You asked for it, you got it. This week the Gabber introduces our semi-regular advice column, Dear Gabby, here by reader demand. Have a question or a conundrum for Gabby? There’s no problem too small for your resident advisor. Send your questions – they can be anonymous – to email@example.com.
My 5-year-old daughter was sent home for spitting on a classmate. She told us that she did it because the boy was bullying her. I don’t want to discourage my daughter from standing up for herself, but how do I teach her that what she did was wrong?
When reading your question, the words of our former First Lady Michelle Obama came to mind. Remember when she said, “When they go low, we go high”? No? Well, she said it during the 2016 Democratic National Convention and I’ve thought of it often since we’ve been seeing a national crisis of civility and kindness. Talk to your daughter about how some people are mean and bully people, usually because they’re afraid, hurt or being bullied themselves. It isn’t right for them to take their feelings out on others, but in those instances we don’t trade meanness for meanness. They go low – we go high. Instead of trading nasty behavior tit-for-tat, she should rise above. Tell her that when someone is bullying her, the best thing to do is call out the behavior to the bully. “Don’t bully people. It’s mean!” *in my best five year old voice* Then she should let an adult know. She can even share what she’s learned about bullying, by sharing that something must be going on with her classmate if he thinks bullying people is okay. Now, she’s dealing in compassion rather than violence and disrespect. And if we all did that, what a world we’d have. Amirite?
I have an old friend who has been there for me through thick and thin. She has been a constant in my life since high school, and I don’t know what I would do without her. The problem is, sometimes when she thinks she’s “helping,” she finds a way to put me down. I know she means well, but it’s starting to affect our friendship. What should I do?
Does she mean well if she’s always putting you down? And putting “help” in quotes is…concerning. Hey, sometimes we hold on to relationships because they’re old, not because they’re any good. As you’ve matured, perhaps you need more from this friendship than you’re getting. If you care about this friendship and want to keep it going, talk to your friend about how you feel. Tell her that you want to stay friends, but that sometimes you come away feeling put down when she talks to you. Lean on “I” statements to share how you feel and be clear about what you need, rather than rail on about what she does and says. If she’s a true friend, she’ll hear you and want to make things better, even if the conversation feels uncomfortable. If she belittles your feelings, it’s time to move on. Some relationships are for a lifetime, and others are for a season. It’s quite possible this friendship has seen its last summer.
My boyfriend and I have been together for four years. He has always had gay friends, and even likes to hang out at gay bars. He especially likes drag shows and has hinted that he might like to do drag. I have never had a problem with this, but lately I’m beginning to suspect there may be more to it. He has always insisted that he is “very straight,” but I’m not sure that’s true. How can I tell if he’s gay?
The best, clearest, easiest way to tell if someone is gay is to do this really simple thing: Ask them – then listen when they tell you the answer. If your boyfriend tells you he is straight, then guess what? He’s straight. Enjoying gay bars and drag shows isn’t an indication of sexuality. Sounds to me like he knows where the fun is! If you’re having concerns about his sexuality based on his partying preferences, let him know how his love of drag makes you feel. If he tells you, again, that he is straight, and you don’t believe him, you’ve got a bigger problem than your boyfriend wanting to don fake lashes and lip sync Lady Gaga. You don’t trust him, and that is a different conversation altogether.
A Milwaukee native, Sheree L. Greer is a local text-based artist, educator and taco lover. In 2014, she founded Kitchen Table Literary Arts to showcase and support the work of Black women and women of color writers and is the author of two novels, “Let the Lover Be” and “A Return to Arms.”