Q: I'm a single mom with three young children, working full time and taking online college courses. The burden of doing it all myself is getting heavier. My history with relationships isn't the best; still, the idea of having a husband to help out sounds increasingly appealing. Do you have any advice?
Jim: It's natural that a woman in your position should desire to find a man to share her life and help her shoulder the burden of raising three children. It sounds like you're exceptionally busy -- perhaps even over-committed -- and it's reasonable to think that a husband could be a great support to you. Not to mention that all the best research indicates that children thrive better in a two-parent household.
Nevertheless, you have to be cautious about entering into a relationship on the basis of this kind of need. As you probably know, marriage isn't simply a pragmatic partnership. A spouse is something more than a provider, a housekeeper, a nanny or an assistant parent.
I would strongly encourage you to get some counseling and take a hard look at the relationships you've had in the past. You want to do everything you can to avoid repeating unhealthy patterns. You also need to do the personal work necessary to grow and heal so you're ready should that special individual come along. Success in marriage is as much (or more) about being the right person as finding the right person. Our staff counselors can help you start this process; call them at 800-A-FAMILY (232-6459).
Meanwhile, try to develop friendships with other moms. Work on building connections with caring women in your neighborhood, church and community. Join a baby-sitting co-op so you can get a break from the kids once in a while. With a little breathing room, you'll be better equipped to prepare yourself for the future.
Q: How can I help my small child deal with his overwhelming fear of insects? He's always been a little scared of bugs, but recently he was bitten by something at preschool during snack time, and now he gets hysterical every time the class is supposed to go outside.
Danny Huerta, Vice President, Parenting and Youth: Your child's panicked reaction may be because of his personality, young age and/or his lack of understanding. Children's fears can be due to inexperience -- they become paranoid because they don't have complete or accurate knowledge of the thing that scares them. That can lead them to generalize ("all bugs bite"). Kids who are more anxious and tend to be on "high alert" need help learning how to handle difficulty, adversity and fear.
A practical strategy would be to make a fun project out of helping your son overcome his concerns. Go to the library together and check out some books on bugs. Learn their names and talk about what they do for the environment. Start with harmless-looking critters like lady bugs and caterpillars. Draw pictures of insects together. You might even buy some toy plastic bugs for him to play with. From there, hold some "safe" bugs in your hands to show that they aren't threatening. My kids loved to give worms rides on their toy trains. The goal, of course, is to take the thing that causes him to panic and make it familiar and fun.
All of this takes patience and genuine connection with your child. It's likely that your son will eventually learn that most bugs are harmless. If this doesn't happen -- if the problem persists beyond a few months or seems to get worse -- you may want to schedule a full evaluation of your child by a licensed clinical professional.
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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