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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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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