the media, the internet and their clueless friends. It’s probably not be the education you want for them. Do yourself and your kids a favor, listen to the podcast, Having the Talk with Tweens. so you can feel more comfortable talking to your kids about sex.

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Guest blogger: 2 Young 2 Be a Mom

March 1, 2010

By Carmen Alisa Sweeney-Rios

Carmen Alisa Sweeney-Rios became a single mom at 16. After a second teen pregnancy and a battle with depression for most of her teen and adult life, she dug deep to find answers. Now recovered from depression, married and the mom of six sons, Carmen shares her journey  along with the stories of others whose lives have been affected by teen pregnancy in her blog.  You can also follow her on twitter. That’s where I met her. Here’s to you and your journey, Carmen!

She's so impressionable. Make an impression that helps her stay strong.

She's so impressionable. Make an impression that helps her stay strong.

Sometimes it is easier to give in than to stand up and fight for what we know is right. When times are tough and the goal seems impossible to reach, it is then that we need the hand of a friend to pull us ahead and lead us with kindness in their voice. Life is tough in general and when environmental megaphones such as peer pressure, puberty and powerful media campaigns get an anchor on our adolescent girls, they need a hand to hold and a voice to lead them out of the deep.

Would you like to be that hand and voice in her life? Be there for your daughter, your granddaughter, your niece, your patient or that struggling foster child. One by one, hand in hand, we can make an impact on their lives and a difference in the future or our young women. Let them know that they are not alone and teach them the road to happiness and success is found through self-respect, communication, education and discipline. You will both have a brighter future because of this.

Our adolescent girls need to be taken care of, supervised, educated, empowered and loved. Be the one to do this for her or she will find a young man with other priorities who will be the hand and voice. Do you think his message will be similar to yours or as healthy? Because of her need for guidance and love, she may choose to give in to him and before you know it her smile becomes a bridge of tears and her life full of chaos and fear. Talk to her, be there for her, so that she may make an educated choice that will lead her into a bright future, not one of adversity and despair. Care enough to make a difference in the life of a child. They need you. Don’t abandon them. Love them. Supervise them. Educate them.

Filed under: Parenting — Tags: , , , , — Annie @ 11:29 am
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The game is Teen Love, but what are the rules?

February 1, 2010

Teen love

Teen love

One Saturday afternoon before I headed out to meet my boyfriend at the high school tennis courts, my mom said, “Let him win.”

Even though it was before Billie Jean King served Bobby Riggs a massive slice of humble pie, I was stunned. Let him win?! Excuse me?!

I might have only been 16, but I knew there was no way in hell I would play the Dating Game by rules that also included:

“Don’t wear your heart on your sleeve.” And… “If a boy asks you out after noon on Wednesday for Saturday night, tell him you’re busy even if you’re not.”

Recently, I asked other parents what Boyfriend Girlfriend Zone wisdom they got from their folks. As you can see, some of the pointers were right-on, others not so much:

About Dating and Sex

  • “Play hard to get.”
  • “Go out with self-actualized (liberated) girls, but open the door for them anyway!”
  • “Always go out with everyone who asks you because you might fall in love with his brother or best friend.”
  • “Don’t trust boys who are too nice to a girl’s parents. It’s always an act!”
  • “Always be a gentleman. This will automatically put you above most other guys in a girl’s eyes.”
  • “A man wants a woman who makes him feel comfortable.”
  • “Be yourself. That way the person you’re dating will like you, and not someone you’re pretending to be.”
  • “If you wouldn’t want to bring them home to meet your family then they’re not good enough for you to date.”
  • “When a girl says no, she means no.”
  • “Don’t just be ‘good,’ that’s only a rule. Be wise.”
  • “Give references, but no samples.”
  • “If you’re going to be stupid (have sex before marriage) be smart (protect yourself!).”

    I’m inundated with daily email from teens who are utterly clueless about dating. Some typical questions:

    The U.S. and the UK have the highest rates of teen pregnancy amongst western industrialized nations. Nothing to be proud of. And the number of those pregnancies in the US is up after a 10 year decline. Likewise, STD rates amongst teens is skyrocketing, especially HPV (human papillomavirus). One recent study found that 4 out of 5 sexually active teen girls infected with HPV!

    Abstinence Only Sex Education programs, which received $1.3 billion in federal funding during the Bush years, owe us all a refund. This isn’t and never has been “education” nor does it prepare kids to make informed choices about their sexual behavior. So they make uninformed choices often and repeatedly.

    Before you ground your teens for life, please note that everyone is not doing it. In fact, American teens are now waiting longer to have their first sexual intercourse. By age 15 only 13% of teens have had sex. Sounds encouraging, except that many of those under 15 who aren’t having intercourse are definitely messing around. (I’ll get to that in a minute.) Amongst 15-19 year olds nearly half (46%) have had sexual intercourse at least once. While it’s great that some teens are waiting longer, I’m not thrilled at the idea of 15 and 16 year olds having sex. Many girls are very conflicted about it but they believe it’s necessary to get and keep a boyfriend. (Wonder where they get that idea?)

    Another problem is that many 11-14 year olds simply don’t know the definition of sex. Plenty of middle school students consider oral sex to be “like no big deal.” Last week I got an email from a 14-year-old who was “committed to remaining a virgin” but was considering “doing it from the rear” because her boyfriend wanted to “try something new” and she didn’t think that anal sex was… well, you know, actually sex.

    Girls must understand unequivocally that saying no is their right. Too many girls don’t feel good about turning a guy down because they don’t want to be “mean.” Guys need to know that sexual contact with a girl is not their right. Healthy relationships are based on 2-way trust, respect, honesty and open-communication. Moms and dads need to bring home these points to their sons and their daughters.

    Here are some questions for you to think about (and resolve) before you begin a new kind of conversation with your tweens and teens about dating and sex.

    1. What’s your personal attitude about teen dating? Teen sex? Is it different for your daughters than it is for your sons?
    2. If you’re raising kids with someone, are you and your partner on the same page with these attitudes?
    3. What have you learned about relationships from your time as a teen that you can comfortably share with your child?
    4. What kind of social/sexual behavior do you expect from your daughter/son?
    5. Have you made your behavioral expectations crystal clear?
    6. In what ways are you doing a great job letting your kids know that they can always come to you with questions/concerns (about their body, about sexual feelings, about the pressure to have a boyfriend/girlfriend and to “do stuff”).
    7. In what ways could you do a better job in the communication/information and listening arena?

    There’s more blatant sexuality in the media and in our kids’ lives than there was in ours. With that comes intense pressure to look sexy and to act it out. That’s why our kids need better advice from us than what got from our parents.

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Guest Blogger: Teen Pregnancy from the Eyes of a Sister

September 26, 2009

By Islande

Islande is a 16 year old writer at RadicalParenting.com, a parenting blog written from the kid’s perspective with 80 teen interns. Born in Haiti and currently in Jacksonville, Florida, Islande, wants to be a psychologist so that she can help others with their problems and issues and just be an ear to their venting.

Teen Pregnancy. How cool is that?!

Teen Pregnancy. How cool is that?!

“Mom, Dad…I’m pregnant.” Now I’m pretty sure that no parent wants to hear those words come out of the mouth of their teenage daughter, but the reality is that when it happens, it happens. The daughter now has a child, another being, another soul to take care of and the parents now have shame, shock and surprise to deal with. But then, what about everyone else in the mix? What about the baby’s father, the cousins, the siblings? What about the sisters, like me?

When I first heard the news that my 18 year old sister, fresh out of high school, was pregnant, it hit me. Hard. Not as hard as it hit my folks, but still pretty hard. I didn’t want to believe it. Despite the evidence right in front of me, I still denied it, until I just had to face reality and see that this was going to happen. My sister had gotten pregnant and will have a child.

When I did finally accept the truth, it was time to face facts. I tried looking at the positives but a negative fact kept creeping in not too far behind. For instance, I would think, “I’m going to be an aunt!” Then the negative thoughts came: “Yes, but at 16? You’re an aunt to your 18 year old sister’s child!” The only positive outlook that I see is one: a baby will be born. I just have a soft spot for babies. They’re my weapon of vulnerability. Once I see or hold a baby, nothing else matters.

There are many others out there like me, others of different ages, races, and genders, who know what I may be going through. Some may be experiencing it worse than I am. And it seems as if everyday, more and more teens are getting pregnant and it’s no longer, in my opinion, a “big deal”. You’re a teen pregnant out of wedlock? No problem! It’s normal! Society will take care of you! Everyday it’s turning less and less into a serious issue and more and more into a…well, a fad, a trend, an okay thing.

According to FamilyFirstAid.org, “The United States has the highest rates of teen pregnancy and births in the western industrialized world. Teen pregnancy costs the United States at least $7 billion annually. Thirty-four percent of young women become pregnant at least once before they reach the age of 20 — about 820,000 a year. Eight in ten of these teen pregnancies are unintended and 79 percent are to unmarried teens. Most teenagers giving birth before 1980 were married whereas most teens giving birth today are unmarried.” The sad part is that teen pregnancy is becoming widely publicized. Teen celebrities and actresses, such as Jamie Lynn Spears, are becoming pregnant. Movies, like Juno, are portraying teen mothers. Books, music videos, magazines are all treating this issue so lightly. But who is out there to say no? Who out there is getting the point out to our teens, preventing them to not get pregnant?

The only name that comes to mind at the top of my head is Maury. I watch his shows all the time. Not all of his shows speak of “lie detector tests” and “DNA tests”. Certain episodes address teen mothers and want-to-be teen mothers. Guests, such as real girls who experience it and are still fighting for child support, trying to find their baby’s father or fighting each day for financial security for them and their baby, appear on the show. But they can’t go back in time. You can’t move back, only forward in life. But it’s sad and unbelievable. Like Maury likes to say to his audience and special guests, “You’re only a child yourself. How can you take care of another being when you can’t even take care of yourself?” And his question still remains unanswered.

So is it a fad? Sadly, it seems that way. But things aren’t always what they seem. Let’s hope not, because we can’t just let this happen to our teens and act like it’s ok and everything’s just “fine and dandy”, because it’s not and it won’t be. Teen pregnancy affects everyone, not just those who get pregnant. All we can do is stick by our teens and day by day, try to decimate this widely popular fad. One day at a time.

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