Q: My wife and I are both retired. We want to have an impact on younger generations, but we're not sure how. We weren't able to have children, and through most of our 43 years of marriage we've just quietly gone about our daily business. Neither of us finished college or accomplished anything noteworthy. We don't really have a legacy to leave anyone; still, we feel that there must be something we can do. Do you have any suggestions?
Jim: First of all, I want to congratulate you on 43 years (and counting) of marriage -- that's fantastic! And it's where I'm going to differ with you: I think you have accomplished something very noteworthy. In a society where that level of commitment is becoming increasingly rare, you have set an example that no self-help book on marriage can possibly match.
So that's what I suggest: Simply share your story. Through more than four decades of life together, you have obviously seen a lot of ups and downs. I'm sure you and your wife have experienced hardships and disappointments -- and since you're human, no doubt there have been times when you just didn't feel like sticking together. But you did.
That means all of us can learn from your example. If we'd all work on "the daily business" of maintaining our marriages through the changing seasons of life, this world would be a far better place.
Find younger couples who are struggling in some way, whether they're newlyweds or have been married for a while and things are beginning to unravel. Be honest; don't sugarcoat the hard times, but share how you repeatedly made the decision to persevere through them. That's your legacy -- and I thank you for it.
Q: How can we prepare our preschooler for the upcoming birth of a new baby? What's the best way to explain the birthing process so that he can understand it? I'd like to be as honest as possible with him, but I also want to be careful not to give him more information than he needs.
Danny Huerta, Vice President, Parenting and Youth: When discussing human sexuality with children, the best approach is to give them just enough information to provide satisfactory answers to their questions, which can be tricky. Avoid going into too much detail. The challenge here is to be frank, straightforward and genuinely helpful while keeping the discussion well within the parameters of age-appropriate language and concepts. Since you know your child best, you will understand how best to accomplish this in your particular family setting.
When talking about the birthing process with preschoolers, a major issue of concern is likely to be, "How is that baby going to get out of Mommy's tummy?" If you're faced with this question, you can simply say that there is a part of mommy's body between her legs that God made very special for this purpose. He designed her body so that when the baby is ready to be born -- after around nine months -- that special part opens up enough for the baby to come out. Then, after the baby is born, that part of the body goes back to the way it was before. Most children at this age will have no trouble accepting this explanation at face value.
It's also advisable to use medically accurate names for body parts, including the sex organs. Many pediatricians agree with this approach. You will have to determine for yourself at what point you want to introduce these terms to your child. But avoid using slang words or "cute" names for private parts. That can cause kids unnecessary confusion and may even set them up for embarrassment later on in life.
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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