Q: How do I talk to my young children about the whole Bruce Jenner situation? These are things I'd prefer that they not be exposed to, but with the story being mentioned or discussed on practically every TV show and plastered on every magazine in the grocery store checkout line, it's impossible to avoid.
Jim: I'm right there with you. It's tougher and tougher to be a good and informed parent these days, isn't it? As a father of two rapidly maturing boys, what I wouldn't give for a softball question like, "Hey, Dad, where do babies come from?" Instead, we Moms and Dads are now fielding questions like, "What does transgender mean?" or, "Why is that man dressed like a woman?"
The truth is, these are questions most of us are unprepared to answer simply because we never dreamed we'd have to. Yet transgender issues are not only becoming more mainstream, but, as you've experienced, now dominate much of our popular culture.
On top of this, many children are encountering transgender topics in their schools. More and more we are seeing a growing acceptance and encouragement of transgendered children in schools -- in some cases involving those as young as age 5. Teachers might also be broaching the subject in class. A neighbor of one of our staff was recently asked by her first-grade son, "Mommy, will I be a man or a woman when I grow up? My teacher said I could choose."
You can find help to answer these challenging questions with a free online resource from Focus on the Family. "Talking to Your Children About Transgender Issues" (focusonthefamily.com/socialissues/sexuality/talking-to-your-children-about-transgender-issues) will help Moms and Dads explain this complex matter in a thoughtful and age-appropriate way. Additional resources are also available by calling us at 1-800-A-FAMILY. Please don't hesitate to get in touch.
Q: My fiancee and I are having a disagreement. Her family abstains from alcohol because of a past history of abuse, but my family enjoys drinking in moderation. She's asked me to give up alcohol completely in order to make her family happy. If I compromise on this issue, what else might they ask me to do? What advice can you give me?
Greg Smalley, Vice President, Family Ministries: You've raised an important question -- one that really has little to do with alcohol, and much to do with deeper issues like power, control, humility, selfishness, sacrifice, marital independence, healthy boundaries and loving others. Regardless of where folks stand on the ethics of alcohol consumption, I'd suggest the more pertinent matter to consider is whether we allow any part of life (alcohol or anything else) to consume us.
The first thing I'd advise is to sort out what's actually going on: Is this a demand your fiancee's family is trying to impose on both of you? Or is it an independent request that she is making? If it's the former, or if your fiancee is asking out of a need to please her family, you may be encountering some unhealthy control dynamics that you'll need to confront (possibly with the help of a counselor), no matter what you decide about alcohol.
If, on the other hand, your betrothed is simply concerned for her family's well-being, you'll need to ask yourself how willing you are to sacrifice your own pleasures in order to demonstrate your love to your future wife. After all, this is what marriage is all about.
Keep in mind that the solution here needn't be an all-or-nothing proposition. A reasonable approach you and your fiancee might consider would be for you to respectfully forgo alcohol when you're with the in-laws, while enjoying an occasional drink when they're not around. This represents a win-win for everybody.
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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