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

Dr. Barbara RosenbergDear 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.

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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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Ask Dr. Barb: Daughter's misdeed becomes family's burden

Dear Dr. Barb: My daughter missed out on a very high- profile opportunity because she did some- thing dishonest. Beyond losing the gig, our family has taken a hit with her because her mistake was public in our community. The situation is simply heartbreaking on so many levels. I have been wondering where we went wrong bringing her up. I suspect she has a problem with impulsive behavior. I’m not sure how to ask a question here, but I hope you can shed some light on a troubling situation.

Dear Parent,

Mistakes are unavoidable. Only in a fantasy world with perfect children and perfect parents are mistakes not made. When raising children, if parents had complete awareness of their children’s needs, they would know better and would make different choices.


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Ask Dr. Barb: Empathy helps those struggling to change

Dear Dr. Barb: My father died from diabetes, and my brother has had it for 15 years. He has been overweight since his 20s and continues to gain. He has always eaten like a child (junk food, soda, ice cream), and he smokes and drinks. My brother thinks insulin shots will make all this OK. Two years ago, he learned he also has high blood pressure, but he has kept up his unhealthy lifestyle. When I suggest healthier foods or that he change his habits, he just shuts me out. I am afraid I will lose him. What can I do?

Dear Reader,

Sadly, it is not unusual that suggestions to change unhealthy habits, even those that may be life threatening, are met with resistance. Giving up cigarettes, avoiding junk food and starting physical exercise may seem pretty straightforward and not that difficult. However, some individuals become so used to their bad habits that trying to change them becomes an ongoing losing battle, even when they know they are putting themselves at risk. 

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Ask Dr. Barb: Are all those ladies really your true friends?

Dear Dr. Barb: I sometimes get together for drinks or lunch or shopping with a group of women I met through my son’s school. I like some of them more than others, but there’s a lot of gossip within the group, including judgmental conversations about those who aren’t around. I suspect they discuss my business when I am not there. I have resorted to not sharing much about my husband or family. It doesn’t really feel like true friendship, but I like having other women to go places with. What can I do?  — Sharon

Dear Sharon,

In today’s world, women face numerous problems — unhappy marriages, job discrimination and parenting issues, to name but a few. Women need to have each other’s backs.

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