Q: I'm worried about my 10-month-old granddaughter's health. I love my son and daughter-in-law. But when I visited last week, the house was filled with trash, moldy food was stuck to the carpet and dirty diapers were spilling from the trash. My granddaughter is old enough to start crawling, but she's constrained to an infant seat to keep her from getting into these messes. Should I express my concerns over these troubling health conditions?
Jim: It's usually best for grandparents to keep their advice to themselves until asked. But in this situation, as you've described it, it's probably past time to intervene.
It might be a good idea to begin by enlisting the help of another adult -- preferably someone your son likes and respects -- who can join you in advocating for your granddaughter. Raise the subject gently but as straightforwardly as possible. Help your son and his wife see that this is more than just a question of personal preferences and different "styles" of housekeeping. They are, in fact, endangering the health and well-being of their child. Make yourself available to help with the cleanup and to offer assistance where needed.
If they won't listen, or if you don't see significant improvements within a reasonable amount of time, you may need to contact your county's agency of family services. Social workers will advise you on the various options available. Among other things, it's clear that your son and daughter-in-law need practical training in the fundamentals of child care. Mandatory counseling may also be necessary, but this is something for skilled professionals to decide. The important thing is for you, as a grandparent, to do everything you can to enlist the support and community services necessary to raise your son's family to a higher-functioning level.
Our counseling team would also be happy to offer further insights. Please call them at 855-771-HELP (4357).
Q: I've been married for six years. We have a good relationship overall, but my wife's impulsive spending habits are a source of constant stress. We have the same argument every month when we get the credit card statement. She cries and apologizes -- and then keeps spending! What can I do?
Dr. Greg Smalley, Vice President, Marriage & Family Formation: You've probably heard the old adage that "insanity" is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results. We probably all fit that definition to some extent! But from your description of what's happening in your marriage, it's clear that you need a different approach.
Of course, money is a very emotional topic; in fact, financial stress and disagreements are consistently listed as leading causes of divorce. People spend and save for a variety of reasons that are often rooted in needs like security, comfort, relational power and validation. That means that when you and your wife have your monthly credit card confrontation, you're not just discussing dollars and cents.
Instead of reacting to the bill every month, I'd suggest you be proactive in addressing this issue. A good place you can turn to is Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University. His course will help you and your wife work through a budget based on principles that you both can agree on. You can find out more information by visiting www.daveramsey.com. We also have plenty of tips and insights at FocusOnTheFamily.com/Marriage; look for the "Money & Finances" section.
Meanwhile, since financial issues involve emotions and relational tension, you might also want to enlist the help of a wise and caring marriage counselor. It's an investment that will pay off by strengthening your relationship. Our counselors can help you get started and refer you to a licensed therapist near you; call the number listed above. I wish you the best.
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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