Welcome to the
Terra Parent Forum Newsletter
About this Newsletter
The Hey Terra! Parent Forum Newsletter helps you build healthier relationships
with your teenage sons and daughters. This free newsletter features parenting tips, recommended parenting
books, letters from parents about their teens, letters from teens about their parents, and a schedule of
events where parents and teens can hear Annie Fox live.
What Happened to August’s Newsletter?
No, you didnít miss the August newsletter, we didnít send one out because we didnít get around to writing it! Family time trumped work and thatís the way it should be, especially during the summer. Apologies to our readers, but no regrets. Itís was a lovely summer and weíre back on schedule now.
September Parenting Article
Highly Functional Families—Compassion Begins at Home
by Annie Fox, M.Ed.
|“Reunions are great fun as well as fantastic opportunities to observe family dynamics. They can also cause otherwise mature adults to regress into dysfunctional patterns we thought we’d outgrown.”
As our children’s most important teachers, we should do our best to help them appreciate and respect diversity
in our community. From an early age we need to let our kids know how interesting it is that people have different ethnicities,
enjoy different cultural heritages, and practice different traditions. And we also show them by the way we relate to others,
that in spite of all the differences, we share a common humanity that entitles each of us to compassion and respect. By
teaching these lessons directly and indirectly we help our children get along with others, promote cooperation, and on
a very basic level, support world peace.
But how far does respect for differences go when it comes to one’s own family? Even when we share identical
ethnic, cultural, and genetic legacies, some of us clash strongly with family members due to contrasting personalities,
attitudes, and temperaments...
Continue reading the rest of the
“Too Stressed to Think?” To be Published this Month
new book for teens, “Too Stressed to Think?
A teen guide to staying sane when life makes you CRAZY” (co-written
with Ruth Kirschner) will ship by the end of this month and should be in stores by October! Pre-order an autographed
copy of it directly from me and pay by credit card at our own online “store”.
You can also purchase autographed copies of my other books – “The
Teen Survival Guide to Dating and Relating” (Free
Spirit 2000, 2005) and “Can You Relate?” (Free
Spirit 2000). Order
your copy here!
A Novel Recommendation
Secret Life of Bees
by Sue Monk Kidd
This novel is the first work of fiction I’m
recommending here at Parents Forum. Obviously it’s not a “how to” or “how not
to” book, but it deserves mention
because it reveals profound insights into the adolescent psyche and the dynamics of the parent child relationship.
It also happens to be a beautiful work of literature and totally engrossing – so how can you lose?
in the deep south of 1964, The Secret Life of Bees is told from the point of view of 14-year-old Lily, who has lost
her mother and whose dad is completely unable to provide her with even a modicum of understanding and tenderness. Because
her need to be mothered is so intense (mirroring the need of every child), Lily risks great danger by abandoning her
loveless home and journeying to find a mother. What she discovers about truth and self-deception, strength and vulnerability,
courage and forgiveness are lessons that all parents, can benefit from.
Check out my Recommended
Letters from Teens and Parents about Family Problems
As challenging as it is to keep the lines of communication open and honest in an established family, it’s even more
challenging to build trust when trying to establish a new family. For example...
“How can I protect myself and my daughter
from being disappointed by my boyfriend?”
I’m divorced and have recently started dating "Rick". He has already professed his love for me. However, he stood me and my daughter up for dinner with no phone call. He says he was doing some thinking and is very sorry. He also said that he is scared and hasn’t felt like this about anyone in a long time. His sister told me he was very hurt by his ex wife. He completely lied to me about where he was going. His sister told me the truth and begs me to listen to what he has to say, and besides he is a man. What is the fair thing to do? I do care for him a lot.
Dear Molly’s Mom,
Like you, I’m concerned about Rick’s behavior. You say that you "just recently" started dating and that he has "already" professed his love for you. You obviously think this "I love you" has come too soon and it’s making you wonder whether you can trust it. I agree with you.
Then there’s the fact that his words don’t match with his behavior. Not showing up and not calling is not very responsible and doesn’t demonstrate "love". In the beginning of a relationship, especially, the goal is to build trust and if you (and your daughter) can’t rely on this guy to keep his agreements, then how can you build trust? And without trust what have you got?
Then he lies. Another bad sign.
This guy has been hurt by the break up of his marriage. Emotionally, he hasn’t healed from that wound. He is very vulnerable and probably very needy. Then he meets you and right away he may be thinking "Ah... A new start!" But until he heals from the divorce and does some deep self-exploration it’s likely that he will be bringing all of his emotional baggage into a new relationship with you.
The same is true of any healing you need to do as a result of your divorce.
Please remember that you have your daughter to think about too. Any guy that you get serious with has to pass muster on two levels: as a potential partner for you and as a potential dad for Molly. Do not rush into things.
Sure you can "hear him out" but don’t let your desire to be back in a relationship again cloud your judgment. Not everyone you "care a lot about" makes a good partner for you or a good dad! And as for the excuse "he’s a man"... Don’t buy it! A good man tells the truth and acts responsibly and maturely. Assuming that you’re not going to get that from a guy because he’s "a man" is a crock and forces you to lower your standards.
I hope this helps.
Even when you’re not directly involved in a family conflict, don’t think
you can just sit on the sidelines. In the case of battling siblings, for example, parents need to step in (calmly
and rationally) and help facilitate a truce between your kids.
“If someone doesn’t help me with my sister
I’m going to install electric fences.”
My little sister is so irritating! She comes into my room and bugs me and takes/destroys my stuff and gets me mad so. I tell her to get out and then she runs crying from my room saying I yelled at her when she just wanted to be with me! Whenever I babysit her, she ignores me until I give her a timeout and then she calls my mom and tattles, saying I’m punishing her for nothing and cries. Of course my mom always believes her. My sister is SO ANNOYING! Please help me cuz if someone doesn’t do something I’m afraid I’ll install electric fences or get pit bulls.
On the Edge
Dear On the Edge,
Electric fences... LOL! I appreciate your sense of humor. That’s a great de-stressor, you know. Not to say that you don’t have the right to expect your little sister to respect your space and your stuff. You absolutely do! And I want to help you communicate that to her.
First, how old is your sister? Are we talking about a 4 year old or a 10 year old? The reason I’m asking is because her ability to understand "this is mine and I don’t want you to touch it without my permission" depends on her maturity level.
I’m going to assume that if she’s old enough to call your mom (on the phone) and tattle, then she’s old enough to understand property rights and respect for other people.
Since nothing you’ve done so far has worked, I’m going to suggest that you have a serious (but very calm and mature) conversation
with your mom. You need HER help in communicating effectively to your little sister. Choose a time when you and your mom
can be alone with nothing else going on that would compete with your mom’s attention. Tell her that you want to improve
the relationship you have with your sister (that’s the goal). And that you need your mom’s help. Explain to her which
parts of your sister’s behavior "bug you" and explain to your mom that if she is going to put you in charge of your
sister, then you need your mom’s support in setting up boundaries (agreements) and giving you the authority to mete out
consequences. Up until now, it sounds like your sister is getting away with a bunch of unacceptable behavior. She isn’t
showing you any respect. With your mom’s support and your mom joining forces with you to lay down the new rules, your sister
ought to get the message that if she wants to be treated with respect, then she needs to learn to treat you with respect.
So, step one... Set up an appointment to talk with your mom.
Got a parent-teen problem you need help with? Click
here to Ask Annie
Read other parents’ questions here.
Read teens’ letters about parents here.
If you’re a teen and you need some help, click
Over the next two months, Annie will be speaking at the following places.
||The Branson School: Freshman Parents Welcome
Dinner — "Helping your students keep their balance and their sense of humor" (not a public event)
||Seacrest School: "Being
Your Own Person in Middle School" — a student assembly (not a public event)
||Half Moon Bay, CA
||Seacrest School Parent Education Night
Presentation: "Middle School
Parenting: How to maintain your sense of humor and your balance" For information call 650 712-9892
||Half Moon Bay, CA
||Crystal Springs Upland School: "Relationships
101" — a series of health classes for 11th graders (not a public event)
||The Branson School: "Transitioning to High
School Social Life Without the Stress" — a series of seminars for freshman (not a public event)
||Scottsdale Public Library: "Being
Your Own Person" Workshop for teens. For information call 480 312-2474
||Free Public Event!
Towne Center Books: Annie
will talk about her new book Too Stressed to Think? A teen guide to staying sane when life
makes you CRAZY and the challenges
of keeping your life in balance. Teens and Parents welcome. For information call: 925 846-8826
School: "Don’t Stress About Stress" — a series of seminars for 4th-8th graders (not a public event)
||San Anselmo, CA
||Hillview Middle School: "The 7th grade
Survival Guide" — part of the 7th grade speaker series (not a public event)
||Menlo Park, CA
||Hillview Middle School: Parent Education
Night Presentation "Middle School Parenting: How to maintain your sense of humor and your balance." For information call 650 326-4341
||Menlo Park, CA
If you want Annie to speak at your school, event, or conference, click
Past Newsletters – read our archive of
past Parent Forum Newsletters.
Recommended Books – Annie
highly recommends these parenting books.
Hey Terra (www.AnnieFox.com)
– includes 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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