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Friday, October 18, 2013

Dear Jeannie: Adult Bullies and Star-Crossed Relationships Types

Dear Jeannie,

I think I've raised a bully! Rian is a stubborn girl with an outlandish goal (of becoming a warrior among her people). When her parents sensibly downplayed this--or ignored it--she dug in her heels and lashed out against other children. Especially children who "got" the training she wanted. Even as she grows older and learns to curb some of her temper, she doesn't seem to care about others. Some consistent core adjectives are selfish, angry, argumentative, and violent. She's the oldest of several girls, and I have one sister and one friend willing fight against her, though her influence on the rest of her siblings is disruptive. But she resists change in herself as much as in her circumstances. Just because she has been mean during most of her childhood, that doesn't mean she has to stay this mean, does it? As a writer (using parents, teachers, friends, enemies, etc.), what can I do to end her bullying ways?

Frustrated in Finley

Dear Frustrated,

Children who've been deprived of what they wanted most in the world (whether through poverty, circumstance, etc) can often grow embittered toward those who have things handed to them on a silver platter. It's classic of the dichotomy between the haves and the have nots. She would need consistent encouragement and support toward meeting her dreams and validating her losses while playing up the blessings and strengths she does have in order to curb her bullying tendencies. Bullies don't always have to grow up to be adult bullies (though they can). She might always have a leaning toward a vice like passive-aggressiveness, for an example, but not outright meanness. One word of caution, though. You've portrayed her very negatively, and hopefully you've given her some redeeming qualities to go along with those horrid core values. And if you let the reader glimpse that she actually does care about people but wears a mask of disdain and indifference to cover up that vulnerability, then she'll be much more likable. Thanks for writing in!

Dear Jeannie,

Fiona is an organized, disciplined ENTJ who has been governing her family and managing politics behind her allies and enemies' backs for years. Her story starts when she is forced to marry the leader of the family responsible for her brother's death. This leader, Liam, is a loud, messy ESFP whose open-handed laissez-faire approach to his rule depends on the affection and good intentions of his people. Liam and Fiona don't hit it off, to say the least. There's a lot of room for conflict here, it seems, but where are they going to find common ground or mutual respect?? 


Dear Anonymous,

You have picked some polar opposite personalities, haven't you? But the good news is that there is truth to the old adage of opposites attract. They are both extroverted, which translates into them probably both having quite a few friends and extracurricular activities they enjoy, which would be their saving grace, at least in the beginning. It's helpful for them to see their own flaws that they bring to the table, such as Liam realizing he's not quite as organized or thoughtful as Fiona, and how her strengths (like planning ahead) might benefit him and his rule. Even if he doesn't see this himself, an interesting scene could be someone else singing her praises, which opens his eyes. Vice-versa for Fiona. And if Liam was not behind the hit on her brother or didn't approve of the way that went down, this would also aid in softening her (once she realizes it). Liam (as an F) would benefit from hearing praise from her, so if there was one thing she could begrudgingly admire and let him know, this would go a long way for him. Good luck with these two!

Got Questions?

Post your question anonymously below, using monikers like Sleepless in Seattle or Lost in LA. I'll post my answers in a future Dear Jeannie column.