Sunday, May 27, 2018

Summer Friendship Nightmares

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

I don’t think I can handle another year with my four kids and their summer friendship dramas.

My oldest is going into seventh grade. Last year, her best friend decided my daughter wasn’t cool because my daughter wasn’t interested in boys. In fact, she had a sleep-over and the girlfriend was out by the pool with a boy.

Her friend started embarrassing my daughter in front of her other two friends. Three girlfriends never work, as I see it.

Then the two girls decided to ditch my daughter when school started. It crushed her.

Our daughter spent most of sixth grade hiding behind her phone at school and didn’t really make a new friend until March. I’m worried the same thing is going to happen this year.

My other kids have also had negative experiences over summertime friendships and it pretty much ruined summer. We go on a vacation every year and two kids were sulking the whole time.

Hating summer

Dear Mom,

We see why you’re frustrated. Friendships are much more complex now than even 10 years ago. With the advent of social media, young girls, who are very impressionable, can easily be unprepared for the loss of loyalty.

Girls have a tendency to start looking at other girl friends as competition. Many things are up for grabs, but some of the things they compete with are clothing trends, activities, and popularity.

Around age eight, kids want some independence and friendships become the most important thing in their lives. Parents control lots of things in their lives, like school, chores, homework, rules and more. When they choose a friend, it’s a gold rush for them. They’re the ones picking their friends.

Kids learn for themselves the value and precious blessing a good friend is; someone who won’t betray you or treat you badly in front of others is a lucky charm.

Kids have, on average, one to 10 friends, but many fall out during the year. You’re correct that a triangulation of friends is really dicey. As hard as it might seem for your daughter to not be with the “cool kids,” encourage her to find someone who has the same values, goodness, and care.

It might be a good idea for everyone in the family to talk about this topic. Approach it as a very important issue and see what type of solutions everyone comes up with. Talk about the importance of conflict resolutions; they will happen all their lives. The more control they have over this topic, the better for all of you.

We think your time together this summer will be a lot better.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Kids Who Steal

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

Our children are 21, 12, and 9 years old. My daughter has never stolen a thing.

Our boys are stealing. The oldest stole from his friend’s mom. We’re mortified. We taught our kids to be honest.

We gave him the money to pay the mom back. He’s repaying us and we took his phone. He acts like he doesn’t care.

The younger one is following suit. We just made him write down a hundred times that he should not steal.

They just did something serious and stole a neighbor’s bike. We found them laughing about it. They threw it in the creek so they wouldn’t get caught.

At least the younger brother is remorseful, unlike his older brother.

Mom of thieves

Dear Mom,

We know moral issues are among the hardest for parents to deal with. However, it’s to everyone’s benefit not to label a child a thief.

According to the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention, 25 percent of shoplifters are kids; 75 percent are adults. Over half of adult shoplifters say they started shoplifting in their teens.

There are about 27 million shoplifters, or one in 11, in our nation today. More than 10 million people have been caught shoplifting in the last five years.

Statistically, boys steal more frequently than girls.

Kids steal for many reasons:

1) It’s a cry for help from being abused or bullied.

2) Low income kids are afraid to ask parents for money, because of circumstances, or parents may be strict about spending.

3) It may be peer-pressure, the need to fit-in, low self-esteem, or they’re trying to “buy” friends.

4) Shoplifting is adrenaline-pumping and can become addictive.

No reason justifies stealing, but it helps to be able to combat the problem.

As embarrassed, hurt, or angry as you may feel, try to separate your emotions from their actions.

Let them know stealing is not okay and you won’t tolerate it. (Remember that kids six and under don’t comprehend the severity of stealing). Be consistent with your values and morals.

In order to help change behavior, don’t interrogate them, belittle, embarrass, scare or ridicule them.

Have a discussion with your boys. Find out why they are stealing, if you can. Tell them you love them unconditionally, but it is morally wrong to steal and lie. Tell them you will help them figure out what to do together.

It’s great you’re helping them repay what they steal. Every choice has a consequence. Find ways for them to earn money honestly. It may be delivering newspapers, helping with lawns or collecting recycling.

You may need to get professional help.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Cynical about cynics

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,
My parents are cynical about everything. They didn’t use to be this skeptical.

They’re always suspicious towards my friends and me. They think that people are acting only out of self-interest. I’m tired of not being trusted. I’m tired of them always thinking the worst.

I have a really good job (as in, it pays well and has good benefits) with a large company. However, I told them I’m thinking of going into business for myself. I’m an architect. You would have thought I shot the dog.

They don’t believe in me and actually said I was stupid. I shot back that they should have respect for me. I told them they aren’t being open-minded. They told me I was ridiculous.

Everyday they say something about how leaving my job isn’t the smartest idea. I told them flat-out, I’m in my thirties and I believe in me.

They’ve each had only one job and now they have a great retirement. That’s how they think everyone should be.

I’m not a cynic

Dear Lady,

Just to be clear, skepticism is a bit different than being cynical:

• A skeptic is a person who withholds judging until there’s evidence. They want proof.

• Cynics are people who believe that others are only motivated by self-interest. They don’t trust people, or see the good in others. They’re bitter, contemptuous, and pessimistic.

You cannot change cynics or anyone else. They have to see a reason to change. If you try to change them, they’ll be cynical about that, too.

They may have come by their cynical feelings honestly. We all have stories, or friends with stories, that show some people can’t be trusted or their goodness seems to have faded.

Maybe your parents are fearful for you and that feels like mistrust. Their lives seem to be fine in their eyes. But they may have missed out on many adventures, the wondrous feeling of creating something, the triumphant feeling of overcoming failure.

They may see those attributes in you: courage, hope, energy, and optimism.

Hang on to your values, and when you visit, try talking about anything positive. When the conversation starts going down that slippery slope, change the subject to something else positive.

Don’t engage in negative conversations with them. You are old enough to make your own decisions. It can’t be comfortable for them to sit in all that negativity. You don’t need to sit in it too, for their sake, right?

After all, where would we all be if people didn’t venture out and create electricity, airplanes, or a bakery? Good job.

We believe in you.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, May 6, 2018

The Barbie Bullies

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,
I’ve been reading about Barbie with new sizes and shapes. My grandkids have Barbie dolls, and not one has ever said anything about Barbie’s unrealistic figure.

I’m 59 and as old as Barbie. I loved playing Barbies. They had careers and no one thought anything was wrong with Barbie. We just played. I got my kids and grandkids Barbies and G.I. Joes. No one says anything about G.I. Joe’s unrealistic chest and biceps.

My daughter had a school meeting about the doll “situation.” She, and other moms, were criticized for letting their kids have the “unrealistic” Barbies. The teacher said my granddaughter (in first grade) said mean things to the anti-Barbie girls.

It turns out they were bullying her for having Barbies.

I went in to “have a voice” about who’s being bullies to whom. My daughter was angry. She’s giving in to the PC crowd and she’s getting her girls the new “normal” Barbies.

They’ve been shamed into thinking they’ve done something wrong.

What can I do?

Grandma defending Barbies

Dear Grandma,

We really believe this controversy is much ado about nothing.

It’s true that Barbie would be either: 32-17-28, typical of a woman suffering from anorexia or 5-foot-9, have an unrealistically long neck, and weigh 110 pounds, only 76 percent of her healthy weight. Her measurements would then be 39-18-33.

We found it harder to find information on G.I. Joe (evidently not as many people care about his unrealistic looks), but he’d have a 55-inch chest and a 27-inch bicep. His bicep would be as big as his waist.

We think fair questions to ask are: How realistic are Cabbage Patch, troll, pocket dolls, and Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls? What about the big heads on Bratz dolls?

Look at the history and definitions of dolls that say they’re a child’s plaything.

Adults have ascribed a standard to Barbie that she doesn’t need. Barbie dolls have been a fantasy toy for 59 years, not an icon to imitate.

Let’s stop blaming a toy for our cultural ills and stop shaming girls who want to play with them. Let’s concentrate on humans who know it’s unkind to fat-shame. Kids know it’s a toy.

One celebrity, Amy Schumer, who was the subject of unkind internet comments suggesting she didn’t have the ideal figure to play Barbie in an upcoming movie, said her critics “are in more pain than we’ll ever understand,” and advocates laughing at people who disagree with her.

Why don’t we concentrate on real human issues and promote the power to Define Yourself Before Others Do.™

Let’s leave dolls out of it.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri