Q&A with Dr. Dorothy: Your tough questions answered
Dorothy Ratusny is a Certified Psychotherapist specializing in Cognitive Therapy.
I think my brother is gay. I wouldn’t have a problem with it if he was but I know my parents would freak. Should I feel my parents out? Kinda prepare them? What should I do?
I wonder what the purpose is of doing something at this stage. I’m not sure that you have to do anything except just continue to be a supportive, loving sibling to your brother. If you feel the need to know more information, speak with him about it. He may or may not be ready to talk if he is gay, but ultimately it is up to him to speak with your parents. If your parents do question you on this, encourage them to speak with him.
My sister is one and a half years older than I am and we’ve always been close. Lately she’s been secretive and doesn’t seem to want me around. I’m really hurt and sad. Should I be?
Our feelings are largely based on what we think about. If you are thinking about the changes in your sister’s behavior towards you and your thoughts are, “Maybe she doesn’t want me around,” or “She doesn’t like hanging out with me anymore,” it would make sense that you feel sad and hurt. However, if you think about your sister’s change in behavior from the perspective that perhaps she is struggling with a problem or issue and doesn’t feel like talking about it at this time, then you might be less inclined to feel hurt, and instead feel a sense of empathy or concern. If the two of you have always been close, I would suggest asking her if everything is ok, and commenting on how you have noticed a change in her behavior. Respect her decision for needing some privacy right now, but let her know that you are there for her if she needs you. Often just knowing that others care and are supportive is a big help. Alternatively, your sister may just be figuring some things out for herself and will let you in on what is going on with her in due time. Being so close in age can be a big advantage when it comes to sharing and helping each other through difficult things.
My friend is 16 and pregnant. My parents don’t want me to hang around her or even talk to her on the phone, but I don’t want to abandon her at a time like this. What should I do?
Realistically, it’s going to be pretty difficult for your parents to stop you from seeing your friend. I’d be curious to know what their reasons are for asking you to do this, but ultimately this puts you in a morally difficult position. I think that it takes a very compassionate and caring person to choose to stay committed to the friendship, and I’m sure that your friend will gratefully appreciate that you are there for her. Speak to your parents about your commitment to the friendship and about the value of practicing ‘acceptance’ of others without judgment. I’m sure that if the roles were reversed, you would appreciate the same consideration of your friend as well.
I was in my parent’s room and found some marijuana. They’ve given me the whole, ‘Say No to Drugs’ lecture but now I know they’re hypocrites. How should I deal with this?
It really depends on how you want to deal with this. I believe in the value of gathering all of the facts (or as many as you possibly can), before formulating your decision. Sit with your parents and let them know that you found marijuana in their room. Give them an opportunity to explain the ‘facts’ to you. Hopefully you will all be able to have an open and honest discussion. Your job isn’t to judge them but to gain a better understanding of the situation. If the marijuana is theirs, don’t be afraid to tell them how you feel (politely of course). You might explain that you would rather they practice what they preach, but ultimately, your decision to smoke marijuana or not should be based on what’s best for you and not on what others do. Remember, your parents are human and like other human beings, they are not perfect.
Info on Marijuana…
“Marijuana’s Effects: More Than Munchies” – NY Times
For more on Dorothy check out www.dorothyratusny.com