Battling Bullies

Dear Mr. Dad: I’ve suspected for a while that my twelve-year-old son is being bullied at school. I finally managed to get it out of him at bedtime one night. He doesn’t seem to be in real danger—it’s mostly petty harassment—but I remember being terrorized by exactly that at his age, and I just don’t want him going through it. What can I do?

A: Few things are as difficult and painful for a parent as seeing your child made miserable by a bully. It’s especially hard for dads, who feel helpless because they can’t adequately protect their child from harm. Being bullied can affect almost everything in your child’s life, from his personal confidence to his attitude toward school. And “petty harassment” over a long period can be every bit as scarring as physical abuse.
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Teens and the Part-Time Job

Dear Mr. Dad: My fifteen-year-old wants to take a part-time job at a local fast food place. Actually, I’m not so sure he wants the actual job, just the money that goes along with it. Although I think it would be a great growth opportunity, I’m also worried that his grades will suffer with college just around the corner. I’m thinking of increasing his weekly allowance instead to make up at least part of the difference. What do you suggest?

A: Remember the first time you saw one of your classmates behind a counter a local store? If you’re like me, you were consumed with envy for the power, independence, and the adulthood it seemed to represent. I immediately began badgering my parents to let me join the Mysterious Society of the Working Teens.
So first of all, I wouldn’t assume that it’s all about the money. There’s probably a healthy dose of yearning for independence and maturity, and increasing the allowance might would have a negative effect in those areas.
Let’s take a look at the pluses and minuses:
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Turning shopping into a bonding experience

Dear Mr. Dad: How can I spend quality time with my eleven-year-old daughter outside of going shopping all day? I realize that’s her passion these days, but honestly, I don’t have much to contribute on a shopping spree (except money, of course).

A: Oh, come on, shopping isn’t that bad! Actually, I’m with you on this one. There’s something about setting foot in a department store that makes my back hurt and my head ache. Fortunately, with a little advance planning, it’s possible to survive your tween’s occasional shopping trips while building a solid relationship along the way.

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