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QUESTION 1: When I compare my 15-year old daughter with others her age she is still not independent as they are. She is still scared to go out by herself, or do anything without my help. What should one do?
RESPONSE: I understand your concern and yes it is time to cut the apron strings! There are many ways on how to help your daughter become a confident and independent young woman. First you need to start helping her build self-confidence. The reason she is scared and dependent on you is because she does not have the confidence to take on responsibilities. Show and guide her (patiently), rather than tell her. Mistakes will be made and that is ok! Encourage her and acknowledge her efforts, rather than the end result all the time.
There are many age-appropriate chores/tasks she can start with. Such tasks will also help her become responsible and independent. Start simple. At her age she can:
- Make her own bed
- Clean her own room
- Do laundry
- Set and clear the table before and after meals
- Water the plants
- Accompany you for grocery shopping or do the shopping independently.
These are just some of the chore you and her can work out together.
You can also make a routine; however make sure the chores do not interfere with her school work or leisure time. Please avoid comparing her to her peers; this will only dampen her self-esteem. Try to avoid changing her routine suddenly or detaching yourself from her all of a sudden. You need to plan it carefully and let her ease into the new routine slow and steady. Think out of the box and make the learning fun!
Another important aspect to keep in mind is that with ‘independence comes safety!’. The best way to assure safety is to educate and prepare her (do not scare her though). For example you can show her how to cross the road, body safety education, what to do during certain emergencies, peer pressure (drugs and alcohol), social media safety etc. Establish the kind of relationship with your daughter wherein she is comfortable and trusts you enough to come to you for anything. All the best!
QUESTION 2: How do I break up with my boyfriend? Been together for 8 months!
RESPONSE: The spot you are in at the moment can be a confusing and difficult one. Before I go on to answering your question, you need to ask yourself one as well; Are you sure you want to break up? Because once you do, there will be no turning back. It is common for couples to say they will break up after an argument in the heat of the moment, but after things cool down they are fine! Hence, you need to think with a cool and calm head before you make any rash decisions, because it will not only affect your partner, but it will also affect you. List down the reasons, try to rationalise and then decide.
Since you have not mentioned the reasons for wanting to break up with him, I will go ahead and answer your question now. Firstly, you need to plan what to say and how to say it. As I mentioned earlier, your actions will affect him some way or another, hence you need to be sympathetic towards him. You need to prepare yourself for what is to come. For example, how he is going to react, will you be safe, what you plan to do after the breakup etc.
You need to keep it honest and keep it clean. Try not to end the relationship on a negative note. This will only make things very uncomfortable or things may also turn ugly. Try not to give the person false hopes, avoid leading him on or making promises you cannot keep. Closure is what you both need, so that you can go on with your own lives. Take it one step at a time because this whole experience is going to be overwhelming for you both. After it is all done, you need to take care of yourself and move forward. Keep yourself busy, keep your chin up and do the things you love. Good luck!
QUESTION 3: My sister’s boyfriend beats her, especially when he’s drunk. She is still with him and when we tell her to leave him she gets angry. I am very afraid for her. What shall we do?…
RESPONSE: You have done the right thing by reaching out for help. No man has the right to hit a woman and there are no justifications for his actions! It’s a criminal offence! She definitely needs help in getting out the abusive relationship.
A man who truly loves and respects a woman will never lay a finger on her, or put her down in any way. I am glad that you are reaching out for help via this column, but you also need one-on-one support.
You need to empathise with your sister to begin with, and you must be very careful about how and what to say. She gets angry because she is living in denial; she is sensitive, vulnerable and emotionally confused. Hence, she may be blaming the alcohol, blaming herself or falling for his apologies each time there is calm.
Women in her position are extremely broken and scared. They are caught between a rock and a hard place; to afraid to leave and too afraid to stay. Therefore, pent up frustration, bruised self-worth and insecurities make them lash out. One needs to reach out to her very cautiously. She needs to be reminded that she is not alone and it is not her fault. She may be feeling helpless and vulnerable right now, but the more she waits, the more danger she will be in. Her physical and mental wellbeing are at stake here.
You also need to help your sister make a safe exit/break-up plan and find safety, because you never know when he will strike again. For example, she should NOT break up when she is alone with him. Plan it in such a way making sure her safety and yours comes first. You can do it in public, bring people along, make it short (avoiding confrontation or anger) and walk away. Plan it in advance so that you all have the confidence to face him
If they have a women’s cell in the police department please approach them (but please approach the police nonetheless), or you can approach an NGO working on women’s issues or domestic violence, talk to people you can trust and can help you out. And remember, once an abuser, always an abuser, therefore he needs to be punished and put behind bars so that he does not have the chance to harm anyone else!
Document the abuse by taking videos or photos to use as proof. Physical abuse is not the only type of abuse, therefore you and her need to be able to recognise and be aware. If he is the type who constantly says things that hurt her or embarrass her in front of people, or if he’s extremely possessive and jealous, cuts her off from the people she loves, etc, then these are warning signs of emotional abuse.
Hope this helps! All the best, be safe and take care.