Make a good connection
There may not be a wall between you and your teenager, but there may be a closed bedroom door. That, says Karen Skinulis, a parenting educator in Richmond Hill, Ont., is a normal assertion of independence. Still, it can be an isolating experience for parents. "You may take it to mean that she doesn't want to be with you or she doesn't like you," says Skinulis. "But I don't think that is always the case." Kids may simply be seeking time alone to talk on the phone or online.
If your teen is exhibiting other forms of withdrawal, such as not communicating or spending so much time in her room that she is no longer connected to the family, parents should address the issue. Here are a few tips from Skinulis.
• Invite conversation by sharing what's going on in your life without prying into her life. Don't ask a lot of questions; chat about yourself instead.
• When your teen is around, join her for some activities she enjoys -- anything from watching "The OC" on TV to practising driving -- so that you make a connection on a regular basis.
What teens learn by earning
A part-time job is a good way to help a teen get a realistic picture of budgeting and finances. But beware the pitfalls, which could include a teen expecting that Mom and Dad will continue to buy absolutely everything while she runs rampant with her newfound discretionary income.
Diane Wolf, a communication coach in Peterborough, Ont., recommends that parents sit down with their teen and set a budget for each paycheque: say, 25 per cent for savings, 25 per cent for her education fund and 50 per cent for discretionary spending, with a clear description of what that includes. They might spur their blossoming capitalist into matching their own contributions toward savings or education. As for whether she should contribute toward family expenses, that's part of the negotiation process.
A Palm handheld and a few well-picked applications can put the world in your teen's hands. Aside from games, there's a multitude of educational add-ons; some can be downloaded for free, while others cost up to $60.
• ChemTable is a freeware periodic-table application.
• Palm Mobile Mentor Student Edition is a software collection for organizing notes, managing assignments, checking references, editing homework, reading eBooks and even zapping aliens.
• FreeWrite is a word-processing application that lets students record information for creative-writing assignments, term papers and journal entries.
• ImagiGraph lets students visualize and animate mathematical equations.
• Noah Lite is a dictionary that contains more than 122,000 words and definitions.
• Quizzler allows users to create or take quizzes on almost any subject imaginable.
• Student Assistant is a software program that manages coursework and class information and tracks grades.