In this weekly feature, Nicole O’Dell and her daughters answer readers’ questions.
Alexis wrote: My little sister is pretty sick. She has cancer and is going through a bunch of treatments. My parents are never, ever home because they’re always with Allie at the doctor or the hospital. I try not to complain because I know how hard it is on them to see Ally so sick and in so much pain. It breaks my heart too…so I feel like a real jerk for even writing this, but I feel sort of forgotten about. But they probably think they don’t have much time left with Allie. . .because that’s what the doctors say. But what about me?
Emily replied: I’m so sorry about all you’re going through, Alexis! I totally understandwhy you feel bad and forgotten about–I think that makes perfect sense. It’s totally unfair that you’re dealing with this. . .but it’s also unfair that Allie is sick like she is. Can you go with them to the hospital or go hang out at a grandparent’s house so you’re not alone so much? No solution is perfect–It’s just not a good situation for anyone, and the only way to get through it is with God’s help. Pray that He’ll give you the strength to get through each day and that you’ll be strong to face whatever comes.
Natalie said: I think there are two ways to look at this situation. Number one, your sister is sick and only God knows what the outcome will be. Your parents want to spend time with her and make sure she’s as comfortable as possible while she’s going through this. She’s probably really scared, too. Imagine how she’d feel all alone in the hospital if your parents weren’t there with her.
But the other side of the story reminds me of one of my friends whose mom got in a motorcycle accident and has been in the hospital for months. My friend’s dad is always at the hospital and my friend feels like she has begun to raise herself. In the situation with my friend, and in yours, there is so much pain–and everyone feels it their own way, from their own needs.
The best thing you can do right now is to be there for your parents and your sister. Pray that God would give you the grace to handle whatever happens, and just take it one day at a time. Let Him carry this burden for you.
Nicole answered: Oh sweetheart, there is so much to this question that just stinks. Your sister is sick and has a poor prognosis–meaning the doctors don’t have a lot of hope in a good outcome to her treatments, right? To that I want to encourage you not to give up. Pray constantly for her healing and her comfort and for your parents’ strength.
Now there’s the issue of you feeling left out and lonely, Alexis. I wish I could say something that could fix that for you, but for now, hon, your oarents are doing what they need to do. I know this is hard, and you do have needs, that much is very true, but please, try to understand why their doing what they are. It’s not because they love your sister more; I promise you that. It’s okay to be honest with them about your feelings, but try to be brave as much as possible. To spend time with them, why don’t you go to the hospital with them? They’d probably love the company. and then you’d be able to sound time with your sister, too.
Heavenly Father, we lift this family up to You and ask You to wrap Your arms of love around each one of them as they deal with their own different needs in this tragic time. Give them a big dose of Your mighty strength and overwhelming peace as they face this. Touch sweet little Allie, and heal her body. Thank you for being an everlasting comfort to this family. Amen.
Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:18-31
Hey there, my name is Chloe, and I’m from South Africa. I have a problem here. I have a few friendships going with some people and feel that they are all wrong. Sure, they comfort me and help me when I’m down, but most of the time they make me feel sad or upset, for no real reason, something I can’t explain. It’s so bad that I can’t even use social networks anymore because they’re always on there teasing me and putting me down. What is happening to me?
Natalie said: I see a few things happening here. One thing that concerns me is cyber bullying. If you feel uncomfortable for any reason, on social networks, first print out any proof of things that have been said to you, then avoid the setting completely. You aren’t required to check in on Facebook or anywhere else online, so if you don’t want to, don’t. Or, weed through your online friendships and make your corner of the cyber world a safe place for you to be by only surrounding yourself with people who will build you up, not tear you down.
The other concern I have is that you’re feeling down a lot. It might be hormonal; I deal with that a lot, too. Or it might be that you’ve gotten yourself involved with the wrong people. It’s hard for me to know for sure without knowing more about the situation. I recommend that you talk openly and honestly to a parent or someone you trust about this.
Emily said: Well, I don’t know a whole lot about online bullying because I only talk to a few people on the internet. But, I have had a couple of situations where people who were supposed to be my friends, even my bff in one case, were saying mean things to me.
My mom told me that it was only because they didn’t feel very good about themselves and thought if they could make me feel worse, it would make them look better. She was probably right, but, to be honest, it didn’t really help in the moment. The only thing that helped was when I decided I didn’t have to take it. I got away from those people and made new friends.
Hi, Chloe, it’s Nicole now. I think you’re really smart to try to figure this out, and I think Natalie had EXCELLENT insight and advice for you and Emily does, too! I think you should definitely do as they suggested.
In a nutshell, you can do three things right now to deflate the power of toxic friendships and online bullying:
You don’t have to defend why you feel uncomfortable or sad in your friendships. The fact is, you do. That’s enough to show you that something needs to change. It’s time to branch out of your comfort zone and make some new friends, don’t you think?
“S” wrote : I would really like some help! I have 2 friends.. one is my best friend forever named Macy and my other is just a friend but still a good friend named Sarah. They both like the same person… and they talk about him and look for him all the time. They completely leave me out and don’t even notice that I am there too! Macy is totally different outside of school. She always tells me that I am her best friend and we talk on the phone ALL THE TIME!! We go to youth group together, we do dance and we hang out A LOT! But when we go to school NONE of that ever happened in her mind.
When Sarah is upset Macy is comforting to her and all that but when I am upset and tell her about my feelings she says it is annoying, which is really mean. I hate going to school everyday because of that. When the teacher says pick a partner my heart almost stops. I get sooo nervous and hate partner stuff! I hate gym because we always need a partner and they always leave me out. I usually put a smile on my face at school but when I get home I completely break and cry my eyes out! No one is home because my sister is at school and my parents at work. I usually talk to Macy about my problems but she gets mad and defensive to me. Literally I am getting depressed! This is so hard for me to handle, and I dont even know what to do anymore.
So excited!!! Not only has Girl Talk released, but Natalie and Emily are going to be my guests on Teen Talk Radio tonight!
We’re going to be fielding some reader’s questions on the spot! I have a small stack set aside already, but you can also call in with your questions. You’ll want to call between 10-10:45pm EST at 877-864-4869.
Some samples of tonight’s questions are:
“My BFF is after my boyfriend. . .”
“I don’t like the church my parents drag me to. . .”
“I think I might be anorexic. . .”
Girl Talk releases on 2/1 in bookstores everywhere like right here on Amazon. If you’re local to Champaign, IL, my two co-authors, Natalie (14) and Emily (11) and I will be at the Family Bookstore on 2/4 to launch the book, then again in the Orland Park store on 2/11.
We’ve had several questions about the upcoming Girl Talk release on 2/1. Several of you have wanted to know if there’s anywhere you can go to meet up with us or if there are any “Girl Talky” event on the schedule. So, we thought we’d take the opportunity of this week’s Girl Talk column to answer!
Yes. We are so excited to be able to invite you to several events on the web and in person. There are many, many opportunities to win books and read interviews, etc, on blogs and websites! Plus a couple of bookstore events where Natalie, Emily, and I will be signing copies of Girl Talk and cutting cake to share with YOU!
Also, as we near February, there’s still time and room for more, more, more! If you have a site and would like to host a giveaway with an interview or whatever, just leave a comment or contact me .
…more TBA later…
And, since I have you here. . .lol. . .here’s the Girl Talk trailer. Have you seen it yet? Barbour did such a great job with it. I love that it’s only 49 seconds!! Take a look!
Hope to see you at one of the signings, or on the blog tour somewhere on the net.
Morgan wrote: Okay, so I have this friend that is not doing so well. She is mad at her family, she says really mean things to other people, and she is choosing the wrong group of friends. We have been B.F.F.’s since I was 6 years old and I know that this is not like her. I feel like she really needs me, but on the other hand she has lied about me and really hurt me. I want to be the friend that will be there no matter what, but I don’t want to be a doormat. What should I do?
Natalie said: Morgan, you remind me a lot of myself, here. I like to be there for anyone and remain loyal to people no matter what. No matter what came before, or what they’ve done, I always have gone back to those friends who have hurt me. Recently, though, I’ve been thinking about boundaries. It’s okay to set boundaries around your life and your heart so you can still be the good person you are, but not set yourself up for being hurt again. Trust has to be earned and if your friend wants you in her life, she’ll have to earn her way past your boundaries by showing she’s sorry, not just saying it.
But, even with boundaries in place and trust at stake, don’t stay rooted in the past. Let go of your anger, offer forgiveness, and move on even as you protect yourself from more hurt.
Emily answered: I agree with my sister, but I also think you really need to tell her how you feel. She needs to understand that she could lose you in her life if she keeps treating you this way.
Hi, Morgan, it’s Nicole now. First of all, big hugs. It’s so hard when you’re hurt by people you really care about. People make mistakes, and it’s good to forgive, but you definitely need to set some boundaries, like Natalie said. Distancing yourself until your friend figures out that she’s behaving badly is a really good idea. That doesn’t mean you’re holding a grudge, it just means you’re taking care of yourself.
In this case, it’s pretty clear your friend is going through some tough things. That doesn’t mean you excuse her behavior, but it might be worth thinking about. You should pray for her, talk to her, offer her a hug, and then leave the rest up to her.
A true friend is one who will tell her friend when she is messing up. You need to tell her, and then let go for a time. She’ll come around if you two are meant to be B.F.F.s!!
Emily answered: Yes. I have one friend in particular who was my good friend for a while. She was always sweet around my parents, but would get mean and angry when adults weren’t around. Sometimes it was really annoying when she’d pretend to be one way, then act completely different when we were alone. I didn’t really know the real her.
Natalie replied: Oh yeah! I have a couple of friends who are very different when they aren’t around adults at all. Honestly, I don’t really like it. It’s hypocritical when someone pretends to be one way and then acts completely the opposite. I have a hard time trusting people like that. How is it possible to really know the truth about them?
Nicole said: The mom in me wants to know why you’re asking this! lol
But, to answer your question, no, I don’t think that I fully know the inner-workings of all my kids’ friends. I wish there were some way to gather that info, but it’s just not possible. As a mom, I have to rely on three things when I support or discourage friendships:
With those three factors, I feel pretty comfortable that even when others aren’t what they seem, it’ll work out. I’ll find out some way, or my girls will feel uncomfortable with the relationship.
Selena, it’s really important to associate with people who will encourage you to do the right thing. Make sure that even if your parents like someone, you’re choosing to spend time with her for the right reasons. Don’t use your parent’s misinformation as an excuse to do what you know is wrong.
Emily answered: Have you talked with your mom honestly about this? I think that should be your first step. Really try to get her to understand how hard it is to go through what you’re describing. I totally get it; I would hate it too.
Natalie replied: I totally understand what you’re feeling, but I also feel really sorry for your mom right now. I’m guessing she can’t afford to buy you the things you want, and probably feels kind of bad about it. I’m sure she isn’t trying to make it hard on you. It might be time to stop and think about what’s really important. I promise you, clothes aren’t it!
Nicole said: I agree. As a mom who wants my kids to be happy, I believe your mom probably struggles with this issue. Sounds like there’s a bit of a financial struggle going on. You really can’t know what that’s like, Amber, until you try to raise a family on one income. It’s very scary to have all of that responsibility resting on your shoulders. You need to try to lighten that load, not pile more pressure on. Be grateful for what you get and don’t whine about what you don’t.
That being said, I’m all for my kids working to earn money to buy the extras they want. They do chores, they babysit…whatever comes up. If you have a strong work ethic, and you’re resourceful enough to find a part time gig, go for it. But be wise about what you spend–it adds up quickly.
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