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How many of you might write a letter similar to the one below?

Dear Bob,

I know you are mad at me because I have been refusing to have sex with you lately. And I also have not approached you for sex, even though you have hinted that I should do so. The problem is, I’m very annoyed with you at the moment. Maybe after reading this letter you will understand my feelings and change your behavior. Then maybe we can have sex again.

I guess the final straw came when I was working at the fish fry at church and cut my finger. When I called to tell you I thought I needed to go to the hospital, the first thing you asked was whether the church had workers’ compensation. You said if they didn’t, I shouldn’t go to the hospital because it would be too expensive. What I needed at that moment was for you to ask me about my finger.

When I found out that the church had insurance, I called you back to take me to the hospital. You said you couldn’t get away. You had too much work to do. So a friend took me to the emergency room.

When I got back, I called to let you know how I was doing. Your secretary said that you were out to lunch.

Bob, why would I want to have sex with you when you act as though I don’t count?

And now that I am on a roll with this letter, here are some other reasons that I justify turning you down.

You drive too fast and when I ask you to slow down, you drive even faster.

We never go out alone as a couple.

If you don’t get your way, you let everyone know by pouting and refusing to talk.

You are not affectionate outside the bedroom.

You tell me I’m spoiled because I work only part-time.

You put me down in front of other people.

You chew with your mouth open, you are overweight, and you drink too much.

You do not help me with the children or help around the house.

You call me names, even right after we have had sex.

You expect a big meal every night no matter how tired I am.

You refuse to go to the children’s school functions.

You do not pick up your clothes, bath towel, or dishes, or clean out the tub when you have finished using it.

You are friendly and outgoing, and nice to everyone but me and your children.

I have always liked sex. It’s a way for me to feel close to you. But lately I don’t feel very close. Please change your behaviors so we can get our sex life back on track.

Your Wife,
Jan

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide” and “Thin Becomes You”.

Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

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I’m often struck by how many children don’t have the slightest idea of how to behave appropriately with others. They lack manners, they have poor communication skills, and they don’t respect their own or others’ property.

Here are a few things you can do as a parent to help your children develop into responsible people who relate well to others.

Teach your children manners.

They need to learn to say “please” and “thank-you.” “Please may I have Julie spend the night?” “Thank you for driving me to the store for poster board.” If your children do not phrase things this way, look to yourself to teach them.

If they ask you to do something and they don’t preface their request with a “please,” tell them to ask again using “please.” If they forget to say “thank you,” tell them to say it. Keep insisting until these words come automatically.

Children should be taught to write thank-you notes. “Thank you for taking me to the show, Grandma.” “Thank you for having me stay overnight at your home.” “Thank you for the birthday present.” Helping children gather paper, pencil, and addresses is a nuisance for parents, but a skill children need to learn.

Another skill you should be teaching your children is to say “hello” and “goodbye”. They should greet people when they walk in the door, when they meet someone or when they get in someone’s car. If they fail to say “hello,” remind them: “Say ‘hello’ to Sue.” When they leave the house or someone else leaves, expect them to say “goodbye”. Hello and good-byes should also be said audibly. If they mumble the words, have them repeat them.

Teach your children to look at the person they are greeting. They should not look down at the floor. After all, they should be giving the other person the attention, rather than inviting the other person to make them the center of attention by not making eye contact.

Respect for property starts at home. If you allow your children to sit with their shoes on your sofa, they will do the same elsewhere. If you don’t expect them to wipe up their spills at your home they’re not going to wipe them up at a friend’s house. If they get by with not cleaning up their mess in the bathroom, you can bet they will leave towels on the floor when they stay overnight at someone else’s home.

It’s definitely easier to hang up your child’s coat than it is to hunt him down and have him take his coat to the closet. You may even have to call him back a second time because he failed to put it on the hanger properly. But if you persist, he’ll begrudgingly get the message.

Now, ask yourself the following:

Do my children say “please” when they want me to do something for them?

Do my children say “thank-you” when I do something for them?

Do my children say “hello” when they first come in contact with someone?

Do my children make a point of saying “good-bye”?

Do they send thank-you notes?

Do they treat our furniture and their clothes with respect?

How am I doing as a parent? Am I teaching my children to be responsible and considerate?

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide” and “Thin Becomes You”.

Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

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When Mary walked into my office for her therapy appointment, she wasn’t a happy camper. When I asked her what was going on, she said she was furious at her daughter, Alice, who’s seven. In Mary’s evaluation, her daughter is extremely rebellious.

“How so?” I asked.

“If I try to hurry her up, she slows down.”

“If we tell her she can’t go outside to play, she runs out the door anyway. Or she’s supposed to stay in the backyard, but I find her at the neighbors down the street.

“This morning I had a baby sitter lined up. But Alice didn’t want to stay with the sitter. So I decided to let her come along to this appointment, with the stipulation that she would have to sit quietly in the waiting room.

“We were pulling out of the driveway when Alice realized she’d forgotten her book. I let her go back in the house but told her to hurry. Five minutes later I had to get out of the car and go get her. There she was in the kitchen fixing herself a glass of juice. I should have left her at home, but I didn’t.”

As Mary and I continued talking, we heard a little knock on my door and then it opened. There stood Alice. Mary looked at her daughter and said firmly, “You can’t come in here.” The daughter stepped back and it looked as though she was going to leave and close the door.

The mother then added, “I told you before we left the house that you’d have to wait for me in the waiting room.” With this comment, the little girl grinned ever so slightly and stepped into the room. It was evident to me that the power struggle was on.

As an observer, I suspect that if Mary hadn’t said anything more to her daughter after her first comment, but had immediately turned her attention back on the two of us talking, Alice would have closed the door and gone back into the waiting room. But when her mother gave her an additional warning, the little girl must have felt challenged and she reacted.

I saw a similar dynamic take place several days later when I was working with a mother and her adolescent daughter. They were seeing me because the mother was feeling more than annoyed at her daughter’s rebelliousness. The girl talks back, doesn’t come home on time, refuses to do her chores, and helps herself to her mother’s clothes whenever she wants.

During the session the daughter started twirling, lasso-style, a long chain she was wearing with a large polished stone attached to the end of it. The mother looked at her daughter and said, “Please stop that.” The daughter looked at her mother and continued to twirl the chain.

Again the mother said, “Stop,” but this time she said it with a little playful laugh.

At this point a noticeable grin came over the daughter’s face, she started swinging the necklace more vigorously, and the power struggle was on.

Children need to flex their rebellious muscle once in a while as a way to reach independence, and parents need to take on their children to teach them how to behave. Sometimes, however, we parents inadver­tently encourage our children to get into bigger power struggles than need be.

For example, it’s understandable why Mary told her daughter a second time not to come into my office. She already had to deal with several other issues that morning. Too, she was probably feeling anxious about how I perceived her as a parent, and she didn’t want her therapy time wasted.

But sometimes one firm no works better than two. If a parent says no and immediately turns her attention elsewhere, she closes off a power struggle by refusing to participate. One no doesn’t always work -rebellious children are tenacious – but sometimes it does.

In the second situation, the mother might have outsmarted her daughter and said nothing. I’m sure her daughter would have gotten tired of twirling. When children do something that is obviously designed to get them negative attention, sometimes it’s better not to give it to them.

Once the mother decided to confront her daughter, however, she needed to hang tough and stick with the confrontation. The Mother’s little laugh could certainly be interpreted as encouraging her daughter to be rebellious. Or it could signal her daughter that she wanted to stay friends with her. When you decide to take on a child’s rebelliousness, you must be willing to take the risk that a child is not going to like you.

If it seems that you’re struggling over every little issue with your child, it may help to keep the following in mind:

*One forceful no is sometimes better than two.

*Saying nothing, even when you don’t approve of what your child is doing, is sometimes the most effective response.

*When you find yourself in a power struggle, check to see if you’re doing anything to encourage it, like smiling or lecturing on and on.

Your child is not going to like you very much when you take her on. At the same time, her negativism toward you won’t last forever. And confronting bad behavior is a necessary part of child rearing.

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide” and “Thin Becomes You”.

Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

 

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Do you respect the people you live with?

I know a husband who keeps asking his wife to please close the garage door at night. She rarely does.

A teen-ager wants to dry a blouse she has just washed. So she takes the wet clothes out of the dryer and throws them on top of the washer so she can dry her blouse. She never puts the wet clothes back in the dryer.

Take the following test to see how you fare in the respecting-others department.
Answer yes or no.

  1. When you know someone is sleeping, do you tiptoe around, keep lights off, and turn the volume down on the television?
  2. Do you put a new roll of toilet paper on the holder if you use the last piece?
  3. Do you always ask before you borrow clothes, jewelry, money, tools?
  4. Are you ready to go when it’s time to leave for church and family outings?
  5. Do you let others in the family know that you’re going to bed and do you
    say good night?
  6. Do you shut off your alarm clock when it starts to ring?
  7. Do you clean up your snack dishes and wipe off the counter?
  8. Do you leave the bathroom in good shape for the next member?
  9. Do you give others their messages?
  10. Do you get off the phone when you know someone else wants to use it?
  11. Do you sometimes pick up after other family members?
  12. Do you refill ice-cube trays after using them?
  13. Is your tone of voice as pleasant when you’re with your family as it is when you’re with your friends?
  14. Do you do your fair share of chores?
  15. Do you wait until someone is off the telephone before starting a conversation?
  16. Are you careful not to interrupt when someone in the family is talking?
  17. Do you keep yourself from saying hurtful things even though you would like to blast someone verbally?
  18. Do you keep your part of the house clean?
  19. Do you use the word “please” when you ask others in the household to do something for you?
  20. Are you conscious of not taking or demanding too much of the family’s income for your own wants?

Every “no” answer shows some disrespect for another family member.

If you are respectful outside your home, you are displaying a virtuous quality. If you are respectful in your own home, you are truly virtuous.

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide” and “Thin Becomes You”.

Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

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