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