Q: Should I consider remarrying my ex-spouse for the sake of our child? We recently got divorced, but over the past few weeks I've become increasingly concerned about the impact of this family breakup upon our preschooler. As the dust settles, I wonder if maybe we could have made a better go of it.
Jim: Divorce often involves plenty of anger and bitterness. If your ex-spouse has no desire to continue the relationship, there probably isn't much that can be done to change this.
However, if you are both willing to lay those feelings aside and move beyond the hurts and resentments of the past, there's a chance you could put your relationship back together again. You're correct in thinking this would be in your child's best interests.
When separation or divorce occurs, it's common for each of the spouses to focus on the changes the other party needs to make, rather than engaging in the frank self-evaluation that is always necessary for genuine growth and healing. Are you aware of ways that you may have contributed to the breakup of your marriage? Examine yourself honestly to see clearly into your own intentions, motives and blind spots. A divorce recovery class, possibly at a local church, can be very helpful in this regard.
If your former spouse is willing to undergo the same rigorous process of self-examination, the time may eventually arrive when the two of you are ready to seek counseling together. At that point, you can begin to take some definite steps toward restoring your marriage. This will take time, patience, and a great deal of wisdom and discernment. But I believe your efforts can be successful if both of you are prepared to do the hard work required.
Our staff counselors would be happy to help. Call 1-800-232-6459 or visit FocusOnTheFamily.com.
Q: How can we help our 4-year-old overcome her fears about going to sleep in the dark? We've tried everything -- an established bedtime, a night-light in the bedroom, books, prayers, songs -- but nothing seems to help.
Danny Huerta, Vice President, Parenting and Youth: My kids were also scared of the dark when they were young; it's fairly common for small children. Their imaginations are developing quickly and they can have trouble distinguishing fantasy from reality. Your daughter is probably going through a phase and will outgrow it in time.
First, ask yourself if there have been any recent changes at home or preschool that could have precipitated the fear. Then ask your daughter what she sees, and what looks, sounds or feels scary to her -- and what would help her feel safe. Help her train her imagination to think of fun, creative stories that have some excitement and end well. If she sees a monster in her mind, have her draw it the next day and dress it up to make it funny and friendly. Give the critter a name and make up goofy stories about it.
If this isn't working after a week or two, try other methods. A night-light in the room or hall is great, but make sure it doesn't cast any scary shadows on the wall. My daughter loved having several stuffed animals strategically placed on guard, including one special "bedtime buddy." My son enjoyed listening to soothing music just before falling asleep. Each child is different, so what may work for one may not work for the other; you'll need to be creative. The goal is to help channel the youngster's imagination that can quickly be controlled by fear.
Finally, teach your daughter simple ways to talk to God if she wakes up in the night. He cares deeply for her.
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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