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

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