Jul 12

cmrResearchers have shown that Facebook can affect its users negatively. It’s not a problem in social network itself, but in a person who tends to be addictive. Those users who suffer from anxiety and panic disorder should limit the time they spend on Facebook because it can cause low self-esteem. By looking to other people’s profile, a user can feel a bit jealous and even more depressed. That is definitely not a way of solving problem with depression. Instead of finding solution on Facebook, a person should find home remedies for panic attacks that will stop the problem or at least ease the suffering.

One of the remedies is magnesium supplement. Magnesium is proven to make new connections between brain cells, so it is solving the problem with stress very quickly. It is also proven that the higher intake of omega 3 fatty acids can solve problems with anxiety and depression. Going on fresh air and spending time on sun is recommended as well since the nature has the power to heal without any side effects. Classical medications are also doing results, but many of them have side effects. Anyone who would like to find the remedy which is not risky at all should try going the natural way.

Natural Remedies For Healing Panic Disorder

Some people are skeptical towards alternative medicine and they rather choose medicine prescribed by physician than natural remedies. But there are some natural methods that can help people suffering from various diseases. For instance, you can stop panic attacks by drinking herbal teas that calm you down and make you feel sleepy. If you reduce your sugar and coffee, you are enabling your body to heal itself naturally. Avoid alcohol and quit smoking if you have the habit.

If you are not skeptical about natural remedies, go and find the herb that suits you best. Usually, people who have emotional problems or panic disorders use acacia honey and drink chamomile tea. Lemon balm is well known herb that solves problems with depression. If you do not like preparing and drinking teas, you can search for natural pills that are made of valerian and similar herbs that will calm you down and help you to relax. Relaxation is exactly what you need when facing with panic in your life. Also, try to spend time in nature, surrounded by natural scents. Buy yourself flowers and make it a weekly habit. Usually, healthy habits are solution for emotional problems, so make few of your own. Good information helps too!

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Apr 26

dbwtkDeborah Gaston never thought twice about her knees–until the day she heard a pop as her right one went one way and the rest of her leg went the other during a softball game. “I was diving for a fly ball,” recalls Gaston, 51, a nurse in Shreveport, Louisiana. “I caught it and then crumpled on the field in pain.”

The sports pages are filled with stories of football and basketball stars who have blown out their knees. But women are the ones packing orthopedists’ offices. Each year, six and a half million of us visit a doctor for a knee problem, compared with five million men, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. The lion’s share of complaints come from women over age 30–and they’re not necessarily jocks. “Most women get hurt doing everyday things,” says Jonathan L. Schaffer, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon at The Cleveland Clinic. Below, a look at why women are so prone to these injuries–and what you can do to stay healthy.

Why our knees ache

The intricate design of the knee allows you to move forward and sideways, twist, jump, bend, kick, and kneel. Yet the knee is also incredibly fragile–especially if it happens to belong to a woman. For one thing, women have looser, less stable joints than men. They also have less muscle, which means their knees take more of a pounding. And once you pass age 30–regardless of your gender–cartilage (the cushioning around the joints) begins to thin and fray, setting you up for pain. Weight matters, too: For every pound you gain, you load three and a half additional pounds of pressure on your knees. Pack on 20 pounds, for example, and your joints must handle an extra 70.

The prime causes

Your knees can hurt for a number of reasons: general wear and tear, doing more activity than you’re conditioned for, or pivoting suddenly. For most of us, the culprit is weak or too-tight thigh muscles. If your quadriceps–the large muscles in the front of your thighs–are weak, or one is stronger than the other, your kneecap can pull to one side. If your quads or hamstrings–the muscles in the back of your thighs–are tight, they can irritate the cartilage underneath the kneecap or cause it to break down (see “Get Your Joints Jumping,” page 70).

Depending on your injury, symptoms will vary. An off-track kneecap–commonly known as runner’s knee–may ache off and on, especially when you go down stairs or down a hill. If a tendon that holds the kneecap in place becomes inflamed (tendinitis), it may bother you when you start to walk or do aerobics, for example; then it may subside for a while and flare up again when you stop whatever you’re doing. A cartilage tear may hurt immediately and swell, or your knee may periodically lock and release with a click. If, like Gaston, you happen to rupture the rubber-band-like ligament that crisscrosses the middle of the knee (commonly known as the ACL), you may not be able to walk.

What can be done

First, schedule an appointment with an orthopedist or a sports-medicine specialist. “If a knee problem isn’t treated early, you run the risk of developing osteoarthritis, which causes pain and stiffness,” says Susan L. Lewis, M.D., director of Women’s Sports Medicine at Saint Francis Memorial Hospital in San Francisco. (Osteoarthritis occurs when cartilage wears away and changes occur in the surrounding bones.) Treatment depends on the diagnosis. For a less serious problem like runner’s knee, you may simply need to cut back for about six weeks on whatever activity is triggering the pain. (Don’t stop altogether or your muscles will weaken.) If you develop tendinitis, you may have to rest until the pain subsides. In most cases, your doctor will recommend an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen to ease pain and reduce swelling. Icing the knee for 15 minutes after activity and at the end of the day will also help. (Try using a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a lightweight towel; it’s easy to maneuver around the knee.) If pain persists, your doctor may refer you to a physical therapist for treatments like ultrasound to reduce swelling, as well as for stretching and strengthening exercises.

For serious injuries, surgery may be an option. Loose cartilage can be trimmed or repaired during outpatient arthroscopic surgery, which is performed through a tiny incision and takes under an hour. “If the tear is clean and simple, you may be back to normal within six weeks,” says Jo A. Hannafin, M.D., orthopedic director of the Women’s Sports Medicine Center at the Hospital for Special Surgery, in New York City. “Ragged, more complicated rips may require three months of recuperation and therapy after surgery.”

About a third of those who injure their ACL regain strength and motion after six to eight weeks of rest and physical therapy–without surgery. But not everyone is that lucky. Months after Deborah Gaston ruptured hers, she was still in pain, so her doctor repaired the knee arthroscopically. And she underwent two months of intensive rehab. But six years later, she’s pain free and has full range of motion in her knee. “I still play softball, as well as tennis and golf, and I do aerobics, although I’m much more careful,” Gaston says. “My accident gave me a whole new appreciation for just how important my knees are!”

get your joints jumping

the same exercises that can help you recover from a knee injury can also help prevent one. The following, from Jayne Snyder, vice president of the American Physical Therapy Association in Alexandria, Virginia, will help you strengthen and stretch your quadriceps (the muscles in the front of your thighs) and hamstrings (the muscles in the back). Do them 4 to 5 days a week. If any exercise hurts your knee, stop doing it and see an orthopedist or sports-medicine specialist.

Quad strengthener

Stand with your back against a wall, feet shoulder-width apart, toes pointing straight ahead. Slowly slide down the wall until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Hold 15 seconds. Tighten your thigh muscles as you return to starting position. Do 5 to 10 times.

Quad stretch

In a standing position (hold on to a chair for support), lift your right leg behind you and grasp your ankle with your right hand. Slowly pull your foot toward your buttocks until you feel a stretch in your thigh. Hold for 15 seconds. Release. Do 3 to 5 times. Reverse legs.

Hamstring stretch

Lie on your back. Raise your right leg, and with your hands behind your knee, pull your leg toward you (keep your knee straight) until you feel a stretch in the back of your thigh. Hold for 15 seconds. Slowly return to starting position. Do 5 to 10 times. Reverse legs.

brace yourself–try these

to find out if knee braces work, the Good Housekeeping Institute recruited a half dozen staffers with sore knees to try out 11 different models. Our testers walked, climbed up and down stairs, and tried knee-challenging movements like kneeling and stooping. One by one the verdicts came in: Some braces didn’t support the knee well enough, or they pinched; others were stiff or bulky, or just too tough to put on. When the dust finally settled, two clear favorites emerged–though you should check with your orthopedist before trying these or any other braces.

The DonJoy Cartilage Knee Brace

Testers gave a big thumps-up to this white cotton knit slip-on brace. Padding around the kneecap took the edge off aches, and metal stays (sewn into the sides) supported the knee while letting the wearer move her leg comfortably. The brace comes in six sizes, so before buying, carefully measure around your leg six inches above mid-kneecap.) Cost: $38 plus shipping. To order, call 800-3donjoy.

Tru-Fit Padded Knee Brace

This one-size-fits-all model from BD Consumer Healthcare was easy to put on and take off, thanks to three adjustable Velcro straps. Plus, it’s made of breathable, fashionable black neoprene. Foam padding around the kneecap made kneeling a breeze, and walking and climbing stairs were painless. One drawback: The middle strap, which runs across the back of the knee joint, bothered the more athletic testers. Cost: about $16.99. Available at The Sports Authority.

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Apr 05

sftflWith jobs still scarce and our memories of the Enron pension-fund scandal vivid, lots of people are wondering about their own economic future. “Am I doing enough?” they want to know. One good way to take your financial temperature is to analyze your money moves in terms of your life stages. I’ve drawn up a simple checklist of a woman’s milestones–are you up to date on yours?

BEFORE YOU GET MARRIED …

1. Talk money with your fiance. Disclose your incomes, savings, investments, and debts, and toss your credit reports on top of the pile. If one of you has a bad record, it’ll probably be hard to get a mortgage together until you’ve been in the clear for two or three years.

2. Review your health insurance. If you each have employer-paid individual coverage, it’s usually cheaper not to change.

3. Set up future savings and investment plans. Young working people should be putting at least 5 percent of their salary toward a retirement account. Sound hard? Think of all the years your money will grow untaxed!

4. Plan your joint living expenses. Your budget should include a savings account that will get you through two or three months if one of you loses your job.

BEFORE YOU HAVE CHILDREN …

1. Check your health policy. There could be a waiting period for family benefits after you sign up. Also, if your company offers a medical flexible-spending account, this may be the time to open one; an FSA lets you take money from your paycheck tax free to use for paying medical bills.

2. Figure out how you’ll live on one income during the period of parental leave. Then, will one of you stay home with the baby? If so, decide which one. In the past month alone, I’ve met three women whose husbands care for the kids. It’s a little secret of modern family life.

3. If you both plan to go back to work, check out child-care costs. Working couples may pay 10 percent of their gross income or more, with infant care the most expensive. See if your company offers an FSA for child care. If so, you’ll be able to pay with pretax dollars.

4. Increase your life insurance. You’ll need enough to support each child until he or she has completed higher education. That’s a bundle, but it’s not too expensive with term insurance. A family of four needs a policy worth around seven times its annual income.

BEFORE YOUR KIDS REACH MIDDLE SCHOOL …

1. Start putting money aside for higher education. For information on your state’s tax-free 529 plan, check www.saving forcollege.com. How much should you save? Four years (tuition plus room and board) at a public college in your state will cost an average of $60,000 in 2010. To save that much, starting now, you’d have to put away $6,000 a year, at 5 percent interest. In real life, most people pay with a mix of savings, current income, and loans.

2. Up your retirement savings to 10 percent of your income. This is not the place to skimp: The kids will grow up and leave home, hut you’ll still need to take care of yourself.

3. Don’t borrow against your home to pay off credit card bills. You’re going to need the increase in home equity to help pay for college or retirement.

AT LEAST 10 YEARS BEFORE YOU RETIRE …

1. Bump up your retirement savings to 15 percent of pay or more. For a check on whether that’s enough, use an easy worksheet called Ballpark Estimate (www.asec .org). You’re aiming for enough savings to cover at least 70 percent of your prererirement income.

2. Pay attention to the Social Security statement you get every year. It estimates the size of the benefit you’ll receive, based on what you’re earning now. if you haven’t saved these statements, you can order the most recent one through www.ssa.gov or 800-772-1213.

3. Start making prepayments on your mortgage. Life becomes easier in retirement if you own your home free and clear.

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Apr 02

adirShe was 32, divorced, and juggling motherhood and a broadcasting career. He was 22, a baby-faced intern at the same Milwaukee radio station, and just starting out in a competitive field. But all their differences evaporated one day in 1992, when friendship became something more interesting.

The station dispatched both of them to the Milwaukee Zoo for a Mother’s Day feature. “I had my five-year-old son along, and Greg treated him so well, I was utterly charmed,” Renee says. “His great blue eyes didn’t hurt either.”

It was another four years before Renee and Greg Harvat, now 42 and 32, tied the knot, the culmination of a slow and steady courtship. At first, the two remained content to socialize at casual office get-togethers. “I thought he was just a pup,” Renee recalls. “The last thing I wanted was a relationship. My son was my life.”

But by the time he proposed–on bended knee in a crowded restaurant, after Renee discovered an engagement ring buried in her dessert–the duo had grown to love each other, and both were confident that the ten-year age difference was not important. “The only way age was an issue is that we probably had our children a little sooner,” Greg says. Daughter Alisha was born three years after they wed, in 1999; son Troy arrived last March. But if biology presented a race against the clock in the early years, it will ultimately work in their favor, Greg points out: “Everyone knows women outlive men.”

A decade ego, nobody was predicting such domestic bliss. While Greg says he endured only some good-natured ribbing about dating an “experienced” woman, Renee remembers their early days somewhat differently. “Friends didn’t give us a chance,” she recalls. And Greg’s mother’s jaw “just dropped” when her son broke the news that his “friend” in her 30s was actually his girlfriend. It wasn’t just that she was older; the fact that Renee had a child from her previous marriage was also an issue. “You’d think that in the 21st century all these stereotypes shouldn’t matter anymore. But they do,” Renee says. These days, Renee, now a stay-at-home mom, says she and her mother-in-law are best friends, and the decade difference is a nonissue. “Greg is more mature than many men my age, and I act pretty young for my age,” she explains. “So we meet somewhere in the middle.”

Those sentiments are echoed by Patricia Travarelli Mulvenna, who, at 58, is 13 years older than her husband, Patrick Mulvenna. The South Hampton, New Jersey, couple met 17 years ago at a shopping mall. Patricia, then 41 and an owner of a health club, was recruiting new members, when Patrick strolled up to her kiosk and quipped, “Whatever you’re selling, I’m buying.”

He swears it wasn’t a line. “I was immediately attracted to her smile,” Patrick says now. But with four children, a fledgling business, and one divorce behind her, Patricia thought life was complicated enough without bringing a boy toy into the mix. “I told all my coworkers that I would never, ever, get married again,” she explains.

It was that very independence that Patrick found so beguiling. “I liked that she didn’t play games, that she didn’t need me,” says Patrick, now 45, a drug and alcohol counselor for adolescents. So he kept calling, eventually wearing Patricia down with a combination of wit, sensitivity, and an open heart. “I liked his innocence, that he wasn’t tainted, like a lot of guys my age,” she says.

When they started talking about marriage, however, Patricia wanted to make sure that her fiance–who is one of ten children–would have no regrets about forgoing fatherhood. “I was done with babies,” Patricia says. But Patrick never sacrificed anything, he says, noting that Patricia’s two youngest children were eight and ten when he came into their lives. “I wanted to be a dad, and I have been, in every sense of the word. Why would I fret about what I didn’t have, when I have been given so much more than others?” he asks. Patrick’s parents were also remarkably nonchalant about the fact that their son was born the same year Patricia entered high school. “They just wanted him to be happy,” she says of her in-laws.

Now married 11 years, Patricia still sees a subtle social pressure when the woman is older than the man. “Even the language is different,” she says. “Men end up with `trophy wives’; women are `robbing the cradle.’”

Today she admits to feeling grateful for the “good Italian skin” that helps her conceal the years. But for Patricia and Patrick, crow’s-feet and laugh lines are minor footnotes in their love story.

“It’s not about looking young,” Patricia says finally. “We make each other feel young.”

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Mar 06
Bill Gates

Bill Gates

Bill Gates, the multibillionaire chairman of Microsoft, didn’t graduate, and neither did Steve Jobs, who founded Apple Computers. In fact, a surprising number of super-successful people skipped college altogether. Kelly Ripa may be the latest TV personality to hit it big without hitting the books, but high school dropout Peter Jennings made it in serious journalism long before Ripa ever met Regis. Some of our favorite writers–Maya Angelou, the poet, and Nora Roberts, mega-selling novelist–didn’t learn their craft within ivy-covered walls. And finally, not one, but two current governors–Minnesota’s Jesse Ventura and Delaware’s Ruth Ann Minner–have this gap on their resumes.

How did they do it? By using creativity, drive, and just plain guts to compensate for what they lacked in academic credentials. Interviews with other high-achieving nongraduates reveal similar personality traits. These folks aren’t shrinking violets. They rarely have regrets, thrive on bending the rules, and are relentlessly upbeat. Most important, they’ve learned how to turn missteps into valuable learning experiences that propel them forward, rather than set them back. Maybe yon could learn a few things from a dropout.

RUTH ANN MINNER
Governor of Delaware
Dover, Delaware

The child of sharecroppers, Delaware’s first female governor left high school at age 16 to work the family’s fields and entered politics by way of a secretarial position she took to feed her three young sons.

Best advice “You have to ignore the naysayers. I still encounter lots of bias–people even say things to my face–because they think politics isn’t a place for women, or because I don’t have a college degree. But I have common sense and good judgment, and I know what it’s like to struggle financially, because I was a woman without the opportunities available to men. Focus on your goal–not on the people trying to keep you from it.”

Biggest motivator “Anger. When I was widowed in 1967 with three children, I needed to borrow money. But the bank wouldn’t lend me any because I needed a man to sign for me. I couldn’t understand how such a sexist practice was legal. It made me mad enough to want to change the laws, and to run for office.”

People would be surprised to know that “I had no intention to make a career out of this. I just wanted more for my kids, and I knew I couldn’t make it as a waitress!”

FLORINE MARK, President & CEO,
The WW Group
Farmington Hills, Michigan

At 26, Mark had five kids under the age of nine. Money was tight, but her weight problem was worse. A last-ditch visit to Weight Watchers saved her. Today, her $80 million diet empire–the largest franchise of Weight Watchers International–stretches across a dozen states and two foreign countries, employing more than 3,000 people.

Why she succeeded “I have a total love, lust, and passion for the Weight Watchers concept. Before I attended the meetings, I had lost 50 pounds about ten different times. I was lucky to be alive! Then I finally found something that worked, and I had to share it. I had a fire in my belly to get this message out. I adore what I do. If you don’t, you’re not going to make it.”

Biggest obstacle “Myself. Before I conducted my first-ever Weight Watchers meeting, I thought I would faint, I had never done public speaking, I didn’t know if anyone was going to attend, or if they would believe in what I had to say. But I told myself, you can do anything you want if you think you can. Maybe it’s brainwashing, but it worked!”

Any regrets? “No one has ever said anything to me about not having a college degree. I’m the only one who has made me feel bad about it, but it’s just the occasional twinge.”

LISA LING, Cohost,
ABC's The View, New York City

The summer before heading off to the University of Southern California, Ling was chosen to be an international correspondent for Channel One News, a daily news program seen by eight million students nationwide. When traveling to political hot spots around the globe and maintaining a full courseload proved an impossible combination, Ling left school. Just three years later, Barbara Walters tapped her to add 20-something attitude as a cohost on The View, a job that requires her to be up to date on a myriad of topics covered daily on the show.

Biggest obstacle “It was difficult to convince my parents that dropping out of school was a smart decision. As the daughter of Chinese immigrants, I was totally expected to go to college. It’s a dream for so many Asian parents, and it’s a huge slap in the face if it doesn’t happen. But when I started making decent money in television and my parents realized that this was a viable career, they were cool.”

Secret to her success “Travel gave me the best education I ever received. I went abroad at the perfect age; I didn’t have any responsibilities–no spouse or kids.”

Don’t worry about not having a degree because “The fact that someone can quote Chaucer or Shakespeare does not make them smarter. So many people go to college just to land a lucrative job. I would never undermine the importance of higher education, but it would be sad if money were a person’s sole objective in obtaining a degree. Broadening your horizons and discovering your passion isn’t something that happens only within a classroom’s walls.”

GLADYS EDMUNDS, Founder,
Edmunds Travel, USA Today
columnist, Pittsburgh

Edmunds was a 16-year-old single mother when she chartered her first bus to take customers to a local racetrack. She rented the coach for $49, charged $5 for each of the 40 seats, and within a month, she was employing other women to help run her fledgling business. Today, the company she started at her grandmother’s dining room table is worth more than $6 million.

The big break Two years into her shoestring travel operation, “some women approached me and said that instead of taking a bus, they wanted to fly to New York. I came from a working-class family and had never been on a plane before. What did I know about airlines? But I made it happen, and business really exploded after that.”

Obstacles along the way “Society said I couldn’t succeed because I was a young black female with a baby and no high school diploma. Those were handicaps, but I refused to let them cripple me. I didn’t care what other people thought. I had a baby to feed–and I couldn’t do that earning $1.25 an hour bagging groceries.”

NORA ROBERTS, Best-selling
author, Keedysville, Maryland

Roberts married at age 17 and, except for a short stint as a legal secretary, focused full-time on her two sons for three years. During that time, she never wrote a word. That changed the week a blizzard stranded her and the kids inside their rural Maryland home. Desperate for distraction, Roberts grabbed a pencil and began writing a romance novel. Irish Thoroughbred was published two years later, in 1981. Since then, she’s hit the New York Times best-seller list 69 times.

Secret to her success “When I started sending manuscripts to publishers, I didn’t know enough to be intimidated. I was just in love with the process of writing. I didn’t feel then–or now, 22 years later–that a university degree was a prerequisite for being a writer. Without question, college is a wonderful and valuable experience, and one I encouraged my sons to have. But school isn’t the answer for everything and everyone.”

Biggest obstacle “I’ve rarely encountered prejudices because I lack a diploma. None of my publishers ever asked if I had a degree. All they’re concerned about is whether I can tell a story that interests them and the reader.”

People might be surprised to know that “I believe you can’t be taught how to tell a story. College classes, workshops, and seminars can be useful, and you can learn English skills and the nuts and bolts of structuring. But you’re either a storyteller or you’re not.”

CRISTI CRISTICH, CEO of Cristek
Interconnects, Anaheim, California

The idea was to earn spending money for college. But Cristich actually liked answering phones at an electronics company, so she dropped out of school altogether. After soaking up sales experience–and then getting laid off–she started her own company, Cristek Interconnects. Today, the company’s electronic components are used in everything from cruise missiles to Vice President Dick Cheney’s pacemaker.

The importance of being earnest “I was female and young in an older, male-dominated industry. I wasn’t an engineer or a scientist. So people wouldn’t take me seriously-and there was some outright discrimination. But I tried to turn disappointments into advantages. I was hyper-prepared for meetings. I used the novelty that I was a 23-year-old woman to get my foot in the door with customers.”

What she regrets “Not having an education those first couple of years I was in business. I didn’t know how to write a business proposal or market a product. I didn’t have knowledge or confidence, and I made so many mistakes. But I learned from them and became much more self-assured and competent as a result.”

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Mar 04

tattAs Linda Cosby drove her 14 year-old son, Alan, to an open house for incoming high school freshmen, she was brimming with enthusiasm. That is, until Alan started issuing orders from the passenger seat of the car.

“Mom, don’t stand near me or talk to me and my blends,” Alan instructed. “Do not suggest fun activities that you think I should do. In Fact, just pretend like you don’t know me.”

Linda’s high spirits collapsed faster than a souffle in a draft. “I thought, Why am I even here? It was very hurtful,” says Cosby, 50, of Glenview, Illinois. “If an adult had treated me that way, I’d have written her off. But you can’t do that with your kid.”

The surly teen may he a cliche, but that doesn’t make things any less painful when the teen is yours. You’re humming along, feeling pretty good about your parenting skills, when boom–you can’t do anything right. Your most benign remark is met with eye-rolling and sarcasm. And your once sweet and cooperative child regards your very existence as a source of humiliation.

This “stay away, Mom” stage is especially disconcerting to baby boomer moms and dads. We always assumed that our cutting-edge taste in music, movies, and clothes would spare us from the same contempt in which we held our own Perry Como–listening parents. But it’s no use. Sighs one 40-ish mother whose daughter’s mood has suddenly turned as dark as her fingernails: “I’m a hopeless dork.”

Accepting new boundaries How do you survive this stage unscarred? First, try for some perspective. Teenage retreat is as important a developmental stage as the terrible twos, experts say. Adolescents know that the day is not far off when they will leave the nest, and part of the separation process is to reject anything that hints of dependency on Mom and Dad.

“You have just fallen into the workshop of someone cobbling together an identity, and that involves enduring a lot of negativity,” says Charles Foster, Ph.D., a Boston therapist. “The only way for them to become independent is to test, weigh, challenge, and reject much of what you’ve taught them.”

You may hate this stage, but fighting it doesn’t work. “The last thing you want is a struggle with your teen about being close,” says William Pollack, Ph.D., director of the Center for Men and Young Men at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts, and author of Real Boys.

A more effective way to keep communication open is allowing your teenager her own space–literally. Foster suggests dividing the landscape into three distinct areas: teen space, parent space, and family space. A trip to the mall with friends is clearly your child’s world and a place where you shouldn’t be hovering uninvited. However, if your child implores you to skip a parent-teacher conference, that’s strictly your venue, and no further discussion is necessary.

Family time, where the spheres overlap, can be the trickiest. There are situations like Thanksgiving dinner when parents have an absolute right to insist that their kids show up, says Karen Pierce, M.D., a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago. But how about Sunday brunch with Grandma? When your teenage son balks, tell him, “Grandma is expecting you. She’ll be disappointed if you don’t show up.” Underscoring the message that in your family other people’s feelings matter stands a better chance of working than shouting, “You’re going because I’m telling you to!”

It’s hard for many parents, who are used to setting the agenda when children are younger, to open up the decision-making process when the kids get older. How do you loosen the reins without abdicating your adult role? By respecting your kids’ needs and interests. When you’re planning a family outing, give your daughter sufficient notice (not the day before), so it won’t interfere with her own activities. On vacations, let your son sleep in at the hotel while you and your spouse check out a sightseeing spot you know would bore him. “You need to acknowledge that they have opinions too,” Foster says.

But respect is a two-way street. Parents shouldn’t have to surrender every sliver of family time to accommodate their teen, Dr. Pierce says. “If a kid won’t go someplace that’s important to the parent, then enforcing some kind of consequence–such as the teen not being able to go out another night–is fair and just,” she says.

“You talkin’ to me?” Your child’s life–his feelings about friends, family, school, you name it–used to be an open book. Now it’s a closed door. Mother Nature showed exquisitely bad timing by having kids retreat precisely when giving in to temptations such as sex, drinking, and drugs could have lifelong consequences for them. “Talk to your kid” sounds good in theory–but how do you reach out when your child spends hours alone in her bedroom?

First, think about your own conversation style. “If you have a history of getting angry or lecturing, kids will be cautious about what they say, and you’ll lose out, because their conversation is the best window into their mind and soul,” says Richard Heyman, Ph.D., a professor of communications at the University of Calgary.

But where to draw the line? “I don’t get bogged down in the terms they use–we may not like them, but it is their language,” says Lonnie Carton, Ph.D., a Boston-based family therapist. “I will step in if I hear something that’s not about a word but about an attitude … and one that runs counter to my values.”

What about garden-variety teenage rudeness? “Of course there are times when parents must stand up for themselves,” Carton says. “But remember that calmness always wins. You have to be the role model that your child will imitate. When they are rude, a good response is: `I don’t talk to you that way. I don’t talk to Dad that way. I’m happy to listen to you, but not in that tone of voice.’”

What if you’re not even speaking to each other long enough to have an argument? Life with a monosyllabic teen can be intensely frustrating. To get a conversation going again, Heyman suggests asking about movies, books, music, sports, TV-anything to do with pop culture. Be available. Be attentive. Be provocative. Keep your sense of humor. “Do whatever you can to get them talking,” he says.

Heyman is a father who has endured some rocky years with his own son, and he urges parents to not get thrown by mildly abrasive behavior: “Bend over backward to engage them. Say yes unless you have a good reason to say no–not the other way around.” Then again, a responsible parent should never give in to a child’s unreasonable demands just to score popularity points. “Whenever it comes down to their safety, that’s when things become absolutely nonnegotiable,” Carton says.

Find the common ground Although they may not admit it, kids often like it when a parent tries to connect on their level. Linda Cosby’s son shuddered at the thought of her following him around at his school’s open house, but he welcomes her as a golf partner. That’s why Cosby is taking lessons–to share her son’s new passion. And while she still isn’t sure of the difference between a birdie and a bogey, she is convinced that three hours strolling the course with him will give her access to information she wouldn’t otherwise have.

Linda Draa, who lives in Los Gatos, California, bonds with her three teens by shopping with them (“retail therapy,” Linda calls it). Sure there’s a little bribery involved, but that’s a small price to pay for intimacy, especially at a time when everything seems so volatile.

“One day, my 15-year-old wants to be a kid, the next day an adult,” Draa says. As proof, she cites her daughter’s recent purchases for a bedroom redo: frilly eyelet-lace curtains and an Eminem poster. “Shopping,” she adds, “is a way to find out what’s going on in her head.”

One inventive morn is a big fan of the open road. A long car ride means her son is a captive audience, and intrusions are kept to a minimum. When the shell opens, she’s right there to grab a few pearls before it snaps shut again.

Sandi Tarling, of Pacific Palisades, California, has a 15-year-old daughter and a similar strategy. “A car trip takes all of us away from our everyday life, which for my daughter means the extreme need to spend every waking moment with her friends,” she says.

To achieve that same rapport at home, Tarling started a weekly “family fun” night–with mixed results. “When she gives me attitude, I want to say, `You don’t want to be with me? I don’t want to be with you!’ But no matter how disagreeable they are, you have to be the adult.”

For Cosby, the golf lessons are helping, but life with Alan still gets edgy. Whenever she feels as if she’s about to lose it, she takes a breath and repeats her new mantra: “It’s not about me, it’s about him.” Cosby knows how important it is to support her son “while he’s crawling through this muck of being a teenager.” But, she adds, “that doesn’t make it any easier.”

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