Q&A with Dr. Dorothy: Your tough questions answered
Dorothy Ratusny is a Certified Psychotherapist specializing in Cognitive Therapy.
I’m 17 and my bro is 19. When my parents go out or away for the weekend they leave me in charge of the keys to the bar and the car. My brother is kinda wild sometimes so I know why my parents do it, but it’s causing a rift between my bro and I. I’m not sure what to do.
Parents can often, unknowingly, create problems between siblings because of the different treatment they give. Ideally, your parents need to set some ground rules for the two of you before they go away, and trust that both of you are equally respectful and responsible young adults. Should your brother behave otherwise, it’s up to your parents to hold him accountable. If your relationship with your brother is good, then when your parents are away, you could probably throw him a friendly reminder on what the ‘ground rules’ are, but ultimately he needs to be responsible for his own actions. Talk to your parents and ask them if they would please instill equal rules and responsibility for both of you.
My friend has a small box she’s asked me to take care of. Whenever she comes over (often) she takes it into the bathroom and returns it to me for ‘safekeeping.’ She says it’s her diary but I think she keeps drugs in it. I don’t want to be a snoop or suggest I don’t trust her but I don’t want to get mixed up in that kind of stuff. Help.
If you decide that you don’t want to get into a conversation over what is actually in the box (given that you have some strong suspicions about its contents), you may wish to simply tell your friend that you would feel more comfortable if she kept the box in a different ‘safe’ place. While you may find it difficult to speak your mind on this one, a real friend will respect and understand your decision and won’t pressure you to do something that you don’t want to do.
I have three older sisters and they all act and dress like Barbie dolls. I hate that look. I’m into black, pants, spiked belts and running shoes. They said they just “had to ask me” if I wanted to be a guy. I’m all girl but I’m really hurt that my sisters still don’t know me.
It’s understandable that you would feel hurt by their question. Unfortunately, when we make judgments about others based on how we think they should be, we automatically stop accepting and valuing them for who they are. As we mature and evolve it is hoped that we learn how to accept all people regardless of inherent differences. We may not necessarily agree with someone, but it is still important to respect the fact that they are entitled to have a different opinion. Sometimes we need to be reminded that it is our individual differences that allow us to learn from each other. Sharing some of these thoughts with your sisters may help them to see the bigger picture, but equally important, make an effort to spend some quality time with them so that you can get to know each other a bit better. You may find that there is more to them than their ‘Barbie doll look’ as well.
My mom has a new boyfriend and I told her I didn’t like him. Recently he hit on my best friend (she’s 17). I feel if I tell her about it she’ll think we’re just making it up to break them apart. What should I do?
It sounds like your instincts were right. Now, let me ask you one question…if you were in your Mom’s shoes, would you want to know the truth? While sometimes the truth is not what we want to hear, deep down, if we are being completely honest with ourselves, we usually know what is right or best. In the end, your Mom will (hopefully), make the best choice concerning her new relationship. Out of respect for her and your best friend, it’s important that you speak up. In regards to your concern about being credible, find a time to talk with your Mom when it’s just you and her alone, and preferably, when you are not already in a heated discussion about her boyfriend. She’s more likely to hear what you have to say if it comes from a place of concern and caring rather than one of anger and frustration.
My mom is 40 and wants to have another kid. I hate the idea. I think she’s too old. What can I tell her to convince her it’s not a good idea?
Get some alone time with your Mom and ask her to share her thoughts and feelings on the topic. Understanding her rationale behind this potential decision will help you tremendously regardless of what she ends up doing. Ask her how she sees life changing for her, and for others in the family, if there is another child to care for. Ask her about her goals and dreams for the future. What you are doing here is (indirectly) forcing her to think about the bigger picture. She may decide that it’s still exactly what she wants to do or she may begin to have second thoughts. Hopefully, your conversation will also allow you an opportunity to share your thoughts and feelings on the topic as well. Ultimately your support will mean a lot to your mom.
For more on Dorothy check out www.dorothyratusny.com