Q: My husband is currently unemployed after a "corporate restructure." I have a decent job, so we aren't destitute, but this is a difficult situation for the whole family. What do you suggest I prioritize while he looks for a new position?
Jim: As much as you can, you have to stay calm and focused. You have a very important role in helping your family deal with the uncertainty, but admittedly it's like walking a tightrope.
Your husband could be unemployed for some time, and it might feel like the search for a new job will never end. That's why it's vital to hold discouragement at bay. Maintain a healthy perspective and try to remember that as difficult as this challenge is, it's only temporary.
One vital thing you can do as a couple is to keep life as normal as possible. Maintain a routine, taking life one day at a time and understanding that there will be ups and downs. Stay engaged with the people closest to you. It's tempting to hunker down and isolate when life gets tough. But those are the times we most need the love and support of friends and family.
Meanwhile, stay focused on an even more important goal: keeping your marriage intact, and even making it stronger, as you walk through this season together. Don't let the present situation consume your relationship. Go for a hike, ride bikes, have a picnic, laugh. Try to set your worries aside, even if just for a short time, and refresh yourself and your marriage. That's your top priority -- because whatever comes, you're far better equipped to make it if you stay and work together.
Q: How do I help my teen develop a healthy perspective about Valentine's Day?
Dr. Danny Huerta, Vice President, Parenting & Youth: Valentine's Day can be a mixed bag for teens, offering both opportunities for positive growth and potential pitfalls. It can be a chance to strengthen friendships, build relational skills and express care. But the commercial and media hype can also create unnecessary pressures -- leading some teens to just want to skip the day altogether.
Here are some ideas to guide your teen toward a healthy perspective:
-- Remind them of what's true. Reinforce that your teen is valuable and amazing regardless of their relational status. Encourage them to consider all the people they love and care about, finding ways to spread love within their closest circle.
-- Talk about the goal. Valentine's Day should celebrate healthy, loving connections. Good relationships are built on love, affection and compassion -- so help your teen adjust their expectations and behaviors accordingly.
-- Help them refocus. Encourage thoughtful reflection by creating handmade Valentines, making lists of what's loveable about someone or brainstorming ways to highlight admirable characteristics of loved ones (whether romantic or platonic). A positive focus can set the standard for future relationships.
-- Play and have fun. Suggest using Valentine's Day to honor and have fun with friends and family. Taking the focus off romance and putting it on meaningful connections with friends and family can be liberating. Help your teen plan activities -- making things, cooking a favorite meal, watching movies or skating -- that mark the day in memorable ways. (Enjoy some separate fun with your teen, too.)
-- Let them feel all the feels. Respect your teen's honest feelings. Empathize with them and encourage them to channel their emotional energy positively and make the day meaningful.
Your influence as a parent is key in helping your teen develop a fun, healthy and happy perspective on Valentine's Day. With or without a date or relationship, they long for connection with peers -- but your love and guidance remain an essential part of the picture.
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 jimdalyblog.focusonthefamily.com or at Facebook.com/JimDalyFocus.
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