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Dear Dr. Fournier: School has started and after only a couple of weeks, my son is having trouble with homework. I do not want my wife and I to get into last year’s shouting matches with him. It seems like every time I try and help him, he gets angry and defensive. What can we do to get our son to let us help him with his homework? James C. Austin, TX Dear James: Many parents have heard their children in frustration say this about homework, “I don’t know how to do it!” The natural inclination of parents is to respond this way: “Then let me help you do it.” Unfortunately, this leads many parents to cross the line of parenting into teaching. Instead of feeling helped, many children feel alone, intimidated and, finally, humiliated. James’ went on to write that his son Jeff had just started learning fractions. Jeff’s teacher assigned 20 problems for homework. Jeff t... (more)

Open Letter from Sofia to First Lady of Syria Asma al-Assad

Thursday, March 3, 2011 Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey To the President of Syria, Mr. and Mrs. Bashar al-Assad Mrs. President and First Lady of Syria Asma al-Assad: I wrote an open letter addressing you and Mr. President seven months ago. I've been informed that you read my letter. I've also been informed that you will read this follow-up letter as well. Fox News: ▸ video ▸ story Seven months ago, at the tender age of 17 months, my severely ill daughter Sofia, an American citizen, was abducted by her mother on Monday, July 26, in Istanbul, Turkey, and taken to Syria. Following her abduction, I was informed by Sofia's mother that she will not allow Sofia to return home. Twitter updates on Sofia @FuatKircaali Sofia has been diagnosed with a severe medical condition that requires immediate treatment in the United States. It was scheduled to start on July 27, 2010, in New J... (more)

My Two-Year-Old Daughter Sofia Facing Life-Long Disability in Syria

The day after my last tweet regarding the lack of any new information about my abducted daughter Sofia since March 4, I received an updated letter on Thursday, April 7, 2011, from the State Department on Sofia's welfare in Syria. Fox News: ▸ video ▸ story Sofia was abducted by her mother from the United States to Syria last July, following her diagnosis of GDD with possible autism. She had 13 remaining medical appointments left at the time of her abduction, none of which she was able to keep. Last week's welfare report prepared by our Embassy in Damascus, Syria, after their second welfare visit to the home in Syria where Sofia remains with her mother and grandmother, showed a bleaker outcome for my daughter than the previous report dated November 2010. At two years and two months of age, Sofia still doesn't speak a single word, make or follow simple hand gestures... (more)

My Abducted Two-Year-Old American Guest Worker Daughter in Syria

Since her abduction by her mother last summer, my two-year-old US citizen daughter, who is in ailing health, remains in her abducted country of Syria under the immigration status of "Palestinian Immigrant Worker." Fox News: ▸ video ▸ story Sofia needs to appear every three months before Syrian immigration authorities to renew her "guest worker" visa, stamped in her American passport. Syria, one of the most oppressed regimes in the world together with North Korea and Iran, does not offer many human rights, freedom or democracy, nor does it recognize the International Hague Convention for Child Abduction. Not being a Syrian citizen Sofia has no civil rights. For the past seven months she did not receive any medical care for her GDD - Global Development Delay condition with autism. Since she is an out-of-status American child, she is also not able to enroll in any acc... (more)

State Department Photos of My Abducted Daughter Sofia in Syria

Wednesday morning I received new photographs of Sofia from the State Department in Washington, DC. Sofia remains in Syria since being abducted in July 2010. Fox News: ▸ video ▸ story The day after my last tweet regarding the lack of any new information about my abducted daughter Sofia since March 4, I received an updated letter on Thursday, April 7, 2011, from the State Department on Sofia's welfare in Syria. Sofia was abducted by her mother from the United States to Syria last July, following her diagnosis of GDD with possible autism. She had 13 remaining medical appointments left at the time of her abduction, none of which she was able to keep. Last week's welfare report prepared by our Embassy in Damascus, Syria, after their second welfare visit to the home in Syria where Sofia remains with her mother and grandmother, showed a bleaker outcome for my daughter t... (more)

Web 2.0 Journal Book Review: Grown Up Digital by Don Tapscott

If you have read the book "Wikinomics" by Don Tapscott and Anthony Williams, then you should not miss this new book "Grown Up Digital" by Don Tapscott.  Ten years ago, the same author wrote a book entitled "Growing Up Digital" - and, this book is a sequel and traces how the Net-Geners have evolved. The book was inspired by a US$4M project "The Net Generation: a Strategic Investigation" started by the company "New Paradigm" founded by the author and funded by large companies. With a survey of 11,000 young people, this book looks at the new generation who have literally grown up digital, a cultural phenomenon characterized by a few things they do: (1) texting friends, (2) downloading music, (3) uploading videos, (4) watching shows on YouTube, and (5) communicating via social networking platforms such as MySpace and Facebook. If you are a practitioner of social media or... (more)

Teens Should Be Taught Pay Is Not For Pleasure

Dear Dr. Fournier: My teenage son has been employed all summer and has done an excellent job. He hasn't missed a day of work and I've been thrilled with his show of initiative. He will be a junior in high school when school resumes in a few weeks. He has enjoyed earning his own spending money and does not want this to end just because school is resuming. So, he has asked for permission to work during the school year for more spending money. When I hesitated, he offered to help pay for his car insurance. We're so proud of the responsibility he has shown, and paying part of his car insurance was his idea. My husband and I are afraid his schoolwork might suffer if he works, but we also don't want to deter his sense of responsibility and the pride he is developing by working. To let him work or not to work - we can't make up our minds. What do you say? Pam T.  Aiken,... (more)

Older Student Finds College A Challenge

Dear Dr. Fournier: Your columns ring very close to home. I have worked very hard since I graduated from college. I have a wife and two children and what I thought was a great job. Each day, I thought I was getting closer to the top of the corporate ladder. I have been willing to do everything necessary in order to get there. Recently, I began to realize that kids straight out of college were suddenly my peers. They were at my level without having to do all the extra work and overtime hours I did to get where I am. As if that were not enough, I was told it was in my best interest to go back to college for an advanced degree. It's been the worst experience. I'm not doing well even though I read everything, take good notes and reread. I'm not making good grades and I don't feel I'm getting anywhere. I feel desperate. Do you have any advice? Dan T. Phoenix, AZ Dear D... (more)

Take A Business Approach To Conferences

Dear Dr. Fournier: Report cards are out and I have just received my child's along with a note from his teacher requesting a parent-teacher conference. I've been here before. I remember my first time. I was happy to know the teacher wanted to work with me, but then I went to the meeting and it was horrible. I decided my child should be present, expecting we were ready for solutions. Instead, I sat stunned as she told me how horrible and terrible he was. She had only had him for a little over 6 weeks so how could she know this? I've had him for 11 years and I know he is a kind, caring child. Because of my past experience, I'm afraid to meet with his current teacher. How can I get over my fear and participate in solving my son's educational issues? Lindsey G. St. Paul, MN Dear Lindsey: All too often, the motivation for this type of parent-teacher conference turns par... (more)

New Linux-Based PCs Encourage Seniors To Learn The Internet

A new computer called SimplicITy has been aimed at people over the age of 60 who have never before used PCs or the Internet, BBC News reported. The simplified desktop has just six buttons directing users to basic tasks such as e-mail and chat and each machine is pre-loaded with 17 video tutorials from television presenter Valerie Singleton. The SimplicITy computer has no login screen when started up, and contains no drop-down menus. The made-to-order computer can be ordered by mail and takes two weeks from request to delivery.Singleton set up the project in partnership with Wessex Computers and Discount-age, her website aimed at older people. A recent survey by the Office for National Statistics in August 2009 revealed that 6.4 million people over 65 have never used the Internet.Singleton said the number of older people who do not have computers shocked her. "I think pe... (more)

Online Training for PowerBuilder 11.5

PBDJ Feature Story The need for training and skills development has never been higher than it is right now and technical staff at all levels realizes that if they want to earn more, then the best way to do so is to learn more. eLear-nIT Training's latest web-based training courses for Sybase professionals everywhere offers a wealth of resources that are fine tuned for the exact needs of contemporary working environments. Live Classroom Quality Experience Yakov Werde, the author of this course and president of eLearnIT, has a proven track record in teaching PowerBuilder to professional audiences. Continuing along in that tradition, Mr. Werde is directing an organization whose goal it is to produce high quality study materials in a self-paced format that offers an always available, live classroom quality experience for a fraction of the price of on-site training. Cou... (more)