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In this Newsletter
May Parenting Article
Emptier Nest? Open a New Window
by Annie Fox, M.Ed.
“I’ve been hugging her a lot,” my friend Gayle said when I asked how she was preparing for her college-bound daughter’s departure.
“Savoring the moments,” I nodded. “That’s nice.”
“I wouldn’t put it that way,” Gayle cut to the chase. “Last night after dinner, when she got up and said she was taking a shower I just couldn’t control myself.”
“Did you follow her into the bathroom?”
“Worse. I threw my arms around her and held on so tight that she couldn’t move. I’ve been doing that a lot lately. Pathetic, huh?”
“No,” I reassured her. “Look, she’s your only child, and you’ve been really focused on her for almost 18 years. It’s totally understandable that you’re sad she’s leaving.”
At the “L” word, Gayle winced, but I plunged ahead. “You and Ben have done an incredible job raising her. She’s intelligent. Kind. And if she wasn’t self-confident she wouldn’t be so excited about going to college 3,000 miles away.”
Mentioning the distance caused Gayle’s face to contort.
“Sweetie, you’ve got to refocus some of this energy into something new, because if you don’t, you’re both going to be really unhappy during your last summer together.”
Oops. That did it. Gayle’s eyes welled up. Sigh. Kids grow up. And if that’s not one of the toughest facts of life to swallow, what is?
Gayle knows I understand. I’m a mom even though the genetic evidence is far away at the moment. Our daughter’s trekking around Cambodia and our son is teaching in Malaysia. But even when they complete their respective adventures they’re not coming home due to the simple fact that they don’t live here anymore. No, we didn’t kick them out. Nor did they leave in a huff. They just went ahead, thumbed their noses at Peter Pan, and grew up.
Did you catch the fine print on your child’s birth certificate? It read:
“You’ve got just 18 years to prepare this child to become a fully-functioning independent adult who can make their own lunch and have their own life. Good luck. Time starts… NOW!”
Continue reading the rest of the article...
Annie’s New Book Series
“Middle School Confidential”
Annie’s ground-breaking new Middle School Confidential series for 10-14 year olds will be published by Free Spirit Publishing in August 2008. A unique hybrid blending fiction and smart-talk practical advice, Middle School Confidential provides the answers tweens and young teens need in a full-color graphic-novel format that will draw in even reluctant readers.
Fighting “Peer Approval Addiction”
Now Booking for Fall 2008
“I just want people to like me…” The pressure for peer approval can cause 5th-8th graders to lose sight of what’s right. In doing whatever it takes to gain popularity some kids make thoughtless choices that hurt themselves and others. Many are often unhappy, confused or stressed. Middle schoolers need help ASAP!
Starting in September Annie will combine her dynamic teaching style, with her warmth, wisdom and humor into Middle School Confidential Workshops for Students. Based on the her new books, these assemblies challenge youth’s thinking about themselves and their peers while encouraging more respectful and inclusive behavior at school and among friends.
For parents and teachers – Adults have enormous potential for supporting positive, school-wide social change. Annie’s workshops for parents and teachers provide unique opportunities to explore the reality of today’s middle schools. By providing an understanding of adolescent brain function and insight into how self-perceptions can work against self-confidence, Annie helps adults give students what they need for healthy social/emotional development in middle school and beyond.
Bring Annie Fox to your school:
Annie Fox, M.Ed. is an educator with 30+ years experience. A trusted online adviser, Annie is presenting at this year’s 35th Annual National Middle School Association Conference. Her books include: “Too
Stressed to Think? A teen guide to staying sane when life makes you CRAZY” (co-author Ruth Kirschner) and “The
Teen Survival Guide to Dating and Relating”. To request Fall 2008 or early 2009 workshop information click here.
Letters from Parents and Teens
“My daughter is left out a lot”
My 13-year-old daughter seems to have friends but they rarely call to do anything with her on weekends or days off. When she calls them they already have plans, and she seems to be left out a lot. I’ve asked her to start making plans at the beginning of the week or asking if she can join them. She either says that three girls “don’t work out” or she waits too long and ends up at home by herself all weekend. I feel for her. Please help me help her!
Dear Helpful Mom,
Of course this is upsetting but I’d caution you against taking the ups and downs of her 13-year-old social life too much to heart.
She is navigating a new phase in her life where making social plans isn’t a parent’s responsibility. She has to learn to put herself out there to make those calls. Depending on her temperament and how connected she feels to these particular friends, this might be challenging for her. And so she puts it off ’til the end of the week rather than doing the practical thing you suggest – to start making plans earlier.
As long as your daughter “has friends” and seems happy in school, then I’d suggest that you relax. That includes stepping back from trying to solve this problem for her with your helpful and loving suggestions. She might interpret these moves as a sign that she is upsetting and disappointing YOU (not a message you want to send, I’m sure!).
This situation will change as she matures. She’ll become more self-confident and she’ll click with the right friends. In the meantime, make plans as a family to do fun things on the weekend. Take advantage of this lull before the inevitable social “storm,” because soon, she’s likely to be spending time with her friends every weekend, all weekend long!
“This kid is telling people I’m gay”
This guy John is the biggest JACKASS I’ve ever met! Excuse the language, but this guy makes me mad! My friend recently attempted suicide and when he came back to school I hugged him and so did a few of my other friends. (I’m a guy too.) John said that we all had a threesome!! I’m hetero though! What should I do? Every day at lunch at least two people ask me if I am gay or straight!
Dear Straight Guy,
There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with your showing affection for a friend by hugging him! In fact, there’s a lot RIGHT with what you did. You and your friends were obviously relieved to see him back in school and you all were showing him support. That’s great!
Before I give you some advice for dealing with John, you don’t need me to tell you that there’s nothing wrong with being gay, do you? I understand that you aren’t gay, but some people are born gay... And that’s just part of who they are. No big deal, right? Right.
OK, now let me tell you something. When a guy makes a huge deal about friends acting like friends and spreads lies about your sexual orientation... that tells me that John was uncomfortable when he saw you and your friends hug your other friend. Not because of the hug, or that he really believes you are gay, but because of the feelings and confusion he may have about his OWN sexual orientation.
Look, people often show their ignorance by trashing other people. Don’t let it get to you.
If you had brown eyes and every day at least two people asked you, “Do you have brown eyes or blue eyes?” You wouldn’t get upset, would you? Of course not! You’d just simply say, “I’ve got brown eyes.” End of conversation.
You know the truth. You’re heterosexual. So if someone asks you “Are you gay or straight?” simply tell them the truth... No need to get upset OK?
Got a parent-teen problem you need help with? Click
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Read other parents’ questions here.
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Upcoming Parenting Workshops and Student Assemblies
Middle School Confidential Workshops
Annie’s upcoming new book series, “Middle School Confidential”, written with Annie’s signature wit, wisdom and humor will be available this Fall. Starting in September, Annie’s offering a new set of dynamic Middle School Confidential presentations for students, parents and teachers. To request more information, click
here. Click here for
a list of Annie's past events. Read what they're saying about
Past Newsletters – read our archive of
past Parent Forum Newsletters.
Recommended Books – Annie
highly recommends these parenting books.
AnnieFox.com – includes parenting
tips, letters from teens
and parents, Parent Forum articles past and present, information about Annie’s
books, and workshops/seminars.
The InSite (www.TheInSite.org)
– created especially for teens who have ever thought about making a difference. The InSite provides
teens with the information, the inspiration, and many possible game plans so they can take charge of their choices
and their lives.
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