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?

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.

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?

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.

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.

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.

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 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?

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.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri