Question: We're considering taking my elderly mother into our home, rather than placing her in a nursing facility. This decision is especially difficult because we still have three children living with us. Would this new arrangement impact family dynamics?
Jim: In a big way - and you should be prepared for blessings, as well as challenges. On the plus side, you'll have the emotional and practical support of your family as you take on the weighty task of meeting your mother's needs. There's also the potential of realizing a strong sense of family unity and cohesiveness as you share in the caregiving responsibilities.
Then there are the potential benefits for your kids as they experience firsthand the importance of sacrifice and service in the interest of others. This can become a vital part of their character growth. There's also the opportunity for them to develop a special relationship with their grandparent.
On the other side, the stability of your family will likely be affected. With these changes, your children's social lives will probably be disrupted and their personal freedom may be restricted in some ways. And you and your spouse will at times be caught in between the competing needs of your kids and your mother, while your own needs frequently take a backseat. This is what people have in mind when they talk about the "sandwich generation."
There's obviously a lot here to pray about as you consider the equally legitimate questions of your responsibility to your mom and your family's well-being. In short, there are no simple solutions to the challenges you'll face if you take her in. It will involve a delicate balancing act and place you in a position where you will have no choice except to rely on the grace and wisdom of the Lord from one moment to the next. And that's a good place to be.
Question: My teenagers often go to films that have racy content. My heart tells me that it's probably not a good thing, but I have nothing more to go on than that. Can you help?
Bob Waliszewski, Director, Plugged In: I recently received an email from a young man who explained how his struggle with lust was linked to his television and movie choices, and not surfing inappropriate Internet sites. He's not alone. Hollywood has become a super-teacher to an untold large number of young people. As Tinseltown instills its own brand of sexual "values" via motion pictures, young people are embracing what they're being taught.
This isn't simply my opinion; mounting research is saying the same thing. For instance, two RAND Corp. studies found that teens exposed to sexualized television and music were more likely to become sexually active compared to their peers who had limited exposure. Researchers at Dartmouth College had similar findings regarding the power of sexualized motion pictures.
I believe that your teenagers already have a tough fight in guarding their hearts and minds without consuming risque media. Once, after a speaking engagement, a young man came up to me to argue for a film that I had labeled as inappropriate. His view was that the "art" trumped content. My response was to completely ignore the acting and special effects. Instead, I asked him if a certain sex scene and another involving nudity had ever caused him to struggle with his thought life. To this day, I've never had an answer. The man lowered his head and walked away.
Armed with the research, which is easy to find online, I'd suggest you have a heart-to-heart talk with your teens. It's never too late to lay down safe boundaries.
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.