Q: We just learned our teenage daughter is five weeks pregnant. She and the father are only 17, and we're trying to get them to think seriously about how they're going to care for and support a child. We've assured our daughter that our love for her has not wavered and that we're thankful they've chosen life for the baby. But we're frustrated that neither of them is open to adoption. Do you have any advice?
Dr. Greg Smalley, vice president, Family Ministries: Although it won't be easy, I'd encourage you to take a low-key approach and not pressure them to make a decision right now. If you do, they may react by proudly and publicly proclaiming that they're determined to become parents. At that point, it will be much harder for them to reverse course and consider adoption later on. You also should refrain from making any commitments of financial or practical support.
After the dust has settled, encourage your daughter to contact your local pregnancy resource center. These centers - which can be found by visiting the Option Line website (optionline.org), or by looking up "Abortion Alternatives" in the Yellow Pages - provide practical help and emotional support to those experiencing a crisis pregnancy.
According to some experts, many teen couples say early on that they aren't interested in the adoption alternative. But as time passes and they begin to consider what it really means to care for a baby, reality starts to set in. At that point, many teens are willing to take a second look.
In the end, it's important that you honor their final decision. Though the hopes and dreams you had for you and your daughter look much different today, this news doesn't mean your futures will be worse. As only He can, God often surprises us with joy from unexpected places.
Q: I recently discovered my preschooler playing "doctor" with a neighborhood friend. I've always thought this kind of thing was innocent and normal in very young kids, but when I found my own child involved, I felt uncomfortable and didn't know what to say. Should I be concerned?
Jim: According to our counselors, if you're modeling healthy attitudes toward sexuality at home, there's probably no reason to be overly concerned. Because sexuality is a central part of life, it's only natural for children to want to know about it. This is why it's important to take the initiative to teach your kids about sex in your own way and on your own terms - otherwise, they're probably going to learn about it somewhere else, and there's no guarantee the information they pick up will be accurate or healthy.
That said, while curiosity is normal and should be expected, sexual touch is a more serious matter. Complications can occur when the game of "doctor" involves this kind of touching, and for this reason, it should not be condoned or ignored. If this behavior was a part of the play you observed, you should talk with the parents of the other child and see what can be done to prevent it from happening again. Be careful not to shame your child, and remember that punishment isn't appropriate in this situation. Again, the best solution is simply to stay current with good sex education in the home and enforce healthy personal boundaries.
If you still have questions or concerns about the significance of this incident, our counselors would be happy to speak with you. You can reach them at 855-771-HELP (4357). The consultation and the call are both free of charge, and are one of the many ways Focus on the Family is here to serve you and your family.
Q: I've been dating a woman for over 2 years. I love her and want a serious relationship. She says she loves me too, but that she wants the freedom to see other guys. At times, I'm so frustrated that I just want to move on. What should I do?
Smalley: I can appreciate your struggle. While the emotions you're wrestling with don't make it easy, your decision really hinges on what you ultimately want. If you're at a place where you desire and are eager to be married, you may need to start looking elsewhere. Contrary to prevailing romantic thought and what you're probably feeling, there's no such thing as "the one" when it comes to a life mate. If, on the other hand, you're sold on this girl and are willing to be patient, you can see if her heart eventually turns.
Either way, you might consider adjusting your current pattern of interacting with her. Any message on your part that suggests you're just hanging around waiting for her to see the light is counterproductive. A man who projects a humble sense of confidence, self-respect and independence is attractive and interesting to a lady, whereas a guy who acts like his life is meaningless without her is a major turnoff.
So what does this mean for you? For starters, pursue activities that grow your mind and character, such as reading books and serving others. Look for other quality women whose company you enjoy and spend time with them. What develops may surprise you. You'd also be well-served to not be so available to the current object of your affection. There's a real chance that, subconsciously, she's taken your fondness for granted, and a noticeable shift in your behavior just may cause her to come your way.