Monday, November 26, 2018

One-Upping: The Game Where Everyone Loses

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

My problem with my daughter-in-law is awful. I can’t figure out why she reacts to me as if we’re in a competition, which we aren’t. Why would we be? We’re family.

My daughter-in-law quizzes me like I’m on a TV show:

  • What perfume do I wear? (I say a department store brand and she insists that the natural oils she wears are better.)
  • What type of bread do we eat? (I say all types – she, of course, eats only 12-grain, gluten-free, organic, non-GMO bread.)
  • What type of makeup do I wear? (I say a common brand – She wears herbal makeup from a natural food store.)
  • How do I exercise? (I walk everyday and she trains for marathons.)
  • The final straw was – Would I have plastic surgery? I’m in my fifties and she’s 24. She said she thinks we should be happy with what God gave us.
 I was irritated and said, “God gave us brains to decide for ourselves what to do. And, no, I haven’t had plastic surgery … yet.” Heaven forbid, I tell her I get Botox. I’d get a lecture on the poison that it is.

She told my son (her husband) that I was angry with her just because she was trying to get to know me better. 

She’s beautiful and they just had a gorgeous baby boy. They seem to have a great marriage. Why does she judge me and try to one-up me?

Not a one-upper

Dear Mom-in-law,

It’s simple, but hard to accept: she thinks you are worthy of being one-upped. She wouldn’t do this if she didn’t think a lot of you. 

The problem is that she doesn’t think a lot of herself. 

Self-doubting one-uppers can’t resist judging others as “less-than” because of their own insecurities.
It takes a lot of energy to keep up the pretense of being better than others, and even more energy to keep up the invisible contests they start. It’s worth it to her, because she gets a temporary “win” and builds her false self-esteem with it. She has to “win.”

However, you both lose this game. You can’t change her, but, you may help the situation by refusing to play her games. Don’t respond, no matter how insistent she becomes. Change the subject, in a matter-of-fact way, and your positive definition of yourself, which you already have, will shine.

Hopefully, she’ll start realizing she doesn’t need to play a game to win confidence – she can follow your good example and it’ll be a “win-win” for everyone.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Yakety-Yak--Don't Talk Back

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

We have three kids, but my youngest son is the one who constantly talks back to me.
My husband works late and we usually have dinner before he gets home. I tell our eight-year-old son to stop talking back at the dinner table, or he’s going to have consequences.  

He doesn’t care and talks back, even in public, especially at the grocery store if he doesn’t get what he wants. Telling him to stop only makes him talk louder. 

So I started telling him I’m going to tell his dad. 

I told myself I would never say that to my kids, because my mom did that and my dad was abusive.
Of course, I’m not abusive, but honestly, telling my dad worked on me.

Mom of an impolite son

Dear Mom,

No one ever said that fear didn’t work as a punishment; however, it’s good to choose not to utilize fear, which may cause a worsened relationship with your child, and may cause trauma. 

When a child “talks back” (as in rebelling and disobeying an authority figure) it’s usually a sign of frustration or feeling hurt. 

Before dinner or grocery shopping, you might calmly ask your son why he gets upset and talks back. Give him a time-limited chance to try to express himself.
Let him know that he may express himself only in a polite manner and you may still disagree with him. He will learn he won’t always get his way, but he’ll be heard. 

Tell your son what the “talking back” consequences are before he acts out. Tell him you won’t negotiate or pay attention to him when he doesn’t follow your agreement. Ask him for an agreement and a handshake on it. 
Help your son to feel important and heard by giving him choices during the day.

Tips to help you both, when talking back occurs:

  • Be the example of good composure, no matter how rude or loud he gets
  • Think of choices or ask him for choices, so he feels empowered
  • Praise him when he doesn’t behave rudely throughout dinner or shopping
  • Hold family meetings where issues may be discussed with the whole family in a calm and respectful manner
  • Remind your son that you will always listen to polite disagreements, but you may still disagree, because you are in charge of making him safe and healthy
  • There’s no negotiating once you and your husband have made a decision
  • There will be consequences each and every time someone in the family is discourteous
Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Top Ten Values for Today's Youth

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

I asked my 12 year-old granddaughter, “What are your most important values?” She answered, “What?” I said, “What’s gives you a sense of purpose in life?”

She said her family, sometimes, when they’re nice to her and continued by saying, “I want a lot of money and I want to be a famous singer.” (Sadly, she can’t sing.)

I asked her if her family had to be nice in order for her to love them. I should’ve asked how nice she was to them. She gave me a list of the rotten things her brother and sisters do to her and that her parents do nothing but yell and scream at her. The whole family swears at each other.

My daughter and son-in-law end every fight by telling her to be nice. 

I asked if she wanted to have a family one day. She said, “Yuk, no. I want to do things when I want to do things and I’m not changing diapers.”

She said, “Grandma, you don’t have to get married just to have a baby.”

Stunned Grandma

Dear Grandma,

At many of our speaking engagements, most youth don’t know how to define themselves with values. They aren’t sure what values mean. 

It’s good for all of us to define our top values with clarity and be the examples.

Our Top Ten Values:

1. Loyalty – We help each other because we care – no strings attached, no back-biting or fault-finding
2. Respect – One of the best signs of our self-worth is giving others importance  
3. Visions and actions – Develop talents and share them
4. Honesty – Sincerity, not giving half-truths or justifying dishonesty
5. Integrity – Do what you say you’re going to do and be honorable 
6. Forgiveness – Demonstrate mercy to others. (This doesn’t mean accepting maltreatment  because you forgave someone)   
7. Gratitude – Be deeply appreciative, gracious, and humble
8. Wisdom – It’s the sum of sharing all you have done, with risks, successes, and failures – and having more faith than fear
9. Resilience – Failures matter, if you grow, learn, and keep bouncing back from them
10. Compassion – Try to understand and help others; you won’t always get your way, don’t choose your own comfort first – choose the right thing to do for others

Research shows fewer people believe money is the meaningful measure of success, as in past decades, and more who view satisfying their own wants and desires as a sign of success. 

Both are short-sighted.

We believe the time-honored values listed will help your granddaughter gain joy beyond instant gratification. Good job, Grandma.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Monday, November 5, 2018

My Daughter is a Waffler

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

My husband and I brought up our four kids on a farm. We did everything. 

My husband made all the decisions about who was doing what chore. He was a Marine drill sergeant, yelling from 4am until sundown every day, which explains our three boys going into the military.

I left my husband and took our 16 year-old daughter to the suburbs. Her dad wanted her to go into the military, too. She waffled for a year and then said “no.” He won’t contact her now.

She’s talented at sculpting, cooking, and debating on the school’s debate team. 

But she can’t choose a dress by herself. She’s indecisive about everything. 

No one knows what she really thinks.  

Mom of a waffling girl

Dear Mom,

We all struggle with major decisions. However, when big and small judgments teeter on the fence, decisions will crash by chance and not by choice.
It’s imperative to have decision-making methodologies. They influence and affect life-long choices for our families and people that benefit from our best talents.

Only thinking about how decisions will affect us, or trying to people-please, can cause big mistakes. We risk great failures without using decision-making strategies.

We’re a society that depends on critical thinkers, creative innovators, and decisive motivators, and most of all, people who have unwavering values like honesty, forgiveness, integrity, and gratitude. 

To make value-based decisions:
  • Choose ahead of time what decisions you won’t compromise on and commit yourself to your values.
  • Make honest lists of pros and cons.
  • Don’t compare yourself to anyone else.
  • Choose from your three best value-based talents and visualize what life would be like with each.
  • Once you’ve made a decision, take actions.
  • Give yourself a short time limit (six months) and then a longer limit (one year … based only on how you’ve progressed within the short-term limit). Be honest with yourself.
  • There’s no shame in changing your decision. If you, your boyfriend, and your mom are the only ones congratulating your culinary arts ability – face the fact, being a chef isn’t your best talent.

If the talent you love most isn’t producing your best life, financially, emotionally, physically, and spiritually, you’ve chosen a hobby and not your best talent. Watching a 70-year-old still trying to make it as an actor is painful.

The goal for making the best decision for you is:
  1. Are you and your family prospering by using your best talent?
  2. Are you making a positive difference in the lives of others?

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Catfished Girl Needs Help

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

My family is well-off financially. My college-age daughter was dating someone who pretended to be someone else who looks like a known wealthy person and he used his name. 

She said he was sweet, intelligent, and well-dressed. He said he went to a prominent college and he lives in Vermont. 

My daughter never met him, a family member or a friend of his. He gave one excuse after another.  
Finally, she the told us a disturbing story about how his family disowned him (it’s a ridiculous story)

She then divulged, rather sheepishly, that she met him through an online dating service. 

She said she felt so badly for him, when she found out he was living in poverty. She used thousands of dollars that we gave her, to give to him. She said he really needed it and we didn’t.

We hired a private investigator who said this man is a scammer and has been in jail for it. He comes from poverty in Virginia. He’s done this to several wealthy girls online and he’s doing quite well now, financially. He resents wealthy girls because they’re “snobs.”

We showed our daughter the evidence.  She said we were horrible to make this up just to stop her from dating “the first man who really loves her.” 

Why won’t she believe us?

Troubled Parents

Dear Parents,

This phenomenon is called “Catfishing.” A catfish is someone who makes up a false social networking online identity in order to defraud a victim, seek revenge, or commit identity theft.

The catfish may have lured your daughter into a relationship to scam money and get revenge on a “rich girl.” Reporting the story to authorities could bring the truth of your daughter’s catfish to light.

Nev Schulman, the subject of a 2010 documentary, brought viewers into the world of deceptive online relationships when he tried to track his own Internet love. The TV show, “Catfish,” tells stories about people who have been tricked and exposes lies.

Ways to prevent catfishing:

1.      Use Google’s “search by image” feature to check for multiple Facebook profiles with the same photo.
2.      Verify, verify, verify – order a background check, look for low numbers of friends, family members, and photos.
3.      Protect yourself and don’t give out too much information. Meet as soon as possible in a public place. If they cancel the meeting, do more fact checks or block them. Skype with them (block them if they won’t).
4.      Any feelings of doubt are there for a reason – don’t ignore them.

The adage “It’s better to be safe than sorry” is especially true with online dating.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri