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