April #AskGretchen: Cheating on tests, Divorce, Being Loud at Work, Kids and Forced Affection

#Ask Gretchen; Let's get real.Dear Gretchen: I’m a 16-year-old high school student, and I’ve done something stupid and wrong. I’ve cheated on a test with the answer sheets in hand. I was caught by my classmates, who seem to have spread it to the whole class! To make things worse, when my teacher asked me a few days later if I cheated, I lied. She believed me. I can’t tell you how bad, guilty, down, and anxious I feel about this. The worry I feel right now is how my teacher will eventually know, and how I just lied to her twice. My classmates seriously have something against me. I feel so stupid and so sad. –Cheater Irvine, CA

Dear Cheater: One bad decision doesn’t define who you are. Since this is eating at you, I suggest that you schedule a meeting with your teacher and tell her the truth. Let her know that you are sorry that you cheated, and that you are willing to take the bad grade, and ask how you can make it right. My question to you is, what caused you to cheat? Are you getting pressure from your parents on your grades? Are you struggling? Are you typically a student who is prepared? I am hearing that there is a deeper issue that needs to be addressed and that this isn’t just about the test. Talking it through with your teacher (the truth) may be helpful. It will not get you the grade that you want, but it will build your self-esteem. When we take responsibility for our actions (the good and the bad) we can live with a clear conscious. It is never too late to make a good choice or a new decision. Regarding your classmates, they may have felt upset that they studied and didn’t cheat and that you did. You might want to ask them what you can do to make it right with them as well. This is hard work. Being humble and saying that you are wrong, when you have had a misstep is very grown-up work, that most adults aren’t even good at. If you practice this skill now, you will be giving yourself the gift of freedom. When we stand in the light and admit we are wrong, the anxiety goes away and we can hold our head high. – Good luck! – Gretchen

Dear Gretchen: My husband applied for divorce without my consent. I have a toddler and I am pleading my husband to reconcile for the sake of the child. He is asking me to give him 50% of my savings/salary money to reconcile. He also wants me to deposit all my salary to a joint account in the future as a condition to reconcile. He is using divorce as blackmail to get money. He earns well and I never asked him to spend money for any of my personal stuff. He basically wants to control me. We both contribute equally to household expenditure. I am depressed and worried about my child. What should I do? –Worried Mom, Troy, MI

Dear Worried Mom: You have options. Do you have a trusted friend, advisor, or lawyer who can help you sort this out? Have you sought the help of a therapist to help you with the emotional intensity? I understand that you want your marriage to work for the sake of your child. However, if you are being bullied and controlled you may need to ask yourself if that is the kind of relationship that is best for you. Therapy for both you and your husband may help you untangle some of the resentment, fear, and miscommunication the two of you are experiencing. It will also help you to do some deep soul searching to identify what you want and how to navigate this in the healthiest way for everyone involved. Please know, your son will be okay no matter what. It is important for him to see his mother being treated well and happy because that is going to be his model to reference in the future for what it looks like to love his own wife. If it does come to divorce, there are ways to amicably co-parent. I encourage you to let some of the hot air out of the balloon so that you aren’t acting out of fear or because you feel like your back is up against the wall. Seek the help of a professional who can help you assess the best way to maneuver this situation. There is hope. – Gretchen

Dear Gretchen: I have a co-worker that is always making comments about me being loud. She constantly singles me out. I have tried to maintain a quieter working area. however, my position is answering the phones and assisting individuals that enter the office. Her cube is adjacent to mine. How can approach her to resolve this issue to benefit both parties without damaging our work relationship? — Motor Mouth
Knoxville, TN

Dear Motor Mouth: Your work styles are clashing. Would it be possible for one of you to change workspace locations? If you present it to her and your supervisor that you want to make sure that the office is running as smoothly as possible and that although you have made efforts to be quieter, it is a part of your job and your personality to greet people boisterously. Let them know that you want to make the work environment and productive and enjoyable place for everyone and open the dialogue for solutions. It may not change where either of you sit, but it will show that you are putting your best foot forward and are open to suggestions and improvement. – Gretchen

Dear Gretchen: My son is 2 1/2 years old and is a big cuddler. However, he always needs a little time to warm up to someone, even to people he knows very well and sees very often, like his grandparents. My father-in-law always insists that my son give him a kiss when he comes to visit, although my son does not want to and it is obvious that he would rather not right away. I have tried addressing this topic with my father-in-law because I think my son should learn that one should not and cannot be forced to perform such affectionate acts if one does not want to, but my father-in-law just ignores my comments. My husband thinks that it is ok, in the end that’s how grandparents are, but I do not agree. Any suggestions? –In-law woes, Wiesloch, Germany

Dear In-Law Woes: You are such a good mom! This is completely normal and you are right, kids need to hold their own power as to when and if they will be affectionate. And, they may not be affectionate with those who “want” it. One thing you may be able to do is to talk to your son about the situation in an age appropriate way, not in front of grandpa, but in general when the two of you are snuggling. You could tell him how much he is loved and that grandpa loves him too and would love his snuggles. You do not need to put any pressure or guilt on him but you could let him know how grandpa feels and then leave the choice to him. Rest assured, your son and his grandfather will learn how to have their own relationship. – Gretchen

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