Q: I've known since I was a small child that I was adopted. Now, as an adult, I'm generally happy with my life. But I can't get away from nagging thoughts and doubts about my birth mother. I don't know anything about her. Why did she give me up? Didn't she care enough about me to raise me herself? For that matter, why would ANY mom put her child up for adoption? I guess I could use some advice on how to process these feelings.
Jim: You're not alone -- almost every adopted child goes through the same experience of struggling with these kinds of questions. There might have been any number of reasons why your birth mother chose adoption.
It's important to remember that under certain circumstances it can be very difficult -- even virtually impossible -- for a woman to bring up a child. Perhaps your birth father had left your mother alone or maybe was no longer alive. It could be that due to her age and/or life situation, your birth mom may not have been in a position to provide for you. These questions might remain mysteries if there's little or no way to find out anything about her background or circumstances.
But even without knowing the facts, there is one thing that I -- and you -- can be absolutely confident in saying. Your birth mother must have loved you very much -- enough to give you life and make sure you could be raised in a loving home where you would be well cared for. She made a courageous decision. Maybe someday you'll find the answers to your questions. But for now, hang on to that.
If you'd like to discuss your feelings at greater length, our staff counselors would be happy to help. I invite you to call 855-771-HELP (4357).
Q: How can I help my kids learn to think more critically about the values in the entertainment they consume?
Adam Holz, Director, Plugged In: As parents, we work hard to help our families avoid entertainment with obvious content problems: harsh profanity; explicit sexual imagery; graphic violence or substance abuse. But how do we help our children think critically and strengthen their ability to identify ideas or values that don't line up with our family's convictions?
For starters, as our kids move into the teen years, our parental roles gradually shift. We move from being hard-and-fast gatekeepers to granting them a growing amount of independence. Simultaneously, we cultivate an ongoing conversation about their choices. Some basic questions will help get that conversation started: "What do you like about --? What ideas do you identify with? What emotions does this entertainment stir up in you?"
Next, let's talk about worldview. A worldview is a way of looking at the world and making sense of it. We all have one -- as does every piece of entertainment. A worldview answers basic questions about the world around us: "What is right? What is good? What deserves praise? What deserves criticism?"
We can ask basic worldview questions about ANY kind of entertainment. And as our kids mature, we can add more sophisticated questions that prompt them to think more deeply about their entertainment choices. "How is that similar to what our family believes? How is it different? What do you think would happen if someone imitated that behavior? Do you think the consequences would be different? Do you think these characters are making decisions based on emotion or on rational thinking?"
As we embrace this dialogue-oriented approach to entertainment and culture, we model critical thinking. It teaches our kids that we need to engage in the culture thoughtfully and intentionally -- not just as uncritical, passive consumers.
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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