Q: Some friends of ours recently suffered a miscarriage. We want to encourage them, but we're not sure what to say or do. Do you have any suggestions?
Jim: Did you know that between 15 and 25 percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage? With numbers that high, even if we never suffer the loss of a child ourselves, we probably know someone who will. And, yet, many people don't really understand how to come alongside a loved one who has experienced such a loss.
Author Dr. Teske Drake says the first step is to recognize that grief from a miscarriage can linger for months -- even years. Unfortunately, it's not uncommon for family and friends to move on well before the couple does.
Next, be careful not to minimize people's experience. Avoid all the cliches that start with the phrase "At least ..." In other words, don't say, "At least your pregnancy only lasted six weeks." Or, "At least the baby is in a better place." Even if those things are true, they minimize the couple's loss. And comments like that never really help people endure the pain they're suffering.
And remember this important point: Husbands often struggle, too. They tend to get overlooked because most of the attention is directed toward the mother. But dads need comfort in their time of loss as well.
So if someone you know suffers a miscarriage, be sensitive. Couples who lose a child often feel like they've been stripped of their hopes and dreams. They need the long-term support of family and friends to process their loss and eventually move forward.
And for couples who have lost a child, we have resources to help -- including caring counselors who are happy to listen and offer insight; see FocusOnTheFamily.com.
Q: My new husband and I are excited about starting married life together. We have big plans for the next few years -- careers, starting a family, etc. -- but we also know we need to be realistic. Do you have any advice for prioritizing?
Greg Smalley, Vice President, Family Ministries: It's pretty common for young couples to want it all -- a family and career success. And that's not necessarily bad. More than anything, though, remember this: how you handle opportunities that come your way over the next few years will either benefit your family or harm it.
Let's say your spouse is up for a big promotion, but it will require your family to relocate to another state. How will that impact your career? How will it impact your children? Those are big decisions. As you work through them, keep a few things in mind.
First, complement each other. Note the difference: "compliment" (with an I) means "say nice things to and about each other." And that's important to do. But "complement" (with an E) means "work together as a team." Channel your competitiveness into your career, not your family. You and your spouse both bring something to the table that can help you decide how to best move forward.
Second, be flexible. Your responsibilities at home and at work will shift over time as the needs of your family change. Be willing to adapt.
Third, and most important of all, let the health of your marriage guide every decision you make. Career goals and a bigger earning potential are important considerations. But more zeroes on your paycheck won't improve a bad marriage.
Even if you've been married for a while, a healthy balance between your career and your family begins with the decisions you make today. Achieve all you can at work, but keep the health of your family a bigger priority.
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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