February 10, 2019


Hi Brandon,

My mom says I should smile more and calls me ‘grumpy cat’. You know, the famous grumpy cat on internet memes? I can’t help it! I’m always CRANKY! So it’s kind of hard to smile all the time when I’m not really happy. What should I do?

Grouchy Grumpy Girl

Hey Grouchy Grumpy Girl,

Oh man, I love grumpy cat! But I would NOT love if somebody called me that.

I don’t think your mom wants you to smile all the time if you’re genuinely unhappy. I mean, there are moments when “fake it till you make it” works and plastering on a smile can get you through a tough situation. But there’s more to life than always faking it. I’m sure your mom wants you to actually BE happy. But you can’t just be happy on demand. And especially when you’re being yourself at home, you should be allowed to act the way you really feel.

I think sometimes parents have so many adult issues that they think being a kid is easy. Since we don’t have to pay taxes, make dinner or go to work like they do, our lives are automatically a breeze. (Have they FORGOTTEN middle school?!) Plus they do a lot for us, like pay for the roof over our heads, etc, etc. So when we’re unhappy, they’re all like, “What do YOU have to be unhappy about?”

And also, she might just think she’s being funny. Parents have SUCH a weird sense of humor. Just sayin.’

I think you should talk to your mom, starting with the name-calling. Tell her it bothers you. But don’t just say, “Don’t call me that.” Talk to her about how cranky you feel and explain why, if you know. Ask for her help. And explain that you don’t think it’s helpful to pretend to be happy if you’re not.

If you’re not exactly sure why you’re so cranky all the time, here are a few reasons to help you figure it out:

  1. Have you recently moved? If so, do you miss your old friends or is it hard fitting in at your new school?
  2. Do you feel like you have too much homework and don’t get to have much fun?
  3. Is somebody giving you a hard time? Does it happen at home or at school?
  4. Do you just need somebody to talk to?

If your mom can’t help you, keep asking until you find someone who can. You could always ask another adult family member, a school counselor, or a friend’s mom. You deserve to smile because you’re truly happy, not pretend happy.

Hey readers, what makes YOU feel grumpy? What do you do to cheer yourself up? Tell us in the comments!