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.

Love Power on Valentine’s Day and 24/7

February 12, 2016

You make my heart sing

You make my heart sing

David and I have been married since 1974. Yeah. Looooong time. Lots of opportunities to learn about the power of love to support, encourage, and embolden.

Any time you acknowledge how much you value the partnership you are in is time well spent. Sunday might a good time. Or not. But don’t take it for granted because, like a garden, if you stop taking care of things, the damn aphids will take over.

Ok, so here is a sampling of what I’ve learned about love in the past 41 years. Take what makes sense to you. Leave the rest. I hope it helps in whatever ways you need.

  1. It’s not about who you love, it’s about how.
  2. If it’s getting in the way of being together, as friends and lovers, talk about it and find a way through.
  3. Be totally trustworthy and require the same from your partner.
  4. Look for opportunities to ease your partner’s mind and tight shoulder muscles.
  5. From time to time, just clean up someone else’s mess without demanding an Olympic Gold Medal.
  6. Don’t cheat… ever.
  7. Be a safe person for your partner to show his/her vulnerability and strength.
  8. Nurture the romance and the friendship because the kids will grow up and leave.
  9. Find at least one thing, outside of the house, that you enjoy doing together and do it… regularly.
  10. Put down the damn digital devise and hold each other close.
  11. Bring home an occasional surprise treat as a “just because” gift of love.
  12. Anger comes in two varieties… the clean kind (I’m upset & here’s why) and the dirty kind (You ALWAYS do this!) Keep it clean.
  13. Be nice. Save the contempt for… actually, don’t save if for anyone.
  14. When your lover wants to talk about something that’s important to him/her (but not to you), stop and LISTEN with genuine interest.
  15. When a hug is given, hug back, no matter how crappy a mood you’re in. It’ll make you feel better.
  16. Even after years of being together, “Please” and “Thank you” are signs of caring.
  17. Keep a supply of dark chocolate on hand and share it.
  18. Cleaning up, doing laundry, shopping is just more fun when you do it together.
  19. If your lover is under the weather (or stressed over a work deadline) do more than your share around the house with a smile.
  20. If you notice your honey has spinach bits between teeth or (horrors!) a booger… speak up (discreetly, of course!)
  21. Say the words “I love you” like you really mean it. Yes, from time to time, we all need to hear the words.
  22. Fill up the gas tank because you know your partner needs the car tomorrow.
  23. Make eye contact and a smile when s/he walks into the room.
  24. Show how much you appreciate having him/her in your life. Not just on Valentine’s, but every day. Your kids learn about love and loving by the way you treat them and by the way you and your partner treat each other.

Enjoy your weekend.

Love,

Annie

Filed under: Parenting — Tags: — Annie @ 11:22 am
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My Dad Always Gave Me a Valentine

February 12, 2015

Me and my dad

Me and my dad

On Valentine’s Day,  my father always remembered my mom with something special. He always gave me a gift, too. None of my friends’ dads did that. 

During middle school, I suffered from acute “Everyone’s Got a Boyfriend But Me” syndrome. I seriously doubted anyone would ever love me. I doubted I was lovable. Funny how those two are connected. Valentine’s Day was a time of high anxiety. Dad’s gifts meant a lot.

My dad died suddenly when I was 15. Left a huge hole in my heart. It’s mostly healed now. As much as it will ever be. There’s still sadness, but I smile when I think of the tiny bottle of L’Air Du Temps he gave me on Valentine’s Day when I was 12. Love stays.

Read more about why you should remember your tweens and teens on Valentine’s Day….

Filed under: Parenting — Tags: , , — Annie @ 9:21 am
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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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50 Lessons of Love for Valentine’s Day and Beyond

February 14, 2013

Love is all around. Take what you need. Give what you can.

David and I have celebrated a lot of Valentine’s Days together… so much chocolate! I appreciate how our partnership contributes to my health and well being. It makes so much of what I do possible. I also especially appreciate how our relationship continues to get better. How can that be? We work at it. A lot. We’re not aiming for perfect, only progress in the direction of more kindness, compassion and fun.

And so, on this Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d share what I’ve learned about love after 38 years of marriage. Take what makes sense to you. Leave the rest. I hope it helps in whatever ways you need.

  1. It’s not about who you love, it’s about how.
  2. If it’s getting in the way of being together, as friends and lovers, talk about it.
  3. Be totally trustworthy and require the same from your partner.
  4. Look for opportunities to ease your partner’s mind and tight shoulder muscles.
  5. Turn off the Opinionator and listen with an open heart and mind.
  6. From time to time, just clean up someone else’s mess without expecting an Academy Award.
  7. Don’t cheat… ever.
  8. If you or your partner has created a break in trust, do what makes sense to learn from it and move on… if you can.
  9. Be a safe person for your partner to show his/her vulnerability and strength.
  10. Show that you know and understand who s/he really is.
  11. “Let’s go for a walk” is a lovely thing to say.
  12. Do the dishes, even if it’s not your turn.
  13. Nurture the romance and the friendship because the kids will grow up and leave.
  14. Make food together and enjoy what you’ve dished up.
  15. Don’t look for perfection only progress… in yourself and your partner.
  16. Find at least one thing, outside of the house, that you enjoy doing together and do it… regularly.
  17. Put down the damn phone iPad, Kindle, laptop and hold each other close.
  18. Bring home an occasional surprise treat as a “just because” gift of love.
  19. Anger comes in two varieties… the clean kind (I’m upset & here’s why) and the dirty kind (You ALWAYS do this!) Keep it clean.
  20. Use your love for your partner to give your best self. It’ll become ingrained and then you can give it to everyone.
  21. Be nice. Save the contempt for… actually, don’t save if for anyone.
  22. Share that last chocolate chip cookie.
  23. When your lover wants to talk about something that’s important to him/her (but not to you), stop and LISTEN with genuine interest.
  24. When a hug is given, hug back, no matter how crappy a mood you’re in. It’ll make you feel better.
  25. Show appreciation. Even after years of being together, “Please” and “Thank you” are signs of caring.
  26. Unplug when you’re with your sweetie and be where you are. It shows “You matter to me more than checking FB.”
  27. Fill up the gas tank because you know your partner needs the car tomorrow.
  28. Making your honey a snack is an act of love.
  29. Make eye contact and a smile when s/he walks into the room.
  30. Dark chocolate. Lots of it to share.
  31. When your lover is out in public playing a sport, performing, presenting, be front & center, cheering him/her on!
  32. Let there be togetherness in your chores. Cleaning up, doing laundry, shopping is sweeter when you’re doing it together.
  33. When your lover looks great, tell him/her. When s/he has had better days, do NOT say a word!
  34. If your lover is under the weather (or on a work deadline) do more than your share around the house with a smile.
  35. If you notice your honey has spinach bits between teeth or (horrors!) a booger… speak up (discreetly, of course!)
  36. Foot rubs are such a gift!(if you like having your feet touched) Otherwise… ask what else would feel better.
  37. Be helpful, without being asked.
  38. Listening with an open heart and an open mind leads to understanding. Understanding increases love.
  39. Say the words “I love you” like you really mean it. Yes, from time to time, we all need to hear the words.
  40. A gift is most appreciated when it reflects how well you know and understand your sweetie.
  41. Flirting with anyone other than your sweetie is disrespectful to your lover and your relationship. Just don’t. If you find your affections wandering, take it as an opportunity to make the relationship stronger. Say, “Honey, I need more _____ from you.”
  42. Dark chocolate… wrapped or unwrapped. Lots of it. Frequently. Share.
  43. Forgiveness is a gift to you, your partner, and the relationship. Let go of resentment or it will poison everything.
  44. Be the kind of partner you’d like your partner to be.
  45. Show how much you appreciate having him/her in your life. Not just on Valentine’s, but every day
  46. Your kids learn about love and loving by the way you treat them and by the way you and your partner treat each other.
  47. When your partner is worried don’t say, “That’s ridiculous!” (even if it is.) Just be there with support and encouragement.
  48. Look for opportunities to be helpful. Don’t wait to be asked.
  49. Smile at your sweetie. It sends a great message and you always cuter when you’re happy.
  50. Do something special together today to celebrate your love. We all need that from time to time.  This would be a good time. Enjoy.

Happy Valentine’s Day from our hearts to yours!

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