September 12, 2014
Q: Are married people obligated to have children?
Gary: God said to Adam and Eve, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.” In the Bible, children are viewed as a gift from God. However, I don’t think this means that every Christian couple is obligated to have children. If a couple decides not to have children, their reason for such a choice should clearly be understood and should not be rooted in selfishness. Some good reasons for not having children might include: physical and mental disabilities, poor relational skills, or ministry for Christ. Selfish reasons might be: the desire to travel, not willing to accept responsibility, or wanting to be free to follow personal interests. Make sure that your choice is based on a genuine desire to follow God’s plan for your life.
August 7, 2014
Do you need more money? One of the best ways to have more money is to try what I call “free shopping.” Drive through affluent neighborhoods the night before the discards are to be collected. It’s amazing the things you find sitting beside a garbage can. The second approach is to let all your friends know that you are open to receiving hand-me-downs, especially children’s clothing and toys. The third approach is to inform your parents of specific toys that your children have requested. You know that they are going to give the children presents for their birthday, Christmas, and other occasions, so why not have them purchase things that the children really want? With these approaches you’ll have money for date nights and weekend get-aways with your spouse.
July 8, 2014
Teenagers are like tender plants that need to be nurtured. To nurture is ‘to feed’ the inner spirit. The opposite of nurture is abuse. Hostile, cutting, harsh words from parents kill the teenager’s spirit. Slapping, shoving, pushing, and beating will almost always produce a rebellious teenager. Nurturing parents are encouraging: looking for the positive things their teenagers do and say and commending them. I do not mean that you sit idly by and let them do things that will be destructive. The nurturing parent says, “What you did was wrong and you must suffer the consequences. But I want you to know that I believe in you. I don’t think that this behavior reflects the real you. I think you are a caring person. I love you and want to help you.”
June 30, 2014
Q: My husband only wants our teenage daughter to have Christian friends. What do you think?
Gary: Teenagers are going through a very dramatic stage of life. They’re changing physically, emotionally, and intellectually, rethinking their spiritual values; it’s such an important time. Yes, I think we need to be friends with Christians and non-Christians but be very careful whom your teenager spends time with. If they spend time with non-Christians who have a non-Christian philosophy of life, they may well get pulled into that lifestyle. I think both of you have legitimate concerns. Continue having conversations with your child about what is going on in their life. Don’t back away from them this is a time during which they need parental guidance.
June 26, 2014
A mother recently said to me, “I don’t know if I’m ready for my children to become teenagers. It seems like all teenagers are having sex, using drugs, and carrying guns to school. Is it really that bad?” The answer is no. It is true that 10% of teenagers are troubled and get into trouble, but most of them were troubled children. Good kids don’t suddenly go bad in adolescence. When teens are secure in the love of their parents, they will have confidence to face the negative influences in our culture. In my opinion, nothing is more important than parental love. The teen wants to feel connected, accepted, and nurtured by parents. When this happens the teen will move through adolescence in a healthy manner.
June 13, 2014
Q: I’ve been told that it’s not good to be called “your child’s friend,” but we should always be a parent. What do you think?
Gary: I think it depends on what you mean by “friend.” I think you can be both a parent and friend to your children. No, you are certainly not their peer. You have more wisdom, maturity, and responsibilities. You set the boundaries and bring discipline to your children when appropriate. In being friendly to them don’t cease to be a parent. It’s not either/or, but the emphasis is on parenting.
June 9, 2014
Q: My husband is very harsh with his words to our kids and it worries me sometimes. How can I help him with this?
Gary: I think the starting place is to simply say to him, “I know you don’t mean to do this, but when you talk to our kids that way it hurts me deeply. I know the kids are also hurt by your words.” Suggest that he talk to a pastor or a counselor and learn to express himself with words that are less painful to you. Put the situation on the table for him. Now he is at least consciously aware of what his actions are doing. You’re not yelling at him asking him to stop yelling at the kids, you’ve merely asked that he take steps to change his behavior.
May 30, 2014
Q: My wife struggles with depression, and it’s hard to deal with, especially with our young children. What do you suggest?
Gary: Depression will not go away simply with the passing of time. There are many kinds of depression and many ways to approach it. The most effective approach with severe depression is both counseling and medication. That combination has been the most successful treatment for depression. Don’t sit idly and hope it goes away; get her to a medical doctor, get her to a Christian counselor, and get the process moving so that she can discover the source of the depression and the answer to that depression.