We always keep in touch with our kids when they were young with little notes in lunchboxes and notes on the fridge with reminders. Now we're in the computer age and all of us have email addresses and we started sending each other jokes that we received from other friends.
We have three boys of various ages, and their personalities are so different. We wanted each one to have the opportunity to have their say. And with teenagers, we've found that you have to expose the issues to the entire family so the responsible ones can be held accountable.
My son was behind in reading and writing since he was in the first grade, his teacher suggested he keep a diary or journal of sorts. When we started he would write down his thoughts or stories and I'd look at them and correct them. I found that by correcting them, it wasn't fun any longer. So he and I decided that he could write down anything he wanted in that journal.
I found that the weekends were getting to be stressful in our family with both parents working it was hard to balance the needs of the family with the needs of the children. So I came up with the idea of a weekend to-do list that I made with the kids.
20 or 30 years ago kids were needed more by the family because they had more jobs to do - things weren't so automatic and you couldn't get things done so fast. I don't think kids are needed so much today around the house or in a working sense, and it's hard to teach them responsibility.
It starts by seeing your children as separate human beings and you want them to interact with the world in general on a very rational level and you want them to be able to accept the power of the spoken word for what the words really mean.