By Dr. James Dobson
When you spoke your marriage vows to your spouse and committed yourself to loving and caring for that person for the rest of your life, you made a holy promise to your husband or wife, as well as to the Lord.
The media continually bombard us with images of broken trust: spouses who cheat on each other; politicians who break promises; corporate chiefs who steal from their employees.
Conflict can often play a positive role in marriage—especially when it helps maintain lines of respect. Suppose I (JCD) work at my office two hours later than usual on a particular night. I know that Shirley is preparing a candlelight dinner, yet I don’t call to let her know I’ll be late.
By Dr. James and Shirley Dobson
A husband arrived home from work and found the washing machine spewing out suds, the refrigerator on the fritz, and crushed cereal nuggets scattered in every room. His three-year-old had the chicken pox, his eight- and ten-year-old boys complained of upset stomachs, and the baby was covered head to toe with melted chocolate chips. In the middle of this disaster scene was his wife, who managed a weary smile and muttered, “Welcome home.”
Unlikely as it sounds, I made the decision to become a Christian at three years of age. I remember the occasion clearly. I was attending a Sunday evening church service and was sitting near the back with my mother. My father was the pastor; he invited those who wished to do so to come forward, and I joined them.
It’s tempting for some of us to view our Lord as a heavenly “Mr. Fix‐It”—a supernatural problem solver who can be manipulated according to our whims. We might make a little wager on our favorite football team and then pray for God to intervene so our team will win. Or on the day of the church picnic, we might pray for a rainstorm so we don’t have to fix that potato salad we promised to bring.
Each of us has a heartfelt need to be honored and respected. All too often, however, we take our spouses for granted at home. Is it any wonder that so many mothers hold down jobs in the workplace today? Many work for financial reasons, but some do so to find the recognition and praise they don’t get from their mates. Could this also be why many men spend excessive hours at work—to receive from colleagues the accolades that they don’t get at home?
Robertson McQuilkin, as reported in his book A Promise Kept, served as president of a thriving seminary and Bible college in South Carolina for more than twenty years. His wife, Muriel, supported him in many ways, including as an excellent cook and hostess when they entertained guests of the college in their home. They were an effective ministry team.
I took my son Ryan and one of his friends on a ski trip when they were about twelve years of age. As we rode the gondola to the top of the mountain, I decided to snap the boys' picture with the beautiful scenery visible behind them. While I focused the shot, Ryan began clowning and waving at the camera. Ricky, on the other hand, sat glumly and quietly beside him...
We are planning our family very carefully and want to space the children properly. Is there an ideal age span that will bring greater harmony between them?
I have a word of encouragement prepared especially for those of you who are depressed today. It is a message written by a loving mother named Joan Mills, who must be a very special lady. She expressed her feelings about her children in an article that initially appeared in a 1981 issue of Reader's Digest. It is called "Season of the Empty Nest," and I believe you will be touched by the warmth of these words.
Sibling rivalry is at its worst when there are inadequate or inconsistently applied rules that govern the interaction between kids—when the “lawbreakers” do not get caught, or, if apprehended, are set free without standing trial. It is important to understand that laws in a society are established and enforced for the purpose of protecting people from each other. Likewise, a family is a mini society with the same requirements for property rights and physical protection.
I received a letter from the mother of one of these perpetual freeloaders a few years ago. Let me share what she asked and how I replied:
Q. We have a twenty-one-year-old who is still living at home. He does not want to come under our authority and he breaks all the rules we have set up as minimum standards of behavior. He plays his stereo so loudly that it drives me crazy, and he comes in every night after 1 a.m. I know he needs his freedom, but I worry about our younger children who...
The late Dr. Benjamin Spock, who wrote the perennial best seller, Dr. Spock’s Baby and Child Care, was severely criticized for his laissez-faire approach to child rearing. He was blamed for weakening parental authority and producing an entire generation of disrespectful and unruly children. To the man on the street, Dr. Spock became a symbol of permissiveness and overindulgence in parent-child relationships. It was a bum rap. I had lunch with him one day after we had been guests on a national television show and found our views to be surprisingly similar on most things not political.
Laughter is the key to survival during the special stresses of the child-rearing years. If you can see the delightful side of your assignment, you can also deal with the difficult. Almost every day I hear from mothers who would agree. They use the ballast of humor to keep their boats in an upright position. They also share wonderful stories with me.
The goal in dealing with a difficult child is to shape the will without breaking the spirit. Hitting both targets is sometimes easier said than done. Perhaps it will help to share a letter from a mother who was having a terrible time with her son Jake. Her description of this child and her responses to him illustrate precisely how not to deal with a difficult boy or girl.
I am particularly concerned about the mother and father who give the highest priority to the task of parenthood. Their first-born child is conceived in love and born in great joy. They will neither talk nor think of much else for the next three years. The first smile; the first word; the first birthday; the first step. Every milestone is a cause for celebration. They buy him a...
Why is it that most children seem to have a need to take on those in authority over them? Why can’t they just be satisfied with quiet discussions and patient explanations and gentle pats on the head? Why won’t they follow reasonable instructions and leave it at that? Good questions.
We have all heard it said that a woman is most beautiful when she is in love. It’s true. You’ve seen it yourself. When a woman knows that she is loved and loved deeply, she glows from the inside. This radiance stems from a heart that has had its deepest questions answered. “Am I lovely? Am I worth fighting for? Have I been and will I continue to be romanced?” When these questions are answered, Yes, a restful, quiet spirit settles in a woman’s heart.
The Greek translation for the word encouragement is parakletos, which literally means "called alongside to help." It brings to mind the biblical image of two people yoked side by side, as when Jesus said, "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me.... For my yoke is easy and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:29-30). This kind of encouragement includes offering...
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Dr. James Dobson is the Founder and President of Family Talk, a nonprofit organization that produces his radio program, “Dr. James Dobson's Family Talk.” He is the author of more than 30 books dedicated to the preservation of the family, including The New Dare to Discipline; Love for a Lifetime; Life on the Edge; Love Must Be Tough; The New Strong-Willed Child; When God Doesn’t Make Sense; Bringing Up Boys; Marriage Under Fire; Bringing Up Girls; and, most recently, Head Over Heels.
Dr. Dobson served as an associate clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of Southern California School of Medicine for 14 years and on the attending staff of Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles for 17 years. He has been active in governmental affairs and has advised three U.S. presidents on family matters. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Southern California (1967) in the field of child development. He holds 17 honorary doctoral degrees, and was inducted in 2008 into The National Radio Hall of Fame. Dr. Dobson recently received the “Great American Award” from The Awakening.
Dr. Dobson is married to Shirley and they have two grown children, Danae and Ryan, and two grandchildren. The Dobsons reside in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
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