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?

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.

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.

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.

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.


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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri