Q&A with Dr. Dorothy: Your tough questions answered
Dorothy Ratusny is a Certified Psychotherapist specializing in Cognitive Therapy.
MY FRIEND IS DATING A GUY WHO IS A SERIOUSLY BAD INFLUENCE ON HER. HE SMOKES, DRINKS AND DOES OTHER REALLY BAD STUFF. SHE USED TO BE SUCH A GOOD STUDENT, BUT SHE’S SKIPPING CLASSES TO BE WITH HIM AND IS STARTING TO FALL BEHIND. ON TOP OF ALL THAT, SHE SAYS SHE’S IN LOVE! HOW CAN I KEEP HER ON THE RIGHT TRACK?
Unfortunately, you can’t make her stay on track! Love (and first love) can be a huge distraction. Our brain’s neurochemistry wants to continue experiencing all of these intense feelings of love and we become consumed with maintaining these feelings. While you may not agree with your friend’s recent behaviour (or the influence of her boyfriend), she obviously sees something special about his “inner self.” Without being judgmental, encourage your friend to keep up her good grades and be her friend. You may not agree with everything she does, but you can still value her friendship.
I’M AN ATHEIST, BUT HAVE RELIGIOUS PARENTS, THEY ARE DEVOTED CATHOLICS. THEY DRAG ME TO CHURCH EVERY SUNDAY, AND EVEN TELL ME TO SAY MY PRAYERS AT NIGHT. I KNOW FOR SURE THAT I DO NOT BELIEVE IN “GOD.” HOW DO I TELL MY PARENTS?
Telling your parents is relatively straight forward. What their reaction might be to your news may be the challenge. It’s important to think critically about what we have been taught to believe as children. This process helps us to define what is important to us and what will become the beliefs we will hold as adults. You may want to be prepared to explain your new beliefs and how you came to establish them when speaking with your parents. This can help your parents begin to understand your decision to be atheist, even if they don’t agree. Remember that because we all have the free will to choose, it’s important to respect your parents’ choice to practice Catholicism. At times you might join them in church on certain occasions, out of respect for their beliefs. Even though you have determined you are an atheist, it’s important to be open to new information and ideas that other people share, as beliefs can and do evolve and change over a lifetime. For now, being truthful with your parents about what you believe is paramount.
MY FRIEND’S PARENTS ARE GETTING A DIVORCE, AND MY FRIEND IS REALLY MOODY BECAUSE OF IT. I’M TRYING TO BE NICE ABOUT IT, BUT IT SEEMS LIKE SHE TAKES OUT ALL HER ANGER ON ME, EVEN THOUGH I’VE DONE NOTHING WRONG. HELP! I NEED TO VENT MY FEELINGS TO HER, WITHOUT MAKING HER MAD AT ME. THOUGHTS?
Unfortunately divorce can be very difficult for kids. Your friend likely doesn’t realize the impact her moodiness and anger is having on you. Do your best to find fun things to do together to keep the mood light. It’s certainly okay if you need to spend more time alone or with other friends and less time with her right now. Speak your truth by “explaining” rather than “venting” to your friend that her anger is creating tension in your relationship. If you explain to her that you’ll choose not to be around her when if she is taking out her anger on you, then you have now created an “out” for yourself. Your friend may do well to talk to a school counsellor or a psychotherapist, and to work off her anger by taking up a physical activity or sport.
For more on Dorothy check out www.dorothyratusny.com