Q: I have a 15-year-old daughter who's a "crushaholic." It seems like every other week she's fixated on a different boy. Depending on the attention she gets (or not) she's either over the moon or down in the dumps. Is this normal?
Jim: I admit that I haven't raised a daughter. But Jean and I have two sons who've made it through the tumultuous teen years. The emotional, physical and even mental changes can be intense, especially for young girls.
This developmental challenge, like many others, has roots that are good and God-given. Puberty floods a teen girl's brain with hormones, awakening her heart to relationship, romance and love. The problem is that without proper boundaries, that longing to be desirable to members of the opposite sex can spiral to where a girl mistakenly believes her worth is dependent on a guy's validation. That obsession can lead young girls into relationships they don't have the emotional maturity to handle. And when a relationship goes wrong, the girl feels like her entire life is falling apart.
It's incredibly tough for a parent whose teen has experienced a broken heart. I'd suggest not saying anything at all at first. Just be there for her: hold her, let her cry and help her rebuild the foundation of trust and understanding of a loving relationship. When the time to speak comes, don't minimize or trivialize her feelings. She'll probably think this is the worst thing that has ever happened to her -- and at this point in her life, it might be. But with your love and support, and your strong affirmation of her uniquely created identity, she can learn from the experience and bounce back.
Focus on the Family offers tons of resources to help parents and teens navigate a culture filled with unhealthy messages about sexuality and relationships. I highly recommend our great magazine for teen girls called Brio. See FocusOnTheFamily.com.
Q: As a recent newlywed, I've been unpleasantly surprised to discover that I don't get along with my husband's friends. In fact, I don't even like them! So, now what!?
Dr. Greg Smalley, Vice President, Marriage & Family Formation: Getting married doesn't just mean gaining a spouse -- it's also a matter of inheriting that person's entire social network of (possibly lifelong) friends. That can often create challenging, and even awkward, situations.
Here's the key question: WHY don't you like your husband's friends? Is it a case of "the guys" acting irresponsibly or doing things you find problematic? Worse yet, do they also pull your husband into those behaviors? If so, then you've got a legitimate concern and it's your husband's responsibility to resolve the issue. That may require him to make some tough decisions about friendships that might be dragging him down. Of course, this type of issue can easily bring a couple into conflict. So, you may well need some help from a qualified counselor to navigate these conversations.
However, it's another thing entirely if you simply have different tastes and interests than your husband's friends. Bridging the gap may involve some hard work on your part -- and learning to find common ground for relationships. Admittedly, that can be a real struggle at first. But if you approach it as a way to strengthen your bond with your husband, you'll likely find it easier to be patient with his friends.
Also, if those friends are themselves married, prioritize getting to know their wives. Hopefully you'll all build mutual connections where you'll grow closer and more supportive as couples over the years.
If you'd like to discuss your situation with our staff counselors, I invite you to call 855-771-HELP (4357). 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.
INTERNATIONAL COPYRIGHT SECURED. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.