Monday, December 28, 2015

Finding real friends

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

My youngest daughter, Sandra, has had a hard time making friends all her life. We have moved often so that doesn’t help. Sandra’s in seventh grade.

Last year, we moved here and we have neighbors with a girl who was in her class. This girl, Susie, welcomed her into her bunch of friends, and came over almost every single day. Susie texted her daily, went to the movies with her, and started taking dance with her.

At the beginning of this school year Susie quit going to dance. She said she was too busy taking AP classes which Sandra isn’t taking. Susie also got a boyfriend. I don’t allow Sandra to have boyfriends and she can’t date until she’s sixteen.

As soon as their Christmas break started, Sandra received nasty texts and Facebook messages from “girls who know you” saying things like, “Why don’t you move again cause you are ugly.”

I think it’s probably Susie because Susie won’t respond to any of Sandra’s text messages or come over anymore, and I told her that she’s just going to have to make new friends. But then Sandra got a message saying, “Why don’t you kill yourself like (not going to name her).”

I told Sandra that Susie isn’t a true friend. Sandra went hysterical about how hard it is to make friends after moving so much and that I don’t “get it.”

Not a Friend

Dear Friend,

Our world is a very transient one, with kids moving every four to five years on an average. It sounds like you may have exceeded that average, even though it is necessary for some families.

Many studies have been done on families who move often. All studies are conclusive that moving has a negative effect on the emotional development of children and teens.

Moving means change and change equals fear. When you move, visit your new hometown to help turn your kids’ fear into excitement.

The best way to find the best people in your new city is to become involved with charities, churches, and service. Your family will quickly feel purposeful, comfortable, and they’ll enjoy a sense of belonging. You could also create closer connections with your own kids so they know they can count on you when they can’t count on their circumstances.

Since we live in a high tech society, your kids may stay in touch with an “old” friend or two. They can Skype, text, and talk with each other. Keeping true friendships will help your daughter to feel confident.

We like the following acronym for finding friends with worthy values:

F = Faith in self and God
A = Appreciative
I = Inspiring
T = True-blue loyal (but not codependent)
H = Happy with others and life

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Letter from a reader regarding last week’s article on people who must be right (rather than good):

I am a retired teacher in the quad-city area who follows your column. Sometimes I nearly start crying with some of the letters, and sometimes I remember my students from years ago. But with this last column, published on Dec. 20th, 2015, entitled, “What’s wrong with people who have to be right?” I saw myself. I am in my sixties, and this could have been me more than forty years ago writing you. The sad part is, I am still that young girl, and I still allow my elderly mother to criticize me with such depth of anger. Oh, I’ve been to many therapists over the years, but “Honor thy parents” still rings in my ear.

God bless you for your sound advice, and please know there is a retired school marm in your readership now practicing your “Triangle of Triumph.” Thank you!

Name withheld by request

Dear Grandmother,

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

You can still “honor your parents” by forgiving them, but not accepting any more abuse. This is the last and hardest stage of healing for YOU!

We want you to feel joy in this life. Write it in a gratitude journal and redefine yourself with love and acceptance. The more you love yourself, the easier it’ll be to forgive your mother.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, December 20, 2015

What's wrong with people who have to be right?

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

I am 18 and my mom is bringing me home from college for Christmas. The ride is thirteen hours long. The problem is that she will insist during the whole ride that she is right about everything.

She gets so angry and worried about me agreeing with her (sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t). She constantly tells me, “You know what’s wrong with you …” and, “Why didn’t you just agree with me-you know I’m right?”

She gets so mad at me when I say that she isn’t right. She even told me that I shouldn’t use tampons (but she does)! She tells me how I should think, feel and what to do!

Her favorite thing to say is, “I don’t appreciate” what a great mom she is and how lucky I am to have her.

Her list of should’s and must’s would be 32 pages long!

I’m miserable and I haven’t left on the trip yet! 

Dear Miserable,

First of all, you are not crazy for being upset when someone (even your mom) demands they are right. Secondly, why try to make sense out of someone who isn’t making sense?  Third, this is not really about you. It’s a problem your mom needs to deal with.

However, you aren’t going to change her. She has to see that she needs to grow and realize that her fears are limiting her ability to have healthy and close relationships.

Hopefully we can help you understand a type of disorder (not fully studied or introduced as such to the general public) where the insistence of being right is more important than anything else in someone’s life.

People who insist on being right have profound insecurities about being in error and losing their imagined power. It helps keep others at arm’s length and not connecting. They often fear having true intimate and sensitive relationships.

Why? Their fear of being hurt in a relationship is so strong that they create a certain perceived power through anger, intimidation, and being right.

Someone like your mom is very unhappy. Hopefully you can be grateful that you have the ability to see truth vs. nonsense and also have some compassion about her fears.

This is not to excuse your mom’s anger and lack of care about your feelings. They are valid indeed.

We are saying that her excuse to justify her behavior of criticizing you and becoming mean and angry is unacceptable and wrong. You will not change her deeply imbedded belief that she is right. As long as she views being wrong as a matter worse than death, you may only be able to either distract her or tell her that regardless of being right or wrong, her anger and intimidation are unacceptable. Tell her this over and over in a calm manner and you will regain your power and not feel like a victim.

Follow our Triangle of Triumph™: Victim – Survivor – Leader. You don’t have a choice to be a victim but you have a choice to not stay one.

Our love and wishes to keep Christ in Christmas-Merry Christmas – to all our readers!

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, December 13, 2015

An Unmerry Christmas

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

My parents are divorced and they divorced when I was a baby. I’m 12. Until I was 10, I took turns every Christmas being with one family or the other. Now we all live close enough to have Christmas dinner together.
I can’t stand the thought of having another one. My stepmom looks uncomfortable around my mom and hardly says anything, my mom overdoes everything and brings up old stuff about her and dad so they joke about it like it was no big deal. My younger sister and brother fight and act crazy and no one cares!
The last few Christmases were about politics, and my mom and dad will argue over that. Who cares on Christmas Day.

It’s not even fun anymore!

Last year my grandpa gave me some champagne and I drank it and my mom saw and said, “Well, at least you are drinking at home where I can see you.” I had three glasses and it was kind of fun. 
I just want to go over my friend’s house where they don’t argue, get drunk or talk about politics and stuff.
Un-Merry about Christmas

Dear Un-Merry,

We are really proud of you that you are strong enough to write to us and see the big picture at such a young age. We are sorry that the adults in your life can’t see and feel what you are experiencing. Telling the truth about a situation that doesn’t seem to be working for anyone is a brave thing to do.
We want you to have enough courage to show this article to your parents and ask if you may all decide to do things differently.
Tell your parents that you know underage drinking is wrong. even if an adult tells you it’s okay to drink at home or anywhere! Your parents and grandparents aren’t aware of how many problems drinking can create for you. The younger a person drinks (or does drugs), the higher chance they have of battling addictions for life. It’s also against the law.
And let them know that you prefer separate Christmas celebrations.
Please contact us and let us know that you will stand up for yourself and your whole family. God bless you and your family to celebrate Christmas with love, gentleness and goodness.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Hi, Rhonda and Dr. Cheri!

I read your December 6th column with interest.  Of course, you were absolutely right in your reply to the young man whose mother and sister take great glee in male bashing.  It sounds like a pattern of behavior they have gotten into but it needs to be stopped.  There is nothing wrong (and everything right) in telling an offending person that their behavior is offensive.  That is also a vital part of Christianity.  It can be done with a simple statement and without any malice.  This wonderful young man needs to let his feelings be known.  It is a mystery why the father hasn't said anything.  Maybe he is simply used to it!  But it does bother the son and he should speak up.  The important women in his life should know how he feels. 


Hello Joyce,

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. We absolutely agree. We could and should have told the young man to speak up and ask his father to do the same. Speaking up doesn't mean using anger, malice or unkindness. It is a vital part of Christianity.

With our gratitude,
Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Why are men the enemy?

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

My dad is not an idiot, clueless, class-less, childish, immature, bungling, sex-obsessed, hopeless, selfish and uncaring man.

My mom is usually a wonderful mom, but, she and my sister laugh at all kinds of TV shows, You Tubes, and commercials that portray men as clumsy, stupid oafs—you know what I mean. Why do they do this?

I’m a guy who is a senior in high school. I’ve been attending college for two years. I’m on the dean’s list, I’m a youth leader at my church, I help in the house and the do yard-work, I volunteer for a charity, play five musical instruments, have a seriously challenging part-time job and I have played many sports.

You know why I am a guy with character, values, goals, talents and the Lord in my life? Because of my amazingly loving and caring dad! My dad doesn’t drink, doesn’t have affairs, and tries hard to be with all of us at dinner time. If my mom’s home late from work, he helps start dinner. He always kisses her when she gets home. 

Why are girls so sexist now?! If I did any of this, and if I said anything like this about girls, I’d be in trouble at school and with my mom … so this sucks!

Why are guys the joke of the world today?

Why is this all right?

Dear Why,

We have not one good reason why your mom and sister find it funny to degrade men. This has certainly become common over the past decades.  It’s not okay; however, it’s not about you!

Do not worry about what your sister and mom do to degrade, dismiss, and devalue men or anyone else. Their “why” isn’t important for you to try to figure out. Don’t waste your precious time, energy and soul on others (even family members) and why they behave poorly. Just love them and set the same good example your dad does and be happy. Your joy could even  turn them around to a realization that your happiness brings you peace and hopefully they will hunger for the journey you must embark upon.
Others are trying to define you without your consent. Don’t allow it to occupy your mental space. Every morning, get up and spring into action. Don’t define yourself from the outside in but rather, the inside out! Be the gentleman you already are!          

Unfortunately, our culture and current society is conducting itself without dignity, respect and civility, especially towards boys, husbands and men in general.  (And you’re right: women would never tolerate being portrayed the same way.) We need to find the good in others and similarities in each other. We need loving, giving and the generosity of hearts, like you have, to help others. Service small and big, gratitude, and forgiveness need to be your landing mark all the time.

You don’t have time to misuse worrying about the behavior of your sister and mom.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Thursday, December 3, 2015

How is your heart today?

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,
My heart is crumbling into a million pieces about my family and me. I can hardly write to you. Here’s what’s happening:

  • My husband and I have three girls and one boy. My husband is always angry. He is angry with my son the most. He yells and punishes him. They physically fight. I’ll try talking with my husband and our son leaves. My husband and the girls don’t say anything and watch TV like nothing happened. My son comes back and isolates in his room.
  • Then he comes out pushing, yelling, and insulting our youngest. She runs to me sobbing. Now I found out her thighs are scarred by marks she made by rubbing an eraser on them.
  • She then joins our family and watches TV, again like nothing happened!
  • The only thing my husband says is I’m instigating problems that don’t exist. He blames us for his anger and not understanding how stressful his job is and never acknowledges how stressful mine is.
  • After all this chaos, I found out my husband’s having an affair. He bold-face lies about it while looking at my proof. I’m tired of crying buckets. He yells at me when I cry.

My heart literally hurts. I want to die.

My heart hurts!

Dear Grateful,

Your heart is taking a beating and we are sorry. We want you to know that we empathize. You don’t deserve this! Families are having a hard time in today’s culture.

When a family, like yours, continues to live a fa├žade of a good life, it makes the situation worse. When the truth is not addressed, the generational cyclical abuse and bullying will continue.

It’s extremely hard to be the one with Courage (one of our 5 C’s along with Civility, Confidence, Creativity and strong Carriage), but you need to stand up and don’t stand by this dysfunctional life.

You’re the victim of abuse, bullying, secrets, intimidation and damage to your heart.

We know this seems hard to digest, but while you don’t have a choice to be a victim, you do have a choice about staying one and keeping your children victims, too. Before you do something permanently, as an answer to a temporary situation, think of how suicide will affect your family.

Losing a parent to suicide makes children more likely to die by suicide themselves and increases their risk of developing a range of major psychiatric disorders, according to a study led by Johns Hopkins Children’s Center that is believed to be the largest one to date.

We understand your pain but the situation will be worsened if you commit suicide. You and all your family members need professional therapy—now! You may want clergy, too. 

Create a reward for your family to help all to attend therapy. The most important reward will be stopping bullying, abuse, threats, self-harm, and suicide attempts.

Don’t accept your husband’s infidelity, ever! Your kids are likely to repeat this as an acceptable pattern of life.

Help change our culture. We need families with healthy and loving hearts to be leaders.

Ask yourself: How is my heart today? Is it full of deep sorrow and pain? Is it hurting so badly that you cannot function? Is it angry and then guilty? If the answers are yes, your heart needs to go to the hospital and heal. Do it for yourself and your family.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri