I had the pleasure of interviewing Annie Fox to get you some of her advice, tips and ideas she has learned while working closely with parents and teens. (I paraphrase because I am not as fast a typer as I would like).
What are some of the most common questions and concerns you get from parents?
The most common question I get is parents who tell me their kids are out of control, and so disrespectful. They always ask me how their sweet kid made such a drastic switch to moody teenager. They tell me they really feel frustrated, sad, guilty, and most of all, afraid that their kid will do something bad they will not be able to fix. They ask me what they can do to get their kid back.
What advice do you give these parents?
I tell them that a lot of their teen’s anger is not about them, that this is really developmental. Developmentally teens are doing to go through a stage where they want to pull away and perhaps lash out and parents are often the prime targets because they are there. You are in the line of site and so you will get the anger aimed at you. I like to give the analogy of a chick inside an eggshell, pushing against the wall of the shell. They are jut pushing out on everything surrounding them. Kids are trying to find their identity away from the identity of I am my ‘parent’s kid’—so, of course, parents are the part of the shell they push against most. I actually think it is weird when kids do not go through this stage! Bottom line: Don’t take it personally.
What are teens most concerned about?
I get lots of emails from teens and I can tell you most emails are not about parents! Mostly they want to talk about relationships friends, self-esteem and self-confidence. Really, a lot about girlfriend/boyfriend stuff. So many girls right now are having problems with their friends.
I love your parenting tips section, what is your favorite subject to write about?
Everything I do is really all about the same thing…helping people become aware of what they can control in their life and what they can’t control in their life.
Any words of gold, nuggets you can offer my readers?
Vanessa’s note: I didn’t actually end up asking this question, because she gave me a great one before we even started the interview. A reader had submitted a question about her concern that her daughter was dating an older boy. Annie read me the email and her response note and I thought the advice was brilliant (I also get different forms of this question quite a bit).
First, make sure that you look at the reasons why you are concerned, is it about your own worries or do you now trust your daughter’s judgment? If you decide you are uncomfortable with certain actions, make your rules and give your daughter reasons that are very applicable for her current situation. I recommend starting with baby steps, and give her incentives to follow the rules, like building trust.
I think a Dating gradient works really well. On one side of your chart start with what you are most comfortable with and then end with what makes you the least comfortable or most afraid. Each action on the scale is a different baby step. Tell your daughter to work on one side and eventually, maybe you can get further down the scale. Then once you decide to take a stance–be sure in you conviction, your judgment really needs to be solid.
Annie is amazing, be sure to check out her site!