Hey Terra! Parent Forum
Vol. I, Issue 9 November Newsletter November 1 , 2005

Welcome to the
Hey Terra Parent Forum Newsletter

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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. If you know anyone (parent, educator, counselor) who you think would appreciate reading this newsletter, please forward it to them.

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November Parenting Article
Time Out for Your Family

by Annie Fox, M.Ed.

Our families are essential to our health and well-being. They shelter us from the craziness of the wider world. That’s especially true for our kids, who need strong families as a place to learn what’s really important in life and to de-stress.
My Christmas cactus recently woke up from its summer stupor, which can only mean that the holidays are almost here. If the second half of that sentence triggered a stress response, I apologize and empathize. Holiday stress is very real especially if you’re anything like me when I’m on a quest for the perfect pumpkin, the perfect turkey-brining recipe, etc. etc. etc. But, by definition, a holiday is: “a day taken off for leisure and enjoyment.” Holidays are meant to be a pleasant break in routine for you and your loved ones – well-deserved time to de-stress and appreciate being part of a family.

I’ve got a favorite family memory of an unscheduled holiday we Foxes celebrated in January 1996. A tremendous windstorm roared through our area, knocking out the power for five days. No school, no computers, no work. My husband David and our kids gathered round the fireplace as I read aloud from a big book of obscure folktales. We paused at crucial plot points and guessed what would happen next. We acted out alternative endings. We played Crazy Eights by candlelight. We roasted marshmallows. We all shared memories from childhood. And by the second or third day, we were eating outrageous ice cream sundaes for breakfast (hey, we couldn’t let all the Chunky Monkey and Cherry Garcia melt, could we?).

Continue reading the rest of the article...

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Stress Reduction Tips for College Bound High School Students (and their Parents)

Have a look at Annie’s article, “College Express: Less the Stress”
(co-written with Ruth Kirschner), which just appeared in the fall issue of My College Guide. By understanding what they can and can’t control about The College Search, your sons and daughters can do a better job coping with the usual stress associated with SATs, college interviews, applications, essay-writing, and “The Waiting Period”.

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“Too Stressed to Think?” Published October 3rd!

Too Stressed to Think?, by Annie Fox My new book for teens, “Too Stressed to Think? A teen guide to staying sane when life makes you CRAZY” (co-written with Ruth Kirschner) is now available here, or Or order this book from Barnes & Noble or at your local bookstore! 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!

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November’s Recommended Read

The Shelter of Each Other - Rebuilding our Families by Mary PipherThe Shelter of Each Other – Rebuilding our Families
by Mary Pipher

In 1994, Mary Pipher’s Reviving Ophelia created a new awareness of how the healthy development of adolescent girls is threatened by sexualized media messages. Pipher decried our culture’s power to transform self-confident, adventurous little girls into self-conscious, self-loathing, self-destructive young women. As a direct result of her work, parents, educators, counselors, and youth mentors around the world have worked to help teen girls stay strong.

Just two years later, Pipher wrote another revolutionary book. In The Shelter of Each Other she turned her attention to families and how we can revitalize the bond we have with those closest to us. She also makes an irrefutable case for why we, as a nation, need to do just that. Pipher is resolute when she points out how much of our culture, and the media that reflects it, is not in the best interest of families. “Ideally children learn from their families what to love and value,” she writes. “Some parents have the impression that they shouldn’t impose their values on their children. But if parents don’t teach their children values, then the culture will.”

In language rich with insightful details, Pipher recalls her mother’s childhood on a Nebraska farm during the 1920’s and 1930’s. The family’s survival depended on everyone working together. She describes the immeasurable value the family gained as a unit and as individuals from their closeness to nature and their interdependence upon each other.

Most of the book, however, focuses on contemporary families who, in their various states of disconnect, reflect the norm for too many families in America. Using the words of her own family therapy clients, Pipher pinpoints what we lose as individuals, as families, and as a culture, when we lose our connection to family. And what we reclaim when we consciously rebuild that connection.

The Shelter of Each Other is an important and inspirational book.

Check out my Recommended Books here...

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Letters from Parents about Family Problems

Speaking of sharing your values with your kids, here’s a letter from a dad who’s looking for a way to deal with a request from his daughter that makes him uneasy:

“I’m worried about my daughter becoming Goth!”

Dear Annie,

My pre-teen daughter says she wants to be Goth. When I asked her why, she said, “I don’t know.” Because she has no good reason, it feels like she’s just going along with a fad in order to be popular. I want her to know what she stand for. Doing something just because others do it isn’t going to teach her anything about being her own person. How can I change her mind and convince her that being Goth will not help?

Anti-Goth Dad

Dear Anti-Goth Dad,

I wonder what being “Goth” actually means to your daughter? Or for that matter, what does it mean to you? Is it a style of clothing, make-up, hair, or does it mean something else to each of you?

The fact that she “doesn’t know” why she wants this tells me that you can help her understand the unspoken need that may may be underlying her interest in all things Goth. She’s just started middle school and she’s probably trying to figure out a whole new social system. Old friendships may be shifting and that can be unsettling. Is she looking for a way to fit in or to stand out from the crowd? Is she trying to figure out who she is in this new place? Ask her “If you were ‘Goth’ in what ways do you think people would respond to you differently?”

Keep your tone respectful as you openly explore ideas together, and this could be a really wonderful conversation. It could bring you and your daughter closer together and help you emphasize why you believe “knowing what she stands for” is an important value in your family.

I hope this helps.

In friendship,

And this is an email from a mom who requested additional information about last month’s Parent Forum article:

“What does ‘clean vs. dirty anger’ really look like?”

Hi Annie,

I love your newsletters and articles, and I really liked the one about clean vs. dirty anger. Could you please provide some specific examples of each?
Mom X 3

Dear Mom X 3,

So glad you’re enjoying Parent Forum. Sure I can give you some examples of the use of clean vs dirty anger:

If you walk into your child’s room and the wall-to-wall mess drives you up the wall, a “dirty” anger response might sound like this:

“What kind of a pig sty is this?! And why’s your new jacket balled up like a rag?! We just bought that for you! Don’t you have any respect for us and the money we earn? Don’t you have any self-respect? Obviously not because you’re such a slob. You’ve always been a slob. Who will ever want to live with you?!”

Clean anger might sound like this:

“I really hate the way this room looks right now! Just standing here makes me feel disorganized. I’d like to be able to walk in here and spend time with you without feeling like I’m going to step on something or be attacked by a mob of dirty socks. [Humor works well to diffuse anger.] When you treat your clothes this way, it makes me feel like you don’t appreciate the things we buy for you. That’s not okay with me. So what can we do about this?”

Dirty anger is a single-minded attack. It discourages discussion and only leads to more anger and resentment on both sides. On the other hand, clean anger can lead to a conversation. (Note that “What can we do about this?” is an offer to work together to solve the problem.) This kind of response is much more likely to turn into a plan of action including a compromise that gives parent and child some of what each of them wants. Conversations foster mutual respect and cooperation and that’s exactly what you want to teach your child about conflict resolution.

I hope this helps to clarify the concept.

In friendship,

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 here.

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Upcoming Events

Over the next few months, Annie will be speaking at the following places.

Date Description Location
11/1/05 San Domenico School: Parent Education Night Presentation "Why 21st Century Kids Need 21st Century Parenting" (not a public event) San Anselmo, CA
11/18/05 Jewish Community High School of the Bay: "Keeping your balance when life makes you crazy" — student assembly (not a public event) San Francisco, CA
3/11/06 Parent Education Conference, Menlo School — for more information, call 650 330-2001 Atherton, CA
3/18/06 Parent Education Conference, Acalanes Union HS District — for more information, call 925 935-0170 Walnut Creek, CA

If you want Annie to speak at your school, event, or conference, click here.

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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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