Dear 'GMA' Advice Guru Top 20 Finalists: Carla Barnhill

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Carla Barnhill from Minneapolis, Minn., is a finalist in the Dear GMA Advice Guru Contest. Read her application below!


Dear GMA, It's clear from your letter that you are in the middle of a huge decision. You have thousands of applications in front of you and have to choose one person to fill this huge hole in your mornings. I get that. I really do. And I wish I could hop out to New York and fix this for you. But I can't. Not yet. What I can do is tell you that the answer is sitting right here in Minnesota. The answer is Carla Barnhill. Look, I know you've got lots of perfectly good options in front of you, but when you get down to it, I think you know that "perfectly good" isn't going to cut it on national television. That's where Carla can help. ... GMA, you are in a tough spot and there's no easy way out of it. But I'm convinced that Carla Barnhill can and will change morning television if you're willing to let her.

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

I've given my best advice to myself: Yes, you should move across the country by yourself even though you have no idea what you'll do when you get there. It will be worth it when you gain a sense of strength and independence you didn't know you needed. Yes, you should take the job that pays squat and makes you happy. It will pay you back in friendships, in memories, in confidence in your ability to make a difference in the lives of other people. Yes, you should marry that boy. He will make you laugh, make you angry, make you smarter, and make you a vastly better person. I keep telling myself to trust my gut. It has never steered me wrong.

Carla Barnhill is Finalist in GMA Advice Guru Contest

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?

You don't. One of the worst things a wife can do to her husband is make him choose between her and his mother. Instead, you need to focus on your relationship with your husband and your relationship with your mother-in-law. If you have issues with your mother-in-law, talk to her about those issues. Treat her the way you'd treat an irksome co-worker or a neighbor who gets on your nerves now and then. Be an adult, stay calm, talk about what's bugging you, change what you need to change, then move on. And keep some perspective. If these issues are huge -- she's abusive toward your children, she's cruel to your husband, she's stealing money from you -- then you need to take action to protect yourself and your family. But if these issues are the minor irritations that come from joining a family, then find a way to let them slide before they hurt your marriage.

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?"

Bullying is serious business and if it's happening, you need to take action. But first, you need to find out if that's really what's going on here. Pay close attention to your son. Look for changes in his behavior: Does he seem anxious about school or certain friends? Has he become secretive or withdrawn? Is he being bullied in other ways--problems at school or harassing phone calls? If you don't notice any other signs of bullying, you might have misunderstood what you read; teenage boys often tease each other in ways that seem horrifying to us as moms but are par for the course in their world. If you still suspect your son is being bullied, talk to him. Tell him you saw these comments and are concerned. Make it clear that talking to you about it is the only way to make it stop.

Finalist Carla Barnhill Could be Next GMA Advice Guru

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

Step up your game. If your boss is taking your ideas to her supervisor as though they were her own, start sending the big boss the occasional e-mail outlining some of your ideas. Ask your boss's supervisor if you can join in on a few meetings to brainstorm or propose new strategies. You don't have to accuse your boss of anything, just find ways to shine in front of those who matter. And don't underestimate the power of the paper trail. When you present an idea to your boss, shoot her a follow-up e-mail highlighting the ideas you presented. Take notes at meetings, then send them to anyone else involved to get their additions or feedback. Those e-mails and the public accountability of the meeting notes will make it a whole lot harder for your boss to undermine you.

Submissions have been edited for length, style and clarity.