Sunday, December 18, 2016

When spoiled kids grow up to be spoiled adults

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

It took many, many years of struggling and sacrificing for my husband and I to become doctors. We just finished paying off student loans a few years back.

We both came from families that had nothing.

Both of our families worked in restaurants and we helped my parents buy a small family restaurant in Queens, New York. They still have it and work almost every day to keep it running.

The gratitude we receive from our parents every single day is so sweet and kind.

However, we are writing to you because our hearts are broken. The reason is because we raised spoiled kids who grew up to be spoiled adults.

When we were first married, we couldn’t afford anything for Christmas presents. When we started to make some money, our kids were in middle school and we spoiled them to make up for the past.

Now they don’t ever write a thank you card or even call when they get gifts. We worry most about our parents, who are very sad to never hear from their grandkids with any appreciation.

We paid for our kids’ expensive schools and still haven’t received any thanks.

For the last few Christmases, our kids haven’t come and visited because they are too busy or whatever.

They never say thank you or write a hand-written note. It’s always a quick emailed, “Thanks for the gifts.”

We are sick about having spoiled them and our parents say we should stop. We don’t want to hurt our kids’ feelings. We love them and want to give to them, but we are so sad. How do we change this situation?

Loving Parents 

Dear Loving Parents,

You have gone above, and above, and above, and beyond, what any parent should do for their kids. We applaud your loving intentions, however, they are acting entitled and they will continue to expect you to take care of their every desire if you don’t stop now.

We feel you should write each child an individual letter and say something like the following:

Dearest Susie Q,

Your grandparents brought us up with love, values, and generosity. 

They worked hard and made sacrifices just to put something on the table for dinner and give us a place to live.

They were sad that we had to take out student loans, but proud when we graduated.

Later, anything we could give them, be it a bag of groceries, was so appreciated. 

Your grandparents and we love you, but we are sad, disappointed, and hurt because we don’t feel you care about our love, generosity, or spending time with us. 

We aren’t saying this to upset you, or “cut you off” from financial help. We say it because we failed to teach you how to sacrifice, how to say thank you, or how to show your love and kindness to us and your grandparents.

Your family needs to take priority. 

Please don’t let us down again. Come and visit and we’ll have a great time.

Your loving parents

The bottom line is that you may, in a loving way, let your kids know they were given too much for their own good and didn’t learn important life lessons such as: sacrifice, gratitude, nurturing others, and responsibility.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, December 11, 2016

The headless Barbie

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

I have had a friend since we were in pre-school. We played Barbies and had tea parties. We did everything together.

When we were in first grade, we even dressed alike on certain days. We went to the movies and took ballet together. But, lately I feel like she’s just hanging on me. I mean like really. So I told her to please not hang on my arm and stuff.

My friend got so mad she threw a glass of milk on me and said in a really mean way, that I had become a snob and I just wanted to hang around the popular kids.

I got mad because it’s not true! I told her to stop acting like my little sister, who is 3. She went crazy and ripped my favorite Barbie doll’s head off. I cried and cried and she did not care. Her mom came to talk to my mom and we all tried to talk, except her.

My friend’s mom bought me a new Barbie but she’s not the same. I don’t want this girl to be my friend anymore.

My mom said that we all make mistakes and I should give her another chance. I don’t want to do that. It’s her fault and she was really mean.

Not my friend 

Dear friend,

Friends are definitely one of the most important aspects of any person’s life, as they provide support and comfort during confusing and difficult periods of your life.

Friends are one of the top things we all are concerned about because they can greatly affect your mood and overall stress levels in a negative or positive way.

You seem mature enough to understand these two concepts and maybe your friend isn’t quite in that same thinking mood, yet.

People are often judged on who their friends are, forcing more pressure through the creation of cliques. Your friend could be afraid she’s going to lose you, so she hangs onto you even tighter.

Comfort her that she is still your friend. However, she cannot treat you or your things badly.

If you’re worried whether you belong to the most popular set in school, or the geek clique, don’t stress so much – everyone else is worrying too.

PLUS, remember, you do not have stay with friends with people if they are unkind or treat you offensively. Don’t explain, or engage in drama … just be kind but firm. Choosing friends is a skill that takes a whole lifetime to develop.

Communication is with C.L.A.S.S. = Connect with compliments … even to yourself. Listen. Ask Questions to gather more information. Summarize what you heard. Suggest things to do together.
Be the friend you’d like to have.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, November 27, 2016

I just wanted some pecan pie

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,
It’s late at night after a long day of “Thanksgiving.”

Don’t get me wrong … I do have plenty to be grateful for and I don’t want to whine and complain about everything that seems wrong in my life.

What I’m talking about really seems to be about being too busy and feeling too obligated. So much so, that I now feel guilty about not being happy because I don’t have time to sit and enjoy a piece of pecan pie.

For instance, today, on Thanksgiving Day, I got up at 5 a.m., after studying tons of decorating ideas on Pinterest last night until midnight.

I didn’t have time to do this properly earlier and wound up throwing decorations together that looked like Easter in fall colors.

My two boys wanted to play football with their dad, but he was busy mowing the lawn before his parents came over to dinner. So I played a pathetic game that lasted twenty minutes before they gave up on me.

I cleaned as best I could since I had major projects for work that took all my time.

I made cute napkins designs that no one cared about.

Dinner was late, because I was late after having to go to the store to get stuff I forgot.

I missed the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which I love—again. I never get to watch it anymore.

I did the dishes, put them away and tried to sit down and have a piece of my favorite pecan pie when I was asked to make sandwiches. Really?!

I just wanted to enjoy this holiday. Instead, I had to cram my pecan pie down.

No-Fun Mom

Dear Mom,

We’re sorry you didn’t have a day of joy, love and some fun.

Let’s start with one thing at a time, like the main question:

Why is it so important that you have a “Martha Stewart” showcase event, instead of a truly family-centered day of togetherness and care?

Try these tips for Christmas or next year:

  - Forget Pinterest … it’s time -consuming and takes away from setting some fall flowers, candles and a few simple hand-written notes on each place setting. Stop competing with other moms.

  - Make a sign for the front yard like, “Family Football Beats a Beautiful Lawn Any Day of the Week” and mean it.

  -  Being a family means everyone has a job to do to help clean the night before. Expect it and reward them with a fast round of applause before dinner starts.

  -  Roll napkins in a napkin ring … it always looks good. Ask for a good thought of gratitude before each person opens their napkin.

  -  If the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is important to you, then have someone DVR it and ask them to watch a little with you later. You are important!

   - Make a solid rule – say thank you and they get dessert. No thanks … no dessert.

   - Unless your children are eight years and under, they can make their own sandwiches.

    - Say “thank you” to your own self and have two pieces of pie … you are worth it! Use some whipped topping, too!

We’re thankful for moms like you … who really care. Make sure you take care of yourself.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri (Two moms, too!)

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Why Not?

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

I would like to weigh in on your column where a mother justified her daughter’s use of a smartphone in the classroom.

As a retired educator, I applaud your stance that smartphones should not be permitted therein. I’d like to share:

First: Kids will take advantage of situations that offer them instant gratification.

Second: Kids manipulate you to their advantage.

Third: Kids lay guilt trips to get their way.

One of the major problems in society today is that we have children raising children.

Parents are afraid to be strong. Abdicating parental responsibility doesn’t help your child or society.

Here’s my personal experience:

When our daughter was sixteen, I refused to allow her to attend an all-night after-prom party. She looked me in the eye and said “I hate you!” I responded, “I’m sorry, but I love you enough to let you hate me.”

It’s sometimes painful being a good parent.

And just because you can make a baby does not make you a good parent!

Venting Parent

Dear Venting Parent,

Thank you for loving your daughter and being a responsible parent and educator.

Being a valiant educator is a brave and difficult profession in our culture of entitlements.

We agree that many parents have become unwilling to accept their responsibility to teach their children right from wrong, manners, consideration, values, virtues, morals, ethics and common courtesy. However, there are parents who battle our current culture of self-centered behaviors which adults have adopted as our modern-day standard.

Yes, children want instant gratification, can be manipulative, and try to guilt-trip others to get what they want.

But we need to remember that children are born with innate goodness and divine worth. They need encouragement, praise, and guidance with consistent and clearly defined boundaries.

Clearly defined boundaries help children learn how to Define Yourself Before Others Do™.

Simply put, being a parent today is a giant, never-ending, career with priceless benefits … if done well.

Pat yourself on the back for saying no to your daughter and meaning it. Your example may well create a generational standard of family strength and integrity.

Today’s column about parents, teachers, children, and our current cultural standards, gives cause to ignite our foundation’s campaign for Civility for a New Generation.

As our bumper sticker says: Why Not, Prescott? End Bullying NOW.

It displays our determination to make Prescott the city with the most civility and the least bullying. Yes, it’s a lofty dream … but we say, “Why Not?”

Civility, Courage, Confidence, Creativity, and strong Carriage – our 5 C’s of good leadership will bring dignity, integrity, and high merit to our city, while also reducing abuse, bullying, suicide, and victimhood.

If you are committed and determined to change our new generations from Victims to Survivors to (good) Leaders … our Triangle-of-Triumph™, then please get a free “Why Not, Prescott?” bumper sticker from the Prescott Unified School District office at 146 S. Granite Street. Stickers will soon be placed on our school buses!

If you’re in another town and want your own bumper stickers, contact us.

City by city, let’s become a new generation of civility! Why Not?

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Ten Commandments of Civility

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,
I heard somewhere that if people would just follow the Ten Commandments, regardless of their religious beliefs, our society would be a great one.

I know we can’t have the actual commandments put up in schools, which I think is ridiculous, but something like them would help people, including my own kids, behave better.

My husband thinks our sons should somehow instinctively know better about behavior situations.

How are they supposed to know better if they aren’t taught?

We don’t talk about what’s right or wrong until our son does something wrong. I get to be the bad guy, never my husband.

When I give a consequence, my boys argue with me, talk back to me and complain to their dad who does nothing!

It’s not that they’re really bad kids, but they aren’t considerate of others and not focused on how they can help people.

Basically, they don’t seem to care at all about anyone else. But teachers don’t do anything either. Other parents are just as rude.

I want things to change. But how?

Mom who sides with Moses

Dear Mom,

We agree with your analysis that if we abided by the simple Ten Commandments, we would have a good, caring and respectful culture.

You and your husband need to come together and acknowledge there’s a problem in your family and it’s not the responsibility of teachers, other parents, or your kids to set boundaries, create rules, and demonstrate good behavior—although it is crucial for others in every community to help create a civil society.

Let’s take a look at the Ten Commandments and how they may become the Ten Civil Commandments for any family:

    Have no gods before me = Don’t worship things, people, money, or status … instead focus on caring and helping others.

    Don’t make any graven images = Don’t fall into the trap of making a super-pseudo online image of yourself with accomplishments and awards.

    Don’t take the Lord’s name in vain = Watch the swears! Be modest in dress and attitude.

    Keep the Sabbath Day holy = Take one day out of seven to think of others, do for others, care and share with others.

    Admire your parents = Honor their efforts, esteem and appreciate them … they aren’t perfect but neither are you. (This does not mean you should accept abuse.)

    Don’t kill = Don’t kill anyone’s dignity, beliefs, or spirit because they are different than yours.

    Don’t commit adultery = Wait to have sex, and you’ll save your heart from pain, your body from infections and diseases, and your emotions from damage.

    Don’t steal = Don’t steal ideas, credit, girlfriends or boyfriends.

    Don’t bear false witness = Don’t lie about someone, don’t gossip, and don’t say bad things about others to make you look good.

    Don’t covet = Be grateful. Having something you didn’t earn or receive with honesty is a crime against civility.

Teach your kids the Ten Commandments from the Bible and these Ten Commandments of Civility and you’ll notice positive changes.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Welcome to the Bickerson's

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

For as long as I can remember, my parents have constantly fought over every little thing.

If my dad goes to the grocery store and brings back the wrong kind of ice cream, my mom turns it into a war about how insensitive my dad is that he can’t remember her favorite brand. She’ll get so mad that she cries and tells him that he doesn’t love her.

But my dad can’t ever say he’s sorry or just go back and get what she wants. Even if it doesn’t make sense, it would make my mom happy.

Instead, my dad gets mad at her and says she’s being childish. Or he says things about how my mom should be happy because her brand costs more and he was just saving money! Or he’ll say that she doesn’t care about what brand of ice cream he likes either.

It goes on all night sometimes and no one gets any ice cream by the end.

My little sister has always screamed when they fight and now she tries to get in the middle of it and yells at both of them. Most of the time, they ignore her and continue to pick on each other about every other old argument too. My brother runs into his room and starts playing his guitar really loud.

Why can’t they stop it?

Daughter of the Bickerson’s

Dear Daughter,

Good for you, daughter, for being mature enough to recognize that this behavior hurts all of you.

Bickering is oftentimes arguing about seemingly unimportant things like ice cream.

However, conflicts of a bickering (never-ending contention) nature are usually communication problems.

Here are some communication problems that cause bickering and how to resolve them:

• Not feeling heard – consistently: repeat back exactly what you heard (without judgment).

• Not resolving a conflict in the first place: write down the bottom line problem—for example, your mom wants to know she is cared about more than having her favorite brand of ice cream. Reassurance and sincere apologies go a long way.

• Feelings of insecurity – reasonable or unreasonable: A couple needs to recognize the fact that everyone needs reassurance and validation of their worth.

• Lacking confidence in being loved by a spouse: Say and show your love everyday.

• Not listening: Listen with your heart, don’t just mentally prepare your response.

• Shaming the other person to take the heat off your own incompetence: Stop judging - start loving.

Bickering is a habit and it will take at least 21 days to break, just like any other habit. Not bickering has to be practiced.

A good relationship isn’t a fake one that “acts” like nothing happened.

Change is hard, but think about being an example of good communication to your sister and brother and you will all go forward in a better way.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Monday, October 17, 2016

Life is worth living

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

I have a sister and a brother and we are in our early forties. My brother is caring and we talk often. My sister, however, has disowned me since I tried to commit suicide, twice.

The first time I took pills and passed out on someone’s front lawn. No one found me. I just happened to wake up. I told my sister, who I thought would understand, but she didn’t, even now.

She got angry with me and asked how I could do that to my kids. I felt horribly guilty. You’d have to know me to understand I would never hurt my kids.

I lived with a sick-o husband. My sister has never understood what it’s like to be emotionally abused by my husband.

It wasn’t about trying to hurt anyone, it was about losing my sanity. I wasn’t trying to get attention. I really wanted to die because I couldn’t stand the reality of how my husband twisted things and hurt me.

After my sister abandoned me, my brother comforted me. But it wasn’t enough. I wanted my sister to love and understand me.

The next time my husband berated, belittled, and mocked me, I lost it worse than the first time.

I think I had a breakdown, because I don’t remember trying to kill myself again. But I did.

I should have died. I went into the hospital and I was there for more than 24 hours. I had to go to a psychiatric hospital for a week.

I believe God give me a miraculous second chance. I vowed to God that I would never try to kill myself again, with His help. I divorced my husband and then my sister disowned me and said I was selfish. My brother said to stop worrying about her but I can’t.

I love my sister

Dear Sister,

Our hearts break for you. We understand you are in a deep, dark world of pain and grief.

We believe you have started to see and feel your worth through the love you feel from God. When you made a vow to Him, you also made a vow to yourself to accept the miracle of life that He gave back to you.

You will start to heal when you can start forgiving your sister, your husband, and yourself.

Forgiveness is a process. You have been wounded emotionally, spiritually and mentally. You are a victim, but you do not have to stay one.

Here’s what you cannot change:

  • You can’t make your “sick-o” ex-husband un-sick;
  • You can’t make your sister understand;
  • You can’t deny that you were a victim of domestic abuse;
  • You can’t change that you tried to kill yourself (this isn’t a judgment – it’s a fact);
  • You helped your kids and your sanity when you divorced an abusive man.

Here’s what you can change:
  • You can choose to accept your brother’s love and care, and stop focusing on your sister’s judgment;
  • God has already defined your worth. You can start loving yourself;
  • You can stop being a people-pleaser and start being a God-pleaser;
  • You don’t owe anyone an explanation, except God;
  • You can live the miracle second chance God gave you because he loves you and you are worth it.
Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Bullying or annoying?

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,
My daughter said her long time best friend bullied her today. She went straight into her room and slammed the door. She was crying when I went in.

My daughter said her friend told her to stop wearing her “ugly pink shirt” because “it makes you look fat.”

My daughter sent a text to her friend saying she was hurt. She didn’t hear back right away so she texted her again and said she would never, ever say anything like what her friend said against her.

My daughter said she finally got a text back from her friend who told my daughter to stop whining and making a big deal out of it.

My sweet, but sensitive, girl said that it was going to take a long time to get over the bullying.

Her friend texted back and told my daughter she was ridiculous.

I told my daughter that this could be repaired and then my sweet girl got so mad and blew up at me saying that I never understand her. She then said she’ll never have the same kind of friend again and asked why her best friend had to bully her.

The next morning my daughter showed me a text from her friend saying that my daughter should stop being annoying so they can be friends again.

My daughter started crying again and stayed home from school because, “I can’t take this bullying.”

What now?

Mom of a bullied daughter

Dear Mom,

Your daughter was not bullied. As unpleasant as your daughter’s situation may seem … it isn’t bullying. It’s a conflict, disagreement, or a quarrel.

It’s just as important for our uber-sensitive culture to understand what bullying is not, as much as what it really is.

Bullying is not:

• An insensitive comment or two

• A mean “sound-bite”

• A clash

• A fight

• A difference of opinion (like the pink shirt reference)

• An argument

• A conflict

Bullying is:

• Serious and intentional, with harm in mind

• Nonstop taunting, berating, belittling and oppressive

• Harassing, tormenting, intimidating

• Long-term physical, emotional, sexual, and/ or mental damage

• Continual persecution that’s often schemed

• Pressured, pushed, browbeaten into being controlled

• Forced into submission and influence

• Targeted and ostracized

• Repeated or habitual

• Complete betrayal

The word “bullying” can’t be thrown around like a common handshake.

Casually calling someone a bully is like crying wolf. It dilutes the real meaning of true bullying.

Your daughter is in the middle of a conflict. She needs anger management and conflict resolution.

You can help your daughter in four ways:

1    Love her, love her, love her

2    Define bullying with her and help her see the difference between bullying and conflict (you could use the two lists we have provided for you)

3    Encourage her everyday and let her know how proud you are of her efforts to move away from staying a victim and moving towards becoming a great leader

4    Don’t shame her for not understanding the difference between bullying and conflict

One more thing you can do for her: lead by example.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Violence doesn’t produce respect

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

You said I bullied a girl. No, I didn’t.

We’re in the same high school and she knew I was seeing a guy. I told her to stay away from him but she laughed and started talking to him anyway.

She disrespected me, so my friend and I jumped her. She was smaller than us, but she can handle herself. She’s no victim. She gave me a black eye but I got over on her.

Where I come from, I can’t let this punk-girl disrespect me without getting down on her. I warned her and she didn’t take me seriously. I had no choice but to put her in her place.

My mom used meth and heroin. I was taken away from her when I was 2 and went through a lot of foster homes. I never saw my dad, because he is a registered sex offender.

My brother disrespected me and now he’s in jail.

I don’t have family except for my OG and he’s loyal to me and he’s family now.

As far as I see it, the punk-girl got what she deserved and we’ll do it again if someone doesn’t respect us.

You have to make people respect you cause no one else will if you don’t.

Juvenile OG

Dear Juvenile,

We understand you lost your family. Your natural desire to belong to a group is evident through your letter and signature of OG or Original Gangster.
These people are no family.

You’re looking for protection, however, an OG will not be loyal, treat you well or protect you. Someone will die or you may be the “someone” who dies.

You cannot beat someone into respecting you. What you call respect is fear.

That kind of “respect” never lasts, because it’s a lie. The gang-family that you think will lift you out of poverty and make you feel secure, cared about, and loved is based on the OG controlling you. You’ll do the dirty work like selling drugs and using weapons and violence to make your OG money. You’ll go to jail, too.

An OG is nothing but a thief, a pimp, a dealer, and someone who acts like he is looking out for you. He’ll fool you into thinking he’s loyal and respectful of you.

Wearing a black eye like a badge of honor isn’t what we think you want out of life.

Think about the girl you jumped and how you felt when you were betrayed and hurt as a child … be it emotionally, physically, sexually or mentally. Don’t betray yourself for fake respect.

We’re sorry that your foster families didn’t make you feel loved, but don’t give up. There are wonderful families that want to help you feel successful in discovering your talents and overcoming victimhood.

You can choose not to serve a violent guy like an OG. You can choose to become someone with purpose.

Go to college and choose your own family of friends who are good and dedicated to good causes like helping others in your situation.

Choose to define yourself and work towards stopping violence. You’ll find true respect in becoming a gracious and giving person.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Is volunteerism a thing of the past?

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

My son is now 21 and hasn’t gone on to college or found a job, but still lives at home.

We have said we would support him if he’s in school or going to college, like we did for his sister.

He ignores this fact until we bring it up, and then he gets angry. Then he acts like nothing happened and he’s laughing and joking around in a few minutes.

Our son will still go with us to church sometimes, but he never volunteers for anything.

His older sister graduated from college at age 20 and she’s working at an amazing job. She’s involved with many organizations as a volunteer.

Our daughter has always volunteered for just about anything since she was old enough to offer to help. She was a Girl Scout, a leader at church, and she volunteered for Habitat for Humanity. She got a full scholarship to college.

Being a strong volunteer is probably what got her scholarships, friends, jobs, and opportunities.

My son doesn’t want to work and doesn’t want to volunteer, either.

It seems like most kids don’t volunteer very much anymore. Our generation and family have always volunteered and we are proud of it.

Volunteer generation

Dear Volunteers,

First, we’d like to thank you for all your service as dedicated volunteers. Our world needs volunteers like you.

There seem to be a few problems here that require attention:

    Comparing children is never a good idea and you need to find a way to value your son as much as your daughter

    Your son needs acceptable boundaries that you stick with so he can make the leap into real adulthood

    Forcing someone to volunteer is futile and sort of defeats the purpose

Comparing children, especially labeling one as the “Good One” who volunteers and the other who doesn’t volunteer as the “Bad One,” does nothing but pit your children against each other.

The “Good One” will fear making mistakes with such a big label to carry on her shoulders.

The “Bad One” will stop trying because he’s already lost. It’s a simple matter of giving up before failing.

You need to stick with boundaries – your son needs to be in college or have a job in order to live at home. This is your rule to enforce.

When you allow your son to ignore your boundaries, he’ll keep testing you as a child does.

As soon as you compared your children, you lost the meaning of volunteering. You can’t manipulate, entice, or coerce your son into giving his time and talents. He must realize on his own the value of helping others.

And you’ll be happy to know that recent studies have shown the following:

— An estimated 15.5 million youth in the United States –or 55 percent of youth ages 12 to 18– participate in volunteer activities.

— Youth contribute more than 1.3 billion hours of community service each year.

Love your son and daughter equally regardless of what they do. Be a good example and both of them will most likely follow you because they see and feel your goodness.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Teachers are bullied, too

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

I’m a high school teacher. I used to be friends with students and their parents.

Last year, I had a student bully me on social media, by text, and email. I couldn’t stand that my reputation was coming into question. I decided to move closer to my own kids out of state.

I started teaching in my new home and gained attention for being a good and caring teacher. I won awards for it. I thought I had hit the jackpot until this new school year.

I live in an entitled area, and not just because people have money. It’s all about status and parents trying to be friends with their children.

The kids are so entitled that parents act like their kids should get whatever they want, whenever they want it.

One of my students, Molly (not her name), walked out of class when she didn’t get the grade she wanted. She did this after she berated me, coerced me, browbeat me, and finally decided she’d go the “victim” route.

I believe Molly then used social media, texting and instant messaging to slam me for being “dumb, mean, and an enemy to our school.” Molly intimated that I was jealous of her and she wouldn’t stop until I leave and never come back.
I’m afraid of Molly and afraid kids will learn where I live.

Teachers get bullied too!

Dear Teacher,

We applaud you for reminding us that children are not the only ones being bullied. We have a culture that needs to change in every arena of life: corporate, education, treatment of seniors, recreation, and all stages of family life.

We recognize that some high school students have ramped up their entitlement and are intentionally intimidating, threatening, harassing, gossiping, and ruining teachers’ reputations and their ability to be effective in their classrooms. The results of this bullying are just as detrimental to teachers as bullying is to students.

We have received too many reports of students starting campaigns like creating fake online accounts just to humiliate their teachers because they didn’t get what they wanted, be it grades, attention, or control.

We give the same advice we would give to kids who bully others kids – STOP!

You may not harm a teacher. It’s physically, emotionally and morally wrong.

Teachers-do the following:

• Search your name online often
• Search Facebook and Twitter (even if you don’t have accounts – someone may create one)
• Privacy, privacy, privacy – keep your name, address, family info, and life private
• Report, report, report – just as we tell our kids, you must report actions against you by parents, students, other teachers, and anyone else intending to destroy you

Until our culture develops more civility, you won’t be able to create friendships with students and their families the way you used to.

Take satisfaction in knowing your own values and virtues are honorable. Take satisfaction in helping change your grandchildren’s lives with your stories of a past generation of civility.

Thank you for taking on such a difficult occupation in our most difficult society.

Parents, be a parent, not a friend. We need fewer entitled kids and more adults with boundaries. Boundaries curb privileges that aren’t earned.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Teacher's pet...or something else?

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

My son and his girlfriend are seniors in high school. She’s been the school’s volleyball darling since she was a freshman.

One of her coaches is a younger married man.

My son has been a good boyfriend for almost two years. He did confess to intimate relations with his girlfriend.

We had many discussions with him about pregnancy, STDs, and being emotionally too young for this relationship. But he seems responsible and he says he loves his girlfriend and she loves him.

My son became jealous of her volleyball coach last year. He says the coach flirts with his girlfriend. He says the coach is always paying extra attention to her.

Now that they are back to school, my son exploded with anger at his girlfriend because she was flirting back with her coach. He also saw the coach stroke her thigh.

His girlfriend started crying and said she was just “the teacher’s pet” … a term, evidently, that the coach uses with her. She told my son that she was just “being extra nice” because she wants to get a scholarship to college and the coach is helping her.

I went to a game to see with my own eyes what was going on. I felt the coach was paying too much attention to her and hugged her for an inappropriate length of time.

Do I interfere and tell the principal?

Tattle – teller

Dear Tattle – teller,

This isn’t a situation about telling on someone or not. It’s a serious adult problem that your son is facing.

His outrage is a predictable outcome from jealousy and anger that often happens when a teenage boy is too young and immature (that’s normal for his age) to handle a romantic and intimate relationship … which is why we recommend abstinence for our high school students, regardless of their religious beliefs.

The reality is that you and your son do not know if the coach has gone beyond what you have witnessed. You do not want to directly approach and accuse the coach, which could signal an unspoken and unintended green light for your son to act on his anger in a violent behavior.

We believe two actions you may take could help:

    Without your son’s knowledge (this is your choice and not your son’s), visit the principal and tell that person what you have told us. Only provide the exact facts. The insinuation of anything else is only gossip.

    Talk with your son again about how you understand his feelings of love for his girlfriend, but that it would be the most emotionally healthy decision, to stop his intimate relationship.

Tell your son to resist declaring his assessment and judgment of his girlfriend’s relationship with her coach. Tell him that he has control over his own decisions and the ensuing consequences.

From our experience, the principal will investigate any inappropriate relationships their coach may have with students. The truth is usually exposed in these situations. By the way, teachers who have non-nefarious “teacher’s pets” are still creating unfair and dysfunctional relationships with our youth.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, August 28, 2016

I'm not a racist

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

I am not a racist but I am the only white person working in a group of six other women of color. I really like my work.

However, whenever there is extra work, one of the other women always calls upon me to do it. It feels like they have made a pact with each other, behind my back, to harass me.

If I am busy with other things, and I usually am because our work is very intense, they call me lazy and uncooperative. I have always been known for being a very hard working employee.

I recently got written up on a minor infraction which I accepted to keep the peace. They said the next time I do anything like that, I am out of this job.

I have worked for the company for ten years and have a disability, which is documented by my doctor, and noted in my files.

What can I do? The “sisterhood” is always right.

I am miserable at work.

Not a “Sister”

Dear “Sister,”

We are calling you “sister” because we are all sisters and brothers, together, on this planet … no matter what color we are. We are all children of a loving God in Heaven and He wants us to love and be inclusive with each other.

We understand that you don’t feel like you belong, but you are at a place where you have a seemingly rich history and you don’t seem to want to leave. This is, understandably, difficult for you to bear, much less thrive.

Being misunderstood can mean being misjudged and you need to muster your courage and ask for a direct meeting with each person. That’s less threatening and less opportunity for them to gang up and bully you. Discuss and share your feelings regarding your work ethic, your work load, your empathy for their work load and fair work distribution.

Tell them that name-calling such as “lazy” and “uncooperative” hurts you and feels abusive.
Ask for a “start-over” in your relationships. Don’t expect or insist on an apology. If they don’t want to change the circumstances, then you may report the bullying.

Be careful of engaging in a battle if they are un-accepting of your perception. Be an example of love. Your heartache is your private situation.

Grieve (five steps: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance) and accept your emotional losses. Decide not to be a victim by defining yourself.

If you follow our Triangle-of-Triumph ™ from Victim (five steps of grieving – include timed pity parties, anger letters that you flush, physical gestures such as screaming into a pillow and air-boxing to music) to Survivor (define yourself with civility, confidence, courage, creativity, and strong carriage, as in standing tall) to Leader.

We promise you will be grateful for your “sisters,” if you do that.

• Don’t threaten anyone by using your documented disability. Keeping your disability in your back pocket to pull out when needed is a manipulative tactic and keeps you a victim … which will truly disable you forever.

• Don’t label your situation as a racism problem because this is a relationship problem. The “whys” don’t matter as much as the resolve to change it.

Thank you for writing us. We look forward to hearing from you!

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Bullied at age 5

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

I just put my late blooming, tiny (she was premature), 5-year-old into preschool and in her first week a little girl and boy bullied my daughter, Erin, (not her name).

They push her down the slide because Erin is hesitant to go down by herself and call her names like “baby-brat” and “slow-poke.”

The girl-bully is the leader and coerces the boy-bully to pinch Erin. They sneak up to do this to her, so the teacher doesn’t notice. Erin came home crying, saying she was pinched and called names. She showed me her bruises and told me who did it.

I didn’t think she could be the victim of bullying in preschool, so I went to watch it myself. I told the teacher what I saw and I was shocked that the teacher said that kids are just getting used to each other and that they will settle down and all will be well.

I told my husband about the preschool bullies. We have Erin at a Christian school, but my husband said to move her into another school.

I don’t want Erin to think that problems should be solved by running away from them. But I don’t want her to grow up without self-esteem either.

What do I do (since I can’t pulverize the preschool bullies)?

Momma Bear

Dear Momma Bear,

We understand how upset you must be to have your precious little girl bullied when she has had some challenges in life already. However, we think we may help you keep your daughter in her current school and learn how to not stay a victim at her young age.

It does sound like the girl and boy who hurt Erin have been actively, with premeditation, and willful aggression hurt Erin.

We caution you about labeling the kids “bullies” for the following reasons:

• They may be imitating behavior that they have experienced before (at home or with other kids) and we want to stop the cycle of generational abuse and bullying.
• They may need attention and to exercise control
• They may need professional help if they show signs of happiness at the sorrow and pain of others. The good news is that at their young age, they are more pliable
• Bullies feel empowered when they are labeled bullies, even at this young age, and we want you to not empower them, because they will grow into teen and adult bullies if they continue to feel powerful
• If the kids are victim-bullies and labeled bullies, they will continue their duality roles of staying a victim and continuing to be bullied while lashing out as a bully

You have noticed the difference between young confrontations, which Erin’s teacher was assessing to Erin’s situation (and honestly, from her viewpoint, it could seem appropriate) and decisive and sneaky behavior that caused Erin pain.

You may ask the teacher to explain to the class that when one child has:
  1. A moment of friendship disturbance, either physically, emotionally, or socially (giving examples of each, such as physically wrestling, emotionally calling someone names, or socially leaving someone out of playing a game), they can communicate politely, make an agreement not to do that painful behavior again and forgive.
  2. Bullying behavior of repeated and intentionally hurtful actions— physically, emotionally, or socially— can hurt another’s feelings for a very long time and make them afraid and feel anxious.
Teach Erin to stand tall and to have eye contact. It will help her feel powerful and not stay a victim!

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Manner are not minor

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,
I saw you at the library where you were speaking and I want to thank you and encourage you in your work on the bullying issue, but also for standing up for manners. It’s so desperately needed right now.

I am by no means the etiquette expert that I wish I was, but I do care deeply about the issue and about the loss of this basic need in our society today!

My husband’s son, who is 21, is about to be married soon, and, while it is understood that we will be there, we had to ask him repeatedly to give us the actual paper invitation so that I could RSVP and be sure of the exact time to show up for the ceremony!

His verbal, “I think its 4 p.m.” just didn’t breed confidence. The invitation had been on the floor of his car for months. Finally, he went out to his car and got it for us only because we ran into him at a store the other day.

His aunt has yet to receive a paper invitation or even a Facebook invite for that matter. Yet, he expects her to come. She’s single and wanted to bring a date, but I had to tell her that I had read “no plus-ones” on the invitation. She was surprised and disappointed to hear this from me.

Our son’s grandfather also had to endlessly ask about his invitation. He needs to buy airline tickets and make hotel reservations. Grrrrr!

Technically, I may be guilty of gossiping and bad-mouthing my family, but I want to make it clear that I did not raise this son!

So many people think that etiquette is all about the snobbery of knowing all the rules, but it’s really about being considerate and respectful of other people’s feelings and time.

Mrs. Manners

Dear Mrs. Manners,

Talk about a breath of fresh air!

You have a healthy sense of humor about an issue that many in our current culture do not value, understand, or care about.

You’re correct in stating that manners aren’t about being pretentious and having pompous rules without any purpose. Manners mean that we, as a society, need to be considerate of others.

The definition of “considerate” in society means:

• Showing regard for the needs or feelings of others;

• Being kind, courteous, and aware of someone’s circumstances;

• Being attentive, thoughtful and mindful of others;

• Being focused on others and not yourself;

• Being careful not to cause inconvenience or hurt to others;

• Being social and polite to others;

• Showing respect and being gracious to others;

• Sharing yourself, your things, your knowledge, your talents with others; and,

• Being polite at the table, in our communications, and at social functions.

Since when did it become acceptable to be inconsiderate? Being inconsiderate means we are being rude, selfish, uncommunicative, and unable to care about our families, our communities, and our world.

The listed “rules” are actions that we all need to learn, teach, and practice as examples of a civil and caring society.

Let’s not let the current culture of joking and amusing entertainment be who we are as a society. We are better than this. Manners are not minor; they are the pivotal point of our value systems.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Help! My son is painfully shy

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

I need help. I’m a single mom and my son is painfully shy.

John (not his real name) is 12, and I kept thinking he’s going to grow out of it. But it seems the only difference now is that he’s become cynical about people. He thinks all his classmates are “stupid.”

I’m afraid he’s just going to keep more people away from him because he’s so shy but doesn’t know how to make a friend. He alienates other kids from him before they have a chance.

Last year, one kid decided to be friends with John just because John has a lot of cool stuff and the kid just wanted to come over and play with his games. John got out-of-control angry at the kid and the kid told other kids and then John got shy again.

Now John stays home and in his room and only comes out to eat.

I don’t know if I should put him in another school or home-school (except I would have to work night shifts and I don’t want to do that … his older brother would have to come over and they don’t communicate either).

So what do I do? I feel so bad for him. He wasn’t like this when he was little …only when I got divorced.

Mom of a Shy Boy

Dear Mom,

 You are doing great things in trying to help your son. Just by virtue of writing to us shows that you care deeply for your son.

Being shy is often a lack of social skills and in our current culture where kids rely on their social media and smart-phones to communicate; social anxiety is becoming a real problem.

John may have become cynical because he feels rejected by his peers. The truth is that shy kids do well with other shy kids because, many times, being shy is simply a matter of taking a longer time to warm up and trust others. Highly sociable kids don’t always have the patience to wait for someone to “warm-up.” Their impatience looks like rejection to the shy kids.

Your son also could have become cynical because it’s easier than accepting rejection. The problem with letting that skeptical behavior go unchecked is that it easily can escalate into angry physical behavior and aggression. A professional can assess the situation better and we suggest you talk with a therapist together.

We have some suggestions to help with your situation:

• Move John to a smaller school, where he can stand out easier and take a slower pace to warm up to others

• Encourage John to “help out” someone else who’s shy – shy kids do better with shy kids

• Don’t home-school – the last thing a shy kid needs is more isolation

• Encourage team sports, drama, band, some type of team or group activity to give your shy son a sense of
belonging and bonding

• Have John practice physical gestures (like screaming into a pillow) to release stress from social anxiety

• Make sure John feels well enough about his appearance to learn to forget himself (after doing his best to look his best) and focus on others by helping others

Almost half of our population says they are shy. We believe it is attributed to communicating with words, mostly, which is only 7 percent of our total communication – whereas 55 percent of our communication is our body language and 38 percent is our tone of voice.

Communication is fast becoming a lost art. As a culture we need to reclaim that art by putting down our devices and practicing real eye to eye communication using that 93 percent that goes beyond words in a text.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Roasting: A new form of bullying on the menu

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,
At the end of this past school year, my daughter, Caroline (not her real name), volunteered to be “roasted” on some phone app. Her so-called friends, especially one, Celeste (also not her real name), taunted her night and day about what was being said. Then, her “friends” spread it on Facebook with horrible random pictures saying vile things about Caroline.

Caroline came home crying every day for a week. She thinks her boyfriend broke up with her because of it. I told her to tell her friends that it was bullying and it was wrong. She said she couldn’t because everyone was already telling her she couldn’t take a joke from being roasted.

I didn’t know what being roasted meant to these kids so I looked it up. I had no idea that kids have started doing this to each other. I was appalled and called the school. They told me students have been told not to do this.

Her brother has not heard not to do this, and he said girls are worse when they roast guys. He said a lot of girls are doing this to guys. But he said his friends don’t want to admit it’s really gotten bad and messing guys up.

Caroline’s therapist got her to distance herself from Celeste and now Celeste has moved on to doing this to her sister, even.

What more can I do? I don’t understand this roasting bullying.

Mom not buying roast

Dear Mom,

You are to be applauded for your good work as a parent, investigating your daughter’s (and son’s) problems and seeking out professional help. Please continue.

We understand the torment your daughter is going through. This is the newest and nastiest trend, usually done by girls to boys. However, girls bully other girls by telling them it’s funny to go online with a caption under a picture saying, “Roast me.”

This happens on several social media websites, but especially Reddit (it says you must be 13 to be criticized and condemned), and WhatsApp, where racists and misogynists make many posts along with trashing jokes.

When friends tell each other to go on-line and be abused by random strangers for the amusement of those strangers, they are sending their friends to an emotional beating worse than any physical beating.

Some experts say roasting’s a level up from bantering. We say its miles down from bantering and one-upping. The psychological slamming that these experiences give to our kids will derail the confidence, courage, and civility we, as a community, try to instill.

We must teach our Foundation’s Five Cs (Civility, Courage, Confidence, Creativity, and strong Carriage) constantly if we want a more civil society.

Memes, pictures with horrid captions, demeaning someone by name, are the most common culprits in this newest form of online abuse.

Why would anyone volunteer to be burned at the stake?

• Boredom

• Daring – “I can take it”

• Amusement (we call it confidence suicide)

• Negative attention – we are such a communication-deficient society that negative attention has become better than no communication.

Parents, many of you don’t think cyberbullying is a problem, but 70 percent of the letters we receive are about cyberbullying in some form. The truth is, kids don’t report it for the fear of more bullying. It’s the double-bullying effect.

That is a problem. Cyberbullying is seen by thousands or more with a few clicks, and goes on 24 / 7. Kids choose it because they are separated by space and time from those they bully and abuse.

Our youth are especially vulnerable to bullying when it’s presented as humor and joking. The reality is that roasting is NO JOKE!

Thank you, Caroline’s mom. You are exemplary in your efforts, care, and engaged parenting. Keep up the great and challenging work!

Signed, Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Back to school can mean back to bullying, too

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

I have two daughters in high school who were bullied last year for the way they dress. However, they both dress very differently.

One, Kenna (not her real name), barely rolls out of bed, brushes her teeth, throws her hair on top of her head and wears pajamas or sweats to school. She says she gets good grades because of not worrying about how she looks.

I’ve tried talking with Kenna about taking care of herself but she says I’m no different than the rest of the world that cares so much about looks and not about brains.

My other daughter, Mikayla (not her real name), is the exact opposite. Mikayla spends hours in the morning getting ready with all her hair tools and products, and all her expensive makeup and brushes.

She has literally refused to go to school if she doesn’t think her hair looks good or she feels “fat” in an outfit. She has been bullied for being fat – which is ridiculous because she’s not even close.

Both of my daughters are cyberbullied at school. I’m thinking about not letting them have phones at school, so they won’t look at the bullying on Facebook or the texts they get.

But they ganged up on me and said, “You are going to make things worse,” and “We will be bullied more if we don’t have phones.”

Their dad and brother sided with them. I feel like the bad guy.

Mom of bullied daughters

Dear Mom,

Unfortunately girls are frequently bullied at school because of their appearance. Weight, clothes, and the designer accessories are at the top of the list.

While no one should be bullied for their appearance, it does not mean that appearance doesn’t matter.

Appearance does matter:

• Style is about defining oneself and how you express yourself.

• Respect for yourself includes good daily grooming habits and having style (not fashion).

• Schools, parents, and students are wise to require that students not become a distraction, which may happen with over-dressing or under-dressing.

• Confidence comes from caring about yourself enough to take care of yourself first, then focus on helping others.

• Confidence also means not needing to be “perfect” but to be simply your best.

We have four simple styles we discuss at our Leadership Academy sessions with a basic and classic wardrobe starter for all girls.

    Choose a solid color for all basic wardrobe items such as black or white or a bright color. Then start collecting the following items in that color:

• 1 pair pants

• 1 skirt and dress

• 1 jacket

• 1 top

• 1 jeans

• 1 pair of dressy, casual, and athletic shoes

    Branch out in one of the four styles for additional accessories, tops, and pants.

• Trendy – (most expensive) items that do not last a long time but are fun to wear.

• Artsy – Museum-like in being unique and unusual.

• Sporty – Polo shirts/ khaki’s/ plaids/ stripes/ casual but athletic looking.

• Romantic – glitzy, flowing, flowers, ruffles, bows, and so on.

Mom and Dad, please structure rules for your daughters, and sons, of acceptable behavior, commitment to school and community, respect for authority, values and principles, and do not allow your children to stay home (that is your decision and not your children’s) or leave without proper grooming.

Your children will learn courage to define who they want to be if they have strong guidance on their basic foundation of behavior and not on the current culture of entitlement.

Having a cell phone is a privilege and we do not like cell phones at school, where most bullying occurs. At least turn off the Wi-Fi system and no Pokémon Go!

Remember, we do not condone any of the bullying that your daughters are subjected to, however, help them live our Triangle of Triumph – victim to survivor to leader.

Parents, please help your kids to know that they do not choose to be a victim, but they do choose not to stay one, and ultimately they must choose to be a good leader of themselves and then others.

Teachers, parents, school administrators, and students – please contact Rhonda to speak at your school in an assembly to Stop Bullying!

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Dating violence is real

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

My friend, Amanda (not her real name) and I go to different colleges. She is afraid of guys since she had an abusive boyfriend. He gave her bruises on her arms and legs and threatened her all the time. She gave him all her passwords and stuff to her social media and phone and he still controls her, even though she broke up with him.

I told Amanda’s mom and her mom said she didn’t think it was really that bad and that Amanda has always been a drama queen! She doesn’t get it! I saw the bruises and heard him being violent with her.

Amanda got really upset that I told her mom what was going on and said she knew her mom wouldn’t believe her so that’s why she never told her. She said her dad doesn’t care. Amanda completely lost it and shut herself in for days.

Then Amanda said she needs me to come home from my out-of-state college as often as I can to to help her. I can’t do that. She gets really depressed about her abusive “ex-“ boyfriend but he seems to always still be around.

I think she’ll keep hanging around with him because she feels guilty or something. What can I do?

Abused Girl’s Friend

Dear Friend,

You are a loyal and good friend. However, Amanda wants you to help her stay a victim.

We advocate our the Triangle of Triumph, where we take people through three stages: Victim, survivor, and finally, leader. Here’s how it works:

Victim: We ask victims to acknowledge they are a victim (no staying in denial), and move through the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Then, the most important choice is to decide not to stay a victim.

Survivor: This is where we implore former victims to Define Yourself Before Others Do™ using the five C’s as a guide: Civility (what values and virtues will guide you as a considerate person contributing to society), courage (how will you show courage in your valiant choices), confidence (your infinite worth was already decided when you were born as a child of God), creativity (where will you learn how to use your internal and external talents and how will you share them in our culture), and strong carriage (to empower a person’s ability to stand alone).

Leader: This is where Survivors take charge of leading themselves first and then others through their developed five C’s. A leader will be empowered to never accept abuse again. And although no one chooses to become a victim, Amanda can decide two things: Not to stay a victim and to become a leader in our society.

Truths about dating violence:

  • Nearly 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner every year.

  • One in three girls in the US is a victim of physical, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner.

   • Nearly half of dating college women report experiencing violent and abusive dating behaviors.

   • One in three dating college students has given a dating partner their computer, email or social network passwords and these students are more likely to experience digital dating abuse.

   • Violent relationships in adolescence can have serious ramifications by putting the victims at higher risk for substance abuse, eating disorders, risky sexual behavior and further domestic violence.

   • And just one-third of teens who were in an abusive relationship ever told anyone about the abuse with only 19 percent of parents believing teen dating violence is an issue.

Our advice to you is to not become co-dependent on your friend. It’s okay to be caring and loving but not in excess so that you become responsible and enmeshed in Amanda’s unhealthy behavior.

Help her out of victimhood.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, July 10, 2016

My kids are my friends

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

I just want you to know that I have been reading your columns recently. However, you are very out-dated. The advice you offer just isn’t real. And our kids need real advice.

I’m 55 years old and I have two kids. My daughter is in high school and my son is adopted and going into fifth grade. I’ve been divorced twice and now I have been living with someone who’s been a better father to my kids than either dad.

We don’t feel it’s necessary to get married to have a great family. We do everything together and we’re very close. My daughter and I go to lunch once a week and I talk with her about everything. She is mature enough to handle it. She doesn’t judge me.

Both of my kids have excellent grades, do well in sports, and practice their own talents. My daughter is an amazing dancer and artist. I’m an artist also. My son is a mathematical genius and will have many opportunities to receive scholarships to any school he wants.

I wanted to write you because I feel you can make a difference by helping kids who have real problems.

Please get real with our society.

Friends with my kids

Dear Mom,

We congratulate you on your kids’ talent development, but that’s not really the issue here. While we understand that you want an emotionally close bond with your children, we disagree strongly with a parent-child peer bonded relationship for the following reasons:

• Kids want and need structure and boundaries. It’s their rock-solid foundation to start from and learn how to develop trust and self-confidence. A strong foundation base gives them safety in knowing what’s “real” (and what “really” works) and how they may build their individuality from that safe grounding.

Friends confide their doubts and mistakes. Friends lean on each other and ask for advice.

Friends aren’t necessarily accountable to each others’ rules and specific beliefs. Kids need accountability to learn from and become consistent.

• Kids need authority. Kids learn respect from others who have more experience, who know right from wrong in specific terms and have “real” rules and role-models to safely follow. Great leaders know how to define themselves from following great examples of righteousness. If too much power is given to kids, they will ultimately create a society of anarchy and volatility.

• Kids need to learn what’s appropriate and what’s not appropriate. A parent is responsible to teach their children spiritual, moral, emotional, intellectual and ethical values to live by.

For example, as a parent you may set a responsible curfew and if your child breaks that curfew, you will need a consistent consequence to give your child. As a friend, you would not give consequences. A child learns by following rules and receiving the positive or negative consequences.

• Kids need to learn how to separate from their parents. In fact, we know this is the job of a child. If you are friends with your child, they will not feel comfortable separating and learning to Define Yourself Before Others Do™ (A must for each individual person to learn of their own self-worth) and they will end up with emotional and social problems in life. You will feel betrayed when your “friend” decides to be their own person and most often blame your “friend.”

We’re Christians and we believe in marriage before sex. We’re glad you wrote to us so we may expound on the roles we believe parents and their children participate in the eyes of our Creator and Lord.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, July 3, 2016

My mom is a hypocrite!

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

I’m in high school. I was young when my parents got divorced. My dad moved and now lives with a woman in NYC.

For two years my mom cried and was angry about my dad.

She said over and over that I better be married before I live with anyone. Then my mom started dating this guy, Jerry (not his name).

Recently, I woke up early and Jerry was walking out of my mom’s bedroom. He put his finger to his lips to motion me to be quiet.

I asked my mom if Jerry was spending the nights here and she lied something stupid to me. I didn’t tell her that I saw him.

Now she waits until I go to bed and then she sneaks her boyfriend into her room! What happened to her “thing” about being married before having sex? It’s hypocritical and I’m mad.

My Mom Should Get Married

Dear Daughter,

Forgive your mom but hold to your convictions. Here’s the advice we offer single parents. Because you can’t change your mom, we hope you know you’re not alone.

Top 10 dating do’s and don’ts for single parents:

    Make the rules the same for you as your kids. Practice what you preach. We hope you preach abstinence before marriage even if it’s for moral and safety reasons, if not for religious reasons. And if you do, then abstain from sex yourself, for the same reasons.

    Nobody loves a revolving door. Don’t bring home everyone you date. You don’t have to introduce every possibility to your kids. Certainly, you don’t want your kids’ opinions of your dates. It’s confusing to your kids and it flips the power around. You need to maintain parental power and boundaries.

    Get reliable and steadfast sitters. Don’t make everyone uncomfortable by having to bring your kids unexpectedly on your date. It will scare your kids and your date. Find a babysitter who is grounded.

    Nothing but the truth. Tell the truth (using mature judgment). Lying and sneaking around is not okay. Use discretion and don’t share adult conversations.

    Keep your priorities straight. Do continue to help with homework. Spend alone time with your kids, doing fun and necessary activities. Do take time to talk to your kids without bringing up your latest crush. Normalcy is a must!

    Balance your life. Don’t be a parent-victim. It might seem more fun to go on adult dates than going to soccer practice; however, if your kids think they aren’t as much fun as your dates, it’ll cause a world of pain for you all.

    Don’t use your kids to sabotage relationships or vice versa. Don’t talk about your kids constantly while on your date and don’t talk about your dates to your kids. Be present with each person.

    Do say positive things about your kids’ other parent. Find something positive to say about your kids’ parent. Otherwise, you risk alienating your kids and your dates.

    Don’t involve your dates with your kids’ everyday lives until you are engaged or married. Change is hard enough for you. If the relationship doesn’t work out, don’t make your kids suffer loss after loss.

    Do expect negativity from your kids about your dates. You can expect your kids to be suspect, angry, and intolerant of your dates. They will compare them to their ideal other parent and/ or they will not like sharing you, especially if they have had you all to themselves. Expect it, but never accept it. Your new spouse will be your decision. Just make sure you make your decision prayerfully for your kids’ sake.

Always keep in mind that, while dating can be fun and exciting for you, it’s mostly stressful and uncertain for your children. Make the process as easy as possible for them.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, June 26, 2016

I'm ashamed I was date raped

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

On my 16th birthday, I drank alcohol for the first time. It started at home because my parents said they knew I would drink, so they bought me champagne.

I didn’t eat much that day because I had my first real date where a guy picked me up in a car and took me to dinner for my birthday. I was feeling the alcohol a little.

My date was Jason (not his real name). He’s 19.

I am sure Jason drugged me at the restaurant where he ordered me a vodka and OJ. I only drank half of it. I didn’t really eat because I was nervous and not even sure I liked Jason.

Jason was sure about everything. He took me to a club an hour away. I remember dancing and then I remembered nothing.

I woke up in a hotel in another town. It was 4 a.m. and I had a sheet wrapped around me and my clothes were on the floor everywhere.

According to Jason, I got drunk, seduced him, we had sex, and I passed out. Jason said he had to call my parents and convince them he was watching out for me and he’d make sure I was safe and bring me home in the morning.

My parents simply said, “Don’t do that again” … as in drink too much, pass out and embarrass myself on a date.

A friend heard Jason say he’d had sex with me after I passed out and made jokes about it. Now I have heard Jason’s former girlfriend say he did the same thing to her. She won’t tell anyone because she thinks no one would believe her because they had sex all the time.

My friend keeps telling me to tell the police or my parents or someone. I can’t! I’m ashamed and no one will believe me. Plus, I don’t have any evidence and it was months ago. I’m going crazy that this happened!

I’m Ashamed I Was Raped

Dear Victim,

You are a victim. Sexual assault happened to you. This was an act you did not want to happen and you did not – because you were unable to – give consent. You could not give consent when you are unconscious.

You need to heed your friend’s advice and report this. It’s the only way you’ll start healing! Tell your truth, pray, and start the process of forgiving Jason for your sake. Your process may take many years!

When you were under the influence of drugs and/ or alcohol, you were not able to sense danger or resist a sexual assault. Even if you drank alcohol or willingly took drugs, you are NOT at fault for being assaulted.

Rape is defined as sexual intercourse without one party’s consent. Most state laws refer to this crime as “sexual assault,” “sexual battery” or by a similar term. Whatever you call it, rape is a crime defined by and punishable under state law.

We have great compassion for you. You were raped by an adult man in whom you had confidence. You trusted his decency and for that, you can’t be faulted

It’s an act of violence and you were violated.

What you didn’t know is that Jason (or any person who commits rape) is measurably more angry at their victim and more motivated by a desire to dominate and control them. Men who commit this crime are more impulsive, less inhibited, anti-social, hyper-masculine, and less empathetic.

Jason is a coward and a criminal, plain and simple. He’s also an adult and you are a minor.

•One in four American women will be the victim of a rape or attempted rape in her lifetime, and 84% of those will know their attacker.

• Only about 5% of women/ girls report their date rape.

Please know we care! Go to a trusted adult and report this crime! Keep doing this until you receive the help you need!

Rhonda & Dr. Cheri

Sunday, June 19, 2016

When Kids Lie

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

My kid lies all the time. Darla, (not her real name) is 10 years old and she’s been lying to her friends, boys, and us since she started school.

Darla started lying about little things when she was in first grade, like she said she had dozens of shoes, she said she had blisters on her toes from dance class, and a million other little things.

The first time Darla lied a big lie was last week, when she told her friend that she had a baby sister at home.

Her friend asked to see Darla’s sister and I was standing right there in the kitchen and Darla said, “She’s sleeping.”

I was surprised but I didn’t want to embarrass Darla so I played along with her about a baby sister. The friend found out that Darla was making it up.

Darla got mad and let us “have it” when her friend left. Darla said she just wanted to be normal like everyone else who has brothers and sisters.

I tried to be understanding, but her dad blew up about the lying and yelled at her, sent her to her room!

I feel upset, but stuck in the middle about her harsh punishment.

Our Daughter is a Liar

Dear Mom,

As best you can, try not to label your daughter as a liar. Why? Because many kids will live up to their labels and judgments, true or not. Why? Because they have already incurred the punishment of being judged and feel powerless.

Kids sometimes lie to gain control. Help her to feel in control with reasonable decisions that she may make when you provide an either or choice.

Use Darla’s single incidents as problems with solutions to help her learn that she doesn’t need to lie to feel powerful, in control, and worthy of attention.

Let’s start with the lie Darla made about having lots of shoes. Let her know that even if she only has one pair of shoes, if they’re fit, clean and go reasonably well with her clothes, that she may feel good about having one pair.

Three pairs of shoes are ideal for one to have for sporty situations, school or semi-casual and one dressy for church or special occasions. Take her shopping to pick out the best fitting, best looking pairs she may find in thrift stores, discount stores, or on sale.

We suspect Darla lied about blisters on her toes because she feels she needs more attention and/ or she is experiencing a lot of emotional pain. If you give her bad attention for lying, she’ll make her injuries bigger and more dramatic until her need for more attention is addressed.

Address Darla’s emotional pain with bite-size conversations like, “What went well today … tell me one thing.” And “What was your biggest challenge or difficulty today and how can we change that for tomorrow?”

On to the baby-sister dilemma: Don’t make lying okay by keeping Darla’s lies going on. Teach her to say, “I’m sorry, I don’t have a baby sister. I see how much fun it is for you to have one. I wanted to be happy like you. I won’t lie to you again.”

More than anything else, learning to problem-solve together will help Darla grow, love herself, as well as others, and love and respect honesty.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, June 12, 2016

"Is your nose real?"

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

My granddaughter, Carla (not her real name) has had her ears pinned back, her nose reshaped, and her breasts enlarged.

Carla was bullied in elementary school for being fat and then in middle school because she developed anorexia. Once she was in high school for a year, she was attractive if not beautiful.

Carla’s mom then started with the surgeries to make Carla feel better about herself but I don’t think Carla felt or even noticed that something might be wrong with her ears, nose, or breasts.

Now Carla runs around school flaunting her new good looks. She quit being friends with anyone who was a friend. She knows that kids know she’s had plastic surgeries.

Evidently, however, Carla has taken the offense and started asking everyone she knows if “those are real” or “is that real?” She even pulled on someone’s eyelashes to check on them and one side came off. Now that girl is calling Carla a bully.

I think Carla’s learned to be rude, but her mom thinks it’s good that Carla “stands up for herself now.”

Carla and her mom think this is okay. They live in California, by the way. Am I wrong to be a worried grandma?

Dear Worried Grandma,
It’s always good for grandmas to be alarmed when valid reasons arise. However, let’s make sure that you are worrying about the most important reasons of concern. Let’s determine together how you may possibly help Carla and how to approach her and her mom.

We do not agree with parents making life altering decisions for their under-age kids. Yes, we said “for” her because a teen Carla’s age cannot do that on her own - and with good reason.

Carla was most likely confused and insecure about her looks when her mom allowed her to change them.

Now that Carla’s changed her external self, she has gone on the offense to make up for her inability to know how to stop being a victim and she sounds as if she’s hiding behind her “new beauty” to empower herself.

Carla may benefit from a life lesson about learning how to Define Yourself Before Others Do™ - a motto we teach to help adolescents empower their own self with identifying their internal and external self using our 5 C’s to develop her good leadership skills; Civility, Courage, Confidence, Creativity, and strong Carriage (stand tall and have eye contact).

Carla seems to know that her new beauty could be misconstrued as pseudo-beauty and her new rude behavior of trying to point out what she thinks is fake makes her feel powerful because she is mocking what she considers to be hypocritical.

Our opinion about altering your appearance is that you must make sure you have the maturity to decide what is a reasonable modification to your looks- to feel well enough about yourself in order to stop focusing on yourself and focus on the things that matter the most like creating healthy relationships and service, and not making extreme changes to hide behind.

Please approach her mom and ask her to read this column. Then ask them both to go into therapy now before Carla crashes and burns under her new looks and new bad-mannered behavior.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, June 5, 2016

The Seven Percent Solution - Or Not

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,
My teenage son just told me that he does spend a lot of time with his friends talking and having fun, after I “lost it” and told him (for the hundredth time) that he and his friends need to learn how to talk with other people and put their “gadgets” down.

Sam (not his real name) said his friends don’t want to come over anymore because “I make them talk!” I make them put down their phones, get off Facebook, turn off their music and talk. At least I care enough to try to get these boys to not be socially awkward.

He has two friends in particular who hang around here waiting to be invited over for dinner or to eat treats that I make after school. They all get good grades in school but none can carry on a single sentence conversation!

It’s frustrating to watch teenage boys act like they have never been told that it’s rude to be involved in another conversation (on their phones) when someone is talking to them. Or it is inappropriate to monopolize the computer while also having earphones and music on. My twin 11-year-old daughters’ can’t get their homework done.

I told my son that everyone in my house has to learn some manners and decent communication. I also told him that everything isn’t about seeking amusement and sharing things that are funny or ridiculous.

I told Sam these are our rules. He said he’s going to move in with his dad now.

Mom of a Socially Awkward Kid

Dear Mom of Sam,

We agree with you that your son and his friends need to learn a few social skills. Everyone, about 25 and under, does.

We understand your frustration, however, please know that this has become the “norm” for this generation, especially in the last five to eight years.

In our hurry up-society, it’s simply “inconvenient” to actually take the time to talk personally to someone. Our society doesn’t even like listening to voice mail because it takes too much time.

With this mentality, the current culture seems more interested in sharing pseudo-selves that are created with endless media and shared in endless ways.

This leads to three current societal outcomes:

    The social illness of narcissism

    The youth of today’s civilization is having an increasing difficulty knowing how to Define Yourself Before Others Do™

    True communication is almost non-existent. Body language and tone of voice equal 93 percent of communication. Only 7 percent is composed of words.

How we (generations older than 25) may help:

• To combat narcissism: set boundaries, say no when necessary, and teach by example

• Teach kids to define themselves with our 5 C’s: Civility, Courage, Confidence, Creativity, and strong Carriage (stand tall, eye contact, speak clearly)

• Model true communication with C.L.A.S.S.™: Connect (compliment others and be attentive), Listen (listen more than speak), Ask (who, what, where, when, why, and how), Summarize (tell the other what you heard them say), Suggest (an activity based on the other person you are communicating with and not yourself)

With the advent of the internet, social media, Instagram for sharing pictures, SnapChat, texting, Facebook, emojis, superficial communication has become rampant.

Helping your son and his friends to stop hiding behind technology and to, instead, shine by their lonesome and well defined selves, is something all moms may inspire to do by example first.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Don't take the hate bait - conservative or liberal

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,
My friend told me to write you and I don’t know why because I’m not sure you can understand what it’s like now for teens and you’re conservative, mom said.

I was reading about girls who committed suicide because I always think about suicide because I’ve been bullied since I was 10 because I’m adopted and look Asian, but I’m a lot of races.

I’m small and called a boy or a “lesbo.” I’ve been slapped, and was pushed into a bathroom stall and girls from another school pulled most of my clothes off to see if I’m a real girl (they laughed when I cried).

My parents are forcing me to go to a public high school after being at small liberal private schools. My parents want me to experience the “real world.”

I already know “real” because I thought I had a boyfriend to prove I’m not gay and I’ve been drinking and doing drugs.

My boyfriend who just used me and pretends to be a good Christian and a conservative, tells everyone how I look like a boy and said racist stuff. I got mad and told him I hated him and to stop sending pictures of me and talking about me and sending me like a hundred texts calling me names. He told me I was ugly and pathetic and he has a gun I should use to blow my useless self away.

I read about another girl who shot herself and she was super smart, athletic, sweet and loved horses just like me.

I am super nice, but I can’t stop hating them.

So how do I go to school? No one will stop them! My grandma tells me to just keep being sweet and not to worry. She says they hate themselves. No! They hate me.

Not a Hippie Lesbo

Dear Smart, Nice, Athletic, Animal-Loving Young Lady,

First off: Right and wrong are not conservative or liberal! Haters are haters!

Secondly: We are an advice/ opinion column for all: young, old, conservative, liberal.

Right at the end of your letter, you identified so many positive things about yourself. We are so happy you have seeds of a promising sense of self-worth.

Your feelings are nearly touchable to us. You have powerful emotions and hunger for goodness, love, understanding and truth. You have the light of Christ inside your heart, but at this moment, in your pain, you have put a padlock and chain around it to protect it from getting hurt.

But your fierce and angry protection is making it hurt worse. You can only protect it by freeing it.

We want to help you enhance and define your sense of worth. Hate produces seriously damaging and painful feelings, thoughts, and words. It’s a catalyst of irreversible actions such as suicide, scars (inside and outside of your body) and never-ending heartache.

Recognize - You must not become a hater of Christians or liberals or conservatives because of misguided and abhorrent examples of others. There isn’t anything Christian or liberal or conservative about hating, judging, lying, accusing, mistreating and abusing or bullying another precious creation of God – You!

Realize - The hate of your peers comes from easily (and, unfortunately, sometimes familiar home behavior) chosen bully pathways of judging, criticizing, one-upping, hurting and … the worst … making fun of someone who can’t be easily defined in their small, small world. You are fabulously unique and different.

Radiate and don’t Retaliate (against anyone or yourself) – Forgive and be grateful that you are a person who cares!

Revolt – Sex, drugs and hate will ruin you!

Start leading by example … you can be the revolution this world needs NOW!

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Modesty counts

Dear Readers,
We have received many comments about our last column: “slut-shaming.”

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,
I’m a dad. All my girls (three of them) dress with bra straps hanging out, pants too tight, skirts too short, and underwear that is, as the late John Ritter said, “floss.”

I had discussions with them about it and they started crying and saying I was mean and that every girl dresses like this and it means nothing. It’s just fashion. I countered with the fact that boys don’t dress where you see all their private parts. That just made them more angry.

Their mom lets them run to her and be consoled. So I’m the bad guy. I give up.

My youngest has been called a slut, whore, and you name it recently. She laughs it off. Please tell her that not everything is funny in life and some things are sacred, virtuous, and good.

How do I tell her she needs more in her life than so-called “fashion” to feel true happiness?

Dad With Kids Who Think Fashion Is A Purpose In Life

Dear Dad,
We do empathize with you. We’re proud of you for stepping up to the plate and being a real dad. You’re a dad who coaches for all the right reasons and you make sense.

Take these few questions to your girls (including Mom) and ask for some time without distractions – and that means no phones – to discuss the following.

Preface your discussion with the realization that what you wear or don’t wear never makes you a slut or whore or any such vile label – rather it makes you feel self-worth and dignified:

Why is it important for you to show your underwear, midriff, half your rear-end, and your breasts and wear extremely tight clothing?

Who notices your private parts showing and what reaction do they have? Who makes sexual insinuations?

Who invites you out? Who asks you about your hobbies, family, activities, thoughts, values or ideas – and who doesn’t?

When you dress sloppy and “sexy,” do you feel good about your values and virtues? When do you talk about important things like your hopes, dreams, and core beliefs and values?

Where is a good place to show your body parts and how sexy you are? Have you sent nude or partially nude pictures to anyone? Do you know the majority of what you send is shown to 15 others? Do you know that employers look at your Facebook account? Do you know SnapChat pictures don’t always go away … certainly not in the 6 seconds the site advertises? Where do you feel safe?

What is your goal in sharing your intimate and cherished body to others (no matter if you have had sex in any way, shape or form – or not)? What positive and intelligent feedback do you receive regarding how “hot” you look? Is being hot an essential and important goal? Being famous is the No. 1 goal of many girls today.

USA Today reported a while back:
“Eighty-one percent of 18- to 25-year-olds surveyed in a Pew Research Center poll … said getting rich is their generation’s most important or second-most-important life goal; 51 percent said the same about being famous.”

The most important question today for your kids and “our” kids:

How is being famous going to make you genuine, real, never-let-you-down friends, without buying them or bribing them with things, amusement activities and sex? Fame for the wrong reasons – or no reason at all – is not a plus, and those who gain it quickly often become a joke.

Creating healthy relationships is all you can take with you when you die.

Style is external plus internal. It matches distinct and honorable personalities. Fashions come and go and are frequently entertaining. There’s a big difference. Everyone needs style to express their principled personalities in an appropriate and non-distracting way.

Don’t give up, Dad! Have weekly family meetings and include fun activities after serious life discussions. We promise you, from our experience, kids are hungry for this high-quality attention.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Don’t forget to check out our newly re-designed website – it has lots of resources you can use and includes our podcasts! Go to

Sunday, May 15, 2016

‘Slut-shaming’ has lasting impacts

Dear Rhonda & Dr. Cheri:
When I was in high school, I used to have to wear dresses to school until the whole dress code was dropped and suddenly we could wear anything to school. So I wore a midriff top with jeans one day shortly after that. It was the same way I dressed with my friends after school and on the weekends. My girlfriends didn’t say anything about it because they wore similar outfits.

Those same friends started whispering that I was a slut when a popular guy, who one of my friends liked, said I dressed like a slut at school. That girl started dressing more modestly after that and completely ditched me and threw me under the bus. Just me! The other girls she hung around with once in a while. All of my friends stopped being my friend. Everyone at school thought I was a slut and I was still a virgin.

Fast-forward to today. I have a daughter myself now.

I came back from a trip and she was so despondent because her “friend” started texting her and telling her she was getting a reputation for being a “slut” because she dresses too sexy. My daughter is beautiful. I went ballistic that this “slut-stuff” is still going on!

My daughter then told me that she was slut-shamed when she was 11 years old because she was thin and wore cute clothes. Her friend was gaining a lot of weight. My daughter said it almost ruined her life. She said she has been depressed ever since then and she has been suicidal.

I don’t understand why she never told me. We have always been open. All that time I could have helped. Now she’s suicidal. I’m so angry at this ancient name calling – slut-shaming – to shame women is still going on!

What’s wrong with people? It’s horrible.

“Slut-shamed” girls

Dear Girls,

Slut-shaming is the worst and, recently, the most common type of bullying. It is gossiping at its very worst. It’s humiliating, often untrue, and degrading. We agree with you – one hundred percent – that this rampant name-calling is epidemic and wrong.

Girls and women, mostly, decide they aren’t worth anything when peers, friends, parents, teachers, boyfriends, sisters and/or brothers slut-shame them.

It does not matter if the rumor is true or not – this particular name-calling becomes a stigma the moment it is attached to someone – the victims start to self-harm, go into depression (and many other trauma-induced behaviors) and attempt or commit suicide.

This type of sexual bullying is like pouring oil all over someone. Once it’s done, it can’t be undone very easily or quickly … if ever.

Jealousy is often the reason that such a traumatic and horrid offense is committed. Revenge is another excuse for the tragedy of sexually tarnishing another person. There isn’t one reason or excuse that this type of name-calling could be acceptable by a civil society.

Slut-shaming can easily define someone if the victim doesn’t know how to move on to the next step of being a survivor and then a good leader.

As ghastly as slut-shaming is, you, “mom,” are a shining example of someone who was a victim and became a survivor by changing your circumstances, deciding to be the one who defines yourself (not letting anyone else define you) and victoriously becoming a great mom and professional leader. You are the epitome of our Triangle of Triumph!

Since you and your daughter have an open and close relationship, help her to follow in your footsteps and don’t allow yourself to slip into your past angst. You’ve come too far. Congratulations! We have faith you may lead your daughter along the same great pathway.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri