Sunday, June 24, 2018

Is She Making Up a Sexual Abuse Claim?

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,
My adult sister claims she was molested by our dad when she was age 7 to 10. I have no memory of this happening to me.

Mom and Dad don’t speak to her anymore. She calls me and cries to me. I’m sick of it.

She has long had problems in school, in the guys she chooses, in the ability to be a productive and happy human being.

She just got her third DUI and she’s been in and out of rehab. She used to be pretty, but now she’s obese.

She’s been going to a therapist for three years and she wants me to go to a session with her. Now, she also says she wants to commit suicide. I said no and she became enraged.

I don’t want to go. I think she’s using the so-called “sexual abuse” as an excuse to not grow up and take responsibility.

Reluctant Sister

Dear Sister,

We understand your sister might feel draining to you. However, sexual abuse, especially by a parent, is rarely used as an “excuse” to fall apart or commit suicide. Like others in her situation, she needs to be believed in.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been studying Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE), and states:

1 - The science of early brain development shows childhood trauma seriously impacts it and healthy relationships.

2 - The long-term effects of stress hormone exposure causes children to be more vulnerable than adults to PTSD, anxiety, mood and attachment disorders, memory and learning problems, and other psychopathological conditions.

3 - Neurobiological effects can lead to dysfunctional behaviors and mental disorders.

4 - The highest percentage of childhood sexual abuse perpetrators were reported to be family members or well-known family friends.

5 - It can cause risky health behaviors, chronic health conditions, and low life potential.

National Institutes of Health studies show increased alcoholism, drug abuse, depression, and suicide attempts, by a 4-12 fold increase.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Children’s Bureau report, “Child Maltreatment” by David Finkelhor, Director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center, shows:

1 - One in five girls and one in 20 boys is a victim of childhood sexual abuse.

2 - Children are most vulnerable to childhood sexual abuse between ages 7 and 13.

Remember, adults do not benefit from reporting their childhood molestation traumas and subsequently, they are sorely under-reported.

Compassion, love, care, and belief in her, may cause the turn around in your sister’s life and help prevent her suicidal ideation. It’s good that she’s receiving professional help.

Your support isn’t dependent on your memories.

You can do hard things. We all can.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Defusing the F-bomb

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,
I have a young, innocent, kindergarten-age daughter, who just told her older brothers, “Shut the (blank) up.”

“Stupid” is supposed to be a bad word in our house.

I got a swear jar and charge them a dollar every time they say something offensive. Then my son thought it was funny to call a girl a “slut.” The boys laughed, until I charged them $10.

My family left a movie because it had so much obscenity. My sons protested, loudly.

I was a teacher when my boys were in elementary school. My friend is still a teacher and said I should get over it. She said kids swear all day long and they can’t police it.

There has to be a better answer.

Disgusted Teacher

Dear Teacher,

We understand your feelings. We go into schools to speak, and kids are swearing with every worst word or phrase that exists.

The bigger problem is:

How do we help our kids know who, what, when, where, why and how and to express their feelings appropriately and with civility, when popular culture is upside-down, regarding right and wrong?

Being polite is out of style. The new norm means rude and offensive is funny. Too many adults think it’s hilarious to watch foul movies and TV shows, or adopt a do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do attitude.

Parents have taken to YouTube to post their babies saying bad words for their 15 minutes of fame.

Your 5-year-old child is innocent and probably doesn’t know what the word means. She probably wanted to express her angry feelings to her brothers. If her brothers laughed, it got her negative attention.

Our world is hungry for attention; however, we need to make it the right kind of attention.

Calmly take your daughter aside and ask her if she knows what the word means. Tell her you love her, but she’s using an awful word that’s unacceptable in your home. Shut down bad entertainment. This might not be popular, but do it, anyway.

We need to teach the following:

“Not in our home — not today — rudeness isn’t OK,” and mean it. Be consistent.

Ask your friend, the teacher, “If you had a hundred cockroaches running around in your classroom, would you say, ‘There’s too many, we can’t do anything.’”

Of course not, you’d get an army of pest controllers and get to it.

Ask to speak to her class and the principal. Be the example.

Bad words are ruining our vocabulary, which ruins our communication, which ruins our chances of expressing ourselves and having healthy relationships. Having healthy relationships matters the most.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Whatever Happened to Gratitude?

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

I’m a teacher and I dread going back to work in the fall. The reason is ingratitude. I don’t feel recognized, appreciated, or cared about by my students or their parents.

The lack of gratitude from others is devastating. Simple little gestures such as “thank you,” “could you please,” “excuse me,” “I’m sorry,” or “no, thank you” have disappeared.

This past school year, I had to schedule several parent-teacher discussions, because the self-absorbed and self-righteous parents were so demanding.

They don’t see me as a real person, who’s beating her head against walls, trying to instill values into their entitled children. They take no responsibility for teaching values … especially gratitude.

I’m grateful for the couple of girls that gave me notes of appreciation “for all that you do.” Honestly, though, I feel like it was to pacify me and an obligation, rather than a sincere note of real gratitude.

Unappreciated teacher

Dear Teacher,

Having had the opportunity to speak in many schools, including juvenile detention schools, we have long noticed a decline in gratitude.

Gratitude is an emotion, a response to an act or gift (tangible or not). It comes from someone who exhibits generosity and graciousness.

Since gratitude is a feeling or emotion that we enjoy, it’s something of great value. It is how the goodness of others makes us feel.

As Carl W. Buehner said, “They may forget what you said — but they will never forget how you made them feel.”

We recognize how much most teachers give, often at the expense of many sacrifices that they make.

It’s only natural that you would love to receive acknowledgment, praise, responsiveness, and thankfulness.

However, we are sure that the best way your students will learn gratitude, is for you to be the exemplar of the excellent attitude that precedes the feelings of gratitude.

Of course, we aren’t asking you to pretend a feeling that you don’t have yet. It takes conscious practice. Yes, gaining an attitude requires specific actions, such as a journal of gratitude, with specific accounts of the positive qualities your students possess.

You may notice Susie’s sitting quietly and attentively while others are creating chaos, or Johnny’s helping someone pick up their books that got knocked down.

Share these small, yet important, actions that make you feel good and before you know it, your students will catch the contagious good feelings of gratitude. Have your students share from their own gratitude journals, every day.

If other teachers and parents “catch” gratitude, you’ll see only the goodness of your community and the value of gratitude will spread.

We’re thankful for your generous care.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Dealing with Financial Bullies

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,
My husband berates me about spending. He controls our credit cards, and has embarrassed me in front of everyone, even our children.

My husband demands receipts for every ice cream cone. If I don’t have one, he screams at me about how awful I am at spending “his” money. I spoke up because it’s been going on for twenty years.

My husband used to be generous and appreciative of my hard work as an engineer. However, once I started having children and stayed home with them, he lost it.

When his controlling side took over, he wouldn’t talk to me when I bought diapers that he deemed too expensive. Shopping for Christmas was already a nightmare and now we have grandkids. Why do I feel like the Grinch?

The worst thing now, is that my daughter is kowtowing to her husband, who’s doing the same thing. I’m furious!

Frustrated Mom

Dear Mom,

We encourage both of you to seek out professional therapy. It seems you may not realize you are accepting a form of domestic abuse. Your husband seems to be acting out issues regarding money, his marital and family roles, and lack of trust. Money and marriage aren’t the core problems here. Your husband has unresolved issues he can choose to deal with.

Here are some symptoms of a financial bully:

1) Making all the financial decisions, belittling you when you don’t or cannot abide by his or her decisions and puts you on an allowance.

2) Changing roles from being loving partners working together to plan, budget, and spend … to a parent — child relationship, which damages self-esteem.

3) Dictating which credit cards you may use, when you may use them, how you may use them, why he or she is allowing you to use them and demeaning you if you don’t follow the rules.

4) Flaunting the money one partner makes in front of others (especially if one partner stays home with the children) and punishing the guilty spender in front of others.

5) Scolding, finger-pointing, diminishing value of the spouse, especially in front of the children, is reprehensible and undignified.

Finances are the leading cause of stress in a relationship, according to a SunTrust Bank study. Another study by the American Psychological Association, found almost three-quarters of Americans are experiencing financial stress. According to a Citibank survey, 57 percent of divorced couples cite finances as the leading cause.

Financial decisions must be worked out together. We cannot stress the significance of going into couples’ therapy now to sort out this most damaging problem. Show this to your daughter and help her, also.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri