A Brief Guide to Teen Lingo

Dear Mr. Dad: My 12-year-old daughter recently had a slumber party with two friends from school. One of them left her phone. I texted my daughter so she could tell her friend, and two seconds later got this back: DO NOT READ ANYTHING ON THAT PHONE!!!!! Clearly she was trying to hide something, so I immediately opened the phone and started reading the texts—especially between this girl and my daughter. With all the abbreviations, I could hardly understand what they were talking about. But based on my daughter’s response, I’m worried. Should I be? And was I wrong to read those texts?

A: Yes and no. Your daughter’s screaming response could simply be a demand for privacy, which is something you should try to respect. However, her response seems so panicky that I think you were right to snoop. The fact that you couldn’t understand what you were reading doesn’t necessarily mean there’s anything to worry about—your daughter and her friend could be having completely innocent conversations that you’re just not cool enough to understand (very few adults are). On the other hand, it could be exactly the opposite.
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Ask More from Your Kids and Do Less for Them

Emma Jenner, author of Keep Calm and Parent On.
Topic: Raising children by asking more from then and doing less for them.
Issues:
Manners and respect; boundaries and consequences; scheduling and routines; communication; self-esteem; trusting your instincts; quality time.

Conquer Your Stress + Keep Calm and Parent On

Doni Wilson, author of The Stress Remedy.
Topic: Master your body’s synergy and optimize your health.
Issues:
How to analyze the sources of your stress and determine how your body has been affected; understanding synergy; how imbalances create weight gain, cholesterol problems, and more; leaky gut and how it could be compromising your entire system.



Emma Jenner, author of Keep Calm and Parent On.
Topic: Raising children by asking more from then and doing less for them.
Issues:
Manners and respect; boundaries and consequences; scheduling and routines; communication; self-esteem; trusting your instincts; quality time.

Why Everything You Know About Genius and Intelligence Is Wrong

Hunter Maats, coauthor of The Straight-A Conspiracy.
Topic: Why everything you know about genius and intelligence is wrong.
Issues:
The truth behind the lie that genius is born, not developed; understanding how the brain works; the connection between emotion and academic performance; the Betty Crocker approach to learning; taking the mystery out of reading; navigating your test prep like a London cabbie; go cyborg on your mistakes

Have a Teenager and Still Be Happy + Straight A Conspiracy


Judith Joy, author of Surviving Your Teenager and Being Happy Anyway.
Topic: Is it possible to be happy and still have a teenager?
Issues:
Beliefs we tell ourselves; the difference between questions and affirmations; taking responsibility for everything in your life; the mind is powerful but feelings are even more so; we learning to make decisions and choices.



Hunter Maats, coauthor of The Straight-A Conspiracy.
Topic: Why everything you know about genius and intelligence is wrong.
Issues:
The truth behind the lie that genius is born, not developed; understanding how the brain works; the connection between emotion and academic performance; the Betty Crocker approach to learning; taking the mystery out of reading; navigating your test prep like a London cabbie; go cyborg on your mistakes.

The Art of Summer

School’s out and it’s time to get your travel on. That often means a seemingly never-ending chorus of “Are we there yet?” and “I’m bored!” from the table- and smartphone-demanding minions who’ve set up shop in the back seat. We’ve got some good news for you: there are actually creative and stimulating ways to keep your kids entertained that don’t involve a screen. Really. Expect plenty of push back, though, but if you stand your ground, they’ll eventually come around. We promise.

scribble & doodle alex toys
Scribble & Doodle On the Go (Alex Toys)

Perfect for car or plane rides, or even for keeping kids busy in restaurants while they wait for their food. The hard cover book has 50 activity pages to color and play on and two pages of stickers. The “On the Go” book is, as you might suspect, about travel and travel activities. But there are other books in the series, including “Girly Swirly,” and “My First Scribble.” One warning: These books don’t come with crayons, so you’ll have to bring along your own. $11 each on http://www.alextoys.com/

color a backpack alex toysColor a Backpack—Cutie (Alex Toys)
A fun project and a fully functional travel pack? What’s not to love! This backpack is small enough that your kids will be able to schlepp it themselves.. Plus, it’ll also give them a fun art project to work on while you’re making your way from point A to point B. Cutie comes with five permanent markers, so kids can design their pack any way they like—and it’ll stay that way. If you’re worried about the kids drawing on their clothes or the car, you can always do the art part before you leave home. Or invest in a smock and seats covers. $28 at http://www.alextoys.com

desk to go alex toysDesk to Go (Alex Toys)
This on-the-go desk for little artists keeps all their masterpieces in one place. One side of the Desk to Go is a firm desktop surface, while the other is soft for resting on a child’s lap. Pockets on the side hold crayons, markers, and more, while the top has a handle that makes for easy carting from place to place. The desk comes with elastic straps to hold paper in place while your little Michelangelo creates, and the whole thing folds up and zips shut when the masterpiece is ready to be framed. Why didn’t they have these when we were kids? $20 from http://www.alextoys

car valet alex toysCar Valet (Alex Toys)
If you want something a little larger than the Desk to Go, or if your child likes to bring a wider variety of art supplies with them, check out the Car Valet. This baby packs so much into a small, tote-able package that no parent who travels should ever leave home without it. Ever. Your child can do just about anything he or she wants with this fold out art center. The play area is huge—about the size of a record (yes, we’re old enough to remember records)–and it’s only about as thick as your thumb. There are tons of pockets that you or the kiddos can load up with art supplies, decks of cards, paper, and anything else you can think of (except your smartphone). The Car Valet can fasten to the seat in front of the child and folds down, giving your child a nice workspace. When you get where you’re going, fold it back up, zip it shut, and you’re on your way in no time. $44 at http://www.alextoys.com