Dear 'GMA' Advice Guru Top 20 Finalists: Bette Alkazian

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Bette Alkazian from Westlake Village, Calif., is a finalist in the Dear GMA Advice Guru Contest. Read her application below!

Essay

I believe that I am perfectly suited for the incredible opportunity of being GMA's Advice Guru because it's very much what I do every day in my work. I'm very passionate about helping people to live a rewarding life and make decisions that are congruent with their desires, as well as creating the healthiest possible relationships. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist with a master's degree in educational psychology with an emphasis on counseling and guidance. I specialize in working with individuals, couples and especially parents in dealing with their kids. ... I am also an author, a speaker, a nationally recognized parenting expert, and a mother of three fabulous daughters. I have been married for 25 years and have been through many life experiences of my own that I believe lend themselves to some well-earned wisdom about life! ...I'm definitely tailor-made for the Advice Guru position because I not only do this work professionally, but I have done this for years in all arenas of my life! I feel very blessed to have been given a gift and a passion for something that makes a big difference for the better in people's lives. Thank you for this opportunity!

Bette Alkazian is Finalist in GMA Advice Guru Contest

What's the best advice you have ever given? What was the result?

Take good care of yourself first and then you're best able to give to others. When your own buckets are filled up, you'll be energized and ready to give to your marriage, your kids, your job and your community! Just like the metaphor of the oxygen mask, take care of your own needs and you'll be able to take care of the needs of others. When you are feeling happy, fulfilled and your own needs are met, you will have a lot more patience, you'll feel loving toward others, you'll feel motivated to go above and beyond the call of duty, you'll be creative in your endeavors and you'll spread a feeling of well-being to others.

What would you tell this person: "Whenever there is an issue between my mother-in-law and me, my husband refuses to stand up for me. How do I get him to value our relationship more than the one with his mother?

Getting between a man and his mother is never going to be a winning proposition. Your husband will always feel stuck between the two of you and it is a dangerous position to be in for the sake of your marriage. Some men struggle with separation from their mothers and take that struggle into their marriages. If he is in need of therapy to differentiate himself from his mother and willing to do so, that would always be an option. However, not everyone is willing to go that route. If not, the best thing you can do for your marriage is not create a power struggle in which your husband is the "monkey in the middle!" The BEST thing you can do, no matter how much you dislike your mother-in-law, is to honor your husband by being kind and respectful to his mother at all times. Then he'll value you!

What would you tell this person: "While cleaning my son's room, I accidentally saw on his Facebook page threatening remarks from his friends. I fear he's being bullied. What should I do?"

First, seeing threatening remarks on your son's Facebook page shouldn't be an accidental discovery, but a very intentional discovery. Kids need to be supervised on the Internet and this is a great example of why. The impersonal nature of cyber-social networks enables people to be bullies in ways that they wouldn't typically take place in a face to face interaction. Kids need to be supervised and taught how to deal with some of the potential dangers of these types of situations. In this case, I would sit with my son and talk very calmly, saying, "I saw something that concerns me greatly and I don't think it's something that you should have to deal with alone." Then, devise a strategy together letting your son know that he has your support -- not judgment and criticism and that you'll get through it together by addressing whatever measures are necessary to keep him safe.

Finalist Bette Alkazian Could be Next GMA Advice Guru

What would you tell this person: "My boss keeps taking credit for my ideas. What should I do?"

Unfortunately, we don't get to choose our bosses any more than we get to choose our neighbors and our relatives. However, we do get to choose how we react to situations and how long we're willing to stay in situations. You can choose to look at the situation differently by being complimented by the fact that your boss liked your ideas enough to be willing to take credit for them. Now, I know that that will get old after a while, but there may be other circumstances that might suggest that you need to stay in that job, i.e., a difficult employment market, future opportunities with that company, etc. Your grace in handling any situation or conflict in your life is the true measure of your character and if you handle it well, you're more likely to have others think well of you when other opportunities arise. Think first, act second.

Submissions have been edited for length, style and clarity.