Sunday, March 27, 2016

I don't lose. I win or I learn.

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,
Someone told me to write you for help. Every day after school I go to the homework club. I walk to the homework club van with my jacket over my head so these two kids won’t see me.

These two kids (a boy and girl) bully everyone at my school. I know if they see me they will spread rumors to the other students that I am a loser and I need help with my homework.

I see how mean they are to others and I’m afraid of them being mean to me. Please can you give me some advice?

Jacket Girl

Dear Jacket Girl,

We do understand your fears! Bullies do exist and can make your life miserable because the bullies don’t have any other way to feel important. The bullies are the ones who have low self-worth and esteem issues.

You need to congratulate yourself for wanting to learn and being courageous enough to get help! You are not a loser. You can become the best example to others who need help with homework. Getting help with your homework makes you the smartest of your peers.

Seven Smart Steps to stop hiding from bullies:

• Take off extra clothing or put your coat on (if it’s cold).

• Take a shower every morning and look your best, then forget about your looks.

• Stand up tall and straight (this takes practice) - it’s your #1 defense.

• Look your bullies directly in the eyes, not with fear and not with anger.

• Don’t engage in conversations with them … ever.

• Tell an adult until an adult does something to stop them – this is an adult’s job!

• Go with other “smart” kids who have the courage to get help with their homework.

Every smart student, college graduate, employee, boss, entertainer, and every person who allows others to coach them, instruct them, and help them, will be the leaders of our world. That’s a promise (and we don’t make light of promises) we make to you.

Now promise yourself that you follow these steps each and every single day. They will not make you a victim. Write these words and post it where you may see it every day:

“I am courageous because I know I need help. I don’t lose. I win or I learn.”
Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

A follow-up:

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

At school, someone, even my close friends, will show me porn, in my face. When I’m standing with my friends, they think it’s funny to show porn on their phones at school. They laugh at it and make jokes about it. They tell everyone what they saw – like they’re proud of it. I’m in eighth grade. I don’t know what to do.

Porn at School

Dear School,

In a calm and confident manner, tell them to “Stop it.” Don’t defend or explain your stand. If they say something back to you, like, “It’s not a big deal,” just keep saying quietly, “Stop it.”

93 percent of boys and 63 percent of girls see pornographic images before age 18. Those images are imprinted in their minds.

We wish all schools would ban cell phones at school.

 If kids couldn’t carry phones at school, teachers couldn’t ask students to look information up on their phones at school.

How does that impact a student who can’t afford a phone or doesn’t have a cool phone?

We need to support teacher-supervised computers at schools. No more personal cell phones. If an emergency happens, teachers have cell phones and the schools have emergency procedures in place.

Schools, are you listening?

I am available to speak at schools. Please contact me.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Yes, porn is a big deal

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

My heart is broken. I’m the mom of a 12-year-old boy who is watching porn. I mean really awful porn, like groups together and worse. One is so violent against the woman in it, I can’t believe he thinks this is all right.

He was brought up to be respectful and polite. Be a gentleman to girls. He doesn’t seem to even be interested in girls (or boys – in case you are wondering if he’s gay).

My husband used to be infatuated with a celebrity. I caught him using her pictures as if they were pornography. It nearly destroyed our marriage. I couldn’t trust him anymore and I couldn’t make love to him.
We went to therapy a few times. He said that was enough and he told me he wasn’t doing that anymore, but then I caught him with another video of her. He got mad that time and said it wasn’t a big deal.

Our son had just been born when I caught my husband the first time. Then our son was a toddler when I caught him the next time.

My husband didn’t want to make love to me anymore because I gained weight. I feel so depressed and now I’m so sad that my son is doing the same thing!

I took his phone away and he said he’d just look at porn at school because that’s what “they” all do. I asked him if it was girls too and he shot me a look like I was the dumbest mom on earth. Is porn really okay now with everyone? 

Porn is a Big Deal

Dear Mom, 

We could not agree more with you about pornography being a Big Deal. One of the simple definitions of porn is imagery intended to stimulate erotic rather than aesthetic or emotional feelings. In other words, it’s sex vs romance.

Your husband has been carrying on with fake relationships in fake realities and you’ve had to deal with real emotions, feelings and hardships, like the following:
• Real feelings of hurt that causes emotional pain for years, if not for life
• Anxiety over feeling real shattered self-worth with such high expectations from the “perfect person” who is “involved” with your spouse
• Tears that are so deep that real sadness turns into depression with real consequences of damaging mental health
• Shame from real feelings of body imperfections and sexual performance expectations
• Fear that you won’t be able to recapture real trust, comfort, and genuine love
• Frustration that “someone” who is unreal has really captured your spouse in a type of adultery

Your son may make detrimental choices like losing interest, over time, in finding love altogether because those who consistently use porn often, have been proven to lose interest in real relationships where compromise, acceptance, time, and energy for romance is too challenging.

Our “new norm” has created real pessimism associated with feelings that are cynical about love in general, less trust in romantic partners, and lessened interest in marriage and family.
All of you need to get family therapy now! Take into account the following stats for your son and his peers:
• 93 percent of boys and 63 percent of girls see porn before the age of 18
• The first exposure to pornography among boys is 12 years old, on average
• 27 percent of 16 to 18-year-olds have unintentionally been exposed to pornography online

We hope you start a support group in your community and that it spreads to all communities to stop the “No Big Deal” porn. Porn’s invading our families and stopping spiritual growth, love, and relationships.

Relationships are the only thing we can take with us forever! Keep it REAL!

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, March 13, 2016

How do kids combat adult bullies?

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

A lesson that I have recently learned is that, despite what I hoped for in adulthood, the age of a person does not determine the quality of their character. Throughout my time as a student from elementary school to high school, I have encountered many wise and caring adults who have taught me the value of empathy and kindness by example, which is why I was so surprised to encounter a person who, even as an adult, consistently humiliated and bullied many people in her life.

I did not recognize that many of my friends and I were being bullied by this person at the time, and thought that the snide comments directed at me were the result of my own downfalls.

The sadness and anxiety that I felt around this adult began to spread into every part of my life, to the point where I could not sleep well or enjoy time with my family and friends, because this adult had managed to scare me into keeping quiet about her behavior so as to avoid increased mistreatment.

Adult bullies are not discussed very much in popular culture, but they can be a detrimental force on the lives of many people, especially those younger than them.

However, adult bullies hardly ever have to answer for their mistreatment because it is so easy for them to dismiss children or their parents as overly sensitive and irrational.

Today, I see the adult bully in my life praised by the same students who she attacks because they are too afraid to go up against her.

I am deeply saddened to see such a negative environment foster in a school where I have had such good experiences.

More than anything, I want the young girls who I spent so much time with to have a role model that utilizes positive reinforcement and, overall, teaches them that every person has worth and value.

My question, then, is how can young people combat the adults who belittle and diminish them through bullying?

Keeping Quiet

Dear Quiet,

We first want to recognize how mature and wise you are as a young woman transitioning into a beautiful adult. You are embarking adulthood as a valued leader who, “by example” will be a kind, empathetic, positive and powerful adult.

You, by example, are combating and crushing your adult bully, who is a coward. Your bully is a coward because she/ he lacks your courage to lead with the valiant honor and integrity you already possess.

You may not realize that your journey through a lot of agonizing pain, loneliness, fear, mistreatment, and lost time with friends, family and even yourself, has suggested to us that you have great insights to the destruction a bully causes.

The only way a bully (adult or child, corporate or schoolyard) gains the façade of power is by humiliation, threats, intimidation and fear tactics, etc.

As an adult bully, she/ he has had more experience, success and time to pump helium into her big balloon!
The students that are praising your adult-bully are contributing more “hot air” into the balloon with their fake praise.

You have moved through our challenging Triangle of Triumph™ by going from victim-survivor-leader, defining yourself, not by your own “downfalls”, but by your hard-earned positive leadership skills.
Your example, your truth, has poked a small hole into her/ his balloon and it is going to leak.

It’s going to slowly leak because of your great example and words, ”More than anything, I want the young girls who I spent so much time with to have a role model that utilizes positive reinforcement and, overall, teaches them that every person has worth and value.”

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Why I am ashamed?

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

I’m in college. I was bullied in high school because, I think, I was a pretty good person. But why did everyone abuse me?

I was sexually abused between the ages of four and eight by my uncle.

He admitted to putting his hand on my naked butt. He admitted that! But that’s not all he did to me. I tried to speak up for myself, I was only eight. But my whole family jumped on me! They said, “it wasn’t that bad” and “he admitted it, so get over it and forgive him.”

I feel ashamed that I was abused and my family acts like I did something wrong. Then I’m still ashamed because I can’t forgive him!  Plus, he only admitted it because my older sister was caught with him. She says she forgave him and that I’m too sensitive.

Well, I started faking being over it and now I have anxiety so badly that I shake when I think I’m being judged.  

In college, I got into debate, drama, and cheer. Everyone thought I was very confident, capable, and popular. But I’m not, so I stopped and now I don’t do anything and I don’t date. Well, no one even asks! My hometown thinks I’m still involved and so “strong.”

The truth is that I think I have PTSD because I think about the past all the time and sometimes my roommate tells me I’m screaming at night and not really asleep.

Why do I still feel like I’m the bad girl?


Dear Ashamed,

It’s very common and normal for those in your situation to feel shamed, but it’s wrong. We know you are not the “bad girl.” You have been shamed in an unrighteous way by people who needed to be your biggest supporters.

They want you to pretend and live behind a façade of “everything’s okay” because they don’t want to deal with the trauma.

 If they diminish you and judge you, they can feel good about life again. Your pain doesn’t count and that’s the selfish truth. They want you to live a lie too, so they won’t feel guilty.

Unfortunately, living a lie in a façade has consequences and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may be one.

Ask yourself:  

·         Are repeating scenes and awful thoughts about your perpetrators and what they did to you going through your mind everyday?

  • Do you feel excruciating pain and that those closest to you don’t understand it and don’t want to understand it?
  • Does that pain make you feel angry that those closest to you don’t care?

·         Do you feel others won’t let you grieve the loss of the idea about how your “loved ones” are suppose to care?

·         Are others verbally, physically, emotionally, and/ or sexually abusing you because you won’t live the lie?

·         Do you feel that those close to you don’t believe you or believe in you?

Disapproval, fear, guilt, embarrassment, unworthiness, undeserving shame and blame, non-entitlement, punishment can be symptoms of PTSD.
Shame is a powerful, lingering, and painful emotion caused by a strong sense of guilt, embarrassment or disgrace. You did nothing to deserve shame!
Be grateful that you have empathy, love and talents (internal and external) that allow your integrity to rise above all of your adversaries.
The final stage of PTSD is forgiveness of others.
As a daughter of God, remember that no one can see your goodness the great way God does. Lean on him.
Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Kids need reverence

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,
I can't get this off my mind. I read your column after finding it one Sunday. For the most part I agree with what you say, however, this thought is about what you didn't say.

A girl who committed suicide here in our town, Prescott, and was only 12 or 13 years old seemed to only cause some to feel affected for a short while and then that was it. No one mentions it anymore. No one has said why she committed suicide, except some have said she was bullied really badly with text messages which told her to go kill herself.

If it's true that the girl who killed herself was bullied by someone saying something as awful as that, why isn't the bully arrested? Don't we have laws about that?

Worse still, when I went to the balloon release memorial for her, I saw about 200, mostly kids, joking around, swearing, and on their cell phones acting without any reverence for a young girl's short life. The kids only settled down when the program started which was a solid twenty minutes or so of this disrespectful way of paying homage to this poor girl and her family.

Can anything be done?


Where's the reverence?

Dear Ms. Reverence,

I did address the girl's death in a column, which you may look up at

My understanding is that an investigation is still ongoing.

The behavior at her memorial, by many, was disturbing. There was a blatant lack of reverence and respect for the loss of a young girl's life.

Our current culture of narcissism or being so self-absorbed is due in large part to the lack of true communication that involves using appropriate body language and tone of voice, which is 93 percent of the high standard of communication involving one's values, feelings, morals and characteristics (not to mention using an intelligent vocabulary).

That leaves a horrid seven percent of communication using words only. Most texts can't be categorized as real words because of the common abbreviations used.

The definition of the word "reverence" means deep respect, regard, and treatment with due admiration and respect for someone or something.

Respect, and reverence is lost on a great many of this generation, because of the empty, distant, and non- human devices used to communicate and not using our hearts, minds, and souls.

We, the former generations, need to step up and start demanding less usage of tech communication and more real person to person- heart to heart communication.

We'd like to start a revolution against cell phones at school. Bullying and sexual harassment are, in large part, because of easy access to porn and rude messages and behavior.

No cell phones at school!

A reader responds to a past column on intellectual bullies:
I enjoy reading your columns. I'm sorry that we still have to put up with bullies. Tell the bullied woman to start taking college classes. Yavapai College is very affordable. She should also avoid the bully. I got my BS degree because I felt the same pressure as the bullied woman did. But I work in a big medical center where everyone has advanced degrees, except one woman who was made miserable by the elite bullies. I got my advanced degree so I wouldn't be looked down upon and bullied. Education boosts self-confidence. She should finish her BA or BS.

Dear Reader:

Thank you for your enlightened advice. We are grateful for your response; however, we do believe a person's value does not depend upon her education alone. She's a child of God and that alone has great value.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri