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.

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.

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?


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.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Monday, April 10, 2017

PTSD is not limited to the military

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,
My brother is a Marine. We had a horrible fight because I have PTSD and he thinks only war victims get PTSD.

I’m in college. When I was in high school I was bullied relentlessly. I was sexually assaulted while being told horrible things about my body by two boys.

I lost weight by playing volleyball, but I’m still self-conscious about my body.

I still have nightmares about those two boys who assaulted me. I dream that I can’t get away and think I’m screaming, but no one hears me. I wake up sweating and breathing hard.

I went to a therapist and she said I have PTSD.

When my brother came home during a leave, he got really mad at me and said I was just trying to get attention and that I don’t know what PTSD is.

I’m not trying to get attention. Now I have no one at all. I can’t live like this.

Signed, Alone with memories

Dear Alone,

Anyone can experience a broad spectrum of emotions after a dangerous and traumatic experience such as your sexual assault.

Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder may be frequent enough to interfere with school, work, and relationships. PTSD can last months or years.

Only a psychologist or psychiatrist can make a PTSD diagnosis, but these can be indicators:

Re-experiencing symptoms: flash-backs, nightmares and physical symptoms (like your dream with anxiety) and they trigger re-experiencing symptoms

Avoidance symptoms: staying away from reminders of your traumatic experiences, such as not dating

Stimulation and reactivity symptoms: being startled, tense, difficulty sleeping, or experiencing angry outbursts

Cognition and mood symptoms: negative self-thinking, distorted blame or guilt, loss of interest in your usually enjoyed activities

PTSD is a serious medical disorder that can’t be self-diagnosed. Too many people casually say they have PTSD, which may be why your brother feels it’s not taken seriously.

Anyone can develop PTSD at any age. Physical or sexual assault, abuse, and accidents, hazards, or disasters, among other causes, may trigger it.

Please ask your brother to visit your therapist with you if possible. Explain that you need his support and he needs your support.

The National Center for PTSD reports 8 out of every 100 people will experience PTSD at some time in their lives.

Our culture has minimized true diagnosed PTSD with casual self-diagnosis, however, sexual assault, such as yours, needs to be treated by professionals.

Signed, Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

"Easy" does not equal happiness

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

I’m a dad of a 28-year-old son. I just read your column about Millennials.

He’s still living with me. I think it’s because of the Millennials’ decision making process. They are careful, they ponder, and they study over making the right decisions.

I’m a marketing executive with a large company. I have a lot of research on this generation.

Millennials make decisions about their values after input from their peers, social media, their “partners,” the web, and sometimes their parents that they live with! They don’t rely on clergy from organized churches.

They don’t attend church and don’t consider themselves religious, but they do say they’re spiritual. His generation values honesty, authenticity, and goodness.

Our studies show they will make milestone decisions such as marriage, first in their thirties, and then a career decision, and then a parenting decision. If they aren’t married by their late thirties, they will be single parents because they feel they’ll be good parents.

They value “easy,” like easy technology, easy dating online, easy ways to work smarter and not harder.

I’m writing because I’m not sure you can judge all Millennials to be devoid of values.

Dad of a Millennial

Dear Dad,

We want to be clear that we are not judging Millennials to be devoid of values. They are more complex than that. Our column centered on common dating practices by many Millennials.

According to a Goldman Sachs report, “easy” is this generation’s target value:

Technology and innovation that makes everyday tasks “easier,” is a great thing, if other more worthy values, such as dating, their career, deciding to marry, and have a family occupy their time, but that’s not their norm.

“Easy” distribution of media and merchandise across online platforms, which often leads to spending instead of saving.

“Instant gratification,” which means instant access to information, games and social networking … and unfortunately, porn.

“Easy” access to share thoughts, images, and accomplishments, in real time, via social media. This is often awkward when Millennials over-share in their online relationships. The casual sex, which follows, causes emptiness and is soul damaging.

We know this generation is hungry for honesty, authenticity, and goodness. Valuing “easy” will not lead to those attributes. It gobbles up a tremendous amount of time.

That’s why we recommend people of every generation decide, decide, decide (ahead of time) to what they will commit.

“Easy” doesn’t equal good moral values, ethics, or happiness.

A good decision-making plan includes learning how to Define Yourself, Before Others Do™ with our 5 C’s: Civility, Confidence, Courage, Creativity and Communication.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri