Q: How can we help our son have a successful prom night? He's excited about this event, but I'm afraid he may also be a bit naive, both about the cost and the potential pitfalls.
Jim: The success of prom night begins long before the tux is put on. You can get things off to a good start by sitting down with your teen and talking about his thoughts. In situations like this, disappointments and letdowns are usually the result of overblown, unrealistic expectations. So do what you can to help your son put things in perspective.
Here are some other things to consider that will help make the experience a positive one for your teen and his date:
-- Discuss a budget. Life goes on after the prom. So do payments for flowers, photos, rentals, etc. Your son may be feeling pressure to make a big splash, and you can help relieve him of that burden by sitting down together and devising a plan that will be both economical and memorable.
-- Establish an itinerary. When will the evening begin and end? Where will dinner be? Who will be in the car? Who's driving? Get him to pin down all of the specifics, and have him communicate the details to his date's parents also. Feel free to verify the information with a couple of phone calls throughout the evening.
-- Have a heart-to-heart talk about sexual self-control. Your teen should commit to respecting both his body and his date's. (Young ladies in particular should be careful about what they wear. Modesty and good taste should be the rule.)
-- Provide support. Let your son know that you'll be praying for a safe and enjoyable evening. Encourage him to call "Dad's All-Night Taxi Service" should plans turn sour. Teens need to know that you'll be there for them without creating a scene.
Q: My husband quit smoking a few years ago. I just found out that he's smoking again and has been hiding it for over a year. I want to support my husband, but I'm upset over this. What should I do?
Dr. Greg Smalley, Vice President, Family Ministries: My guess is you're feeling a lot of different emotions. Before doing anything else, I'd encourage you to sort them out. You're probably frustrated that he's back at square one with his struggle, and naturally, you're upset that he's kept it from you for so long. You have a right to expect honesty in your relationship, and instead there's been a lack of transparency. While the foundation of trust may not have collapsed, it's suffered some erosion. Repairing that needs to be your focus.
Sit down with your husband for an honest conversation. Begin by expressing your disappointment for him, not in him, and assure him of your love, respect and confidence that he'll win this battle. Convincing him of this may alleviate some of the shame, which may be what led him to conceal his relapse.
Once that's been said, let him tell you his story. Has stress at work or home triggered the urge? What made him feel he couldn't share his struggles and be honest with you? After you've got a clearer picture, move into why his actions hurt you. Don't make smoking the issue. He's probably more upset about that than you. Instead let him know it's a matter of trust, and for that to exist, you need to feel he can confide in you. Ask if there are obstacles to that, and what might be done to remove those. If the obstacles seem too big or you need guidance working through this challenge, please give our counselors a call at 1-800-232-6459. They're here to help.
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.