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.

Is my 12-year-old daughter old enough to have a boyfriend?

June 23, 2016

What does she think it means to have a boyfriend?

What does she think it means to have a boyfriend?

Sometimes our kids say they’re ready for the next step toward independence and we totally agree. We celebrate the milestone, brief them on the house rules, making double sure we’re all on the same page, then we let them go and hold our breath. When they stumble, we listen with compassion and as much patience as we can muster. We help them evaluate their mistakes and we hold them accountable. And they do better next time.

That’s how we all learn.

But sometimes we’re just not convinced they’re ready, no matter how fiercely they lobby us. Then what? That’s where this mom finds herself…

Dear Annie: 

Is it okay for my 12-year-old to have a boyfriend if she seems emotionally ready? She seems pretty mature when it comes to situations like this, but is she too young? – Worried Mom

Important question. Glad she asked. Here’s my response…

Dear Worried Mom:

Is this an abstract question coming from your daughter or does she already have a boyfriend and is trying to back-date the permission slip?

You ask “Is it okay?” and you sign your letter Worried Mom. That tells me you don’t think it’s okay. It doesn’t matter what I think. She’s twelve. You’re her mom. You make the rules. But it’s not always that simple, is it? Twelve-year-olds can be super persistent. Maybe your “mature” daughter has been crying and screaming at you for a year that she’s the only one not allowed to date and that she hates how you still treat her like a baby!

That’s hard to take. But don’t let her bully you into saying “yes” to anything you’re not comfortable with. On the other hand, you shouldn’t automatically say “no” without digging deeper.

Be strategic.

You say she is “emotionally ready” and “pretty mature when it comes to situations like this.” Emotionally ready for what, exactly? What “situations” are we talking about?  What does your daughter mean when she talks about having a boyfriend? What does she believe is involved in being someone’s girlfriend? What does she think this kind of relationship means to the boy? Not sure? Ask her. Maybe not the easiest question for a 12-year-old to answer, but it’s important for her to think about it and share her thoughts with you. The way she thinks about it may determine how she behaves when you’re not around.

For example, does having a boyfriend mean that she and the boy text and snap chat and hang out together at lunch but never actually see each other outside of school? Or does it mean the two of them go to movies or the mall just the two of them… (public unsupervised time)? Does it mean they go to each other’s homes and hang out in each other’s bedrooms? (private unsupervised time)?

Lots to talk about. Her responses will give you insight into how “emotionally ready” and “mature” your daughter actually is when it comes to the Boyfriend/Girlfriend Zone.

I hope this helps.

In friendship,
Annie

P.S. You might want to check out Annie’s 10 Tips for Teaching Your Daughter Relationship Smarts.

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I’m worried my mom will be disappointed I had sex with my boyfriend

May 28, 2016

Happy Saturday. Today we’re talking about teens and sex.

Hey Terra,

I’m worried about telling my mom about have sex with my boyfriend. I think she’ll be fine with it but I don’t want her to be disappointed because I’m young, what shall I do?

Freaking Out

It’s not a four letter word

Dear Freaking Out,

You’re not alone here. For the record, no matter how old we are, there’s always a part of us that craves Mom’s approval. Just saying.

Now let’s talk about  you. You say you think your mom will “be fine” with it, but you don’t want her to be “disappointed” in you because you are young. Without getting into a debate about “How young is too young to have sex?” I’ll say this: I hope you used protection, the sex was a positive experience, and you have no regrets about it. That’s the best anyone can expect.

You can’t change your age (obviously) and your mom is likely to find out about it anyway, so the question is: How important is it to tell her? If it is very important, then you might say something like this, “Mom, you know that ______ and I love each other.  He and I have had lots of serious conversations about sex and recently we decided that we were both ready to have sex. And we did. I just wanted you to know.”

Then close your mouth and listen to what she has to say. She may be upset or disappointed. She may be happy for you. She may have already assumed you two were having sex so your news won’t be a big deal. Her reaction is not the key factor here. The most important thing is whether you feel good about your decision. It’s not your job in life to make sure everyone around you is happy with everything you do. That would be living your life for them. This is your life. Live it in a way that makes you proud of who you are.

I hope this helps.

In friendship,
Terra

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“I’m jealous over my boyfriend’s ex!”

March 31, 2016

Hey Terra,

Stop kissing her right now!

Stop kissing her right now or I’m gonna do something you won’t like!

I’m with this guy for like 6 months, he’s my first boyfriend and my big love ( even if he’s not my first I fell in love with)… I have a real problem, I’m jealous of his past. He lived so much with his ex and I want this relation to work out the best, but  I don’t know if he thinks the same.  How can I get over this jealousy? It’s driving me crazy! – Jealousy Sucks

Dear Jealousy Sucks –

It sure does! But you don’t have to let jealousy control you or your relationships.

You can’t change your boyfriend’s relationship history: who he has been with,  how they felt about each other, and what they did. That’s over. Done.  Same with your past crushes. (Yes, I’m talking about the first person you fell in love with.)

The only place we can live is right now. If we’re not here, we’re no where at all. (Think about that the next time you space out imagining your guy with his ex.)

Look, either this relationship is what you and this guy both want now or it isn’t. If it turns out the relationship doesn’t last, for whatever reason, then so be it. Take what you learned into your next relationship and do better. But if you can not “get over” your jealousy, then you will be equally jealous of the next guy’s ex or exes.

So what’s in the way of your just saying to yourself, “He is with me now because he loves me. That’s all that matters.”?

How do you kick jealousy to the curb? Sometimes it takes help. If you’ve got a school counselor, you might want to pop in and talk to him or her about how to deal with jealousy. You might also check out some library books about the subject (there are plenty!). Or have a look at this article I wrote. One thing is for sure, doing nothing, is probably not going to help. If you let your jealousy ruin this relationship and you don’t figure out a healthy way to deal with these feelings, the same mistrust and jealousy will likely mess up your next relationship. You don’t want that! So work on this. You can do it.

Good luck!  I hope this helps.

In friendship,

Annie (aka Terra)

Filed under: Parenting,Teens — Tags: , , — Annie @ 3:47 pm
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Should I just send the nude pictures and make him happy?

December 8, 2014

This feels weird, but as long as he's happy....

This feels weird, but as long as it makes him happy….

Smart girls and guys often make stupid choices. Smarter teens recognize when something feels off. They’re the ones who stop beforehand to get a second opinion. Here’s a recent email I received from a smarter girl:

Hey Terra,

My boyfriend and I have a long distance relationship and he really wants nude pictures of me. He doesn’t pressure me about it, but I have a hard time explaining why I can’t do it. I was raised with conservative values, though I have different views from my parents on lots of things. I’ve realized it’s okay to break certain rules, but I can’t even take the picture without feeling disappointed in myself or guilty. He understands my boundaries, but I still feel bad about it. I know plenty of other girls do it and I feel abnormal. Should I just send the pictures anyway, even if I’ll feel down about myself but will make him happy??

–Feeling Abnormal

Dear Feeling Abnormal,

You already know the answer to this one, but it sounds like you need support. OK, here it is: NO. You should not “just sent the pictures anyway, even if (you) will feel down about (yourself) but make him happy.” No way!

It’s not your job to make your boyfriend happy. It is your job to live your life in a way that makes you proud of who you are. Sending nude pictures will not make you feel proud. You know that, so don’t do it.

Now, let’s talk about this request. You say “he doesn’t pressure me about it…” and yet he must be pressuring you because you “know he really wants” these nude photos of you. Repeated, insistent requests = PRESSURE. He is pressuring you about it. He is not “understanding (your) boundaries.” This is not OK.

I hope you’ve told your boyfriend how uncomfortable you are with these requests. If you haven’t yet been crystal clear, here’s what to say to him ASAP: “When you ask me for nude photos it makes me really uncomfortable.” If he asks, “Why?” Simple say, “Because it does. So stop asking.” If that doesn’t get him to quit bugging you, then you need to seriously consider what kind of guy he is and why you are still in this relationship.

I hope this gives you the courage and support you need to do the right thing.

Does it?

In friendship,
Terra

Thank you, Terra.

I guess I just needed someone to confirm it for me.

–Happily from Not Feeling So Abnormal Anymore

This smarter girl just joined the group of Smartest Girls – the ones who demand the respect they are worthy of. How are you teaching your daughter to respect herself, to treat others with respect, and to demand respect from friends and partners?

Filed under: Parenting,Teens — Tags: , , , — Annie @ 2:08 pm
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