Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Help! I'm an embarrassment to my daughter!

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

Evidently, I’m an embarrassment to my only child.

I got a divorce from her father a few years ago. It has put us in poverty, but I try my best. We used to live in a house with a pool. Now we live in an apartment. My daughter used to be able to have her friends over to swim parties and now I can’t afford a swimsuit.

She invited a friend over to spend the night, finally. I was happy for her because she hadn’t invited anyone over for any reason since our divorce.

I accidently called her by her nickname which is “sugars.” She’s only twelve.

Later, she was looking at pictures of guys on her friend’s phone. Her friend asked her if she liked a “cute guy” at school. I happened to be walking by and said that he is indeed cute, but that my daughter was too young to date. She glared at me like I was a murderer.

The final nail in my coffin was when I made whole wheat pancakes for breakfast. Her girlfriend asked what kind of pancakes they were and gave me a smirky look. I said we were healthy eaters and my daughter needed her energy for their soccer game that day. Her friend was actually rude and said she didn’t want any pancakes with blueberries on top.

My daughter screamed at me when her friend left. She said I was the most embarrassing mom in the world. She cried and slammed the door to her room. I went to talk with her and she told me how many things that I do which are sooooooooooooooo embarrassing and said I was ruining her life.

Embarrassing Mom

Dear Mom,

Almost all parents are an embarrassment to their children, especially pre-teens and teens.

Embarrassment is a serious emotion at your daughter’s age. They are trying to be independent and are figuring out “belongingness.” Most want to be known as being witty, and have physical attractiveness. They worry about being popular and whether they have the necessary social skills. They want independence, but not parental judgments, and not in front of friends.

Losing material things, like her pool, can cause a feeling of losing her worth. Your daughter may feel “less-than” without having a big house anymore.

She’ll learn good values by your example of goodness and integrity.

Help her see the rewards of taking the risk of individuality by letting her define herself in front of her friends without your help.

Remember to “save face” with your daughter by keeping nicknames, personal eating habits, and dating rules private.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Is my son schizophrenic?

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

My 22-year-old son just dropped out of college for the third time. His three good friends went to other colleges and he didn’t make new friends at college, and he didn’t date. He complained about all the students and how shallow they are.

He acts suspicious of us when we ask why. He becomes abnormally angry and cuts our conversations short. He stays in his room for days. Then he pops out like nothing happened.

He doesn’t seem to care about anyone. He just stares at us when we talk about things going on with people he knew.

He keeps changing the way he dresses.

He doesn’t sleep at night and roams around the house in the day without shaving, showering, or speaking to anyone. When he does sleep, he has to have complete darkness.

He spends most of his time watching movies.

We know he’s cutting himself, we’ve seen the pictures. He won’t turn over our kitchen knife.

We have friends who said it sounds like their teenage son, who’s been diagnosed with schizophrenia. We looked it up and we’re scared for him.

We’ve suggested taking him to a doctor and he won’t go.

Crushed parents

Dear Parents,

He seems to have several symptoms related to schizophrenia: withdrawal, paranoia, inability to feel and express sentiments or emotions. He seems detached and is escaping reality.

His unexplained hostility, resentment and aggression – especially with authority figures like parents – not taking care of hygiene, and not participating in the same activities he used to enjoy and especially not engaging with the opposite sex are concerning.

Not thinking clearly or recognizing what’s real and unreal, or not managing intense emotions, and not being able to relate to others easily, or not functioning well, can be problems for him.

However, be aware that the symptoms mentioned are not all-inclusive and some may not apply at all to some people diagnosed with schizophrenia. Many of the symptoms may be caused by another type of disorder such as: Bipolar personality, Borderline personality, depression, and more.

Because your son’s self-harming, we highly suggest your family receive professional help. If your son isn’t compliant, there are involuntary measures to have your son evaluated.

Schizophrenia (and other disorders) may be treated with psychotherapy, medications, and support from family. Misconceptions about this brain disease include: people with schizophrenia are dangerous (no), they have multiple personalities (no), they can be cured (no, they can learn to manage it), it’s rare (no – 1 in 100 may develop it).

Regardless of the diagnosis, your family needs talk-therapy. Have faith; there are answers available for all of you.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Monday, March 12, 2018

Is Bullying Different for Boys and Girls?

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,
We have three children. The girls have both been viciously bullied by other girls on social media. Our son was bullied, and then the bullying stopped, but now he’s turned into a bully himself.

One of our girls has been talking about suicide. Both girls have been pushed, manipulated, left out, and gossiped about relentlessly by groups of girls that they were once friends with.

Our youngest seems to accept the bullying from girls that are supposed to be her friends. They laugh at her and say horrible things to her and then say they’re joking. She doesn’t want us to report them, because they won’t be her friends anymore.

The older girl has been seen by a therapist for months now. We didn’t know she had threatened suicide until her sister told us. She isolates herself and is losing weight by the day. We’re very worried about her.

Our son never talked about the guys who bullied him. He got into trouble again for bullying someone on the track team. He tells us things are fine.

Do boys bully differently than girls and what should we do?

What Now?

Dear What Now,

Gender does typically make a difference in the types of bullying each gender chooses and also how they approach the experience. We recognize that both groups will manipulate, ostracize, push, bump into their victim on purpose, gossip, humiliate, harass, and seek power over their victims, regardless of gender.

The definition of bullying is someone trying to dominate or gain power over another.

Your boy is a bully-victim. He was bullied and now he’s trying to gain power back by bullying others. Bully-victims try to justify their actions. Revenge bullying is never justified.

Boys are more physically hostile and violent. Boys are more impulsive. They’re direct, open, and not as secretive as girls. Boys also bully girls, in a more aggressive sexual form, and other boys, in a physical form.

Girls approach bullying differently.

Bully-girls are leaders who create groups, however, they often betray each other. Girls are indirect and secretive and use relational power-grabbing with verbal abuse, gossiping, rumoring, labeling, and by ostracizing someone out of their group. That’s not to say they don’t choose someone outside of their group to bully. Girls bully because of social standing, boys, and peer pressure.

Strengthen your family and play games, do sports, go to entertainment together and limit any social media. Take phones away from your kids until you see a positive change in their behavior. Relationships within the family are truly important.

You can do this.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Oversharers Need Boundaries

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,
A co-worker flies into our break room to tell anyone who’ll listen her latest horror story about a boyfriend.

She blurts out unbelievable amounts of personal information that would embarrass anyone. She goes into details about her underwear, her outfit, and her dates. It’s obscene.

I made the mistake of telling her about my divorce. She took that as a sign that we are now intimate buddies. Other people I know have heard her talking about what I said to her in private.

I have a reputation for being a level-headed professional and keeping my private life … private.

This oversharing person has zero boundaries. She talks about her operations in detail, her bodily function problems, and shows pictures of people while talking about their deep, dark secrets.

I’ve hinted to her to stop talking and I’ve run into my office and closed the door. Sometimes she walks right in when she knows I don’t want her barging in.

I like my job, but I’m about to go somewhere else just to stop this person and her problems.

Not sharing ever again

Dear Not Sharing,

It’s not wise to leave a job because someone has the problem of oversharing. There are many people with this “disorder” and we need to demand boundaries, as nicely as possible.

Don’t beat yourself up over telling her too much. Most people who have become accustomed to the common-sense tactic of not divulging too much personal information, especially at work, have learned the hard way, that our culture has jumped over many appropriate boundaries. Boundaries help us to behave with dignity.

There are many reasons people overshare, such as:

1 - People want intimacy and closeness because we’ve become a society detached from humanity. Some people who are needy, abused, or lonely try to create bonds by sharing secrets, dramatic details and shocking stories.

2 - Some people choose this behavior to get through the anxiety phase of creating new relationships and try to force closeness.

3 - Some people intentionally overshare to try to get other unsuspecting and caring people to overshare, also.

4 - Our society has allowed boundaries to be loosened for entertainment, comedy, or embarrassing “gotcha” moments.

It’s normal for you to care and try to make someone feel comfortable by returning an intimate story. Be blunt, but considerate, to the oversharing person and say, “You may not share my information with anyone – anymore because it’s disrespectful. I expect you to be professional in our office.” Then change the subject.

But be kind. Many oversharers have had trauma or psychological issues and need someone to care about them. It could be you.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri