Q: I'm a single adult who is deeply concerned about the plight of orphans in this country and around the world, and I'd like to do my part by adopting a child who needs a home. What is your advice?
Jim: I applaud your selfless attitude and your willingness to welcome a needy child into your home; the need for more adoptive parents is huge.
That said, Focus on the Family remains committed to the ideal that the two-parent home -- founded on a loving marriage relationship between one man and one woman -- is the optimum environment for every child. This is our Creator's design for the family, and we're convinced that it's the best arrangement for all concerned. Studies overwhelmingly demonstrate that children do best in all measurable ways when they're in stable homes with a mother and a father.
That's why -- and as most single moms and dads would be the first to confirm -- single-parenting is a stiff challenge even under the most favorable circumstances. So I would counsel anyone who is considering this option to proceed with great care.
Furthermore, moms and dads are innately different. Academic research has demonstrated the importance of a father's protective influence, especially for boys. Mothers provide nurturing and emotional comfort that brings security. Both gender roles are of immeasurable significance, and an individual must consider how to address these concerns in a creative and intentional way as he or she evaluates whether to become a single parent.
It's also important to make a careful assessment of your resources. Are you financially capable of providing for a child's material needs? Will you have the support of friends and extended family? Have you thought about education, values training and child care? Are your current living quarters large enough to accommodate another person?
Our staff counselors would be happy to talk with you about these issues and any other concerns you may have. Please call them at 1-800-232-6459. I wish you the best.
Q: I'm trying to educate our 14-year-old daughter about "best practices" for social media before we let her create her own account(s). I like to get input from various sources. What would you suggest?
Bob Waliszewski, Director, Plugged In: First, I commend you for being intentional to educate your daughter on how best to navigate today's social media. I compiled a list that I've entitled "The Top-10 Social Media Rules" for all ages, but most are especially applicable for teens:
1) Always be kind -- treat others the way you want to be treated.
2) View social media as a way to give; consider how things you post can benefit others.
3) Set privacy settings, including location.
4) Don't chat/message someone you don't personally know in the "real" world.
5) Please, no sleaze! Modesty trumps "likes" when posting photos. (And remember that everything you post will be available for future "significant others" -- and employers -- to see.)
6) Nothing should be truly private. Know your children's passwords and convey that you'll be friending them and reading their posts. Be sure your kids can read yours, too.
7) Refuse to share a post that you haven't personally verified; that free dinner may just be a scam.
8) Limit your social media consumption/posting to just a few times per day, with parental input.
9) Avoid crudities, vulgarities, profanities or symbols for such. Don't say it online if you wouldn't say it to someone's face.
10) Re-read carefully before you post -- without facial expressions and personal contact, the best-intended post may be misinterpreted.
I'd suggest cutting out this list and discussing each guideline with your daughter, then placing it somewhere visible for reference.
Jim Daly is a husband and father, an author, and president of Focus on the Family and host of the Focus on the Family radio program. Catch up with him at www.jimdalyblog.com or at www.facebook.com/DalyFocus.
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