Parenting

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Preschooler Is Afraid of the Dark

How can we help our four-year-old overcome her fears about going to sleep in the dark? We've tried everything – an established bed-time, a night-light in the bedroom, books, prayers, songs – but nothing seems to help. Can we doing anything to address these night-time fears?

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Telling a Child That She Was Adopted

When and how should we tell our child about her adoption into our family? What's the best and most sensitive way to approach the subject?

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My Spouse Verbally and Emotionally Abuses Our Children

My husband has never physically harmed me or the kids, but he constantly subjects our children to mean-spirited put-downs. For example, he tells them that they're stupid and lazy. He demeans my son's athletic abilities. He tells my daughter that she's ugly and needs to lose weight. The children try to ignore him and put a brave face on the situation. But I can tell that the constant criticism and mind games are wearing on their self-esteem and making their lives miserable. I want to help them, but I also want to be a good submissive wife. I also worry about how he may react if I challenge him. What can I do?

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Natural Disasters and Children's Faith

How do I handle my children's questions about God in the midst of disaster and trauma? Over the past month our community has been devastated by a terrible flood. The physical impact of this disaster has been overwhelming, of course. But I'm also deeply concerned about what it may be doing to my children's faith in God. So far, we haven't talked a great deal about this aspect of our situation, but I can tell that they're shaken. In their own way, they're wrestling with the deeper spiritual questions these events bring up. How can I help?

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Child Is Afraid of Being Alone

How should we handle our eight-year-old son's strong aversion to being by himself? He sleeps in the same room with his younger sister because he doesn't want to be alone. He won't play in his room or in the basement unless someone else is there. The last time he tried, he suffered a panic attack (sweating and shortness of breath). He's very intelligent, does well in school, plays piano, drums, and baseball, and has many friends. He has never experienced any kind of trauma and my wife and I have a good relationship. What's going on?

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Dealing With Childish Irresponsibility

How should I discipline a pre-teen whose behavior is characterized by a serious lack of maturity? He's not disobedient or defiant – just irresponsible. For example, he doesn't put things away. He leaves his bike out in the front yard where it could easily be stolen, and I'm constantly tripping over his clothes, shoes, and toys. What can be done about this?

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Parents Concerned About Too Much Homework

What should I do if my elementary school child is getting so much homework that family time hardly exists and he has little energy for anything else? He spends hours on his assignments every night. As far as I can see, he isn't slow at completing his tasks. There's just too much to do! Is all this homework really necessary for effective learning and healthy childhood development?

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Helping Teens Overcome Obesity

How can we encourage our overweight teenager to shed his excess pounds and shift his lifestyle and eating habits in a more healthy direction?

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Divorced Dad: Child Doesn't Like New Girlfriend

How can I overcome my child's aversion to my girlfriend? I'm the father of a wonderful six-year-old boy. His mother divorced me when he was about three, and has since remarried. At present, she has primary custody and I have visitation rights. My son doesn't like to "share" me with anyone else and this has created a serious problem for me in my own social life. I even had to end an earlier relationship because he disliked the woman I was dating so intensely. Now I'm getting serious about another woman and am not exactly sure what I should do. Can you give me any advice?

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Child Obsessed with "Bad Guys"

How should I respond to my child's fascination with evil characters? He's only three years old, but whenever he plays make-believe, he always takes on the role of the villain, and the only action-figures toys he wants are those representing "bad guys." In response, we've completely phased movies and television out of his life, but nothing has changed. Is this fascination unhealthy? How should we address it?

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Religious "Indoctrination" of Children

Is it wrong to tell children what they should believe about God? Isn't that a form of "indoctrination?" I'm thinking it's better to allow kids to make up their own minds.

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Unmarried Mom With Kids Feels "Second Class" Around Christians

How does your ministry view unmarried moms and their kids? I'm raising a couple of kids on my own. Up to this point my search for a church home hasn't been too encouraging – I get a strong impression that some Christians don't approve of women like me and our "illegitimate" children. What's your perspective?

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Suspicions of Babysitter Abuse

How can we tell if a babysitter has acted inappropriately with our kids? It's painful even to think about this, but we have reasons for suspecting that our babysitter may have abused our young child. What would you suggest we do in such a case? Are there "red flags" or tell-tale signs that we should look for?

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Divorce and Its Impact on Children

How does divorce affect kids? We're in the process of getting a divorce, and it seems to be taking a heavy toll on the entire family. Our kids have been acting out in a wide variety of ways. Some of their behavior has been so extreme that I'm becoming seriously concerned about them. What's considered "normal" in a situation like this? What can be done to address the problem?

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Helping a Married Child Financially

Should parents come to the rescue when grown and married children need monetary assistance? Our daughter and her husband are struggling, and we'd like to help them out. But we don't want to set an unhealthy precedent or cross a boundary. How do you think we should handle this?

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Summer Employment for Kids

At what age do you recommend that a child start a summer job?

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Distance In Relationship With Grown Child

Is it normal for married adult children to become disconnected from their parents? There's a coldness, distance, and separation that's crept into my relationship with my adult daughter, and I think her spouse may have something to do with it. What have I done wrong? How do I show my concern and let her know how much I want to stay connected while also respecting their autonomy and giving them room to make their own decisions?

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Parent Disillusioned by "Train up a Child in the Way He Should Go"

Doesn't Proverbs 22:6 promise that kids who are raised properly by their parents will turn out alright? That's not been our experience at all. Our college-age son walked away from his faith a year ago and started engaging in some extremely destructive behaviors. Now his younger sister seems to be following in his footsteps. We're a Christian family, and we've always tried to raise our kids in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Where did we go wrong?

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Talking to Teen About Suicide of Friend or Acquaintance

How should I talk with my adolescent son about a friend of his who recently took his own life? The boy was hardly more than an acquaintance, but I know that this incident has impacted my teenager deeply. Can you help me figure out the best way to approach the subject with him?

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Parent Afraid to Express Concerns About Possible Teen Suicide

Could talking about suicide have the effect of pushing a teenager in the wrong direction? I have reasons to believe that my son may be struggling with self-destructive thoughts and tendencies. While I think it's generally important to confront this situation directly, I keep wondering what might happen if I bring up my concerns and he's not suicidal? Is it possible that discussing the issue could backfire by actually planting the idea in his head?

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Teen Suicide: Intervention Strategies

What should I do if I'm convinced that my adolescent child is seriously depressed and could be suicidal?

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Warning Signs of Teen Suicide

How can I know if my teenager is developing suicidal tendencies or a self-destructive mindset? I'm asking because I'm afraid that my teenager may be moving in this direction. Are there any warning signs to be aware of? Does depression always include a risk of suicide?

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Preventing Teen Suicide

Are there any fool-proof ways to help an adolescent steer clear of self-destructive thoughts and feelings? Don't misunderstand – I'm not asking because I sense any immediate danger. My daughter seems fine right now, but after hearing so much in the media about teen suicide I want to do whatever I can to promote positive mental health and emotional well-being. Any ideas?

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Adolescent Moodiness vs. Depression

How should I handle my adolescent's emotional instability? In particular, how can I tell the difference between 'normal' teenage moodiness and serious clinical depression? My teen seems to have more "downs" than "ups." Is this a normal part of adolescence, or should I be concerned?

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