Q: Our elementary-school-age daughter has been invited to visit a friend's house. Normally I wouldn't hesitate to say "yes" since her friend is a sweet and respectful girl. But the other girl's father seems overly eager for our daughter to come over. Do you have any advice for responding to this situation?
Jim: Two questions immediately come to mind. First, will this "visit" be an overnighter, or is it simply an afternoon play date? That could make a difference.
It also leads to the second question: What you mean about the friend's father seeming "overly eager." Has he displayed an inordinate interest in your daughter? Or is he possibly just a friendly, hospitable and demonstrative kind of guy? You'll need to nail this down before making up your mind. Meanwhile, if you feel even the slightest sense of uneasiness for any reason, I'd urge you to hold off until all your concerns have been answered. As the saying goes, "Listen to your gut."
I suggest getting to know the other girl's parents first. Perhaps you could set up a play date in some neutral place, like a park or a playground. Or go with your daughter to the friend's house the first time and spend a couple of hours chatting with her parents while the kids play. You might even invite the other girl's parents over for dinner. Say something like, "We'd love to get to know you -- our daughters really seem to connect!"
If they turn you down, you have your answer. Or you might get more comfortable as you make their acquaintance. Your anxieties will either be dispelled or confirmed. Bottom line: Your daughter is worth the investment of time and energy to find out.
If you'd like to discuss your concerns with one of our staff counselors, I invite you to call 855-771-HELP (4357) for a one-time free consultation.
Q: When should I tell my children that we're having a baby? We have two daughters, ages 2 and 4, and my husband and I are anxious to share the news with them. But we also have reasons for being cautious -- I had a miscarriage six months ago. When is the best time to tell them? And what should we say if another miscarriage occurs?
Danny Huerta, Vice President, Parenting & Youth: Congratulations! Normally I'd say that sharing the news about your pregnancy with your daughters should be a joyous experience. Unfortunately, as you may already know, around twenty percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage during the first trimester. The risk is greater if you've had multiple miscarriages in the past. So, it's probably wise to wait to tell your children until you're past the twelfth week of pregnancy.
Then share the good news that God has blessed your family with a new baby, a precious little life that is already growing inside your tummy. Some parents wait to tell until Mom is visibly "showing" (around 16-20 weeks). As your pregnancy advances, have your girls feel your stomach and listen for the baby inside as he or she starts to move. If possible, you might even take them with you to your ultrasound appointment; if not, ask for a video or photos to share with them afterward.
If you do suffer a miscarriage, be honest with your kids. At 2 and 4, they're not developmentally equipped to understand death or process a parent's intense grief, but it's OK and healthy for them to see your sadness as you emotionally process the loss. Your girls may ask repeatedly if their brother or sister will be coming and when. Be patient as they learn the complex concept of empathy. And again, our counselors would be happy to help if necessary.
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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