Sunday, January 28, 2018

Pompous or healthy self-esteem?

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,
My son, at age 9, is the best pianist in his school. I’m not saying this because I am his mom. His father, who isn’t easily impressed, believes this is true also. Many teachers have told us the same.

He was born with this talent. We started piano lessons when he was 5 years old. His piano teacher praised him all the time and it helped develop his self-esteem. I admit he has a healthy dose of self-esteem.

His piano teacher moved away and we were able to get the best of the best to teach our son. However, this man has said the most negative things to our child.

This teacher told him, he’s not as good as he thinks he is. He told us our son is good but not great and we have done an injustice to him by making him think he’s better than anyone else.

We told our son’s piano teacher that we have given our son worthy and genuine praise. He told us we are ruining our son’s life and he wasn’t going to teach a pompous child. Pompous!

Now what?

Proud parents

Dear Parents

Please ask yourself the following questions and be brutally honest:

1) Are you giving your son excessive compliments?

2) Have you compared him to other children in his class, school, community, or church as being “better than?” (It doesn’t matter if you think he really is or isn’t.)

3) Have you given him any reason to believe that you love him more because he’s so talented?

Children are smart; they know when they’re being over-praised and don’t deserve it.

Consequently, he may develop a real superiority complex in order to mask his own deep and secret feelings of inadequacy.

Comparing your son to any one else as being “better-than” feeds a child with overwhelming expectations. That can convince him to believe it’s OK to try to force others to look up to him. If he does this with any type of power, manipulation, or coercion, he may become a bully to those who don’t give him grandiose praise.

Be careful not to think it is better to over-praise your child in order to build up his self-esteem, especially if you had overly critical and inattentive parents yourself.

There are many ways to be positive without going overboard. Saying “well done,” or “good job” are reasonable responses. Telling a child that you value his efforts, no matter the outcome, helps him to know you love him, regardless of talent, looks, intelligence or anything else.

That’s how he’ll learn the value of true unconditional love.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Fault-finding Must Stop

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

My sister-in-law finds fault in everything I do.

She tells me I’m too easy on my kids. She tells me ways I should lose weight. She says my job is easy and I should have extra time to take our children to more activities, like dance and soccer.

My job is very time-consuming and challenging. She’s a yoga teacher and teaches four classes a week at a well-known facility, where she doesn’t have to worry about publicity or marketing herself. I’ve told her countless times how many programs and meeting schedules I am responsible for and she just makes smirky faces. I do much of my work from home, which is actually harder on me, so I can be available for my family.

I’m especially offended because she tells the rest of our large family the same things! I can’t win no matter how hard I try. My husband says to stop worrying about it, but he only receives rave reviews from her.

I know I’m far from perfect, but she makes it seem like I’m a rotten mom and person.

Not good enough

Dear Good,

People who constantly find fault with others usually have many insecurities about themselves and criticize and judge others harshly. But that is your sister-in-law’s problem, not yours.

You are owning something (her definitions of you) that’s not yours to own. She’s avoiding working on her own problems because they’re difficult. They require self examination and deep reflection on building her own character.

She does not know your intentions, your heart, your goodness, and your efforts.

She’s taken a position of superiority and you have accepted it. You might say, “I love being in this family, but we all have flaws and imperfections. I’ve decided to concentrate on my own improvements. Please keep your comments to yourself.”

Only you have all the background, knowledge, and wisdom … and hopefully self-love, to define yourself. That’s why we always say: Define Yourself Before Others Do meaning you can take stock of what others say about you and if you decide there’s enough truth to it, then you can decide to make changes in yourself.

Your sister-in-law — and others in our culture who incessantly judge, criticize, and examine behavior in others before their own selves — need to realize they are setting a poor example for our youth, who need the freedom to experiment (and fail without condemnation) while they decide to make choices about who they want to be.

Our New Year’s wish is that more people will stop thinking they are “better-than,” by pointing out faults with others who they deem “less-than.”

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Your Happiness: One Thing Bullies Hate

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

I can’t tell my parents about the kids that bully me. They already had to deal with it with my sister. My sister is in high school. I’m in sixth grade.

They told my sister to ignore the kids bullying her. She didn’t and they punished her by taking her phone away. Now, she just hides the bullying.

They won’t get me a phone because of it, even for emergencies.

The kids who bully me, do it at school. My teacher said she’d talk with the girls who push and shove me, but she didn’t. They call me names like fatty and take my food.

I don’t want to go to school anymore.

No School

Dear No,

There are 160,000 students who don’t go to school each day because of bullying. We don’t want you to fall in that group and have bullies steal your fun, your talents, your good grades, your goodness as a person. That’s what happens to most kids in your situation.

We’re sorry you fear telling your parents. Sometimes parents and teachers don’t realize how awful bullying is at schools. Be brave and show them this letter.

Ignoring bullies in today’s world isn’t going to help. Bullies are counting on you to be afraid and hurt by them. Bullying is about an imbalance in power. Bullies don’t feel confident unless they can hurt someone else. They are insecure, even though it may not seem like it.

The one thing that bullies hate the most is for you to be happy. They can’t get any power away from you if you are happy. It has to be real. Help yourself and your friends to do the same thing by talking about ideas, places, and positive things and don’t talk about people.

You have been made a victim and it’s not your fault. No one wants to be hurt on purpose. You can, however, decide to not stay a victim. Learn now that it is your choice.

Go to your parents with your sister and have a family meeting about this problem. Your solution can be creating better communication with your family. Then ask your parents to talk with your teacher about how the bullies are stealing your food, calling you names, and pushing you. They should have zero tolerance for this kind of harm.

Also, you don’t need a phone at your age, not even for emergencies. All schools have systems in place to take care of you. A phone isn’t going to make you feel safe. In fact, most bullying at school happens on social media on your phone.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Style is distracting

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,
My two young adult daughters are the exact opposite in nature. One likes my advice on style and the other hates it! She has no civility.

My style-hater says mean things like:

1) I don’t care about style, I care about comfortable. (She’s lazy and sloppy.)

2) Who cares about style? (It’s for old people.)

3) You should care more about the world and not fashion.

4) I care about animal and women’s rights and you care about fashion.

I’m a widow; I have always been dressed professionally. My other daughter and I like clean and simple lines.

I told my rebellious one the way you dress matters, especially for careers. I understand she likes trendy looks but they aren’t flattering.

She glares at me and at her sister, even at the dinner table. Is she troubled in another way?

Troubled mom

Dear Mom,

Your “troubled” daughter may not be troubled by anything, except she thinks you want to control her.

Let go of your control and opinions of her. You can benefit by trying only to be a good example. Just like a picture, a good example says a thousand words.

Being socially conscious is a good characteristic if she offers positive messages to replace every negative one she makes. Help her realize negative comments produce zero changes in the world.

She may not realize that dressing messy or wildly is a distraction from presenting the social changes she’s trying to make.

Her sloppy style, just like an unorganized resume, speaks loud and clear.

She has a good heart. Let’s look at how you are, maybe unwittingly, producing your own negative narrative:

1) Declaring her lazy and sloppy will reinforce her idea of fiercely retaining control because she thinks you can’t see her virtues. She may be creative and hasn’t yet figured out how to implement her creativity.

2) She hasn’t made the connection yet that people won’t take her or her causes seriously if she looks like she doesn’t take herself seriously.

Being a well-defined person inside and out shows that you don’t have to focus on yourself. You already did that and you may now turn your focus outward.

3) She is deflecting the focus you put on her, back onto you. Ignore that.

4) She is obviously trying to guilt-trip and one-up you, however, it’s a technique for her to procrastinate her own growth.

Also ignore her glaring and other bad behaviors at the dinner table. By example, once again, show good civility and manners by talking about ideas and not each other. Discuss ideas only and don’t allow phones at the dinner table.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri