Q: Our son is going through a divorce, and it's a terrible thing to witness, especially since we still live in the same city. How can we, as his parents, support him during this process? We don't want to meddle.
Jim: We often read about the negative impact of divorce on young kids, but it's also difficult when parents have to watch their adult children go through the same thing. Dr. Robert Busha offers some good advice for parents in your situation.
First, if there's a chance the couple will seek counseling or reconciliation, encourage them to do so. Your stable wisdom could help save the marriage. However, if the decision to divorce has already been made, trying to get them to change their minds will only result in more heartache.
Dr. Busha also recommends evaluating your own role as a parent. Think about how you can be a positive influence and a healthy role model as your son works through the difficulties of child visitation, single parenthood and so on.
Also, it's understandable that you'd take your son's side when it comes to the divorce. But don't take it too far. Blame and bitterness toward his ex-wife will do nothing to help your son heal and move on. Set an example of what it means to forgive and forget.
Finally, be sure to set boundaries. Will you let your son move back home following the divorce? Will you offer financial assistance? The answers may vary depending on your son's situation, but it's important that you have firm guidelines in place. Offering too much help may impede his recovery in the long run.
By finding the right balance between being too involved and not being involved enough, you can help your son weather the aftermath of divorce. May God grant you wisdom in this difficult assignment.
Q: My husband needs to lose weight. I'm concerned about his health. I've tried to put him on a diet, I've dropped hints, and flat out told him to lose weight. Nothing seems to work! Any advice?
Juli: With over 60 percent of American adults overweight, your question is a common one. Weight obviously impacts health, longevity, lifestyle and attractiveness. It's no surprise that it can also take a toll on the marriage relationship.
The first step to helping your husband lose weight is to realize that there is absolutely nothing you can do to make him lose weight (or even want to do so). Many wives have attempted all of your strategies with similar results. Losing weight has to be his idea. The more he perceives it as your idea, the less likely he is to comply! In fact, he may go out of his way to prove that he is in control of his own choices.
Your best strategy is to have ONE caring conversation with him about his weight. Tell him that you are concerned about his health, but that you have been wrong to try to convince him to lose weight. You recognize that it is his health and his decision. Tell him that you love him the same no matter how much he weighs. Then, close your mouth about the topic.
Do your best to cook healthy meals and maintain an active lifestyle. But if he buys cookies and potato chips, leave him alone. No hints, jokes or cold shoulders. He's a grown man, not your child.
Your husband may never choose to change his eating or exercise habits. That's part of marriage. Our spouses sometimes make choices we don't agree with. This makes marriage the most difficult and amazing relationship in the world -- a commitment to love even in the midst of disagreement and disappointment.
Dr. Juli Slattery is a licensed psychologist, co-host of Focus on the Family, author of several books, and a wife and mother of three.
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