Q. My 15-year-old is a big animal lover and doesn't want to do the upcoming frog dissection for biology class. How can she persuade the teacher to allow her (and other students who feel the same way) to do a different project?
A. Your daughter should set up a meeting with the teacher to advocate her position -- without whining about how gross dissection is. Rather, she should articulate her feelings and then present possible solutions, like learning from a computer simulation. For example, the widely available V-Frog made by Tactus Technologies (tactustech.com) comes in a home version ($40) and one the school could buy (from $495). That way she's learning to promote an issue that's important to her and contributing to her own education in a proactive way. I also learned that several states have laws requiring schools to give alternative projects.
Q. I don't know what to do. My 11-year-old is very athletic, very competitive, and has been taking cheap shots at other kids. For instance, in one game he got frustrated and elbowed the first baseman. (The umpire benched him.) He's losing friends over this.
A. First, be grateful he was quickly penalized. Second, I would say to him, "You are one of the best on the team. But athletes who express anger like you did aren't helping the team. People don't trust them on the field, and they're not fun to be around. So you can continue to act like this and take the consequences or you can demonstrate real power by figuring out a different way to handle being upset." Then brainstorm with him about possible situations that could come up during a game and role-play responses. Finally, tell him that a good way to exercise his new strength and gain respect is to apologize to his team.
Q. Women always ask me things like "Are you still at home?" with obvious disapproval. I have three kids and I also volunteer. I don't have time right now to be in the workplace. Any ideas on how to keep the at-home option respected and alive?
A. It starts with you. By doing activities that give you personal satisfaction you're taking care of yourself and providing a positive role model for your kids. That's the goal of any mother, regardless of her home/employment "balance." So reassure yourself that you have every right to be proud of your choice, be thankful that you have that option, and the next time someone asks "Are you still at home?" you can confidently reply, "Yes, I am!" and change the subject.Rosalind Recommends
Helping your family go green isn't just good for the environment -- it's also a great way to get your kids involved in something bigger than themselves. One cool organization is CynerGreen Kidz (cgkidz.com), started by Maryland middle-schooler Riley Hoffer. Along with great conservation facts and tips, the site offers kits for tweens who want to start green clubs at their school.
Originally published in the April 17, 2009, issue of Family Circle magazine.