Q&A with Dr. Dorothy: Your tough questions answered
Dorothy Ratusny is a Certified Psychotherapist specializing in Cognitive Therapy.
I’m 13 years old and not allowed to do anything alone with my friends because my parents are overprotective. I can’t even go to the movies alone with my friends without having a parent there to watch us. My mom and dad don’t understand that it’s embarrassing to have them always tagging along with me. How can I get them to give me some freedom?
The best strategy for gaining greater freedom is to actively create opportunities in which you can prove that you are responsible and trustworthy of independence. Negotiate your independence in smaller steps in order to help your parents feel more comfortable with you doing some things alone or with friends. For example, if your goal is to be able to go to the movies with your friends, break this goal down into smaller ‘action steps’. The first step may be having an adult accompany you to a movie, even if they sit somewhere else in the theatre.
The next time you go to the movies, negotiate being dropped off with your friends in front of the theatre and then being picked up in the same place after the movie. With some experience and credibility behind you, it is likely that your parents will eventually give you more freedom. This strategy will require a bit of patience on your part – and a commitment to keeping your end of the arrangement (i.e. doing exactly what you agree to), but in the end you are helping your parents to feel more confident in your ability to do things independently of them.
I feel as if I never get enough sleep. I always try to go to bed early, exercise a lot and eat fairly healthy. I just don’t know why I always feel so tired. Is there anything I can do that can give me more energy?
You may want to start with a visit to your doctor to ensure that you have good physical health. Assuming that you do, it’s important to remember that as a teen you actually need more rest than when you were nine and ten years old. This is due to the accelerated growth that occurs during this period. Acknowledging that you actually need an extra couple of hours of sleep every night and trying to achieve this can help a great deal. There are also other factors, which I’ve listed below, that can contribute to an overall lack of energy. If you experience more than one of these at any time, it can certainly cause you to feel more tired than usual.
|• Feeling down or depressed
• Change in life events (i.e. moving, taking up a new sport, the start of a new school year)
• Stress (both positive and negative stress have an impact on our energy levels)
• Dehydration, lack of proper nutrition, including daily vitamin requirements, and dehydration
In order to have more energy, try to get more sleep. Take a look at each of the factors above to see if you might be expending more energy than you realize. You may also want to consult a naturopathic doctor to see what natural supplements might help boost your energy levels.
My girlfriend is so insecure. She’s always copying celebrities’ looks and is beginning to be really materialistic. I find it really annoying and I want her to be herself. I keep telling her she’s pretty the way she is but she doesn’t believe me. How can I help boost her confidence so she doesn’t have to copy other people’s styles?
Being insecure is exactly the reason why we feel the need to emulate others. While your girlfriend needs to develop her own positive self-esteem, you can help by encouraging her to do more of the things that she enjoys and is good at (whether that is a particular sport, cooking, music, etc). You can also compliment her natural beauty by reminding her of the specific qualities that she possesses that make her stand out from others. Hopefully your girlfriend will soon figure out her own particular sense of style apart from others and be comfortable with who she is.
This summer I got a job to supplement my allowance while my brother got a car, thanks to my parents. Now, he keeps asking to borrow money from me, claiming he’s broke over the car. I know he didn’t pay a cent for it and that he used all his money to supe it up. I don’t want to lend him my hard-earned cash, but I also know he’s broke and I feel badly for him. What should I do?
It’s very compassionate of you to care a great deal about your sibling. Feeling badly for your brother is one thing, but keep in mind what you would be ‘teaching’ him by lending him your hard earned money. Your actions (although generous in spirit) would reinforce the fact that your brother could simply come to you when he needs cash rather than earn it by working himself. Since you say he “keeps asking” it would suggest that you have already lent him some money. While it might be difficult for you to start saying ‘no’ to lending more money, remember why you got a job in the first place. Clearly you must have expenses of your own and a need to take care of them responsibly. Your brother — understandably displeased with your decision at first, will inevitably find a different means of getting money.
For more on Dorothy check out www.dorothyratusny.com