Q: Do you have any advice for coming alongside loved ones in difficult situations? A good friend was recently widowed, and my cousin was just diagnosed with a terminal illness. I want to encourage them but feel awkward about what to say.
Jim: You heart is clearly in the right place. I know it's challenging finding the right words in uncomfortable moments can be tricky.
There are several things to keep in mind about offering meaningful comfort to a friend or family member who's struggling. First of all, don't run away from whatever dark emotion they're feeling. Be willing to enter into it. Honestly, we're more apt to say something trite or insensitive when we're trying to avoid a person's pain.
Instead, connect with the person by saying, "I'm here for you" and then stay engaged. In many cases, you won't need to say anything at all; your simple presence will speak volumes. There may be moments or seasons along the way when everything in their life seems relatively "back to normal." That's when it's tempting to minimize the ongoing crisis the loved one is experiencing. But it's vitally important to keep saying and showing that you're committed to staying involved for what could still be a long and difficult journey ahead.
Another idea is to simply say, "I'm praying for you" but don't just say it, do it. When you don't have words, offer smiles, hugs and a listening ear.
It's not about finding a magic word that will take away someone's pain. Life doesn't work like that. Your role is to connect with them and let your consistent presence illustrate your love and care throughout their time of suffering.
If you'd like to reach out to our staff counselors and discuss these matters, I invite you to call 855-771-HELP (4357) or visit FocusOnTheFamily.com.
Q: It seems like my kids never stop fighting. How do I keep sibling rivalries from taking over our home?
Dr. Danny Huerta, Vice President, Parenting & Youth: Sibling rivalries are nothing new and can be quite draining. If you've been in this position as a parent, I'm sure you've had to navigate different versions or perspectives of fights between siblings. "He did this!" "But she did that!"
When siblings argue, it puts you in a tough spot. Do you become a referee, a judge or a guide? Different reasons for sibling fights can include insecurities, selfishness, jealousy, feeling left out. Your children need your guidance to learn how to handle sibling fights. Here is a quick tip I have used with my own family called the $1 Technique.
The way it works is that when your children are arguing, you set a timer for 5 minutes. If they are unable to resolve the conflict on their own by the time the timer stops, they have chosen to hire you for $1 per minute to help them resolve it. And the one that is the most inflexible in resolving the conflict is the one responsible for the bill.
One of the most powerful questions to teach your kids to ask themselves is: "Is there another way to look at this?" Teaching your child how to build a flexible mind will grow their levels of humility, while also helping them reach the goal of resolving the conflict within 5 minutes.
Teach them how to take mental timeouts to figure out what's making their emotions bubble. Ask them, "What do you think it's like to try to resolve things with you?"
Healthy boundaries and adaptability can bring stability and flexibility to your home. To learn more about resolving sibling rivalries, go to FocusOnParenting.com.
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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