Sunday, December 31, 2017

Gay guy depessed by parents' decision

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

I am a gay teenager who is depressed because my parents got divorced. Today, our parents surprised my sister and me with a “re-engagement” announcement.

My sister and I are shocked by this news. We had no idea anything was going on.

My dad is a liar and my mom told me that when I was 13. Now I’m graduating from high school. I made plans to stay home to go to college. I did this on purpose so I could help my mom with her wrecked life financially, physically, and emotionally from my dad.

All of my life, my dad was abusive and a bully to my mom. She once stopped me from reporting him to the police after he punched her. There were many times.

She finally got a restraining order and my sister and I were so happy. He was never very nice to us, although he didn’t abuse us.

He never accepted me, once I told him that I’m gay. He completely ignores my existence. My sister and mom have known this about me for years and continue to love me. How can she marry him again?

Signed,
Depressed gay guy 

Dear Depressed,

There’s a cycle that abusive and bullying men follow and it happens to one-third of women in our country. That’s why many women stay in abusive relationships. It’s a common problem in our culture.

It goes like this:

Charm is their game. The guy tells the girl she’s everything he ever wanted. He plays smart, funny, and is so attentive to her, until he isn’t.

Denial from shock. It’s unbelievable to the girl when he starts saying awful things to her. He becomes abusive. She goes into denial. It’s easy for abused and bullied women to go into denial, because it’s so hard to believe the truth
.
Isolation. She becomes trapped by the charmer’s insidious isolation process. He claims he wants her, needs her, and while he’s manipulating her, he convinces her until she loses other relationships.

Cycle of abuse starts. Tension builds and verbal, physical, and emotional abuse begins again.
You’re mature enough to understand this and not let it thwart your relationship with your mom. Your dad is, in fact, abusing you by ostracizing you.

We hope you’ll stand tall and move to a new and safer environment, whether it’s college, trade school, or to pursue your dreams.

You can’t fix their problems. We don’t want you to be damaged by them. You deserve the best, regardless of any reason. And you absolutely deserve unconditional love, regardless of anything.

Signed,
Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Forgiveness comes first

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,
My teenage daughter has a diagnosis of ADHD, Anxiety, Depression, and PTSD. My ex- husband was abusive and an addict. We haven’t had contact with him for years. I have an excellent boyfriend who lives with us.

Our daughter becomes angry and takes her aggression out on her much younger sister.

Our raging daughter calls our other daughter names and threatens to punch her.

She’s physically abusive with me because I stop her from throwing things. I had to defend myself and I smacked her while she was kicking me.

She accuses me of being selfish and then went to be consoled by my boyfriend.

When he didn’t defend her, she rolled in the dirt while screaming and throwing rocks at the house.

She goes to Grandma’s house, where there are no rules or boundaries. She also goes to church with her friends while she’s there and complains about me.

Her doctor has her on medication but it’s not working. We’re looking into finding a different peer group too.

She’s a survivor from her father’s abuse and but uses it as an excuse.

She’s also scratches her arms until they bleed when she is freaking out.

Signed,
Worn-out mom

Dear Mom,

First things first: forgive her, love her and continue professional help.

Think of your daughter’s issues as if they were physical illnesses instead of mental illnesses.

If she had broken bones, you would not be frustrated with her for her injuries. Please don’t blame her for the state of her mental health. She does have “broken bones,” which is evident by her scratching self-harm.

Don’t find her a new peer group. They will eventually not be right for her either because your daughter is the one who needs to make changes.

She isn’t a survivor yet. She’s a victim, but she has the power to choose not to stay one.

Your daughter is trying to deal with abandonment issues. She can’t get past them until she also learns how to get through the grieving process of being a victim, which takes time and professional help.

She needs to try to forgive her dad. Her PTSD will improve when she can forgive others, but that is most difficult, even for adults, let alone for a teenage girl.

It would be a good idea for your younger daughter to receive professional counseling also.

One more thing: having a live-in boyfriend is not ideal for your whole family. Even though you’ve been married before, marriage is a sign of true commitment. It could help make your daughters feel safer and more secure.

Signed,
Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Better offer from a new friend?

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

My daughter lied to one of her best friends, who asked her to spend the night at her house and watch a movie there. They’ve been doing this since they were young.

A new girl at school asked my daughter go out to a movie.

My daughter lied to her other friend and said she had to work on a big school project. She didn’t seem to care anything about her long-time friend and said to me, “Mom, this is going to be so much better and more fun than sitting in her rec room eating bad popcorn and sleeping on the floor with sleeping bags!”

I told her it was wrong to lie to her friend because she got a better offer, but she shrugged her shoulders and said, “Well, I already did it. I’ll look stupid if I change plans. They’ll both be mad at me.”

I said she could easily get caught at the movies with this new girl. They will both still be mad at her, if she gets caught.

Then she said she was making a new girl feel better about herself because she made a new friend and won’t be so lonely. Her old friend will always be her friend, she said.

Help!

Signed,
Worried Mom

Dear Mom,

Your daughter’s situation isn’t about getting caught. It’s about being a good friend.

It’s also not about “feeling stupid.” Your daughter would benefit from understanding that how she feels isn’t as important as what she does. Feelings come and go, but doing the right thing, regardless of how she feels, is paramount.

Justifying wrong choices because the result of the right choice might not be the desired outcome magnifies the fact that it’s not the best and most ethical one.

Trading activities with a long-time and loyal friend for a better offer with a possible new friend is never the right thing to do. It hurts everyone.

Ask your daughter about the Golden Rule: Treat others the same way you would want to be treated. How would she feel if the situation was reversed?

There is one simple, but difficult, choice for your daughter. She needs to tell her established friend she’s sorry she lied, and admit she accepted an invitation to do something else with a new girl at school.

Ask her to invite both girls to your home so the new girl will feel welcome and they may all enjoy a fun time all together.

Thanks for being a valiant mom. Be gentle with your young and inexperienced daughter. She needs your strong but sweet advice.

Signed,
Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Teen Babysitters Need Training

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

I have two young girls. I’m a single mom going to college, which requires a babysitter.

I came home early and found my new teenage babysitter lying on the couch with food everywhere, music blaring, and texting on her phone.

It looked like a disaster area in my daughters’ room. My girls were asleep on the floor in their clothes.

I didn’t get references for this girl, except she lives close by and other neighbors use her with their kids.

I only got $2 an hour when I babysat. Now I’m 42, so I expected to pay a little more, but she charges $8 an hour. My college classes are two hours long so it’s usually $20 each time! That’s $40 a week! $160 a month! Is that normal?

And is it normal to have such a messy sitter, whom I don’t think really paid attention and cared for my daughters?

How am I supposed to judge what to pay? More importantly, what values and ethics should my sitters have? I’m at a loss!

Also, I’m tempted to tell the rest of my neighbors!

Signed,
Concerned Mom

Dear Mom,


We applaud you and agree that it must be difficult to work, go to school, and take care of your young family. We know you want the best for your children and you are making sacrifices that are difficult.

Babysitting has become a real career-starter. It’s a completely different era of time. Safety comes first. It’s worth the extra money – if the sitter is trained and qualified.

Treating it as an employer-and-employee situation will help you feel confident that you have conveyed your expectations.

Interview your candidates, yes, more than one. Babysitting is an opportunity for young teens to receive a stable income.

Ask questions such as:

1) What three values do you have that would make you a good babysitter for my children? (Relay some specific characteristics about your children’s personalities and capabilities.)

2) Who is your hero and why? (It will be quite telling if they mention a TV reality star and not a historically significant person such as C.S. Lewis or Amelia Earhart. Or their mom.)

3) Why do you want to take care of my girls? (If they say they don’t know or because they need the money or they can’t do anything else until they are 16 … steer clear.)

4) What would you do in an emergency? (They need CPR, first-aid, choking rescue skills and training.)

In short, the sitter should be a professional.

Gossiping about your bad babysitter doesn’t fix the problem. Look up babysitting training courses and spread the word about them.

Signed,
Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Choices-curse or gift?

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,
My son got mad at me today when he admitted to cheating at school, using his phone. I was surprised and reacted badly. He said he thought he wouldn’t get into trouble because he told me the truth.

Then he said he told me the truth because he needs my help to make changes and work on getting better grades.

But he wants me to keep this from his father.

I said I can’t keep the lie from his dad or his dad will lose trust in us.

My son started lashing out about how his father and I tell many lies. However, he’s talking about tactful comments we make, not lies.

I don’t know how to fix this and I feel guilty.

Signed,
Guilty or not

Dear Not,

Cheating is a moral issue. Your son’s dilemma is more about making right choices.

Our culture has a difficult time accepting that there are absolutes about what’s right versus wrong.

His justification and choice to lie and cheat is wrong and has negative consequences.

Freedom of choice is both a curse and a gift.

“Accessing information” dishonestly will curse your son in two ways: 1. He will lose the trust of others and 2. He will lose the gift of a true education.

In robbing himself of a quality education, he also denies himself the gifts of accomplishment, confidence, faith in himself, dignity and self-worth.

His trying to compare you and your diplomacy with his choice to cheat and steal a grade he doesn’t deserve, isn’t the same thing.

He, unfortunately, has a lot of company:

35 percent of teens admit to using a cell phone, at least once, to cheat at school.

65 percent of teens report that other students use phones to cheat.

17 percent of students report taking pictures of test questions to send to other students.

A quarter of students do not consider the following acts cheating:

Checking notes on a cell phone during a test.

Searching the internet for an answer during a test.

Texting friends with answers during a test.

Your choice to set boundaries and not lie to your spouse is a great choice. Your example is priceless for your son.

He’s started the grieving process of going through loss from his choice to cheat.

This includes: Denial (he didn’t cheat); Anger (blaming you for his bad choice); Bargaining (manipulation of his dad); Depression (he’s robbed himself of his education); and Acceptance (the reality that he has to earn his own grades for his own benefit).

Stick to your boundaries for your son’s sake.

Signed,
Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Own your past and it can't haunt you

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

My past is always haunting me and no one is letting me change.

I live in a small town. My big family is full of wealthy alcoholics.

When I was in high school, I partied wildly and became Homecoming Queen. I thought I had it made when I married a high school football star.

Wrong-o! He was mean and abusive to me and our three kids. One time I fought back and the police came. One officer knew us from high school and told us to “knock it off.” I was embarrassed, so I never reported any more altercations — until the night my son got into an argument with his dad, who threw a beer at him. I called the police again.

My sister was over and took my husband’s side. It was a mess.

I got a divorce and custody.

Then I moved, went to nursing school and now work at a hospital. My kids are grown and we’re close. I’m a completely different person now, but I can’t stop thinking about it all.

My sister tells people how terrible I “really” am. She knows some of my new friends and they told me how she’s trashing me.

She’s relentless about trying to destroy me and I dread her visits. I can’t sleep thinking about how she’s ruining my new reputation.

Signed,
Haunted by my past

Dear Haunted,


We have a saying: “If you own your past, your past can’t haunt you.” This may feel like a difficult thing to do, however, it’s freeing.

Develop simple statements like:

• “My family has alcoholism running through it, and my past was rocky, until I decided to change it for the better. I’m so happy I made that decision.” (This acknowledges that you make your own choices and you’re in control of your happiness.)

• “Everyone has skeletons in their past, so I had a nice long talk with mine. Now there’s nothing in my closet but nurse’s uniforms.” (With a sense of humor, you diffuse the ugliness in your past.)

• “Healthy relationships are what’s most important to me in life. I’ve had unhealthy ones in my past, and I’m glad I’ve learned to discern the difference.” (This lets your new friends know that you desire to choose honest, loving and caring relationships.)

To your sister: “I’m not a threat to you, and my past is not a threat to me. If you can’t treat me with respect, then don’t visit.”

Bullies who haunt people with their past haven’t learned what you know: You can own your past so it can’t own you.

Signed,
Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Bully revenge: does it work?

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,
I’ve been looking at your website and advice columns. I subscribe to your podcast and find it’s something useful I can do on the run.

I have two daughters in middle school. I received a text from another mother at their school, saying one of my daughters is bullying her girl.

I confronted my accused daughter. She admitted she’s been mean to the girl. She said she’s mad at how that girl is treating her sister. My daughters are close and protective.

My accused daughter said they’ve both been treated badly by this girl and her friends.

Was the girl just being cruel, or was she bullying my daughters?

My accused daughter seems to hide her hurt and pain by being mean back to the girl.

I’m at a loss on how she should handle the girl, because the girl was mean to her sister. I don’t want her striking back.

I want to be able to guide my daughters, but not take over for them. I don’t want the situation to get worse.

Advice would be welcome!

Signed,
Need advice

Dear Mom,

Statistically, students (especially middle schoolers) feel adults respond poorly to bullying, with a high percentage believing adult help is infrequent and ineffective.

So, well done Mom! You’re seeking help and taking action!

Responding to another parent who accuses your child of bullying or being “mean” is a tricky thing. You don’t want to inflame the situation by having a heated discussion about who is the aggressor.

Bullying means there is an aggressive, imbalanced, demonstration of power. It also means it’s continually and consistently harmful. Bullying includes threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone and excluding someone from a group.

It sounds like your daughter or daughters were, indeed, bullied. Mean behavior is usually a one-time action with less serious ramifications.

“Bully revenge” is not a successful option because the bully-victim (one who was bullied and then becomes a bully to get back at her perpetrator) will never “win.”

Revenge never settles “scores.” It becomes, instead, a constant war of hateful words and actions.

Parents, please:

• Avoid ignoring the situation or immediately trying to fix everything

• Speak with your spouse and then consult an objective adult, mediator, or professional

• Then speak with your kids as a family and separate facts and feelings – make a plan

• Take your plan to a trusted teacher or principal and incorporate their advice into your plan

It’s not about blaming and shaming someone; everyone is a stakeholder and everyone needs to make positive improvements.

This will encourage healthy relationships that include civility: consideration, care, and courtesy.

Signed,
Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Unique, just like everyone else

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

Our son went into high school and suddenly he is hanging out with kids who do drugs and drink. He said he doesn’t.

He dresses in wild ways. Like shredded jeans, which I threw away.

He came home with green hair one day.

His father and I had a conversation with him about his new friends and the way they have made him change. We also brought up his rather disappointing report card.

He got angry at us and said we don’t appreciate his “uniqueness.” His dad told him he wasn’t unique, he was just like everyone else he’s been hanging around with. He glared at his dad and flipped his hands through his greasy green hair. His dad said, “What’s unique about having bad grades?”

Our son said we don’t know how special he is and said he was treated badly by most of his teachers too, just because he’s different.

How do we make him change back to the way he was? He was actually unique in having eclectic interests, such as art and science. He won awards in science fairs. He was a Boy Scout and he also played in a garage band. What happened?

Signed,
Confused parents

Dear Confused,


Many teens, including your son, may feel powerful and less vulnerable when they use uniqueness as a cop-out. Your son may feel he can avoid consequences by declaring he’s so unique that he (unlike his new friends) can resist using drugs or alcohol.

However, fashion is different than drugs. Resist throwing away his clothing. Show him you are reasonable.

Experience shows that sooner, rather than later, he will likely feel he is so unique that he can do drugs and drink alcohol and not experience the bad consequences that will inevitably follow.

The reality of his choices will lead to the same results as his friends’, such as bad grades and getting into trouble with authority.

He, unfortunately, chose a common reaction — victimhood. He’s claiming social injustice because he is so unique that you and the whole world can’t understand him. That’s his justification for not taking responsibility for not studying or following directives.

Decide not to engage in arguments over his perceived uniqueness. He will figure out that victimhood doesn’t work as he matures.

Give him boundaries like the following:

• He will be well groomed every day

• He will do given assignments at school

• He’s responsible for asking you if he may go places, and where he’ll be

• Help him develop his real, unique talents which will express his individuality

Finally, no one “makes” anyone change — everyone has choices.

Signed,
Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Bullying and school attacks

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

My next door neighbor’s daughter is in my daughter’s classes at school. They used to be friends until high school.

The girl told our Homecoming-queen daughter she was jealous of her last year. Our daughter didn’t know what to say, so she said nothing. The girl accused our daughter of being “just like everyone else who was mean to her.” Our daughter said she was sorry the girl was being treated badly.

Her mom, our neighbor, called us and said our daughter was bullying their daughter and could we please do something about it before their daughter retaliated against all the kids who hurt her.

We took that as a threat and called the police. We were surprised that the police found weapons and home-made explosives under the girl’s bed. They also found a journal talking about our daughter and how she didn’t stand up for her and that she was going to “get it.” Also named in her journal were fourteen other students, some teachers, and “the whole school.”

They arrested the girl. She was put into a psychiatric ward and released a month later. Needless to say, the mom and the daughter don’t talk with us anymore.

We’re nervous that the girl could do something else. What should we do?

Signed,
Mom of dangerous neighbors

Dear Mom,

This serious situation warrants continuous caution, although authorities are very aware now and your neighbor is probably facing charges.

Besides being vigilant with your neighbors, stay in touch with the police and school. Let them know about any communication that may seem threatening and aggressive.

Keep journals and document everything. Help your daughter to feel free from the worry of harm.

Showing fear to the girl next door will empower her. Say hello to your neighbors, but don’t engage in conversations.

Applaud your daughter for having the confidence to report the girl next door. You handled the situation as best as possible.

There is a chance that the girl has changed for the better and any mental illness is addressed.
More than half of bullying situations stop when a peer intervenes on behalf of the victim. Taking action and not standing by helps convince other students to do the same.

Recent U.S. statistics show:
70.6 percent of young people say they have seen bullying in their schools.
70.4 percent of school staff members have witnessed bullying.
62 percent of students witnessed bullying two or more times in the last 30 days.
41 percent see bullying once a week or more.
And finally, when bystanders intervene, bullying usually stops within 10 seconds.


Certainly, get professional help for your family.

Signed,
Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, October 29, 2017

On-line self-harm-a new form of bullying

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,
Our teen daughter has made creative videos for Youtube. We live in New York City. We’re working musicians in an orchestra.

We’ve taken her to many Broadway shows since she was young. She loved them. She wanted to act since then, but we avoided that. Many of our friends in the industry said it wasn’t emotionally healthy for kids.

We put her into dance classes. She was fairly good, but not outstanding. She also took musical comedy classes.

As a pre-teen, she started cutting herself. We couldn’t figure out why, but we got her professional help. We changed her school and she’s gone to an all-girls’ school. She gave up on dance. She’s very smart in academics.

She was our only child for a long time and then we had a boy. She fights with him constantly.

We just found out she has been making up videos and claiming she was bullied. We dug deep and found out she is bullying herself on-line, just for attention.

Should we have let her pursue a career in the industry?

Signed,
Parents of a self-harmer

Dear Parents,

Blame is not the issue, so please don’t blame yourselves. How she got here isn’t as important as what you do next. She may need a professional assessment.

Self-harming on-line is a relatively new form of cyberbullying. Teens are basing their worth on their looks, their talents, their intelligence, and many other outside tangible forms of identifying themselves.

Social media as an identity source is superficial and one-dimensional, but kids don’t always make that connection. It has changed the rules by helping them create an over-simplified persona.

Feeling one-dimensional can create enormous anxiety, depression, envy, and insecurity. These ingredients can lead to self-harm through on-line self-abuse.

It’s not about her just “wanting attention.” But you can help her get healthy attention by investigating her internal and external talents.

Talent development helps kids focus on something other than their own emotional pain. They naturally want to share their talents and that’s a great thing. This helps them to provide service.

All human beings innately desire deeper connections and service provides that.

Youtube can feel like a good tool for teens to express their emotional pain, because others will react to them. However, a better and safer tool for her to express herself and use her creativity is to share real-life performances before safe and smaller groups of friends and family.

Since this is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month, there’s no better time to explore this new and harmful trend. That will help your daughter the most. Do it together.

Signed,
Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Let kids pick their own talents

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,
Our nine-year-old son won’t stick to anything. He likes drawing cartoon characters to relieve stress. My husband tells him it’s a waste of time. Now our son hides his drawings.

Our son is super good at soccer. My husband has him on every soccer team and doing every type of coaching and classes.

He pushes him and tells him that he needs to get a soccer scholarship to college. My son just goes along with it.

I happened to see our son watching his sisters rehearse for a play they’re doing at school. They invited him to participate and gave him a part to help them practice.

It’s a musical. He started singing and he was unbelievably good at singing and acting. Plus, he loves it.

My husband got mad and told him he was throwing his life away. I told my husband our son is only nine years old. My husband stormed out.

The next morning, our son came down with his soccer clothes on, saying he was ready to practice, to the delight of my husband.

Should I be sad? It bothers me.

Signed,
Sad Mom

Dear Mom,

Please talk with your husband, alone. Ask him to allow his son to pick one talent that he loves and wants to seriously try out.

“Seriously trying it out” means being committed for six months of taking classes, being coached, and trying hard. After six months, your son can reassess what he wants to do for the next six months. But your child, not his father, has to choose.

If your son chooses singing and acting over soccer, let him.

Six months gives a child time to see where his passion is. He’ll also learn the value of commitment.

Tell your husband that you understand he’s just trying to help his son participate in something that will help him in his future. However, your son has to love, love, love what he’s doing or he won’t be successful, no matter how good he is.

Kids need to learn how to deal with failure and criticism. They also need to be encouraged and praised.

Your husband and you may need counseling if he won’t try to help his son choose his own talents to develop.

And please let your son draw to relieve stress or just for fun. It’s productive and in the future, he may just want to try it out for six months.

Signed,
Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Is my child a victim of my domestic abuse?

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

My two daughters saw me being violently abused by their father. I was hit, kicked, and punched when my oldest was four years old and I was pregnant with my next daughter.

My husband actually hit the older daughter with a shoe he threw at me and missed.

She also saw him jump on me when I was pregnant and scream in my face. She hid that time.

She was 10 years old when I left with them. I was a teacher, but had a hard time focusing and lost my job. It didn’t help that my sister put me down for leaving my husband.

I did finally get things together and we now live in a small apartment.

My oldest girl resents me now. She won’t have her friends over because she doesn’t want them to see her room she has to “share” with her little sister.

My younger daughter is mostly solitary. She always tells me she loves me. I think my other daughter loves me but she’s just confused. Maybe she’ll grow out of this stage.

Signed,
Abused Mom

Dear Mom,

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 3.3 million children witness domestic abuse in the US annually.

We know you are trying as hard as you can, however, kids who come from violent homes don’t “grow out of it.”

Many women like you go through denial, think their spouse will change, are scared they are responsible for a broken home, and are in so much pain emotionally, that it’s hard to figure out the ramifications of leaving. You are courageous to leave when you did.

Children who witness abuse and violence react in the following ways:
Substance abuse and other addictions
Date rape and sexual assault
Running away and skipping school
Using pornography
Continuing the cycle of violence
Feelings of guilt for their inability to stop the abuse

As adults, they are:
11 percent more likely to become an alcoholic
42 percent more likely experience chronic depression
10 percent more likely to commit suicide

The CDC reports that each year two million women are injured and 1,300 are killed in domestic violence incidents. Three women are murdered every day by their intimate partner.

Caregivers, family, and friends that create safe, nurturing, positive and healthy relationships with the witnessing children are the single most effective factor in their healing.

Most of all, give them love, be consistent with them, and create calm.


Signed,
Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Civility in the answer to bullying

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

A friend of my daughter is bullying her by harassing and humiliating her with damaging comments. She also gets classmates to exclude her from many activities.

She told others that my daughter was having sex with an older boy in our neighborhood. I found out from my daughter that she didn’t even know his name!

I wanted to have a party for my daughter to help stop the bullying, but she said no to it because she thinks no one will come.

My daughter didn’t do anything to deserve this wrong-doing. The girl called her stupid a million times and shoved her around. She’s pushed her food tray off their lunch tables.

My daughter’s cried, begged not to go to school, told her teacher (who said she told the principal and talked with the girl and her parents).

My daughter is being bullied and abused. My heart is breaking for her. I don’t know how to stop it!

Signed, Sad Mom

Dear Sad Mom,


Young people are bullied every seven seconds. It’s the most common form of abuse our school-aged children experience.

In the U.S., 160,000 kids stay home from school each day for fear of being bullied. Who knows how many, like your daughter, are begging to stay home.

Exhaust every resource for help at the school level and then go to the next level. As a last resort, look into other school options. Then get involved with your daughter’s school.

Your daughter’s isolating herself in order to escape her pain and probable depression. There are many free and inexpensive professionals to help.

Encourage her to make new friends that will help her have positive academic and talent developmental experiences. Help to her to discover civility.

Here are our examples:

1 - Consideration—continuous and careful thoughts about her friends, developing sympathetic feelings towards the needs of others and basing opinions on careful reflection;

2 - Courtesy—having standards of behavior that include common manners, respect, expressions of consideration for others, thoughtful cooperation with others, and having generosity of spirit;

3 - Care—helping the oppressed, sick, unfortunate, needy, or those grieving, and having respect for her friends.

Help her to learn she can only change herself and she’s not responsible for the bullying.

You are already expressing our definitions of civility. Look for ways to serve in your community.

Civility is a community responsibility. We all need to define civility in our communities and help stop bullying to create a better society.

Signed, Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, October 1, 2017

What's with all the eye-rolling?

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,
When my husband doesn’t like something I say, he rolls his eyes at me. I don’t like it!

Of course, when I complain about that, he again rolls his eyes. He does it to get out of real conversations with me—where we listen and then talk.

Lately, it happens more and more. Now I leave the room when he “rolls” because I don’t want to be disrespected. He’ll follow me from room to room, though, and try to keep arguing. If I say I’m not going to argue with him, he rolls his eyes and leaves.

What’s worse is that when his kids stay with us on weekends, it’s like he taught classes to them on eye-rolling.

I can’t stand it!

Signed,
No more “rolls”

Dear No More,


Eye-rolling is a sign of contempt, or the three D’s as we say: Disrespect, disdain, and disapproval.

Body language and tone-of-voice are 93 percent of our communication. Words comprise only 7 percent. When communication in a relationship is negative, contempt is often the cause and is shown with eye-rolling.

Contempt wasn’t shown by eye-rolling until the 1960s. In fact, eye rolling used to be a sign of flirting and passion. (Just look at Shakespeare.)

A noted ethologist (a new science that deals with human character and its formation and evolution), Irenaus Eibl-Eibesfeldt, said in his 1989 book “Human Ethology,” that many cultures have “similar gestures for rejecting, all involving looking away.”

Monkeys do this bit of behavior when they are mad. They turn their back to you.

Looking away from someone is a sign of arrogance and condescension. It’s an action of trying to one-up someone and show superiority.

Today, eye-rolling is over-used.

But we think your husband may not know how to communicate with you or he may need to be listened to with more understanding … even if you don’t agree.

The 3 A’s, or antidotes, for eye-rolling are: Approval, appreciate, and assurance.
Show each other that you may not approve of their idea, answer, or thought, but you approve of each other in general.

You can always appreciate who the person is and still not like something about their idea or solution.

Assure each other that you love and care about them regardless of whatever they say or do.

Don’t judge each other with your body language, tone-of-voice, or the 7 percent of words that you use to communicate.

Signed,
Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Great Teens Doing Great Things!

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,
Teenagers in my neighborhood have shown great courage in many ways.

I’m a mom. I think teens today are getting a bad name that they don’t deserve.

When I was a teen, we made wrong choices more often than what’s happening now.

I wanted to write and let you know, because we only seem to hear about the kids who are acting out.

These teen stories are from my area alone:

• A 13-year-old boy was babysitting two small children, when he saw another small child fall into a pool next door. The parents were gardening and didn’t see her. The boy grabbed the kids he was babysitting, put them on his hip and ran over yelling that their daughter fell into the pool. He put the two kids down, next to the parents, and jumped into the pool and saved the little girl. Our town gave him an award.

• Two senior high school girls were given drugs in their beers. Another girl saw the boy doing it. So she called 911. The boy was arrested. One of the girls went to the hospital. (No, they shouldn’t have been drinking, especially in a hot tub.) Then the girl who reported it was ostracized and bullied for telling on him.

• A girl at our middle school was cyberbullied for her “stupid” and “ugly” hair-style until another girl told on one of the kids. She courageously still proceeded to run for student council and won.

These are just a few examples of our courageous, valiant, and caring kids; teens who made right choices are all around us.

Signed,
Observant mom

Dear Mom,

Thank you for your thoughtful letter!

It makes a big difference when communities recognize kids with values, depth-of-character, and the courage to do the right thing.

It makes a big difference when parents, teachers, and others recognize and reward teens’ good deeds. We’re not necessarily talking about monetary rewards, but acknowledgement in a magazine, newspaper, or something public.

Courage doesn’t need to be grandiose to be of great value.

These actions show courage:

• Reporting wrong behavior, even if it causes the double-bullying effect; bullied for being good and bullied for reporting

• Living high standards, even when mocked

• Saying no to drugs, alcohol, sex, and bullying

Courage is one of our Foundation’s 5 C’s of Leadership which also include: Civility, Confidence, Creativity, and Communication.

Good job mom!

Signed,
 Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Technology is here to stay, but bullying and suicides aren't

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,
My daughter was cyberbullied last year and now it’s happening again. Someone is threatening to expose my daughter’s “sexting” to her boyfriend. The anonymous bully is demanding sex from her, but she doesn’t know who he is.

More messages revealed my daughter’s suicide threats.

Now she regrets the sexting to her old boyfriend. She said she wishes she was dead because it’s going to ruin her life.

Her friends said everything from “Don’t be so dramatic” to “I would want to die, too.”

I’m so anxious. I didn’t know she had a boyfriend. I don’t have the know-how to look into other things on her phone.

What do I do besides have anxiety attacks?

Signed,
Anxious mom

Dear Mom,

We understand you’re anxious, however, now is the time to be strong for your daughter. She sounds suicidal. Take her to a professional, now.

A new report states the suicide rate among 15- to 19-year-old girls has doubled in the last few years. Teen boys also had a 30 percent increase in suicides.

Cyberbullying is hard to detect because of its secretive nature. It flies under the radar of parents and teachers. Teens have ways of hiding their behavior with new technology everyday.

It would behoove you to enroll in phone technology classes (often given by your phone carrier).

You may want a therapist to help you with your anxiety.

Cyberbullying is insidious and happens 24/7 and 365 days a year. Here are some tips to protect your daughter:

• Don’t allow her to go to school with a phone.

• Don’t allow nighttime usage by letting her sleep with her phone (often a “charging” excuse will be thrown at you; you charge it).

• Have frequent talks about suicide even when she doesn’t act like she wants to talk — she will ultimately feel your love and care for her. It’s a myth that talking about suicide will cause suicide.

• Talk about hopes, dreams, ideas, and not people, as good examples of communication.

Tell her to report, report, report (until an adult does something constructive) the following bullying behavior that’s happening on her social media or in person:

• Mocking, labeling, name-calling;

• Gossiping and being ignored;

• Being blackmailed (look at our Blackmail Bully column online); and,

• Being manipulated to do things you don’t want to do.

Technology is here to stay. But bullying and suicides don’t have to be.

Signed,
Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, September 10, 2017

The Lunchbox Bullies

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,
I’m a school volunteer and I have witnessed some really disturbing bullying behavior in middle school.

One boy grabbed a neighboring student and made really awful remarks about his healthy sandwich. He grabbed it so hard that it was squished. Tomatoes, spinach and lettuce fell out, and he pushed up the spinach to the little boy’s nose. The boy tried not to cry, but it was too hard. All the boys sitting at that table then taunted the boy and made fun of his healthy food.

To my surprise, the boy with healthy food sat down by the same bullying boys day after day! And the bullying continued.

I politely asked the boys that were bullying to please stop. They ignored me and the bullied boy kept his head down.

Another group of girls made fun of a girl and her “trash food” (not just junk food, but trashy.) The girl left with her food and went into the bathroom to eat!

I’ve watched kids take other kids’ food and throw it away after making fun of it.

I’ve told everyone from other volunteers, cafeteria workers, teachers, and the principal once. They did nothing..

I live in a big city and I looked forward to volunteering. Not now!

Signed,
No More Volunteering for Me

Dear No More,

We applaud you and others like you who choose to volunteer in some volatile schools.

We can feel your torment. It’s a shame to loose a conscientious volunteer, so here are some suggestions:

• Report, report, report (this is what we tell kids to do until they get help) to all adults around you, including your school district superintendent, until something is done.

• Ask for an absolutely strict rule banning any body shaming, taking another’s food away or switching lunches.

• Promote bringing extra food for those in need. All kids deserve nutritious lunches.

• Have a “silence” rule for maybe twenty minutes and have kids focus on eating-this helps with the loud, rambunctious, and over-stimulation that promotes “acting out.”

• Explain that healthy foods or unhealthy labels are a family decision and not for the kids to judge.

We agree that the environment for a stress-free lunch is greatly necessary in today’s culture. It needs to be dealt with. Allowing slightly longer lunchtimes is also needed.

Thank you and please don’t give up. We need volunteers like you in every size town!

Signed,
Rhonda & Dr. Cheri

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Family Meal Time Can Reduce Sibling Rivalry

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

What causes sibling rivalry?

Our daughters are terrible about fighting with each other. They are so different. The 12-year-old gets straight A’s but isn’t athletic at all. Our 10-year-old daughter is amazing at soccer and does okay in school.

Our boys don’t fight. In fact, they leave a room and go play together if the girls are arguing.

The girls are jealous of each other. They battle over who is “better.” They do mean things to each other, and then report them to me. I make them go to their rooms until they get along. It works, but not for long.

My sisters and I didn’t get along either, but we were more alike. I thought because my girls are different, they wouldn’t fight.

Signed,
Mom of dueling girls

Dear Mom,


Your girls aren’t arguing because they are different or alike.

Children develop sibling rivalry between each other for many reasons like jealousy, labeling by parents or each other, or a need for individual time with each parent.

Placing them in a room alone may cause hard feelings to fester.

Improve family communication and relationships by having sit-down dinners.

Have rules like:

    Set a dinner time and give prep responsibilities to each child.

    Have your children make small paper name tents. Mix them up each night.

    Ask each child a couple of questions every night. Don’t allow taunting, labeling, eye rolling, whispering, or laughing at one another – teach respect by making positive remarks about each child. Don’t talk about problems now.

    Have each child take turns helping clean up. This gives them time alone with a parent.

Have a race against the clock, instead of each other, to get ready for bed.

Reward children for their behavior towards each other every day, using a star chart with categories like caring, sharing, and saying, “I’m sorry” when needed. Individually go over it each night. If they had a rough day, ask them what they could do the next day to start over.

Reward your children for good behavior and not only a good job in school. You’ll teach your children to value who they are and what kind of hearts they have toward others.

Hold family meetings regularly and listen to your kids’ opinions about their problems. Ask them for their solutions. This will help teach them how to use and develop their critical thinking skills to resolve problems.

Signed,
Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, August 27, 2017

We''re Just Not Perfect Anymore

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,
I now realize, at age 67, I am not perfect and neither are the people I required perfection from. What a shock!

I could blame this on my parents, like everything else. They were harsh in their expectations for me. My mother, especially, who always told me how horrible it was that I didn’t eat everything on my plate (thus, my inconsistent weight from fat to skinny), or clean every spot off the mirrors in the bathroom (I was only 8), or how my A-minus paper wasn’t what I was capable of.

But the truth is that I was an ardent organizer since age 3. My toys, my books, my color-coordinated closet, and my room were spotless.

I went on to try to force everyone else to keep up with my expectations of perfectionism.

Now I keep apologizing to everyone I have burdened with my harsh expectations. What now?

Signed,
Not perfect anymore

Dear Perfect,


Your motto could be: Perfect enough!

The problem with your former perfectionism is that you tried to avoid failure more than feeling the freedom and goodness that comes with acknowledging your perfect moments.

We may have many perfect moments. For example, the idea that it’s wrong to force others to meet standards that cannot be achieved will benefit those you love.

Perfectionist parents are common and could possibly go back to the beginning of Adam and Eve. Now, you can help stop the damaging effects of hyper-criticism and judgments.

Unless you were abusive and yelled things like, “No wire hangers-ever!” it’s safe to say that a genuine apology, delivered once, is “perfect enough.”

There’s a difference between striving for quality and handicapping yourself with human impossibilities.

The latter can lead to depression, procrastination, and delusions.

Unhealthy perfectionism can be pathological with a chronic sense of failure, indecisiveness, and shame, motivating your efforts. It devalues successes like:

• Persistence

• Loving your capabilities and rewarding yourself

• Admitting mistakes are not failures

Make sure you see a professional about your discoveries. Perfectionism can be a compulsion.

Teach your children and grandchildren that they don’t have to look “selfie-ready” all the time by your example. Another motto for you could be; Esse quam videri, a Latin phrase meaning “To be, rather than to seem.”

Remember, only one man who walked this earth was perfect and that was two thousand years ago.

Signed,
Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Fake names can get you 20 years

Dear Rhonda & Dr. Cheri,

I’m in college and have a roommate. She’s also a great friend — or was, until now.

Her computer was open and I glanced at it and wow! She used my middle and last name to register for something online.

I was going to say something but I was stunned and didn’t know what to say.

Later, I asked, “Have you ever used someone else’s name before to register for stuff … like your mom’s name or something?” She said no.

I got mad and said that I saw she used my name.

She asked why I was reading her private stuff! (As if that mattered.) I told her that her computer happened to be open.

She got angry and said it isn’t my real name, it’s a fake name. I said it wasn’t right. She said she doesn’t want to give her name out on the internet.

I told her to make up a fake name! I left. I wonder if I was too harsh on her?

Signed,
Not fake

Dear Not,

We can see why you’re upset. However, we think you can patch this up.

First, we have information about this. It’s actually a big deal.

You can be charged with a federal crime under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act enacted in 1986.

It’s against the law to register under a false name online. The letter of the law means she could receive five to 20 years in prison.

Cyberbullying laws are in place now, so this has become even more important. Most people arrested who were using fake names on the internet didn’t used to receive felony charges.

With the recent increases in suicide rates-double the numbers for 15- to 19- year-old girls and a 30 percent increase for boys in that same range-it may become increasingly important that no one uses fake names for seemingly harmless reasons, like registering for online stores.

Obviously, fake names allow horrific cyberbullying, which is the most common form of bullying.

We are sure that your roommate doesn’t know this habit of hers is a serious crime now.

Show her this column and tell her you want to stay friends, however, she must immediately stop using your name or fake names for her own good and for the goodness of your relationship.

Friends are hard to come by. Loyalty and truth are great qualities for both friends to share.

Signed,
Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Passive-Aggressive Bullies in the Classroom

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,
I seem to have more students who are negative in a subtle way. Some procrastinate, turn in failing work and then insist they did a good job, saying, “You know it’s the best in the class, right?” or “You’ve gotta give me an A, right?” “I’m going to do it, okay … but you have to stop pressuring me or I can’t function”

When I call them out on their negativity, they act hurt, shocked, and they feel sorry for themselves.

Now, in this new school year, they’re even worse. One student said to me, “I love your paintings; I wish I could be that good.” But then I overheard her say to her friends, “She is the worst teacher ever, I can’t bother trying because she can’t see how bad of an artist she is.”

It’s relentless and the same pattern of saying one thing and then backstabbing me.

Signed,
Back-stabbed teacher

Dear Teacher,

Some of your students seem to be passive-aggressive bullies.

People who exhibit this kind of behavior are:

• Masking anger with insincere attempts of agreement

• Pretending their performance or obedience is good by trying to get you to agree

• Resistance to authority figures who question their sincerity

Passive-aggressive bullies typically fear intimacy or competition, may be emotionally unavailable, and wish to be assertive but can’t or won’t try.

Passive-aggressive people can become bullies if they’ve grown up in an environment where it’s not safe to express anger or frustration, or in families in which honest expression of feelings is repressed and denied, so they have to find other means of expression.

And when children don’t feel loved or accepted, they don’t learn to have empathy for others.

How to help your students:

• No debating

• Embrace their compliments as truth and ignore the negative sarcasms

• Do “art therapy” exercises for a short period of time before starting your projects

• Listen to students, but don’t respond negatively or positively

• Give them control over their art project, within reason

• Let them know they are loved but still have strong boundaries

• Don’t take their insults personally; their bullying is a statement of their character

• Try to stay detached from their destructive stories

Hang in there … realize people do things for a reason.

Continue to be a role model of walking the higher road.

Signed,
Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, August 6, 2017

The Attention-Seeking Daughter

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

My daughter has an app called the Sarahah. Anyone can say anything anonymously.

We just went through this last year with the Ask.fm app. My baby girl, who is 13 years old, tried to kill herself because of the horrible things that kids said about her. And they said the most vile and sick comments you can imagine.

I took her out of school for a couple of weeks of intense psychiatric treatment.

This summer, our family went out of the country for six weeks without phones!

We played games, did water sports, and just lazed around. It was heaven.

I let her bring her phone to school, but I thought I had controls on it. I check her phone every night.

I went to the school nurse, the principal, and her teachers. Do you know what they said? My daughter is an attention-seeker.

I took her phone and she said she would just use her friends’ phones.

Is she just trying to get attention? Should I ignore her?

Signed,
Scared Mom

Dear Mom
,

If your daughter is trying to get attention, give her attention!

Give her the right kind of attention:

◘ Don’t judge – If you listen without judging, she is less likely to become suicidal. Remind her of the fun you just had on your trip together, but don’t stop there. Do those same things at home.

◘ Don’t ask why – it’s not important right now.

◘ Don’t blame yourself – blame and shame does not help … ever. You are doing the best you can.

◘ Never ignore a suicide attempt – she’s looking to these apps for feedback, in order to find out what’s wrong with herself. She may feel stuck as a victim and doesn’t know she may choose not to stay a victim.

◘ Get professional help immediately – again, every suicide attempt must be taken seriously. For every 100 attempts, someone is successful.

What you can ignore is her attempts to manipulate her phone rights. She has none. Phones are a privilege and, in our opinion, kids should not have, do not need, and can’t handle having the responsibility of a phone at school.

Bullying would be greatly reduced if our kids weren’t permitted to bring a phone to school. Parents need to say no to the phone. There is a never-ending list of apps for ruining our kids lives.

Please keep paying attention to your girl. Good job, Mom.

Signed,
Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Air-Travel Bullying

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

Like everyone, I’ve witnessed and experienced mistreatment while flying.

It’s as bad as it looks on TV.

I recently flew from my little town to NYC, where I lived 30 years ago. I don’t remember the rage that I felt at Kennedy this time.

From the time I got off the plane, I was met with impatience, nasty looks, and irritated remarks such as, “Look at the signs!”

I felt stupid and I’m a well-educated former college professor who has traveled all over the world.

I felt alone and lost. I’m 80 years old. My husband just passed away. I traveled to be with my family.

People were barking at me to get in line and use the machine for my tickets. I didn’t understand that and I used to be able to get a Skycap.

I was worn out before I got to the gate. I accidently stood in the first-class line and was angrily told that I wasn’t in first-class. I wanted to tell the gate agent that he wasn’t acting first – class. I was livid.

The flight attendants were nice but not gracious or helpful. I was scared to ask for anything.

I sat quietly and miserably. Then I had to do it all again to get home.

Signed, 
No more flying in the unfriendly skies

Dear No more,


We’re sorry your trip was miserable, especially after losing your husband.

When I (Rhonda) was a flight attendant in the ’80s, it was at least civil.

Dr. Cheri has also flown all over the world and is sad to say flying has changed.

Flying will be more enjoyable if we remember:

Blame and shame does not make a good game to play – no one wins

Be civil – considerate, courteous, and caring

Come to the airport prepared – with understanding and compassion

Remember your kindergarten teachings: say thank you, please, and excuse me

Follow the rules. You know you’ll have to take your shoes off, bring an appropriate carry-on, have liquids in three-ounce containers

Read a good book or listen to relaxing music (but be mindful of announcements)

Avoid group hostility

Help others. It’s your job too.

Airport personnel:

Please be civil. You never know others’ personal stories of tragedies, angst, and sadness

Smile until it hurts

Help others. That’s why you were hired.

Air rage is like road rage. Stop it!

Signed,
Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Monday, July 24, 2017

Change yoursefl, then change the world

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,
I work for a corporation with a nonprofit that helps kids with cancer. I’m in my 20s and have a master’s degree in sociology.

When I was in high school, I was horribly bullied by a particular girl, just for being fat.

She and her friends were popular. She tortured me with put-downs, made up stories, and took pictures of me which she edited to make me look worse. They wound up in our yearbook and I can’t ever escape them.

Surprise! She’s now a manager at the same corporation I work with.

I’ve lost weight. I’m not skinny like her. However, I dress well and I have great friends at work.

Lately, I’ve seen her whispering to people at work. I don’t understand why she’s doing this. It’s making me so anxious to think about what she’s doing and saying.

I came to this company because I thought I could make a difference for kids around the whole world. Now, I don’t trust what she’ll do … ruin my life again?

Signed,
Ruined

Dear Ruined,

We understand that an unwelcome blast from your past seems unbearable. Ruin means that someone can reduce you to rubble.

As hard as it may be to swallow, she can only try to make you a victim. But you have the power to choose not to participate in her made-up stories about you. That’s much mightier.

If you choose to step away from her, you can become the captain of your own ship. You’ll remain untarnished by her character flaw and unstuck as a victim.

Say something like this: “I’m sure you don’t want to battle a strong woman like me with a mission to help kids. After all, we were kids once and it wasn’t great being your victim. We’re grown-ups now, who can contribute to the building up of kids, instead of tearing them down.”

Our Triangle-of-Triumph™ is a program that takes you from being a victim to a survivor to a leader.

By choosing not to stay a victim and loving yourself, genuinely complimenting others, talking about the important things in your life (such as family, integrity, civility), you will be able to engage with “healthy people.”

This is your life. Choose to own it and express your greatness. Love yourself. Choose to un-tether yourself from her victimization. Claim your power of love.

Become an excellent leader with our 5 C’s- Civility, Courage, Confidence, Creativity, and Communication.

Change yourself, once and for all, and you’ll find yourself changing the lives of your kids in all the world.

Signed,
Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Mean girls can grow up to be mean bosses

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

Bullying isn’t confined to just children. “Mean girls” grow up and become mean women.

I know a company bully who’s threatening my family member. She is new to the company and vulnerable.

Why are so many small town offices (which seem to be predominantly female) run by a bully? Whispering, gossip, innuendo, and lies are used to control their coworkers.

Supervisors are oblivious to the bully who manages to get rid of anyone who doesn’t bow down to her.

The bully appears to be a great team player, but intimidates and undermines victims who try to keep out of office politics.

What recourse does a victim have to keep their job when they become a target? HR and management are clueless.

When my family member thinks the bullying is over and gets comfortable, then it starts all over again.

She gets depressed, and it’s almost impossible for her to feel any happiness at work.

She’s terrified of losing her job.

Signed, Family advocate

Dear Advocate,


You are correct: “mean girls” can become bullies as adults. However, bullies come in both genders and can be found in all sizes of companies and towns.

If they got away with it in childhood, they learned that undermining, trashing someone else’s reputation, and playing a victim works.

Popularity was the impetus of high school bullying, while career advancement is usually the motivation for the workplace bully.

Office bullies try to ruin the brightest, most creative, and hardest working employees.

Oftentimes, they ruin the plain goodness of co-workers.

Tell her to be direct with the bully, and that she isn’t afraid of reporting bullying to every manager up-the-ladder or food-chain. And mean it!

If nothing is done, she should go to Human Resources or to the manager or owner.

Tell her she cannot afford to be fearful of losing her job. There are more important things to lose such as dignity, integrity, mental, emotional and physical health.

Workplace bullies impact every level of business, from morale to bottom-line productivity. It gets rid of the employees that companies want and need!

She must not gossip about the bully. It only fuels the fire in the bully and gets mud on her.

Then, if she has done everything she possibly can to rid the company of a ticking time-bomb without success, she will have to switch positions to a different one within that company … or switch companies.

Signed, Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Monday, July 10, 2017

The Blackmailing Bully

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,
My neighbor goes to high school with me. He saw my boyfriend and me in my backyard making out. Some of our clothes were off.

He told me afterward he took pictures. He said he was going to put them up on Facebook.

I was super embarrassed. I thought he was kidding, so I laughed. He got angry and said I always thought I was better than he was. He said I’m a snob and I put him down. He said I let everyone at school think I’m such a “good girl” and now everyone’s going to know the truth.

I cried. I thought we were still friends even though we don’t hang out anymore. He told me to stop crying or he’d show them to our parents. I’m so scared.

My parents will kill me. We’re active in our church.

I went to his house and begged him to delete the pictures. He pulled me toward him and said if I have sex with him, he’ll erase them.

I got away.

He threatens me almost every day. I can’t take it. He grabbed me. He shook me. He pulled on my arm trying to get me in the bushes in his backyard. I think he’ll make me have sex with him.

My boyfriend doesn’t know. He’ll get physical with him if he finds out and he might dump me too. I am still a virgin.

How do I stop him from blackmailing me?

Signed,
Blackmailed

Dear Blackmailed and bullied,


He’s relentlessly being aggressive toward you physically, emotionally, and sexually. He’s bullying you and you are his victim.

“Making you have sex with him” is called rape. Right now, he seems to be having fun harassing you. But if it goes any further, you could be in danger.

As difficult as it is, you must tell your parents, even though it may make you feel humiliated. That is a smaller price to pay compared to the psychological damage he’s causing you and what he may still do to you.

Show this letter to your parents. They need to go to the police.

Tell your boyfriend. Decide with your boyfriend to not have sex and roll back the temptation. If he’s unwilling to agree to that, you need to say goodbye. Abstinence is the smart choice. Group dating is wise.

You didn’t ask to be a victim, but you need to make the difficult choice of not staying one. Grieving will be a challenge. Ask your parents to get you professional help.

Signed,
Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Sexual harassment, suicide, and homeschooling

The following letter was written by a courageous girl who overcame bullying, sexual harassment, and suicidal thoughts. She wants to help prevent suicide by sharing her story.
    

Two years ago, I told my mom on multiple occasions that I was ill and didn’t want to go to school. I became so nervous, I actually made myself sick by throwing up everything I ate.  It got so nasty, I didn’t want to leave the house, go anywhere, or be seen.  I had panic attacks every time I left our home.

One morning, my mom made me get ready for school.  When we got there, I had a panic attack. I told myself to be strong, and that everything would be fine even though it wouldn’t be easy. Mom looked at me and said, "Why don't you want to go to school?"  Then the truth came out.


I was sexually harassed at school.

We reported it to the school officials, and it was swept under the carpet as if it never happened. But it did happen and I was in the worst emotional pain. For months, I asked, "Why me?”
 
Mom had to hold me while I cried to her for hours. Having it happen to me was hard, but the worst part was that the people I was supposed to trust – the school administration – ignored the fact that it happened.
I suffered depression that almost led me to kill myself.

Thankfully, I have an amazing family, one that is willing to get me sushi and junk food at 3 A.M. A family that’ll talk to me in a closet, hold me, and let me cry.

I’ve had people judge me and tell me I should "Be the light in the darkness," but they didn't  know why I left school.

Many people were against my decision to be homeschooled, because I needed to "Be a light!"  While I tried to be the light, I was tormented and in pain.

I didn’t feel important because my situation was dismissed. I thought it would be easier to take my life.

People ask me if I’ll ever come back to that school, but why would I want to return to a school system that ignored the fact that I was sexually harassed?
 
My mom said I could take it to the police or to the Lord. I chose the Lord, who has suffered all pains and afflictions.

If you are suffering from depression, sexual harassment, suicidal thoughts or any affliction, take it to the Lord.

But don’t be like me and wait until the last possible moment

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Include humility in civility

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,
My daughter is egocentric beyond belief. She’s a good ballerina. Not the best, not the prettiest, not the hardest working.

Since she got into high school last year, she brags about being a great dancer and that she doesn’t even have to try.

She stopped attending many weekly classes. She dismisses the “poor other slobs” who have to practice all day, everyday.

Recently, she was telling her friend how everyone is jealous of her because she’s the prettiest and most talented dancer at her studio. Her friend made the mistake of saying she was getting a little conceited.

She made snarky remarks back at her friend. I intervened and tried to make light of the situation. My daughter went ballistic. She yelled at me and asked who I was to get in the middle of a fight with her friend.

Her friend quietly walked away. My daughter made a feeble attempt at apologizing, then blew her off saying, “She was lame anyway.”

I don’t know how to make her see that a little humility goes a long way.

Signed,
Humility advocate

Dear advocate,


Unfortunately, the people who act like they’re the best, the most important, most intelligent, best-looking, and most competent are usually the most insecure people.

They mistake confidence for being loud, boastful, arrogant, and entitled.

Many people who display a larger than life ego are really suffering inside with the fear of not being good enough. They cover for it by creating the façade of who they want to be.

When their façade is shattered with the reality that they may not be quite that terrific, they become histrionic about it or aggressive towards those who dispute them.

It’s best to walk away until she calms down.

When she does, express the following:

“You’re a good person who I think may be experiencing some very difficult challenges with dance right now. I think you’re spending a lot of energy on looking great without facing those challenges.

“I want to help you face them so you can feel great, which is more important than putting on the best show of greatness.

“One of the best virtues you can have is humility. Humility is not weakness. Humility means not being arrogant or prideful. It’s being patient when you’re afraid. It’s important to fail and not fear failing because that’s how you learn.

“Being humble makes you strong, because you can overcome hardships, feel powerful, and be teachable.

“You can be courageous and humble at the same time.”

The virtue of humility makes a person great.

Signed,
Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, June 18, 2017

What's wrong with today's parents?

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,
I’m a mom of two young children and I’ve noticed parents can’t say “no” to their kids or tell them what’s right from wrong.

One parent said to me, when I asked her if her daughter could have some cookies I made, “Well, let me ask her if she thinks it’s a good idea before dinner to have cookies.”

Her daughter said, “Yes, Mommy, I’ll only eat two so I can still eat my dinner.”

Her mom said, “She’s learning to think for herself.” I almost choked. The daughter didn’t learn anything except that she has power over her mom.

My kids looked surprised, as if to say, “She has a choice?”

Don’t get me wrong. I give my kids a choice in simple things, like letting them pick which of two outfits they want to wear.

Parents say their kids are so creative by putting any top together with any pants. What happens when those same kids are bullied for wearing weird combinations?

Of course, I’m not just talking about style. I’m talking about parents who won’t set boundaries. There are other serious issues that require a clear-cut understanding of right and wrong.

I don’t think parents want to tell their kids what to do because they’re afraid their kids won’t like them. Since when did parents become people-pleasers to their kids?

Signed,
Real parent

Dear Parent,


You have observed a few important social tragedies.

Many parents are having a hard time parenting. Just a few thoughts:

Parents need to exercise authority in order to teach children and keep them safe.

Children learn how to be safe emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually through boundaries set by parents.

Parents are the experts who teach children what’s best for them.

Children need to be taught that there are absolutes in this life. It’s good for parents to demonstrate this by saying: stop, don’t, no, yes, and so on.

Parents teach children what’s best for them by example.

Children need strong parents who share their God-given wisdom, talents, and love by being definitive, not wishy-washy.

Strong parents teach kids how to define themselves.

Instead of being a shuttle service from one extracurricular activity to another, parents can spend time together with their kids, doing things such as having dinner together every night and communicating well.

Stop doing all the work for your kids and teach them the value of having a good work ethic.

And stop being a people-pleaser, especially to your kids.

Signed,
Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Their divorce isn't my fault, but....

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

I know I didn’t cause my parents’ divorce, but somehow I feel weird about it.

I’m in eighth grade and play football, run track and I’m a drummer in a band. The guys I hang with are cool. I have a girlfriend, but she has a friend that I kind of bully. I don’t know why. I know he’s not hitting on her.

My sister said I should write. She said I’m becoming a “narcissist” like dad. She said that’s why mom kicked him out.

I don’t get what that is. What’s going on?

Signed,
What’s up?

Dear What’s up,


We’re sorry you’re experiencing shame over your parents divorce. You are right: you did not cause their divorce.

It might be hard for you to understand, right now, that everything that directly affects you isn’t necessarily about you. Your parents’ break-up is very traumatic. It may feel like a punishment for doing something horrible. While you feel the way you feel, until you don’t, you haven’t done anything to deserve blame for their divorce.

On the other hand, you may be bullying someone else because of your own revenge against your parents for breaking up your family. That’s not fair, of course. Vengeance never helps anyone. Bullying isn’t going to make you feel better and it will certainly harm the other person.

If you know you’re bullying someone, and you know it’s wrong, then you need to stop. Ask your parents for professional help.

Also, it doesn’t matter if the boy you are bullying is “hitting on” your girlfriend or not. You must stop taking out your pain on someone else.

You didn’t have a choice to become a victim of your parents’ divorce, but you can choose not to stay a victim. Learn how to grieve the loss of your family. Be a survivor and Define Yourself Before Others Do with our 5C’s: Civility, Confidence, Courage, Creativity, and Communication. Then you’ll become a good leader, who never wants to bully anyone.

We are concerned you have a girlfriend at your young age. You are still learning about yourself. Don’t limit your growth and confuse your focus.

A narcissist is someone who is intensely concerned with only his or her self – interests and who seems to forget that other people exist.

You are concerned about your family and you are in emotional pain.

You aren’t a narcissist, or you wouldn’t be writing us about your concerns.

Signed,
Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Monday, June 5, 2017

Don't ask--It's rude!

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

People need to stop asking others every question under the sun about their personal lives.

Don’t they know it’s rude to ask very personal questions, in public, especially, about religion, politics and sex? I was taught not to do that.

It’s not just the big things. I was asked what color my hair dye was and if my color came from a box or a stylist.

This might seem small, but it feels intrusive to me.

This got so annoying that I decided to start writing down questions that I was asked.

Here’s a sample of what I wrote down for one day:

• What kind of bra do I wear?

• Where do I get my teeth whitened?

• Am I getting enough sleep? I “look tired.”

• Do I ever sleep in the nude?

• Am I a born-again Christian?

• Does my husband go to the bathroom in front of me?

My husband laughed when I showed him what I was writing. He wanted to know why I care. I care because it’s private information and I feel violated.

People are rude these days.

Signed,
Not rude

Dear not rude,


Congratulations! You have manners!

Manners are a lost art in our culture of entitlement. Many feel it’s their right to know personal information about anyone because the values of respect and civility are missing in our society.

These values need to be taught, starting at a young age, if we expect to regain civility.

Civility means courtesy, consideration, caring about someone’s comfort and having manners.

Rude means being impolite, discourteous, bad-mannered, offensive, or being vulgar.

Most in our culture don’t consider the questions you mentioned to be rude.

Parents can help teach the basics:

• Say please and thank you

• Have table manners

• Don’t ask unsolicited personal questions

What are personal questions?

• Anything about money, sex, religion and politics … no one has a right to know. Curiosity isn’t a right, it’s an indulgence.

• A personal question is something that makes someone uncomfortable or embarrassed.

Our society has become accustomed to asking sensitive questions in order to judge or label.

Being gay or straight, Republican or Democrat, Muslim or Christian doesn’t mean you are good or bad.

Don’t feel obligated to answer these questions.

Don’t engage with anyone who demands personal information. Look them in the eye, and change the subject.

You deserve to be treated with civility.

Signed,
Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Monday, May 29, 2017

13 Ways to Stop Bullying

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

There’s a lot of controversy over the TV show “13 Reasons Why.” My husband and I haven’t watched it and we haven’t let our kids watch it.

We recently had a suicide in our area by a young girl. She was bullied.

I want to know your opinion regarding what to do about bullying. How do we really stop it? How do I talk to my kids?

Does the TV show tell how to stop it?

Thanks.

Signed,
Wanna know

Dear Know
,

You don’t need to watch the show to stop bullying.

We’ve listed 13 reasons why kids are bullied and 13 ways to stop bullying and start creating civility.

13 reasons why bullies bully:

    1. Popularity — bullies use weakness, goodness, sexual attractiveness, or lack of coolness for entertainment
    2. Fear — of not being good enough
    3. Justification — to validate their bad behavior
    4. One-upping — judging others so they feel superior
    5. Envy — doing anything to get what they covet in others
    6. Feelings of lacking — in intelligence, money, family, love
    7. Wanting power
    8. Drugs or alcohol influence
    9. Abandonment issues — wanting to belong, be loved, or getting real attention
    10. Lacking empathy — not understanding or caring
    11. Bigotry
    12. Bully-victim — mimics those who have bullied them
    13. Passive-aggressive joking — insults others and then says they are just kidding

13 ways to end bullying now:

    1. No phones at school, during dinner and throughout the night — unsupervised phone use is the number one tool for bullying
    2. Develop real relationships — limit social media
    3. Establish real face-to-face communication
    4. Hold empathy training — people must be taught how to understand others
    5. Stop narcissism — by teaching how to serve others
    6. Live the Golden Rule
    7. Learn about real heroes — who overcame hardships, obstacles, and challenges
    8. Report bullying and don’t stand by
    9. Stop the cheating, lying, and so-called joking
    10. NO gossiping — even “if” it’s true, only God knows our hearts
    11. Believe in God — be humble and forgiving
    12.Set boundaries — control impulses and don’t intrude on anyone’s privacy, religion, sex, or politics
    13. Develop genuine gratitude, respect, and love for others

Suicide, because of bullying, can result when relentless harm to another doesn’t seem to have an end. The victim doesn’t feel he or she has choices. Suicide is the third largest cause of death with our youth. It’s increased by 100 percent in kids 14 and younger.

We believe civility, which is composed of consideration, caring, and courtesy, is the answer to ending bullying.

Signed,
Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Monday, May 22, 2017

No one is born to be a loser

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,
My big sister just told me I was born to be a loser and it’s time I become brutally honest with myself. She said I’m lazy and so is mom.

Well, she has my dad’s selfish genes.

She said mom lied to us when she said we’re special.

She told me to stop being a martyr.

I’m lonely and miserable. All I do is watch TV and eat with my mom. I can’t get a job and I still live at home. I’m 28!

My sister gets money from her boyfriend. I can’t get a boyfriend.

I’m not on social media anymore because I hate myself. I feel like, “once a loser, always a loser.”

Signed, Always a loser

Dear Always,


No one was born to be a loser! That includes you. And, honesty has nothing to do with being brutal.

Have you ever looked at a baby smile, for no apparent reason? Or laugh, when sunlight came into her room. Or watched her bounce up and down in her crib, just because you walked into her room?

We are indeed born special, simply because we came from God. He doesn’t send “losers” to earth. That would be mean and pointless.

God also didn’t give you a bunch of loser “genes.” He gave you your free will to choose who you want to be. You may choose to use all the talents you have, all the virtues you want, and all the values needed to make your life purposeful.

Choose not to be selfish. A selfish person can’t share, can’t care, can’t use their creativity to give back.

Everyone is born with creativity. We start by creating thoughts. You can create any thought you want and that will start you on the path of being a winner.

Giving back starts relationships and stops loneliness. Being a martyr means suffering for a good cause or it means being a willing victim.

Suffering for a good cause is the ultimate act of being unselfish. Being a willing victim isn’t genuine suffering and counts for nothing.

Here’s how you fix it:

-Accept responsibility. Find your talents and get a job or go to school to develop them. No excuses.

 -Admit your weaknesses. Correct them. No excuses.

  -Do something with your “special-ness.” No excuses.

  -Develop a good work ethic. No excuses.

Develop yourself and relationships will come.

Signed, Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Monday, May 15, 2017

Why are girls still being slut-shamed?

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

Why are teen boys still slut-shaming girls?

Why aren’t boys ever treated this way?

I was told recently to watch the TV show “13 Reasons Why,” so I did. People are saying it’s a realistic story about a girl who commits suicide, but I think it’s mostly about boys slut-shaming girls.

My high-school aged nephew said he doesn’t know how true it is, but he’s seen it everywhere on social media.

This is so wrong. I want to know what to do to help these girls.

Signed,
Gotta help

Dear Helpful,

Thank you for wanting to change our overly sexualized culture.

Boys don’t need to be equal in being slut-shamed. The change we need for our youth is to teach them to stop with sexual bantering, stop the porn, stop focusing on sexual appearance, stop the partying, and start setting boundaries like:

Abstinence from pre-marital sex. If you think it’s harmless, think again and look at the statistics on STDs, rape, abuse, bullying, suicide, and depression, anxiety, as well as alcohol and drug addiction. It’s possible to turn the tide and restore respect for each other’s innocence, goodness and modesty by starting a campaign of abstinence.

Abstinence from gossip, even if it’s true. Slut-shaming is gossip and most often it’s not true.

Abstinence from using social media to send sexual jokes, pictures, and labels.

Abstinence from judging others. It’s hypocritical – you’re not perfect either – and only God knows a person’s story and heart.

Abstinence from lies, especially the one where our youth is mature enough to handle sex.

Adults need to teach healthy relationships and respect for intimacy. Respect means reverence, admiration, value and esteem.

Adults must lead by example. Show a commitment to change our culture of sex as a game for entertainment and amusement.

Adults need to teach our youth to stop putting down others and instead teach how to lift their classmates up!

Men need to show respect to women and be a good example for boys.

Sex should not be used to control or manipulate others. Many boys use these tactics on girls and then shame them for complying. Teens shouldn’t use sexual conquests as trophies to develop confidence or self-worth.

Guys are still being lauded for their sexual conquests and that’s wrong.

Overall, boys and girls need to be taught how to be ladies and gentlemen. Adults too!

Signed,
Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Little girls can be bullies, too

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

Why do little girls bully each other?

I’m mad because we have moved three different times and my seven-year-old girl has been bullied every time.

First, she was called a baby because some little girls found her sucking on her fingers. My husband and I
talked with her and enrolled her into soccer and gymnastics classes.

Then, the same girls told her she ran funny, so she avoided going to play soccer after that. We let her quit.
She went on to do well with gymnastics.

But when we moved again, a group of girls in her gymnastics class whispered about her and ignored her. She wanted to quit, but my husband said quitting wasn’t an option. However, she stood in a corner for the rest of the year. I tried talking with her coach and she said our daughter would come around, but she didn’t.

The city we’re in now is the worst. Our daughter has a southern accent and the kids make fun of her. She’s quiet and isn’t asked to any sleep-over nights or parties or play-dates.

It’s breaking my heart.

Signed,
Broken-hearted mom

Dear Mom,

The “new kid” is always a target for bullying just because they’re new and different.

Little girls bully for a few reasons:

• They mimic what they see at home
• They haven’t been taught healthy communication skills
• They need empathy training

Help your daughter to not stay a victim by:

• Going to a professional therapist.
• Participating in activities. This isn’t optional-help her choose one and stay committed for six months. •Reward her for staying committed.
• Teaching her good communication skills with role-playing. Use our acronym C.L.A.S.S.: Connect by complimenting you; Listen to you tell a 15-second story about your favorite activity; Ask her to repeat back what you said in the way you said it; Summarize: Tell her what she has learned and why it’s important; Then have her Suggest a fun thing to do with you … tell her friendships start this way.
•Teaching her what the word “empathy” means and asking her teacher if you can repeat the C.L.A.S.S. lesson for her students.

The most important value for all children, not just little girls, to learn is the Golden Rule. Teach your daughter what it is and how to put it into action through role-playing.

Signed,
Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Monday, May 1, 2017

Stop making snowflakes!

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,
Two kids at high school called my daughter’s friend a “snowflake.”

She told them she didn’t know what they were talking about. They laughed. She told them to stop being mean. Then she cried and they laughed even more.

Her mom went to the school to complain. She told them her daughter was being bullied. The principal said she was not being bullied, but she was welcome to come to the office and meet with the counselor. Her mom got mad and said she was going to “do something about it.”

Her mom took her daughter out to eat to “pamper her.”

Now, my daughter’s friend is over here expecting us to console her, I think, but I’m mad at her and her mom. I think they have made an issue out of nothing.

I want to shake the two of them and tell them to wake up and grow up.

My daughter has never acted like this. She’s not a snowflake and neither am I.

Signed,
Not a Snowflake

Dear Not,

We’re happy for you and your daughter that you’re both strong and tough enough to not let others define you.

You have an opportunity to help this girl and possibly her mom (if she is willing) by having a conversation with them.

Let them know that you care about them and have ideas that have helped you.

Use what you want from the following thoughts:

    - Being easily offended means being thinly self-defined. When you feel well enough about your values like integrity, gratitude, and generosity of spirit, you build a shield of goodness, so that you won’t be easily offended or hurt. It allows you to stand tall, look the person in the eye before walking away.

    - Being labeled a snowflake is unkind, but it’s not bullying. Being a snowflake means being too emotionally vulnerable to handle other people’s views, thoughts and even attacks. If you know who you are, it gives you the freedom to let others’ voice their opinions because they won’t change what you think.

   - Don’t accept the label of “snowflake” or you will stay stuck a victim. No one can tell you who you are, but you.

   - Strengthen your family by being good leader examples. Help each other face conflict head-on and stay away from the shame and blame game.

Being strong stops the snowflake trend.

Signed,
Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Making kids self-sufficient

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

I’ve been a teacher for many years. I’m a single mom of two who are married and have young kids.

I’m concerned about our children today. Their parents seem to do everything for them except think. Even that is debatable.

When “Susie Q” leaves her homework on her bed, or her lunch on the counter, or her phone at home, she wants her parents to bring it to her. I’m not talking about a 7-year-old; she’s in high school.

The same for “Johnny” who blamed me for lowering his grade on a science project when he forgot to bring it in on time. He yelled at me and we had a conference with his parents and the principal. I was scolded for not accommodating him!

I explained this to my own kids. One said the reason she was a happy adult was because she learned how to figure things out on her own. The other said I taught him to be self-sufficient, which makes him a better father and husband.

My problem is, I don’t how to help my students to be more responsible, when their parents don’t see it that way.

Signed,
Troubled teacher

Dear Troubled,


You’re a good example of being accountable, dependable and conscientious.

Based on this, we offer a few ideas to help parents raise self-sufficient kids:

• Expect your teens to get themselves up in the morning, make their own breakfast and lunch, practice good grooming, gather their homework, extra-curricular items and projects for school.

• Expect your kids to be at home for dinner every night, unless they ask to miss dinner. Expect them to use proper manners, assist in food and table preparation, and help with dishes.

• Expect your kids to learn to do their own paperwork for school, jobs, and college. Help only when necessary.

• Expect your teens to remember their “stuff.” Do not bring their stuff to school for them. Kids must learn that parents can’t save them when they are at college or work.

• Hold short weekly meetings about projects due and materials needed.

• Expect your teens to learn how to do their laundry, clean, and pick up after themselves.

• Don’t become over-involved in your kids activities but support them whole-heartedly.

These are reasonable and necessary life skills.

Thank you for your goodness, strength and care for our future generations of leaders.

Signed,
Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Bully boyfirend = bully husband

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

I started dating a guy while I was in college. He can be unkind and has called me names like stupid, greedy, or insecure.

I believed him. But I also excused him by saying he was just mad or I must’ve really upset him.

He’s super smart and became an engineer. He makes great money.

I always thought I was smart until I met him and he convinced me that I wasn’t. I didn’t finish school, but I’m proud of the medical field I work in.

Just when I was about to break up with him, he asked me to marry him.

I told him how I felt about the things he said to me. He said he didn’t know what I was talking about. Then he got mad at me and walked away.

He hasn’t called me in four days, but he’s done this before. He won’t speak to me for days and then he acts like nothing happened.

My girlfriend said I’m being too sensitive and anyone would want to marry him because he’s handsome, smart and fun.

Am I being too sensitive?

Signed, 
Sensitive

Dear Sensitive,

We think you are very smart to see the red flags while you are dating him.

A bullying boyfriend will be a bullying husband. And yes, he’s a bully.

Ostracizing is a punishing and manipulative form of bullying.
Kipling Williams, a professor of psychology at Purdue University, who has studied ostracism for 20 years, said in a study, “Excluding and ignoring people, such as giving them the cold shoulder or silent treatment, are used to punish or manipulate, and people may not realize the emotional or physical harm that is being done.”

The silent treatment activates the part of the brain that detects physical pain.

Instead of listening to your concerns, your boyfriend felt criticized and responded with silence and emotional distance to punish you. This pattern may continue if you marry him.
 
Controlling you with name-calling and other tactics is also a form of bullying.
The name-calling and manipulation by your boyfriend are control methods to absolve his hurtful actions.

Ask yourself, does your boyfriend:

• Dominate you, and do you feel suffocated by him?

• Take away your freedom?

• Act as if he knows what’s best for you?

Please know you won’t be able to control a controller!

We think you know, better than your friends, what’s best for you.

Signed,
Rhonda and Dr. Cheri