Parenting

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Helping Kids Develop Good Eating Habits

Do you have any tips for parents who want to inspire their children to maintain a healthy diet? Our two children are still very small, but we want to start training them early to develop good eating habits.

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Recognizing and Confronting Adolescent Eating Disorders

How can I know if my daughter is anorexic or bulimic? She's lost a great deal of weight over the past few months, and she's become extremely thin. What should I do if I find out she has a serious eating disorder?

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Christians and Concerns About Halloween

Should Christians participate in Halloween by allowing their kids to attend costume parties and go trick-or-treating? We have serious problems with this, but all the other families in our neighborhood go all out in celebrating the holiday. Our kids feel left out if we don't allow them to join in. What do you think we should do?

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Husband Won't Help With the Kids

How can I encourage my husband to take the responsibilities of parenthood more seriously and get involved more directly with our children? He likes the "fun" part of raising kids – for instance, he's great at getting down on the floor and "wrestling" with our toddler. But when it comes to the practical side of being a dad, I don't think he's pulling his weight.

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Teenage Child Is Questioning Faith

Can you help us with our adolescent daughter who is having doubts about God? She has been raised in a solid Christian home, and her faith has always been very important to her. But recently she seems to be struggling with doubt. Last week she asked me how Christians can be sure they're right when there are so many other religions in the world. I answered by quoting Hebrews 11:6 – "Without faith it is impossible to please God" – and Proverbs 3:5 – "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding." This didn't seem to satisfy her. Can you help?

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Parents Concerned About Young Kids Interacting With Gay Neighbors

A lesbian couple with young children recently moved in a couple of houses down the block. Our kids have struck up a friendship with their kids, and I'm at a bit of a loss as to how to handle the situation. I want to teach my kids to be loving and accepting of the children. At the same time, I'd like to be able to explain the moral issues surrounding the parents' relationship. How can I protect my children while also engaging this family for the sake of Christ?

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Talking With Kids About Abortion and Homosexuality

At what age should I start discussing topics like abortion and homosexuality with my children? They're still in elementary school, and I have no wish to violate their innocence any earlier than I have to. At the same time, I'm also aware that they've probably already encountered talk about these subjects. As I'm sure you can understand, I'd rather that they get their information from me than from the kids down the block or some other source. When should that begin?

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Doctor Visits and Exam Room Expectations for Parents of Teens

Should I insist on being in the exam room when my child visits a doctor? Recently I took my 14-year-old daughter to our family doctor for a check-up and was told by the office staff that I would need to stay out. To be honest, my husband and I are concerned about messages my daughter may receive, especially regarding sex, that may run counter to our Christian worldview.

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Approaches to Childrearing: Law vs. Grace

Should I raise my kids under a philosophy of law or grace? Since the Gospel is all about grace, doesn't this suggest that it's a mistake for Christian parents to raise their children according to a lot of rules and regulations? Paul even tells us, in Galatians 3:24, that the law was nothing but a "tutor to bring us to Christ." Should we teach our kids the difference between right and wrong or just help them to find Jesus?

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Providing Freedom to and Protection for Your Child

How do I grant my child increasing freedom without being too permissive? Or, to put it another way, how do I keep her safe without being overprotective? I have a twelve-year-old who keeps telling me that she's old enough to go places by herself. For example, she wants to be able to ride her bike to the store, or to school (it's two miles away), or up the street to a friend's house. I'd like to accommodate her wishes as much as possible, but at the same time I'm keenly aware that the world is a far more dangerous place than it was when I was growing up. Any advice?

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Prioritizing and Planning Family Meals in a Hectic Home

How can our family make time to eat together when we're so busy? I'd really like to achieve this goal, but we face so many obstacles in making it happen, I'm almost afraid to try. Busy schedules are the rule in our household, and mine is no exception. By the time I get off work, battle rush hour traffic, and finally arrive at home, it's already 6:00 in the evening. At that point I know that if I make the effort to prepare a nutritious dinner, my family will be starving and the night will be half gone before I can get it on the table. How do I get around this challenge?

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Same-Sex Socialization and Toddlers

How important is same-sex socialization for toddlers? When we put our two-year-old son in daycare, the provider had oversight of eight kids-seven girls and one boy. Since then the other boy's parents have made different arrangements, leaving our son as the only male child in the facility. As his dad, I'm worried that this situation may have a negative impact on the normal, healthy development of my son's gender identity. Is this something to be concerned about or not?

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Maximizing Enjoyment of Family Meals

How can we get the most out of our family dinner times? Our family recently committed to sharing mealtimes together at least three times a week. It was an adjustment in the beginning. There were a lot of rough spots, but I'm pleased to say that we're already seeing some positive results. At this point my major goal is to be intentional about making mealtimes meaningful. In particular, I want to find ways to make the very best use of the time we spend together. Do you have any suggestions for things we should be looking to accomplish as we gather at the table?

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Mom and Dad Approach Discipline Differently

How can my husband and I get on the same page when it comes to child discipline? The classic differences between the distinctively male and female styles of child discipline – i.e., the dad who stresses rules and the mom who tries to understand and make appropriate allowances – are all too evident in our family. This has caused problems for my husband and me. He says that my tendency to extend grace and take circumstances into account is just "sentimental." As he sees it, our kids won't be prepared for life in the "real world" if we don't take a "firm hand" with them. How can we work together and learn to see the benefits of each other's approach?

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My Child Has Joined a Cult

Can you offer any guidance to parents whose child has recently become a member of a cult? Our family has been completely blindsided by this. We have no clue what our options are or what we ought to do, practically, legally, and otherwise. We really need your help!

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Mom and Dad Have the Same Discipline Approach: Is This a Problem?

When a husband and wife discipline their children the same way, is there a need for a more balanced approach? I've heard that one of the ways male-female differences crop up in marriage and parenting is in sex-distinct approaches to child discipline: fathers supposedly emphasize justice, fairness, and duty (based on rules), while mothers are more likely to stress sympathy, grace, care, and help (based on relationships). On this basis, it's been suggested that a balance between mom's approach and dad's is ideal for the child. I can see how this might work in some families, but not my own: my spouse and I both tend to reflect those qualities that are usually attributed exclusively to females. Should we be concerned?

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Mom and Dad Disagree About Child Discipline

How can my wife and I come to an agreement about child discipline? I've tried to teach my son a strong sense of discipline, but my wife often disagrees with my approach and methods. She says I'm "too hard on the boy." As you can imagine, this can sometimes become a sore spot in our marriage. How can I fulfill what I believe to be my obligations as a father while still honoring my wife and respecting her perspective?

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Moms, Dads, and Interchangeable Parenting Roles

When it comes to parenting roles, aren't moms and dads interchangeable? I understand that there are some basic and very important differences between males and females, and I can even see how these sex distinctions might come into play in the parenting process. But it seems to me that one can go too far with this idea. In fact, I think it would be much better for all concerned if we were to teach our children that men and women are equal. To me, this implies that both are equally able to master the entire range of parenting skills. Doesn't that sound like a workable plan?

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Motivating Adolescents to Succeed Academically

How can I help my 14-year-old son turn his grades around, especially when he doesn't see the need for getting assistance from me or anybody else? He's been falling behind in school and recently brought home 2 "Ds." I used to tutor him when he was younger, but for the last two years he's refused my help. Right now the only thing that seems to interest him is basketball. I really don't want to threaten taking that away, since it's the only extracurricular activity he has. If I do, I'm afraid he'll withdraw. We are very isolated from family and friends, too, but that's another story. Any suggestions or recommendations?

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Parents Frustrated by Aggressive Toddler

How should I handle a three-year-old toddler who is mean and aggressive with other children? He's fine at home where there aren't any other children around. But when he's at church or with another family that has children his age, his behavior becomes ugly. On occasion his aggression takes a physical form – hitting, kicking, and biting. But most of the time he's just loud, won't play nicely, and is generally disruptive and uncooperative. What should I do?

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Parent Has Discovered That Their Child Is an Incest Victim

What should I do now that I've discovered that someone in the family has been coercing my child to participate in sexual acts? Where do I turn for help? As you can imagine, this shocking revelation has sent me reeling.

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Parent of Two Kids Involved in an Incestuous Relationship

What should I do now that I've discovered that two of my children have been engaging in sexual activities with one another? Needless to say, my spouse and I are shocked beyond words. Where do we go from here?

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Parent Reading a Teen's Journal

Is it acceptable for parents to read their teenage daughter's journal or diary or to go through things in her room if they have reasons to suspect that she might be involved in some kind of unhealthy or immoral activity? If so, how should we handle the situation if we do find evidence that something disturbing is going on?

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Parental Influence on a Child's Language Development

We have a toddler who is just learning to talk - is there anything important we should know about the respective ways in which moms and dads influence speech development? I understand that word use is one of the key areas in which men and women differ, and I'm interested to know what this implies about the distinctive roles my spouse and I are likely to play in helping our child's language development.

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