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Wednesday
Sep062017

Ask Dr. Barb: Strike a balance to join new community 

Dear Dr. Barb:

My family recently moved to a community that has, for me, a troubling level of openness. The neighborhood kids are allowed to enter the homes of their friends at will. No knocking, no announcements. Of course, we could keep our doors locked, but I already have the challenge of being a working mom in a community where many moms stay at home. I want my children to be able to make friends and feel like they fit in, but my husband and I are a little too private to feel comfortable with this practice, and on weekends, we often need to just decompress from the work week. How can we maintain our privacy and still be well-received in our new neighborhood?


Dear Reader,

Balancing your own needs for privacy and relaxation while meeting your kids’ social needs is a normal challenge with reasonable solutions. It seems you are very concerned about kids barging in to your home at all hours. You are probably worrying about this problem more than you should be. As you point out, you can keep your doors locked — at least for reasons of safety.

 

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Monday
Jul242017

Ask Dr. Barb: Embracing change in my new workplace 

Dear Readers:

In May, I had to move unexpectedly from my office of 29 years after having received notice that the building had been sold. Even when planned, moving to a new office, like moving to a new home, is definitely is a sressful event. I wanted to write about my experiences in the event they can be helpful to others.

I have now completed Week Six in my new office. Looking around, it seems almost miraculous that most of my belongings moved with me and everything, including myself, is in working order. The movers did a wonderful job, and moving day itself turned out to be the easier part of the process. It was everything leading up to the big day that seemed more mentally challenging.

 

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Wednesday
May032017

Ask Dr. Barb: Teen's death raises suicide concerns 

Dear Dr. Barb: A close friend of my 13-year-old niece  died suddenly. The girl hadn’t been ill, and some suspect suicide. The school sent suggestions on how to help grieving teens, but I don’t think it’s enough. Some parents haven’t been discreet in mentioning the suspected suicide. My niece and her classmates know their friend’s parents were in the middle of a bitter divorce. I don’t want them to think suicide is an answer to despair or any teen problem. What can I do to help?

 

Dear Reader,

 

Losing a friend or family member in sudden death is extremely upsetting in and of itself; however, losing someone close due to a possible suicide is one of the most devastating losses a person will ever experience. In this case, the lack of clarity about the classmate’s death can only intensify the feelings of grief.

 

Grief is a natural response to losing someone to whom you are close. This internal pain can affect an individual emotionally, physically, mentally and even spiritually. Grief can be experienced as feelings of numbness, sadness, confusion, anxiety, despair, shame, guilt or anger. Such feelings may progress in stages, and there is no exact timeline. How one grieves usually depends on the nature of the loss as well as one’s personality, coping style, religion and life experience.

 

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Monday
Jan092017

Ask Dr. Barb: Taking action makes a difference for others

Dear Dr. Barb: I am one of the lucky people for whom years of higher education paid off with a great job that allows me to live in an area where most people don't have to worry about money. I didn't grow up rich, but I always worked hard in school and to excel at any job I held. I also maintain a strong social network. How do I deal with people, sometimes even family members, who are always discussing the wage gap? I know there are people with as much education as I have who somehow are not able to find decent jobs. That is nothing I can control. I give to charities, I don't always indulge my children, and we never look down on others. Yet I am concerned about what seems to be a growing divide in this country on so many levels. I wish I could be part of a conversation that could lead to more positive dialogue between people of different races, backgrounds and economic circumstances, but I don't know how to do that. My question to you is should I be doing more? If so, how do I go about it?

 

Dear Reader,

 

I commend you in asking such an important question.You are truly lucky that all your hard work has rewarded you with a good job, a nice community and a strong base of family and friends.

 

However, as you correctly point out, so many more individuals and families are less fortunate than you are. You are hearing more about the wage gap because economic inequality has grown significantly in the US over the past few decades. Since August 2007, the beginning of the Great Recession, the jobless rate has fallen significantly in this country, but many feel passed over as wage growth has not kept up.

 

Even more concerning, incomes and wealth appear to be increasing for the richest people, while many others struggle to stay afloat. Not only are there substantial wage gaps between races and gender, but some sociologists also are studying the gaps in wages within racial, gender and socioeconomic groups. As you pointed out, there are people you know, with as much education as you, who have difficulty finding decent jobs. However, as real as the wage gaps are, when it comes to solutions, the conversations often lead to heated conflict and seem to go nowhere.

 

 

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Tuesday
Nov012016

Ask Dr. Barb: Help shy child practice making new friends

Dear Dr. Barb: My third-grader is shy and quiet. I am concerned that he does not have friends who invite him to do things. When I ask about even one friend he’d like to invite over to play or to go for ice cream, he can’t think of anyone. He seems happy with his games and toys, but it seems unhealthy for him to not have friends. Is there any way I can help him interact with other kids?

Dear Reader,

Being shy and quiet is more common than many realize. Some individuals are born with a genetic predisposition to be shy. Babies born with this kind of temperament tend to be overly sensitive to loud noises, sharp smells and strange voices. However, innate shyness does not necessarily predict the course of one’s social development.

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