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