Q: Can you tell me what it means to "honor" a parent who has become increasingly cranky, feisty, disagreeable and demanding as a result of Alzheimer's disease and the aging process? My mom was once a sweet, caring and soft-spoken woman, but all that has changed dramatically over the past few years.
Jim: There's no doubt about it -- caring for an aging loved one involves sacrifice and self-discipline, especially in situations like yours.
We should begin, then, by defining "honor." Honor implies choosing to give great respect and care to our elders -- not grudgingly, but from a principle of love and out of genuine concern for their needs. True honor is placing the highest value on our loved ones, regardless of whether they deserve it or not.
Once you've made this choice, the key issue is knowing how to carry it out. The biblical commandment to "Honor your father and mother" doesn't mention specifics. It has nothing to say about nursing homes, pensions or Medicare. Nor does it obligate you to take aging parents into your home.
Instead, the art of honoring a cranky elder is based on intuitive knowledge. That knowledge, in turn, is rooted in your love for and commitment to your mother. Out of that commitment and your day-to-day interactions with her will grow an awareness of practical ways you can serve her and care for her immediate needs. This might mean sharing your home and offering financial support. It could also involve seeking support services, filling out endless health insurance forms, providing transportation and communicating with doctors.
Finally, remember that it's never too late -- or too soon -- to love and honor your elders. As you seek to honor your mother, your love for her will grow and your relationship with her will be enriched.
Q: My 13-year-old son loves music and hopes to turn this passion into a viable career someday. As you can imagine, he's constantly checking out new bands and artists' videos. I'm all for him increasing his artistic knowledge and developing his craft, but I worry that he's being exposed to a lot of risque images and nudity. Do I have reason for concern?
Bob Waliszewski, Director, Plugged-In: Sadly, the challenges parents face from the entertainment industry and popular culture don't ease up or take a day off. A recent discussion on Fox News' "Four4Four" program highlighted three well-known female celebs who'd recently gone topless, as the panel examined the question, "(Are) Music Videos Getting too Naked?" Had the program discussed the subject, "Are Music Videos Getting too Risque?" they could have begun that discussion 30 years ago.
But just because nudity and other explicit content is common doesn't mean it's healthy. Overall, more than 60 percent of men ages 18 to 30 admit to viewing porn monthly, and the downside of doing so is well-documented. (Check out internetsafety101.org/harmsofpornography.htm.)
Although there are many ways to start down a path toward porn addiction, I've heard from several men who've said that watching today's movies and television has been their gateway. As one man shared, "I found that to feed my lusts, I didn't need to purchase Penthouse or Playboy ... Hollywood movies and television became my Playboy and Penthouse."
On our website (pluggedin.focusonthefamily.com), you'll find a video of another man who tells a similar story. While both of these examples link back to movies and TV, it's no stretch to say that a great many of today's music videos can have the same unfortunate effect.
In your son's case, I'd suggest installing Internet filtering software (we recommend NetNanny) and hanging out together while he's online studying the latest music videos.
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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